Title: Women of History: Selected from the Writings of Standard Authors
Release date: May 29, 2012 [eBook #39843]
Credits: Produced by Delphine Lettau, Melissa McDaniel and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
SELECTED FROM THE
WRITINGS OF STANDARD AUTHORS.
EDITOR OF "MEN OF HISTORY."
Biography is the most universally pleasant and universally profitable of all reading."
W. P. NIMMO, HAY, & MITCHELL.
MORRISON AND GIBB, PRINTERS, EDINBURGH.
Women of History is a further development of the idea which suggested the companion volume, Men of History, viz.: "To exhibit views of the world's great men and women, as set forth in the best words of the best authors—to convey, as it were, at once impressions of History and Literature, and lessons in Biography and Style."
In the present case, it has not been considered necessary to attempt a classification of the subjects in the manner followed in the preceding volume, from the fact that the feelings and motives which generally influence the lives of celebrated women are of a nature different from those of the opposite sex, and from the consequent want of a standard sufficiently distinct to adhere to. A chronological arrangement, however, has been adopted, which, it is hoped, will to a considerable extent supply the want of classification.
|Aspasia of Pericles,||Grote,||16|
|Aspasia of Cyrus,||Bayle,||22|
|Cornelia, The Mother of the Gracchi,||Plutarch,||25|
|The Wife of Maximus,||Gibbon,||57|
|The Lady Rowena,||Verstegan,||60|
|The Lady Elfrida,||Hume,||65|
|The Countess of Tripoli,||Sismondi,||68 6|
|Jane, Countess of Mountfort,||Hume,||70|
|Laura de Sade,||Sismondi,||74|
|The Countess of Richmond,||Tytler,||77|
|Joan of Arc,||De Quincey,||81|
|Catharine of Arragon,||Tytler,||88|
|Lady Jane Grey,||Hume,||110|
|Tarquinia Molza,||Hilarion de Coste,||114|
|Mary, Queen of Scots,||Robertson,||117|
|Gabrielle D'Estrees,||Davenport Adams,||120|
|Anne, Duchess of Pembroke,||Bishop Rainbow,||125|
|Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle,||Ballard,||131|
|Noor Mahal,||James Mill,||136|
|Pocahontas,||Dr Hugh Murray,||139|
|Madame de Maintenon,||St Simon,||154|
|Countess de Grammont,||Count A. Hamilton,||157|
|Mademoiselle de la Valliere,||Davenport Adams,||161|
|Madame Dacier,||Hallam,||164 7|
|Queen Anne,||Miss Strickland,||172|
|Esther Vanhomrigh,||Sir Walter Scott,||181|
|Madame des Ursins,||St Simon,||188|
|Lady Grizel Jerviswoode,||Anderson,||192|
|Madame de Pontchartrain,||St Simon,||196|
|Lady Mary Wortley Montagu,||Jeffrey,||200|
|Madame du Deffand,||Jeffrey,||204|
|Marquise du Chatelet,||Professor Craik,||208|
|Lady Huntingdon,||Isaac Taylor,||211|
|Elizabeth Blackwell,||James Bruce,||221|
|Hannah More,||Professor Craik,||226|
|Anna Seward,||Sir Walter Scott,||229|
|Catherine Cockburn,||Professor Craik,||232|
|Elizabeth Berkeleigh,||Temple Bar,||236|
|Caroline Herschel,||Professor Craik,||240|
|Mrs Grant,||Professor Craik,||256|
|Elizabeth Hamilton,||Professor Craik,||263 8|
|Countess de Vemieiro,||Sismondi,||267|
|Joanna Baillie,||Professor Spalding||269|
|Anne Radcliffe,||Edinburgh Review,||273|
|Madame de Stael,||Jeffrey,||283|
|Madame de la Rochejaquelein,||Jeffrey,||286|
|Madame Recamier,||Davenport Adams,||290|
|Mary Brunton,||Dr Brunton,||293|
|Charlotte Bronte,||Mrs Gaskell,||301|
ROMAN dame, illustrious for her beauty and the nobleness of her birth, and more for her virtue. She was married to one Collatinus, a relative of Tarquin, king of Rome. Her tragic story runs thus: Tarquin, not having been able to render himself master of the town of Ardea so promptly as he had calculated, besieged it in form, and the languidness of the operation comported very well with the inclination of the princes to amuse themselves in the way princes are in the habit of doing. At one of the suppers given by Sextus to his two brothers, and to Collatinus their kinsman, a question was raised, not as to the beauty of their mistresses, as is the custom in our day, but as to that of their respective wives. Each maintained that his wife was fairer than those of his companions; and the dispute rising high, Collatinus suggested a means of terminating it. "What is the use of so many words," said he, 10 "we can in a very short time have the proof of the superiority of my Lucretia. Let us mount our horses; let us surprise our wives; and the decision of our question will be the more easy that they are not prepared for us." Inflamed by wine, the princes accepted the proposal, and they rode to Rome at the top of their horses' speed. They there found sitting at table the fair daughters of Tarquin, who were engaged in pleasure with companions of their own age. They next went to Collatium; and though it was now late at night, they found Lucretia in the midst of her servants, engaged in needlework. They all agreed that she carried off the palm, and thereupon returned to the camp; but Sextus, without uttering a word of his purpose, found his way secretly back to Collatium, and was received by Lucretia with that attention and civility that was due to the eldest son of the king, and without the slightest suspicion that he entertained any purpose other than what was honest and good.
After he had supped, he was conducted to the chamber intended for him—not to sleep, for he had other intentions. As soon as he thought that all had repaired to their beds, he stept, sword in hand, into the private chamber of the unsuspecting Lucretia, and after having threatened to kill her if she made any noise, he told her his passion—bringing to serve his purpose prayers the most tender, and menaces the most terrible; in short, employing all the arts by which an impassioned man might attack the heart of a woman. All was in vain: Lucretia was firm, and persisted in her firmness, altogether undismayed by the fear of death; but she trembled at the threat which he made to expose her to the last infamy of woman. He declared that, after despatching her, he would kill a slave, put his dead body on her bed, 11 and make it be believed that the double murder had been the punishment of the adultery in which they had been surprised. Having accomplished his purpose, he retired, as pleased with himself and as proud of his triumph as if it had been a feat of honest war, and all conformable to the rules of gallantry.
Plunged in the deepest grief, Lucretia sent a message to her father, who was at Rome, and her husband, who was at the siege, praying that they might come to her immediately. They obeyed the message; she straightway informed them of all the circumstances of her dishonour, and entreated them to revenge her wrong. They promised that they would comply with her request, and set about endeavouring to console her by what means that were within their power; but she resisted all their efforts of consolation, and, drawing forth a dagger which she had concealed in her clothes, she plunged it into her heart. Brutus, who was present at this spectacle, found in it an occasion for which he had longed to deliver Rome from the tyranny of Tarquin, and he made such excellent use of it, that the royalty was abolished.
CCORDING to established data, the more brilliant portion of Sappho's career may be placed in the first half of the sixth century before Christ, while her childhood and early youth belong to the close of the seventh. Her birthplace, according to the more trustworthy authorities, was Mitylene, the metropolis of the isle of Lesbos. Others make her a native of the neighbouring town of Eresus. Whether Sappho was ever married is doubtful; but the balance of evidence is strongly on the negative side of the question. She is familiarly alluded to by Horace as the "Lesbian maiden;" nor is there any notice of a husband, but on a single recent and very questionable authority, where the broadly indecent etymology of the names, both of the man on whom the honour is conferred, and of his birthplace, sufficiently proves them to be fictitious. How far the circumstance of her having had a daughter can be considered as admissible evidence of her having been married, is a point the settlement of which must depend on a closer inquiry into her moral habits. That such was the fact, however, is stated on respectable authority. The name assigned to the maiden is Cleis, the same as that of Sappho's reputed mother. 13
Sappho is described, by the only authors who have transmitted any distinct notices on the subject, as not distinguished for personal beauty, but as short of stature, and of dark, it may be understood swarthy, complexion. The laudatory commonplace of kalë, or "fair," which Plato and others incidentally connect with her name, no way militates against this account, as implying nothing more, perhaps less, than does the English phrase by which the Greek epithet has above been rendered, and which is as frequently bestowed in familiar usage on plain as on handsome women. Alcæus describes her simply as "dark haired" and "sweetly smiling." No notice is taken of her actual beauty, which an admiring lover would hardly have passed over in silence had it offered matter for warmer eulogy.
Of the extent to which Sappho was brought under the sway of the tender passion which, in one shape or other, formed the theme, with little exception, of her collective works, sufficient evidence exists in her only remaining entire composition, the first ode in the published collections. She there describes herself, in the most touching and impassioned strains, as the victim of an unrequited love, and implores the aid of Venus to ease her pangs by melting the heart of the obdurate or inconstant object of her affection. The person to whom this ode is supposed to refer, or who at least obtained, in the popular tradition, the chief and longest sway over the affections of Sappho, was a Lesbian youth called Phaon, distinguished for his personal attractions and irresistible power over the female heart. For a time he is described as having corresponded to her ardour; but, after cohabiting with her during some years, he deserted her, leaving her in a state of despair, for which the only remedy that suggested itself was that habitually resorted to in such cases—a leap from the summit of the Leucadian promontory 14 into the sea. That she actually carried this purpose into effect was the popular opinion of antiquity, from the age, at least, of Menander downwards, and seems to have passed current as an authentic fact, even with the more intelligent authorities.
Both these points in the history of the poetess, her love for Phaon, and her leap from the Leucadian cliff, have been questioned with more or less plausibility by distinguished critics of the present age. In respect to the first, it has been denied not only that Phaon was the name of the hero of this tragical drama, but that such a person ever existed. The Leucadian leap of Sappho, though ranked by various modern commentators, like the name of her lover, among the mythical elements of her biography, will not perhaps be found, on a critical estimate of the circumstances connected with it, to offer any serious ground of scepticism.
Sappho, in the portrait of her character jointly exhibited in her own works and in the notices of her more candid and intelligent countrymen, appears as a woman of a generous disposition, affectionate heart, and independent spirit, unless when brought under the sway of those tender passions, which lorded over every other influence in her bosom. Of a naturally ardent and excitable temperament, she seems from her earliest years to have been habituated to the enjoyments rather than to the duties, much less the restraints, of Greek female life. Her chief or early occupations were the exercise and display of her brilliant poetical talents and elegant accomplishments; and her voluptuous habits are testified by almost every extant fragment of her poems. Her susceptibility to the passion of love formed, above all, the dominant feature of her life, her character, and her muse. Her indulgence, 15 however, of this, as of every other appetite, sensual or intellectual, while setting at nought all moral restraints, was marked by her own peculiar refinement of taste, exclusive of every approach to low excess or profligacy.
In the portrait presented to us by the popular authorities of the present day, all the less favourable features of the above sketch are effaced; while the colouring of the remainder has been heightened to a dazzling extreme of beauty and brilliancy, exhibiting a model of perfection, physical and moral, such as was never probably exemplified in woman, and least of all in the prioress of an association of votaries of Venus and the Muses, in one of the most voluptuous states of Greece. The following is the summary of her various excellences, given by one of the popular organs of this amiable but fallacious theory: "In Sappho, a warm and profound sensibility, virgin purity, feminine softness, and delicacy of sentiment and feeling, were combined with the native probity and simplicity of the Æolian character; and, although endued with a fine perception of the beautiful and brilliant, she preferred genuine conscious rectitude to every other source of human enjoyment."
SPASIA, daughter of Axiochus, was a native of Miletus, beautiful, well-educated, and ambitious. She resided at Athens, and is affirmed, though upon very doubtful evidence, to have kept slave-girls to be let out as courtesans. Whatever may be the case with this report, which is probably one of the scandals engendered by political animosity against Pericles, it is certain that, so remarkable were her own fascinations, her accomplishments, and her powers, not merely of conversation, but even of oratory and criticism, that the most distinguished Athenians of all ages and characters—Socrates among the number—visited her, and several of them took their wives along with them to hear her also. The free citizen-women of Athens lived in strict and almost Oriental recluseness, as well after being married as when single: everything which concerned their lives, their happiness, or their rights, was determined or managed for them by male relatives; and they seem to have been destitute of all mental culture and accomplishments. Their society presented no charm nor interest, which men accordingly sought for in the company of the class of women called Hetæræ, or courtesans, literally 17 female companions who lived a free life, managed their own affairs, and supported themselves by their powers of pleasing. These women were numerous, and were doubtless of every variety of personal character; but the most distinguished and superior among them, such as Aspasia and Theodote, appear to have been the only women in Greece, except the Spartan, who either inspired strong passion or exercised mental ascendancy.
Pericles had been determined in his choice of a wife by those family considerations which were held almost obligatory at Athens, and had married a woman very nearly related to him, by whom he had two sons, Xanthippus and Paralus. But the marriage, having never been comfortable, was afterwards dissolved by mutual consent, according to that full liberty of divorce which the Attic law permitted, and Pericles concurred with his wife's male relations (who formed her legal guardians) in giving her away to another husband. He then took Aspasia to live with him; had a son by her, who bore his name; and continued ever afterwards on terms of the greatest intimacy and affection with her. Without adopting those exaggerations which represent Aspasia as having communicated to Pericles his distinguished eloquence, or even as having herself composed orations for public delivery, we may well believe her to have been qualified to take interest and share in that literary and philosophical society which frequented the house of Pericles, and which his unprincipled son Xanthippus, disgusted with his father's regular expenditure as withholding from him the means of supporting an extravagant establishment, reported abroad with exaggerated calumnies, and turned into derision. It was from that worthless young man, who died of the Athenian epidemic during the lifetime of Pericles, that his 18 political enemies and the comic writers of the day were mainly furnished with scandalous anecdotes to assail the private habits of this distinguished man. The comic writers attacked him for alleged intrigues with different women; but the name of Aspasia they treated as public property, without any mercy or reserve: she was the Omphale, the Dejanira, or the Here, to the great Heracles or Zeus of Athens. At length one of these comic writers, Hermippus, not contented with scenic attacks, indicted her before the dikastery for impiety, as participant in the philosophical discussions held, and the opinions professed, in the society of Pericles by Anaxagoras and others. Against Anaxagoras himself, too, a similar indictment is said to have been preferred, either by Cleon or by Thucydides, son of Milesias, under a general resolution recently passed in the public assembly at the instance of Diopeithes. And such was the sensitive antipathy of the Athenian public, shown afterwards fatally in the case of Socrates, and embittered in this instance by all the artifices of political faction, against philosophers whose opinions conflicted with the received religious dogmas, that Pericles did not dare to place Anaxagoras on his trial. The latter retired from Athens, and a sentence of banishment was passed against him in his absence. But Pericles himself defended Aspasia before the dikastery: in fact, the indictment was as much against him as against her. One thing alleged against her, and also against Pheidias, was the reception of free women to facilitate the intrigues of Pericles.
He defended her successfully, and procured a verdict of acquittal; but we are not surprised to hear that his speech was marked by the strongest personal emotions, and even by tears. The dikasts were accustomed to 19 such appeals to their sympathies, sometimes even to extravagant excess, from ordinary accused persons; but in Pericles, so manifest an outburst of emotion stands out as something quite unparalleled, for constant self-mastery was one of the most prominent features in his character.
HE woman who could teach Socrates the virtue of patience deserves to be remembered. Xantippe, concerning whom writers relate so many amusing tales, was certainly a woman of a high and unmanageable spirit. But Socrates, while he endeavoured to curb the violence of her temper, improved his own. When Alcibiades expressed his surprise that his friend could bear to live in the same house with so perverse and quarrelsome a companion, Socrates replied, that being daily inured to ill-humour at home, he was the better prepared to encounter perverseness and injury abroad. After all, however, it is probable that the infirmities of this good woman have been exaggerated, and that calumny has had some hand in finishing her picture; for Socrates himself, in a dialogue with his son Lamprocles, allows her many domestic virtues, and we find her afterwards expressing great affection for her husband during his imprisonment. She must, indeed, have been as deficient in understanding as she was froward in disposition, if she had not profited by the daily lessons which for twenty years she received from such a master.
News being at length brought of the return of the ship from Delos, the officers to whose care Socrates was committed, delivered to him early 21 in the morning the final order for his execution, and immediately, according to the law, set him at liberty from his bonds. His friends, who came early to the prison that they might have an opportunity of conversing with their master through the day, found his wife sitting by him with a child in her arms. As soon as Xantippe saw them, she burst into tears and said, "Oh, Socrates, this is the last time your friends will ever speak to you, or you to them." Socrates, that the tranquillity of his last moments might not be disturbed by her unavailing lamentations, requested that she might be conducted home. With the most frantic expressions of grief, she left the prison. An interesting conversation then passed between Socrates and his friends, which chiefly turned upon the immortality of the soul. After a short interval, during which he gave some necessary instructions to his domestics, and took his last leave of his children, the attendant of the prison informed him that the time for drinking the poison was come. The executioner, though accustomed to such scenes, shed tears as he presented the fatal cup. Socrates received it without change of countenance, or the least appearance of perturbation; then, offering up a prayer to the gods that they would grant him a prosperous passage into the invisible world, with perfect composure he swallowed the poisonous draught. His friends around him burst into tears. Socrates alone remained unmoved. He upbraided their pusillanimity, and entreated them to exercise a manly constancy worthy of the friends of virtue. He continued walking till the chilling operation of the hemlock obliged him to lie down upon his bed. Then, covering himself with his cloak, he expired.
HIS celebrated woman was of Photia, and daughter of one Hermotomus. According to the portrait left us by Ælian, she was very accomplished, both in body and mind. Her name, before she went to Cyrus, was Milto, for which the king substituted that of the famous mistress of Pericles. Her rearing under her father, who lost her mother when the child was born, was proportioned to his limited means; and, when very young, she was the cause of a peculiar grief to him, insomuch as, while she was extremely beautiful, she was rendered almost hideous by a tumour which grew upon her chin. The doctor to whom her father had sent her to get the tumour removed, returned the patient in the same condition in which she went, for the reason that he had got no fee; and Milto was consequently plunged in grief, every now and then examining her face in the mirror. It was said that she discovered in a dream the means of her cure; and when this was accomplished, her features were restored to their natural proportions, so that she became the fairest maiden of her time. She has been represented as having blonde hair, with a natural curl; large eyes; a nose slightly aquiline; small ears; a delicate skin, partaking of the rose and the lily; red lips; pearly teeth; her legs 23 and arms formed in perfection; and a voice so mellifluous as to rival that of the sirens. These qualities, which were the gift of nature, were unadorned by artifice, for neither the inclination nor the ability of her father permitted of extraneous decoration.
It happened that some of those officers who commanded under Cyrus, son of the king of Persia, had observed Milto, and, considering her charms, sent her, against her own consent and that of her father, to their master, along with some other beautiful girls of Greek descent. When they presented her to Cyrus, he rose from the table and proceeded to amuse her by endeavouring to get her to drink according to the custom of the country. The three Greek girls who were with her were not of the humour of Milto; for, retaining in remembrance the instructions of their nurses, they played the rôle allotted to them, allowing themselves to be decked out for the occasion, and manifesting pleasure when Cyrus approached them, caressed them, or kissed them. They even vied with each other in the success of their powers of attraction; but Milto exhibited so much repugnance to the usage to which she had been so strangely destined, that it was not without force that she was made to submit to the necessary decoration of her person. Nor when these others were enjoying themselves with the mirth and laughter of their emulation to please the prince, did Milto cease to weep, not daring even to lift her eyes, in the shame of the situation in which she found herself placed. When Cyrus would request any of the others to sit near him, the request did not require to be repeated; but as for Aspasia, she paid no attention to it. While they allowed him to fondle them, she resisted even the touch of his finger, and used menaces in her defence, in the way of offended women. At length Cyrus put his hand upon her, when, 24 rising indignantly from the table, she endeavoured to escape. But Cyrus did justice to her virtue, declaring that of all the girls who had been sent him, she alone had displayed the beauty of innocence and modesty; and he thenceforth loved her more than he had done any other woman.
Nor was it only by the qualities of her person that Aspasia exercised an influence over Cyrus: she ruled him also by her counsels. He consulted her on all occasions, even on the most difficult subjects, and never had cause to repent the advice which she offered him. It was indeed difficult to say whether she excelled more in the gifts of her person or those of her mind; and as influence such as hers goes a great way, she might have swayed the sovereignty if she had had greater mind to such kind of ambition. As for all that concerns rank and dignity, she was treated by Cyrus as his legitimate queen; and so far as could be known, he limited his affections to Aspasia, and her alone; so we might cease to wonder if this grand elevation of a poor Greek girl should make a noise at the court of the great king. Nor was this reputation of small service to her; for after Cyrus was slain, Aspasia was diligently sought after by Artaxerxes. She was found sorrowful and desolate, and it was not without resistance that she allowed herself to be dressed in the habit which he had sent her. At the first interview, Artaxerxes fell deep in love with her; but it was long before she could be prevailed upon to return his affection.
IBERIUS Gracchus, though once honoured with the censorship, twice with the consulate, and led up two triumphs, yet derived still greater dignity from his virtues. Hence, after the death of that Scipio who conquered Hannibal, he was thought worthy to marry Cornelia, the daughter of that great man, though he had not been upon any terms of friendship with him, but rather always at variance. It is said that he once caught a pair of serpents upon his bed, and that the soothsayers, after they had considered the prodigy, advised him neither to kill them both, nor let them both go. If he killed the male serpent, they told him his death would be the consequence; if the female, that of Cornelia. Tiberius, who loved his wife, and thought it more suitable for him to die first who was much older than she, killed the male, and set the female at liberty. Not long after this he died, leaving Cornelia with no fewer than twelve children.
The care of the house and the children now entirely devolved upon Cornelia, and she behaved with such sobriety, so much parental affection and greatness of mind, that Tiberius seemed not to have judged ill in choosing to die for so valuable a woman. For though Ptolemy, king of Egypt, paid his addresses to her, and offered her a share in his 26 throne, she refused him. During her widowhood she lost all her children except three, one daughter, who was married to Scipio the younger, and two sons, Tiberius and Caius. Cornelia brought them up with so much care, that though they were without dispute of the noblest family, and had the happiest genius and disposition of all the Roman youth, yet education was allowed to have contributed more to their perfection than nature. When her son Tiberius entered upon those public employments which plunged the family into so many misfortunes, some blamed his mother Cornelia, who used to reproach her sons, that she was still called the mother-in-law of Scipio, not the mother of the Gracchi.
Cornelia is reported to have borne all her misfortunes, including the murder of her two sons, with a noble magnanimity, and to have said of the consecrated places, in particular where her sons lost their lives, that "they were monuments worthy of them." She took up her residence at Misenum, and made no alteration in her manner of living. As she had many friends, her table was always open for the purposes of hospitality. Greeks, and other men of letters, she had always with her; and all the kings in alliance with Rome expressed their regard by sending her presents, and receiving the like civilities in return. She made herself very agreeable to her guests, by acquainting them with many particulars of her father Africanus, and his manner of living. But what they most admired in her was, that she could speak of her sons without a sigh or a tear, and recount their actions and sufferings as if she had been giving a narrative of some heroes. Some, therefore, imagined that age and the greatness of her misfortunes had deprived her of her understanding and sensibility. But those who are of that opinion seem rather to have 27 wanted understanding themselves, since they knew not how much a noble mind may, by a liberal education, be enabled to support itself against distress, and that though, in the pursuit of rectitude, fortune may often defeat the purposes of virtue, yet virtue, in bearing affliction, can never lose her prerogative.
ORTIA, the daughter of Cato of Utica, was learned in philosophy, had a great and lofty spirit, joined to good sense and remarkable prudence. She was much attached to her husband Brutus. Of this latter one extraordinary instance is on record. She had reason to know that something weighed heavily on the mind of her husband, but she did not wish to interrogate him until she could prove by experience what she was able to suffer in her own person. With this view she took a small instrument with which the barbers of the time used to pare the nails; and, having dismissed from her presence her woman and servants, she inflicted a deep wound in her thigh, with the consequence of a great effusion of blood. The severe pain threw her into a fever, and Brutus having been thrown thereby into great grief, she addressed him thus:—"I, the daughter of Cato, was given to you, Brutus, not to be a partner of your bed and table only as a concubine, but to be the personal sharer in your fortunes, whether good or bad. As to your part of our contract of marriage, I have no cause to complain; but, on my side, what proof have I to offer of my devotedness to you, and how I could prove my love to you, if I did not know how to bear with constancy a secret infliction or a misfortune, which there might be any reason 29 for keeping from the knowledge of others? I know that the feeble nature of women unfits them for keeping a secret; but good training, Brutus, and the conversation of good and virtuous people, exercise an influence over women's minds; and, as for me, I have that advantage in being the daughter of Cato and the wife of Brutus. Yet even to that I could not trust myself, until I had satisfied myself by experience that I was myself superior to pain and suffering." And having finished these words, she showed him her wound, and told him how she had inflicted it to prove herself. Brutus was astonished when he heard these words; and, lifting up his hands, prayed heaven for success to his enterprise, that he might be worthy of such a wife as Portia, whom he accordingly proceeded to comfort according to his power.
Soon afterwards Cæsar was killed, and Brutus, despairing of a fortunate issue to the affair, resolved to quit Italy, and so betook himself on foot to Elia, situated on the sea-board. There Portia, being to part from him and return to Rome, she tried to conceal the sorrow which preyed upon her heart; nor would she have failed in this, had not a picture which she saw proved too much for her resolution. The subject was taken from the Greek history, where Andromache accompanied Hector to that part of the city from which he was to issue for the war, and the representation included the incident, that while Hector returned into her hands their infant, the eyes of Andromache were fixed upon him. The similarity of the position of the parties to her own forced her to weep, and every time she returned to take another look, the tears burst again from her eyes.
When she heard of her husband's death, Portia made up her mind to die, and her intention by some means having become known to her friends, 30 they watched her that they might avert so fearful a catastrophe; but she found means to elude their surveillance, and the device was strange. She snatched from the fire a handful of red-hot charcoal, and forcing it into her mouth, which, with wonderful resolution, she held firmly shut, she was choked to death.
HE grand-niece of Julius Cæsar and sister of Augustus, was one of the most illustrious dames of ancient Rome. She was married first to Claudius Marcellus, who was consul in the year of Rome 704; and very soon after his death she married Marc Antony, a union very much desired by the friends of both the parties, as likely to conciliate Antony and Cæsar, and thereby promote peace. Octavia, herself a highly virtuous woman, was well formed to promote this desirable object; but her husband afterwards so completely abandoned himself to his passion for Cleopatra, that he seemed to have lost all rational control over himself. Before he fell under this slavery of an unholy love, Octavia by her counsels exercised much power over him for good; but now matters were changed, and he left her in Italy, when in 717 he sailed from Tarentum for the East. Some time after, she went forth upon the world to try to find him; but having learned from letters received from him that he desired she should stop at Athens, she arrested her steps at that city, even while she was aware that he was merely deceiving and laughing at her. She then returned to Rome, but would not, though recommended by Augustus, remove 32 from the house of her husband; there she remained, taking upon her domestic cares and managing all things as if she still had in the faithless Antony an object of admiration. She evinced towards his children by Fulvia, his former wife, the same affection she had hitherto shown them, and reared and educated them with the same vigilance. She was willing to suffer all, but that the injuries she received at the hands of her husband should be the cause of a civil war, and in subsequently obeying his command to leave his house, her only regret was that she saw that it would be held to be the cause of political commotion. By such conduct she injured the character of Antony, even while she was not aware of the effects of her conduct; for the natural consequence was an increase of the indignation and contempt for the man who could leave such a woman for such another as Cleopatra.
The war which followed terminated, as every one knows, by the entire ruin of Marc Antony. Subsequently fortune seemed to promise Octavia a high measure of happiness. She had a son of great promise, who married the daughter of Augustus, and was viewed as the heir of the Empire; but he died in the flower of his age, and this was a shock to Octavia for which she would receive no consolation. She plunged herself into solitude and incurable melancholy. She could bear to see no image of Marcellus her son, nor even to hear his name mentioned. Hating all mothers, she raved principally against Livia, to whose son passed the honours and glory that were promised to her own. Sunk in darkness and solitude, she would not even see her brother Augustus, nor would she hear the songs of praise which had been offered to the many virtues of the son she had so dearly loved. Not even the glory of her brother had any influence in ameliorating her melancholy, if it was not that she 33 viewed his success with aversion; and thus segregated from all human sympathies, she lived only in the exercise of the solemn offices of religion.
[BORN B.C. 68. DIED B.C. 29.]
ER personal talents were indeed of the most varied kind; she was an admirable singer and musician; she was skilled in many languages, and possessed intellectual accomplishments rarely found among the staidest of her sex, combined with the archness and humour of the lightest. She exerted herself to pamper her lover's [Antony's] sensual appetites, to stimulate his flagging interests by ingenious surprises, nor less to gratify the revival of his nobler propensities with paintings and sculptures, and works of literature. She encouraged him to take his seat as gymnasiarch, or director of the public amusements, and even to vary his debauches with philosophy and criticism. She amused him by sending divers to fasten salt-fish to the bait of his angling-rod; and when she had pledged herself to consume the value of ten millions of sesterces at a meal, amazed him by dissolving, in the humble cup of vinegar set before her, a pearl of inestimable price.
Her lover attended upon her in the forum, at the theatre, and the tribunals; he rode with her, or followed her chariot on foot, escorted by a train of eunuchs; at night he strolled with her through the city, in the garb of a slave, and encountered abuse and blows from the rabble of the streets; by day he wore the loose Persian robe, and girded 35 himself with the Median dagger, and he designated as his palace the prætorium or general's apartment. Painters and sculptors were charged to group the illustrious pair together, and the coins of the kingdom bore the heads and names of both conjointly. The Roman legionary, with the name of Cleopatra inscribed upon his shield, found himself transformed into a Macedonian body-guard. Masques were presented at the court, in which the versatile Plancus sank into the character of a stage buffoon, and enacted the part of the sea-god Glaucus in curt cerulean vestments, crowned with the feathery heads of the papyrus, and deformed with the tail of a fish.
But when Cleopatra arrayed herself in the garb and usurped the attributes of Isis, and invited her paramour to ape the deity Osiris, the portentous travesty assumed a deeper significance. It had been the policy of the Macedonian sovereigns to form an alliance between the popular superstitions of their Greek and Egyptian subjects. Ptolemæus Soter had prevailed on the native priesthood to sanction the consecration of a new divinity, Serapis, who, if not really of Grecian origin, was confidently identified by the Greeks with their own Pluto, or perhaps with Zeus. The Macedonians had admitted with little scruple their great hero's claims to be the offspring of Ammon, the king of gods, who was worshipped in the Oasis of the desert. The notion that a mere man might become exalted into union with deity, favoured by the rationalising explanations of their popular mythology already current among the learned, had gradually settled into an indulgent admission of the royal right of apotheosis. Antony had assumed the character of Bacchus at Athens. In the metropolis of Grecian scepticism this could 36 only be regarded as a drunken whim; but when he came forward in Alexandria as the Nile-God Osiris, the Bacchus or fructifying power of the Coptic mythology, he claimed as a present deity the veneration of the credulous Egyptians.
Another scene follows the death of Antony. When the ceremonies of interment were finished, Cleopatra allowed herself to be led to the palace of her ancestors. Exhausted with fever by the vehemence of her passionate mourning, she refused the care of her physician, and declared that she would perish by hunger. Octavius [the conqueror of Antony] was alarmed at the avowal of this desperate resolution. He could only prevail upon her to protract her existence by the barbarous threat of murdering her children. He held out also the hope of a personal interview, and again her vanity whispered to her not yet to despair. The artless charms of youth which, as she at least deemed, had enchained the great Julius at a single interview, had long since passed away; the more mature attractions which experience had taught her to cultivate for the conquest of her second lover, might fail under the disastrous ravages of so many years of indulgence and dissipation; but time had not blighted her genius; her distresses claimed compassion; and from pity, she well knew, there is but one step to love. In the retirement of the women's apartments she decked her chamber with sumptuous magnificence, and threw herself on a silken couch in the negligent attire of sickness and woe. She clasped to her bosom the letters of her earliest admirer, and surrounded herself with his busts and portraits, to make an impression on the filial piety of one who claimed to inherit his conquests and sympathise with his dearest interests. When the expected visitor entered, she sprang passionately to meet him, and threw herself at his 37 feet; her eyes were red with weeping, her whole countenance was disordered, her bosom heaved, and her voice trembled with emotion. The marks of blows inflicted on her breast were visible in the disorder of her clothing. She addressed him as her lord, and sighed as she transferred to a stranger the sovereign title she had so long borne herself, and which she had first received from her conqueror's father.
The young Roman acknowledged the charms of female beauty, and had often surrendered to them; but he knew also his own power of resisting them, which he had already sternly practised, and he now guarded himself against her seductions by fixing his eyes obdurately on the ground. Despairing of conquest, she threw herself upon his mercy, handed to him the list of her treasures, and pleaded piteously for bare life. A slave, interrogated and threatened perhaps with torture, declaring that some of her effects were still withheld, she flew at him and tore his face with her nails. Cleopatra had tasked her powers of fascination, and she knew that they had failed. She heard without surprise that even within three days she was to be conveyed away with her children, to adorn the conqueror's triumph. She formed her plan with secresy and decision. She directed her attendants to make ready for the voyage, and repaired with her female companions to Antony's mausoleum. She gave orders for a banquet to be served, and in the meanwhile embraced the dead man's bier, and mingled her tears with the wine she poured upon it. Soon after, she commanded all her attendants to leave her except her two favourite women, Iras and Charmion, and at the same time she sent a sealed packet to be delivered to Octavius. It contained only a brief and passionate request to be buried with her lover. His first impulse was to rush to 38 the spot and prevent the catastrophe it portended; but in the next moment the suspicion of a trick to excite his sympathy flashed across him, and he contented himself with sending persons to inquire. The messengers made all haste; but they arrived too late; the tragedy had been acted out, and the curtain was falling. Bursting into the tomb, they beheld Cleopatra lying dead on a golden couch in royal attire. Of her two women, Iras was dying at her feet, and Charmion, with failing strength, was replacing the diadem on her mistress's brow. The manner of Cleopatra's death was never certainly known.
ISTORY hardly presents a more tragic situation than that of the devoted Mariamne, the miserable object of a furious attachment on the part of the monster [Herod the Great] who had slain before her eyes her uncle, her brother, and her grandfather. Herod doted upon her beauty, in which she bore away the palm from every princess of her time; the blood which flowed in her veins secured to him the throne which he had raised upon the ruins of her father's house; but her personal and political claims upon the royal regard made her doubly obnoxious to the sister [Salome] of the usurper, who felt alike humiliated by either. Mariamne was imperious: she despised the meaner parentage both of Herod and Salome, and was disgusted with the endearments of her husband, stained with the blood of her murdered kinsmen. She rebuked him impetuously for his barbarities, repelled his caresses, and denied him his rights over her person, while she maintained inviolate against all others the dignity of her conjugal virtue.
Herod was apprehensive of her influence with the people, to the detriment of his own upstart family, and her resentment was inflamed by discovering that he had given orders on leaving Judea, that she should be put to death in the event of his being sacrificed by Octavius. There 40 was little need of artifice to effect the destruction of one who laid herself open so fearlessly to the wrath of a tyrant, however he might be besotted by his love. The foes of Mariamne pretended that she had plotted to poison her husband. She was seized, examined, and sentence of death formally passed upon her. The sentence may have been intended only to intimidate her; but its execution was urged by the jealous passions of Salome, and Herod's fears were worked upon till he consented to let the blow fall. Her misery was crowned by the craven reproaches of her mother Alexandra, who sought to escape partaking her fate by basely cringing to the murderer. But she, the last daughter of a noble race, endured with constancy to the end, and the favour of her admiring countrymen has not failed to accord to her a distinguished place in the long line of Jewish heroines.
They recorded with grim delight the tyrant's unavailing remorse, his fruitless yearnings for the victim he had sacrificed, the plaintive exclamations he made to echo through his palace, and the passionate upbraidings with which he assailed her judges. He strove, it was said, by magical incantations to recall her spirit from the shades, and, as if to drive from his mind the intolerable recollection of her loss, commanded his attendants always to speak of her as one alive. Whether or not the pestilence which ensued might justly be regarded as a divine judgment, the sharp disease and deep settled melancholy which afflicted the murderer formed a signal and merited retribution for his crime.
HE second wife of the Emperor Severus deserved all that the stars could promise her. She possessed, even in an advanced age, the attractions of beauty; and united to a lively imagination a firmness of mind and strength of judgment seldom bestowed on her sex. Her amiable qualities never made any deep impression on the dark and jealous temper of her husband; but in her son's [Caracalla's] reign she administered the principal affairs of the empire with a prudence that supported his authority, and with a moderation that sometimes corrected his wild extravagances. Julia applied herself to letters and philosophy with some success, and with the most splendid reputation. She was the patroness of every art, and the friend of every man of genius. The grateful flattery of the learned has celebrated her virtue; but, if we may credit the scandal of ancient history, chastity was very far from being the most conspicuous virtue of the Empress Julia.
She had experienced all the vicissitudes of fortune. From an humble station she had been raised to greatness, only to taste the superior bitterness of an exalted rank. She was doomed to weep over the death of one of her sons, and over the life of the other. The cruel fate of Caracalla, though her good sense must have long taught her to expect 42 it, awakened the feelings of a mother and of an empress. Notwithstanding the respectful civility expressed by the usurper [Macrinus] towards the widow of Severus, she descended with a painful struggle into the condition of a subject, and soon withdrew herself, by a voluntary death, from the anxious and humiliating dependence.
[So far Gibbon; to which Guizot adds:] This princess, as soon as she heard of Caracalla's fate, entertained the idea of starving herself to death. She was reconciled to life by the respect with which Macrinus treated her, by whom she was permitted to retain her court and establishment. But if we may draw any safe conclusion from the curtailed text of Dion and Xiphilin's imperfect abridgment, she conceived new ambitious projects, and aspired to empire. She wished to follow in the steps of Semiramis and Netocris, whose ancient country bordered on her own. Macrinus ordered her immediately to quit Antioch, and retire wherever she would. Recurring to her original design, she died of hunger.
ODERN Europe has produced several illustrious women, who have sustained with glory the weight of empire; nor is our own age destitute of such distinguished characters. But if we except the doubtful achievements of Semiramis, Zenobia is perhaps the only female whose superior genius broke through the servile indolence imposed on her sex by the climate and manners of Asia. She claimed her descent from the Macedonian kings of Egypt, equalled in beauty her ancestor Cleopatra, and far surpassed that princess in chastity and valour. Zenobia was esteemed the most lovely, as well as the most heroic of her sex. She was of a dark complexion (for in speaking of a lady, these trifles become important). Her teeth were of a pearly whiteness, and her large black eyes sparkled with uncommon fire, tempered by the most attractive sweetness. Her voice was strong and harmonious. Her manly understanding was strengthened and adorned by study. She was not ignorant of the Latin tongue, but possessed in equal perfection the Greek, the Syriac, and the Egyptian languages. She had drawn up for her own use an epitome of Oriental history, and familiarly compared the beauties of Homer and Plato under the tuition of the sublime Longinus. 44
This accomplished woman gave her hand to Odenathus, who, from a private station, raised himself to the dominion of the East. She soon became the friend and companion of a hero. In the intervals of war, Odenathus passionately delighted in the exercise of hunting; he pursued with ardour the wild beasts of the desert,—lions, panthers, and bears,—and the ardour of Zenobia, in that dangerous amusement, was not inferior to his own. She had inured her constitution to fatigue, disdained the use of a covered carriage, generally appeared on horseback in a military habit, and sometimes marched several miles on foot at the head of the troops. The success of Odenathus was in a great measure ascribed to her incomparable prudence and fortitude. Their splendid victories over the great king, whom they twice pursued as far as the gates of Ctesiphon, laid the foundations of their united fame and power. The armies which they commanded, and the provinces which they had saved, acknowledged not any other sovereigns than their invincible chiefs. The senate and people of Rome revered a stranger who had avenged the captive emperor; and even the insensible son of Valerian accepted Odenathus for his legitimate colleague.
With the assistance of her most faithful friends, Zenobia [after the death of her husband] immediately filled the vacant throne, and governed with manly counsels Palmyra, Syria, and the East, above five years. By the death of Odenathus, that authority was at an end which the senate had granted him only as a personal distinction; but his martial widow, disdaining both the senate and Gallienus, obliged one of the Roman generals, who was sent against her, to retreat into Europe, with the loss of his army and his reputation. Instead of the little passions which so frequently perplex a female reign, the steady administration 45 of Zenobia was guided by the most judicious maxims of policy. If it was expedient to pardon, she could calm her resentment; if it was necessary to punish, she could impose silence on the voice of pity. Her strict economy was accused of avarice; yet, on every proper occasion, she appeared magnificent and liberal. The neighbouring states of Arabia, Armenia, and Persia, dreaded her enmity, and solicited her alliance. To the dominions of Odenathus, which extended from the Euphrates to the frontiers of Bithynia, his widow added the inheritance of her ancestors, the populous and fertile kingdom of Egypt. The Emperor Claudius acknowledged her merit, and was content that, while he pursued the Gothic war, she should assert the dignity of the empire in the East. The conduct, however, of Zenobia was attended with some ambiguity; nor is it unlikely that she had conceived the design of erecting an independent and hostile monarchy. She blended, with the popular manners of Roman princes, the stately pomp of the courts of Asia, and exacted from her subjects the same adoration that was paid to the successes of Cyrus. She bestowed on her three sons a Latin education, and often showed them to the troops adorned with the imperial purple. For herself she reserved the diadem, with the splendid but doubtful title of Queen of the East.
When Aurelian passed over into Asia, Zenobia would have ill deserved her reputation had she indolently permitted the Emperor of the West to approach within an hundred miles of her capital. The fate of the East was decided in two great battles, so similar in almost every circumstance, that we can scarcely distinguish them from each other, except by observing that the first was fought near Antioch, and the 46 second near Emesa. In both, the Queen of Palmyra animated the armies by her presence, and devolved the execution of her orders on Zabdas, who had already signalised his military talents by the conquest of Egypt. After the defeat of Emesa, Zenobia found it impossible to collect a third army. Palmyra was the last resource of the widow of Odenathus. She retired within the walls of her capital, made every preparation for a vigorous resistance, and declared, with the intrepidity of a heroine, that the last moment of her reign and of her life should be the same.
The firmness of Zenobia was supported by the hope, that in a very short time famine would compel the Roman army to repass the desert; but fortune, and the perseverance of Aurelian, overcame every obstacle. It was then that Zenobia resolved to fly. She mounted the fleetest of her dromedaries, and had already reached the banks of the Euphrates, about sixty miles from Palmyra, when she was overtaken by the pursuit of Aurelian's light horse, seized, and brought back a captive to the feet of the emperor. Her capital soon afterwards surrendered, and was treated with unexpected lenity. Subsequently, when provoked by the intelligence that the Palmyrenians had massacred the governor, Palmyra felt the irresistible weight of his resentment. But it is easier to destroy than to restore. The seat of commerce, of arts, and of Zenobia, gradually sunk into an obscure town, a trifling fortress, and at length a miserable village.
[BORN 276. DIED 315.]
HEN Diocletian conferred on Galerius the title of Cæsar, he had given him in marriage his daughter Valeria, whose melancholy adventures might furnish a very singular subject for tragedy. She had fulfilled and even surpassed the duties of a wife. As she had not any children herself, she condescended to adopt the illegitimate son of her husband, and invariably displayed towards the unhappy Candidianus the tenderness and anxiety of a real mother. After the death of Galerius, her ample possessions provoked the avarice, and her personal attractions excited the desires, of his successor Maximin. He had a wife still alive, but divorce was permitted by the Roman law, and the fierce passions of the tyrant demanded an immediate gratification. The answer of Valeria was such as became the daughter and widow of emperors, but it was tempered by the prudence which her defenceless condition compelled her to observe. She represented to the persons whom Maximin had employed on this occasion, "that even if honour could permit a woman of her character and dignity to entertain a thought of second nuptials, decency at least must forbid her to listen to his addresses at a time when the ashes of her husband and his benefactor were still warm, and while the 48 sorrows of her mind were still expressed by her mourning garments." She ventured to declare, that she could place little confidence in the professions of a man whose cruel inconstancy was capable of repudiating a faithful and affectionate wife.
On this repulse, the love of Maximin was converted into fury; and as witnesses and judges were always at his disposal, it was easy for him to cover his fury with an appearance of legal proceedings, and to assault the reputation as well as the happiness of Valeria. Her estates were confiscated, her eunuchs and domestics devoted to the most inhuman tortures, and several innocent and respectable matrons, who were honoured with her friendship, suffered death on a false accusation of adultery. The empress herself, together with her mother, was condemned to exile; and as they were ignominiously hurried from place to place before they were confined to a sequestered village in the deserts of Syria, they exposed their shame and distress to the provinces of the East, which, during thirty years, had respected their august dignity.
Diocletian made several ineffectual efforts to alleviate the misfortunes of his daughter; and, as the last return that he expected for the imperial purple which he had conferred on Maximin, he entreated that Valeria might be permitted to share his retirement of Salona, and to close the eyes of her afflicted father. He entreated; but as he could no longer threaten, his prayers were received with coldness and disdain, and the pride of Maximin was gratified in treating Diocletian as a suppliant, and his daughter as a criminal. The death of Maximin seemed to assure the empresses of a favourable alteration in their fortune. The public disorders relaxed the vigilance of their guard, and they easily found means to escape from the place of their exile, and to repair, though with some precaution, and in disguise, to the court of Licinius. 49
The behaviour of Licinius in the first days of his reign, and the honourable reception which he gave to the young Candidianus, inspired Valeria with a secret satisfaction, both on her own account and on that of her adopted son. But these grateful prospects were soon succeeded by horror and astonishment, and the bloody executions which stained the palace of Nicomedia sufficiently convinced her that the throne of Maximin was filled by a tyrant more inhuman than himself. Valeria consulted her safety by a hasty flight, and, still accompanied by her mother Prisca, they wandered about fifteen months through the provinces, concealed in the disguise of plebeian habits. They were at length discovered at Thessalonica; and as the sentence of their death was already pronounced, they were immediately beheaded, and their bodies thrown into the sea. The people gazed on the melancholy spectacle, but their grief and indignation were suppressed by the terrors of a military guard. Such was the unworthy fate of the wife and daughter of Diocletian. We lament their misfortunes; we cannot discover their crimes; and whatever idea we may justly entertain of the cruelty of Licinius, it remains a matter of surprise that he was not contented with some more secret and decent method of revenge.
[BORN 393. DIED 460.]
HE story of a fair and virtuous maiden, exalted from a private condition to the imperial throne, might be deemed an incredible romance, if such a romance had not been verified in the marriage of Theodosius. The celebrated Athenais was educated by her father Leontius in the religion and sciences of the Greeks; and so advantageous was the opinion which the Athenian philosopher entertained of his contemporaries, that he divided his patrimony between his two sons, bequeathing to his daughter a small legacy of one hundred pieces of gold, in the lively confidence that her beauty and merit would be a sufficient portion. The jealousy and avarice of her brothers soon compelled Athenais to seek a refuge at Constantinople, and, with some hopes, either of justice or favour, to throw herself at the feet of Pulcheria [the sister of Theodosius]. That sagacious princess listened to her eloquent complaint, and secretly destined the daughter of the philosopher Leontius for the future wife of the emperor of the East, who had now attained the twentieth year of his age.
She easily excited the curiosity of her brother by an interesting picture of the charms of Athenais—large eyes, a well-proportioned nose, a fair complexion, golden locks, a slender person, a graceful 51 demeanour, an understanding improved by study, and a virtue tried by distress. Theodosius, concealed behind a curtain in the apartment of his sister, was permitted to behold the Athenian virgin. The modest youth immediately declared his pure and honourable love, and the royal nuptials were celebrated amid the acclamations of the capital and the provinces. Athenais, who was easily persuaded to renounce the errors of paganism, received at her baptism the Christian name of Eudocia; but the cautious Pulcheria withheld the title of Augusta till the wife of Theodosius had approved her fruitfulness by the birth of a daughter, who espoused, fifteen years afterwards, the emperor of the West.
The brothers of Eudocia obeyed the imperial summons with some anxiety; but as she could easily forgive their fortunate unkindness, she indulged the tenderness, or perhaps the vanity, of a sister, by promoting them to the rank of consuls and prefects. In the luxury of the palace, she still cultivated those ingenious arts which had contributed to her greatness, and wisely dedicated her talents to the honour of religion and of her husband. Eudocia composed a poetical paraphrase of the first eight books of the Old Testament, and of the prophecies of Daniel and Zechariah; a cento of the verses of Homer, applied to the life and miracles of Christ; the legend of St Cyprian, and a panegyric on the Persian victories of Theodosius; and her writings, which were applauded by a servile and superstitious age, have not been disdained by the candour of impartial criticism.
The fondness of the emperor was not abated by time and possession; and Eudocia, after the marriage of her daughter, was permitted to discharge her grateful vows by a solemn pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Her ostentatious progress through the East may seem inconsistent with the spirit of 52 Christian humility. She pronounced, from a throne of gold and gems, an eloquent oration to the senate of Antioch, declared her royal intention of enlarging the walls of the city, bestowed a donation of two hundred pounds of gold to restore the public baths, and accepted the statues which were decreed by the gratitude of Antioch. In the Holy Land, her alms and pious foundations exceeded the munificence of the great Helena; and though the public treasure might be impoverished by this excessive liberality, she enjoyed the conscious satisfaction of returning to Constantinople with the chains of St Peter, the right arm of St Stephen, and an undoubted picture of the Virgin, painted by St Luke. But this pilgrimage was the fatal term of the glories of Eudocia. Satiated with the empty pomp, and unmindful, perhaps, of her obligations to Pulcheria, she ambitiously aspired to the government of the Eastern empire; the palace was distracted by female discord; but the victory was at last decided by the superior ascendant of the sister of Theodosius.
The execution of Paulinus, master of the offices, and the disgrace of Cyrus, prætorian prefect of the East, convinced the public that the favour of Eudocia was insufficient to protect her most faithful friends; and the uncommon beauty of Paulinus encouraged the secret rumour, that his guilt was that of a successful lover. As soon as Eudocia perceived that the affection of Theodosius was irretrievably lost, she requested the permission of retiring to the distant solitude of Jerusalem. She obtained her request; but the jealousy of Theodosius pursued her in her last retreat; and Saturninus, count of the domestics, was directed to punish with death two ecclesiastics, her most favoured servants. Eudocia instantly revenged them by the assassination of the count. The furious 53 passions which she indulged on this suspicious occasion seemed to justify the severity of Theodosius; and the empress, ignominiously stripped of the honours of her rank, was disgraced, perhaps unjustly, in the eyes of the world. The remainder of the life of Eudocia, about sixteen years, was spent in exile and devotion. The approach of age, the death of Theodosius, the misfortunes of her only daughter, who was led a captive from Rome to Carthage, and the society of the holy monks of Palestine, insensibly confirmed the religious temper of her mind. After a full experience of the vicissitudes of human life, the daughter of the philosopher Leontius expired at Jerusalem in the sixty-seventh year of her age, protesting, with her dying breath, that she had never transgressed the bounds of innocence and friendship.
O the list of Alexandrian philosophers must be added the celebrated Hypatia, whose extensive learning, elegant manners, and tragical end, have rendered her name immortal. Hypatia was the daughter of Theon, a celebrated mathematician of Alexandria. She possessed an acute and penetrating judgment, and great sublimity and fertility of genius; and her talents were cultivated with assiduity by her father and other preceptors. After she had made herself mistress of polite learning, and of the sciences of geometry and astronomy, as far as they were then understood, she entered upon the study of philosophy. She prosecuted this study with such uncommon success, that she was importuned to become a public preceptress in the school where Plotinus and his successors had taught; and her love of science enabled her so far to subdue the natural diffidence of her sex, that she yielded to the public voice, and exchanged her female decorations for the philosopher's cloak. In the schools, and other places of public resort, she discoursed upon philosophical topics, explaining, and endeavouring to reconcile, the systems of Plato, Aristotle, and other masters. A ready elocution and graceful address, united with rich erudition and sound judgment, procured her numerous followers and admirers. But that which reflects 55 the highest honour upon her memory is, that although she excelled most of the philosophers of her age in mathematical and philosophical science, she discovered no pride of learning; and though she was in person exceedingly beautiful, she never yielded to the impulse of female vanity, or gave occasion to the slightest suspicion against her chastity.
The extraordinary combination of accomplishments and virtues which adorned the character of Hypatia, rendered her house the general resort of persons of learning and distinction. But it was impossible that so much merit should not excite envy. The qualifications and attainments to which she was indebted for her celebrity, proved in the issue the occasion of her destruction. It happened that at this time the patriarchal chair was occupied by Cyril, a bishop of great authority, but of great haughtiness and violence of temper. In the vehemence of his bigoted zeal, he had treated the Jews with severity, and at last banished them out of Alexandria. Orestes, the prefect of the city, a man of a liberal spirit, highly resented this expulsion, as an unpardonable stretch of ecclesiastical power, and a cruel act of oppression and injustice against a people who had inhabited Alexandria from the time of its founder. He reported the affair to the emperor. The bishop, on his part, complained to the prince of the seditious temper of the Jews, and attempted to justify his proceedings. The emperor declined to interpose his authority, and the affair rapidly advanced to the utmost extremity. A body of about five hundred monks, who espoused the cause of Cyril, came into the city with a determination to support him by force. Meeting the prefect as he was passing through the street in his carriage, they stopped him, and loaded him with reproaches, and one of them threw a 56 stone at his head and wounded him. The populace, who were by this time assembled on the part of the prefect, routed the monks, and seized one of their leaders. Orestes ordered him to be put to death. Cyril buried his body in the church, and gave instructions that his name should be registered among the sacred martyrs. Hypatia, who had always been highly respected by the prefect, and who had at this time frequent conferences with him, was supposed by the partisans of the bishop to have been deeply engaged in the interest of Orestes. Their resentment at length arose to such a height, that they formed a design against her life. As she was one day returning home from the schools, the mob seized her, forced her from her chair, and carried her to the Cæsarian church, where, stripping off her garments, they put her to death with extreme barbarity, and, having torn her body limb from limb, committed it to the flames. Cyril himself has, by some writers, been suspected of secretly prompting this horrid act of violence; and if the haughtiness and severity of his temper, his persecution of the Jews, his oppressive and iniquitous treatment of the Novatian sect of Christians and their bishop, the vehemence of his present indignation against Orestes and his party, and, above all, the protection which he is said to have afforded to the immediate perpetrator of the murder of Hypatia, be duly considered, it will perhaps appear that this suspicion is not wholly without foundation. Hypatia was murdered under the reign of the Emperor Theodosius II., in the year 415.
N the time of the emperor Valentinian , Petronius Maximus, a wealthy senator of the Anician family, who had been twice consul, was possessed of a beautiful wife; her obstinate resistance served only to irritate the desires of Valentinian, and he resolved to accomplish them either by stratagem or force. Deep gaming was one of the vices of the court; the emperor, who by chance or contrivance had gained from Maximus a considerable sum, uncourteously exacted his ring as a security for the debt, and sent it by a trusty messenger to his wife, with an order, in her husband's name, that she should immediately attend the empress Eudoxia. The unsuspecting wife of Maximus was conveyed in her litter to the imperial palace; the emissaries of her impatient lover conducted her to a remote and private bed-chamber; and Valentinian violated without remorse the laws of hospitality.
Her tears when she returned home, her deep affliction, and her bitter reproaches against her husband, whom she considered as an accomplice of his own shame, excited Maximus to a just revenge; the desire of revenge was stimulated by ambition; and he might reasonably aspire, by the free suffrage of the Roman senate, to the throne of a detested and 58 despicable rival. Valentinian, who supposed that every human breast was devoid, like his own, of friendship and gratitude, had imprudently admitted among his guards several domestics and followers of Ætius. Two of these, of barbarian race, were persuaded to execute a sacred and honourable duty by punishing with death the assassin of their patron; and their intrepid courage did not long expect a favourable moment. Whilst Valentinian amused himself in the Field of Mars, with the spectacle of some military sports, they suddenly rushed upon him with drawn weapons, despatched the guilty Heraclius, and stabbed the emperor to the heart, without the least opposition from his numerous train, who seemed to rejoice in the tyrant's death.
The injury which Maximus had received from the emperor Valentinian appears to excuse the most bloody revenge. Yet a philosopher might have reflected that, if the resistance of his wife had been sincere, her chastity was still inviolate, and that it could never be restored if she had consented to the will of the adulterer. A patriot would have hesitated before he plunged himself and his country into the inevitable calamities which must follow the extinction of the royal house of Theodosius. The imprudent Maximus disregarded these salutary considerations; he gratified his resentment and ambition; he saw the bleeding corpse of Valentinian at his feet, and heard himself saluted emperor by the unanimous voice of the senate and the people. But the day of his inauguration was the last day of his happiness. He was imprisoned in the palace; and after passing a sleepless night, he sighed that he had attained the summit of his wishes, and aspired only to descend from the dangerous elevation.
The reign of Maximus continued about three months. Meanwhile his wife, the cause of these tragic events, had been seasonably removed by death; 59 and the widow of Valentinian was compelled to violate her decent mourning, perhaps her real grief, and to submit to the embraces of a presumptuous usurper, whom she suspected as the assassin of her deceased husband.
ITH this troop of German people, there came over to England [400-500] the most fair Lady Rowena, whom some Saxon authors call Ronixa, who, as our chronicles say, was the daughter of Hengist; but I find in some of that country-writers, from whence she came, that she was his niece, which is the likelier of both, considering that Hengist is not likely at that time to have been old enough to have had such a daughter, and that he was as young, when he came into Britain, as before has been said, may appear by the many years which he lived after his coming hither.
As this lady was very beautiful, so was she of a very comely deportment; and Hengist, having invited King Vortiger to a supper at his new-builded castle in Kent, caused that after supper she came forth of her chamber in the king's presence with a cup of gold, filled with wine, in her hand, and, making in very seemly manner a low reverence unto the king, said, with a pleasing grace and countenance, in our ancient language, "Wacs heal hlaford kining," which is, being rightly expounded, according to our present speech, "Be of health, Lord King." For as was is our verb of the preterimperfect tense or preterperfect tense, signifying have been, so wacs, being the same verb in the imperative mood, and now pronounced wax, is as much as to say grow, be or 61 become, and wacs-heal, by corruption of pronunciation, afterwards became to be wassaile. The king, not understanding what she said, demanded it of his chamberlain, who was her interpreter; and when he knew what it was, he asked him how he might again answer her in her own language. Whereof being informed, he said unto her, Drink heal, that is to say, drink health.
Of the beauty of this lady, the king took so great liking that he became exceedingly enamoured with her, and desired to have her in marriage; which Hengist agreed unto, upon condition that the king should give unto him the whole county of Kent; whereunto he willingly condescended, and, divorcing himself from his former married wife, he married with the Saxon Lady Rowena. She was the first Saxon queen of England.
female, perhaps of the basest origin, who could avenge the death and assume the sceptre of her husband Igor, must have been endowed with those active virtues which command the fear and obedience of barbarians. In a moment of foreign and domestic peace, she sailed from Kiow to Constantinople; and the emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus has described with minute diligence the ceremonial of her reception in his capital and palace. The steps, the titles, the salutations, the banquet, the presents, were exquisitely adjusted, to gratify the vanity of the stranger, with due reverence to the superior majesty of the purple. In the sacrament of baptism she received the venerable name of the empress Helena, and her conversion might be preceded or followed by her uncle, two interpreters, sixteen damsels of a higher, and eighteen of a lower rank, twenty-two domestics or ministers, and forty-four Russian merchants, who composed the retinue of the great princess Olga.
After her return to Kiow and Novogorod, she firmly persisted in her new religion; but her labours in the propagation of the gospel were not crowned with success, and both her family and nation adhered with obstinacy or indifference to the gods of their fathers. Her son 63 Swatoslaus was apprehensive of the scorn and ridicule of his companions; and her grandson Wolodomir devoted his youthful zeal to multiply and decorate the monuments of ancient worship. The savage deities of the north were still propitiated with human sacrifices: in the choice of the victim, a citizen was preferred to a stranger, a Christian to an idolater, and the father, who defended his son from the sacerdotal knife, was involved in the same doom by the rage of a fanatic tumult. Yet the lessons and example of the pious Olga had made a deep though secret impression on the minds of the prince and people; the Greek missionaries continued to preach, to dispute, and to baptise; and the ambassadors or merchants of Russia compared the idolatry of the woods with the elegant superstition of Constantinople. They had gazed with admiration on the domes of St Sophia, the lively pictures of saints and martyrs, the riches of the altar, the number and vestments of the priests, the pomp and order of the ceremonies; they were edified by the alternate succession of devout silence and harmonious song; nor was it difficult to dissuade them that a choir of angels descended each day from heaven to join in the devotion of the Christians.
But the conversion of Wolodomir was determined or hastened by his desire of a Roman bride. At the same time, and in the city of Cherson, the rites of baptism and marriage were celebrated by the Christian pontiff; the city he restored to the emperor Basil, the brother of his spouse; but the brazen gates were transported, as it is said, to Novogorod, and erected before the first church as a trophy of his victory and faith. At his despotic command, Peroun, the god of thunder, whom he had so long adored, was dragged through the streets of Kiow; and twelve sturdy barbarians battered with clubs the misshapen image, which was 64 indignantly cast into the waters of the Borysthenes. The edict of Wolodomir had proclaimed that all who should refuse the rites of baptism should be treated as the enemies of God and their prince; and the rivers were instantly filled by many thousands of obedient Russians, who acquiesced in the truth and excellence of a doctrine which had been embraced by the great duke and his boyars. In the next generation, the relics of paganism were finally extirpated [and all this resulted from the baptism of Olga, which may be fixed as the era of Russian Christianity].
AS the daughter and heir of Olgar, Earl of Devonshire; and though she had been educated in the country, and had never appeared at court, she had filled all England with the reputation of her beauty. King Edgar himself, who was indifferent to no accounts of this nature, found his curiosity excited by the frequent panegyrics which he heard of Elfrida; and, reflecting on her noble birth, he resolved, if he found her charms answerable to their fame, to obtain possession of her on honourable terms. He communicated his intention to Earl Athelwold, his favourite; but used the precaution, before he made any advances to her parents, to order that nobleman, on some pretence, to pay them a visit, and to bring him a certain account of the beauty of their daughter.
Athelwold, when introduced to the lady, found general report to have fallen short of the truth; and being actuated by the most vehement love, he determined to sacrifice to this new passion his fidelity to his master, and to the trust reposed in him. He returned to Edgar, and told him that the riches alone and the high quality of Elfrida had been the ground of the admiration paid her, and that her charms far from being in any way extraordinary, would have been overlooked in a woman of 66 inferior station. When he had by this deceit diverted the king from his purpose, he took an opportunity, after some interval, of turning again the conversation on Elfrida. He remarked that though the parentage and fortune of the lady had not produced on him, as on others, any illusion with regard to her beauty, he could not forbear reflecting that she would, on the whole, be an advantageous match for him (Athelwold), and might, by her birth and riches, make him sufficient compensation for the homeliness of her person. If the king, therefore, gave him his approbation, he was determined to make proposals in his own behalf to the Earl of Devonshire, and doubted not to obtain his, as well as the young lady's, consent to the marriage. Edgar, pleased with the expedient for establishing his favourite's fortune, not only exhorted him to execute his purpose, but forwarded his success by his recommendations to the parents of Elfrida; and Athelwold was soon made happy in the possession of his mistress. Dreading, however, the detection of the artifice, he employed every pretence for detaining Elfrida in the country, and for keeping her at a distance from Edgar.
The violent passion of Athelwold had rendered him blind to the necessary consequences which must attend his conduct, and the advantages which the numerous enemies that always pursue a royal favourite would, by its means, be able to make against him. Edgar was soon informed of the truth; but before he would execute vengeance on Athelwold's treachery, he resolved to satisfy himself with his own eyes of the certainty and full extent of his guilt. He told him that he intended to pay him a visit in his castle, and be introduced to the acquaintance of his new married wife; and Athelwold, as he could not refuse the honour, only craved leave to go before him a few hours, that he might the better 67 prepare everything for his reception. He then discovered the whole matter to Elfrida, and begged her, if she had any regard either to her own honour or his life, to conceal from Edgar, by every circumstance of dress and behaviour, that fatal beauty that had seduced him from fidelity to his friend, and had betrayed him into so many falsehoods.
Elfrida promised compliance, though nothing was further from her intentions. She deemed herself little beholden to Athelwold for a passion which had deprived her of a crown; and, knowing the force of her own charms, she did not despair even yet of reaching that dignity of which her husband's artifice had bereaved her. She appeared before the king with all the advantages which the richest attire and the most engaging airs could bestow upon her, and she excited at once in his bosom the highest love towards herself, and the most furious desire of revenge against her husband. He, however, had to dissemble these passions; and, seducing Athelwold into a forest on pretence of hunting, he stabbed him with his own hand, and soon after publicly espoused Elfrida.
HE knights who had returned from the Holy Land spoke with enthusiasm of a countess of Tripoli, who had extended to them the most generous hospitality, and whose grace and beauty equalled her virtue. Geoffrey Rudel, a gentleman of Blieux, in Provence, and one of those who were presented to Frederick Barbarossa in 1154, hearing this account, fell deeply in love with her without having seen her, and prevailed upon one of his friends, Bertrand d'Allaman, a troubadour like himself, to accompany him to the Levant. In 1162 he quitted the court of England, whither he had been conducted by Geoffrey, the brother of Richard I., and embarked for the Holy Land. On his voyage he was attacked by a severe illness, and had lost the power of speech when he arrived at the port of Tripoli. The countess, being informed that a celebrated poet was dying of love for her on board a vessel which was entering the roads, visited him on shipboard, took him by the hand, and attempted to cheer his spirits. Rudel, we are assured, recovered his speech sufficiently to thank the countess for her humanity, and to declare his passion, when his expressions of gratitude were silenced by the convulsions of death. He was buried at Tripoli, beneath a tomb of porphyry, which the 69 countess raised to his memory, with an Arabic inscription.
I have transcribed his verses, "On Distant Love," which he composed previous to his voyage. They began thus:—
"Angry and sad shall be my way,
If I behold not her afar;
And yet I know not when that day
Shall rise, for still she dwells afar.
God, who has formed this fair array
Of worlds, and placed my love afar,
Strengthen my heart with hope, I pray,
Of seeing her I love afar."
N the time of Edward III. of England and Philip of France, a contest arose for the principality of Brittany between the Count of Mountfort, the half-brother of the last duke, and Charles of Blois, the husband of his niece. Mountfort was besieged in Nantz. This event seemed to put an end to the pretensions of Mountfort; but his affairs were immediately retrieved by an unexpected incident, which inspired new life and vigour into his party. Jane of Flanders, Countess of Mountfort, the most extraordinary woman of the age, was roused, by the captivity of her husband, from those domestic cares to which she had hitherto limited her genius, and she courageously undertook to support the falling fortunes of her family.
No sooner did she receive the fatal intelligence, than she assembled the inhabitants of Rennes, where she then resided; and, carrying her infant son in her arms, deplored to them the calamity of their sovereign. She recommended to their care the illustrious orphan, the sole male remaining of their ancient princes, who had governed them with such indulgence and lenity, and to whom they had ever professed the most zealous attachment. She declared herself willing to run all hazards with them in so just a cause; discovered the resources which still remained 71 in the alliance of England; and entreated them to make one effort against an usurper, who, being imposed on them by the arms of France, would in return make a sacrifice to his protector of the ancient liberties of Brittany. The audience, moved by the affecting appearance, and inspirited by the noble conduct of the princess, vowed to live and die with her in defending the rights of her family.
All the other fortresses in Brittany embraced the same resolution. The countess went from place to place, encouraging the garrisons, providing them with everything necessary for subsistence, and concerting the proper plans of defence; and after she had put the whole province in a good posture, she shut herself up in Hennebonne, where she waited with impatience the arrival of those succours which Edward had promised her. Meanwhile, she sent over her son to England, that she might both put him in a place of safety, and engage the king more strongly, by such a pledge, to embrace with zeal the interests of her family.
Charles of Blois, anxious to make himself master of so important a fortress as Hennebonne, and still more to take the countess prisoner, sat down before it. Frequent sallies were made with success by the garrison; and the countess herself, being the most forward in all military operations, every one was ashamed not to exert himself to the utmost in this desperate situation. One day she perceived that the besiegers, entirely occupied in an attack, had neglected a distant quarter of their camp, and she immediately sallied forth at the head of a body of two hundred cavalry, threw them into confusion, did great execution upon them, and set fire to their tents, baggage, and magazines; but when she was preparing to return, she found that she was intercepted, and that a considerable body of the enemy had thrown 72 themselves between her and the gates. She instantly took her resolution. She ordered her men to disband, and to make the best of their way, by flight, to Brest. She met them at the appointed place of rendezvous, collected another body of five hundred horse, returned to Hennebonne, broke unexpectedly the enemy's camp, and was received with shouts and acclamations by the garrison, who, encouraged by the reinforcement, and by so rare an example of female valour, determined to defend themselves to the last extremity.
It became necessary, however, to treat for a capitulation, and the Bishop of Leon was already engaged for that purpose in a conference with Charles of Blois, when the countess, who had mounted to a high tower, and was looking towards the sea with great impatience, descried some sails at a distance. She immediately exclaimed, "Behold the succours—the English succours—no capitulation!" This fleet had on board a body of heavy-armed cavalry, and six thousand archers, whom Edward had prepared for the relief of Hennebonne, but who had been long detained by contrary winds. They entered the harbour under the command of Sir Walter Manny, one of the bravest captains of England; and, having inspired fresh courage into the garrison, immediately sallied forth, beat the besiegers from all their posts, and obliged them to decamp.
But notwithstanding this success, the Countess of Mountfort found that her party, overpowered by numbers, was declining in every quarter, and she went over to solicit more effectual succour from the king of England. Edward granted her a considerable reinforcement, under Robert of Artois, who embarked with a fleet of forty-five ships, and sailed to 73 Brittany. He was met in his passage by the enemy; an action ensued, where the countess behaved with her wonted valour, and charged the enemy sword in hand; but the hostile fleets, after a sharp action, were separated by a storm, and the English arrived safely in Brittany. A long and bloody war thenceforth ensued between England and France.
[BORN 1310. DIED 1348.]
ETRARCH reproached himself with fostering a passion which had exerted so powerful an influence over his life, which he had nourished with such unsubdued constancy for one-and-twenty years, and which still remained sacred to his heart so long after the loss of its object. This remorse was groundless. Never did passion burn more purely than in the love of Petrarch for Laura. Of all the erotic poets, he alone never expresses a single hope offensive to the purity of a heart which had been pledged to another. When Petrarch first beheld her, on the 6th of April 1327, Laura was in the church of Avignon. She was the daughter of Audibert de Noves, and wife of Hugues de Sade, both of Avignon. When she died of the plague, on the 6th of April 1348, she had been the mother of eleven children. Petrarch has celebrated, in upwards of three hundred sonnets, all the little circumstances of their attachment; those precious favours which, after an acquaintance of fifteen or twenty years, consisted at most of a kind word, a glance not altogether severe, a momentary expression of regret or tenderness at his departure, or a deeper paleness at the idea of losing her beloved and constant friend. 75
Yet these marks of an attachment so pure and unobtrusive, and which he had so often struggled to subdue, were repressed by the coldness of Laura, who, to preserve her lover, cautiously abstained from giving the least encouragement to his love. She avoided his presence, except at church, in the brilliant levees of the papal court, or in the country, where, surrounded by her friends, she is described by Petrarch as exhibiting the semblance of a queen, prominent amongst them all in the grace of her figure and the brilliancy of her beauty. It does not appear that, in the whole course of these twenty years, the poet ever addressed her unless in the presence of witnesses. An interview with her alone would surely have been celebrated in a thousand verses; and as he has left us four sonnets on the good fortune he enjoyed in having an opportunity of picking up her glove, we may fairly presume that he would not have passed over in silence so happy a circumstance as a private interview.
There is no poet in any language so perfectly pure as Petrarch, so completely above all reproach of levity and immorality; and this merit, which is equally due to the poet and his Laura, is still more remarkable when we consider that the models which he followed were by no means entitled to the same praise. The verses of the troubadours and the trouvères were very licentious. The court of Avignon, at which Laura lived—the Babylon of the West, as the poet himself often terms it—was filled with the most shameful corruption; and even the popes, more especially Clement V. and Clement VI., had afforded examples of great depravity. Indeed, Petrarch himself, in his intercourse with other ladies, was by no means so reserved. For Laura he had conceived a sort of religious and enthusiastic passion, such as mystics imagine they feel towards the Deity, and such as Plato supposes to be the bond of union between elevated minds. The poets who have succeeded Petrarch have 76 amused themselves with giving representations of a similar passion, of which, in fact, they had little or no experience.
"How jeering crowds have mocked my love-lorn woes;
But folly's fruits are penitence and shame,
With this just maxim, I've too dearly bought—
That man's applause is but a transient dream."
ENRY VII. is supposed to have been influenced by the advice of his mother, the Countess of Richmond, to whose opinions he was accustomed to listen with deference, and whose amiable qualities were likely to make an impression on her grandchildren. She was, in truth, a remarkable woman; and her dutiful and affectionate biographer, Bishop Fisher, who was also her chaplain, has fortunately left us a fine portrait of her character. Her piety and humility were great, though slightly tinged with asceticism. She rose at five in the morning, and from that hour till dinner, which in those primitive days was at ten, spent her time in prayer and meditation. In her house she kept constantly twelve poor persons, whom she provided with food and clothing; and, although the mother of a king, such was her active benevolence that she was often seen dressing the wounds of the lowest mendicants, and relieving them by her skill in medicine. She also evinced her respect for learning, both by her own works, and by munificent endowments for its encouragement. She was a mother to the students of both universities, and a patroness to all the learned men of England. Two public lectures in divinity were instituted by her, one at Oxford, and another at Cambridge; but those generous efforts were surpassed by her last and noblest foundations, the colleges of Christ and St John in the latter university. It was right 78 that such a benefactress to knowledge should be embalmed in an epitaph by Erasmus.
There can be little doubt that the advice and instructions of this exemplary woman must have had a considerable influence in directing the education of the royal progeny, and we may perhaps trace to the influence of her example that early love of letters which was shown by young Henry. Erasmus, who was then in England, has left us so pleasant a picture of the royal school-room at this time, that I need make no apology for introducing it. "Thomas More," says he, "who had paid me a visit when I was Montjoy's guest, took me, for the sake of recreating the mind, a walk to the next country-seat. It was there the king's children were educated, with the exception of Arthur, who had then attained majority. On entering the hall the whole of the family assembled, and we found ourselves surrounded not only by the royal household, but by the servants of Montjoy also. In the middle of the circle stood Henry, at that time only nine years old, but bearing an expression of royalty, a look of high birth, and, at the same time, full of openness and courtesy; on the right stood the princess Margaret, a girl of eleven years, afterwards married to James IV. of Scotland; on the left was Mary, a child of four years of age, engaged in play; while Edmund, an infant in arms, completed the group. More, with Arnold, our companion, after paying his compliments to little Henry, presented a piece of his own writing. I forget what it was. As for me, I was not anticipating such a meeting; and, having nothing of the kind with me, I could only promise that I would shortly show my respect for the prince by some similar present."
ACQUELINE of Luxembourg, Duchess of Bedford, had, after her husband's death, so far sacrificed her ambition to love, that she espoused in second marriage Sir Richard Woodville, a private gentleman, to whom she bore several children, and among the rest Elizabeth, who was remarkable for the grace and beauty of her person, as well as for other amiable accomplishments. This young lady had married Sir John Gray of Grobie, by whom she had children; and her husband being slain in the second battle of St Alban's, fighting on the side of Lancaster, and his estate being for that reason confiscated, his widow retired to live with her father at his seat of Grafton, in Northamptonshire. The king [Edward IV.] came to the house after a hunting-party in order to pay a visit to the Duchess of Bedford; and as the occasion seemed favourable for obtaining some grace from this gallant monarch, the young widow flung herself at his feet, and with many tears entreated him to take pity on her impoverished and distressed children.
The sight of so much beauty in affliction strongly affected the amorous Edward. Love stole insensibly into his heart under the guise of compassion, and her sorrow so becoming a virtuous matron, made his esteem and regard quickly correspond to his affection. He raised her 80 from the ground with assurances of favour. He found his passion increase every moment by the conversation of the amiable object, and he was soon reduced in his turn to the posture and style of a supplicant at the feet of Elizabeth. But the lady, either averse to dishonourable love from a sense of duty, or perceiving that the impression which she had made was so deep as to give her hopes of obtaining the highest elevation, refused to gratify his passion; and all the endearments, caresses, and importunities of the young and amiable Edward, proved fruitless against her rigid and inflexible virtue.
His passion, irritated by opposition, and increased by his veneration for such honourable sentiments, carried him at last beyond all bounds of reason, and he offered to share his throne as well as his heart with the woman whose beauty of person and dignity of character seemed so well to entitle her to both. The marriage was privately celebrated at Grafton. The secret was carefully kept for some time. No one suspected that so libertine a prince could sacrifice so much to a romantic passion; and there were in particular strong reasons which at that time rendered this step to the highest degree dangerous and imprudent.
[BORN 1412. DIED 1431.]
HAT is to be thought of her? What is to be thought of the poor shepherd girl from the hills and forests of Lorraine, that, like the Hebrew shepherd boy from the hills and forests of Judea, rose suddenly out of the quiet, out of the safety, out of the religious inspiration, rooted in deep pastoral solitudes, to a station in the van of armies, and to the more perilous station at the right-hand of kings? Daughter of Domrémy, when the gratitude of thy king shall awaken, thou wilt be sleeping the sleep of the dead. Call her, king of France, but she will not hear thee. Cite her by thy apparitors to come and receive a robe of honour, but she will be found en contumace. When the thunders of universal France, as even yet may happen, shall proclaim the grandeur of the poor shepherd girl that gave up all for her country, thy ear, young shepherd girl, will have been deaf for five centuries. To suffer and to do, that was thy portion in this life; that was thy destiny; and not for a moment was it hidden from thyself. Life, thou saidst, is short; and the sleep which is in the grave is long! This pure creature—pure from every suspicion of even a visionary self-interest, even as she was pure in senses more obvious—never once did this holy child, as regarded herself, relax from the belief in the darkness that was travelling to 82 meet her.
Joanna, as we in England should call her, but, according to her own statement, Jeanne (or, as M. Michelet asserts, Jean) D'Arc, was born at Domrémy, a village on the marshes of Lorraine and Champagne, and dependent upon the town of Vancouleurs. The situation, locally, of Joanna was full of profound suggestions to a heart that listened for the stealthy steps of change and fear that too surely were in motion. But, if the place were grand, the time, the burden of the time, was far more so. The air overhead, in its upper chambers, was hurtling with the obscure sound; was dark with sullen fermenting of storms that had been gathering for a hundred and thirty years. The battle of Agincourt, in Joanna's childhood, had re-opened the wounds of France. The famines, the extraordinary diseases, the insurrections of the peasantry up and down Europe—these were chords struck from the mysterious harp of the time; but these were transitory chords. By her own internal schisms, the church was rehearsing, as in still earlier forms she had already rehearsed, those vast rents in her foundations which no man should ever heal. It was not wonderful that in such a haunted solitude, with such a haunted heart, Joanna should see angelic visions, and hear angelic voices. These voices whispered to her for ever the duty, self-imposed, of delivering France. Five years she listened to these monitory voices with internal struggles. At length she could resist no longer. Doubt gave way, and she left her home for ever, in order to present herself at the dauphin's court.
It is not requisite for the honour of Joan, nor is there, in this place, room to pursue her brief career of action. That, though wonderful, forms the earthly part of her story; the spiritual part is the saintly 83 passion of her imprisonment, trial, and execution. The noble girl had achieved, as by a rapture of motion, the capital end of clearing out a free space around her sovereign, giving him the power to move his arms with effect; and, secondly, the inappreciable end of winning for that sovereign what seemed to all France the heavenly ratification of his rights, by crowning him with the ancient solemnities.
But she, the child that at nineteen had wrought wonders so great for France, was she not elated? Did she not lose, as men so often have lost, all sobriety of mind, when standing on the pinnacle of success so giddy? Let her enemies declare. During the progress of her movement, and in the centre of ferocious struggles, she had manifested the temper of her feelings, by the pity which she had everywhere expressed for the suffering enemy. She forwarded to the English leaders a touching invitation to unite with the French, as brothers, in a common crusade against infidels, thus opening the road for a soldierly retreat. She interposed to protect the captive or the wounded; she mourned over the excesses of her countrymen; she threw herself off her horse to kneel by the dying English soldier, and to comfort him with such ministrations, physical or spiritual, as his situation allowed. She sheltered the English that invoked her aid in her own quarters. She wept as she beheld, stretched on the field of battle, so many brave enemies that had died without confession. And, as regarded herself, her elation expressed itself thus:—On the day when she had finished her work, she wept; for she knew that, when her triumphal task was done, her end must be approaching.
Next came her trial. Never from the foundations of the earth was there such a trial as this, if it were laid open in all its beauty of 84 defence, and all its hellishness of attack. Oh, child of France, shepherdess, peasant girl! trodden under foot by all around thee, how I honour thy flashing intellect, quick as God's lightning, and true as God's lightning to its mark, that ran before France and laggard Europe by many a century, confounding the malice of the ensnarer, and making dumb the oracles of falsehood! Woman, sister, there are some things which you do not execute as well as your brother, man; no, nor ever will; but I acknowledge you can do one thing as well as the best of us men—a greater thing than even Milton is known to have done, or Michael Angelo—you can die grandly, and as goddesses would die, were goddesses mortal. The executioner had been directed to apply his torch from below. He did so. The fiery smoke rose upwards in billowing volumes. A Dominican monk was then standing almost at her side. Wrapped up in his sublime office, he saw not the danger, but still persisted in his prayers. Even then, when the last enemy was racing up the fiery stairs to seize her, even at that moment did this noblest of girls think only for him, the one friend that would not forsake her, and not for herself; bidding him, with her last breath, to care for his own preservation, but to leave her to God.
HIS lady was born of reputable parents in London, was well educated, and married to a substantial citizen; but, unhappily, views of interest more than the maid's inclinations had been consulted in the match, and her mind, though framed for virtue, had proved unable to resist the allurements of Edward [the Fifth], who solicited her favours. But while seduced from her duty by this gay and amorous monarch, she still made herself respectable by her other virtues; and the ascendant which her charms and vivacity long maintained over him, was all employed in acts of beneficence and humanity. She was still forward to oppose calumny, to protect the oppressed, to relieve the indigent; and her good offices, the genuine dictates of her heart, never waited the solicitations of presents or the hopes of reciprocal services.
But she lived not only to feel the bitterness of shame imposed on her by this tyrant, but to experience in old age and poverty the ingratitude of those courtiers who had long solicited her friendship, and been protected by her credit. No one among the great multitudes whom she had obliged had the humanity to bring her consolation or relief; she languished out her life in solitude and indigence; and, amidst a court 86 inured to the most atrocious crimes, the frailties of this woman justified all violations of friendship towards her, and all neglect of former obligations.
[Such is the picture of Jane Shore. Her misfortunes were partly due to the cruelty of the protector Gloster. The same author says:] The protector asked the council what punishment those deserved that had plotted against his life, who was so nearly related to the king, and was entrusted with the administration of government. Hastings replied, that they merited the punishment of traitors. These traitors, cried the protector, are the sorceress, my brother's wife, and Jane Shore, his mistress, with others, their associates. See to what a condition they have reduced me by their incantations and witchcraft; upon which he laid bare his arm all shrivelled and decayed. But the councillors, who knew that this infirmity had attended him from his birth, looked on each other with amazement; and, above all, Lord Hastings, who, as he had since Edward's death engaged in an intrigue with Jane Shore, was naturally anxious concerning the issue of these extraordinary proceedings. Certainly, my Lord, said he, if they be guilty of their crimes they deserve the severest punishment. And do you reply to me, exclaimed the protector, with your if's and your and's? You are the chief abettor of that witch Shore. You are yourself a traitor, and I swear by St Paul that I will not die before your head be brought me. He struck the table with his hand. Armed men rushed in. The councillors were thrown into the utmost confusion. Hastings was seized, was hurried away, and hastily beheaded on a timber-log which lay in the court of the Tower. Two hours after a proclamation, well penned and fairly written, was read to the citizens of London, enumerating his offences and apologising to them, from the suddenness of the discovery, for the 87 sudden execution of that nobleman, who was very popular among them. But the saying of a merchant was much talked of on the occasion, who remarked that the proclamation was certainly drawn from the spirit of prophecy. And the protector, in order to carry on the farce of his accusation, ordered the goods of Jane Shore to be seized, and he summoned her to answer before the council for sorcery and witchcraft. But as no proofs that could be received even in that ignorant age were produced against her, he directed her to be tried in the spiritual court for her adulteries and lewdness, and she did penance in a white sheet at St Paul's before the whole people.
[BORN 1483. DIED 1536.]
AS first married to Henry VIII.'s elder brother, Arthur, who died before he concluded his sixteenth year. Henry VII., divided between his policy and his conscience, first contracted her to his son Henry; and afterwards, when the latter reached his fourteenth year, becoming alarmed, insisted on his formally renouncing the engagement. Yet, strange as it may appear, this renunciation was not communicated to her father, nor to the princess, for whose marriage with Henry a papal dispensation had been procured. Meanwhile, Henry's heart became touched by the amiable qualities of Catharine, who showed no disinclination to the match; and on the 3d of June, about six weeks after his father's death, the marriage took place, which was afterwards the cause of such important changes. It was followed by the ceremony of the coronation, performed at an excessive cost, and with great magnificence. The age was one of feudal splendour; and the pageant, as it has been abridged by an amiable modern historian, presents us with a lively and peculiar picture of the times.
On the day preceding the solemnity, the king and queen went from the Tower to Westminster, through the tapestried streets, lined with the city companies in their best display. Beneath a robe of crimson velvet, 89 furred with ermine, the king wore a coat of raised gold, with a tabard shining with rubies, emeralds, great pearls, and diamonds. Nine children of honour, on great coursers, and dressed in blue velvet, powdered with fleur-de-lis in gold, represented the nine kingdoms which he governed or claimed,—England, France, Gascony, Guienne, Normandy, Anjou, Cornwall, Wales, and Ireland. Following her richly-dressed retinue, the queen was seen seated on a magnificent litter or chariot, borne by two milk-white palfreys. Her person was clothed in embroidered satin, with her hair hanging down her back at great length, beautiful and goodly to behold, and on her head a coronal, set with many rich and orient stones. After the procession and coronation had terminated, the jousts and tournaments succeeded, and were peculiarly magnificent. The king and queen were stationed on a rich edifice made within the palace of Westminster, where, from a fountain and its cascades, at many places red, white, and claret wine poured out of the mouths of various animals. The trumpets sounded to the field; and the young gallants and noblemen, gorgeously apparelled, entered it, taking up their ground, checking their horses, and throwing them on their haunches; and they afterwards tourneyed together.
Time passed. It was now five years since Henry had separated himself from the society of his queen, and solicited a divorce; and for three years he had lived in such familiar intercourse with Anne Boleyn, that no doubt could be entertained regarding the nature of the connection between them. The situation of the Marchioness of Pembroke at length confirmed this in the most unequivocal manner; and the king, becoming alarmed for the legitimacy of his expected offspring, determined to make her his wife. The marriage was performed, the parties separated as 90 quietly as they had assembled; and Viscount Rochfort was despatched to communicate the event to the king of France, and request him to send a confidential minister to England.
The divorce from Catharine was accomplished for the king by the ingenuity of his councillors. Intimation was now sent to Catharine that she must in future be contented with the style of dowager Princess of Wales; all persons were prohibited from giving her the title of queen, and her income was reduced to the sum settled upon her by Prince Arthur, her first husband. The ungrateful intelligence was conveyed to her personally by the Duke of Suffolk; and, considering the general mildness of her deportment, was received with unwonted indignation. She declared that she was, and ever would remain, the queen; and that before she would renounce that title, she would be hewn in pieces. As to her removal to any other residence, where she was to have a new household, and commence a new life as princess dowager, she peremptorily refused to give her consent. "They might bind her with ropes, but willingly she would never go."
[BORN 1507. DIED 1536.]
ISTRESS Anne Boleyn was the daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn. She returned from France in 1527, under circumstances which were favourable not only to the acquisition of all elegant accomplishments, but to the strengthening of her understanding, and the improvement of her mind. As early as 1515, she had been sent over to that kingdom to be attendant on the Princess Mary, the wife of Louis XII. On the death of this monarch, and the return of his widow to England, Anne entered the household of Queen Claude, in whose palace she remained till she was seventeen. At this time Margaret, Duchess of Alençon, the sister of Francis, became deeply attached to her, and on the demise of the queen she was taken into her family. Here she probably remained till the marriage of that princess with the King of Navarre in 1527, an event which, as it took her protectress from Paris, seems to have occasioned her recall to England, where she immediately became one of the maids of honour to Catharine.
It has been the fashion of many writers of the Roman Church to represent Anne Boleyn as having led a singularly profligate life in her early youth, but there appears no ground for so slanderous an attack. That the education of a youthful and beautiful female in one of the most 92 corrupted courts of Europe should produce austere or reserved manners was not to be suspected, but no evidence deserving of a moment's credit has been adduced to prove the slightest impurity of life; the tales against her being evidently the after-coinage of those misguided zealots who, by destroying her reputation, imagined they were performing a service to religion.
When she first appeared in court she was a lovely young woman in her twentieth year. She is described as possessing a rare and admirable beauty, clear and fresh, with a noble presence and most perfect shape. Her personal graces were enhanced by a cheerfulness and sweetness of temper which never forsook her, and her education had secured to her all those female accomplishments which were fitted to dazzle and delight a court. She danced with uncommon grace, sung sweetly, and, by the remarkable vivacity and wit of her conversation, retained the admiration of those who had at first been only attracted by her beauty. On her arrival at court, Anne was welcomed by the homage and adulation which her youth, her loveliness, and accomplishments inspired; and there seems some ground for believing that Henry became enamoured of her almost immediately. But he concealed, it is even said he struggled with, his incipient passion.
Dissimulation, however, with his majesty was now at an end. Henry had never been taught to restrain his passions; his past life, though outwardly decent, had not been remarkable for constancy; his love of pleasure, and his frequent opportunities of meeting the beautiful Anne at court, exposed him to perpetual temptation; and he at length declared himself, with the confidence of a monarch who felt that he had only to 93 make known his predilection, to be accepted as a lover. But in this he was mistaken; for, although compelled to listen to his solicitations, the lady fell upon her knees and made the following answer: "I deem, most noble king, that your majesty speaks these words in mirth to prove me; if not, I beseech your highness earnestly to take this answer in good part, and I speak it from the bottom of my soul. Believe me, I would rather lose my life than give encouragement to your addresses." Henry, however, in the common jargon of the libertine, declared that he would live in hope; when his perseverance in insult drew forth this spirited reply: "I understand not, mighty king, how you should entertain any such hope. Your wife I cannot be, both in respect of my own unworthiness, and also because you have a queen already. Your mistress, be assured, I will never be."
[The subsequent history of this unfortunate lady, her marriage with Henry after the divorce of Catharine, the false charges brought against her, her unhappy death under the axe, the reader will remember, along with the legend yet preserved in Epping Forest.] On the morning of the day which was to be her last, Henry went to hunt in that district, and as he breakfasted surrounded by his train and his hounds under a spreading oak which is yet shown, he listened from time to time with a look of intense anxiety; at length the sound of a distant gun boomed through the wood. It was a preconcerted signal, and marked the moment when the execution was completed. "Ah ha, it is done!" said he, starting up; "the business is done; uncouple the dogs, and let us follow the sport." On the succeeding morning he was married to Jane Seymour.
HE learned, ingenious, and virtuous daughter of the famous Sir Thomas More, who intended his daughters to be such invaluable wives as he has described: "May you meet with a wife who is not always stupidly silent, nor always prattling nonsense; may she be learned, if possible, or at least capable of being made so. A woman thus accomplished will be always drawing sentences and maxims of virtue out of the best maxims of antiquity. She will be herself in all changes of fortune, neither blown up in prosperity, nor broken with adversity. You will find in her an ever-cheerful, good-humoured friend, and an agreeable companion for life. She will infuse knowledge into your children with their milk, and, from their infancy, train them up to wisdom. Whatever company you may be engaged in, you will long to be at home, and retire with delight from the society of men into the bosom of one who is so dear, so knowing, and so amiable. If she touches her lute, or sings to it any of her own compositions, her voice will soothe you in your solitudes, and sound more sweetly in your ear than that of the nightingale. You will spend with pleasure whole days and nights in her conversation, and be ever finding out new beauties in her discourse. She will keep your mind in 95 perpetual serenity, restrain its mirth from being dissolute, and prevent its melancholy from being painful."
As Margaret had, in the early part of her life, by an unwearied application and industry, made herself well acquainted with the learned languages, so she seems afterwards to have been as eagerly bent on the prosecution of the studies of philosophy, astronomy, physic, and the Holy Scriptures, the two last of which were recommended by her father as the employments of the remaining part of her life; so that one might imagine from hence that the chief of her learned and most admired compositions were wrote at that time when her thoughts were free from all uneasiness and perplexities of temporal affairs. But soon after this the scene was changed, when her principal delights and enjoyments seemed to have their period in the untimely loss of her invaluable father. Upon the oath of supremacy being tendered to Sir Thomas, and his refusal to take it, he was sent to the Tower, to the inexpressible affliction of Margaret [Mrs Roper], who, by her incessant entreaties, at last got leave to pay him a visit there, where she made use of all the arguments, reason, and eloquence she was mistress of, to have brought him to a compliance with the oath; but all proved ineffectual, his conscience being dearer to him than all worldly considerations whatsoever, even that of his favourite daughter's peace and happiness. I shall add, from Dr Knight's "Life of Erasmus," that "after sentence was passed upon Sir Thomas, as he was going back to the Tower, she rushed through the guards and crowds of the people, and came pressing towards him. At such a sight, as courageous as he was, he could hardly bear up under the surprise his passionate affection for her raised in him; for she fell upon his neck, and held him fast in the most endearing embraces, but 96 could not speak one word to him; great griefs having that stupifying quality of making the most eloquent dumb. The guards, though justly reputed an unrelenting crew, were much moved at this sight, and were, therefore, more willing to give Sir Thomas leave to speak to her, which he did in these few words: 'My dear Margaret, hear with patience, nor do not any longer grieve for me. It is the will of God, and therefore must be submitted to.' And he then gave her a parting kiss. But after she was withdrawn ten or a dozen feet off, she comes running to him again, and falls upon his neck; but grief again stopped her mouth. Her father looked wistfully upon her, but said nothing, the tears trickling down his cheeks—a language too well understood by his distressed daughter, though he bore all this without the least change of countenance. But just when he was to take his final leave of her, he begged her prayers to God for him, and took his farewell of her. The officers and soldiers, as rocky as they were, melted at this sight; and no wonder, when even the very beasts are under the power of natural affections, and often show them." "Good God," adds the same elegant writer, "what a shocking trial must this be to the poor man! How could he be attacked in a more tender part?"
After Sir Thomas was beheaded, she took care for the burial of his body, and afterwards bought his head, when it was to have been thrown into the river. She likewise felt the fury of the king's displeasure upon her father's score, being herself confined to prison; but after a short confinement, and after they had in vain endeavoured to terrify her with menaces she was released, and sent to her husband.
[BORN 1510. DIED 1537.]
HE daughter of Mr Paul Withypoll, was born in London in the year 1510. She had a very polite and liberal education given her by her father; and, having an excellent genius, she became exquisitely skilful in all kinds of needlework; was a curious caligrapher; very knowing in arithmetic; an adept in several sorts of music; and she was a complete mistress in the Latin, Italian, and Spanish tongues; all which attainments were acquired at the age of twenty-six.
I can say nothing more concerning her than what her monument-inscription informs me, which, though a rude composition, I will here exhibit, as it was engraved on a plate of brass in the south aisle of the parish church of St Michael in Crooked Lane, London, being unwilling to omit anything that may preserve the memory of so ingenious a person. 98
"She wrought all needle-works that women exercise
With pin, frame, or stool; all pictures artificial;
Curious knots, or trailes, what fancy could devise;
Beasts, birds, or flowers, even as things natural;
Three manner of hands could she write them fair all;
To speak of algorism or accounts in every fashion,
Of women, few like (I think) in all this nation.
"Dame Cunning her gave a gift right excellent,
The goodly practice of her science musical,
In diverse tongues to sing and play with instrument,
Both viol, and lute, and also virginall,
Not only upon one, but excellent in all;
For all other virtues belonging to nature,
God her appointed a very perfect creeture.
"Latin, and Spanish, and also Italian
She spake, writ, and read with perfect utterance;
And for the English she the garland wan
In Dame Prudence' school by grace's purveyance,
Which clothed her with virtues from naked ignorance
Reading the Scriptures to judge light from dark,
Directing her faith to Christ, the only marke."
HE was a lady of the Paduan territory, living near the small river Anaso, from which she adopted the poetical name of Anasilla. This stream bathes the foot of certain lofty hills, from which a distinguished family, the counts of Collalto, took their appellation. The representative of this house, himself a poet as well as soldier—and, if we believe his fond admirer, endowed with every virtue except constancy—was loved by Gaspara with enthusiastic passion. Unhappily she learned, only by sad experience, the want of generosity too common to man; and sacrificing, not the honour, but the pride of her sex, by submissive affection, and finally by querulous importunity, she estranged a heart never so susceptible as her own. Her sonnets, which seem arranged nearly in order, begin with the delirium of sanguine love. They are extravagant effusions of admiration, mingled with joy and hope; but soon the sense of Collalto's coldness glides in and overpowers her bliss. After three years of expectation of seeing his promise fulfilled, and when he had already caused alarm by his indifference, she was compelled to endure the pangs of absence, by his entering the service of France. This does not seem to have been of long continuance; but his letters were infrequent, and her complaints, always vented in a sonnet, 100 become more fretful. He returns, and Anasilla exults with tenderness, but still timid in the midst of her joy.
But jealousy, not groundless, soon intruded, and we find her doubly miserable. Collalto became more harsh, avowed his indifference, forbade her to importune him with her complaints, and in a few months espoused another woman. It is said by the historian of Italian literature, that the broken heart of Gaspara sunk very soon under these accumulated sorrows into the grave; and such, no doubt, is what my readers expect, and, at least the gentler of them, wish to find. But inexorable truth, to whom I am the sworn vassal, compels me to say that the poems of the lady herself contain unequivocal proofs that she avenged herself better on Collalto by falling in love again. We find the acknowledgment of another incipient passion, which speedily comes to maturity; and while declaring that her present flame is much stronger than the last, she dismisses her faithless lover with the handsome compliment, that it was her destiny always to fix her affections on a noble object. The name of her second choice does not appear in her poems, nor has any one hitherto, it would seem, made the very easy discovery of his existence. It is true that she died young, but not of love.
The style of Gaspara Stampa is clear, simple, graceful. The Italian critics find something to censure in the versification. In purity of taste I should incline to set her above Bernardino Rota, though she has less vigour of imagination. Corniano has applied to her the well-known lines of Horace upon Sappho. But the fires of guilt and shame that glow along the strings of the Æolian lyre ill resemble the pure sorrows of the tender Anasilla. Her passion for Collalto, ardent and undisguised, 101 was ever virtuous; the sense of gentle birth, though so inferior to his as perhaps to make a proud man fear disparagement, sustained her against dishonourable submission. But, not less in elevation of genius than in dignity of character, she is very inferior to Vittoria Colonna, or even to Veronica Gambara, a poetess who, without equalling Vittoria, had much of her nobleness and purity. We pity the Gasparas. We should worship, if we could find them the Vittorias.
[BORN 1529. DIED 1546.]
NNE Askew, a young woman of merit as well as beauty, who had great connections with the chief ladies at court, and with the queen herself, was accused of dogmatising on that delicate article [the presence of the body of Christ in the sacrament]; and Henry (the Eight), in place of showing indulgence to the weakness of her sex and age, was but the more provoked that a woman should dare to oppose his theological sentiments. She was prevailed upon by Bonner's menaces to make a seeming recantation; but she qualified it with some reserves which did not satisfy that zealous prelate. She was thrown into prison; and she, therefore, employed herself in composing prayers and discourses, by which she fortified her resolution to endure the utmost extremity, rather than relinquish her religious principles. She even wrote to the king, and told him that, as to the Lord's Supper, she believed as much as Christ Himself had said of it, and as much of His divine doctrine as the Catholic Church had required. But, while she could not be brought to acknowledge an assent to the king's explications, this declaration availed her nothing, and was rather regarded as a fresh insult.
The chancellor Wriothesley, who had succeeded Audley, and who was much 103 attached to the Catholic party, was sent to examine her, with regard to her patrons at court, and the great ladies who were in correspondence with her; but she maintained a laudable fidelity to her friends, and would confess nothing. She was put to the torture in the most barbarous manner, and continued still resolute in preserving secrecy. Some authors [Fox, Speed, Baker] add a most extraordinary circumstance: That the chancellor, who stood by, ordered the lieutenant of the Tower to stretch the rack still further, but that officer refused compliance. The chancellor menaced him, but met with a new refusal. Upon which, that magistrate, who was otherwise a person of merit, but intoxicated with religious zeal, put his own hand to the rack, and drew it so violently, that he almost tore her body asunder. Her constancy still surpassed the barbarity of her persecutors, and they found all their efforts to be baffled. She was then condemned to be burned alive; and, being so dislocated by the rack that she could not stand, she was carried to the stake in a chair.
Together with her were conducted Nicholas Belenian, a priest; John Lassels, of the king's household; and John Adams, a tailor, who had been condemned for the same crime to the same punishment. They were all tied to the stake; and, in that dreadful situation, the chancellor sent to inform them that their pardon was ready drawn and signed, and should instantly be given them, if they would merit it by a recantation. They only regarded this offer as a new ornament to their crown of martyrdom; and they saw with tranquillity the executioner kindle the flames which consumed them. Wriothesley did not consider that this public and noted situation interested their honour the more to maintain a steady perseverance. 104
[While Anne Askew was in Newgate, she made what she called a ballad, which began thus:—
"Like as the armed knight
Appointed to the field,
With this world will I fight.
And Faith shall be my shield."
And having recounted her bitter conflicts, and firm trust in God, the only comfort she had in her affliction, she concludes with these charitable and truly Christian lines—
"Yet, Lord, I Thee desire,
For that they do to me;
Let them not taste the hire
Of their iniquity."
The whole ballad is published by Bale.]
[BORN 1533. DIED 1603.]
HERE are few great persons in history who have been more exposed to the calumny of enemies and the adulation of friends than Queen Elizabeth, and yet there scarcely is any whose reputation has been more certainly determined by the unanimous consent of posterity. The unusual length of her administration, and the strong features of her character, were able to overcome all prejudices; and, obliging her detractors to abate much of their invectives, and her admirers somewhat of their panegyrics, have at last, in spite of political factions, and, what is more, of religious animosities, produced a uniform judgment in regard to her conduct.
Her vigour, her constancy, her magnanimity, her penetration, vigilance, and address, are allowed to merit the highest praises, and appear not to have been surpassed by any person that ever filled a throne. A conduct less rigorous, less imperious, more sincere, more indulgent to her people, would have been requisite to form a perfect character. By the force of her mind she controlled all her more active and stronger qualities, and prevented them from running into excess. Her heroism was exempt from temerity, her frugality from avarice, her friendship from partiality, her enterprise from turbulency and a vain ambition: she 106 guarded not herself with equal care or equal success from lesser infirmities—the rivalship of beauty, the desire of admiration, the jealousy of love, and the sallies of anger.
Her singular talents for government were founded equally on her temper and on her capacity. Endowed with a great command over herself, she soon obtained an uncontrolled ascendant over her people; and while she merited all their esteem by her real virtues, she also engaged their affection by her pretended ones. Few sovereigns of England succeeded to the throne in more difficult circumstances, and none ever conducted the government with such uniform success and felicity. Though unacquainted with the practice of toleration, the true secret for managing religious factions, she preserved her people, by her superior prudence, from those confusions in which religious controversy had involved all the neighbouring nations; and though her enemies were the most powerful princes of Europe,—the most active, the most enterprising, the least scrupulous,—she was able, by her vigour, to make deep impressions on their states. Her own greatness remained, meanwhile, untouched and unimpaired.
The wise ministers and brave warriors who flourished under her reign, share the praise of her success; but instead of lessening the applause due to her, they make a great addition to it. They owed, all of them, their advancement to her choice; they were supported by her constancy; and, with all their abilities, they were never able to acquire any undue ascendant over her. In her family, in her court, in her kingdom, she remained equally mistress: the force of the tender passions was great over her, but the force of her mind was still superior; and the combat which the victory visibly cost her, serves only to display the firmness of her resolution and the loftiness of her ambitious sentiments. 107
The fame of this princess, though it has surmounted the prejudices both of faction and of bigotry, yet lies still exposed to another prejudice, which is more durable, because more natural, and which, according to the different views in which we survey her, is capable either of exalting beyond measure, or diminishing the lustre of her character. This prejudice is founded on the consideration of her sex. When we contemplate her as a woman, we are apt to be struck with the highest admiration of her great qualities and extensive capacity; but we are also apt to require some more softness of disposition, some greater lenity of temper, some of those amiable weaknesses by which her sex is distinguished. But the true method of estimating her merit is to lay aside all these considerations, and to consider her merely as a rational being placed in authority, and entrusted with the government of mankind. We may find it difficult to reconcile our fancy to her as a wife or a mistress; but her qualities as a sovereign, though with some considerable exceptions, are the object of undisputed applause and approbation.
Of all the sovereigns who exercised a power which was seemingly absolute, but which, in fact, depended for support on the love and confidence of their subjects, Elizabeth was by far the most illustrious. It has often been alleged as an excuse for the misgovernment of her successors, that they only followed her example; that precedents might 108 be found in the transactions of her reign for persecuting the Puritans; for levying money without the sanction of the House of Commons, for confining men without bringing them to trial, for interfering with the liberty of Parliamentary debate. All this may be true. But it is no good plea for her successors, and for this plain reason, that they were her successors. She governed one generation—they governed another. It was not by looking at the particular measures which Elizabeth had adopted, but by looking at the great general principles of her government, that those who followed her were likely to learn the art of managing untractable subjects. If, instead of searching the records of her reign for precedents which might seem to vindicate the mutilation of Prynne and the imprisonment of Eliot, the Stuarts had attempted to discover the fundamental rules which guided her conduct in all her dealings with her people, they would have perceived that their policy was then most unlike to hers, when, to a superficial observer, it would have seemed most to resemble hers. Firm, haughty, sometimes unjust and cruel in her proceedings towards individuals, or towards small parties, she avoided with care, or retracted with speed, every measure which seemed likely to alienate the great mass of the people. She gained more honour and more love by the manner in which she repaired her errors than she would have gained by never committing errors.
If such a man as Charles I. had been in her place when the whole nation was crying out against the monopolies, he would have refused all redress. He would have dissolved the Parliament and imprisoned the most popular members. He would have called another Parliament. He would have given some vague and delusive promises of relief in return for 109 subsidies. When entreated to fulfil his promises, he would have again dissolved the Parliament, and again imprisoned his leading opponents. The country would have become more agitated than before. The next House of Commons would have been more unmanageable than that which preceded it. The tyrant would have agreed to all that the nation demanded. He would have solemnly ratified an act abolishing monopolies for ever. He would have received a large supply in return for this concession, and, within half a year, new patents, more oppressive than those which had been cancelled, would have been issued by scores. Such was the policy which brought the heir of a long line of kings, in early youth the darling of his country, to a prison and a scaffold.
Elizabeth, before the House of Commons could address her, took out of their mouths the words they were about to utter in the name of the nation. Her promises went beyond their desires, and their performance followed close upon her promises. She did not treat the nation as an adverse party, as a party who had an interest opposed to hers, as a party to which she was to grant as few advantages as possible. Her benefits were given, not sold, and when once given, they were never withdrawn. She gave them, too, with a frankness, an effusion of heart, a princely dignity, a motherly tenderness, which enhanced their value. They were received by the sturdy country gentlemen, who had come up to Westminster full of resentment, with tears of joy, and shouts of God save the Queen.
[BORN 1537. DIED 1554.]
HE grand-daughter of Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII., and of Charles Branden, Duke of Suffolk, and daughter of Henry Grey, Marquis of Dorset, was a lady of an amiable person, an engaging disposition, and accomplished parts; and being of an equal age with the late king [Edward VI.], she had received all her education with him, and seemed to possess greater facility in acquiring every part of manly and polite literature. She had attained a similar knowledge of the Roman and Greek languages, besides modern tongues; had passed most of her time in an application to learning, and expressed a great indifference for other occupations and amusements usual with her sex and station. Roger Ascham, tutor to the Lady Elizabeth, having one day paid her a visit, found her employed in reading Plato, while the rest of the party were engaged hunting in the park; and on his admiring the singularity of her choice, she told him that she received more pleasure from that author than the others could reap from all their sport and gaiety.
Her heart, full of this passion for literature and the elegant arts, and of tenderness towards her husband [Lord Guildford], who was deserving of her affections, had never opened itself to the flattering allurements 111 of ambition, and the intelligence of her elevation to the throne was nowise agreeable to her. She even refused to accept of the present; pleaded the preferable title of the two princesses; expressed her dread of the consequences attending an enterprise so dangerous, not to say criminal; and desired to remain in the private station in which she was born. Overcome at length by the entreaties rather than the reasons of her father and father-in-law, and above all of her husband, she submitted to their will, and was prevailed on to relinquish her own judgment.
It was then usual for the kings of England, after their accession, to pass their first days in the Tower, and Northumberland thither conveyed the new sovereign. All the councillors were obliged to attend her to that fortress, and by this means became in reality prisoners in the hands of Northumberland, whose will they were necessitated to obey. Orders were given by the council to proclaim Jane throughout the kingdom, but their orders were executed only in London and the neighbourhood. No applause ensued. The people heard the proclamation with silence and concern; some even expressed their scorn and contempt; and one Pot, a vintner's apprentice, was severely punished for this offence. The Protestant teachers themselves, who were employed to convince the people of Jane's title, found their eloquence fruitless; and Ridley, Bishop of London, preached a sermon to that purpose, which wrought no effect upon his audience.
After the defeat of Northumberland's and another rebellion, warning was given the Lady Jane to prepare for death—a doom which she had long expected, and which the innocence of her life, as well as the misfortunes to which she had been exposed, rendered nowise unwelcome to 112 her. The queen's zeal, under colour of tender mercy to the prisoner's soul, induced her to send divines, who harassed her with perpetual disputations; and even a reprieve for three days was granted, in hopes that she should be persuaded during that time to pay, by a timely conversion, some regard to her eternal welfare. The Lady Jane had presence of mind in those melancholy circumstances not only to defend her religion by all the topics then in use, but also to write a letter to her sister in the Greek language, in which, besides sending her a copy of the Scriptures in that tongue, she exhorted her to maintain in every feature a like steady perseverance.
It had been intended to execute the Lady Jane and Lord Guildford together on the same scaffold at Tower Hill; but the council, dreading the compassion of the people for their youth, beauty, innocence, and noble birth, changed their orders, and gave directions that she should be beheaded within the verge of the Tower. She saw her husband led to execution, and, having given him from the window some token of remembrance, she waited with tranquillity till her own appointed hour should bring her to a like fate. She even saw his headless body carried back in a cart, and found herself more confirmed by the reports which she heard of the constancy of his end, than shaken by so tender and melancholy a spectacle. Sir John Gage, constable of the Tower, when he led her to execution, desired her to bestow on him some small present which he might keep as a perpetual memorial of her. She gave him her table-book, on which she had just written three sentences on seeing her husband's dead body—one in Greek, another in Latin, a third in English. On the scaffold she made a speech to the bystanders, in which the 113 mildness of her disposition led her to take the blame wholly on herself, without uttering one complaint against the severity with which she had been treated; that she justly deserved this punishment for being made the instrument, though the unwilling instrument, of the ambition of others; and that the story of her life, she hoped, might at least be useful, by proving that innocence excuses not great misdeeds, if they tend anywise to the destruction of the commonwealth. After uttering these words, she caused herself to be disrobed by her women, and, with a steady serene countenance, submitted herself to the executioner.
HILARION DE COSTE.
AMILLAS Molza, Knight of the Order of St James in Spain, who was son of the great Frances Maria Molza of Modena, orator and excellent poet, having remarked from her early years the bounty and excellence of her spirit, sent her with her brothers to learn the principles of grammar. John Politian, a native of Modena, very learned in all the sciences, very virtuous, and of holy life, became her master. She apprehended also the humane letters, learned to write well, and to compose correctly, under the care of Lazarus Labadini, a celebrated grammarian of the time, reducing his instruction to practice in elegant compositions in prose and verse. She became well versed in the rhetoric of Aristotle under Camillus Corcapini. The mathematician Antonio Guarini taught her the knowledge of the sphere. She became intimately acquainted with poetry under the famous philosopher Patricio, with logic and general philosophy under P. Latoni, and also attained to an entire and perfect knowledge of the Greek tongue. Rabi Abraham taught her the principles of the Hebrew language, as her uncle had taught her before; the consequence of all which was that, with her inclination to study so well observed by these great men, she made such notable progress, that it became easy for her 115 to solve the most subtle questions in theology.
Nor did she stop here. John Maria Barbier, a man of great knowledge and judgment, introduced her to the refinements of the Tuscan language, in which she not only composed many elegant verses, but also many letters and other works, much esteemed by the most accomplished and learned men of Italy. With her more peculiar inventions, she mixed up a quantity of translations of Greek and Latin works, in which she expressed so happily and properly the thoughts of the authors, that she reduced the reader to doubt whether she had not a better knowledge of these languages than of her own. She afterwards applied herself to music, to entertain her and divert her from more serious studies, and soon surpassed all the dames who had been in use to sing with great applause, and to ravish the ears with admiration. She acquired the conduct of her voice by the true rules of books of the best authors, of whom many had the ambition to show her something rare; and, while playing on instruments, she could join her voice with such address and science as could not be equalled. And so much did she excel in this, that Alfonso, the second Duke of Ferrara, a judicious prince, and who had an extreme passion for all fair and good things, was ravished with admiration, having found more of the marvellous in this dame than he had looked for. A little afterwards she instituted the celebrated concert of dames, who did her so much honour, that they always called her into their company, that, by her presence, she might perfect the choir she had formed.
[Having lost her husband, says Bayle, this admirable woman, though left without children and still young, wished to remain unmarried; while her grief was so remarkable, that she might have been compared to 116 Artemisia. She was by the senate and Roman people honoured with the title of Incomparable, and invested by patent with the right of a Roman citizen,—a privilege extended to the whole house of Molza.]
[BORN 1542. DIED 1587.]
O all the charms of beauty and the utmost elegance of external form, Mary added those accomplishments which render their impression irresistible. Polite, affable, insinuating, sprightly, and capable of speaking and writing with equal ease and dignity. Sudden, however, and violent in all her attachments, because her heart was warm and unsuspicious. Impatient of contradiction, because she had been accustomed from her infancy to be treated as a queen. No stranger, on some occasions, to dissimulation, which in that perfidious court where she received her education was reckoned among the necessary arts of government. Not insensible to flattery, or unconscious of that pleasure with which almost every woman beholds the influence of her own beauty. Formed with the qualities which we love, not with the talents that we admire, she was an agreeable woman rather than an illustrious queen. The vivacity of her spirit, not sufficiently tempered with sound judgment, and the warmth of her heart, which was not at all times under the restraint of discretion, betrayed her both into errors and into crimes. To say that she was always unfortunate will not account for that long and almost uninterrupted succession of calamities which befell her; we 118 must likewise add, that she was often imprudent. Her passion for Darnley was rash, youthful, and excessive; and though the sudden transition to the opposite extreme was the natural effect of her ill-requited love, and of his ingratitude, insolence, and brutality, yet neither these nor Bothwell's artful address and important services can justify her attachments to that nobleman. Even the manners of the age, licentious as they were, are no apology for this unhappy passion; nor can they induce us to look on that tragical and infamous scene which followed upon it with less abhorrence.
Humanity will draw a veil over this part of her character which it cannot approve, and may perhaps prompt some to impute her actions to her situation more than to her dispositions; and to lament the unhappiness of the former, rather than accuse the perverseness of the latter. Mary's sufferings exceed, both in degree and duration, those tragical distresses which fancy has feigned to excite sorrow and commiseration; and while we survey them, we are apt altogether to forget her frailties: we think of her faults with less indignation, and approve of our tears, as if they were shed for a person who had attained much nearer to pure virtue.
With regard to the queen's person, a circumstance not to be omitted in writing the history of a female reign, all contemporary authors agree in ascribing to Mary the utmost beauty of countenance and elegance of shape of which the human form is capable. Her hair was black, although, according to the fashion of that age, she frequently wore borrowed locks, and of different colours. Her eyes were a dark grey, her complexion was exquisitely fine, and her hands and arms remarkably delicate, both as to shape and colour. Her stature was of an height that rose to the majestic. She danced, walked, and rode with equal grace. 119 Her taste for music was just; and she both sung and played upon the lute with uncommon skill. Towards the end of her life, long confinement, and the coldness of the houses in which she had been imprisoned, brought on a rheumatism which often deprived her of the use of her limbs. No man, says Brantome, ever beheld her person without admiration and love, or will read her history without sorrow.
HE most famous of the beauties of France, and whose renown is inseparably associated with the glory of the most popular of the French monarchs, was born at the Château de Cœuvres, near Soissons, in the year 1576. Her father was a gallant soldier, who had deserved well of his country, Antoine D'Estrees, Marquis de Cœuvres. At an early age Gabrielle gave promise of a remarkable beauty, when time should have developed the fair proportions, rounded the slender figure, and lent expression to the radiant face. Though her mother was notorious for the looseness of her life, the daughter showed a high sense of purity, and her reserve was the despair of all the young nobles in her neighbourhood. She reached the age of seventeen without knowing what it was to love, and her heart was as innocent as her loveliness was without blemish.
Shortly after the accession of Henri Quatre to his precarious throne, he despatched on a mission to Monsieur D'Estrees the first gentleman of his chamber, the handsome and accomplished Duke de Bellegarde. This brilliant courtier gazed with wonder on the beauty so long concealed in the obscurity of a feudal castle. Her tresses glowed with burnished gold; her blue eyes sparkled with a dazzling fire, her complexion was 121 radiantly fair, her nose well shaped and aquiline, her mouth was well fitted with pearly teeth, and her lips resembled the all-compelling bow of the god of love. A stately throat, a gently swelling bust, a rounded arm and slender hand—these completed the charms which a fascinating address and natural elegance of movement rendered still more irresistible.
Bellegarde saw and loved; nor was his evident devotion unpleasing to Mademoiselle D'Estrees, who had never before encountered a cavalier so handsome, so gallant, and so chivalrous. The course of true love seemed with this fortunate twain to run most smoothly; for though Gabrielle had been betrothed from her childhood to Andre de Brancas Sieur de Villars, brother of the Marquis de Villars, who had married her elder sister Juliette, the Marquis de Cœuvres could not resist his daughter's entreaties, and consented to affiance her to the Duke de Bellegarde. He was not, indeed, insensible to the advantages of an alliance with a noble so powerful and wealthy, and who stood so high in the favour of King Henry. The lovers exchanged rings in his presence; the duke presented his lady-love with his portrait, and then returned to his duties at court, where his engagement to an unknown beauty excited great astonishment.
At this time Henri Quatre was holding his court at Mantes, and relieving the sterner toils of empire by sharing in the banquet and the song. The dames and demoiselles of Mantes were often the themes of the merry talk of the jocund monarch and his courtiers, and much surprise was expressed at the indifference with which the Duke de Bellegarde conducted himself among them. They could not conceive that a country maiden could be any worthy rival of the dazzling dames de la cour. The duke replied that 122 not one of them could hope to equal la dame des ses pensees, the beautiful Gabrielle D'Estrees. Henry laughed at the lover's infatuation. Bellegarde, piqued at his incredulity, invited him to accompany him to the Château de Cœuvres. The king promised; and thus, as Mademoiselle de Guise sagely observes, "the hopeful lover became the artificer of his own misfortunes," for it was due to that ill-omened visit that he perilled his happiness, and lost the favour of the king.
As the château was at no great distance from Senlis, where Henry afterwards was, he and the courtiers rode hastily forward. Henry was received with the welcome due to so brave a king; and the beautiful Gabrielle did homage to him by kissing his hand, and proffered the winecup for his refreshment. Her loveliness burst upon the astonished monarch, as the glories of the new world broke on the dazzled eyes of Columbus. Fresh, and pure, and unsophisticated, it took captive the royal heart, and the memories of all former loves paled before the fervency of this new passion. When he retired to Senlis, he summoned thither the Marquis de Cœuvres and his daughter, under pretext that the marquis might take his oaths as a member of the royal council. The summons was most unacceptable to Gabrielle, who complained bitterly that Henry's attentions sullied her maiden fame, while she grieved at the popular rumour that her lover Bellegarde had been ensnared by the charms of Mademoiselle de Guise. On her arrival at Senlis, she offered Bellegarde to consent to a private marriage as the only means of evading the "evil designs" of his majesty; but the duke was not chivalrous enough to dare the royal wrath. The king persisted in demanding 123 Bellegarde's submission. He visited the beauty in the hope of soothing her disappointment and moderating her anger; but she wept continually, and, flinging herself on her knees, implored him to restore to her her affianced husband. When she found him immovable, she rose and abruptly left the apartment, and during the night quitted Senlis, and returned to her father's castle.
Meanwhile, engaged in war, Henry joined his principal officers at La Fêre. It was at this epoch that he resolved on the most romantic and adventurous passage of his romantic and adventurous life. He set out from La Fêre early in the dim, misty morning of the 18th November, accompanied by twelve cavaliers. At a village about nine miles from Cœuvres he quitted his attendants, and prosecuted his journey on foot, in the disguise of a peasant. To complete the transformation he carried a sack of straw on his head. It was difficult for even the invincible Gabrielle to resist so surprising a proof of her royal lover's devotion. She did not allow herself, however, to succumb too quickly. The reception was cold and ungracious. Mademoiselle professed to be disgusted with the coarse, rude garb assumed by the royal adventurer; but a brief conversation having followed, a visible relenting on the part of the flattered beauty so cheered the enamoured Henry, that, on taking leave, he said to Madame Villars, "I have now a good heart that nothing will go wrong with me, but all things prosper. I am going to pursue the enemy, and in a day or two ma belle will hear what gallant exploits I have accomplished for love of her."
The king's visit to the château was not attended by any disastrous consequences. He returned to La Fêre in safety, and his devotion to the lady became well known all over France; but her father was determined 124 to save her honour by a method not unusual in those days. He chose a husband for his daughter, and intimated that no option would be allowed her. This was Monsieur de Liancourt, who was many years her senior, and a widower, with nine children,—wealthy, ignorant, weak in mind, and disagreeable in person. In vain Gabrielle appealed to the king against a marriage which was little better than "a living death." Henry was well pleased with an event which he foresaw would vanquish the beauty's last lingering reluctance. He said "he would cause her to be carried away within one hour of the celebration of her espousals." Her marriage took place at Cœuvres in January 1591, and she made her preparations to escape immediately from the bridegroom she loathed to the gallant Henry. The following day a royal order exiled Monsieur de Liancourt. Thenceforth Gabrielle reigned supreme in the heart of Henri Quatre.
HIS lady was daughter of George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, and born in 1589. She was first married to the Earl of Dorset, and secondly to the Earl of Pembroke. She had a clear soul shining through a vivid body; her body was durable and healthful, her soul sprightful, of great understanding and judgment, faithful memory, and ready wit. She had early gained knowledge as of the best things; so an ability to discourse in all commendable arts and sciences, as well as in those things which belong to persons of her birth and sex to know. For she could discourse with virtuosos, travellers, scholars, merchants, divines, statesmen, and with good housewives, in any kind; in so much that a prime and elegant wit, Dr Donne, well seen in all human learning, and afterwards devoted to the study of divinity, is reported to have said of this lady in her younger years, "that she knew well how to discourse of all things, from predestination to slea-silk." Although she knew wool and flax, fine linen and silk, things appertaining to the spindle and distaff, yet "she could open her mouth with wisdom," knowledge of the best and highest things. If she had sought fame rather than wisdom, possibly she might have been ranked among those wits and learned of that sex of whom 126 Pythagoras, or Plutarch, or any of the ancients, have made such honourable mention.
Authors of several kinds of learning, some of controversies very abstruse, were not unknown to her. She much commended one book, William Barclay's dispute with Bellarmine, both, as she knew, of the Popish persuasion; but the former less papal, and, she said, had well stated a main point, and opposed that learned cardinal for giving too much power even in temporals to the pope over kings and secular princes, which she seemed to think the main thing aimed at by the followers of that court; to pretend to claim only to govern directly in spirituals, but to intend chiefly, though indirectly, to hook in temporals, and in them to gain power, dominion, and tribute; money and rule being gods to which the Roman courtiers and their partisans chiefly sacrifice.
As she had been a most critical searcher into her own life, so she had been a diligent inquirer into the lives, fortunes, and characters of many of her ancestors for many years. Some of them she has left particularly described, and the exact annals of diverse passages, which were most remarkable in her own life ever since it was wholly at her own disposal, that is, since the death of her last lord and husband, Philip, Earl of Pembroke, which was for the space of twenty-six or twenty-seven years.
From this her great diligence, as her posterity may find in reading those abstracts of occurrences in her own life, being added to her heroic fathers' and pious mothers' lives, dictated by herself, so they may reap greater fruits of her diligence in finding the honours, descents, pedigrees, estates, and the titles and claims of their progenitors to them, comprised historically and methodically in three 127 volumes of the larger size, and each of them three or four times fairly written over; which, although they were said to have been collected and digested in some parts by one or more learned heads, yet were they wholly directed by herself, and attested in the most parts by her own hand.
EMARKABLE for her caligraphy, the chief thing I have to mention concerning her. All that see her writing are astonished at it, upon the account of its exactness, its fineness, and variety; and many are of opinion that nothing can be more exquisite. Gazius, Ascham, Davies, Gething, Lyte, and many others, have been celebrated for their extraordinary talents this way; but this lady has excelled them all, what she has done being almost incredible. One of the many delicate pieces she wrote was in the custody of Mr Samuel Kello, her great-grandson, in 1711. Others are remaining at the Castle of Edinburgh. Mr Hearne saw one in the hands of Philip Harcourt, Esq., entitled, "Historiæ Memorabiles Genesis, per Estheram Inglis, Edinburgi. Anno 1600."
In the archives of Christ's Church, in Oxford, are the Psalms of David, written in French with her own hand, and presented to Queen Elizabeth by Mrs Inglis herself; and were by that princess given to this library. In the archives in Bodley's Library are two more of her manuscripts, preserved with great care. One of them is entitled "Les Six Vingts et Six Quartains de Guy de Faur Sieur de Pybrae, escrits Esther Inglis, pour sin dernier adieu ce 21 jour de June 1617." In the second leaf this in capital letters: "To the Right Worshipfull my very singular friende, 129 Joseph Hall, Doctor of Divinity and Dean of Worchester, Esther Inglis wisheth all increase of true happiness, Junii 21, 1616." In third leaf, her head, painted on a card, and pasted upon the leaf.
The title of the other book is "Les Proverbes de Solomon, escrites in diverses sortes des Lettres, par Esther Anglois, Francoise. A Lislebourge en Escosse, 1599." This delicate performance gains the admiration of all who see it; every chapter is wrote in a different hand, as is the dedication, and some other things at the beginning of the book, which makes near forty several sorts of hands. The beginnings and endings of the chapters are adorned with most beautiful head and tail pieces, and the margins are elegantly decorated with the pen, in imitation, I suppose, of the elegant old manuscripts. The book is dedicated to the Earl of Essex, Queen Elizabeth's great favourite. At the beginning are his arms, neatly drawn, with all its quarterings, in number fifty-six. In the fifth leaf is her own picture, done with the pen, in the habit of that time. In her right hand a pen, the left resting upon a book opened, in one of the leaves of which is written, "Del eternal le bien. De moi le mal, ou rien." On the table before her there is likewise a music-book lying open, which perhaps intimates that she had some skill in that art. Under the picture is an epigram in Latin, written by Andrew Melvin, and, in the next page, another composed by the same author in Latin, of which the following is a translation:— 130
"One hand Dame Nature's mimic does express
Her larger figures, to the life in less;
In the rich border of her work do stand
Afresh, created by her curious hand,
The various signs and planets of the sky,
Which seem to move and twinkle in our eye;
Much we the work, much more the hand admire,
Her fancy guiding this does raise our wonder higher."
It appears that she lived unmarried till she was about forty; and then, I find by a memorandum made by my late friend Mr Hearne, in a spare leaf at the beginning of her manuscript of the Proverbs of Solomon, that she was married to Mr Bartholomew Kello [Kelly?], a Scotchman, by whom she had a son, named Samuel Kello, who was educated in Christ Church College, Oxon.
HE youngest daughter of Sir Charles Lucas, and the wife of the Marquis of Newcastle, had, from her infancy, a natural inclination to learning, and spent so much of her time in study and writing, that it is much to be lamented she had not the advantage of an acquaintance with the learned languages, which would have extended her knowledge, refined her genius, and have been of infinite service to her in the many compositions and productions of her pen.
In 1643, she obtained leave of her mother to go to Oxford, where the court then resided, and was made one of the maids of honour to Henrietta Maria, the royal consort of King Charles I.; and when the queen, by her rebellious subjects, was unhappily forced to leave England and go to her native country, she attended her thither. At Paris she met with the Marquis of Newcastle, then a widower, who, admiring her person, disposition, and ingenuity, was married to her in that place in the year 1645. She was said to be the most voluminous dramatic writer of our female poets, that she had a great deal of wit, and a more than ordinary propensity to dramatic poetry. Mr Langbaine tells us that all the language and plots of her plays were her own, which is a commendation 132 preferable to fame built on other people's foundation, and will very well atone for some faults in her numerous productions. [A catalogue of this lady's works, "tragicomical, poetical, romancical, philosophical, and historical," both in prose and verse, would occupy pages.]
Her person was very graceful, her temper naturally reserved, and she seldom said much in company, especially among strangers. She was most indefatigable in her studies and contemplations; truly pious, charitable, and generous; an excellent economist; very kind to her servants, and a perfect pattern of conjugal love and duty.
AUGHTER of Thomas, Lord Coventry, Keeper of the Great Seal, and wife of Sir John Pakington, was well known to, and celebrated by, the best and most learned divines of her time. Yet hardly my pen will be thought capable of adding to the reputation her own has procured to her, if it shall appear that she was the author of a work which is not more an honour to the writer than a universal benefit to mankind.
The work I mean is, "The Whole Duty of Man;" her title to which has been so well ascertained, that the general concealment it has lain under will only reflect a lustre upon all her other excellences by showing that she had no honour in view but that of her Creator, which, I suppose, she might think best promoted by this concealment. [The claims of other authors are not difficult to be disposed of.] If I were a Roman Catholic, I would summon tradition as an evidence for me upon this occasion, which has constantly attributed this performance to a lady. And a late celebrated writer observes, that "there are many probable arguments in 'The Whole Duty of Man' to back a current report that it was written by a lady." And any one who reads "The Lady's Calling," may observe a great number of passages which clearly indicate a female hand. 134
That vulgar prejudice of the supposed incapacity of the female sex, is what these memoirs in general may possibly remove. And as I have had frequent occasion to take notice of it, I should not now enter again upon that subject, had not this been made use of as an argument to invalidate Lady Pakington's title to those performances. It may not be amiss, therefore, to transcribe two or three passages from the treatise I have just now mentioned. "But waiving these reflections, I shall fix only on the personal accomplishments of the sex, and peculiarly that which is the most principal endowment of the rational nature—I mean the understanding—where it will be a little hard to pronounce that they are naturally inferior to men, when it is considered how much of intrinsic weight is put in the balance to turn it to the men's side. Men have their parts cultivated and improved by education, refined and subtilised by learning and arts; are like a piece of a common, which, by industry and husbandry, becomes a different thing from the rest, though the natural turf owned no such inequality. We may therefore conclude, that whatever vicious impotence women are under, it is acquired, not natural; nor derived from any illiberality of God's, but from the ill managery of His bounty. Let them not charge God foolishly, or think that by making them women He necessitated them to be proud or wanton, vain or peevish; since it is manifest He made them to better purpose, was not partial to the other sex; but that having, as the prophet speaks, 'abundance of spirit,' He equally dispensed it, and gave the feeblest woman as large and capacious a soul as that of the greatest hero. Nay, give me leave to say farther, that, as to an eternal well-being, He seems to have placed them in more advantageous circumstances than He has done men. He has implanted in them some native propensions which do much facilitate the 135 operations of grace upon them."
And having made good this assertion, she interrogates thus: "How many women do we read of in the gospel, who in all the duties of assiduous attendance on Christ, liberalities of love and respect, nay, even in zeal and courage, surpassed even the apostles themselves? We find His cross surrounded, His passion celebrated by the avowed tears and lamentations of devout women, when the most sanguine of His disciples had denied, yea, forswore, and all had forsaken Him. Nay, even death itself could not extinguish their love. We find the devout Maries designing a laborious, chargeable, and perhaps hazardous respect to His corpse, and, accordingly, it is a memorable attestation Christ gives to their piety by making them the first witnesses of His resurrection, the prime evangelists to proclaim those glad tidings, and, as a learned man speaks, apostles to the apostles."
There are many works of this lady, besides "The Whole Duty of Man," enumerated in her biographies.
NE of the circumstances which had the greatest influence on the events and character of the reign of Jehangire, was his marriage with the wife of one of the omrahs of his empire, whose assassination, like that of Uriah, cleared the way for the gratification of the monarch. The history of this female is dressed in romantic colours by the writers of the East. Khaja Aiass, her father, was a Tartar, who left poverty and his native country to seek the gifts of fortune in Hindustan. The inadequate provision he could make for so great a journey failed him before its conclusion. To add to his trials, his wife, advanced in pregnancy, was seized with the pains of labour in the desert, and delivered of a daughter. All hope of conducting the child alive to any place of relief forsook the exhausted parents, and they agreed to leave her. So long as the tree, at the foot of which the infant had been deposited, remained in view, the mother supported her resolution; but when the tree vanished from sight, she sank upon the ground, and refused to proceed without her. The father returned, but what he beheld was a huge black snake convolved about the body of the infant, and extending his dreadful jaws to devour her. A shriek of anguish burst from the father's breast; and 137 the snake, being alarmed, hastily unwound himself from the body of the infant, and glided away to his retreat. The miracle animated the parents to maintain the struggle; and before their strength entirely failed, they were joined by other travellers, who relieved their necessities.
Aiass, having arrived in Hindustan, was taken into the service of an omrah of the court; attracted after a time the notice of Akbar himself; and, by his abilities and prudence, rose to be treasurer of the empire. The infant who had been so nearly lost in the desert was now grown a woman of exquisite beauty; and, by the attention of Aiass to her education, was accomplished beyond the measure of female attainments in the East. She was seen by Sultan Selim, and kindled in his bosom the fire of love. But she was betrothed to a Turkman omrah, and Akbar forbade the contract to be infringed. When Selim mounted the throne, justice and shame were a slight protection to the man whose life was a bar to the enjoyments of the king. By some caprice, however, not unnatural to minds pampered and trained up like his, he abstained from seeing her for some years after she was placed in his seraglio, and even refused an adequate appointment for her maintenance. She turned her faculties to account; employed herself in the exquisite works of the needle and painting, in which she excelled; and her productions were disposed of in the shops and markets, and thence procured the means of adorning her apartments with all the elegancies which suited her condition and taste. The fame of her productions reached the ear and excited the curiosity of the emperor. A visit was all that was wanting to rekindle the flame in his heart; and Noor Mahal (such was the name she assumed) exercised from that moment an unbounded sway over the prince and his empire. Through the influence of the favourite sultana, 138 the vizirit was bestowed on her father; her two brothers were raised to the first rank of omrahs, by the titles of Aetibad Khan and Asopha Jah; but their modesty and virtues reconciled all men to their sudden elevation. And though the emperor, naturally voluptuous, was now withdrawn from business by the charms of his wife, the affairs of the empire were conducted with vigilance, prudence, and success; and the administration of Khaja Aiass was long remembered in India as a period of justice and prosperity.
[BORN 1594. DIED 1617.]
DR HUGH MURRAY.
N a signal from their leader, they, the natives of Virginia, laid down their bows and arrows, and led Captain Smith [of the Expedition, 1607] under strict guard to their capital. He was there exhibited to the women and children, and a wild war-dance was performed round him in fantastic measures, and with frightful yells and contortions. He was then shut up in a long house, and supplied at every meal with as much bread and venison as would have dined twenty men; but receiving no other sign of kindness, he began to dread that they were fattening in order to eat him. At last he was led to Pamunkey, the residence of Powhatan, the king. It was here his doom was sealed. The chief received him in pomp, wrapped in a spacious robe of racoon skins, with all the tails hanging down. Behind appeared two long lines of men and women, with faces painted red, heads decked with white down, and necks quite encircled with chains of beads. A lady of rank presented water to wash his hands, another a bunch of feathers to dry them. A long deliberation was then held, and the result proved fatal. Two large stones were placed before Powhatan, and, by the united efforts of the attendants, Smith was dragged to the spot, his head laid on one of them, and the mighty club 140 was raised, a few blows of which were to terminate his life. In this last extremity, when every hope seemed past, a very unexpected interposition took place. Pocahontas, the youthful and favourite daughter of this savage chief, was seized with those tender emotions which form the ornament of her sex. Advancing to her father, she in the most earnest terms supplicated mercy for the stranger; and though all her entreaties were lost on that savage heart, her zeal only redoubled. She ran to Smith, took his head in her arms, laid her own upon it, and declared that the first death-blow must fall upon her. The barbarian's breast was at length softened, and the life of the Englishman was spared.
Smith was afterwards liberated and sent to Jamestown, where he was installed as president. As Powhatan's favour was to be courted, there had been sent handsome presents, with materials to crown him with splendour, in the European style. With only four companions he courageously repaired to the residence of the monarch, inviting him to come and be crowned at Jamestown. The party were extremely well received, though once they heard in the adjoining wood outcries so hideous as made them flee to their arms; but Pocahontas assured them they had nothing to fear. Subsequently, Smith was repeatedly in danger; and again, on one occasion, was saved by a second interposition of Pocahontas, who, at the risk of her father's displeasure, ran through the woods on a dark night to give him warning. But the kindness of this princess was ill repaid by the English, to whom she was so much attached; for Argall, an enterprising naval commander, afterwards contrived, through an Indian who had become his sworn friend, to inveigle on board his vessel the fair Pocahontas. Regardless of her 141 tears and entreaties he conveyed her to Jamestown, where she was well treated; but in a negotiation for her ransom, exorbitant terms were demanded, which her father indignantly rejected, and the breach seemed only widened. Happily, the chains of the princess's captivity were lightened by others of a more pleasing nature. Mr John Rolfe, a respectable young man, was smitten with her dignified demeanour, and found no difficulty in gaining her affections. They were afterwards married, and she was converted and baptised under the name of Rebecca, to which the English prefixed the title of Lady, and her subsequent conduct is said to have adorned her profession.
Soon after, in company with her husband, she visited England; and Captain Smith wrote a letter to his majesty, recounting her good deeds, declaring that she had a great spirit though a low stature, and beseeching for her a reception corresponding to her rank and merits. She was accordingly introduced at court, and into the circles of fashion, where, as a novelty, she was for some time the leading object, and is said to have deported herself with suitable grace and dignity. Purchas mentions his meeting with her at the table of his patron, Dr King, Bishop of London, where she was entertained with "festival and pomp." The king took an absurd apprehension that Rolfe, on the ground of his wife's birth, might advance a claim to the crown of Virginia. This idea being at length driven out of his mind, he appointed him secretary and recorder-general of the colony. The princess, early in 1617, went to embark at Gravesend, but Providence had not destined that she would revisit her native shore. She was there seized with an illness which carried her off in a few days, and her last hours are said to have extremely edified the spectators, being full of Christian resignation 142 and hope. She had left a son in the colony, whose offspring, carefully traced, is now numerous; and this descent is the boast of many Virginian families.
[BORN 1620. DIED 1659.]
HE daughter of Sir Allan Apsley, Lieutenant of the Tower of London, and wife of Colonel Hutchinson, so well known in the Civil War, was in all respects a remarkable woman. If it were allowable to take the portrait she has given of herself as a just representation of her fair contemporaries, we should form a most exalted notion of the Republican matrons of England. Making a slight deduction for a few traits of austerity borrowed from the bigotry of the age, we do not know where to look for a more noble and engaging character than that under which this lady presents herself to her readers; nor do we believe that any age of the world has produced so worthy a counterpart to the Valerias and Portias of antiquity. With a highminded feeling of patriotism and public honour, she seems to have been possessed by the most beautiful and devoted attachment to her husband, and to have combined a taste for learning and the arts with the most active kindness and munificent hospitality to all who came within the sphere of her bounty.
To a quick perception of character, she appears to have united a masculine force of understanding and a singular capacity for affairs, and to have possessed and exercised all those talents without affecting 144 any superiority over the rest of her sex, or abandoning for a single instant the delicacy and reserve which were then its most indispensable ornaments. Education is certainly far more diffused in our days, and accomplishments infinitely more common; but the perusal of this lady's Memoirs has taught us to doubt whether the better sort of women were not fashioned of old by a better and more exalted standard, and whether the most eminent female of the present day would not appear to disadvantage by the side of Mrs Hutchinson. There is for the most part something intriguing, and profligate, and theatrical in the clever women of this generation; and if men are dazzled by their brilliancy and delighted with their talent, we can scarcely even guard against some distrust of their judgment, or some suspicion of their purity. There is something, in short, in the domestic virtue, and the calm and commanding mind of our English matron, that makes the Corinnas and Heloises appear small and insignificant.
The admirers of modern talent will not accuse us of choosing an ignoble competitor if we desire them to weigh the merits of Mrs Hutchinson against those of Madame Roland. The English revolutionist did not, indeed, compose weekly pamphlets and addresses to the municipalities, because it was not the fashion of her day to print every thing that entered into the heads of politicians. But she shut herself up with her husband in the garrison with which he was entrusted, and shared his counsels as well as his hazards. She encouraged the troops by her cheerfulness and heroism, ministered to the sick, and dressed with her own hands the wounds of the captives as well as of the victors. When her husband was imprisoned on groundless suspicions, she laboured without ceasing for his deliverance, confounded his oppressors by her eloquence 145 and arguments, tended him with unshaken fortitude in sickness and in solitude, and after his decease dedicated herself to form his children to the example of his virtues, and drew up the memorial, which is now before us, of his worth and her own genius and affection. All this, too, she did without stepping beyond the province of a private woman, without hunting after compliments to her own genius or beauty, without sneering at the dulness or murmuring at the coldness of her husband, without hazarding the fate of her country on the dictates of her own enthusiasm, or fancying for a moment that she was born with talents to enchant and regenerate the world. With equal power of discriminating character, with equal candour, and eloquence, and zeal for the general good, she is elevated beyond her French competitor by superior prudence and modesty, and by a certain simplicity and purity of character, of which it appears to us that the other was unable to form a conception.
England, we should think, should be proud of having given birth to Mrs Hutchinson and her husband; and chiefly because their characters are truly and peculiarly English, according to the standard of their times, in which national characters were most distinguishable. Not exempt, certainly, from errors and defects, they yet seem to us to hold out a lofty example of substantial dignity and virtue, and to possess most of those talents and principles by which public life is made honourable, and privacy delightful. Bigotry must at all times debase, and civil dissension embitter our existence; but, in the ordinary course of events, we may safely venture to assert, that a nation which produces many such wives and mothers as Mrs Lucy Hutchinson, must be both great and happy.
[BORN 1625. DIED 1680.]
ADY Fanshawe was, as is generally known, the wife of a distinguished cavalier, in the heroic age of the Civil Wars and the Protectorate, and survived till long after the Restoration. Her husband was a person of no mean figure in those great transactions; and she, who adhered to him with the most devoted attachment, and participated not unworthily in all his fortunes and designs, was consequently in continual contact with the movements that then agitated society. Since it may be said with some show of reason that Lady Hutchinson and her husband had too many elegant tastes and accomplishments to be taken as fair specimens of the austere and godly republicans, it certainly may be retorted, with at least equal justice, that the chaste and decorous Lady Fanshawe, and her sober, diplomatic lord, shadow out rather too favourably the general manners and morals of the cavaliers.
Lady Fanshawe seems to have followed, like a good wife and daughter, where her parents or her husband led her, and to have adopted their opinions with a dutiful and implicit confidence, but without being very deeply moved by the principles or passions which actuated those from whom they were derived; while Lady Hutchinson not only threw her whole 147 heart and soul into the cause of her party, but, like Lady Macbeth or Madame Roland, imparted her own fire to her own phlegmatic helpmate; "chastened him," when necessary, "with the valour of her tongue," and cheered him on, by the encouragement of her high example, to all the ventures and sacrifices, the triumphs or the martyrdoms, that lay visibly across their daring and lofty course. The Lady Fanshawe, we take it, was of a less passionate temperament. She begins in her Memoirs, no doubt, with a good deal of love and domestic devotion, and even echoes from that sanctuary certain notes of loyalty; but, in very truth, is chiefly occupied, for the best part of her life, with the sage and serious business of some nineteen or twenty accouchements, which are happily accomplished in different parts of Europe, and seems at last to be wholly engrossed in the ceremonial of diplomatic presentations, the description of court dresses, state coaches, liveries, and jewellery, the solemnity of processions and receptions by sovereign princes, and the due interchange of presents and compliments with persons of worship and dignity. But in her Memoirs there is enough, both of heart and sense and observation, at once to repay gentle and intelligent readers for the trouble of perusing them, and to stamp a character of amiableness and respectability on the memory of their author.
NE who, for constancy in love against temptations to change, deserves commemoration. Dorothy Osborne was twenty-one. She is said to have been handsome, and there remains abundant proof that she possessed an ample share of the dexterity, the vivacity, and the tenderness of her sex. Sir William Temple soon became, in the phrase of that time, her servant, and she returned his regard. But difficulties as great as ever expanded a novel to the fifth volume opposed their wishes. When the courtship commenced, the father of the hero was sitting in the Long Parliament; the father of the heroine was commanding in Guernsey for King Charles. Even when the war ended, and Sir Peter Osborne returned to his seat at Chicksands, the prospects of the lovers were scarcely less gloomy. Sir John Temple had a more advantageous alliance in view for his son. Dorothy Osborne was in the meantime besieged by as many suitors as were drawn to Belmont by the fame of Portia. The most distinguished on the list was Henry Cromwell. Destitute of the capacity, the energy, the magnanimity of his illustrious father, destitute also of the meek and placid virtues of his elder brother, this young man was perhaps a more formidable rival than either of them would have been. Mrs Hutchinson, 149 speaking the sentiments of the grave and aged, calls him an "insolent foole," and "a debauched ungodly cavalier." These expressions probably mean that he was one who, among young and dissipated people, would pass for a fine gentleman. Dorothy was fond of dogs of larger and more formidable breed than those which lie on modern hearthrugs, and Henry Cromwell promised that the highest functionaries in Dublin should be set to work to procure for her a fine Irish greyhound. She seems to have felt his attentions as very flattering, though his father was then only Lord General, and not yet Protector. Love, however, triumphed over ambition, and the young lady appears never to have regretted her decision; though in a letter written just at the time when all England was ringing with the news of the violent dissolution of the Long Parliament, she could not refrain from reminding Temple, with pardonable vanity, "how great she might have been if she had been so wise as to have taken hold of the offer of Henry Cromwell."
Near seven years did this arduous wooing continue. Temple appears to have kept up a very active correspondence with his mistress. We would willingly learn more of the loves of these two. In the seventeenth century, to be sure, Louis XIV. was a much more important person than Temple's sweetheart. But death and time equalise all things. Neither the great king nor the beauty of Bedfordshire, neither the gorgeous paradise of Marli nor Mrs Osborne's favourite walk "in the common that lay hard by the house, where a great many young wenches used to keep sheep and cows, and sit in the shade singing of ballads," is anything to us. Louis and Dorothy are alike dust. A cotton-mill stands on the ruins of Marli, and the Osbornes have ceased to dwell under the ancient roof of 150 Chicksands.
When at last the constancy of the lovers triumphed over all the obstacles which kinsmen and rivals could oppose to their union, a yet more serious calamity befell them. Poor Mrs Osborne fell ill of the small-pox, and though she escaped with life, lost all her beauty. To this most severe trial, the affection and honour of the lovers of that age was not unfrequently subjected. Our readers will probably remember what Mrs Hutchinson tells us of herself. The lofty Cornelia-like spirit of the aged matron seems to melt into a long forgotten softness when she relates how her beloved Colonel "married her as soon as she was able to quit the chamber, when the priest and all that saw her were affrighted to look on her. But God," she adds, with a not ungraceful vanity, "recompensed his justice and constancy by restoring her as well as before." Temple showed on this occasion the same justice and constancy which did so much honour to Colonel Hutchinson. The date of the marriage is not exactly known. But Mr Courtenay supposes it to have taken place about the year 1654. From this time we lose Dorothy, and are reduced to form our opinion of the terms on which she and her husband were, from very slight indications, which may easily mislead us.
[BORN 1631. DIED 1664.]
HE celebrated Orinda was the daughter of John Fowler of Bucklersbury. Her improvement was so early, that whoever reads the account given of her by M. Aubrey, will look upon all her succeeding progress in learning to be no more than what might justly be expected. He tells us that she was very apt to learn, and made verses when she was at school; that she devoted herself to religious duties when she was very young; that she would then pray by herself an hour together; that she had read the Bible through before she was full four years old; that she could say by heart many chapters and passages of Scripture, was a frequent hearer of sermons, which she would bring away entire in her memory, and would take sermons verbatim when she was but ten years old.
She became afterwards a perfect mistress of the French tongue, and learned the Italian under the tuition of her ingenious and worthy friend Sir Charles Cottrell. Born with a genius for poetry, she began to improve it early in life, and composed many poems, upon various occasions, for her own amusement, in her recess at Cardigan and retirement elsewhere. These being dispersed among her friends and acquaintances, were by an unknown hand collected together and published 152 in 1663, without her knowledge and consent,—an ungenteel and ungenerous treatment, which proved so oppressive to her great modesty, that it gave her a severe fit of illness. She poured forth her complaints in a long letter to Sir Charles Cottrell, in which she laments, in a most affecting manner, the misfortune and injury which had been done to her by this surreptitious edition of her poems.
Her remarkable humility, good nature, and agreeable conversation, greatly endeared her to all her acquaintances, and her ingenious and elegant writings procured her the friendship and correspondence of many learned and eminent men, and of persons of the first rank in England. Upon her going to Ireland with the Viscountess of Dungannon, to transact her husband's affairs there, her great merit soon made her known to, and esteemed by, those illustrious persons,—Ormond, Orrery, Roscommon, and many other persons of distinction,—who paid a great deference to her worth and abilities, and showed her singular marks of their esteem.
While in Ireland, she was very happy in carrying on a former intimacy with the famous Dr Jeremy Taylor, the worthy Bishop of Down and Conner, who addressed to her "A Discourse of the Nature, Offices, and Measures of Friendship." It is possible that his acquaintance with Mrs Philips might contribute much towards the good opinion he entertained of the female sex. It is certain that he was a great admirer of them. "But, by the way, madam," he says, "you may see how much I differ from the morosity of those cynics who would not admit your sex into the communities of a noble friendship. I believe some wives have been the best friends in the world, and few stories can outdo the nobleness and piety of that lady that sucked the poisoned purulent matter from the 153 wound of our brave prince in the holy land, when an assassin had pierced him with a venomed arrow. And if it be told that women cannot return counsel, and therefore can be no brave friends, I can best confute them by the story of Portia. I cannot say that women are capable of all those excellences by which men can oblige the world; and therefore a female friend, in some cases, is not so good a counsellor as a wise man, and cannot so well defend my honour, nor dispose of reliefs and assistances, if she be under the power of another; but a woman can love as passionately, and converse as pleasantly, and retain a secret as faithfully, and be useful in her proper ministries, and she can die for her friend as well as the bravest Roman knight. A man is the best friend in trouble, but a woman may be equal to him in the days of joy; a woman can as well increase our comforts, but cannot so well lessen our sorrows, and therefore we do not carry women with us when we go to fight; but, in peaceful cities and times, virtuous women are the beauties of society and the prettinesses of friendship."
Mrs Philips went for a time into a sort of melancholy retirement, occasioned, perhaps, by the bad success of her husband's affairs; and, going to London in order to relieve her oppressed spirits with the conversation of her friends there, she was seized by the small-pox, and died in her thirty-third year. Mr Aubrey observes that her person was of a middle stature, pretty fat, and ruddy complexion.
[BORN 1635. DIED 1719.]
ORN in a prison of America, whither her father had gone as a needy adventurer, and where he died, Francis d'Aubigné returned to France a poor orphan. At Rochelle, where she landed, she was taken pity upon by Madame de Nuillant, an old miser, who degraded the friendless girl by making her keep the key of the granary, and deal out the corn to the horses. Going afterwards to Paris, her beauty, wit, and propriety of conduct procured her friends, and subsequently she married the famous poet Scarron, then a deformed old man. It was the custom for people who loved letters, among whom were many courtiers, to repair to Scarron's house, where they tasted of that wit and fancy which may be discovered in his works. In all this Madame Scarron participated, making many acquaintances, whose friendship, after Scarron's death, did not save her from being a burden on the parish. She afterwards found her way into the Hotel d'Albret, and that of Richelieu, where she acted as a kind of upper servant, calling the other domestics, and reporting when such a one's carriage had arrived. From one thing to another she changed, till she succeeded in so charming King Louis the Fourteenth's mistress, Madame de Montespan, that she engaged her to take the charge of her 155 children. In this office she was in the habit of often meeting the king, who soon saw how much she excelled, in learning and good sense the other women who had been devoted to his pleasure. Finally she was privately married to him.
A woman of strong understanding, Madame Maintenon had learnt, from the various conditions in which she had been, the art of pleasing, insinuation, complaisance, and the use of intrigue; an incomparable grace, an air of perfect ease and self-possession, accompanied by a reservation and show of respect, which was the consequence of her humble birth, and so far natural to her, wrought in unison with a soft speech, the choice of appropriate words, and a species of eloquence kept within bounds. The prior times in which she had lived were those of precision and affectation, qualities which she retained, and in some degree elevated, by an air of dignity and importance, and which, being favourable to devotion, first inspired in her that feeling, and were latterly submerged in it.
Yet, withal, the real character of her mind was that of ambition. She aspired continually after new acquaintances and friends, as well as new modes of amusement, excepting only some old confidantes whom time had rendered necessary to her. This inequality in her temper produced many evils. Easily elevated, she rose to an excess of feeling; as easily depressed, she relapsed into satiety and even disgust, without being able to render a reason for the change even to herself. After overcoming the difficulty of getting into her presence, one had to experience a volubility resulting from something which happened to please her, and presently a relapse into indifference, or something worse, so that it was a task for the visitor to know whether he was in grace or disgrace. 156 She possessed also the weakness to be regulated by confidences and confessions, and to submit to be made the dupe of religious societies. The time absorbed by her visits to convents was incredible. She believed herself to be a kind of universal abbess, and concerned herself with the endless details of numerous convents. She even figured herself to be the mother of the Church, weighing and estimating the merits or demerits of ecclesiastical officials, not less than those of the female heads of convents. She was thus plunged in a sea of occupations, frivolous, deceitful, and painful; of letters and answers to letters, directions to choice friends, and all sorts of puerilities, which resulted ordinarily in nothing. [Yet, for thirty years of her life, she played her part so well that she was the king's most confidential adviser, and shared in the obloquy of some of his worst acts, such as the revocation of the edict of Nantes. She was a virtuous woman, a devout and bigoted Catholic, ambitious and resolute, yet disinterested and charitable. Her published letters demand for her a creditable place in French literature.]
COUNT A. HAMILTON.
ISS Hamilton, the eldest daughter of Sir George Hamilton, and born in 1641, was at the happy age when the charms of the fair sex begin to bloom; she had the finest shape, the loveliest neck, and most beautiful arms in the world; she was majestic and graceful in her movements, and she was the original after which all the ladies copied in their taste and air of dress. Her forehead was open, white, and smooth; her hair was well set, and fell with ease into that natural order which it is so difficult to imitate. Her complexion was possessed of a certain freshness not to be equalled by borrowed colours; her eyes were not large, but they were lively, and capable of expressing whatever she pleased; her mouth was full of graces, and her contour uncommonly perfect; nor was her nose, which was small, delicate, and retroussé, the least ornament of so lovely a face.
Her mind was a proper companion for such a form. She did not endeavour to shine in conversation by those sprightly sallies which only puzzle, and, with still greater care, she avoided that affected solemnity in her discourse which produces stupidity; but, without any eagerness to talk, she just said what she ought and no more. She had an admirable 158 discernment in distinguishing between solid and false wit; and, far from making an ostentatious display of her abilities, she was reserved, though very just, in her decisions. Her sentiments were always noble, and even lofty to the highest extent, when there was occasion; nevertheless, she was less prepossessed with her own merit than is usually the case with those who have so much. Formed as we have described, she could not fail of commanding love; but so far was she from courting it, that she was scrupulously nice with respect to those whose merit might enable them to cherish any pretensions to her.
[Such a portrait (says Mr Davenport Adams) makes one in love with the woman it professes to represent, and envy might be tempted to conclude that it was rather the ideal of some poetic Diana, than a transcript of a veritable flesh and blood beauty. Undoubtedly, the natural partiality of the brother and the pride of the husband (Count de Grammont), whose united skill has been exerted to produce so agreeable an ensemble, have filled in the outline with too flattering colours, and heightened the charms of nature by the graces of art. But when, for this fond exaggeration, due allowance shall have been made, there will still remain enough to justify us in regarding Elizabeth Hamilton as one of the most fascinating women of her age or nation.
The highest in rank, and the most important of her lovers, was the Duke of York, who had been captivated by a glance at her portrait in Lely's studio. His proposals, however, being neither flattering nor honourable, were haughtily rejected. The Duke of Richmond, a gamester and a drunkard; the heir of Norfolk, a wealthy simpleton; the brave and handsome Falmouth, who afterwards died a hero's death in one of the great sea-fights with the Dutch; the two Russels, uncle and nephew; and 159 the invincible Henry Jermyn, in succession acknowledged the power of her charms, and offered her their hands. They were refused. The Count de Grammont next presented himself, and was more successful, though in moral character he was not superior to his predecessors, and in fortune was their inferior.
This celebrated wit, who has become so celebrated to us through the graphic pages of Count Hamilton's Memoirs, was born in 1621. Having been banished from France by Louis XIV., for entering himself against that monarch in the lists of love with Mademoiselle La Motte Howdencourt, he repaired to the court of Charles II., where he immediately became "the observed of all observers." He was handsome, graceful, and accomplished; his manners possessed an indescribable fascination; his address was polished and easy, his conversation light and amusing. But his enemies accused him of being treacherous in his friendships, cruel in his jealousies, and trifling in his loves. He was assuredly a man of unprincipled character, and as false towards a friend as he was fickle to a mistress; but an undefinable brilliancy of manners, which dazzled every eye, imposed on the judgment of all whom he came in contact with; and it was only those whom he had defrauded or betrayed that could distinguish the clinquant from the pure metal.
After several years of wooing, the fickle Count de Grammont became the husband of the beautiful Hamilton. But, notwithstanding the apparent warmth and duration of his addresses, it is doubtful whether he really intended them seriously; and his marriage is said to have been forced upon him. Having made his peace with Louis XIV., he had received permission to return to France. In all haste he set out on his journey, and, it is said, without bringing matters to a proper conclusion with Miss Hamilton. Her brothers immediately pursued him, and came up with 160 him near Dover, resolved to extort from him an explanation, or to obtain satisfaction with their swords. "Chevalier de Grammont," they exclaimed, "have you forgotten nothing in London?" "Excuse me," he rejoined, with his accustomed self-possession, "I forgot to marry your sister." He returned with them to London, and espoused the fair lady, Charles II. honouring the nuptials with his presence.... Grammont died at the age of eighty-six, and his wife survived him but one year.]
[BORN 1644. DIED 1710.]
T must be acknowledged that Louis XIV., in his amours more refined than his contemporary Charles II. of England, sought for mental gifts no less than personal charms, and, if caught at first by the eye and the lip, the bloom of the cheek and the lustre of the hair, could only be held by the surer and more exquisite fascination of a clear judgment and a lively wit. He was not content with a dumb Venus. Beauty was required to wear the robe of Pallas, and to borrow some, at least, of the magical spells of the Graces. Criminal as were his attachments, and fatal to the heart and soul of his people by the general levity of manners and morals which they necessarily seemed to justify, they were clothed with a pomp and refinement that concealed their most hideous features.
The most romantic of Louis' attachments was that which he professed for Mademoiselle de la Valliere, born in 1664 of a noble family, which had been long established in Touraine. While yet a child, she lost her father, and was brought up at Blois, in the household of Gaston of Orleans. "Her features," as we learn from Elizabeth of Bavaria, Duchess of Orleans, "had an inexpressible attraction; her figure was beautiful, her appearance modest; she limped a little, but this did not ill become 162 her." Her forehead was smooth and white, and on each side of it clustered abundant curls of a glossy auburn. The soft languishing eyes, the straight nose, the exquisite mouth and the dimpled chin, with a certain eloquent air of love and gentleness, made up a most fascinating countenance. All the figure was firm and plump—not one of your angular forms, that bristle with sharp points, but the shape of a Venus, rich in graceful curves, and softly rounded. There was a peculiar charm in her conversation; it so sparkled with that light, effervescing humour, which in the mouth of a pretty woman is accounted wit, while it breathed an air of refinement that indicated a graceful and accomplished mind. A sweet temper and a gentle disposition won the affection of all her companions. She was capable of a passionate love, a deep and unalterable love, devoted to its object, and utterly regardless of itself. She was not ambitious, except of being loved; and that is an ambition which a man willingly forgives to beauty. Envy and jealousy shrunk afar from her generous soul. Finally, La Valliere had all the softness if she lacked the purity of Imogen, the self-abandonment of Juliet, the passionate fidelity of Ophelia; but nature had rendered it impossible for her to play the part of a Cleopatra. She was formed to yield, to obey, to suffer in silence; and the secret of her power lay in the simplicity of her devotion.
The beautiful La Valliere is still the heroine of the people. Her story is a tale of passion, of guilt, sorrow, and penitence; it has had peculiar attractions for the popular mind; and, while it has contributed poem, romance, and history to French literature, it has not been neglected by the English writer. It certainly possesses the most striking features of romance. Consider the quality of the actors—a powerful sovereign in the flush of youthful pride, contrasted with a 163 young and simple maid of honour. Consider the startling variety of the passions—ardent and aspiring love, triumphant possession; satiety on the one side, and sorrow on the other, remorse, and a long repentance. Consider the picturesque character of the scenes—the glittering pomp of a palace, the austere simplicity of a convent. And then there is thrown over the whole the bewildering atmosphere of splendour; nobles and pages, statesmen and beauties, priests and councillors,—music and flowers, and the glow of a thousand lights,—the fall of powerful ministers, the intrigues of subtle courtiers,—all blend in the exciting movement of this passionate and fantastic drama. And yet it is an old, old story,—the brief madness of love, the prolonged penitence of remorse. It is a fine commentary on the exultant sin,—this dreary old age of shattered hopes that closes all.
[BORN 1654. DIED 1720.]
NE whom Bentley calls the most learned of women, Tanaquil Faber, thus better known than by his real name, Tanneguy le Fevre, a man learned, animated, acquired a considerable name among French critics by several editions, as well as by other writings in philology. But none of his literary productions were so celebrated as those of his daughter, Anne le Fevre, afterwards Madame Dacier.
The knowledge of Greek, though once not very uncommon in a woman, had become prodigious in the days of Louis XIV.; and when this distinguished lady taught Homer and Sappho to speak French prose, she appeared a phœnix in the eyes of her countrymen. She was undoubtedly a person of very rare talents and estimable character; her translations are numerous, and reputed to be correct, though Niceron has observed that she did not raise Homer in the eyes of those who were not prejudiced in his favour. Her husband was a scholar of kindred mind and the same pursuits. Their union was facetiously called the wedding of Latin and 165 Greek. But each of this learned couple was skilled in both languages. Dacier was a great translator: his Horace is perhaps the best known of his versions; but the Poetics of Aristotle have done him most honour.
The Daciers had to fight the battle of antiquity against a generation both ignorant and vainglorious, yet keen-sighted in the detection of blemishes, and disposed to avenge the wrongs of their fathers, who had been trampled upon by pedants, with the help of a new pedantry, that of the court and the mode. With great learning, they had a competent share of good sense, but not, perhaps, a sufficiently discerning taste or liveliness enough of style to maintain a cause that had so many prejudices of the world now enlisted against it.
AMARIS, Lady Masham, the daughter of the famous Dr Cudworth, and second wife of Sir Thomas Masham of Oates, in Essex, was born in 1658. Her father, who soon perceived the bent of her genius, took particular care in her tuition, and she applied herself with great diligence to the study of divinity and philosophy, under the direction of the celebrated Mr Locke, who was a domestic in her family for many years, and at length died in her house at Oates.
Soon after she was married, the fame of her learning, piety, and ingenuity, induced the celebrated Mr Norris to address and inscribe to her, by way of letter, his "Reflections upon the Conduct of Human Life." This began a friendship between them, which, having its foundation in religion, seemed very likely to be firm and lasting; but it seems to have been in a great measure dissolved before it had been of any long continuance, occasioned by this lady's contracting an indissoluble friendship with Mr Locke, whose divinity and philosophy is well known to have differed from that of Mr Norris. Not long after, the latter, in certain published letters, maintained the proposition, that "mankind are obliged strictly, as their duty, to love with desire nothing but God 167 only;" and Lady Masham published, without her name, her "Discourse concerning the Love of God," wherein she applied herself to the examination of Mr Norris's scheme, which included the proposition, that every degree of love of any creature is sinful; a proposition defended by him on the ground (borrowed from Father Malebranche) that God, not the creature, is the efficient cause of our sensations. Mrs Masham examined this hypothesis with great accuracy and ingenuity, and represented in a strong light the evil consequences resulting from it. About the year 1700, Lady Masham also wrote a treatise, "Occasional Thoughts in reference to a Virtuous and Christian Life," the principal design of which was to improve religion and virtue; and, indeed, it is so full of excellent instruction, that, if carefully perused by both sexes, it could not fail of obtaining much of its desired end. She complains much of the too great neglect of religious duties, occasioned, as she believed, by the want of being better acquainted with the fundamentals of religion; and very justly reprehends and reproaches persons of quality for so scandalously permitting their daughters to pass that part of their youth, in which the mind is most ductile and susceptible of good impressions, in a ridiculous circle of diversions, which is generally thought the proper business of young ladies, and which so generally engrosses them that they can find no spare hours wherein to make any improvement in their understandings.
As Mrs Masham owed much to the care of Mr Locke for her acquired endowments and skill in arithmetic, geography, chronology, history, philosophy, and divinity, so, as he was a domestic in her family, she returned the obligation with singular benevolence and gratitude, always treating him with the utmost generosity—her friendship for him being 168 inviolable. It is recorded that, as she sat by Mr Locke's side the night before he died, he exhorted her to regard this world only as a state of preparation for a better; that she desired to sit up with him that night, but he would not permit her. The next day, as she was reading the Psalms in a low tone by him in his room, he desired her to read aloud. She did so, and he appeared very attentive till the approach of death prevented him. He then desired her ladyship to break off, and in a few minutes afterwards expired. As a testimony of her gratitude to Mr Locke's memory, she drew up that account of him which is printed in the great Historical Dictionary.
[BORN 1660. DIED 1685.]
HE daughter of Dr Henry Killigrew, prebendary of Westminster, became eminent in the arts of poetry and painting; and had it pleased Providence to protract her life, she might probably have excelled most of the professors in both. She was the Orinda of Mr Dryden, who seems quite lavish in her commendation; but as we are assured by a writer of great probity [Wood's "Athenæ"] that she was equal to, if not superior to that praise, let him be my voucher for her skill in poetry.
"Art she had none, yet wanted none,
For Nature did that want supply;
So rich in treasures of her own,
She might our boasted stores defy;
Such noble vigour did her verse adorn,
That it seemed borrowed where 'twas only born."
The great poet is pleased to attribute to her every excellence in that science; but if she has failed of some of its excellences, still should we have great reason to commend her for having avoided those faults by which some have derived a reflection on the science itself, as well as on themselves. Speaking of the purity and charity of her compositions, he bestows on them this commendation,— 170
"Her Arethusian stream remains unsoiled,
Unmixed with foreign filth, and undefiled;
Her wit was more than man, her innocence a child."
She was also a great proficient in the art of painting, and drew King James II. and his queen, which pieces are highly applauded by Mr Dryden. These engaging and polite accomplishments were the least of her perfections, for she crowned all with an exemplary piety towards God in a due observance of the duties of religion, which she began to practise in the early part of her life. But as her uncommon virtues are enumerated on her monument-inscription, I shall only observe that she was one of the maids of honour to the Duchess of York, and that she died of the small-pox in the flower of her age, to the unspeakable grief of her relations and all others who were acquainted with her excellences, in her father's lodgings, within the cloister of Westminster Abbey, on the 16th day of June 1685, in her twenty-fifth year.
Mr Dryden's muse put on the mourning habit on this sad occasion, and lamented the death of our ingenious poetess in very moving strains, in a long ode, from whence I shall take the liberty of transcribing the eighth stanza; and the rather as it does honour to another female character.171
"Now all those charms that blooming grace
The well-proportioned shape and beauteous face,
Shall never more be seen by mortal eyes;
In earth the much-lamented virgin lies!
Not wit nor poetry could fate prevent,
Nor was the cruel destiny content
To finish all the murder at a blow,
To sweep at once her life and beauty too;
But, like a hardened felon, took a pride,
To work more mischievously slow,
And plundered first, and then destroyed.
O, double sacrifice, as things divine,
To rob the relique and deface the shrine!
But thus Orinda died:
Heaven by the same disease did both translate;
As equal were their souls, so equal was their fate."
[BORN 1664. DIED 1714.]
UEEN Anne "had a person and appearance not at all ungraceful, till she grew exceeding gross and corpulent. There was something of majesty in her look, but mixed with a sullen and constant frown, that plainly betrayed a gloominess of soul and cloudiness of disposition within. She seemed to inherit a good deal of her father's moroseness, which naturally produced in her the same sort of stubborn positiveness in many cases, both ordinary and extraordinary, and the same sort of bigotry in religion." This passage, being written for insertion in a party work, appeals to vulgar opinion. The slight contraction in the queen's eyes, the writer perfectly well knew, had been occasioned by violent inflammation in her childhood, and was not connected with temper. The Duchess of Marlborough likewise well knew, and had experienced, that excessive indulgence, and not moroseness, in his family circle, was the fault of the unhappy James II., her own early benefactor. However, this libel was to have been published under Bishop Burnet's mask. Thus does the creature of the bounty of those she maligns pursue her theme: "Queen Anne's memory was exceeding great, almost to a wonder, and had these two peculiarities very remarkable,—that she could, when she pleased, 173 forget what others would have thought themselves bound by truth and honour to remember, while she remembered all such things as others would have thought it a happiness to forget. Indeed, she chose to exercise it in very little besides ceremonies and customs of courts, and such-like insignificant trifles. So that her conversation, which otherwise might have been enlivened by so great a memory, was only made more empty and trifling by its chiefly turning upon fashions and rules of precedence, or some such poor topics. Upon which account, it was a sort of misfortune to her that she loved to have a great crowd come to her, having little to say to them, but 'that the weather was either hot or cold;' and little to inquire of them, but 'how long they had been in town?' or the like weighty matters. She never discovered any readiness of parts, either in asking questions or in giving answers. In matters of ordinary moment, her discourse had nothing of brightness or wit; in weightier matters, she never spoke but in a hurry, and had a certain knack of sticking to what had been dictated to her to a degree often very disagreeable, and without the least sign of understanding or judgment." As the duchess was considered the queen's "dictator" for thirty years, she had ample opportunity of speaking on this trait of her character; but it only became apparent to her when the dictatorship was transferred for a few years to another person. "The queen's letters," she continues, "were very indifferent, both in sense and spelling, unless they were generally enlivened with a few passionate expressions, sometimes pretty enough, but repeated over and over again, without the mixture either of diversion or instruction."
Now turn the medal, and read the reverse:—"Queen Anne had a person and appearance very graceful; something of majesty in her look. She was 174 religious without affectation, and certainly meant to do everything that was just. She had no ambition, which appeared by her being so easy in letting King William come before her to the crown, after the king, her father, had followed such counsels as made the nation see they could not be safe in their liberty and lives without coming to the extremities they did; and she thought it more for her honour to be easy in it, than to make a dispute who should have the crown first that was taken from her father. And it was a great trouble to her to be forced to act such a part against him, even for security, which was truly the case; and she thought those that showed the least ambition had the best character. Her journey to Nottingham was purely accidental, never concerted, but occasioned by the great fright she was in when King James returned from Salisbury; upon which she said she would rather jump out of the window than stay and see her father."
Those who have read the previous character drawn of Queen Anne by the same person must think the contradictions between the two truly monstrous, and the emanation of a bewildered brain. Some candid persons, disposed to sentimentalise on the fierce duchess, have supposed that, after a lapse of time, her mind had softened towards her benefactress, and that she wrote the last character as a reparation for the first. But such inferences vanish before the fact that the duchess herself favours the world with her motives, in raising a statue at Blenheim to her former royal mistress, and adorning it with the laudatory inscription, the whole being avowedly not to do justice to Queen Anne, but to vex and spite Queen Caroline, the consort of George II. Here are her words: "This character of Queen Anne is so much the reverse of Queen Caroline, that I think it will not be liked at court." In the middle of the last 175 century, the Duchess of Marlborough hated Queen Caroline more than she did Queen Anne. Such is the real explanation of these discrepancies.
Other contemporary authors have mentioned traits of Queen Anne, according to their knowledge. When all are collected and examined, certain contradictions occur; for they do not enough distinguish between the actions of Anne in her youth, as an uneducated and self-indulgent woman, and the undeniable improvement in her character. Even the awful responsibility of a reigning sovereign, whose practical duties were at that era by no means clearly defined, awoke her conscience to trembling anxiety for the welfare of her people. Much permanent good she assuredly did, and no evil, as queen-regent, notwithstanding the ill-natured sarcasms of a Whig politician, who, when mentioning her demise at an opportune juncture for the Hanoverian succession, declared that "Queen Anne died like a Roman, for the good of her country." But no sovereign was ever more deeply regretted by the people. The office of regality was, there is no doubt, a painful occupation to her; for her constant complaint was, observes Tindal, "that she was only a crowned slave," the originality of which expression savours not of the dulness generally attributed to this queen.
Her person is represented differently by those who saw her daily. "Her complexion was ruddy and sanguine; the luxuriance of her chestnut hair has already been mentioned. Her face was round and comely, her features strong and regular; and the only blemish in it was that defluxion which had fallen on her eyes in her childhood, had contracted the lids, and given a cloudiness to her countenance." Thus the frown that the Duchess of Marlborough dwells on malevolently did not arise from ill-nature, 176 but from defect of vision. The duchess has likewise given a malignant turn to a trifling incident arising from Anne's near-sightedness, quoted in her early life. "Queen Anne was of a middle stature," observes another contemporary; "not so personable and majestic as her sister, Queen Mary. Her face was rather comely than handsome; it seemed to have a tincture of sourness in it, and, for some years before she died, was rubicund and bloated. Her bones were small, her hands extremely beautiful, her voice most melodious, and her ear for music exquisite. She was brought up in High Church principles, but changed her parties according to her interest. She was a scrupulous observer of the outward and visible forms of godliness and humility in public service; as, for instance, she reproved once the minister of Windsor Castle for offering her the Sacrament before the clergy present had communicated;" thus forgetting her position and dignity as head of the church.
[BORN 1684. DIED 1728.]
STHER Johnson, better known to the reader of Swift's works by the name of Stella, was the child of a London merchant, who died in her infancy, when she went with her mother, who was a friend of Sir William Temple's sister, to reside at Moorpark, where Swift was then domesticated. Some part of the charge of her education devolved upon him, and, though he was twenty years her senior, the interest with which he regarded her appears to have ripened into something as much like affection as could find a place in his selfish bosom. Soon after Sir William Temple's death he got his Irish livings, besides a considerable legacy; and as she had a small independence of her own, it is obvious that there was nothing to prevent their honourable and immediate union. Some cold-blooded vanity or ambition, however, or some politic anticipation of his own possible inconstancy, deterred him from this outward and open course, and led him to an arrangement which was dishonourable and absurd in the beginning, and in the end productive of the most accumulated misery.
He prevailed upon her to remove her residence from the bosom of her own family in England to his immediate neighbourhood in Ireland, where she took lodgings with an elderly companion of the name of Mrs 178 Dingley—avowedly for the sake of his society and protection, and on a footing of intimacy so very strange and unprecedented, that, whenever he left his parsonage-house for England or Dublin, these ladies immediately took possession and occupied it till he came back. A situation so extraordinary and undefined was liable, of course, to a thousand misconstructions, and must have been felt as degrading by any woman of spirit and delicacy; and, accordingly, though the master of this Platonic seraglio seems to have used all manner of paltry and insulting practices to protect a reputation which he had no right to bring into question,—by never seeing her except in the presence of Mrs Dingley, and never sleeping under the same roof with her,—it is certain both that the connection was regarded as indecorous by persons of her own sex, and that she herself felt it to be humiliating and improper.
Accordingly, within two years after her settlement in Ireland, it appears that she encouraged the addresses of a clergyman of the name of Tisdal, between whom and Swift there was a considerable intimacy, and that she would have married him, and thus sacrificed her earliest attachment to her freedom and her honour, had she not been prevented by the private dissuasions of that false friend who did not choose to give up his own claims to her, although he had not the heart or the honour to make her lawfully his own. She was then a blooming beauty of little more than twenty, with fine black hair, delicate features, and a playful and affectionate character. It seems doubtful to us whether she originally felt for Swift anything that could properly be called love; and her willingness to marry another in the first days of their connection, seems almost decisive on the subject; but the ascendancy he had 179 acquired over her mind, and her long habit of submitting her own judgment and inclinations to his, gave him at last an equal power over her, and moulded her pliant affections into too deep and exclusive a devotion.
Even before his appointment to the deanery of St Patrick's, it is utterly impossible to devise any apology for his not marrying her, or allowing her to marry another; the only one he ever appears to have stated himself, viz., the want of a sufficient fortune to sustain the expenses of matrimony, being palpably absurd in the mouth of a man born to nothing, and already more wealthy than nine-tenths of his order; but after he obtained that additional preferment, and was thus ranked among the well-beneficed dignitaries of the Establishment, it was plainly an insult upon common sense to pretend that it was the want of money that prevented him from fulfilling his engagement. Stella was then twenty-six, and he near forty-five, and both had hitherto lived very far within an income that was now more than doubled. That she now expected to be made his wife appears from the care he took in the Journal indirectly to destroy that expectation; and though the awe in which he continually kept her probably prevented her either from complaining or inquiring into the cause, it is now certain that a new attachment, as heartless, as unprincipled, and as fatal in its consequences as either of the others, was at the bottom of this cruel and unpardonable proceeding.
During his residence in London, from 1710 to 1712, regardless of the ties that bound him to Stella, he allowed himself to be engaged by the amiable qualities of Miss Esther Vanhomrigh; and, without explaining the nature of those ties to his new idol, strove by his assiduities to obtain a return of affection, while he studiously concealed from the 180 unhappy Stella the wrong he was consciously doing her. [The consequences of this double connection form one of the most tragic stories in our language—the formal ceremony by which he made Stella his wife, under the cloud of secrecy, and still keeping her from the enjoyment of her rights; the death of Miss Vanhomrigh of a broken heart, and the miserable fate of Stella.] Vanessa (so he called Miss Vanhomrigh) was now dead. The grave had heaped its tranquillising mould on her agitated heart, and given her tormentor assurance that he should no more suffer from her reproaches on earth; and yet, though with her the last pretext was extinguished for refusing to acknowledge the wife he had so infamously abused, we find him, with this dreadful example before his eyes, persisting to withhold from his remaining victim that late and imperfect justice to which her claim was so apparent, and from the denial of which she was sinking before his eyes in sickness and sorrow to the grave. For the sake of avoiding some small awkwardness or inconvenience to himself,—to be secured from the idle talking of those who might wonder why, since they were to marry, they did not marry before, or perhaps merely to retain the object of his regard in more complete subjection and dependence,—he could bear to see her pining year after year in solitude and degradation, and sinking at last to an untimely grave, prepared by his hard and unrelenting refusal to clear her honour to the world even at her dying hour.
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
HIS unfortunate lady, when she first became acquainted with Swift, was in her twentieth year, and joined to all the attractions of youth, fashion, and elegance, the still more dangerous gifts of a lively imagination, a confiding temper, and a capacity of strong and permanent affection. Conscious of the pleasure which Swift received from her society, and of the advantages of youth and fortune which she possessed, and ignorant of the peculiar circumstances in which he stood with respect to another, naturally (and surely without offence either to reason or virtue) Miss Vanhomrigh gave way to the hope of forming a union with a man whose talents had first attracted her admiration, and whose attentions, in the course of their mutual studies, had by degrees gained her affections, and seemed to warrant his own. The friends continued to use the language of friendship, but with the assiduity and earnestness of a warmer passion, until Vanessa (the poetical name bestowed upon her by him) rent asunder the veil, by intimating to Swift the state of her affections; and in this, as she conceived, she was justified by her favourite, though dangerous maxim, of doing that which seems in itself right, without respect to the common opinion of the world. We cannot doubt that he actually felt the "shame, 182 disappointment, guilt, surprise," expressed in his celebrated poem, though he had not courage to take the open and manly course of avowing those engagements with Stella, or other impediments which prevented him from accepting the hand and fortune of her rival. Without therefore making this painful but just confession, he answered the avowal of Vanessa's passion in raillery, and afterwards by an offer of devoted and everlasting friendship, founded on the basis of virtuous esteem. Vanessa seems neither to have been contented nor silenced by the result of her declaration, but to the very close of her life persisted in endeavouring, by entreaties and arguments, to extort a more lively return to her passion than this cold proffer was calculated to afford.
Upon Swift's return to Ireland, we may guess at the disturbed state of his feelings, wounded at once by ungratified ambition, and harrassed by his affection being divided between two objects, each worthy of his attachment, and each having great claims upon him, while neither was likely to remain contented with the limited return of friendship in exchange for love, and that friendship, too, divided by a rival. Time wore on. Mrs Vanhomrigh was now dead. Her two sons survived her but a short time; and the circumstances of the young ladies were so embarrassed by inconsiderate expenses, as gave them a handsome excuse for retiring to Ireland, where their father had left a small property near Celbridge. The arrival of Vanessa in Dublin excited the apprehensions of Swift and the jealousy of Stella. She importuned him with complaints of neglect and cruelty; and it was obvious that any decisive measure to break their correspondence would be attended with some such tragic consequence as, though late, at length concluded their story. 183
About the year 1717, she retired from Dublin to her house and property near Celbridge, to nurse her hopeless passion in seclusion from the world. Swift seems to have foreseen and warned her against the consequences of this step. His letters uniformly exhort her to seek general society, to take exercise, and divert as much as possible the current of her thoughts from the unfortunate subject which was preying upon her spirits. Until the year 1720, he never appears to have visited her at Celbridge; they only met when she was occasionally in Dublin. But in that year, and down to the time of her death, Swift came repeatedly to Celbridge.
But Miss Vanhomrigh, irritated at the situation in which she found herself, determined on bringing to a crisis those expectations of an union with the object of her affections, to the hope of which she had clung amid every vicissitude of his conduct towards her. The most probable bar was his undefined connection with Mrs Johnson, which, as it must have been perfectly known to her, had doubtless long excited her secret jealousy; although only a single hint to that purpose is to be found in their correspondence, and that so early as 1713, when she writes to him, then in Ireland, "If you are very happy, it is ill-natured of you not to tell me so, except 'tis what is inconsistent with mine." Her silence and patience under this state of uncertainty for no less than eight years, must have been partly owing to her awe for Swift, and partly perhaps to the weak state of her rival's health, which from year to year seemed to announce speedy dissolution. At length, however, Vanessa's impatience prevailed, and she ventured on the decisive step of writing to Mrs Johnson herself, requesting to know the nature of that connection. Stella, in reply, informed her of her marriage with the dean; and, full of the highest resentment against 184 Swift for having given another female such a right on him as Miss Vanhomrigh's inquiries implied, she sent to him her rival's letter of interrogation, and, without seeing him or awaiting his reply, retired to the house of Mr Ford, near Dublin. Every reader knows the consequence. Swift, in one of those paroxysms of fury to which he was liable, both from temper and disease, rode instantly to Marley Abbey. As he entered the apartment, the sternness of his countenance, which was peculiarly formed to express the fiercer passions, struck the unfortunate Vanessa with such terror that she could scarce ask whether he would not sit down. He answered by flinging a letter upon the table, and, instantly leaving the house, mounted his horse and returned to Dublin. When Vanessa opened the packet, she only found her own letter to Stella. It was her death-warrant; she sunk at once under the disappointment of the delayed yet cherished hopes which had so long sickened her heart, and beneath the unrestrained wrath of him for whose sake she had indulged them. How long she survived this last interview is uncertain, but the time does not seem to have exceeded a few weeks.
[BORN 1668. DIED 1731.]
HIS great ornament of her sex, the daughter of a merchant in Newcastle, and born about the year 1668, was taught all the accomplishments which were usually learned by young women of her station; and although she proceeded no further in the languages at that time than the learning of the French tongue, yet she afterwards gained some knowledge of the Latin. And having a piercing wit, a solid judgment, and tenacious memory, she made herself a complete mistress of everything she attempted to learn with the greatest ease imaginable. At about twenty years of age she left Newcastle and went to London, where, and at Chelsea, she spent the remaining part of her life, and where she prosecuted her studies very assiduously, and in a little time made great acquisitions in the sciences.
The learning and knowledge which she had gained, together with her great benevolence and generosity of temper, taught her to observe and lament the loss of it in those of her own sex, the want of which, as she justly observed, was the principal cause of their plunging themselves into so many follies and inconveniences. To redress this evil as much as lay in her power, she wrote and published the two parts of her ingenious treatise, entitled, "A Serious Proposal to the Ladies." Afterwards came 186 her "Letters, concerning the Love of God, between the author of the Proposal to the Ladies and Mr John Norris." Notwithstanding her great care to conceal herself, her name was soon discovered and made known to several learned persons, whose restless curiosity would hardly otherwise have been satisfied. These letters have been much applauded for their good sense, sublime thoughts, and fine language.
Afterwards she acquired a more complete knowledge of many classic authors,—Xenophon, Plato, Hierocles, Tully, Seneca, Epictetus, and Antoninus. In 1700 she published her "Reflections on Marriage," which was followed by her book against the sectaries, "Moderation truly Stated,"—a work of which, notwithstanding all the arts she used to conceal herself, she was soon discovered to be the author. Afterwards came her "Religion of a Church of England Woman;" and her "Enquiry into the Causes of Rebellion and Civil War."
As her notions and sentiments of religion, piety, charity, humility, friendship, and all the other graces which adorn the good Christian, were most refined and sublime, so she possessed these rare and excellent virtues in a degree which would have made her admired and distinguished in an age less degenerate and profane; and though from the very flower of her age she lived and conversed with the fashionable world, amidst all the gaiety, pomp, and pageantry of the great city, yet she well knew how to resist and shun those infatuating snares. To know God, and to be like Him, was her first and great endeavour. Though easy and affable to others, to herself she was often over-severe. In abstinence, few or none ever surpassed her; for she would live like a hermit a considerable time together, with a crust of bread and water, with a little small beer. 187 And at the time of her highest living, she very rarely eat any dinner till night, and then it was by the strictest rules of temperance.
She seemed to enjoy an uninterrupted state of health till a few years before her death, when, having one of her breasts cut off, it so much impaired her constitution that she did not long survive it. This was occasioned by a cancer, which she had concealed from the world in such a manner that even few of her most intimate acquaintances knew anything at all of the matter. She dressed and managed it herself, till she plainly perceived there was an absolute necessity for its being cut off; and then, with the most intrepid resolution and courage, she went to the Rev. Mr Johnson, a gentleman very eminent for his skill in surgery (with only one person to attend her), entreating him to take it off in the most private manner imaginable, and would hardly allow him to have persons whom necessity required to be at the operation. She seemed so regardless of the sufferings or pain she was to undergo, that she refused to have her hands held, and did not discover the least timidity or impatience, but went through the operation without the least struggling or resistance, or even so much as giving a groan or a sigh. Soon after this her health and strength declined apace; and at length, by a gradual decay of nature, being confined to bed, and finding the time of her dissolution drawing nigh, she ordered her coffin and shroud to be made and brought to her bedside, and there to remain in her view as a constant memento to her of her approaching fate, and that her mind might not deviate or stray one moment from God, its proper object.
[BORN 1640. DIED 1722.]
HEN this extraordinary woman was appointed camarera-mayor to the queen of Philip V. of Spain, she was a widow without children. No one could have been better suited for the post. A lady of the French court would not have done: a Spanish lady was not to be depended on, and might have easily disgusted the queen. The Princess des Ursins appeared to be a middle term. She was French, had been in Spain, and she passed a great part of her life at Rome and in Italy. She was of the house of Tremoille,—Anne Maria de la Tremoille. She first married M. Talleyrand, who called himself Prince de Chalais. She followed her husband to Spain, where he died. Her second husband was chief of the house of Ursins, a grandee of Spain, and Prince of the Soglio.
Age and health were also appropriate, and likewise her appearance. She was rather tall than otherwise; a brunette, with blue eyes of the most varied expression; in figure perfect, with a most exquisite bosom; her face, without being beautiful, was charming. She was extremely noble in air, very majestic in demeanour, full of graces so natural and continual in everything, that I have never seen any one approach her either in form or mind. Her wit was copious, and of all kinds; she was 189 flattering, caressing, insinuating, moderate, wishing to please for pleasing' sake, with charms irresistible when she strove to persuade and win over; accompanying all this, she had a grandeur that encouraged instead of frightening; a delicious conversation, inexhaustible and very amusing, for she had seen many countries and persons; a voice and way of speaking extremely agreeable, and full of sweetness. She knew how to choose the best society, how to receive them, and could even have held a court; was polite, distingué, and, above all, was careful never to take a step in advance without dignity and discretion. She was eminently fitted for intrigue, in which, from taste, she had passed her life in Rome; with much ambition, but of that vast kind far above her sex and the common run of men—a desire to occupy a great position, and to govern. A love for gallantry and personal vanity were her foibles, and these clung to her until her latest day; consequently, she dressed in a way that no longer became her, and, as she advanced in life, removed further from propriety in this particular. She was an ardent and excellent friend—of a friendship that time and absence never enfeebled, and, consequently, an implacable enemy, pursuing her hatred to the infernal regions. While caring little for the means by which she gained her ends, she tried as much as possible to reach them by honest means. Secret not only for herself but for her friends, she was yet of a decorous gaiety, and so governed her humours, that at all times and in every thing she was mistress of herself.
From the first moment on which she entered the service of the Queen of Spain, it became her desire to govern not only the queen but the king, and by this means the realm itself. Such a grand project had need of support from our king [Louis XIV.], who, at the commencement, ruled the 190 court of Spain as much as his own court, with entire influence over all other matters.
The young Queen of Spain had been not less carefully educated than her sister, the Duchesse de Bourgogne. She had even, when so young, much intelligence and firmness, without being incapable of restraint. Indeed, she became a divinity among the Spaniards, and, to their affection for her, Philip V. was more than once indebted for his crown. Madame des Ursins soon managed to obtain the entire confidence of this queen, and, during the absence of Philip V. in Italy, assisted her in the administration of all public offices. She even accompanied her to the junta, it not being thought proper that the queen should be alone amidst such an assemblage of men. In this way she became acquainted with everything that was passing, and knew all the affairs of the government.
This step gained, it will be imagined that the Princess des Ursins did not forget to pay her court most assiduously to our king and Madame de Maintenon. Little by little she introduced into her letters details respecting public affairs, without, however, conveying a suspicion of her own ambition. She next began to flatter Madame de Maintenon, and to hint that she might rule over Spain even more firmly than she ruled over France, if she would entrust her commands to Madame des Ursins. Madame de Maintenon was enchanted by the siren, and embraced the proposition with avidity. It was next necessary to draw the King of Spain into the same net—not a very arduous task. Soon the junta became a mere show. Everything was brought before the king in private, and he gave no decision until the queen and Madame des Ursins passed theirs. 191
[This rule Madame des Ursins continued for many years. Ultimately, a quarrel with Madame de Maintenon, the death of the Queen of Spain, and the second marriage of the king, with the cabals of enemies, forced her in her old age into a retreat at Rome.] She was not long there before she attached herself to the King and Queen of England (the Pretender and his wife), and soon governed them openly. What a poor resource! But it was courtly, and had a flavour of occupation for a woman who could not exist without movement. She finished her life there, remarkably healthy in mind and body, and in a prodigious opulence, which was not without its use in that deplorable court. She had the pleasure of seeing Madame de Maintenon forgotten and annihilated at St Cyr, of surviving her, of seeing at Rome her two enemies, Guidice and Alberoni, as profoundly disgraced as she. Her death, which a few years before would have resounded through all Europe, made not the least sensation.
RIZEL Hume, born in 1665, was daughter of Patrick Hume, Baron of Polwarth, and became the wife of George Baillie of Jerviswoode. She began her life during the troubles of the Scottish persecution. At the time of her father's liberation from prison, she was little more than ten years of age; and, soon after, those romantic incidents occur in her life which have given her a historical celebrity. From the tact and activity with which, far beyond one of her years, she accomplished whatever she was entrusted with, her parents sent her on confidential missions, which she executed with singular fidelity and success. In the summer of that same year, when Robert Baillie of Jerviswoode, the early and intimate friend of her father, was imprisoned for rescuing his brother-in-law, Mr James Kirkton, from a wicked persecutor, Captain William Carstairs, she was sent by her father from his country-house to Edinburgh, a long road, to try if from her age she could get admittance into the prison unsuspected, and slip a letter of information and advice into his hand, and bring back from him what intelligence she could. Proceeding on her journey, she succeeded in getting access to Baillie, though we are not informed in what way. But in whatever way young Grizel got access to Baillie, and whatever were the circumstances of 193 their interview, she successfully accomplished the purpose of her mission. It is also to be observed, that it was in the prison on this occasion that she first saw Mr Baillie's son, and that then and there originated that intimacy and attachment between him and her which afterwards issued in their happy marriage.
When, in October 1683, Robert Baillie was apprehended in London and sent down a prisoner to Scotland, her father, who was implicated in the same patriotic measures for preventing a popish successor to the British throne, for which Baillie was arrested, had too good ground to be alarmed for his own personal safety. But he was allowed, it would appear, to remain undisturbed in his own house till the month of September next year, when orders were issued by the government for his apprehension; and a party of troops had come to his house on two different occasions for that purpose, though they failed in getting hold of him. Upon this he found it necessary to withdraw from home, and to keep himself in concealment till he got an opportunity of going over to the Continent. The spot to which he betook himself for shelter was the family burying-place, a vault under ground at Polwarth Church, at the distance of a mile from the house. Where he was no person knew but Lady Grizel Hume, and one man, James Winter, a carpenter, who used to work in the house, and of whose fidelity they were not disappointed. The frequent examinations to which servants were at that time subjected, and the oaths by which it was attempted to extort discoveries from them, made Grizel and her mother afraid to commit the secret to any of these. By the assistance of James Winter, they got a bed and bed-clothes carried during the night to his hiding-place; and there he was 194 concealed for a month, during which time the only light he had was that admitted by means of a chink at one end, through which nobody on the outside could see who or what was in the interior. While he abode in this receptacle of the dead, Grizel, with the most exemplary filial tenderness, and with the most vigilant precaution, ministered to his temporal wants and comforts. Regularly at midnight, when men were sunk in sleep, she went alone to this dreary vault, carrying to him a supply of food and drink, and to bear him company. She stayed as long as she could, taking care to get home before day, to prevent discovery. She had a great deal of humour in telling a story; and during her stay she took a delight in telling him, nor was he less delighted in hearing her tell him, such incidents at home as had amused herself and the rest of the family, and these were often the cause of much mirth and laughter to them both.
[Grizel's adventures were continued into Holland, whither her father retired, and where she showed her natural traits of sagacity, those marks of genius for which she has been celebrated. She wrote many pieces of poetry, and one in particular, "Werna my heart licht I would dee," which has been praised as simple, lively, and tender. Her personal appearance is thus described by her daughter, Lady Murray: "She was middle-sized, well made, clever, in her person very handsome, with a life and sweetness in her eyes very uncommon, and great delicacy in all her features; her hair was chestnut; and to her last she had the finest complexion, with the clearest red in her cheeks and lips that could be seen in any one of fifteen, which, added to her natural constitution, might be owing to the great moderation she had in her diet throughout her whole life.... Pottage and milk were her greatest feast, and by 195 choice she preferred them to everything, though nothing came wrong to her that others could eat. Water she preferred to any liquor; and though often obliged to take a glass of wine, she always did it unwillingly, thinking it hurt her, and did not like it."]
AS the daughter of Maupeon, president of one of the Chambers of Inquest, and, though far from being rich, was an acquisition to Pontchartrain, who was farther. One could scarcely be more plain in appearance than Madame; but then, to make up, she was a big woman, with something of a grand air, which was not only imposing, but had a certain refinement about it. No wife of a minister, or any other, possessed more of the art of managing an establishment, of combining order with ease and magnificence, of adroitly warding off inconveniences by looking forward without showing solicitude, of making dignity harmonise with politeness—a politeness so measured and advised as put all the world at ease. She had a great deal of spirit, without any ambition to show it, and a complaisance which was devoid of hollowness or duplicity. If she happened to make a mistake, it was surprising with what quietness she could repair the error; but she possessed also great good sense, which enabled her to make a just estimate of people, and a general sagacity as regards things and conduct, which few men of the time could boast of. Every one wondered that a woman de la robe, who had never seen the world but in Brittany, could in so short a time accommodate herself to 197 the manners, spirit, and language of the court, becoming one of the best counsellors which one could find in cases of difficulty. True, she had too long imbibed the manners of the people not to show some small evidence of the contagion; but then it was all but unnoticed amidst the gallantry of a refined and charming spirit, which seemed always welling naturally from its source, accompanied by such grace of action that every one was delighted.
No person understood so well as Madame Pontchartrain the art of giving fêtes. She had all the taste required, and all the invention, with a sumptuosity, too, on all sides; yet she never gave without reason and a good purpose, and she did all with an air perfectly simple and tranquil, without forgetting her age, her place, her state, her modesty. She was helpful to her relations; a trustworthy friend, effective, useful, true in all points, and pure at heart; delicious in the freedom of the country, dangerous at table in fixing you there, often very amusing without saying a word out of joint; always gay, though sometimes not exempt from humour. The virtue and the piety which she had exhibited throughout all her life increased as her fortune increased. What she gave in pensions well merited, what marriages she procured for poor girls, what she did for poor nuns when well assured of their vocation, what she deprived herself of to enable her to enable others to live, will never be known.
ORN in 1677, the authoress of the celebrated ballad of "Hardyknute" was the second daughter of Sir Charles Halkett of Pitferrane. At the age of nineteen she married Sir Henry Wardlaw of Pitreavie in Fife, to whom she bore four daughters and a son.
She at first attempted to pass off the ballad of "Hardyknute" as a genuine fragment of an ancient poem, and caused her brother-in-law, Sir John Bruce of Kinross, to communicate the manuscript to Lord Binning, himself a poet, as a copy of a manuscript found in an old vault of Dunfermline.
The poem of "Hardyknute" was first published in 1719, and it was afterwards admitted by Ramsay into the "Evergreen," and for many years was received as an old ballad [a circumstance which has been founded on by some modern writers as sufficient to invalidate the claims of many of our "old ballads" to an origin beyond that of the date of Lady Halkett's successful literary fraud. Nay, several of these have been ascribed to this lady chiefly upon the internal evidence of identical words; but it seems to have been overlooked by these inquirers that Lady Halkett would naturally imitate the old ballads; and no doubt she did; so that the 199 supposed proof may be successfully turned against the new theory.] The real authorship of "Hardyknute" was first disclosed by Bishop Percy in his "Reliques," published in 1755, and has since been established beyond a doubt [but there is no evidence beyond what has been mentioned that she wrote "Sir Patrick Spens," or any other of our so-called old Scotch ballads].
[BORN 1690. DIED 1762.]
ADY Mary Pierrepoint, eldest daughter of the Duke of Kingston, was born in 1690, and gave, in her early youth, such indications of a studious disposition, that she was initiated into the rudiments of the learned languages along with her brother. Her first years appear to have been spent in retirement, and yet her first letters indicate a great relish for that talent and power of observation, by which she afterwards became so famous and so formidable. These letters were addressed to Mrs Wortley, the mother of her future husband, and, along with a good deal of girlish flattery and affectation, display such a degree of easy humour and sound penetration, as is not often to be met with in a damsel of nineteen, even in this age of precocity. "My knight-errantry," she says, "is at an end, and I believe I shall henceforth think freeing of galley-slaves and knocking down windmills more laudable undertakings than the defence of any woman's reputation whatever. To say truth, I have never had any great esteem for the generality of the fair sex, and my only consolation for being of that gender has been the assurance it gave me of never being married to any one among them." But, in the course of this correspondence with the mother, she appears to have conceived a very favourable opinion of the son. Her ladyship, though endowed with a very lively imagination, seems not to have been very susceptible of violent or tender emotions, and to have imbibed a very decided contempt for sentimental and romantic nonsense, at an age which is commonly more indulgent.
201 Married to Mr Wortley in 1712, she entered upon a gay life; but she does not appear to have been happy. We have no desire to revive forgotten scandals, but it is a fact which cannot be omitted, that her ladyship went abroad without her husband, on account of bad health, in 1739, and did not return to England till she heard of his death in 1761. Whatever was the cause of their separation, there was no open rupture, and she seems to have corresponded with him very regularly for the first ten years of her absence; but her letters were cold without being formal, and were gloomy and constrained when compared with those that were spontaneously written to show her wit or her affection to her correspondents.
A little spoiled by flattery, and not altogether "undebauched by the world," Lady Mary seems to have possessed a masculine solidity of understanding, great liveliness of fancy, and such powers of observation and discrimination of character, as to give her opinions great authority on all the ordinary subjects of practical manners and conduct. After her marriage, she seems to have abandoned all idea of laborious or regular study, and to have been raised to the station of a literary character merely by her vivacity and love of amusement and anecdote. The great charm of her letters is certainly the extreme ease and facility with which everything is expressed, the brevity and rapidity of her representations, and the elegant simplicity of her diction. While they 202 unite almost all the qualities of a good style, there is nothing of the professed author in them; nothing that seems to have been composed, or to have engaged the admiration of the writer. She appears to be quite unconscious either of merit or of exertion in what she is doing, and never stops to bring out a thought, or to turn an expression, with the cunning of a practised rhetorician. Her letters from Turkey will probably continue to be more universally read than any of the others, because the subject commands a wider and more permanent interest than the personalities and unconnected remarks with which the rest of her correspondence is filled. At the same time, the love of scandal and private history is so great, that these letters will be highly relished as long as the names they contain are remembered, and then they will become curious and interesting, as exhibiting a truer picture of the manners and fashions of the time, than is to be found in most other publications.
Poetry, at least the polite and witty sort which Lady Mary has attempted, is much more of an art than prose writing. We are trained to the latter by the conversation of good society, but the former seems always to require a good deal of patient labour and application. This her ladyship appears to have disdained; and, accordingly, her poetry, though abounding in lively conceptions, is already consigned to that oblivion in which mediocrity is destined by an irrevocable sentence to slumber till the end of the world. Her essays are extremely insignificant, and have no other merit that we can discover, but that they are very few and very short.
Of Lady Mary's friendship and subsequent rupture with Pope, we have not thought it necessary to say anything, both because we are of opinion that no new light has been latterly thrown upon it, and because we have 203 no desire to awaken forgotten scandals by so idle a controversy. Pope was undoubtedly a flatterer, and was undoubtedly sufficiently irritable and vindictive; but whether his rancour was stimulated upon this occasion by anything but caprice or jealousy, and whether he was the inventor or the echo of the imputations to which he has given notoriety, we do not pretend to determine. Lady Mary's character was certainly deficient in that cautious delicacy which is the best guardian of female reputation; and there seems to have been in her conduct something of that intrepidity which naturally gives rise to misconstruction, by setting at defiance the maxims of ordinary discretion.
[BORN 1697. DIED 1780.]
lady who was left a widow, with a moderate fortune and a great reputation for wit, about 1750, and soon after gave up her hotel and retired to apartments in the Convent de St Joseph, where she continued to receive almost every evening whoever was most distinguished in Paris for rank, talent, or accomplishment. Having become almost blind in a few years, she found she required the attendance of some intelligent young woman who might read and write for her, and assist in doing the honours of her conversazione. For this purpose she cast her eyes on Mademoiselle Lespinasse, the illegitimate daughter of a man of rank who had been boarded in the same convent, and was for some time delighted with her selection. By-and-by, however, she found that her young companion began to engross more of the notice of her visitors than she thought suitable, and parted from her with violent, ungenerous, and implacable displeasure. Mademoiselle de Lespinasse, however, carried with her the admiration of the greater part of her patroness's circle; and having obtained a small pension from government, opened her own doors to a society no less brilliant than that into which she had been initiated by Madame du Deffand. The fatigue however, which she had 205 undergone in reading the old marchioness asleep had irreparably injured her health, which was still more impaired by the agitations of her own inflammable and ambitious spirit; and she died before she had attained middle age, about 1776, leaving on the minds of all the most eminent men of France, an impression of talent, and of ardour of imagination, which seems to have been considered as without example. Madame du Deffand continued to preside in her circle till a period of extreme old age, and died in 1780, in full possession of her faculties.
Madame du Deffand was the wittiest, the most selfish, and the most ennuyé of the whole party. Her wit, to be sure, is very enviable and very entertaining; but it is really consolatory to common mortals to find how little it could amuse its possessor. This did not proceed in her, however, from the fastidiousness which is sometimes supposed to arise from a long familiarity with excellence, so much as from a long habit of selfishness, or rather from a radical want of heart or affection. La Harpe says of her, that it was "difficult for any one to have less sensibility and more egotism." With all this, she was greatly given to gallantry in her youth, though her attachments, it would seem, were of a kind not very likely to interfere with her peace of mind. The very evening her first lover died, after an intimacy of twenty years, La Harpe assures us "that she came to supper at a grand company at Madame de Marchius's, where I was; and that, speaking of the loss she had sustained, she said, 'Alas, he died at six o'clock, otherwise you would not have seen me here.'" She is also recorded to have frequently declared that she could never bring herself to love anything, though, in order to take every possible chance, she had several times attempted to become devote with no great success. This, we have no doubt, is the 206 secret of her ennui; and a fine example it is of the utter worthlessness of all talent, accomplishment, and glory, when disconnected with those feelings of kindness and generosity which are of themselves sufficient for happiness. Madame du Deffand, however, must have been delightful to those who sought only for amusement. Her tone is admirable, her wit flowing and natural; and though a little given to detraction, and not a little importunate and exigeante towards those on whose complaisance she had claims, there is always an air of politeness in her raillery, and of knowledge of the world in her murmurs, that prevents them from being either wearisome or offensive.
HE youngest daughter of the illustrious Dr Bentley was the Phœbe of Byron's Pastoral. She was a woman of extraordinary accomplishments, and was the mother of the well-known Richard Cumberland, the most valuable part of whose early education was due to the taste and intelligence of this excellent woman. "It was," according to his account, "in these intervals from school that she began to form both my taste and my ear for poetry, by employing me every evening to read to her, of which art she was a very able mistress. Our readings were, with very few exceptions, confined to the chosen plays of Shakespeare, whom she both admired and understood in the true spirit and sense of the author. With all her father's (Dr Bentley's) critical acumen, she could trace and teach me to unravel all the meanders of Shakespeare's metaphors, and point out where it illuminated or where it only loaded or obscured the meaning."
These were happy hours and interesting lectures to Richard Cumberland; and the effect was a sort of drama produced at twelve years, called "Shakespeare in the Shades," and composed almost entirely of passages from that great writer, strung together and assorted with no despicable ingenuity.
[BORN 1706. DIED 1749.]
T the head of the list of scientific ladies stands Gabrielle Emilie le Tonnelier de Breteuil, Marquise du Châtelet, the French translator of Newton's "Principia." She was the daughter of the Baron de Breteuil, was born in 1706, and was married to the Marquis de Chastelet, or Châtelet, when very young. Voltaire became acquainted with her in 1733, and he has described what he found her to be in the memoir which he has left us of a part of her life. Her father, he says, had caused her to be taught Latin, and she knew that language as well as Madame Dacier. She had by heart the finest passages of Horace, Virgil, and Lucretius; all the philosophical writings of Cicero were familiar to her. But her predominating taste was for the mathematics and metaphysics. There had rarely been united in any one more correctness of judgment, with more taste and ardour for the acquisition of knowledge; nor was she for all this the less attached to the world, and to all the amusements proper to her age and sex.
Yet she had given up everything to go and bury herself in an old dilapidated château, situated in a barren and wretched country, on the borders of Champagne and Lorraine. She had, however, made this country house at Cirey an agreeable retreat for study and philosophical 209 intercourse. Pleasant gardens, with which the marchioness had embellished it, a good collection of philosophical instruments which Voltaire formed, and an extensive library, enabled Maupertius, John Bernouilli, and other distinguished literary and scientific visitors, who sometimes came to spend a few weeks or months, both to enjoy themselves and to pass their time not unprofitably. Voltaire resided here for about six years. He taught the marchioness English, and, he says, at the end of three months she knew the language as well as himself, and was equally able to read Locke, Newton, and Pope. Italian she acquired with the same facility; Voltaire and she read several of the Italian poets together; and when Francesco Algarotti came to Cirey to finish his work, entitled "Newtonianismo par le Dame"—"Newtonianism for the Ladies"—she was able to converse with him in his own tongue, and to give him many valuable suggestions.
"We sought for nothing," continues Voltaire, "in this delicious retreat, except to cultivate our understandings, without taking any trouble to inform ourselves about what was passing in the rest of the world. Our chief attention for a long time was given to Leibnitz and Newton. Madame du Châtelet at first attached herself to Leibnitz, and gave an explanation of a part of his system in a work written with great ability, which she called 'Institutions de Physique.' She did not seek to decorate this philosophy with ornaments foreign to its nature; no such affectation belonged to the character of her mind, which was masculine and true. Clearness, precision, and elegance were the constituents of her style. If it has ever been found possible to give any plausibility to the notions of Leibnitz, it is in that book that it has been done." The "Institutions de Physique" has received high 210 commendation from the most competent authorities as well as from Voltaire. It is described as "a series of letters, in which the systems of Leibnitz and Newton are explained in a familiar style, and with a degree of knowledge of the history of the several opinions, and of sound language and ideas in their discussion, which we read with surprise, remembering that they were the production of a Frenchwoman, thirty years of age, written very few years after the introduction of the Newtonian philosophy into France. She takes that intermediate view between the refusal to admit the hypothesis of attraction and the assertion of it as a primary quality of matter, from which very few who consider the subject would now dissent. At the end of the work is an epistolary discussion with M. de Mairan, on the principle of vis viva—the vital energy, the metaphysical part of which then created much controversy." Her translation of Newton's "Principia" was published at Paris in 1759. It stands so high that it has been used by Delambre in his "History of Astronomy," whenever he has to make a quotation from Newton. Madame du Châtelet had been dead for ten years when the work appeared. Her life is supposed to have been shortened by her close application in preparing it, and she died at the age of forty-three.
[BORN 1707. DIED 1791.]
HE broad facts of this noble lady's history afford ground enough for the repute she has enjoyed as a woman of much tact and ability, of great energy, and of a munificent temper; while the use she made of her influence and fortune for the promotion of the Methodistic movement, that is to say, of Christianity itself, sufficiently attests her piety and zeal. It must also be inferred, from the circumstance of her having retained the friendship and regard of many among the leading persons of her time through a long period of years, that she possessed qualities of mind and attractions of manner that were of no ordinary sort; for it is certain that those who ridiculed, or even hated her Methodism, still yielded themselves, in frequent instances, to her personal influence. So far, an idea of Lady Huntingdon may be gathered from facts that are beyond doubt. There is, however, so little that is discriminative in the extant eulogies of her friends and correspondents, or of her biographers, and there is so little that bears a clearly-marked individuality in her own letters, that a distinct image of her mind and temper is not easy to obtain.
As to the position assigned to her among the founders of Methodism, it is due to her rather on the ground of what she did for it as its 212 patroness, which was almost immeasurable, than because she imprinted upon it any characteristics of her own mind. Calvinistic Methodism was not her creation. In the centre of the brilliant company of her pious relatives and noble friends, and with a numerous attendance of educated and Episcopally-ordained ministers, and, beyond this inner circle, a broad penumbra of lay preachers chosen by herself, and educated, maintained, and employed at her cost, and acting under her immediate direction, she seems to sit as a queen. Something of the regal style, something of the air of the autocrat, was natural to one who, with the consciousness of rank, and with the habitude of one accustomed to the highest society, was gifted with a peculiar governing ability, and was actually wielding an extensive influence over men and things. It would have been wonderful indeed if nothing of the sort had been perceptible in her manner and style; yet, that her main intention was pure and beneficent, and that ambition was not her passion, will be felt and confessed by every candid reader of her letters.
Her letters indicate much business-like ability, and they show always a pertinent adherence to the matter in hand. They are, therefore, more determinate by far than Whitefield's, and indeed are little less so than Wesley's, whose letters are eminent examples of succinct determinativeness; they bespeak an unvarying and genuine fervour, and a simple-hearted onward tendency toward the one purpose of her life—the spread of the gospel, and the honour of her Saviour. Lady Huntingdon's are, moreover, marked by often-repeated, but not to be questioned, professions of the deep sense she had of her own unworthiness and unprofitableness. Such are the ingredients, few and perpetually recurrent, of these compositions: a severe monotony—not severe in the 213 sense of harshness—is their characteristic. Yet Lady Huntingdon was always the object of a warm personal affection with those who were nearest to her. With them it is always "Our dear Lady Huntingdon;" and putting out of view formal eulogies, it is unquestionable that, if she governed her connection as having a right to rule it, her style and behaviour, like Wesley's, indicated the purest motives and the most entire simplicity of purpose. This, in truth, may be said to have been the common characteristic of the founders of Methodism, especially of the two Wesleys—a devotedness to the service and glory of the Saviour Christ, which none who saw and conversed with them could question.
[BORN 1717. DIED 1780.]
ARIA Theresa, in high spirits about her English subsidy and the bright aspects, left Vienna for Presburg, and is celebrating her coronation there as Queen of Hungary in a very sublime manner. Sunday, 25th June, 1741, that is the day of putting on your crown—iron crown of St Stephen, as readers know. The chivalry of Hungary, from Palfy and Esterhazy downward, and all the world, are there shining in loyalty and barbaric gold and pearl. A truly beautiful young woman, beautiful to soul and eye,—devout, too, and noble, though ill formed in political or other science,—is in the middle of it, and makes the scene still more noticeable to us. "See, at the finish of the ceremonies, she has mounted a high swift horse, sword girt to her side,—a great rider always this young queen,—and gallops, Hungary following like a comet's tail, to the Konigsberg, to the top of the Konigsberg; there draws sword, and cuts grandly, flourishing to the four quarters of the heavens: 'Let any mortal, from whatever quarter coming, meddle with Hungary if he dare!' Chivalrous Hungary bursts into passionate acclaim; old Palfy, I could fancy, into tears; and all the world murmurs to itself, with moist 215 gleaming eyes, Rex Noster."
As for this brave young Queen of Hungary, my admiration goes with all the world—not in the language of flattery, but of evident fact: the royal qualities abound in that high young lady; had they left the world and grown to mere costume elsewhere, you might find certain of them again here. Most brave, high, and pious-minded; beautiful, too, as I have said, and radiant with good nature, though of temper that will easily catch fire; there is perhaps no nobler woman there living; and she fronts the roaring elements in a truly grand feminine manner, as if heaven itself, and the voice of duty, called her. "The inheritances which my father left me, we will not part with these. Death, if it so must be, but not dishonour; listen not to that thief in the night." Maria Theresa has not studied at all the history of the Silesian Duchies. She knows only that her father and grandfather peaceably held them; it was not she that sent out Seckendorf to ride two thousand five hundred miles, or broke the heart of Frederick-William and his household. Pity she had not complied with Frederick, and saved such rivers of bitterness to herself and mankind!
Her husband, the Grand Duke, an inert but good-tempered and well-conditioned duke after his sort, goes with her. Him we shall see trying various things, and at length take to banking and merchandise, and even meal-dealing on the great scale. "Our armies had most part of their meal circuitously from him," says Frederick of times long subsequent. Now, as always, he follows loyally his wife's lead, never she his. Wife being intrinsically, as well as extrinsically, the better man, what other can he do?
At one time she seriously thought of taking "the command of her armies," says a good witness. "Her husband has been with the armies once, twice, but never to much purpose; and this is about the last time, or last but 216 one, this in winter 1742. She loves her husband thoroughly all along, but gives him no share in business, finding he understands nothing except banking. It is certain she chiefly was the reformer of her army" in years coming; "she athwart many impediments. An ardent rider, often on horseback at paces furiously swift, her beautiful face tanned by the weather. Honest to the bone, athwart all her prejudices. Since our own Elizabeth, no woman, and hardly one man, is worth being named beside her as a sovereign ruler. 'She is a living contradiction of the Salic law,' say her admirers."
LOPSTOCK first beheld Meta Möller in passing through Hamburg in April 1751. In a letter to one of his friends, written soon after this, he describes her as mistress of the French, English, and Italian languages, and even conversant with Greek and Latin literature. She was then in her twenty-fourth year, he in his twenty-seventh. Their marriage took place about three years afterwards. Here is Meta's own narrative of the rise and course of their true love, given in one of her letters to Richardson, a narrative which will bear a hundred readings, and a hundred more after that, and still be as fresh and as touching as ever:—
"You will know all what concerns me. Love, dear sir, is all what me concerns. And love shall be all what I will tell you in this letter. In one happy night I read my husband's poem, 'The Messiah.' I was extremely touched with it. The next day I asked one of his friends who was the author of this poem, and this was the first time I heard Klopstock's name. I believe I fell immediately in love with him. At the least, my thoughts were ever with him filled, especially because his friend told me very much of his character. But I had no hopes ever to see him, when quite unexpectedly I heard that he should pass through Hamburg. I wrote 218 immediately to the same friend, for procuring, by his means, that I might see the author of the 'Messiah' when in Hamburg. He told him that a certain girl in Hamburg wished to see him, and for all recommendation showed him some letters in which I made bold to criticise Klopstock's verses. Klopstock came, and came to me. I must confess that, though greatly prepossessed of his qualities, I never thought him the amiable youth whom I found him. This made its effect. After having seen him for two hours I was obliged to pass the evening in a company which never had been so wearisome to me. I could not speak. I could not play. I thought I saw nothing but Klopstock.
"I saw him the next day, and the following, and we were very seriously friends. But the fourth day he departed! He wrote soon after, and from that time our correspondence began to be a very diligent one. I sincerely believed my love to be friendship. I spoke to my friends of nothing but Klopstock, and showed his letters. They rallied me, and said I was in love. I rallied them again, and said that they must have a very friendshipless heart if they had no idea of friendship to a man as well as to a woman. Thus it continued eight months, in which time my friends found as much love in Klopstock's letters as in mine. I perceived it likewise, but I would not believe it. At the last, Klopstock said plainly that he loved; and I startled as for a wrong thing. I answered that it was no love, but friendship, as it was what I felt for him; we had not seen one another enough to love (as if love must have more time than friendship). This was sincerely my meaning, and I had this meaning till Klopstock came again to Hamburg. This he did a year after we had seen one another for the first time. We saw; we were friends; we loved; 219 and we believed that we loved; and a short time after I could even tell Klopstock that I loved. But we were obliged to part again, and wait two years for our wedding. My mother would not let marry me a stranger. I could marry then without her consentment, as by the death of my father my fortune depended not upon her; but this was an horrible idea for me, and thank heaven I have prevailed by prayers. At this time, knowing Klopstock, she loves him as her lifely son, and thanks God that she has not persisted. We married, and I am the happiest wife in the world."
This was written in March 1758, after they had been about four years married. Writing again in the beginning of May, she thus sketches the life they led together: "It will be a delightful occupation for me to make you more acquainted with my husband's poem. Nobody can do it better than I, being the person who knows the most of that which is not yet published, being always present at the birth of the young verses, which begin always by fragments here and there of a subject of which his soul is just then filled. He has many great fragments of the whole work ready. You may think that persons who love as we do have no need of two chambers; we are always in the same. I, with my little work, still only regarding sometimes my husband's sweet face, which is so venerable at that time with tears of devotion and all the sublimity of the subject, my husband reading me the young verses and suffering my criticism."
With this we may compare what Klopstock says, writing of her: "How perfect was her taste! how exquisitely fine her feelings! she observed everything even to the slightest turn of the thought. I had only to look at her, and could see in her face when even a syllable pleased or displeased her; and when I led her to explain the reason of her 220 remarks, no demonstration could be more true, more accurate, or more appropriate to the subject. But, in general, this gave us very little trouble, for we understood each other when we had scarcely began to explain our ideas."
But all this happiness, too bright for earth, or for long endurance, was about to be suddenly extinguished. There is another letter from Meta to Richardson, dated 26th August, in which she informs him that she has a prospect of being a mother in the month of November, and of thus attaining what has been her only wish ungratified for these four years. She writes from Hamburg, where she was on a visit to her family, while her husband had been obliged to make a journey to Copenhagen. It was the first time that they had been separated. It is remarkable that she seems to have had more than a mere apprehension, almost an assured foreboding, of what awaited her. Klopstock rejoined her at last about the end of September; her last lines, written to him before his return, are dated the 26th of that month. The two following months they spent together at Hamburg. From that place poor Meta was never to return. There, where she had first drawn breath, she died in childbed on the 28th of November. [Klopstock lived till 1803, and was then buried under a lime tree in the churchyard of Ottenson, near Altona, by the side of his Meta and the child that slept in her arms.]
HE piety and domestic virtues of Elizabeth Blackwell entitle her to rank among the best women whose names have found their way into public history; a fortune which has happened to her and Lady Rachel Russel, and two or three other virtuous women; but which has, in the instance of most of their sex who have attained to celebrity, been a calamity upon their memory, being a rank at which it is not easy for a woman to arrive by the practice of those private and retiring virtues and graces which are the real solid ornaments of the female character. Elizabeth Blackwell was the daughter of a stocking merchant in Aberdeen, where she was born about the beginning of last century. The first event of her life which is now known, was her secret marriage with Alexander Blackwell, and her elopement with him to London. He had received a finished education, and was an accurate Greek and Latin scholar. He had studied medicine under the famous Boerhaave, and, in travelling over the Continent, had lived in the best society, and had acquired an extensive knowledge of the modern languages. He was, however, unsuccessful in his endeavours to secure a comfortable livelihood. After having in vain attempted to get into practice as a physician, and having now a wife also to provide for, he applied for the situation of corrector of the 222 press to a printer of the name of Wilkins, and for some time continued in that employment. He then set up a printing establishment in the Strand, but became involved in debt, and was thrown into prison.
It was this circumstance that brought into practice the talents and virtues of Mrs Blackwell. She resolved, by an unexampled labour for a woman, to effect the delivery of her husband. She had in her girlish days practised the drawing and colouring of flowers, a suitable and amiable accomplishment of her sex. Engravings of flowers were then very scarce, and Mrs Blackwell thought that the publication of a Herbal might attract the notice of the world, and yield her such a remuneration as would enable her to discharge her husband's debts. She now engaged in a labour which is at once a noble and marvellous monument of her enthusiastic and untiring conjugal affection, and interesting evidence of the elegant and truly womanly nature of her own mind. Having submitted her first drawings to Sir Hans Sloane and Dr Mead, these eminent physicians encouraged her to proceed with the work. She also received the kindest countenance from Mr Philip Miller, a well-known writer on horticulture. Amongst those who were honoured in patronising her labour of piety was Mr Rand of the Botanical Garden at Chelsea. By his advice Mrs Blackwell took lodgings in the neighbourhood of this garden, from which she was furnished with all the flowers and plants which she required for her work. Of these she made drawings, which she engraved on copper, and coloured with her own hands. Her husband supplied the Latin names and the descriptions of the plants, which were taken principally from Miller's "Botanicum Officinale," with the author's permission. 223
In 1737, the first volume, a large folio, came out under the following title, "A Curious Herbal, containing 500 Cuts of the most useful Plants which are now used in the Practice of Physic. Engraved in Folio Copperplates, after Drawings by Eliz. Blackwell." The profits which Mrs Blackwell received from this work enabled her to relieve her husband from prison. The adventures of Blackwell after his release are well known. Having devoted much of his attention to agricultural science, he obtained for some time a lucrative employment from the Duke of Chandos. He was subsequently invited to Sweden on account of a work he had published on agriculture. He went there, leaving his wife in England. He was received with honour at the court of Stockholm, where he lived with the prime minister, in the enjoyment of a salary from the government. During this period of prosperity he had continued to send large sums of money to his wife, who was now making arrangements to leave England with her only child and join her husband. But heaven, which often brings human histories to a very different conclusion from what readers of romances are disposed to acquiesce in, for the wise end of impressing men with the most solemn conviction of the reality of another world, which is the appointed place of rest and reward for goodness, saw fit to remove from this noble woman the husband whom she had loved so ardently, and for whom she had wrought a work of such singular piety, and to take him from the world by a melancholy and frightful death. A conspiracy against the constitution of Sweden was formed by Count Tessin; and Blackwell, it is believed innocently, was suspected of being concerned in the plot. He was seized and put to the torture. He was beheaded in July 1747.
[BORN 1743. DIED 1825.]
HE only daughter of Dr John Aikin, a Dissenting minister. Her youth was spent in entire seclusion, and her education was entirely domestic. At two years of age, it is stated on the authority of her mother, she could read with tolerable ease, and, at two years and a half, as well "as most women." It is at least certain that, from the instructions of her father, Miss Aikin acquired a competent knowledge of Latin; and that she was not indebted, for even a single lesson, either to professional female tuition, or to the teachers of the fashionable accomplishments, considered so important in forming the minds and manners of young ladies. Dr Aikin became a teacher at the Dissenting academy in Warrington, in Lancashire, when his daughter was about fifteen. This seminary enjoyed high celebrity. The teachers were all men of distinguished talents. Dr Priestley and Dr Enfield were of their number. In such a society the genius of Miss Aikin was fostered and animated; and her poems, published in 1773, rose into immediate popularity. Verse had the quality of comparative rarity in those days, and a female poet had a clear and unoccupied field.
In 1744, Miss Aikin married Rochemont Barbauld, a young gentleman who, 225 having been sent to Warrington for instruction previous to entering the church, imbibed, with a passion for her, the tenets of the sect to which her family belonged. Mr Barbauld obtained the charge of a congregation in Suffolk, and at Palgrave opened a seminary for the instruction of youth. The acquirements and habits of Mrs Barbauld eminently qualified her to be the coadjutor of her husband in this undertaking, and she afterwards received pupils of a very tender age as her peculiar charge. Of this number were Mr Denman the barrister, and Sir William Gell. Having no child of her own, she adopted the infant of her brother, Dr Aikin; and for his use, and that of her infant class, were composed those early lessons and hymns in prose which confirmed her literary reputation.
After a long interval, Mrs Barbauld resumed her pen, and published a selection of papers from the classic essayists, with a Life of Richardson, and a selection from his correspondence. In 1808 she lost her husband, who had for a long time suffered under that mental affliction which makes death a welcome release. After this event, she published a selection of the British novelists, and then her poem, "Eighteen Hundred and Eleven,"—a production far more ambitious, though much less successful, than her early and quieter performances. Its tone is that of gloomy prediction, its spirit desponding and altogether infelicitous. That was no palliation for the virulence of party feeling by which this useful and elegant author, now venerable even for years, was assailed by certain periodical writers. She never again appeared before the public. She died at the age of eighty-two, entitled to the veneration and gratitude of every one who has a child to train for this life, and for a higher state of existence.
[BORN 1745. DIED 1833.]
HE greatest name in the list of female writers on moral and religious subjects in the last century was born in Gloucestershire in 1744. In 1762 she is said to have written her pastoral drama in rhymed verse, entitled "The Search after Happiness," which was immediately performed by the young ladies of the school of which she, with her sister, was the mistress. If it was not much improved before its publication eleven years afterwards, this was certainly a remarkable production for a girl of seventeen. Shortly after the production of this poem, the sisters had prospered sufficiently to enable them to build a house, the first erected in Park Street, Bristol. The order and management of the establishment, together with the superior quality of the education afforded, rendered this school the most celebrated of the kind in the kingdom. It comprised upwards of sixty pupils, and twice the number might have been easily entered had the accommodation admitted.
The person to whom Hannah was indebted for her advancement in critical knowledge and the principles of correct taste was, we are informed, a Bristol linen-draper named Peach. "He had," says Mr Roberts, "been the 227 friend of Hume, who had shown his confidence in his judgment by entrusting to him the correction of his "History," in which, he used to say, he had discovered more than two hundred Scotticisms." "At the age of twenty," says Mr Roberts, "having access to the best libraries in her neighbourhood, she cultivated with assiduity the Italian, Latin, and Spanish languages, exercising her genius and polishing her style in translations and imitations, especially of the Odes of Horace, and of some of the dramatic compositions of Metastasio."
One of the most important events in Hannah More's history was her first visit to London. "The theatre," it is said in her Life, "on her arrival in town, was the great point of attraction, and Garrick the great object of curiosity." Garrick "was delighted with his new acquaintance, and took pride and pleasure in introducing her in the splendid circle of genius in which he moved. To the royal family, who inquired of him concerning her, he spoke in terms of the most ardent commendation. Mrs Montagu, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dr Johnson, rapidly succeeded in her acquaintance; and in the course of six weeks (for such was the limit of this visit) she had become intimate with the greatest names in intellect and taste."
In 1774 she published her tragedy of the "Inflexible Captive," altered from Metastasio. The following year it was acted, first in Exeter and then in Bath, with the greatest applause; Garrick on the latter occasion being behind the scenes, and a host of distinguished persons filling the house. Her first publication, "The Search after Happiness," had by this time reached a sixth edition, besides having been reprinted in America. In November 1777 her tragedy of "Percy" was produced at Covent Garden theatre; Garrick, who had also contributed both the prologue and 228 epilogue, sustaining the principal character. The success of the play was complete, perhaps at that time unsurpassed. It was translated by the prime minister of France into French, and in a German dress "Percy" appeared on the stage of Vienna. Miss More received on the occasion the most flattering honours and distinctions; the whole blood of the Percys did honour to their minstrel. The Duke of Northumberland, Earl Percy, and the editor of the "Reliques," all came forward, complimented, and thanked her. An edition of nearly four thousand copies of the play was sold in a fortnight, and the authoress realised on the whole nearly £600. The tragedy of "Percy," nevertheless, has now ceased to be acted, and has, it may be apprehended, been read by very few living men.
But Hannah More's exertions in the cause of religion, morality, and civilisation, were not confined to the writing of books, of which she produced a great number, realising to her ultimately £30,000. One of her most meritorious services to the best interests of her country was her establishment of schools for the young throughout the district around her place of residence, the mining region of the Mendip hills, where, till she came among them, the people, taught scarcely anything either by schoolmaster or clergyman, were almost universally in a state of barbarism. Schools upon the same system were established in neighbouring parishes, and in a short time five hundred children were in training in ten schools. Her habitual cheerfulness never forsook her, and in some other respects she was, at near the age of ninety, what many have ceased to be at seventy.
[BORN 1747. DIED 1809.]
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
HIS poetical lady was born in 1747. Her father, the Rev. Thomas Seward, rector of Hyam, in Derbyshire, prebendary of Salisbury, and canon residentiary of Litchfield, was himself a poet; and a manuscript collection of his fugitive pieces is now lying before me, the bequest of my honoured friend, when she entrusted me with the task which I am now endeavouring to discharge. Several of these effusions were printed in Dodsley's collection. Thus accomplished himself, the talents of his eldest daughter did not long escape his complacent observation.
[In 1754, Mr Seward removed with his family to Litchfield.] The classical pretensions of this city were exalted by its being the residence of Dr Darwin, who soon distinguished and appreciated the talents of our young poetess. At this time, however, literature was deemed an undesirable pursuit for a young lady in Miss Seward's situation—the heiress of an independent fortune, and destined to occupy a considerable rank in society. Her mother, although an excellent woman, possessed no taste for her daughter's favourite amusements; and even Mr Seward withdrew his countenance from them, probably under the apprehension that his continued encouragement might produce in his daughter that dreaded phenomenon—a learned lady. 230
After the death of Miss Sarah Seward, her sister's society became indispensable to her parents, and she was never separated from them. Offers of matrimonial establishments occurred, and were rejected in one instance entirely, and in others chiefly from a sense of filial duty. As she was now of an age to select her own society and studies, Miss Seward's love for literature was indulged; and the sphere in which she moved was such as to increase her tastes for its pursuits. Dr Darwin, Mr Day (whose opinions formed singular specimens of English philosophy), Mr Edgeworth, Sir Brooke Boothby, and other names well known in the literary world, then formed part of the Litchfield society. The celebrated Dr Johnson was an occasional visitor of their circles; but he seems, in some respects, to have shared the fate of a prophet in his own country—neither Dr Darwin nor Miss Seward were partial to the great moralist. There was perhaps some aristocratic prejudice in their dislike; for the despotic manners of Dr Johnson were least likely to be tolerated where the lowness of his origin was in fresh recollection. At the same time, Miss Seward was always willing to do justice to his native benevolence, and to the powerful grasp of his intellectual powers, and she possessed many anecdotes of his conversation which had escaped his most vigilant recorders. These she used to tell with great humour, and with a very striking imitation of the sage's peculiar voice, gesture, and manner of delivery.
Miss Seward, when young, must have been exquisitely beautiful; for, in advanced age, the regularity of her features, the fire and expression of her countenance, gave her the appearance of beauty, and almost of youth. Her eyes were auburn, of the precise shade and hue of her hair, and possessed great expression. In reciting, or speaking with animation, 231 they appeared to become darker, and, as it were, to flash fire. I should have hesitated to state the impression which the peculiarity made upon me at the time, had not my observation been confirmed by that of the first actress of this or any other age, with whom I lately happened to converse on our deceased friend's expressive powers of countenance. Miss Seward's tone of voice was melodious, guided by excellent taste, and well suited to reading and recitation, in which she willingly exercised. She did not sing, nor was she a great proficient in music, though very fond of it, having studied it later in life than is now usual. Her stature was tall, and her form was originally elegant; but having broken the patella of her knee by a fall in the year 1768, she walked with pain and difficulty, which increased with the pressure of years.
[In 1784, Miss Seward produced a poetical novel, entitled "Louisa," which became popular, and passed through several editions. Her memoirs of the life of Dr Darwin was her last composition. In this she lays claim to the lines at the commencement of "The Botanic Garden," though unacknowledged by the author. Her other poems are "Langollen Vale," a volume of sonnets, and some paraphrases of Horace. She died in March 1809, leaving Sir Walter Scott her literary executor. Mr Polwhele, in his "Unsexed Females," speaks thus: "Miss Seward's poems are thoughts that breathe, and words that burn."]
[BORN 1679. DIED 1749.]
RS Cockburn, whose maiden name was Trotter, the daughter of a commander in the navy, was in youth said to have been distinguished by personal attractions. Her father died when she was very young; and her mother, who was nearly related to more than one Scotch noble family, was left in very narrow circumstances. Catherine began to show remarkable talent or vivacity of mind at a very early age. It is told that, while she was still a mere child, she one day surprised a company of her friends by some extemporaneous verses on an incident which had just happened in the street. Her first literary attempts were in verse. One poem, which she is stated to have written when she was only fourteen, is printed among her works. It is certain that in 1695, when she was only in her seventeenth year, she appeared as a dramatic writer,—a tragedy written by her, entitled "Agnes de Castro," having been brought out with success at the Theatre Royal in that year, and printed the following. This was followed by a second tragedy, entitled "Fatal Friendship," which was performed in the new theatre, Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1698, and printed the same year; and then came another tragedy and a comedy. 233
These juvenile productions had, probably all of them, great defects; but the authoress of three tragedies and a comedy, all both printed and acted before she had reached the age of twenty-two, was at any rate no common phenomenon. And she had also, it seems, already been long a diligent student of metaphysics, besides having, while as we gather only in her teens, ventured so far into the maze of theological speculation and controversy, as to have been induced to leave the Church of England in which she had been educated, and to profess herself a Roman Catholic. The first fruit of her philosophical studies appeared in May 1702, when she published anonymously a defence of "Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding," in reply to an attack upon it, which was afterwards known to have proceeded from the learned and eloquent Dr Thomas Burnet of the Charter House.
About the beginning of 1707 she returned to the Church of England, having previously changed her name for another. Mr Cockburn is said to have been a man of learning and talent, but he never was fortunate in obtaining much preferment; and throughout the remainder of his life she had both the cares of a family to occupy her time and thoughts, and very straitened circumstances to struggle with. In 1726 he became minister of an episcopal congregation at Aberdeen. Her return to England seems to have been like the recommencement of existence to her, or the awakening from a state of torpor. In the last stage of her life, notwithstanding broken health and some sharp sorrow, her intellectual and literary activity emulated what she had displayed at the outset of her career. In 1739 she boldly set out upon what we may call a voyage round the world of metaphysics, in "Remarks upon some Writers in the Controversy concerning the Foundation of Moral Duty and Moral Obligation; 234 particularly the Translator of Archbishop King's Origin of Moral Evil [Dr Edmund Law, afterwards Bishop of Carlisle], and the Author of Divine Legation of Moses [Warburton]; to which are prefixed some Cursory Thoughts on the Controversies concerning Necessary Existence, the Reality and Infinity of Space, the Extension and Place of Spirits, and on Dr Watt's Notion of Substance." It was not printed till the year 1743, when it was given to the world, without the name of the author, in "The History of the Works of the Learned."
Mrs Cockburn here adopted Dr Clarke's theory of the foundations of morality, namely, that the distinctions between virtue and vice are not created by the declarations or even by the will of the Deity, but arise out of eternal and immutable relations and essential differences of things. Not long after, her strength was much worn down by frequent attacks of asthma, to which she had been subject for many years. "I have," she says, "very little prospect of tolerable health for any continuance. My cough returned at the beginning of September, and held me about two months, but is now succeeded by such a difficulty of breathing that I do not know which is most grievous; but between them I am reduced to great weakness." Yet she was at this time engaged upon a new metaphysical work, which proved to be the most elaborate and able of all her literary performances, her "Remarks upon the Principles and Reasonings of Dr Rutherford's Essay on the Nature and Obligations of Virtue, in Vindication of the Contrary Principles and Reasonings Enforced in the Writings of Dr Samuel Clarke." The Rev. Dr Thomas Rutherford, whose essay appeared in 1744, had therein maintained the doctrine that the test and essence of virtue was its tendency to 235 promote the good properly understood, whether of the agent or others; in other words, was utility in the largest sense. When her tract was finished, Mrs Cockburn sent it to Warburton, whose theory on the subject of it was different both from Rutherford's and her own, and against whose views one of her previous works, as we have seen, had been in part directed. Warburton held that the distinction between virtue and vice was constituted by the arbitrary will of the Deity. Notwithstanding this difference of opinion, however, he not only admitted the merit of the present work in the frankest and most cordial terms, styling it, in a letter to the authoress, the strongest and clearest piece of metaphysics that ever was written, but took upon himself the charge of finding a publisher for it; and when it appeared in 1747, it was introduced by a preface from the pen of Warburton, in which he almost reiterated those strong expressions, declaring it to contain "all the clearness of expression, the strength of reason, the precision of logic and attachment to truth which makes books of this nature really useful to the common cause of virtue and religion."
This work appears to have attracted much more notice than anything that Mrs Cockburn had previously done. She was subsequently induced by the advice of her friends to set about the preparation of a complete collection of her writings, with the view of publishing it by subscription. But this task she did not live to see accomplished. At last, in January 1749, she lost her husband, who appears to have been about a year older than herself; and this stroke probably shortened her own existence, which terminated on the 11th of May of the same year.
[BORN 1750. DIED 1828.]
HE youngest daughter of Augustus, fourth Earl of Berkeleigh, born in 1750, came into the world two months ere by the laws of nature she was to be looked for; and this circumstance, which was a fit prelude to an eccentric life, had nearly led to an abrupt termination of the infant's earthly career ere its sands of life had run through the boiling of an egg. A certain ceremonial was observed in those days when ladies of a certain rank swelled the rolls of the aristocracy; and the first person who approached the bed of the noble accouchée was the Countess of Albemarle, her aunt. The infant which had so unexpectedly claimed its share of the world had doubly disappointed its mother; first, by being a girl, when a boy had been predicted with assurance, for Lady Berkeleigh had previously had four girls in succession, three of them, singularly enough, at one birth; next, the little being, so far from exhibiting any signs of the future beauty, presented the most miserable half-alive aspect imaginable; and there being nothing ready to receive it, a piece of flannel was huddled round it, and it was left on an arm-chair in a kind of despair, and for some minutes altogether unheeded, till the visitor already named was on the point of sitting down on foresaid arm-chair, and, but for the screams of the attendants, would have 237 driven out, once and for ever, the small instalment of life-breath the forlorn babe had been strenuously endeavouring to suck in.
Thereupon Lady Albemarle snatched up the child, took it to the light to examine it, and observing that it there managed to open a pair of very bright eyes, pronounced its chances of vitality to be far from desperate. A wet nurse was therefore immediately procured; and, by dint of great care, the puny little being was preserved to become eventually the lovely, accomplished, and vivacious subject of this article [afterwards to become first Lady Craven, and subsequently the Margravine of Anspach]. Lady Berkeleigh, who is described by the margravine in her own memoirs as having but little maternal affection, treated her youngest daughter with even worse than indifference, and reserved all the indulgence and attention she was disposed to show to her offspring for her eldest sister, Lady Georgiana, who was regarded as the beauty. The neglect and severity of the mother stamped a peculiar air of shyness and modesty on Lady Elizabeth; and as her natural character was vivacious, and disposed to gaiety and enjoyment, a contrast was thus created, which, as she herself very unreservedly confesses, greatly contributed to her fascination.
Lady Elizabeth had already shot up into a tall, lithe figure; and her countenance developed the budding signs of that lively beauty which afterwards distinguished her. At this time, however, though she observes that many opportunities offered themselves of discovering her own personal charms, she protests herself to have been entirely ignorant of them; the exclusive admiration that was bestowed by her mother on her elder sister leading her to imagine herself rather ill-favoured than otherwise. There was no such blindness to the fascination of her person 238 in after years, and her memoirs teem with amusing evidences of the high sense she entertained of her outward attractions. Among others is a passage in which she criticises the various portraits that have been painted of her; and though Sir Joshua Reynolds, whose portrait of her at Petworth seems charming enough, and Romney and Madame Lebrun exerted in turns, and more than once, their skill to transfer her graces to canvas, she declares they, none of them, have done justice either to her face or figure. The same candour, in exposing her thorough self-appreciation as regards her mental and moral excellences, is observable through the entertaining sketch of her career, and gives at first the impression that one is listening to the weakest and vainest woman that ever breathed. A little further acquaintance, however, removes this notion almost altogether. When a woman has been sought and admired all her life for her beauty, grace, sense, wit, and good nature by the highest and most distinguished personages of her age, it would seem more shocking than the grossest display of vanity to affect a mincing reserve and humility in speaking of her own merits.
[Lady Elizabeth was afterwards married to Mr Craven, who came to be Lord Craven. The marriage, at its outset, seems to have been in its most essential respects a happy one. The margravine acknowledges that Lord Craven possessed the highest admiration for the refined character and many graces and accomplishments of his young wife; and the contests between them were the amiable ones arising from his unbounded generosity towards her, and the refusals his offered presents met with from her discretion and modesty. At length a discovery was made by Lady Craven, which led to that eventful change in her life and fortunes, but for 239 which, in all probability, the subject of this sketch would have attracted as little attention as many other brilliant noblewomen of her day. Lord Craven had for some time absented himself for long periods from home, under pretexts which his wife discovered to be false; but all doubts were removed when Lord Macartney came to the injured wife and entreated her to prevent Lord Craven from travelling in one of his coaches with a woman calling herself Lady Craven. This led to the explosion of a mine of intrigue. Lady Craven then went to France, and subsequently travelled over all Europe, at the various courts of which she was honoured and fêted. During her stay in Paris she had received the visits of the Margrave of Anspach, who had known her from childhood, and had formed a strong attachment to her. He had now invited her to pass some time at Anspach with himself and the margravine as his adopted sister. To this she agreed; and, subsequently, by a strange coincidence, the Margravine and Lord Craven having died about the same time, she became the wife of the margrave. In 1816 the margrave died, and from that time the margravine chiefly resided at Naples, where she died in the seventy-eighth year of her age.]
[BORN 1750. DIED 1848.]
NOTHER distinguished name can scarcely be forgotten or omitted here, although its honoured and venerable possessor still lives [in 1847], connecting the present with the past age. Caroline Herschel, the sister of the illustrious Sir William Herschel, was, as is well known, the associate of her brother, both in the business of observation and in that of calculation, throughout the whole of his splendid career. Four comets are enumerated as discovered by her—one on the 1st of August 1786, another on the 21st of December 1788, another on the 7th of January 1790, another on the 8th of October 1793.
After the death of her brother, on the 23d of August 1822, Miss Herschel returned to his and her own native country, Hanover, and there proceeded to employ herself in drawing up a catalogue of twenty-five thousand nebulæ discovered by her brother, which she completed in 1828, and for which the Astronomical Society of London that year voted her a gold medal. The newspapers announced that she celebrated the ninety-seventh anniversary of her birth-day on the 16th of March 1847. "On that occasion, the king, it is stated on the authority of a letter from Hanover, sent to compliment her; the prince and princess-royal paid her a visit, and the latter presented her with a magnificent arm-chair, the 241 back of which had been embroidered by her royal highness; and the minister of Prussia, in the name of his sovereign, remitted to her the gold medal awarded for the extension of the sciences." Notwithstanding her advanced age and bodily infirmities, Miss Herschel, it has since been stated by her distinguished nephew, Sir John F. W. Herschel, in a letter to the Athenæum, is still  in possession of her faculties.
[BORN 1752. DIED 1840.]
HE daughter of Dr Burney deserves to have the progress of her mind recorded from her ninth to her twenty-fifth year. When her education had proceeded no further than her hornbook she lost her mother, and thenceforward educated herself. Her father appears to have been as bad a father as a very honest, affectionate, and sweet-tempered man can well be. He loved his daughter dearly; but it never seems to have occurred to him that a parent has other duties to perform to children than that of fondling them. No governess, no teacher of any art or of any language, was provided for her. But one of her sisters showed her how to write, and before she was fourteen she began to find pleasure in reading. It was not, however, by reading that her intellect was formed. Indeed, when her best novels were produced, her knowledge of books was very small. When at the height of her fame, she was unacquainted with the most celebrated writings of Voltaire and Molière, and, what seems still more extraordinary, had never heard or seen a line of Churchill, who, when she was a girl, was the most popular of living poets. It is particularly deserving of observation, that she appears to have been by no means a novel-reader. Her father's library was large, and he had admitted into 243 it so many books which rigid moralists generally exclude, that he felt uneasy, as he afterwards owned, when Johnson began to examine the shelves. But in the whole collection there was only a single novel—Fielding's "Amelia."
But the great book of human nature was turned over before Fanny Burney. A society, various and brilliant, was sometimes to be found in Dr Burney's cabin. Johnson and he met frequently, and agreed most harmoniously. One tie, indeed, was awanting to their mutual attachment. Burney loved his own art, music, passionately, and Johnson just knew the bell of St Clement's Church from the organ. They had, however, many topics in common; and in winter nights their conversations were sometimes prolonged till the fire had gone out, and the candles had burned away to the wicks. Burney's admiration of the powers which had produced "Rasselas" and the "Rambler" bordered on idolatry. Johnson, on the other hand, condescended to growl out that Burney was an honest fellow, a man whom it was impossible not to like. Garrick, too, was a frequent visitor in Poland Street. That wonderful actor loved the society of children, partly from good nature, and partly from vanity. The ecstasies of mirth and terror which his gestures and play of countenance never failed to produce in a nursery, flattered him quite as much as the applause of pure critics. He often exhibited all his powers of memory for the amusement of the little Burneys, awed them by shuddering and crouching as if he saw a ghost, scared them by raving like a maniac in Saint Luke's, and then at once became an auctioneer, a chimney-sweeper, or an old woman, and made them laugh till the tears ran down their cheeks.
Fanny's propensity to novel-writing could not be kept down. She told 244 her father she had written a novel ["Evelina"]. On so grave an occasion it was surely his duty to give his best counsel to his daughter, to win her confidence, to prevent her exposing herself if her book was a bad one, and if it were a good one to see that the terms which she made with the publisher were likely to be beneficial to her. Instead of this he only stared, burst out a-laughing, kissed her, gave her leave to do as she liked, and never even asked the name of the work. The contract with Lowndes was speedily concluded. Twenty pounds were given for the copyright, and were accepted by Fanny with delight. Her father's inexcusable neglect of his duty happily caused her no worse evil than the loss of £1200 or £1500. After many delays, "Evelina" appeared in 1778. Poor Fanny was sick with terror, and durst hardly stir out of doors. Some days passed before anything was heard of the book. Soon, however, the first accents of praise begin to be heard. The keepers of the circulating libraries reported that everybody was asking for "Evelina," and that some person had guessed Anstey to be the author. Scholars and statesmen, who contemptuously abandoned the crowd of romances to Miss Lydia Languish and Miss Sukey Saunter, were not ashamed to own that they could not tear themselves away from "Evelina." After producing other novels, for one of which, "Camilla," she is said to have received three thousand guineas, and encountering many strange vicissitudes, Madame D'Arblay died at the age of eighty-eight.
[BORN 1754. DIED 1793.]
far nobler victim follows, one who will claim remembrance from several centuries—Jeanne-Marie Phlipon, the wife of Roland. Queenly, sublime in her uncomplaining sorrow, seemed she to Riouffe in her prison. "Something more than is usually found in the looks of women painted itself," says he, "in those large black eyes of hers, full of expression and sweetness. She spoke to me often at the grate; we were all attentive round her, in a sort of admiration and astonishment. She expressed herself with a purity, with a harmony and prosody, that made her language like music, of which the ear could never have enough. Her conversation was serious, not cold. Coming from the mouth of a beautiful woman, it was frank and courageous as that of a great man." "And yet her maid said, 'Before you she collects her strength; but, in her own room, she will sit three hours sometimes leaning on the window and weeping.'" She has been in prison,—liberated once, but recaptured the same hour,—ever since the 1st of June, in agitation and uncertainty, which has gradually settled down into the last stern certainty—that of death. In the Abbaye Prison, she occupied Charlotte Corday's apartment. Here, in the Conciergerie, she speaks with Riouffe; with ex-minister Clavière 246 calls the beheaded twenty-two "nos amis, our friends," whom all are so soon to follow. During these five months, those Memoirs of hers were written which all the world still reads.
But now, on the 8th of November, "clad in white," says Riouffe, "with her long black hair hanging down to her girdle," she is gone to the judgment-bar. She returned with a quick step; lifted her finger, to signify to us that she was doomed; her eyes seemed to have been wet. Fouquier-Tinville's questions had been "brutal;" offended female honour flung them back on him with scorn, not without tears. And now, short preparation soon done, she too shall go her last road. There went with her a certain Lamarche, "director of assignat-printing," whose dejection she endeavoured to cheer. Arrived at the foot of the scaffold, she asked for pen and paper, "to write the strange thoughts that were rising in her"—a remarkable request—which was refused. Looking at the statue of Liberty which stands there, she says, "O Liberty, what things are done in thy name!" For Lamarche's sake she will die first, to show him how easy it is to die. "Contrary to the order," says Samson. "Pshaw, you cannot refuse the last request of a lady;" and Samson yielded.
Noble white vision, with its high queenly face, its soft proud eyes, long black hair flowing down to the girdle, and as brave a heart as ever beat in woman's bosom! Like a white Grecian statue, serenely complete, she shines in that black wreck of things, long memorable. Honour to great Nature who, in Paris city, in the era of Noble-sentiment and Pompadourism, can make a Jeanne Phlipon, and nourish her clear perennial womanhood, though but on Logics, Encyclopédies, and the Gospel according to Jean-Jacques! Biography will long remember that trait of asking for a pen "to write the strange thoughts that were rising in her." It is as a 247 little light-beam, shedding softness and a kind of sacredness over all that preceded; so in her, too, there was an unnameable; she, too, was a daughter of the Infinite; there were mysteries which Philosophism had not dreamt of! She left long written counsels to her little girl. She said her husband would not survive her.
Some days afterwards, Roland, hearing the news of what happened on the 8th, embraces his kind friends at Rouen; leaves their kind house which had given him refuge; goes forth, with farewell too sad for tears. On the morrow morning, 16th of the month, "some four leagues from Rouen, Paris-ward, near Bourg-Baudoin, in M. Normand's avenue," there is seen, sitting leant against a tree, the figure of a rigorous wrinkled man, stiff now in the rigour of death, a cane-sword run through his heart, and at his feet this writing: "Whoever thou art that findest me lying, respect my remains; they are those of a man who consecrated all his life to being useful, and who has died, as he lived, virtuous and honest. Not fear, but indignation, made me quit my retreat, on learning that my wife had been murdered. I wished not to remain longer on an earth polluted with crimes."
[BORN 1755. DIED 1793.]
N Monday, 14th October 1793, a cause is pending in the Palais de Justice, in the new Revolutionary Court, such as these stone walls never witnessed—the trial of Marie Antoinette. The once brightest of queens, now tarnished, defaced, forsaken, stands here at Fouquier-Tinville's judgment-bar, answering for her life. The indictment was delivered her last night. To such changes of human fortune, what words are adequate? Silence alone is adequate.
There are few printed things one meets with of such tragic, almost ghastly significance, as those bald pages of the Bulletin du Tribunal Révolutionnaire, which bear title, "Trial of the Widow Capet." Dim, dim, as if in disastrous eclipse, like the pale kingdoms of Dis! Plutonic judges, Plutonic Tinville; encircled nine times with Styx and Lethe, with Fire-Phlegethon and Cocytus, named of Lamentation! The very witnesses summoned are like ghosts; exculpatory, inculpatory, they themselves are all hovering over death and doom; they are known in our imagination as the prey of the guillotine. Tall ci-devant Count d'Estaing, anxious to show himself patriot, cannot escape; nor Bailly, who, when asked if he knows the accused, answers with a reverent inclination towards her, "Ah, yes, I know Madame." Ex-patriots are 249 here, sharply dealt with as Procureur Manuel; ex-ministers, shorn of their splendour. We have cold aristocratic impassivity, faithful to itself even in Tartarus; rabid stupidity of patriot corporals, patriot washerwomen, who have much to say of plots, treasons, August tenth, old insurrection of women. For all now has become a crime in her who has lost.
Marie Antoinette, in this her utter abandonment and hour of extreme need, is not wanting to herself, the imperial woman. Her look, they say, as that hideous indictment was reading, continued calm. "She was sometimes observed moving her fingers, as when one plays on the piano." You discern not without interest across that dim Revolutionary Bulletin itself, how she bears herself queen-like. Her answers are prompt, clear, often of laconic brevity; resolution, which has grown contemptuous without ceasing to be dignified, veils itself in calm words. "You persist, then, in denial?" "My plan is not denial; it is the truth I have said, and I persist in that." Scandalous Hébert has borne his testimony as to many things; as to one thing concerning Marie Antoinette and her little son, wherewith human speech had better not further be soiled. She has answered Hébert; a juryman begs to observe that she has not answered to this. "I have not answered," she exclaims with noble emotion, "because nature refuses to answer such a charge brought against a mother. I appeal to all the mothers that are here." Robespierre, when he heard of it, broke out into something almost like swearing at the brutish blockheadism of this Hébert, on whose foul head his foul lie has recoiled. At four o'clock on Wednesday morning, after two days and two nights of interrogating, jury charging, and other darkening of counsel, 250 the result comes out—sentence of death. "Have you anything to say?" The accused shook her head, without speech. Night's candles are burning out; and with her, too, Time is finishing, and it will be eternity and day. This hall of Tinville's is dark, ill-lighted, except where she stands. Silently she withdraws from it to die.
There was once a procession before, "on the morrow," says Weber, "the Dauphiness left Vienna. The whole city crowded out, at first with a sorrow which was silent. She appeared. You saw her sunk back into her carriage, her face bathed in tears; hiding her eyes now with her handkerchief, now with her hands; several times putting out her head to see yet again this palace of her fathers, whither she was to return no more. She motioned her regret, her gratitude, to the good nation which was crowding here to bid her farewell. Then arose not only tears, but piercing cries on all sides. Men and women alike abandoned themselves to such expression of their sorrow. It was an audible sound of wail in the streets and avenues of Vienna. The last courier that followed her disappeared, and the crowd melted away."
The young imperial maiden of fifteen has now become a worn, discrowned widow of thirty-eight, grey before her time. This is the last procession. "Few minutes after the trial ended, the drums were beating to arms in all sections; at sunrise the armed force was on foot, cannons getting placed at the extremities of the bridges, in the squares, crossways, all along from the Palais de Justice to the Place de la Révolution. By ten o'clock, numerous patrols were circulating in the streets; thirty thousand foot and horse drawn up under arms. At eleven, Marie Antoinette was brought out. She had on an undress of piqué blanc; she was led to the place of execution in the same manner as an 251 ordinary criminal, bound in a cart, accompanied by a Constitutional Priest in lay dress, escorted by numerous detachments of infantry and cavalry. These, and the double row of troops all along her road, she appeared to regard with indifference. On her countenance there was visible neither abashment nor pride. To the cries of Vive la République, and Down with Tyranny, which attended her all the way, she seemed to pay no heed. She spoke little to her confessor. The tricolour streamers on the house-tops occupied her attention in the Streets du Roule and Saint-Honoré; she also noticed the inscriptions on the house-fronts. On reaching the Place de la Révolution, her looks towards the Jardin National, whilom Tuileries; her face at that moment gave signs of lively emotion. She ascended the scaffold with courage enough; at a quarter past twelve her head fell. The executioner showed it to the people amid universal long-continued cries of Vive la République."
[BORN 1755. DIED 1831.]
HIS unrivalled actress, born in 1755, was, like her brother John Kemble, led upon the boards at a very early age; so young indeed was she, that the rustic audience, offended at her infantile appearance, began to hoot and hiss her off, when her mother Mrs Kemble, herself an actress, led her to the front of the stage, and made her repeat the fable of the boys and the frogs, which she did in such a manner as appeased the critics, and insured a favourable reception for her ever after. In her eighteenth year, she married Mr Siddons, an actor in her father's company; and the young couple soon after took an engagement to act at Cheltenham. "At that time," says Mr Campbell, "the Hon. Miss Boyle, the daughter of Lord Dungarvon, a most accomplished woman, and authoress of several pleasing poems, one of which, an "Ode to the Poppy," was published by Charlotte Smith, happened to be at Cheltenham. She had come accompanied by her mother and her mother's second husband, the Earl of Aylesbury. One morning that she and some other fashionables went to the box-keeper's office, they were told that the tragedy to be performed that evening was "Venice Preserved." They all laughed heartily, and promised themselves a treat of the ludicrous in the misrepresentation of the piece. Some one who overheard their mirth, 253 kindly reported it to Mrs Siddons. She had the part of Belvidera allotted to her, and prepared for the performance of it with no very enviable feelings. It may be doubted whether Otway had imagined in Belvidera a personage more to be pitied than her representative now thought herself. The rabble in "Venice Preserved" showed compassion for the heroine; and when they saw her feather-bed put up to auction, "governed their roaring throats, and grumbled pity." But our actress anticipated refined scorners more pitiless than the rabble, and the prospect was certainly calculated to prepare her more for the madness than the dignity of her part. In spite of much agitation, however, she got through it. About the middle of the piece, she heard some unusual and apparently suppressed noises, and therefore concluded that the fashionables were in the full enjoyment of their anticipated amusement, tittering and laughing, as she thought, with unmerciful derision.
She went home, after the play, grievously mortified. Next day, however, Mr Siddons met in the street Lord Aylesbury, who inquired after Mrs Siddons' health, and expressed not only his own admiration of her last night's exquisite acting, but related its effects on the ladies of his party. They had wept, he said, so excessively, that they were unpresentable in the morning, and were confined to their rooms with headaches. Mr Siddons hastened home to gladden his fair spouse with this intelligence. Miss Boyle soon afterwards visited Mrs Siddons at her lodgings, took the deepest interest in her fortunes, and continued her ardent friend till her death. She married Lord O'Neil of Shanes Castle, in Ireland. It is no wonder that Mrs Siddons dwells with tenderness, in her memoranda, on the name of this earliest encourager of her genius. 254 Miss Boyle was a beauty of the first order, and gifted with a similar mind, as her poetry and patronage of the hitherto unnoticed actress evince." A rumour of the newly-discovered genius having reached Garrick, Mrs Siddons began, through his patronage, that career of success which is so well known.
Mrs Siddons undoubtedly possessed the highest order of poetical conception for the purposes of stage delivery; yet, like her brother, not a little of the impression she produced was owing to her great physical powers, and the commanding dignity of her person. In her most violent scenes, the majesty of her mien was pre-eminent; and even when prostrate on the stage, she still lay graceful and sublime. As Madame de Staël says of her in her "Corrine," "L'actrice la plus noble dans ses manières, Madame Siddons, ne perd rien de sa dignité quand elle se prosterne contre terre." Of her Lady Macbeth, which all critics now allow to be her chef d'œuvre, Lord Byron said: "It was something above nature. It seemed almost as if a being of a superior order had dropped from a higher sphere to awe the world with the majesty of her appearance. Power was seated on her brow; passion emanated from her breast as from a shrine. In coming on in the sleeping scene, her eyes were open, but their sense was shut; she was like a person bewildered—her lips moved involuntarily, all her gestures seemed mechanical; she glided off and on the stage like an apparition. To have seen her in that character was an event in every one's life never to be forgotten."
"It was impossible," says an able critic, "for those who beheld Mrs Siddons in Lady Macbeth, to imagine the embodied in any other shape. That tall, commanding, and majestic figure; that face, so sternly beautiful, with its firm lips and large dark eyes; that brow, capacious 255 of a wild world of thought, overshadowed by a still gloom of coal-black hair; that low, clear-measured, deep voice, audible in whispers, so portentously expressive of strength of will, and a will to evil; the stately tread of those feet, the motions of those arms and hands, seeming moulded for empiry—all those distinguished the Thane's wife from other women, to our senses, our soul, and our imagination, as if nature had made Siddons for Shakspeare's sake, that she might impersonate to the height his sublimest and most dreadful creation. Charles Lamb may smile—and his smile is ever pleasant—but we are neither afraid nor ashamed to say that we never read the tragedy—and we have read it a thousand and one nights—without seeing and hearing that Lady Macbeth—our study becoming the stage—and 'out damned spot,' a shuddering sigh, terrifying us in the imagined presence of a breathless crowd of sympathising spirits. That sleep-walker, in the power of her guilt, would not suffer us to be alone in our closet. Noiseless her gliding steps, and all alone in her haunted unrest, we saw her wringing her hands before a gazing multitude; their eyes, how unlike to hers! and we drew dread from the quaking all around us, not unmingled with a sense of the magnificent, breathed from the passion that held the great assemblage mute and motionless—yet not quite—that sea of heads all lulled; but the lull darkened as by the shadow of a cloud surcharged with thunder."
[BORN 1755. DIED 1838.]
HE late excellent Mrs Grant of Laggan, as she used to be designated to the end of her long life, from the parish of Inverness-shire, of which her husband had been clergyman, and with which her first publications were connected, affords another remarkable example both of the successful cultivation of literature by a woman in trying or unusual circumstances, and of the attainment thereby of many worldly in addition to higher advantages. She has herself told us the story of her early life and her first struggles, in an unfinished Memoir which has been published since her death. In the mere acquisition of knowledge she had no peculiar difficulties to encounter either from circumstances or any deficiency in herself. On the contrary, her faculties were quick and early developed, and her opportunities, though not affording her a regular education, were well suited to nourish and strengthen those tendencies and powers which chiefly gave her mind its distinctive character.
"I began to live," she observes, "to the purposes of feeling, observation, and recollection much earlier than children usually do. I was not acute, I was not sagacious, but I had an active imagination and uncommon powers of memory. I had no companion; no one fondled or 257 caressed me, far less did any one take the trouble of amusing me. I did not, till I was six years of age, possess a single toy. A child with less activity of mind would have become torpid under the same circumstances. Yet, whatever of purity of thought, originality of character, and premature thirst for knowledge, distinguished me from other children of my age, was, I am persuaded, very much owing to these privations. Never was a human being less improved in the sense in which that expression is generally understood, but never was one less spoilt by indulgence, or more carefully preserved from every species of mental contagion. The result of the peculiar circumstances in which I was placed had the effect of making me a kind of anomaly very different from other people, and very little influenced by the motives, as well as very ignorant of the modes of thinking and acting prevalent in the world at large."
It was this anomalous character in her case, happily free from any kind of grotesqueness or absurdity, and allied to everything virtuous and noble, that both directed her to literature and authorship in the first instance, and gave much of its interest to what she wrote.
[Annie Macvicar, Mrs Grant's maiden name, the daughter of Duncan Macvicar, "a plain, brave, pious man," having been taken by her parents to America, returned to Scotland, and married in 1779 Mr Grant, a chaplain at Fort-Augustus in Inverness-shire. She acquired a taste for farming, led a life of fervid activity, and had a large family of children, all promising, and the greater number of them beautiful. It would have been strange indeed if her literary aspirations had sprung out of the domestic habits of the mother of a large family, and the manager of a farm; but we are told by herself that she had begun to 258 scrawl a kind of Miltonic verse when she was little more than nine years old. She had early written off many scraps of poetry, and distributed them among her friends, who had taken care to preserve them, while Mrs Grant had retained no copies. It was by a kind of amicable conspiracy that these friends set about the good work of collecting and publishing these pieces in such a way as would secure pecuniary relief to the author. The subscriptions amounted to three thousand names, and the "Original Poems, with some Translations from the Gaelic," appeared in 1803. Some years afterwards came her "Letters from the Mountains," which not only claimed the attention of the reading world, but inspired so much love and respect for the quiet virtues and literary abilities of the author, that many who knew her, and some who did not, contributed to help her in her hard struggle with the world. But Mrs Grant's life was destined to be a passage through storm and sunshine. Her husband died, and her children, inheriting his tendency to decline, fell off one by one, so that every year brought her fresh trouble, yet still with a noble spirit that enabled her to surmount her afflictions by something like philosophy. In 1811 she published her "Essays on the Superstitions of the Highlands of Scotland, with Translations from the Gaelic," in two volumes, and subsequently a poem, entitled "Eighteen Hundred and Thirteen," which excited little attention.]
Mrs Grant's life for some years after she gave up writing for the public had been in part devoted to an intellectual employment of another kind, the superintendence of the education of a succession of young persons of her own sex who were sent to reside with her. From the year 1826 also, her means had been further increased by a pension of £100, which was 259 granted to her by George IV., on a representation drawn up by Sir Walter Scott, and supported by Henry Mackenzie, Lord Jeffrey, and other distinguished persons among her friends in Edinburgh. During the period of nearly thirty years that she resided there, she was a principal figure in the best and most intellectual society of the Scottish metropolis, and to the last her literary celebrity made her an object of curiosity and attraction to strangers from all parts of the world. Even after the loss of the last of her daughters, her correspondence testifies that she still took a lively interest in everything that went on around her. "With all its increasing infirmities," she says, "and even with the accumulated sorrows of my peculiar lot, I do not find age so dark and unlovely as the Celtic bard seems to consider it. However imperfectly my labour has been performed, we may consider it nearly concluded; and even though my cup of sorrow has been brimful, the bitter ingredient of shame has not mingled with it. On all those who were near and dear to me, I can look back with approbation, and may tenderly cherish unspotted memories, fond recollections, and the hopes that terminate not here. I feel myself certainly not landed, but in a harbour from whence I am not likely to be blown out by new tempests." Even after this, she was destined to receive another severe shock from the death, in April 1837, in her twenty-eighth year, of her daughter-in-law, who had been married only three years, and to whom she was strongly attached. Still her courageous heart bore her up, and the zest with which she enjoyed intellectual pleasures continued almost as keen as ever.
[BORN 1756. DIED 1821.]
HE daughter of a small farmer in Suffolk, of the name of Simpson. Having lost her father in her infancy, she was left under the care of her mother, who continued to manage the farm; and in the pleasant seclusion of this cottage home, Miss Simpson was presented with abundant opportunities of gratifying her literary propensities. So sensibly had her imagination been wrought upon by the tales of fictitious grief and happiness she had met with in the course of her desultory reading, that she formed the romantic resolution of visiting the metropolis, the scene of many of the stories which had so powerfully excited her sympathies. This intention did not, as may be supposed, meet with the approbation of her friends; but so fixed was her determination to accomplish, à tout prix, the object she had in view, that she seized an opportunity of eloping from her home entirely without the knowledge of her family. Early one morning in February 1772, she left Staningfield for London, and with a few necessary articles of apparel packed in a band-box, walked, or rather ran, a distance of two miles to the place from which the coach set out for the metropolis.
This step, in a girl of sixteen years of age, did not augur very 261 favourably of her future conduct or respectability; but the subsequent tenor of her life affords additional proof that very admirable results will often arise out of indifferent and even reprehensible beginnings. On her arrival at London, she sought a distant relation who lived in the Strand; but on reaching the house, was, to her great mortification, informed that she had retired from business, and was settled in North Wales. It was near ten o'clock at night, and her distress at this disappointment moved the compassion of the people of whom she had made her inquiries, who kindly accommodated her with a lodging. This civility, however, awakened her suspicions. She had read in "Clarissa Harlowe," of various modes of seduction practised in London, and feared that similar intentions were being meditated against her. A short time after her arrival, therefore, observing that she had awakened their curiosity, our young heroine seized her band-box, and, without uttering a single word, rushed out of the house, and left them to their conjectures that she was either a maniac or an impostor.
Her necessities drove her to the stage, where she met with considerable success, and performed principal characters when she was only eighteen years of age. After a residence of four years in Edinburgh with her husband, Mr Inchbald, also an actor of some celebrity, she returned to London, where she acted for several years at Covent Garden. Soon after she became an authoress. Her first piece, the comedy entitled "I'll Tell you What," was at first rejected by Colman of Haymarket, but finally approved and brought out with considerable success in 1785. In 1789 she retired from the stage, and devoted herself from that time entirely to literature. She wrote a number of popular dramatic pieces, and edited a new edition of "The British Theatre," and other dramatic collections; 262 but it is to her two novels, "Nature and Art," and "The Simple Story," that she chiefly owes her reputation. She died at Kensington in 1821.
The mind of this authoress had an original cast, and her literary style was peculiar, terse, pointed, and impressive. By exemplary industry and prudence, she had raised herself into a state of comfortable independence; but she had a liberal heart, and deprived herself of many enjoyments in order to provide for relations who stood in need of her assistance. She was animated, cheerful, and intelligent in conversation, and her remarks were not taken on trust, but were the effects of acute penetration. She was very handsome in youth, and retained much of her beauty and elegance till her death.
[BORN 1758. DIED 1816.]
ISS, or as she latterly chose to style herself, Mrs Elizabeth Hamilton, is one of the female writers of what may now be called the last age, whose eruption into literature was about as spontaneous and irregular as well as could be; for there was nothing either in the education she received, or in the circumstances of her position, to give her any peculiar impulse towards such a career; yet she may be said to have registered her name there among the classics of our language. If everything else she produced be forgotten, as may almost be said to be already the case, her "Cottagers of Glenburnie" at least will live, and continue to be read, so long as the Scottish dialect remains intelligible. It is the only work written in that dialect, between the era of the poetry of Burns and that of the prose of Scott, which is now remembered. Of Scottish prose writing, there is no earlier subsisting example, until we go back to the sixteenth century. Here it claims the honour of having been the only modern predecessor of the Waverley Novels, if not that of having been, in some degree, their model. In so far as its interest and humour lie in the use of the popular dialect, it is probably to be accounted the offspring of Miss Edgeworth's "Castle Rackrent," which is the earliest work still surviving, in which the 264 comedy and expressiveness to be found in the peculiarities of the Irish provincial speech were highly taken advantage of.
[Born in Ireland about the middle of the last century, yet of Scotch descent, Miss Hamilton while yet young came to Scotland, where, residing with relations, she went through many changes of life. She wrote a great many books, both on religious and political subjects, some of which challenged without retaining attention; but it was otherwise with the "Cottagers of Glenburnie."] This work was begun, we are told, merely as the amusement of an idle hour; she was encouraged to proceed with it, and to extend the plan, by the mirth which the first sheets of it excited, when she read them to a few friends collected at her own fireside. It was not, her biographer further informs us, without considerable distrust on the part of the publisher that it was committed to the press. Is it indeed the unhappy instinct of publishers to be thus always blindest to the value, before they come out, of the books that succeed the best? or is it thought expedient, for the sake of making the better story, that every instance of remarkably successful publication should be set off by being made to fall out contrary to expectation?
However that may be, the success of the present work was immediate and decided. It was universally read in Scotland, and very generally even in England, where its humour could less be appreciated. The great demand soon induced the publishers to print a cheap edition; and, in the native country of the writer, it was to be seen in the hands of all classes. Miss Benger relates, that in Stirlingshire a person named Isabel Irvine, who had been Miss Hamilton's attendant when she was at school there some thirty or forty years before, and to whom, we suppose, a copy had been 265 sent by the authoress, made money by lending it out among her neighbours. It is believed, too, not to have been without effect in making the peasantry ashamed of the indolence and slovenliness which it exposed and ridiculed. "Perhaps few books," observes a friend and countryman of Miss Hamilton's, in a sketch of her character and her literary and other services to her country, which Miss Benger has printed, "have been more extensively useful. The peculiar humour of this work, by irritating our national pride, has produced a wonderful spirit of improvement. The cheap edition is to be found in every village library; and Mrs M'Clarty's example has provoked many a Scotch housewife into cleanliness and good order."
Miss Benger thus describes Miss Hamilton's ordinary mode of life after she took up her residence in Edinburgh: "The morning, whenever her infirmities admitted, was devoted to study. At two o'clock she descended to the drawing-room, where she commonly found some intimate friend ready to receive her. If no engagement intervened, the interval from seven till ten was occupied with some interesting book, which, according to her good Aunt Marshall's rule, was read aloud for the benefit of the whole party. On Monday, she deviated from the general system, by admitting visitors all the morning; and such was the esteem for her character, and such the relish for her society, that this private levee was attended by the most brilliant persons in Edinburgh, and commonly protracted till a late hour. But it was in the heartsome ingle-nook by her ain fireside, when the world was shut out, and its cares, and conflicts, and pretensions consigned to temporary oblivion, that Mrs Hamilton was most truly known and most perfectly enjoyed. Of anecdote 266 she was inexhaustible, and in narrative she dramatised with such effect that she almost personated those whom she described."
"All who had the happiness to know this amiable woman," said Miss Edgeworth, in a tribute to her memory, which she contributed to an Irish paper soon after Mrs Hamilton's death, "will with one accord bear testimony to the truth of that feeling of affection which her benevolence, kindness, and cheerfulness of temper inspired. She thought so little of herself, so much of others, that it was impossible she could—superior as she was—excite envy. She put everybody at ease in her company, and in good humour and good spirits with themselves. So far from being a restraint on the young and lively, she encouraged by her sympathy their openness and gaiety. She never flattered, but she always formed the most favourable opinion, that truth and good sense would permit, of every individual who came near her. Instead, therefore, of fearing and shunning her reputation, all loved and courted her society." She died on the 23d July 1816, in the sixtieth year of her age.
HE Academy of Sciences in Portugal having proposed a prize for the best Portuguese tragedy, on the 13th of May 1788 conferred the laurel-crown on "Osmia," a tragedy which proved to be the production of a lady, the Countess de Vemieiro. On opening the sealed envelope accompanying the piece, which usually conveys the name of the author, there was found only a direction, in case "Osmia" should prove successful, to devote the proceeds to the cultivation of olives, a species of fruit from which Portugal might derive great advantages. It was with some difficulty that the name of the modest writer of this work, published in 1795, in quarto, was made known to the world. Bouterwek has erroneously attributed it to another lady, very justly celebrated in Portugal, Catharina de Sousa, the same who singly ventured to oppose the violence of the Marquis de Pombal, whose son she refused in marriage. From the family of this illustrious lady I learned that the tragedy of "Osmia" was not really the production of her pen.
In this line of composition, so rarely attempted by female genius, the Countess de Vemieiro displays a singular purity of taste, an exquisite delicacy of feeling, and an interest derived rather from passion than 268 from circumstances,—qualities, indeed, which more particularly distinguish her sex. In the catastrophe, as well as in the rest of the piece, the Countess de Vemieiro appears to have studied the laws of the French theatre; and, in the vivacity of her dialogue, Voltaire, rather than Corneille or Racine, would seem to have been kept in view. The whole is composed in iambic verse, free from rhyme; and we are, perhaps, justified in asserting that this tragedy is the only one which the Portuguese theatre can properly be said to possess.
[BORN 1762. DIED 1851.]
HE daughter of a parish minister in Bothwell in Lanarkshire. Her mother was sister of John and William Hunter, the famous anatomists. Her life was spent in domestic privacy, and marked by no events more important than the appearance of her successive works. Her brother, who became Sir Matthew Baillie, having settled as physician in London, Miss Baillie removed thither at an early age. She resided in the metropolis or its neighbourhood almost constantly, and died at Hampstead in February 1851.
Her first volume of dramas was published in 1798. Their design, as to which it is not too much to say that the works were good in spite of it, not by means of it, was indicated in the title, "A Series of Plays, in which it is Attempted to Delineate the Stronger Passions of the Mind, each Passion being the Subject of a Tragedy and a Comedy." A second volume of the "Plays of the Passions" appeared in 1802, and a third in 1812. The tragedies are fine poems, noble in sentiment, and classical and vigorous in language; but they were not fit for the stage, and "De Montfort" itself was with difficulty supported for a while by the acting of John Kemble and Mrs Siddons. The tragedy of "The Family Legend," not 270 contained in the series, was acted in Edinburgh in 1809, after a visit the poetess had paid to Sir Walter Scott. In 1836 she published another series of "Plays of the Passions," of which "Henriquez" and "The Separation," the former a very striking piece, were attempted on the stage. Some of Miss Baillie's small pieces were exceedingly good.
[BORN 1763. DIED 1814.]
EW persons in that elevated rank have undergone such varieties of fortune as Josephine [first wife of Napoleon], and fewer still have borne so well the ordeal both of prosperity and adversity. Born in the middle class of society, she was the wife of a respectable but obscure officer. The Revolution afterwards threw her into a dungeon, where she was saved from a scaffold only by the fall of Robespierre. The hand of Napoleon made her successively the partner of every rank, from the general's staff to the emperor's throne; and the same connection consigned her, at the very highest point of her elevation, to degradation and seclusion—the loss of her consequence, separation from her husband, the sacrifice of her affections. Stripped of her influence, cast down from her rank, wounded in her feelings, the divorced empress found the calamity, felt in any rank, of being childless, the envenomed dart which pierced her to the heart.
It was no common character which could pass through such marvellous changes of fortune unmarked by any decided stain, unsullied by any tears of suffering. If, during the confusion of all moral ideas, consequent on the first triumphs of the Revolution, her reputation did not escape the 272 breath of scandal; and if the favourite of Barras occasioned, even when the wife of Napoleon, some frightful fits of jealousy in her husband; she maintained an exemplary decorum when seated on the consular and imperial throne, and communicated a degree of elegance to the court of the Tuileries which could hardly have been expected after the confusion of ranks and ruin of the old nobility which had preceded her elevation.
Passionately fond of dress, and often blameably extravagant in that particular, she occasioned no small embarrassment to the treasury by her expenditure; but this weakness was forgiven in the recollection of its necessity to compensate the inequality of their years, in the amiable use which she made of her possessions, the grace of her manner, and the alacrity with which she was ever ready to exert her influence with her husband to plead the cause of suffering, or avert the punishment of innocence. Though little inclined to yield in general to female persuasion, Napoleon both loved and felt the sway of this amiable character, and often in his sternest fits he was weaned from violent measures by her influence. Her influence over him was evinced in the most conclusive manner by the ascendant which she maintained after their separation from each other. The divorce, and marriage of Marie Louise, produced no estrangement between them; in her retirement at Malmaison she was frequently visited and consulted by the emperor; they corresponded to the last moment of her life; and the fidelity by which she adhered to him in his misfortunes won the esteem of his conquerors, as it must command the respect of all succeeding ages of the world.
[BORN 1764. DIED 1823.]
ORN in 1764, died in 1823, this lady was as truly an inventor, a great and original writer in the department she had struck out for herself—whether that department was of the highest kind or not—as the Richardsons, Fieldings, or Smolletts whom she succeeded, and for a time threw into the shade; or the Ariosto of the North, before whom her own star has paled its ineffectual fires. The passion of fear, "the latent sense of supernatural awe and curiosity concerning whatever is hidden and mysterious"—these were themes and sources of interest which, prior to the appearance of her tales, could scarcely be said to have been touched upon. The "Castle of Otranto" was too obviously a mere caprice of imagination; its gigantic helmets, its pictures descending from their frames, its spectral figures dilating themselves in the moonlight to the height of the castle battlements,—if they did not border on the ludicrous, no more impressed the mind with any feeling of awe than the enchantments and talismans, the genii and peris, of the "Arabian Nights."
A nearer approach to the proper tone of feeling was made in the "Old English Baron;" but while it must be admitted that Mrs Radcliffe's principle of composition was to a certain degree anticipated in that 274 clever production, nothing can illustrate more strongly the superiority of her powers, the more poetical character of her mind, than a comparison of the way in which in her different works the principle is wrought out; the comparative boldness and rudeness of Clara Reeves' mode of exciting superstitious emotions as contrasted with the profound art, the multiplied resources, the dexterous display and concealment, the careful study of that class of emotions on which she was to operate, which Mrs Radcliffe displays in her supernatural machinery. Certainly never before or since did any one more accurately perceive the point to which imagination might be wrought up by a series of hints, glimpses, or half-heard sounds, consistently at the same time with pleasurable emotion, and with the continuance of that very state of curiosity and awe which had been thus excited. The clang of a distant door, a footfall on the stair, a half-effaced stain of blood, a stream of music floating over a wood or round some decaying château—nay, a very "rat behind the arras,"—become, in her hands, invested with a mysterious dignity; so finely has the mind been attuned to sympathise with the terrors of the sufferer by a train of minute details and artful contrasts, in which all sights and sounds combine to awaken and render the feeling more intense. Yet her art is more visible in what she conceals than in what she displays. "One shade the more, one ray the less," would have left the picture in darkness; but to have let in any farther the garish light of day upon her mysteries, would have shown at once the hollowness and meanness of the puppet which alarmed us, and have broken the spell beyond the power of reclasping it. Hence, up to the moment when she chooses to do so herself by those fatal explanations, for which no reader will ever forgive her, she never loses her hold on the mind. The 275 very economy with which she avails herself of the talisman of terror preserves its power to the last undiminished, if not increased. She merely hints at some fearful thought, and leaves the excited fancy surrounded by night and silence to give it colour and form.
Of all the passions, that of fear is the only one which Mrs Radcliffe can be properly said to have painted. More wearisome beings than her heroines, and anything "more tolerable and not to be endured" than her love tales, Calprenede or Scuderi never invented. As little have the sterner passions of jealousy or hatred, or the dark shades of envious and malignant feeling, formed the subjects of her analysis. Within the circle of these passions, indeed, she did not feel that she could walk with security; but her quick perception showed where there was still an opening in a region of obscurity and twilight as yet all but untrodden. To that, as to the sphere pointed out to her by nature, she at once addressed herself; from that, as from a central point, she surveyed the provinces of passion and imagination, and was content if, without venturing into their labyrinths, she could render their leading and more palpable features available to set off and to brighten, by their variety, the solemnity and gloom of the department which she had chosen.
[BORN 1767. DIED 1849.]
ISS Edgeworth is the great modern mistress in the useful school of true philosophy, and has eclipsed, we think, the fame of all her predecessors. By her many excellent tracts on education, she has conferred a benefit on the whole mass of the population, and discharged, with exemplary patience as well as extraordinary judgment, a task which superficial spirits may perhaps mistake for an humble and easy one. By her popular tales, she has rendered an invaluable service to the middling and lower classes of the people; and, by her novels, has made a great and meritorious effort to promote the happiness and respectability of the higher classes.
There are two great sources of unhappiness to those whom fortune and nature seem to have placed above the reach of ordinary miseries. The one is ennui, that stagnation of life and feeling which results from the absence of all motives to exertion, and by which the justice of Providence has so fully compensated the partiality of fortune, that it may be fairly doubted whether upon the whole the race of beggars is not happier than the race of lords, and whether those vulgar wants that are sometimes so importunate are not in this world the chief ministers of enjoyment. This is a plague that infects all indolent persons that can 277 live on in the rank in which they were born, without the necessity of working; but in a free country it rarely occurs in any great degree of virulence, except among those who are already at the summit of human felicity. Below this there is room for ambition, and envy, and emulation, and all the feverish movements of aspiring vanity and unresisting selfishness, which act as prophylactics against this more dark and deadly distemper. It is the canker which corrodes the full-blown flower of human felicity—the pestilence which smites at the bright hour of noon.
The other curse of the happy has a range more wide and indiscriminate. It, too, tortures only the comparatively rich and fortunate, but is most active among the least distinguished, and abates in malignity as we ascend to the lofty regions of pure ennui. This is the desire of being fashionable, the restless and insatiable passion to pass for creatures a little more distinguished than we really are, with the mortification of frequent failure, and the humiliating consciousness of being perpetually exposed to it. Among those who are secure of "meat, clothes, and fire," and are thus above the chief evils of existence, we do believe that this is a more prolific source of unhappiness than guilt, disease, or wounded affection; and that more positive misery is created, and more true enjoyment excluded, by the eternal fretting and straining of this pitiful ambition, than by all the ravages of passion, the desolations of war, or the accidents of mortality. This may appear a strong statement, but we make it deliberately, and are deeply convinced of its truth. The wretchedness which it produces may not be so intense, but it is of much longer duration, and spreads over a far wider circle. It is quite dreadful indeed to think what a sweep this pest has taken among the 278 comforts of our prosperous population. To be thought fashionable—that is, to be thought more opulent and tasteful, and on a footing of intimacy with a greater number of distinguished persons than they really are,—is the great and laborious pursuit of four families out of five, the members of which are exempted from the necessity of daily industry.
These are the giant curses of fashionable life; and Miss Edgeworth has accordingly dedicated her two best tales to the delineation of their symptoms. The history of Lord Glenthorn is a fine picture of ennui; that of Almeria, an instructive representation of the miseries of aspirations after fashion. The moral use of these narratives, therefore, must consist in warning us against the first approaches of evils which can never afterwards be resisted. To some readers her tales may seem to want the fairy colouring of high fancy and romantic tenderness; and it is very true that they are not poetical love tales, any more than they are anecdotes of scandal. We have great respect for the admirers of Rousseau and Petrarca, and we have no doubt that Miss Edgeworth has great respect for them; but the world, both high and low, which she is labouring to mend, have no sympathy with this respect. They laugh at these things, and do not understand them; and, therefore, the solid sense which she possesses presses perhaps rather too closely upon them, and, though it permits of relief from wit and direct pathos, really could not be combined with the more luxuriant ornaments of an ardent and tender imagination.
[BORN 1768. DIED 1793.]
MID which dim ferment of Caen and the world, history specially notices one thing. In the lobby of the Mansion de l'Intendance, where busy deputies are coming and going, a young lady, with an aged valet, taking grave, graceful leave of Deputy Barbaroux. She is of stately Norman figure, in her twenty-fifth year, of beautiful still countenance; her name is Charlotte Corday, heretofore styled D'Armans, while nobility still was. Barbaroux has given her a note to Deputy Duperret, him who once drew his sword in the effervescence. Apparently, she will to Paris on some errand. "She was a republican before the Revolution, and never wanted energy." A completeness, a decision is in this fair figure: "by energy she means the spirit that will prompt one to sacrifice himself for his country." What if she, this fair young Charlotte, had emerged from her secluded stillness suddenly like a star; to gleam for a moment, and in a moment to be extinguished; to be held in memory, so bright complete was she, through long centuries! Quitting Cimmerian coalitions without, and the dim-simmering twenty-five millions within, history will look fixedly at this one fair apparition of a Charlotte Corday; will note whither Charlotte moves, how the little life burns forth so 280 radiant, then vanishes, swallowed of the night.
With Barbaroux's note of introduction, and slight stock of luggage, we see Charlotte on Tuesday, the 9th of July, seated in the Caen diligence, with a place for Paris. None takes farewell of her, wishes her good journey; her father will find a line left, signifying that she is gone to England, that he must pardon her and forget her. The drowsy diligence lumbers along, amid drowsy talk of politics and praise of the Mountain, in which she mingles not; all night, all day, and again all night. On Thursday, not long before noon, we are at the bridge of Neuilly. Here is Paris, with her thousand black domes—the goal and purpose of thy journey! Arrived at the Inn de la Providence, in the Rue des Vieux Augustins, Charlotte demands a room, hastens to bed, sleeps all afternoon and night, till the morrow morning.
On the morrow morning she delivers her note to Duperret. It relates to certain family papers which are in the Minister of the Interior's hands, which a nun at Caen, an old convent-friend of Charlotte's, has need of, which Duperret shall assist her in getting: this, then, was Charlotte's errand to Paris? She has finished this in the course of Friday, yet says nothing of returning. She has seen and silently investigated several things. The Convention, in bodily reality, she has seen; what the Mountain is like. The living physiognomy of Marat she could not see; he is sick at present, and confined to home.
About eight o'clock on the Saturday morning she purchases a large sheath-knife in the Palais-Royal; then straightway, in the Place de Victoires, takes a hackney-coach. "To the Rue de l'Ecole de Médicine, No. 44." It is the residence of the Citoyen Marat! The Citoyen Marat is 281 ill, and cannot be seen, which seems to disappoint her much. Her business is with Marat, then? Hapless, beautiful Charlotte—hapless, squalid Marat! From Caen in the utmost west, from Neuchâtel in the utmost east, they two are drawing nigh each other; they two have, very strangely, business together. Charlotte returning to her inn, despatches a short note to Marat, signifying that she is from Caen; that she desires earnestly to see him, and "will put it in his power to do France a great service." No answer. Charlotte writes another note, still more pressing; sets out with it by coach, about seven in the evening, herself.
It is yellow July evening, we say, the 13th of the month. Marat sits, about half-past seven of the clock, stewing in slipper-bath, sore, afflicted, ill of Revolution fever—of what other malady this history had rather not name. Excessively sick and worn, poor man; with precisely elevenpence-half-penny in paper; with slipper-bath, strong three-footed stool for writing on the while, and a squalid—washerwoman, one may call her; that is his civic establishment in Medical-School Street; thither and not elsewhither has his road led him. Not to the reign of brotherhood and perfect felicity; yet surely on the way towards that. Hark! a rap again! A musical woman's voice, refusing to be rejected: it is the citoyenne who would do France a service. Marat, recognising from within, cries—Admit her. Charlotte Corday is admitted.
"Citoyen Marat, I am from Caen, the seat of rebellion, and wished to speak with you." "Be seated, mon enfant. Now what are the traitors doing at Caen—what deputies are at Caen?" Charlotte names some deputies. "Their heads shall fall within a fortnight," croaks the eager people's friend, clutching his tablets to write: Barbaroux, Pétion, 282 writes he, with bare, shrunk arm, turning aside in the bath; Pétion and Louvet, and—Charlotte has drawn her knife from the sheath; plunges it, with one sure stroke, into the writer's heart. "A moi, chère amie—Help, dear!" no more could the death-choked say or shriek. The helpful washerwoman running in—there is no friend of the people or friend of the washerwoman left; but his life with a groan gushes out, indignant, to the shades below.
On Wednesday evening, about half-past seven o'clock, from the gate of the Conciergerie, to a city all on tiptoe, the fatal cart issues; seated on it a fair young creature, sheeted in red smock of murderess; so beautiful, serene, so full of life; journeying towards death—alone amid the world. The executioners proceed to bind her feet; she resists, thinking it meant as an insult; on a word of explanation, she submits with cheerful apology. As the last act, all being now ready, they take the neckerchief from her neck; a blush of maidenly shame overspreads that fair face and neck; the cheeks were still tinged with it when the executioner lifted the severed head, to show it to the people. "It is most true," says Forster, "that he struck the cheek insultingly, for I saw it with my eyes."
[BORN 1766. DIED 1817.]
HE most powerful writer that her country has produced since the time of Voltaire and Rousseau, and the greatest writer, of a woman, that any time or any country has produced. Her taste perhaps is not quite pure, and her style is too irregular and ambitious. These faults may even go deeper. Her passion for effect, and the tone of exaggeration which it naturally produces, have probably interfered occasionally with the soundness of her judgment, and given a suspicious colouring to some of her representations of fact. At all events, they have rendered her impatient of the humbler task of completing her explanatory details, or stating in their order all the premises of her reasonings. She gives her history in abstracts, and her theories in aphorisms; and the greater part of her works, in place of presenting that systematic unity, from which the highest degrees of strength and beauty and clearness must ever be derived, may be fairly described as a collection of striking fragments, in which a great deal of repetition does by no means diminish the effect of a good deal of inconsistency. In those same works, however, whether we consider them as fragments or as systems, we do not hesitate to say that there are more of original and profound observations, more new images, greater sagacity, combined with higher 284 imagination, and more of the true philosophy of the passions, the politics, and the literature of her contemporaries, than in any other author we can now remember.
She has great eloquence on all subjects, and a singular pathos in representing those bitterest agonies of the spirit in which wretchedness is aggravated by remorse, or by regrets that partake of its character. Though it is difficult to resist her when she is in earnest, we cannot say that we agree in all her opinions, or approve of all her sentiments. She overrates the importance of literature, either in determining the character, or affecting the happiness of mankind; and she theorises too confidently on its past and its future history. On subjects like this, we have not yet facts enough for so much philosophy, and must be contented, we fear for a long time to come, to call many things accidental which it would be more satisfactory to refer to determinate causes. In her estimate of the happiness and her notions of the wisdom of private life, we think her both unfortunate and erroneous. She makes passions and high sensibilities a great deal too indispensable, and varnishes over all pictures too uniformly with the glue of an extravagant or affected enthusiasm. She represents men, in short, as a great deal more unhappy, more depraved, and more energetic than they are, and seems to respect them the more for it. In her politics, she is far more unexceptionable. She is everywhere the warm friend and animated advocate of liberty, and of liberal, practical, and philanthropic principles. On these subjects we cannot blame her enthusiasm, which has nothing in it vindictive or provoking, and are far more inclined to envy than to reprove that sanguine and buoyant temper of mind which, after all she has seen and suffered, still leads her to overrate, in our 285 apprehension, both the merits of past attempts at political amelioration, and the chances of their success hereafter. It is in that futurity, we fear, and in the hopes that make it present, that the lovers of mankind must yet for a while console themselves for the disappointments which still seem to beset them. If Madame de Staël, however, predicts with too much confidence, it must be admitted that her labours have a powerful tendency to realise her predictions. Her writings are all full of the most animating views of the improvement of our social condition and the means by which it may be effected, the most striking refutations of prevailing errors on these great subjects, and the most persuasive expostulations with those who may think their interest or their honour concerned in maintaining them. Even they who are the least inclined to agree with her must admit that there is much to be learned from her writings; and we can give them no higher praise than to say that their tendency is not only to promote the interests of philanthropy and independence, but to soften rather than exasperate the prejudices to which they are opposed.
With our manners in society she is not quite well pleased, though she is kind enough to ascribe our deficiencies to the most honourable causes. In commiserating the comparative dulness of our social talk, however, has not this philosophic observer a little overlooked the effects of national tastes and habits? and is it not conceivable at least that we who are used to it may really have as much satisfaction in our own hum-drum way of seeing each other, as our more sprightly neighbours in their exquisite assemblies?
[BORN 1772. DIED 1857.]
HIS hard-fated woman was very young and newly married when she was thrown, by the adverse circumstances of the time, into the very heart of those deplorable contests [the war in La Vendée, during the first and maddest years of the French Republic]; and without pretending to any other information than she could draw from her own experience, and scarcely presuming to pass any judgment upon the merits or demerits of the cause, she has made up her memoirs of a clear and dramatic description of acts in which she was a sharer, or scenes of which she was an eye-witness, and of the characters and histories of the many distinguished individuals who partook with her of their glories and sufferings. The irregular and undisciplined wars which it was her business to describe were naturally far more prolific of extraordinary incidents, unexpected turns of fortune, and striking displays of individual talent, and vice and virtue, than the more solemn movements of national hostility, where everything is in a great measure provided and foreseen, and where the inflexible subordination of rank, and the severe exactions of a limited duty, not only take away the inducement, but the opportunity, for those exaltations of personal feeling and adventure which produce the most lively interest, and lead to the most 287 animating results.
This lady had some right, in truth, to be delicate and royalist beyond the ordinary standard. Her father, the Marquis de Donnison, had an employment about the person of the king, in virtue of which he had apartments in the Palace of Versailles, in which splendid abode Madame de la Rochejaquelein was born, and continued constantly to reside in the very focus of royal influence and glory till the whole of its unfortunate inhabitants were compelled to leave it by the fury of that mob which escorted them to Paris in 1789. She had, like most French ladies of distinction, been destined from her infancy to be the wife of M. de Lescure, a near relation of her mother, and the representative of the ancient and noble family of Salgues in Poitou.
The picture of the war [in which Madame de la Rochejaquelein figured so prominently, and in which she lost her young husband] is shaded with deep horrors. The convention issued the barbarous decree that the country [La Vendée], which still continued its resistance, should be desolated, that the whole inhabitants should be exterminated without distinction of age or sex, the habitations consumed with fire, and the trees cut down by the axe. A multitude of sanguinary conflicts ensued, and the insurgents succeeded in resisting this desolating invasion. Among the slain in one of those engagements the republicans found the body of a young woman, which, Madame de la Rochejaquelein informs us, gave occasion to a number of idle reports, many giving it out that it was she herself, or a sister of M. de la Rochejaquelein, who had no sister, or a new Joan of Arc, who had kept up the spirit of the peasantry by her enthusiastic predictions. The truth was, that it was 288 the body of an innocent peasant who had always lived a remarkably quiet and pious life till recently before this action, when she had been seized with an irresistible desire to take a part in the conflict. [She deserved to be "a woman of history," but her name has not been preserved.] She had discovered herself some time before to Madame de la Rochejaquelein, and begged of her a shift of a peculiar fabric. The night before the battle, she also revealed herself to M. de la Rochejaquelein, asking him to give her a pair of shoes, and promising to behave in such a manner in the morrow's fight that he would never think of parting with her. Accordingly, she kept near his person through the whole of the battle, and conducted herself with the most heroic bravery. Two or three times, in the very heat of the fight, she said to him: "No, mon general, you shall not get before me; I shall always be closer up to the enemy even than you." Early in the day she was hurt pretty severely in the hand, but held it up, laughing, to her general, and said, "It is nothing at all." In the end of the battle, she was surrounded in a charge, and fell fighting like a desperado. There were about ten other women who took up arms, Madame de la Rochejaquelein says, in this cause: two sisters under fifteen, and a tall beauty who wore the dress of an officer.
At the end, after the loss of her husband, Madame de la Rochejaquelein was told that it was impossible to resist the attack that was to be made next day, and was advised to seek her safety in flight and disguise, without the loss of an instant. She set out accordingly with her mother, on a gloomy day in December, under the conduct of a drunken peasant; and, after being out most of the night, at length obtained shelter in a dirty farm-house, from which, in the course of the day, she had the 289 misery of seeing her unfortunate countrymen scattered over the whole open country, chased and butchered without mercy by the republicans, who now took a final vengeance for all the losses they had sustained. She had long been clothed in shreds and patches, and needed no disguise to conceal her quality. She was sometimes hidden in the mill when the troopers came to search for fugitives in her lonely retreat, and often sent in the midst of winter to herd the sheep or cattle of her faithful and compassionate host, along with his raw-boned daughter.
While skulking about in this state of peril and desolation, they had glimpses and occasional rencounters with some of their former companions, whom similar misfortunes had driven upon similar schemes of concealment. In this wretched condition, the time of Madame de la Rochejaquelein's confinement drew on; and after a thousand frights and disasters, she was delivered of two daughters, one of whom died within a fortnight. The result at length was, that Madame de la Rochejaquelein, after several struggles with pride and principle, was prevailed to repair to Nantes, to avail herself of an amnesty.
[BORN 1777. DIED 1849.]
HE daughter of Monsieur Bernard, a notary of Lyons, born in 1777, and married at fifteen to Monsieur Récamier, a wealthy banker of forty-three. She was a beauty, and she knew it; the idol of that gay, irresistible French society which knows so well how to repay the devotion of its votaries; the theme of song, the goddess of la beau monde; very capable of love, but denied its natural exercise as wife and mother. If her path then ran among the flowers, not the less did she skirt the brink of the precipice; and her friends' advice and counsel were often needed and always welcome. She did not disdain the flatteries of her admirers; often she encouraged them to an extent that in England would have been considered criminal; but from the testimony of impartial witnesses, it seems clear that she never overstepped the bounds of virtue. She was the only woman, said Charles James Fox, "who united the attractions of pleasure to those of modesty;" but a woman who is always travelling on the verge of danger needs such a friend as Matthieu de Montmorency to counsel her in time.
Fox was in Paris in 1802 when Madame Récamier was at the zenith of her reputation. He almost divided with her the allegiance of the gay world. 291 The Parisian beaux imitated his costume, and the Parisian shop-windows were crowded with his portraits. Between the statesman and the beauty so close an intimacy was established that scandal made busy with it. She called upon him one day to accompany her in a drive along the Boulevards. "Before you came," said she, "I was the fashion; it is a point of honour, therefore, that I should not seem jealous of you." When sitting with her in her box at the opera, a copy of an ode was placed in the hands of each, in which Fox was panegyrised as Jupiter, and Madame Récamier as Venus.
The failure of Monsieur Récamier in 1806 affected her health, and she went to spend the summer months of 1807 with Madame de Staël at Coppet. Among the illustrious residents at Geneva at the time was Prince Augustus of Prussia, a nephew of Frederick the Great, and a handsome young man of twenty-four. He fell violently in love with the Parisian beauty, who was by no means indifferent to the passion he openly displayed. He offered her his hand if she could obtain a divorce from her husband, whom half Paris [according to an old scandal] declared to be her father. Madame was not unwilling to be a princess, and she wrote to her husband proposing a divorce. Monsieur Récamier, in reply, expressed his willingness, but at the same time appealed to her better feelings. Years afterwards the love-suit dropped, and the prince, instead of a wife, received her portrait. Other lovers followed, and her career came near its close. In 1849 the cholera broke out in Paris. Madame Récamier was not afraid of dying, but she shrunk from death in so terrible a form. To avoid its ravages she removed to the Bibliothèque Nationale, but she could not escape from fate. On the 10th of May she 292 was seized with the premonitory symptoms; on the 11th she was a corpse. She had completed nearly two-and-seventy years when she was removed from life by a death which of all others she most dreaded.
In her time she played a conspicuous part; was constantly upon the gay and glittering stage; the audience applauded her loudly, and illustrious hands flung at her garlands and bouquets. Now that the applause has died out, now that the lamps burn dimly, now that the silent stage is given up to shadows, we wonder what there was in her acting to secure her so wide a fame. We look in vain for a flash of genius, for a burst of noble emotion. Vain, greedy of admiration, an errant coquette, a somewhat frivolous intruder on the threshold of criminal passion,—what was she more? A beauty? Yes, but could beauty alone have secured her so wide a repute among her contemporaries? She did not even converse brilliantly, like a Du Deffand or a De Staël. She did not write charming epistles, like a De Sévigné, and yet she was assiduously courted by famous wits and accomplished men of letters. Partly we may suppose her celebrity to have arisen from her profession of liberal principles under the stern régime of a Bonaparte; partly it was owing to the tact with which she drew out the best qualities, and flattered the amour propre of her visitors.
[BORN 1778. DIED 1818.]
ARY Brunton, [authoress of the novels "Self-Control" and "Discipline," was the only daughter of Colonel Thomas Balfour of Elwick, and of Frances Ligonier, only daughter of Colonel Francis Ligonier, the brother of Field-Marshal the Earl of Ligonier. From her sixteenth year (although her mother is spoken of as still alive at a much later date), it is stated that the entire charge of her father's household devolved upon her, and left her very little time for anything else. Thus matters continued till she was nearly twenty. Meanwhile her future husband, Dr Brunton, and she had met, when or where we are not informed.] Dr Brunton merely says: "About this time, Viscountess Wentworth, who had formerly been the wife of Mrs Balfour's brother, the second Earl Ligonier, proposed that Mary, her god-daughter, should reside with her in London. What influence this alteration might have had on her after-life is left to be matter of conjecture. She preferred the quiet and privacy of a Scotch parsonage. We were married in her twentieth year, and went to reside at Bolton, near Haddington."
[A love of reading had been an early passion with her, but in her childhood it had spent itself mostly in poetry and fiction; and her 294 want of leisure afterwards had withdrawn her to a great extent even from literature of that description.] "Her time," Dr Brunton continues, "was now much more at her own command. Her taste for reading returned in all its strength, and received rather a more methodical direction. Some hours of every forenoon were devoted by her to this employment; and in the evenings I was in the habit of reading aloud to her books chiefly of criticism and belles lettres. Among other subjects of her attention, the philosophy of the human mind became a favourite study with her, and she read Dr Reid's works with uncommon pleasure." After their removal to Edinburgh, their circle increased. "She mingled more with those whose talents and acquirements she had respected at a distance.... She had often urged me to undertake some literary work, and once she appealed to an intimate friend who was present whether he would not be my publisher. He consented readily, but added that he would at least as willingly publish a book of her own writing. This seemed at the time to strike her as something the possibility of which had never occurred to her before, and she asked more than once whether he was in earnest. A considerable part of the first volume of 'Self Control' was written before I knew anything of its existence. When she brought it to me, my pleasure was mingled with surprise. The beauty and correctness of the style, the acuteness of observation, and the loftiness of sentiment, were, each of them in its way, beyond what even I was prepared to expect from her."
[The work was published in two large volumes, which were afterwards distributed into three post octavos in January or early in February 1811 anonymously, and after considerable precautions had been taken to preserve the secret of the authorship, which actually was, we are told, 295 for a little time so well kept that she had frequent opportunities of hearing her work commented on.
Mrs Brunton commenced a new novel, "Discipline;" but before it was completed "Waverley" appeared. It came into her hands, her husband says, while she was in the country, and when she had heard nothing of its reputation; but she at once discerned its high merit, and was so fascinated by it, that she could not go to bed till she had read it through. It happened that a scene of a part of her own work too was laid in the Highlands, about which a universal interest had been for some years before this awakened by Scott's "Lady of the Lake," and other poems; and her first impulse was to cancel the Highland portion of her story altogether; but to this sacrifice her husband strongly objected. Writing to one of her female friends in December, a few days before her new work was to appear, she says: "It is very unfortunate in coming after 'Waverley,' by far the most splendid exhibition of talent in novel-writing which has appeared since the days of Fielding and Smollett. There seems little doubt that it comes from the pen of Scott. What a competitor for poor little me!" When "Discipline" at length came out, however, its success was far greater than she anticipated. "But she was by no means gratified by it," we are told, "to the same extent she had been by the reception of 'Self-Control.' She was now well known to be the author, and therefore she was not so sure that the applause which reached her was all sincere." The silence of the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews, too, annoyed and discouraged her.
All this indisposed her to attempt a third novel. Yet she commenced some other works, in which she proceeded slowly. But the end of all was at hand. After being married for twenty years, she had at last the 296 prospect of becoming a mother. Her husband's interesting narrative proceeds:] "She was strongly impressed, indeed, with the belief that her confinement was to prove fatal, not in vague presentiment, but on grounds of which I could not entirely remove the force, though I obstinately refused to join in the inference which she drew from them. Under this belief, she completed every, the most minute, preparation for her great change, with the same tranquillity as if she had been making arrangements for one of those short absences which only endeared her home the more to her. The clothes with which she was laid in her grave had been selected by herself; she herself had chosen and labelled some tokens of remembrance for her more intimate friends; and the intimations of her death were sent round from a list in her own handwriting. But these anticipations, though so deeply fixed, neither shook her fortitude nor diminished her cheerfulness. They neither altered her wish to live, nor the ardour with which she prepared to meet the duties of returning health, if returning health were to be her portion. After giving birth to a still-born son on the 7th December, and recovering for a few days with a rapidity beyond the hopes of her medical friends, she was attacked with fever. It advanced with fatal violence, till it closed her earthly life on the morning of Saturday, December 19, 1818."
[BORN 1794. DIED 1835.]
HE business of women being with actual or social life, and the colours it receives from the conduct and dispositions of individuals, they unconsciously acquire, at a very early age, the finest perception of characters and manners, and are almost as soon instinctively schooled in the deep and dangerous learning of feeling and emotion; while the very minuteness with which they make and meditate on these interesting observations, and the finer shades and variations of sentiment which are thus treasured and recorded, trains their whole faculties to a nicety and precision of operation which often discloses itself to advantage in their application to studies of a different character. When women accordingly have turned their minds, as they have done but too seldom, to the exposition or arrangement of any branch of knowledge, they have commonly exhibited, we think, a more beautiful accuracy, and a more uniform and complete justness of thinking, than their less discriminating brethren. There is a finish and completeness, in short, about everything they put out of their hands, which indicates not only an inherent taste for elegance and neatness, but a habit of nice observation, and singular exactness of judgment. 298
We have not as yet much female poetry. That of Mrs Hemans is a fine exemplification. It may not be the best imaginable poetry, and may not indicate the very highest or most commanding genius; but it embraces a great deal of that which gives the very best poetry its chief power of pleasing, and would strike us perhaps as more impassioned and exalted, if it were not regulated and harmonised by the most beautiful taste. It is singularly sweet, elegant, and tender; touching, perhaps, and contemplative, rather than vehement and overpowering; and not only finished throughout with an exquisite delicacy and even severity of execution, but informed with a purity and loftiness of feeling, and a certain sober and humble tone of indulgence and piety, which must satisfy all judgments, and allay the apprehensions of those who are most afraid of the passionate exaggerations of poetry. Almost all her poems are rich with fine descriptions, and studded over with images of visible beauty. But these are never idle ornaments; all her pomps have a meaning, and her flowers and her gems are arranged, as they are said to be among Eastern lovers, so as to speak the language of truth or of passion. This is peculiarly remarkable in some little pieces, which seem at first sight to be purely descriptive, but are soon found to tell upon the heart with a deep, moral, and pathetic impression. But it is in truth nearly as conspicuous in the greater part of her productions, where we scarcely meet with any striking sentiment that is not ushered in by some such symphony of external nature, and scarcely a lovely picture that does not serve as an appropriate foreground to some deep or lofty emotion.
[BORN 1786. DIED 1826.]
HEY were happy who [in the siege of Saragossa] expired amidst that scene of unutterable woe. Yet even they bequeathed with their last breath to the survivors the most solemn injunctions to continue to the last the unparalleled struggle; and from the dens of the living and the dead issued daily crowds of warriors, attenuated indeed and livid, but who maintained with unconquerable resolution a desperate resistance. But human nature, even in its most exalted mood, cannot go beyond a certain point. Saragossa was about to fall; but, like Numantia and Saguntum, she was to leave a name immortal in the annals of mankind.
Such was the heroic spirit which animated the inhabitants, that it inspired even the softer sex to deeds of valour. Amongst these, Augustina Zaragoza was peculiarly distinguished. She had served with unshaken courage a cannon near the gate of Portillo, at the former siege, and she again took her station there when the enemy returned. "See, General," said she to Palafox, when he visited that quarter, "I am again with my old friend." Her husband being struck with a cannon-ball as he served the battery, she calmly stepped into his place, and pointed the gun as he lay bleeding at her side. Frequently she was to be seen 300 at the head of an assaulting party, wrapped in her cloak, sword in hand, cheering on the soldiers to the discharge of their duty. She was at length taken prisoner; but being taken dangerously ill, and carried to the French hospital, she contrived to escape. A female corps was formed to carry provisions and water to the combatants, and remove the wounded, at the head of which was Donna Benita, a lady of rank. Several hundred women and children perished during the siege, not by bombs or cannon-shot, but in actual combat.
[BORN 1816. DIED 1855.]
HE authoress of "Jane Eyre" and other works is, as she calls herself [August 1850], undeveloped then, and more than half a head shorter than I am. Soft brown hair, not very dark; eyes very good and expressive, looking straight and open at you, of the same colour as her hair; a large mouth; the forehead square, broad, and rather overhanging. She has a very sweet voice; rather hesitates in choosing her expressions, but when chosen they seem without an effort admirable, and just befitting the occasion; there is nothing overstrained, but perfectly simple. Her nerves were severely taxed by the effort of going among strangers. On one occasion, though the number of the party could not exceed twelve, she suffered the whole day from acute headache, brought on by apprehension of the evening.
It was now  two or three years since I had witnessed a similar effect produced on her, in anticipation of a quiet evening at a friend's home; and since then she had seen many and various people in London; but the physical sensations produced by shyness were still the same, and on the following day she laboured under severe headache. I had several 302 opportunities of perceiving how this nervousness was ingrained in her constitution, and how acutely she suffered in trying to overcome it. One evening we had, among other guests, two sisters who sung Scotch ballads exquisitely. Miss Brontë had been sitting quiet and constrained, till they began "The Bonnie House of Airlie;" but the effect of that, and "Carlyle Yetts" which followed, was as irresistible as the playing of the piper of Hamelin. The beautiful clear light came into her eyes; her lips quivered with emotion; she forgot herself, rose and crossed the room to the piano, where she asked eagerly for song after song. The sisters begged her to come and see them next morning, when they would sing as long as ever she liked, and she promised gladly and thankfully. But on reaching the house her courage failed. We walked some time up and down the street, she upbraiding herself all the while for her folly, and trying to dwell on the sweet echoes in her memory, rather than on the thought of a third sister who would have to be faced if we went in. But it was of no use; and dreading lest this struggle with herself might bring on one of her trying headaches, I entered at last, and made the best apology I could for her non-appearance.
Much of this nervous dread of encountering strangers I ascribed to the idea of her personal ugliness, which had been strongly impressed upon her imagination early in life, and which she exaggerated to herself in a remarkable manner. "I notice," said she, "that after a stranger has once looked at my face, he is careful not to let his eyes wander to that part of the room again." A more untrue idea never entered into any one's head. Two gentlemen who saw her during this visit, without knowing at the time who she was, were singularly attracted by her appearance; and this feeling of attraction towards a pleasant countenance, sweet voice, and gentle, timid manners, was so strong in one as to conquer a dislike 303 he had previously entertained to her works.
There was another circumstance that came to my knowledge at this period, which told secrets about the finely-strung frame. One night I was on the point of narrating some dismal ghost-story, just before bed-time. She shrank from hearing it, and confessed she was superstitious, and prone at all times to the involuntary recurrence of any thoughts of ominous gloom which might have been suggested to her. She said that in first coming to us, she had found a letter on her dressing-table from a friend in Yorkshire, containing a story which had impressed her vividly ever since; that it mingled with her dreams at night, and made her sleep restless and unrefreshing.
[There was a peculiarity about Charlotte Brontë's death.] Not long after her marriage with the Rev. Mr Nicholls, she was attacked by new sensations of perpetual nausea and ever-recurring faintness. "A wren would have starved on what she ate during these last six weeks." Long days and long nights went by; still the same relentless nausea and faintness, and still borne on in patient trust. About the third week in March , there was a change; a low wandering delirium came on, and in it she begged constantly for food, and even for stimulants; she swallowed eagerly now, but it was too late. Wakening for an instant from this stupor of intelligence, she saw her husband's woe-worn face, and caught the sound of some murmured words of prayer that God would spare her. "Oh," she whispered forth, "I am not going to die, am I? He will not separate us, we have been so happy." Early on Saturday morning, March 31, the solemn tolling of Haworth Church bell spoke forth the 304 fact of her death to the villagers who had known her from a child, and whose hearts shivered within them as they thought of the two sitting together [the father and husband] in the old grey house.
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1. The English Circumnavigators: The most remarkable Voyages round the World by English Sailors. (Drake, Dampier, Anson, and Cook's Voyages.) With a Preliminary Sketch of their Lives and Discoveries. Edited, with Notes, Maps, etc., by David Laing Purves and R. Cochrane.
2. The Book of Adventure and Peril: A Record of Heroism and Endurance on Sea and Land. Compiled and Edited by Charles Bruce, Editor of 'Sea Songs and Ballads.' Illustrated.
3. The Great Triumphs of Great Men. Edited by James Mason. Illustrated.
4. Great Historical Mutinies, comprising the Story of the Mutiny of the 'Bounty,' the Mutiny at Spithead, the Mutiny at the Nore, Mutinies in Highland Regiments, and the Indian Mutiny. By David Herbert, M.A.
5. Famous Historical Scenes from Three Centuries. Pictures of Celebrated Events from the Reformation to the end of the French Revolution. Selected from the works of Standard Authors by A. R. Hope Moncrieff.
6. The English Explorers; comprising details of the more famous Travels by Mandeville, Bruce, Park, and Livingstone. With Map, and Chapter on Arctic Exploration.
7. The Book for Every Day; containing an Inexhaustible Store of Amusing and Instructive Articles. Edited by James Mason.
8. The Book of Noble Englishwomen: Lives made Illustrious by Heroism, Goodness, and Great Attainments. Edited by Charles Bruce.
9. A Hundred Wonders of the World in Nature and Art, described according to the latest Authorities, and profusely Illustrated. Edited by John Small, M.A.
10. A Book about Travelling, Past and Present. Profusely Illustrated. Edited by Thomas A. Croal.
11. Sir Edward Seaward's Narrative of his Shipwreck and Discovery of certain Islands in the Caribbean Sea. With a detail of many extraordinary and highly interesting events in his life, from the year 1733 to 1749. By Jane Porter, Author of the 'Scottish Chiefs,' etc.
12. The Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties. By George Lillie Craik, M.A.
13. The Mothers of Great Men. By Mrs. Ellis, Author of 'The Women of England,' etc. Illustrated by Valentine W. Bromley.
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1. Wallace, the Hero of Scotland: A Biography. By James Paterson.
2. Life of the Duke of Wellington. By W. H. Maxwell, Author of 'Stories of Waterloo,' etc. Revised and abridged from the larger work.
3. Life of Napoleon Buonaparte. By John Gibson Lockhart, Author of 'Life of Sir Walter Scott,' etc. Revised and abridged from the larger work.
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14. Women of History. By Eminent Writers.
15. Christian Osborne's Friends. By Mrs. Harriet Miller Davidson, Author of 'Isobel Jardine's History.'
16. Silverton Court. A Tale. By Winifred Taylor.
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4. John Lawrence: 'Saviour of India.' The Story of his Life. By Charles Bruce, Author of 'Stirring Adventure in African Travel,' etc.
5. The Highways of Literature; or, What to Read and How to Read. By David Pryde, M.A., LL.D., F.R.S.E., F.S.A. Scot.
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3. The Spanish Inquisition: Its Heroes and Martyrs. By Janet Gordon, Author of 'Champions of the Reformation.'
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1. Travels and Discoveries in Abyssinia by James Bruce.
2. The Life and Travels of Mungo Park. With Supplementary Details of the Results of Recent Discovery in Africa.
3. A Voyage Round the World by Sir Francis Drake and William Dampier, according to the Text of the Original Narratives. Edited, with Notes, by D. Laing Purves.
4. A Voyage Round the World in the Years 1740-44 by George Anson. Edited, from the Original Narrative, with Notes, by D. Laing Purves.
5. Voyages Round the World by Captain James Cook. Edited, with Notes, etc., by D. Laing Purves.
6. The Story of the Good Ship 'Bounty' and her Mutineers. Mutinies in Highland Regiments.
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4. Nature's Wonders. By the Rev. Richard Newton, D.D., Author of 'The King's Highway,' etc.
5. Guiding Lights: Lives of the Great and Good. By F. E. Cooke, Author of 'Footprints.'
6. Heroes of Charity: Records from the Lives of Merciful Men whose Righteousness has not been Forgotten. By James F. Cobb, F.R.G.S., Author of 'Stories of Success,' etc.
7. Mountain Patriots. A Tale of the Reformation in Savoy. By Mrs. A. S. Orr.
8. Village Tales and Sketches. By Mary Russell Mitford, Author of 'Our Village,' etc. etc.
9. The Standard-Bearer. A Tale of the Times of Constantine the Great. By Ellen Palmer.
10. Stories told in a Fisherman's Cottage. By Ellen Palmer, Author of 'The Standard-Bearer,' etc. etc.
11. Diversions of Hollycot; or, The Mother's Art of Thinking. By Mrs. Johnstone, Author of 'Nights of the Round Table,' 'Clan Albin,' etc.
12. Philip Walton; or, Light at Last. By the Author of 'Meta Franz,' etc.
13. Picture Lessons by the Divine Teacher; or, Illustrations of the Parables of our Lord. By Peter Grant, D.D.
14. Taken Up. A Tale for Boys and Girls. By Alfred Whymper.
15. Champions of the Reformation. Stories of their Lives. By Janet Gordon.
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1. The Hermit's Apprentice. By Ascott R. Hope.
2. The Far North: Explorations in the Arctic Regions. By Elisha Kent Kane, M.D.
3. Monarchs of Ocean: Columbus and Cook.
4. Noble Mottoes of Great Families. By Charles Bruce, Author of 'Lame Felix,' etc.
5. The Castaway's Home; or, The Story of the Sailing and Sinking of the Good Ship 'Rose.' By Mrs. Hardy.
6. Great Men of European History, from the Christian Era till the Present Time. By David Pryde, LL.D.
7. Afloat and Ashore with Sir Walter Raleigh. By Mrs. Hardy, Author of 'Champions of the Reformation,' etc.
8. Lame Felix. A Book for Boys. By Charles Bruce.
9. Life at Hartwell; or, Frank and his Friends. By Katharine E. May, Author of 'Alfred and his Mother,' etc. etc.
10. Max Wild, the Merchant's Son; and other Stories for the Young.
11. Up North; or, Lost and Found in Russia and the Arctic Wastes. By Mrs. Hardy.
12. Angelo and Stella. A Story of Italian Fisher Life. By the Rev. Gerald S. Davies.
13. Seeing the World. A Young Sailor's own Story. By Charles Nordhoff.
14. The Miner's Son and Margaret Vernon. By M. M. Pollard, Author of 'The Minister's Daughter.'
15. How Frank began to Climb the Ladder. By Charles Bruce, Author of 'Lame Felix,' etc.
16. The History of Two Wanderers; or, Cast Adrift.
17. Memorable Wars of Scotland. By Patrick Fraser Tytler, F.R.S.E.
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1. Life's Crosses, and How to Meet Them. Tales for Girls. By T. S. Arthur.
2. A Father's Legacy to his Daughters, etc. A Book for Young Women. By Dr. Gregory.
3. Labours of Love: A Tale for the Young. By Winifred Taylor.
4. Mossdale: A Tale for the Young. By Anna M. De Iongh.
5. Jacqueline. A Story of the Reformation in Holland. By Mrs. Hardy (Janet Gordon).
6. The Minister's Daughter, and Old Anthony's Will. Tales for the Young. By M. M. Pollard.
7. The Two Sisters. By M. M. Pollard.
8. A Needle and Thread: A Tale for Girls. By Emma J. Barnes, Author of 'Faithful and True; or, The Mother's Legacy.'
9. Nonna: A Story of the Days of Julian the Apostate. By Ellen Palmer.
10. An Earl's Daughter. A Story for the Young. By M. M. Pollard, Author of 'The Two Sisters,' etc. etc.
11. Doing and Dreaming. A Tale for the Young. By Edward Garrett.
12. Vain Ambition; or, Only a Girl. By Emma Davenport, Author of 'Our Birthdays,' etc.
13. The Cottagers of Glenburnie. A Scottish Tale. By Elizabeth Hamilton.
14. My New Home: A Woman's Diary.
15. Home Heroines. Tales for Girls. By T. S. Arthur.
16. The Roseville Family. By Mrs. A. S. Orr.
17. Leah. A Tale of Ancient Palestine. By Mrs. A. S. Orr.
Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation in the original document have been preserved.
The following changes were made to repair apparently typographical errors:
p.41 "incantations to recal her spirit" recal changed to recall
p.67 "seducing Althelwold into a" Althelwold changed to Athelwold
p.195 "her, and did not like it.["]" closing quotation mark in  added
p.211 "discriminative in the extinct eulogies" extinct changed to extant
p.227 "than two hundred Scotticisms.["]" closing quotation mark added
p.227 "compositions of Metastasio.["]" closing quotation mark added
p.233 "anyrate no common phenomenon" anyrate changed to any rate
p.236 "BORN 1750. DIED 1728." 1728 changed to 1828
p.238 "n[h?]ighest admiration for the refined" text unclear; highest used
p.240 "BORN 1758. DIED 1848." 1758 changed to 1750
p.240 "ninty-seventh anniversary of her" ninty changed to ninety
p.270 "in 1709, after a visit the poetess" 1709 changed to 1809
p.303 "what she eat during these last six weeks" eat changed to ate
p.6, ads "Author of 'The King's Highway,[']" closing quotation mark added
The biography of Jane Shore refers to Edward the Fifth. This should probably be Edward the Fourth.