Title: The Gallery of Portraits: with Memoirs. Volume 7 (of 7)
Author: Arthur Thomas Malkin
Release date: December 1, 2017 [eBook #56096]
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|2.||Marc Antonio Raimondi||10|
|24.||Sir Walter Scott||185|
Engraved by J. Posselwhite.
From a Print by Paul Pontius, after a Picture by Van Dyck.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
During the fourteenth, and the beginning of the fifteenth century, Sweden, lying under vassalage to the crown of Denmark, suffered the evils which commonly belong to that condition. Gustavus Vasa, after a series of romantic adventures, established the independence of his country, and was deservedly elected by the Swedish Diet, in 1523, to wear its crown. The same kingdom to which he gave a place among free states, his grandson, Gustavus Adolphus, raised from the obscurity of a petty northern power, to rule in Germany, and to be the terror of the Church of Rome.
The establishment of the Reformation was coeval with the independence of Sweden; and a fundamental law forbade any future sovereign to alter the national religion, or to admit Roman Catholics to offices of power and trust. For infringing this principle, Sigismond, by election King of Poland, the lineal successor of Gustavus Vasa, was set aside by the Diet, and the crown was given to his father’s younger brother, Charles, Duke of Sudermania. Charles died, and was succeeded by his son Gustavus Adolphus, December 31, 1611; the high promise of whose youth induced the States to abridge the period of minority, and admit him at once to the exercise of regal power, though he had but just attained the age of seventeen, being born December 9, 1594.
He had been trained up in the knowledge likely to be serviceable to a king and a soldier. He spoke the Latin language, then a universal medium of communication, with uncommon energy and precision; he conversed fluently in French, Italian, and German; he had studied history, political science, mathematics, and military tactics; and commencing with the part of a musketeer, he had been made master, by practice, of all the details of a soldier’s life. He was capable of very severe application to abstruse study, and is said to 2have passed whole nights in reading the military history of the ancients. He was of uncommon stature and strength, and his constitution was early inured to labour and endurance.
Gustavus’s situation, at his accession, was critical. The King of Poland laid claim to his dominions, and Denmark and Muscovy were in arms against him. The danger was most pressing on the side of Denmark; and thither Gustavus’s first efforts were directed. But in Christian IV. he had to contend with an able enemy, from whom he gained no advantage; and after one unsuccessful campaign he accommodated the quarrel at the expense of some concessions. In the war with Muscovy he was more fortunate; and he reduced the Czar to purchase peace in 1617, by the sacrifice of the provinces which border the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic sea. During these years of warfare, Gustavus found leisure to bestow attention upon internal improvements. He devoted much thought and care upon strengthening the Swedish navy, esteeming that to be his surest defence against invasion; he sought to encourage commerce; he purified the administration of justice, by rendering judges less dependant upon the crown, and by abridging the tediousness and expense of lawsuits; and he laboured to devise means for increasing the revenue by judicious arrangement, without adding to the burdens of the people. Both in peace and war he received the most valuable assistance from his zealous, faithful, and sagacious minister, the celebrated Oxenstiern.
In 1620 Gustavus travelled incognito through the chief towns of Germany. At Berlin he formed acquaintance with Maria Eleonora, sister to the Elector of Brandenburg, whom he espoused at Stockholm in November of the same year. One daughter, the famous Christina, his successor, was the offspring of this marriage.
The King of Poland’s enmity was not seconded by his ability. He endeavoured in vain to shake the fidelity of Gustavus’s subjects, and he tried the fortune of war with no better success. In the contests between the cousins, which occurred in the first ten years of Gustavus’s reign, the advantage was always on the side of Sweden. Gustavus was desirous of peace, and forbore to press his superiority. But Sigismond’s hostility was nourished and stimulated by the leading Catholic powers, Spain and Austria; and he made so bad a return for this moderation, that in 1621 the war was renewed in a more determined manner, and in the course of eight years Livonia, Courland, and Polish Prussia, were gradually subjected to Sweden. During this time Gustavus was no careless spectator of the Thirty Years’ War, 3which was raging in Germany. However well inclined he might be to step forward as the defender of the Protestant cause, he could not do so with effect while his exertions were demanded in Poland; and though he made an offer of assistance to the Protestants in 1626, it was clogged with conditions which induced them to decline his proposals. But in 1629, under the mediation of France, he concluded a truce for six years with Sigismond, retaining possession of the conquered provinces; and being thus relieved from all fear of Poland, and guaranteed against injury from Denmark by the interest of that country in checking the progress of the Imperial arms, he found himself qualified to take the decisive part which he had long desired in the affairs of Germany. How far his determination was influenced by personal and ambitious motives, how far it was due to patriotism and religious zeal, it must be left to each inquirer to decide for himself. The crisis was one of extreme importance: for the temporal rights of the whole German empire were endangered by the inordinate and seemingly prosperous ambition of the House of Austria; and the Protestant states in particular had reason to apprehend the speedy destruction of their own, and the re-establishment of the Roman Catholic church. And if the influence of the Emperor, Ferdinand II., supported by the papal hierarchy re-established in its great power and rich benefices through the north of Germany, were suffered unchecked to extend itself to the Baltic sea, the liberties of Sweden and Denmark, and the very existence of the Reformation on the Continent, seemed to be involved in no remote danger. To pull down the power of Ferdinand and the Catholic League thus became of vital moment to the King of Sweden. But though the Protestant princes were ready to invoke his assistance in secret complaints, none of them dared to conclude an open treaty with a distant prince, and a kingdom hitherto obscure, and thus to incur the resentment of the Emperor, whose formidable armies, anxious above all things for the renewal of war and rapine, were at hand. Moreover, the jealousy and selfishness of the chiefs of the Protestant union formed a greater obstacle to the King of Sweden’s views, than even the weakness of their individual states. Unable, therefore, to obtain the cordial and willing co-operation of those who were linked to him by the bond of a common interest, Gustavus had only the alternative to abandon them to their fate and share the dangers which he sought to obviate, or to take the equivocal and rarely defensible step of occupying their territories and compelling their assistance, an unsolicited, though an honourable and friendly, ally. He chose the latter.
4The shortest apology for this determination, which as a matter of policy was opposed by Oxenstiern, may be found in the substance of the king’s answer to that minister’s objections, as it is abridged by Schiller in his History of the Thirty Years’ War. “If we wait for the enemy in Sweden, in losing a battle, all is lost: all, on the contrary, is gained if we obtain the first success in Germany. The sea is large, and we have extensive coasts to watch. Should the enemy’s fleet escape us, or our own be beaten, it is not possible for us to prevent a landing. We must therefore use all our efforts for the preservation of Stralsund. So long as this harbour shall be in our power Ave shall maintain the honour of our flag in the Baltic, and shall be able to keep up a free intercourse with Germany. But in order to defend Stralsund we must not shut ourselves up in Sweden; but must pass over with an army into Pomerania. Speak to me then no more of a defensive war, by which we shall lose our most precious advantages. Sweden herself must not behold the standards of the enemy; and, if we are vanquished in Germany, it will still be time enough to have recourse to your plan.”
The army which Gustavus carried into Germany consisted only of 15,000 men; but it was formidable from its bravery, its high discipline, and the reliance which the general and the troops felt upon each other. “All excesses,” we quote from Schiller, “were punished in a severe manner; but blasphemy, theft, gaming, and duelling, met with a more severe chastisement. The Swedish articles of war prescribed moderation; there was not to be seen in the Swedish camp, even in the tent of the king, either gold or silver. The general’s eye watched carefully over the manners of the soldiers, while it en-flamed their courage in battle. Every regiment must each morning and evening form itself in a circle round its chaplain, and, in the open air, address prayers to the Almighty. In all this the legislator himself served as a model. An unaffected and pure piety animated the courage of his great mind. Equally free from that gross incredulity which leaves without restraint the ferocious movements of the barbarian, and the grovelling bigotry of a Ferdinand, who abased himself in the dust before the Divinity, and yet disdainfully trampled on the necks of mankind, in the height of his good fortune, Gustavus was always a man and a Christian; amid all his devotion, the hero and the king. He supported all the hardships of war like the lowest soldier in his army; his mind was serene in the midst of the most furious battle; his genius pointed out the results to him beforehand; everywhere present, he forgot death which surrounded him, and he was 5always found where there was the greatest danger. His natural valour made him too often lose sight of what was due to the general, and this great king terminated his life as a common soldier. But the coward as well as the brave followed such a leader to victory, and not any of the heroical actions which his example had created ever escaped his penetrating eye. The glory of their sovereign inflamed the entire Swedish nation with a noble confidence; proud of his king, the peasant of Finland and Gothland joyfully gave up what his poverty could afford; the soldier willingly shed his blood; and that elevated sentiment which the genius of this single man gave to the nation survived him a considerable time.”
Gustavus took a solemn farewell of the States of the kingdom, May 20, 1630, presenting to them his daughter Christina, as his heir and successor. Adverse winds delayed his departure, and it was not till the 24th of June that he reached the coast of Pomerania. He disembarked his army on the islands of Wollin and Usedom, at the mouth of the Oder, and having taken possession of the strong town of Stettin on the same river, established a sure footing on the continent, and secured his means of retreat and communication with Sweden. To this proceeding he gained a reluctant consent from the Duke of Pomerania, who, though wearied and disgusted with the ravages of the Imperial troops, was unwilling to commit himself in defence of that which still appeared the weaker cause. But having no force to prevent the hostile, if he refused to warrant the friendly, occupation of his country, he made a virtue of necessity, and allied himself closely with the Swede.
Gustavus’s progress at first produced no uneasiness at Vienna: the courtiers called him the snow-king, and said in derision that he would melt in his progress southward. But in the first campaign he nearly cleared Pomerania of the Imperialists; and he was strengthened by the accession of the Duke of Mecklenburg, who, having been despoiled of his territories in favour of Wallenstein, now openly raised troops in support of the King of Sweden. As winter approached, the Imperialists negotiated for a suspension of arms; but Gustavus replied, “The Swedes are soldiers in winter as well as summer, and are not disposed to make the peaceable inhabitants of the country support any longer than necessary the evils of war. The Imperialists may do as they choose, but the Swedes do not intend to remain inactive.”
Meanwhile he met with cold support from the Protestant princes, in whose cause he had taken arms. The chief of these was the Elector of Saxony, who felt a jealousy, not unnatural, of the power and the ultimate views of the King of Sweden, and was himself ambitious to play 6the first part among the Protestants of Germany. Seeking to act independently, and to hold the balance between Sweden and Austria, he invited the Protestant States to a conference at Leipsic, February 6, 1613, at which it was determined to demand from the Emperor the redress of grievances, and to levy an army of 40,000 men, to give weight to their remonstrances. On the 13th of January, Gustavus had concluded an alliance with France, by the terms of which he was to maintain in Germany 30,000 men, France furnishing a subsidy of 400,000 dollars yearly, to use his best endeavours to reinstate those princes who had been expelled from their dominions by the Emperor, or the Catholic League, and to restore the empire to the condition in which it existed at the commencement of the war. Richelieu tried to bring the princes who had joined in the convention of Leipsic to accede to this alliance, but with very partial success. A few promised to support the Swedes, when opportunity should favour; but the Electors of Saxony and Brandenburg kept aloof. During these negotiations Gustavus made progress in Brandenburg. The memorable siege and destruction of Magdeburg, May 10, by Tilly, for a time cast a gloom over the Protestant cause. Gustavus has been censured, both as a man and a soldier, for suffering that well-deserving and important place to fall without risking a battle in its behalf. His defence rests upon the interposed delays, and the insincerity of the Electors, which involved him in the risk of total destruction if he advanced thus far without having his retreat secured. But even this signal misfortune proved finally serviceable to the Protestant cause. It induced Gustavus to adopt a different tone with his brother-in-law of Brandenburg, who, finding no alternative but a real union or an open rupture with Sweden, wisely chose the former. The pride of success led the Imperial generals into acts of insolence, which induced the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel, first of the German princes, to conclude a close and hearty alliance with Sweden, and left the Elector of Saxony no choice between entire dependence on the already exasperated Emperor, and an effective support of the only power that could protect him. Accordingly he formed a junction with the Swedes, and the united forces joined battle with Tilly not far from Leipsic, September 7, 1631. The opposing armies were nearly equal in strength. The stress of the conflict fell on the right wing of the Swedes, where the King commanded in person. The fiery Pappenheim led seven impetuous charges of the whole Austrian cavalry against the Swedish battalions without success, and, seven times repulsed, abandoned the field with great loss. The Saxons on the left wing were broken by Tilly. But 7the day was restored by a decisive movement of the Swedish right wing upon Tilly’s flank, and the Imperialists dispersed in utter confusion. Leipsic, Merseburg, and Halle speedily fell into the victor’s hands; and no obstacle existed to check his advance even to the heart of the Emperor’s hereditary dominions. This was a tempting prospect to an ambitious man: but it would have abandoned Germany to Tilly, who was already occupied in raising a fresh army; and the King of Sweden determined to march towards Franconia and the Rhine, to encourage by his presence the Protestants who wavered, and to cut the sinews of the Catholic League, by occupying the territories, and diverting the revenues of its princes. Bohemia lay open to the Elector of Saxony, and he left it to that prince to divert the Emperor’s attention, by carrying the war into that country.
From Leipsic, Gustavus pursued his triumphant way to the southward. The rich bishopric of Wurtzburg fell into his hands, almost without resistance. Nuremburg placed itself under his protection. The nobility and citizens of Franconia declared in his favour as soon as they were relieved from the presence of the Imperial troops, and when his drum beat for recruits, crowds flocked to the Swedish standards. He pursued his course along the Maine to Frankfort, which opened its gates, and received a Swedish garrison; and being strengthened by the junction of the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, with 10,000 men, he crossed the Rhine, and, after a short siege, became master of Mentz by capitulation, December 13, 1631. There he gave his troops a few weeks’ repose, being himself busily engaged in diplomatic labours. Early in the following year he completed the conquest of the Palatinate, and threatened to carry the war into Alsace and Lorraine.
The advance of Tilly recalled the King of Sweden into Franconia, at the head of 40,000 men. Tilly then retreated into Bavaria, closely followed by the enemy, who passed the Danube at Donawerth, forced the passage of the Lech, and carried the war into the yet uninjured plains of Bavaria. The passage of this river in the face of the enemy, April 5, is regarded as one of the King of Sweden’s most remarkable exploits. His old antagonist Tilly received a mortal wound on this day. Munich, the capital, and the greater part of the Electorate, yielded without resistance. The Emperor was now reduced to the greatest difficulties. Bohemia was overrun by the Saxons, the Austrian dominions lay open to invasion from Bavaria, Tilly was dead, the Duke of Bavaria discouraged by his reverses, and inclined to purchase peace by consenting to a neutrality. There was but one man 8capable by the charm of his name and the power of his talents to compete with Gustavus, and he was Wallenstein. In his retirement that wildly ambitious man had long been scheming to bring his master to such a degree of abasement as should enable him to dictate his own terms of reconciliation and assistance; and the time was come when the Emperor saw himself obliged to consent to demands which almost superseded his own authority, and invested his dangerous subject with more than Imperial power. For this event Wallenstein’s plans had long been maturing: a powerful army started up at once at his command, and when it suited his secret purposes to act, Bohemia was cleared of the Saxons more quickly than it had been conquered by them. He then formed a junction with the Duke of Bavaria, and at the head of 60,000 men advanced against Gustavus, who, not having above 18,000 or 20,000 men with him, entrenched himself strongly under the walls of Nuremburg. Wallenstein took up a strong position against him, and the two generals, each hoping to exhaust the other by scarcity of provisions, remained inactive till August 21, when Gustavus, having drawn together his scattered forces, made a desperate and fruitless attempt to carry the Imperial lines. Frustrated in this, he returned to his encampment, which he quitted finally, September 8, and marched into Bavaria.
Wallenstein followed his example on the 12th, and retired without any hostile attempt on Nuremburg. He had determined to fix his winter quarters in Saxony, hoping by the terror of his arms to detach the Elector from the Swedish alliance; and had already advanced beyond Leipsic, on his march against Dresden, when he was recalled by the rapid approach of the King of Sweden. Gustavus arrived at Nuremburg November 1, and entrenched himself there to wait for reinforcements which he expected. Wallenstein, in the belief that his adversary would be in no hurry to quit his strong position, proceeded to canton his troops near Merseburg, in such a manner that they might easily be called into action at the shortest notice, and detached Pappenheim with a large division of the army upon distant service. As soon as Gustavus heard of the latter movement, he marched in haste to attack the diminished enemy, and Wallenstein, though with inferior troops, was not slow to meet him. The King of Sweden’s last victory was gained November 6, 1632, in the plain of Lutzen. Suffering from a recent wound, he did not wear armour, and early in the day, as he mingled in the front of the battle with his usual ardour, his left arm was broken by a musket-ball. As he retreated from the press he received another bullet in the back, and fell. His body was stripped 9by the Imperialists, a furious contest took place for the possession of it, and it was soon buried under a heap of slain. The Duke of Weimar took the chief command, and completed the victory.
It was probably fortunate for Gustavus’s honour that his brilliant career was here cut short. He died when no more successes could have enhanced the fame as a soldier which he had already acquired; at a period, says Schiller, when he had ceased to be the benefactor of Germany, and when the greatest service that he could render to German liberty was to die. However pure his views had been at the commencement of the war, success had taught him ambition. This was shown by the homage to Sweden which he exacted from Augsburg and other free cities of the empire, by his design of converting the archbishopric of Mentz into an appanage of Sweden, and by his reluctance to reinstate the Elector Palatine in the conquered Palatinate, and the conditions which he finally exacted for so doing. And whether or not he aimed at the Imperial throne, it is probable that his life and prosperity would have proved no less dangerous to the constitution of Germany, and the welfare of the Catholic states, than to the Protestant, the ambition of Ferdinand II., and the Catholic League. But dying thus early, he has preserved the reputation of sincere piety, humanity in the field, heroic courage, consummate policy, and skill united to success in the art of war, unequalled by any general since the downfall of Rome. Of the improvements which he effected in military tactics we have no room to speak: a full account of them, and of his whole system, will be found in the Essay prefixed to Harte’s ‘History of Gustavus Adolphus.’ A more concise and spirited account of the King of Sweden’s exploits in Germany, than is contained in that laborious book, will be found in Schiller’s ‘History of the Thirty Years’ War,’ which is translated both into French and English.
[From the original in the British Museum.]
The invention of the art of taking impressions on paper from an engraved plate is, on the authority of Vasari, usually ascribed to Tommaso Finiguerra, a celebrated enameller and chaser, of Florence, who, having occasion to make a sulphur cast from a piece of plate in 1460, observed that the charcoal dust and dirt which had collected in the engraved lines of the metal were brought off upon the sulphur, so as to present a counterpart of his work. Struck by the appearance, he tried to produce a similar effect by passing moistened paper over the plate, under pressure from a roller; and the experiment succeeded. This is a natural and a probable account; from the earliest antiquity the graver has been employed in embellishing armour, vessels of the precious metals, and other valuable articles of use and ornament; and it is certain that the earliest Italian engravers were, by profession, workers in gold and silver. It is strange indeed that so obvious an extension of the uses of engraving should not have been observed sooner; but all experience teaches us that a very important discovery may long lie very near the surface, before it meets with an observer sufficiently clear-sighted or fortunate to bring it to light. The Germans, however, contest priority of invention in this art with the Italians. The matter is of no great importance, even to the national fame of the two lands. Those prints which date before Albert Durer in the one, and before Marc Antonio in the other, possess little value either for their design or their execution, however precious they may be to collectors for their rarity, or to antiquaries and artists as historical records of the art.
Engraved by W. Holl.
MARC ANTONIO RAIMONDI.
From a Print by Rosaspina, after a Picture by Raphael.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
Marc Antonio Raimondi was born at Bologna, about the year 1488: the dates of his birth and death are not mentioned by Vasari, who is the sole original authority for the private history of this artist. He learnt the art of design from Francesco Francia, or Raibolini, after whom he has sometimes been denominated Marc Antonio di Francia: his first instructor in the use of the graver is said to have been a goldsmith. 11And as Hogarth set out on his career of art by ornamenting tankards and shop-bills, so Marc Antonio at first gained his livelihood as a jeweller’s workman. The first of his copper-plates which bears a date represents the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, and was engraved in 1505; but he is said to have executed others before it, among which we find one only, the Four Horsemen, mentioned by name.
1. Heinekin says 1502, by mistake. The print of Apollo and Hyacinth bears also the date of 1505.
Induced by the desire of improvement in his art, he took a journey to Venice. Here, for the first time, he saw Albert Durer’s engravings on wood; which he admired so highly, both for correctness of outline and accuracy of workmanship, that he bought the series of thirty-six pieces, representing the passion of our Saviour, at a price which very nearly exhausted his slender purse. These wood-cuts he copied upon copper, with so much success that they were mistaken for the originals; and Vasari says that Albert Durer complained in great anger to the Venetian senate of the injury thus done to him, and obtained no other redress than an order that Antonio should abstain from imitating his signature. The Baron Heineken, on the contrary, asserts that the existing copies of these prints do not bear the German artist’s mark, and that no one has seen copies which do bear it; and he believes the story, if founded on fact, to refer to a series of prints representing the life of the Virgin Mary, in seventeen prints, which are exactly copied from Durer, even to his cipher.
From Venice Marc Antonio went to Rome, where, to his inestimable benefit, he became acquainted with Raphael, who perceived and assisted his talents, certainly by advice, and, some say, even by manual help. The outlines of Antonio’s plates after Raphael have been said to be executed by the painter himself: but this is solely conjecture; and it appears improbable that, in an art depending so much upon manual dexterity, the more unpractised hand should be the superior in precision and delicacy. But that Raphael was very much pleased with the justice which Antonio rendered to his designs is certain. He sent to Albert Durer copies of the Bolognese engraver’s works; and Durer, however jealous he might be, and however justly displeased at past occurrences, could not deny his rival’s merit, and acknowledged the courtesy by sending impressions of his own works in return. The honour of Raphael’s patronage, the admirable choice of subjects afforded by his pictures, and the real benefit which any lover and cultivator of art must have derived from his society, all combined to raise Antonio’s fame; and many pupils came to study under him, 12among whom Marco di Ravenna, Agostino di Musis, and Giulio Bonasoni, whose plates are highly valued by collectors, may be named as most eminent.
After the death of Raphael, Antonio was largely employed by Raphael’s distinguished pupil, Giulio Romano, and executed, among other things, the designs which accompanied Aretin’s notorious sonnets. These engravings attracted the just indignation of Pope Clement VII., who cast the artist into prison. His release was procured by the interference and interest of Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici and Baccio Bandinelli; and, as a testimony of gratitude to the latter, Antonio executed the engraving from his picture of the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence. This print is twenty-one inches by sixteen in dimensions, and is the largest and one of the finest of the artist’s works. It procured for him the entire forgiveness and favour of the offended pontiff. The plates to Aretin were so carefully suppressed, that not a single specimen of them is now certainly known to exist.
When Rome was plundered by the Spaniards, in 1520, Marc Antonio lost all his property. He returned to Bologna after this misfortune, and was still leading a retired life there in 1539: the battle of Centaurs and Lapithæ bears date in that year, and is the last certain memorial of him. The combat of Hector and Achilles, dated in 1546, though attributed to Marc Antonio, is considered by the Baron Heineken to be at least doubtful. Malvasia relates that a Roman nobleman, for whom Antonio had engraved a print of the Massacre of Innocents, with an undertaking never to repeat the subject, caused the artist to be assassinated for re-engraving it. But it casts a doubt on the truth of this story, that it is not even alluded to by Vasari.
Marc Antonio’s plates passed through the hands of Tommaso Barlacchi, Antonio Salamanca, Antonio Lafreri, Nicholas Van Aelst, and Rossi, or De Rubeis, of Rome. Of these publishers, the impressions which bear Salamanca’s name, are most esteemed: but the best are those which have no publisher’s name at all. The Baron Heineken, in his elaborate ‘Dictionnaire des Artistes dont nous avons des Estampes,’ (from which this memoir is little more than a free translation,) has given a minute catalogue of the works attributable to Marc Antonio. He divides them into four classes:—prints really engraved by the master, and bearing his marks, in number, 120; prints engraved by him, but without mark, 126; prints doubtful, 66; and prints which belong to his era, and to his school, but are by unknown hands. In this reckoning, series like the Passion of 13Christ, which consist of many plates, are counted only as single works. Strutt, in his Dictionary of Engravers, and Bryan, in his Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, give lists of the more remarkable of Antonio’s productions; Bryan is the fuller, but neither of them pretend to compete in extent and detail with the catalogue of Heineken; whom Strutt has closely followed in his biographical notice of this artist. He has given fac-similes of this engraver’s marks, seven in number, in plate 9, vol. ii. We quote the following passages in illustration of Marc Antonio’s merits and peculiar characteristics, from the Essay on the History of Engraving, which is prefixed to Strutt’s work.
“His engravings are often defective in point of harmony, and the skilful management of the light and shadow, which gives them an unfinished and sometimes disgustful appearance to the common eye. On the other hand, a graceful flow of outline, joined with purity and correctness of drawing in its greatest latitude, are found in the best works of this master; but these beauties rarely attract the general notice without the assistance of neatness, or what is more properly called high finishing, especially in the present day (1786). The eye, long accustomed to neatness and delicacy of finishing, especially where the judgment is not capable of distinguishing the greater essentials of the art, will necessarily consider that neatness to be the criterion of excellency. Hence it is that the works of the old masters are fallen into such general disrepute: their beauties are overlooked, and their faults are viewed through a magnifying medium. And it is perhaps because Marc Antonio stands the first among the old masters, that he has received a greater share of censure than the rest.
“The excellency of this master consists in the correctness of his drawing, the character of his heads, and the pure idea his works convey of the simplicity and elegance of the originals they are taken from: and they may be considered as admirable drawings, not highly finished indeed, but sufficiently so to preserve the design and spirit of the masters from whom he worked.
“That persons possessed of little judgment in the arts should not discover the merits of this engraver, cannot surprise us; but that artists themselves, and experienced collectors, should join in the common censure, is much more extraordinary. In these instances, we may conclude, he has been too hastily, as he has certainly been unjustly, condemned, without a proper examination of his works in their native state. Such as generally appear at sales, and too many of those in the hands of collectors, are either worn-out impressions, or what is 14still worse, retouched ones. In these the primitive beauty is entirely lost. Let any one, for instance, examine the common impressions of that admirable engraving of this master, representing the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, from Baccio Bandinelli, which is the largest of all his prints, and he will find the outlines darkened with black strokes upon the lights, and the demitints upon the flesh increased, so as nearly to equal the deep shadows; by which means all the breadths of light are destroyed, and cut into a variety of disagreeable divisions, which produce a disgustful and inharmonious effect. But in a fine impression of the same plate, there are none of these disagreeable crudities to be found; the shadows are judiciously softened and blended into the lights, and harmonized with each other; the outlines are neat and correct; and the characters of the heads admirably well expressed. In short, he would scarcely believe it possible that the same plate should furnish impressions, so beautiful in one state, and so truly execrable in the other. But the wonder ceases, if he be told that the plate, passing through a variety of hands, has been frequently retouched, and that by careless and unskilful men. We may further add, that as the name of Marc Antonio stands high among the curious collectors, the ignorant are too frequently imposed upon by bad copies, or spurious productions.”
A very excellent and extensive collection of the engravings of Marc Antonio, and of his pupils, exists in the British Museum, which, with the exception of a few of the extremely rare prints, presents a better assemblage than most public or private cabinets can boast of, whether as to number, beauty of impression, or condition.
[Poesy, from a print by Marc Antonio.]
Engraved by J. Posselwhite.
From a Picture in the Hall of Sergeant’s Inn, Chancery Lane.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
Edward Coke, the only son of Robert Coke, of Mileham, in the county of Norfolk, and Winifred, daughter and one of the heirs of William Knightley, of Morgrave-Knightley, in the same county, was born at Mileham, February 1, 1551. He was descended, both by his father’s and his mother’s side, from ancient and opulent families. His father, who was a bencher of Lincoln’s Inn, died in the year 1561, when Edward Coke was ten years old. Before that event he had been sent to the Free Grammar School at Norwich, whence, in September, 1567, he removed to Cambridge, and was admitted as a fellow commoner at Trinity College. After having spent three years at the University he returned into Norfolk for a few months, and then went to London to commence his legal education. According to the practice of that time, he took the first step of his legal course by becoming a member of Clifford’s Inn, a house of Chancery, or inferior inn, dependent upon the Inner Temple, and was admitted into the latter society, April 24, 1572. He was called to the bar in Easter Term, 1578. During the continuance of his studies in the Inner Temple, he is said to have greatly distinguished himself in the exercises called mootings and readings, which constituted a necessary part of the education of an advocate in former times, and which were carried on with a degree of interest and excitement almost incredible to those who at the present day peruse the details of these grotesque and antiquated proceedings.
In the course of the year after his call to the bar, the society of the Inner Temple appointed him reader at Lyon’s Inn; and the learning displayed by him, in the conduct of the exercises at which he presided in this capacity, raised for him a high reputation as a lawyer, and 16opened the way to that extensive practice at the bar, which he acquired with a degree of rapidity almost without a parallel in the history of the profession. In the first term after he was called to the bar he conducted an argument of much nicety and importance, which is reported by the name of Lord Cromwell’s Case; “And this,” he says, in his own report of it (4 Rep. 146), “was the first cause that the author of this book moved in the King’s Bench.” Less than three years afterwards he was associated with Popham, the Solicitor General, in arguing before the Chancellor and the twelve judges the important case in which was laid down the celebrated doctrine in the law of real property, well known as the ‘Rule in Shelley’s Case.’ From that period until he became Solicitor General in 1592, his practice was enormous: it appears from the Reports of that time that there was scarcely a single motion or argument before the court of King’s Bench in which he was not engaged. Professional honours were the legitimate consequence of this large business in the courts; in 1586 he was chosen Recorder of Norwich, and four years afterwards was made a bencher of the Inner Temple. In January, 1592, on the resignation of Serjeant Fleetwood, he was elected Recorder of London; but, in the following June, on being appointed Solicitor General, he resigned that office. In the same summer he became Reader of the Inner Temple, and selected the Statute of Uses for the subject of his readings. He says that he had composed seven readings for this occasion, and had delivered five of them to a large audience, consisting of not less than 160 members of the society, when the appearance of the plague in the Middle Temple, which raged with great violence in the autumn of that year, compelled him to discontinue them, and to leave London abruptly for his house at Huntingfield in Suffolk. Such was the honour and respect in which he was held by the profession, that on this occasion he was accompanied on his journey, as far as Romford, by a procession composed of nine benchers and forty other members of the Inner Temple. In March, 1594, he was appointed Attorney General, and, as the office of Solicitor continued vacant until the close of the following year, the duties and labours of both offices during that interval devolved upon him.
At this period originated the animosity between Coke and Bacon, which prevailed with little intermission during the life of the latter. As soon as the office of Attorney General became vacant, in consequence of the removal of Sir Thomas Egerton, the Earl of Essex used his most strenuous efforts to induce the Queen to bestow that place upon Bacon, instead of promoting Sir Edward Coke from the 17inferior office of Solicitor General. The letters of Bacon, written to Essex and others, with relation to this intrigue, abound with sarcastic and contemptuous expressions respecting Coke, whose high reputation and great experience certainly marked him out as fitter for the office than his rival, whose practice at the bar was never extensive, and who was then scarcely known in the courts. After Coke had obtained the appointment of Attorney General, Bacon and his friends charged him first with intriguing to keep the emoluments of both offices in his own hands, and afterwards with recommending Serjeant Fleming for the vacant solicitorship and encouraging the antipathies and prejudices of the Queen against Bacon. There is, however, no evidence to show that these imputations were true; and if Coke really urged the appointment of Fleming, it might well be with the view of obtaining a more experienced and efficient coadjutor than Bacon.
In truth, the state services imposed upon the Attorney General at this time were extremely laborious. The severity of the laws recently introduced against Roman Catholics had occasioned a succession of plots by foreign adventurers against the person of the Queen, more or less dangerous, the investigation of which was necessarily committed to the Attorney General. The treasons of Lopez, the Queen’s physician, of Patrick Cullen, and of Williams and Yorke, all occurred about this period; and the business of constant examination at the Tower, in addition to his Star Chamber duties and his undiminished practice in the common-law courts, must have imposed a weight of labour and responsibility upon Coke, which no mind of ordinary activity and energy could have sustained. Whole volumes of examinations in these cases of treason, taken by himself and written with his own hand, are still preserved at the State Paper Office, and sufficiently attest his zeal and assiduity in the service.
In February, 1593, Coke, being at that time Solicitor General, was elected a member of parliament for his native county of Norfolk. In his own memorandum of this circumstance he says, that the election was “unanimous, free, and spontaneous, without any canvassing or solicitation on his part.” At the meeting of parliament he was chosen Speaker of the House of Commons.
In the year 1582, Coke married the daughter and heiress of John Paston, Esq., of Huntingfield, in Suffolk, through whom he became connected with several families of great opulence and importance, and with whom he received a fortune of 30,000l.—a very large dowry in those days. By this lady he had ten children. She died in June 1598; 18and in his private register of this event in the Notes, which have been often before referred to, he calls her “dilectissima et præclarissima uxor,” and concludes his brief notice of her decease thus:—“Bene et beaté vixit, et tanquam vera ancilla Domini obdormivit in Domino, et nunc vivit et regnat in cœlo.” In the month of November in the same year, Coke contracted a second marriage with the widow of Sir William Hatton, daughter of Thomas Lord Burleigh, and grand-daughter of the Lord High Treasurer, which, though it was an advantageous alliance in point of connection and brought him a considerable accession of property, was by no means a source of domestic happiness. The marriage itself involved all the parties concerned in considerable embarrassment: for having taken place without license or banns, Coke and his lady, together with the clergyman, Lord Burleigh, and all who were present at the ceremony, were cited to appear in the Archbishop’s Court; and it was only in consequence of their making full submission, and pleading their ignorance of the law, (a singular excuse in Coke’s mouth,) that they escaped the sentence and penalties of excommunication.
Sir Edward Coke held the office of Attorney General until the death of Queen Elizabeth, and with the exception of the Earl of Essex, who always disliked him, enjoyed the fullest confidence of her ministers, and in particular of Sir Robert Cecil. He had always been favourable to the title of James I., and upon the death of Elizabeth, is said to have co-operated cordially with Cecil and the other members of the late Queen’s council in making the necessary arrangements for the peaceable accession of the king of Scotland to the crown. James, upon his arrival in London, continued him in his office of Attorney General, and conferred upon his eldest son the honour of knighthood.
Coke’s sound judgment and extensive legal knowledge, united with his fervent attachment to Protestantism, rendered him an invaluable officer of the crown in the various proceedings against the Roman Catholics at the close of Elizabeth’s reign, and the beginning of that of James I. In the examinations respecting the several assassination-treasons, which have been already mentioned, as well as that of Squire in 1598, of the Raleigh conspiracy in 1603, of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, and of numerous other treasonable and seditious movements imputed to the Catholics during the period that he filled the office of Attorney General, he engaged with a zeal and ardour far beyond mere professional excitement: and the temper displayed in his speeches and general conduct on the several trials is much more 19that of a religious partisan than of a legal advocate. It is common with Catholic writers to attribute to him the utmost barbarity in the use of the rack and the general treatment of prisoners under examination. That he, who in his writings inveighs most strenuously against the use of torture, was nevertheless in his official character the constant instrument of the Privy Council for applying this odious process, is beyond all question: but it must be remembered that what he wrote on this subject was written long after the period of which we are now speaking, and in the dawn of a better order of things; and also that the use of the rack for discovering State secrets was common throughout Europe in his time, and had been the daily practice of the Privy Council in England for centuries before he was born. There is no satisfactory proof that he was coarse and cruel in his conduct towards prisoners under examination; and on the contrary, Father Cornelius, the Jesuit, who had been examined by him respecting the Popish Plots in Queen Elizabeth’s time, told Garnet that he had found him “omnium hominum humanissimus;” and Garnet himself, in his intercepted correspondence, admits, as he also did on his trial, that he was constantly treated by him with the utmost courtesy and kindness.
As the advocate of the crown on trials for State offences, he displayed a degree of intemperance and asperity shocking to the feelings of readers, who are familiar only with the more civilized character of criminal proceedings at the present day. His vulgar vituperation of Raleigh, and his more measured sarcasm towards Essex, were extremely offensive even to his contemporaries, and were remembered against him with malicious eagerness on his own reverse of fortune. “In your pleadings,” says Bacon to him on the eve of his discharge from the office of Lord Chief Justice, “you were wont to insult over misery, and to inveigh bitterly at the persons; which bred you many enemies, whose poison yet swelleth, and the effects now appear.”
With the trials of the conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot in 1606, the career of Sir Edward Coke as an advocate closed. In the month of June in that year he received his appointment as Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. He retained this situation upwards of seven years; and, in the discharge of the common judicial duties at this period, his profound learning and unwearied industry procured him the highest reputation. At this time too, though he has sometimes been reproached for a haughty and unconciliating deportment on the bench, the bitterness of temper which he had displayed at the bar appears to have been suppressed or softened; and in several constitutional 20questions of the highest importance which occurred while he was Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and in which he resolutely opposed the views of the king, especially in the conflicts between the ecclesiastical jurisdictions and the courts of common law, and in his resistance to the encroachment of prerogative on the subject of royal proclamations, he displayed great integrity and independence. With a view to corrupt his uncompromising disposition, his crafty and ambitious rival, Sir Francis Bacon, who was then Solicitor General, suggested his promotion to the Chief Justiceship of the King’s Bench; and accordingly he received his patent for that office in October, 1613, and a few days afterwards took his seat at the board as a Privy Councillor. In the following year he was elected High Steward of the University of Cambridge.
The project of making the Chief Justice “turn obsequious” by his advancement, which was no doubt entertained by the court, and was expressly avowed by Bacon, altogether failed. In the case of Peacham, who was prosecuted for treason in the year 1615, for having in his possession a sermon supposed to contain sedition, written by him, but never preached or published, Lord Coke expressed an opinion, in direct opposition to the wishes of the court, that the offence was not treason. His deportment at the trial of Somerset and the murderers of Sir Thomas Overbury, in the same year, though praised by Bacon in conducting the case as Attorney General, gave much displeasure to the king; and his independent conduct in the case of Commendams, which occurred in 1616, finally determined the court to remove him from his office. The transaction was this. A serjeant-at-law, in the discharge of his duty as an advocate in the Court of Common Pleas, was supposed to have used matter in his argument which tended to abridge, or at least to question, the royal prerogative; upon this the king required the judges to proceed no further in the case without his warrant. The twelve judges conferred upon this message, and resolved that in a common dispute between party and party, it was their duty to proceed notwithstanding the king’s mandate. Upon this they were summoned to the council table, and personally reprimanded by the king; and all of them, excepting the Lord Chief Justice, acknowledged their error, and craved pardon for their offence upon their knees. Sir Edward Coke, on the contrary, boldly justified his opinion, contending that the king’s command for staying the proceedings was a delay of justice, and consequently against the law, and contrary to the judges’ oath. After much discussion, the Lords of the council proposed the following question to 21the judges:—“Whether in a case where the king believed his prerogative or interest concerned, and required the judges to attend him for advice, they ought not to stay proceedings till his Majesty had consulted them?” All the judges at once answered in the affirmative, except Coke, who only said “that, when the case happened, he would do his duty.”
The court now despaired of bending the stubborn integrity of the Chief Justice, and determined at all events to displace him. Accordingly, as a preliminary to his removal, he was summoned before the Council and charged with several frivolous accusations, some of them founded upon alleged malversations while he was Attorney General, to all of which he returned distinct answers. Soon afterwards, being again summoned to appear before the Council, he was reprimanded, sequestered from the Council-table during the King’s pleasure, enjoined not to ride the summer circuit as Judge of Assize, and ordered to employ his leisure in revising certain “extravagant and exorbitant opinions” set down, as was pretended, in his Book of Reports. He received his writ of discharge from the office of Chief Justice, in November, 1616; and was succeeded by Sir Henry Montague, who was expressly warned by the Lord Chancellor Egerton “to avoid the faults of his predecessor, who had been removed for his excessive popularity.” The discharge of a judge of unrivalled learning and incorruptible integrity for the exercise of the very qualities which rendered him an honour and an ornament to his station, forms a part of the long catalogue of weak and wicked actions which disgraced the reign of James I., and directed the course of events to that catastrophe by which the fate of the Stuart family was decided.
From causes, not very distinctly explained in the letters and histories of the day, but which are supposed to have been connected with an intrigue for the marriage of his daughter to Sir John Villiers, afterwards Viscount Purbeck, and brother to the celebrated Duke of Buckingham, Sir Edward Coke, though he never afterwards filled any judicial situation, was, at no long interval, restored to a certain degree of royal favour; and in September, 1617, he was reinstated as a member of the Privy Council. In the course of the next three years he was employed in several commissions of a public nature; and in the Parliament which assembled in 1620 he was returned as a Member for the Borough of Liskeard in Cornwall. In this Parliament he distinguished himself as one of the most able and zealous advocates of the liberal measures which were proposed; he declared himself a strenuous opponent of the pernicious monopolies by which at that period the freedom of 22trade was fettered, and took an animated part in that struggle between the prerogative pretensions of James and the freedom of debate, which ended in the celebrated resolution of the Commons, “That the liberties, franchises, privileges, and jurisdictions of Parliament are the ancient and undoubted birth-right and inheritance of the subjects of England.” The consequence was, that he was arrested on one of those vague and senseless charges which prevailed in those evil days, and committed to the Tower, in December, 1621, where he remained a close prisoner until the month of August in the ensuing year. On this occasion, he was a second time formally dismissed from the Council-table, and was never afterwards restored to favour at Court.
In the first Parliament of Charles I., called in April, 1625, Sir E. Coke was again returned as one of the knights of the shire for the county of Norfolk, as he says in his note, without any canvassing or solicitation on his part. At the commencement of this Parliament he adopted a moderate tone. He dissuaded the House from insisting upon grievances, and urged conciliatory measures; saying, that “as it was the very beginning of the new king’s reign, there could be no grievances as yet.” But this disposition to peace was overcome by the determined tendency of the crown to arbitrary measures; and the king being unable to obtain any other answer to his demand of a subsidy, than repeated remonstrances against grievances, abruptly dissolved the Parliament. He was compelled, however, by his pecuniary wants, to assemble a new one in the course of the same year, having previously appointed Sir Edward Coke and three other popular leaders sheriffs of counties, in order to prevent their serving as members. Coke was again returned as knight of the shire for Norfolk; and though he did not take his seat, and consequently took no part in the proceedings of that Parliament, it was considered that he was still de facto a member of the House, and for that reason no new writ was issued to supply his place. On occasion of the third Parliament summoned by Charles I. in March, 1628, Sir Edward Coke was returned for two counties, Buckingham and Suffolk. He elected to serve for the former. In this Parliament, though now in his 79th year, this extraordinary man asserted and defended the constitutional rights of the people of England with all the energy of youth, and the sagacity of age. By his advice, and with his active co-operation and assistance, which his extensive and varied experience rendered particularly valuable, the celebrated Petition of Right was framed; and by his perseverance and reasoning the Lords were, after many conferences, induced to concur in that 23measure, which was, at last, and after many ineffectual attempts at evasion, reluctantly assented to by the king. One of the last acts of his public life was his spirited denunciation of the Duke of Buckingham as the cause of all the misfortunes of the country. As a proof of the earnest feelings by which he was impressed, Rushworth records that, on this occasion, “Sir Edward Coke, overcome with passion, seeing the desolation likely to ensue, was forced to sit down when he began to speak, through the abundance of tears.” At the close of the Session of Parliament, in March, 1629, the growing infirmities of age induced him to withdraw from public life, and he passed the remainder of his days in retirement on his estate at Stoke Pogis, in Buckinghamshire. Still it appears that his vigorous and active mind was not without employment; and the last years of his life are said to have been occupied by the revision of the numerous unpublished works which he left behind him.
The last entry in his note-book, written with almost as firm a hand as he wrote at the age of 40, records the following incident, which may possibly have been the cause of his death:—
“Memorandum. Die Jovis, the iiird of May, 1632, riding in the morning in Stoke, between eight and nine of the clocke to take the ayre, my horse under me had a strange stumble backward, and fell upon me (being above 80 years old), where my head lighted nere to sharpe stubbes, and the heavy horse upon me. And yet, by the providence of Almighty God, though I was in the greatest danger, yet I had not the least hurt,—nay, no hurt at all. For Almighty God saith by his prophet David, ‘The angel of the Lord tarieth round about them that feare him, and delivereth them.’ Et nomen Domini benedictum, for it was his work!”
He died on the 3rd of September, in the following year, repeating with his last breath the words, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” He was interred in the burying-place of the Coke family in the church of Titeshall, in Norfolk.
Lloyd, in his “State Worthies,” gives the following account of Sir Edward Coke:—“His parts were admirable; he had a deep judgment, faithful memory, active fancy. And the jewel of his mind was put into a fair case,—a beautiful body with a comely countenance;—a case, which he did wipe and keep clean, delighting in good clothes, well worn, and being wont to say ‘that the outward neatness of our bodies might be a monitor of purity to our souls.’”
The most celebrated of Sir Edward Coke’s works is the treatise commonly known by the name of Coke upon Littleton, or the First 24Institute. It consists of a minute and laborious Commentary upon the text of Littleton’s Tenures, in the course of which almost the whole learning of the common law, as it existed in his time, is embodied and explained. Ever since the time of Sir Edward Coke to the present day, this book has been considered as a work of the highest authority in the municipal law of England. The Second Institute contains Commentaries on several ancient statutes; the Third Institute is a Treatise on Criminal Law; and the Fourth Institute relates to the Jurisdiction of different Courts. Besides these works, Sir Edward Coke was the author of a Treatise on Copyholds, entitled “The Complete Copyholder,” and of a “Reading on Fines.” He also published a collection of Reports, which are still of great value to the profession; and at the time of their appearance formed an epoch in the history of the law. Sir Francis Bacon speaks of this produce of the industry and learning of his great rival in terms of high and deserved commendation; and justly ascribes to the Reports the praise of having preserved the vessel of the common law in a steady and consistent course; “For the law,” says he, “by this time had been like a ship without ballast, for that the cases of modern experience are fled from those that are adjudged and ruled in former time.”
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The historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire was born at Putney in Surrey, in May, 1737. He was the eldest son of Edward Gibbon, a gentleman of some fortune, and a strong attachment to Tory principles. His mother’s name was Porten. But in his Memoirs, written at the close of his life, he betrays no strong sense of gratitude or affection towards either of his parents; while he acknowledges with abundant warmth the most important obligations to his aunt, Catharine Porten. To her lessons he ascribes his “invincible love for reading;” to her care he attributes the very preservation of his precarious life; and he designates her, in the calmness of distant reflection, as the true mother both of his body and his mind.
From a private school he was removed to Westminster; from Westminster to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was admitted as a gentleman-commoner, April 3, 1752. About this time his constitution, hitherto extremely feeble, acquired a sudden vigour, which never deserted him during the rest of his life. At Oxford he made absolutely no proficiency in any branch of knowledge, or any useful accomplishment. “To the University of Oxford (he says) I acknowledge no obligation; and she will as cheerfully renounce me for a son, as I am willing to disclaim her for a mother.” Accordingly he exhausts the severity of his sarcasm, both upon the system which was there established, and upon the men who administered it, without honestly inquiring whether he had laboured to extract, even from an imperfect system, the modicum of advantage which it was capable of yielding. But his recollections of Oxford were embittered by his subsequent contest with some of the clergy, and the hostile 26treatment which he sustained at their hands; and the principles which he embraced in after life would have rendered him equally intolerant of any institution, standing on a religious foundation.
During his residence at Oxford, and at the usually unreflecting age of sixteen, he was converted to the Roman Catholic faith. He was first stirred to thought by the “bold criticism” of Middleton. He then “swallowed” the miracles of the Basils, the Chrysostoms, and other Fathers of the Church; and Bossuet achieved the conquest by the ‘Exposition of the Catholic Doctrine,’ and the ‘History of the Variations.’ And then he made his formal recantation before a Jesuit, named Baker, one of the Chaplains of the Sardinian Ambassador. In his retrospect upon this the most singular incident in the history of his mind, Gibbon might indeed profess to be proud of his change of opinion, as a sacrifice of interest to principle; but he probably conveys his habitual reflections more faithfully when he says, with his usual strength: “To my present feelings it seems incredible that I should ever believe that I believed in transubstantiation.”
He was immediately removed from Oxford, and placed under the care of a tutor at Lausanne. To a Swiss pastor, named Pavillard, was entrusted the delicate office of disentangling the mind of Gibbon from the intricacies of popery, and leading it back again into the pale of the Protestant Church. He succeeded: by seasonable arguments, and judicious admonitions, aided perhaps by the influence of a mild and benevolent character, he prevailed over the hasty caprice of a powerful intellect; and on Christmas-day, in 1754, Gibbon publicly renounced his adopted creed, and received the sacrament in the church of Lausanne. There is no reason to suspect the sincerity of this recantation, or to believe that he had yet fallen either into scepticism, or indifference.
He remained, in the whole, five years at Lausanne, and by his “serious character, and soft and quiet manners” he won the respect and affection of his tutor. During this time he laid the foundation of those studious habits, which formed the pride and happiness of his later life. Besides a passionate devotion to French literature and great diligence in forming a correct style in that language, he read, according to a regular system, the whole of the Latin Classics; he acquired the rudiments of Greek; and gained some insight into the principles of mathematics. But this last pursuit he never afterwards renewed; though he would lead us to believe that a readiness in calculation was the talent of his childhood, and that nature had qualified him to succeed in that branch of application.
27He was presented to Voltaire, at that time resident at Geneva, without being distinguished by any particular mark of his attention. Yet he was a constant spectator at the poet’s little theatre, when he recited his own verses, and represented his own characters. It was likewise during this period that he formed an attachment for Madlle. Curchod, the daughter of a Swiss pastor, and afterwards the wife of Necker. The attachment appears to have been mutual; but his father prevented the marriage, and he remained faithful during the rest of his life to the memory of his youthful passion.
He returned to England in May, 1758, and remained there, with a short interval, for the twenty-five following years. His father’s residence was Buriton, near Petersfield; and, as he passed some time there, he became in 1760 a captain in the South Hampshire militia: an incident which might well pass unnoticed in the life of an ordinary person, but which in this case is dignified by the value which Gibbon himself has set upon it, and the conviction long afterwards expressed by him—“that the captain of the Hampshire Grenadiers was not useless to the historian of the Roman Empire.”
On the disbanding of the militia, in the beginning of 1763, he spent two or three months at Paris, from which he proceeded on his second visit to Lausanne. Here he remained for a year, occupied in various studies, especially that of geography; and then passed, in the spring of 1764, into Italy. An ardent curiosity, nourished by reading and meditation, carried him directly to Rome; and the emotions with which he approached and entered the Eternal City were, after an interval of twenty-five years, still fresh in his memory. “After a sleepless night I trod, with a lofty step, the ruins of the Forum; each memorable spot where Romulus stood, or Tully spoke, or Cæsar fell, was at once present to my eye; and several days of intoxication were lost or enjoyed, before I could descend to a cool or minute investigation.” His enthusiasm gradually gave way to deep and philosophical reflection, not uninfluenced either by the scenes which surrounded him, or by the recollection of the past. He became curious to trace the links which connected what he had read with what he saw; and it was when he was musing in the ruins of the Capitol, while the barefooted friars were singing vespers in the Temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing the Decline and Fall of the City first started to his mind. This idea, once suggested, was never abandoned; and though other avocations prevented him from immediately pursuing it, it remained immovably fixed in his mind, and was the object of his perpetual meditation.
28Without claiming any precocity of genius, Gibbon describes his mind as having opened considerably in his twelfth year. He had an early and indiscriminate appetite for books, and had indulged it in much desultory reading even before his admission at Oxford. A preference for historical works already displayed itself. His attention was fixed by the accounts of Mahomet and the Saracens; and the ‘Continuation of Echard’s Roman History’ first introduced him to the successors of Constantine. But, as his studies had been directed only by his own curiosity, his information was partial and ill-digested, and more useful as the result of literary habits, than as a fund for the use of his maturer years. Yet even thus early he made an essay at historical composition; and the subject showed that his mind had been chiefly attracted by the records of the Eastern World. The ‘Age of Sesostris,’ suggested perhaps by the ‘Siècle de Louis XIV.,’ then new and popular, was the first production of the pen of Gibbon. But this attempt was presently abandoned; though the unfinished manuscript remained for twenty years at the bottom of a drawer, and was not finally destroyed till 1772. His first publication was an ‘Essai sur l’Etude de la Littérature.’ It appeared in the spring of 1761, and was written in French, through a secret ambition in the author to acquire a peculiar celebrity, as a successful writer in a foreign language. This dream, however, was not realised. The ‘Essai’ was received with little enthusiasm abroad, with absolute indifference at home. Nor, indeed, were its intrinsic merits, clouded as they were by an obscure and abrupt style, sufficient to establish the author’s claims to the reputation which he sought.
Gibbon then turned his thoughts to some historical subject; and among many that attracted him were The Life of Raleigh; The History of the Liberty of the Swiss; and that of the Republic of Florence under the House of Medici. But he appears not to have engaged seriously in any one of these, at the time of his second departure for the Continent. To the second of those subjects however he afterwards returned, again discarding his native tongue, for the use of what he deemed a more general language. He wrote his ‘History of Switzerland’ in Latin. But having caused a specimen of it to be recited in a society of literary foreigners in London, at which he was himself present, though not known as the author, he had the affliction of hearing its condemnation. He submitted to the sentence, and delivered the imperfect sheets to the flames. And it was in the same year (October 24, 1767) that Hume addressed to him a very sensible exhortation to confine his compositions to his 29own language, as that which was destined, through conquest and colonization, to the most general prevalence in after-ages. It was worthy of the riper wisdom and genius of Hume, to direct the rising candidate for historical fame into the path wherein alone it was possible to find it; and to enlarge his views, to teach him to look beyond the actual and transient condition of the world, and fix his eyes upon the generations that were to come.
Gibbon mentions three works as having more than any others contributed to the formation of his mind: ‘Pascal’s Provincial Letters;’ ‘The Life of Julian, by the Abbé Bletterie;’ and ‘Giannone’s History of Naples.’ Not one of them was English; he acknowledges no early obligations to the literature of his own country; in fact, those five years which usually decide the character of the rest of life were entirely passed abroad, in the study and perpetual use of foreign languages, and the imitation of foreign literature. It was not then wonderful that he should continue for some time longer to follow the first impulse. But repeated failures would doubtless have shown him the false position in which he stood, even without the seasonable admonition administered by the authority of Hume.
Gibbon returned immediately from Italy to England, and retired to the peaceful retreat of his family and his books. Yet the five years which followed were those on which he reflected with least satisfaction. He was dependent on his father’s generosity, he had no professional occupation for an active and ambitious mind, his very reading was somewhat desultory, and his whole energies were not yet devoted to one great object. He felt the absence of this; and it was ill supplied by his ‘Critical Observations on the 6th Book of the Æneid,’ or his attempt at the History of Switzerland. The death of his father, in 1770, placed him in possession of a moderate fortune and of entire independence; and then it was that he entered in good earnest on the ‘History of the Decline and Fall.’
In 1772 he settled in London, and obtained a seat in parliament for Liskeard. He adhered to the Government of Lord North, and by “many a sincere and silent vote” on the American question, supported the rights (as he says), though not perhaps the interests, of the mother country. As a senator, he acquired no distinction. A mixture of timidity and pride, a want of physical energy and of that ready vigour of mind, which fits men for public life, better than habits of the sagest meditation, disqualified him for political polemics: and even his general opinions seem at that time to have been so little fixed, that when at last he accepted a place at the Board of Trade under Lord 30North, he gave surprise and offence to the opposition, who considered him as on their side. He fell with his patron; and his natural distaste for politics being probably increased by this and a subsequent disappointment, he retired for ever from the disquietudes of public life.
During his residence in London, he published the first three volumes of his History. On the composition of the first he had bestowed peculiar care, and its reception repaid his labours. A very laudatory letter, which he received from Hume, foretold the attacks to which the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters would subject him; for which he was entirely unprepared. And in his subsequent reflections on this subject, he admits that, had he foreseen the offence they were calculated to give, he “might perhaps have softened the two invidious chapters, which would create many enemies, and conciliate few friends.” Among his ecclesiastical opponents, by far the most eloquent and powerful was Bishop Watson, whose high-minded hostility deserved the respect bestowed on it by the historian himself, in his celebrated Vindication.
The second and third volumes were not so favourably received as the first; the author himself admits that they are possibly too minute and prolix: and the work made as yet no progress on the continent. But he persevered with increasing zeal in the labour which was now become necessary to his happiness; and that he might the more exclusively devote himself to it, he returned to establish himself at Lausanne, in 1783, nearly twenty years after his second visit to that place. He made it his residence until 1793, and there composed the last three volumes of his history: and he has carefully recorded, that it was on the 27th of June, 1787, between eleven and twelve at night, in a summer-house in his garden, that he wrote the last sentence. His fourth volume cost him rather more than two years, his fifth rather less, and the sixth little more than one. It had been his habit, till quite at last, to close his studies with the day, and commonly begin them with the morning, and the result of this late change is observed in the increased rapidity with which the latter portion of the work was written. He visited England to superintend the printing of these three volumes, and published them together on his fifty-first birthday.
He lived only five years and seven months longer: and his premature death (for he died during the full vigour of all his faculties and talents) may be ascribed to his own singular improvidence. He had been afflicted above thirty years by a disease requiring surgical assistance, which he altogether neglected till it became incurable. He died 31January 16, 1794, at the house of his friend Lord Sheffield, and was buried in his lordship’s family vault at Fletching in Sussex.
Of his miscellaneous works, the following are some of the most remarkable:—
Historical. ‘Outlines of the History of the World (written between 1755 and 1763); ‘Mémoire sur la Monarchie des Mèdes’ (do.); ‘Introduction à l’Histoire Générale de la République des Suisses’ (1767); ‘Antiquities of the House of Brunswick’ (1790).
Classical and critical. ‘Essai sur l’Etude de la Littérature’; ‘Nomina Gentesque Antiquæ Italiæ’ (1763 and 1764); ‘Remarques sur les Ouvrages et sur le Caractère de Salluste, Jules César, Cornèle Nepos, Tite Live, &c.’; ‘Critical Observations on the Design of the 6th Book of the Æneid’ (1770); ‘Vindication of the History of the Decline and Fall.’
Miscellaneous. ‘Mémoire Justicatif;’ ‘Principes des Poids, des Monnoies, et des Mesures des Anciens’ (1759); and ‘Dissertation sur les anciennes Mesures du Bas Empire’; ‘Selections from the Extraits raisonnés de mes Lectures, and from the Recueil de mes Observations’ (from 1754 to 1764); ‘Remarks on Blackstone’s Commentaries’ (1770). These, and many more than these, were the subjects to which he applied his extensive erudition—with more or less success, but never without throwing some light on whatever he undertook to treat.
In the sixteenth and the latter part of the fifteenth century, a man of learning filled a very prominent and distinguished place in the world’s esteem. Public attention was not then distracted by the multitude of claimants; for scarcely any country but Italy possessed a national literature; and few branches of knowledge were much prized, except the faculties of divinity, law, and physic, and the newly-opened stores of Greek and Roman antiquity. As Latin was still the universal language of Europe, that which was done in one country soon and readily became known to the learned men of all; and if the general standard of information was low, those who possessed it abundantly towered the higher above their fellows. Though there were then fewer helps to learning, it was a time of great discoveries and much excitement. A modern scholar of far inferior calibre may have a more accurate knowledge of antiquity, and a deeper insight into the minutiæ of the ancient languages, than the greatest men of the age of which we speak; but as far as regards the mass of information gained by their individual labour, few indeed could venture to compete with such men as Casaubon, Lipsius, Grævius, the Scaligers, and others. And the honour paid them was proportionate to their merits. Princes and States courted them, Universities competed for their residence, Europe at large took an interest in their quarrels and controversies; and as humility and charity were not the graces in which they most abounded, the interest in these subjects was in no danger of perishing for want of agitation. Of this remarkable class of men, none were more admired by their contemporaries than the two Scaligers.
Engraved by C. E. Wagstaff.
From a Print engraved by Edelinch.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
33Julius Cæsar Scaliger, the elder, was as singular a mixture of great talent, learning, vanity, and presumption, as the world has often seen. He was born, probably at Verona, in 1484, being the son, according to the best authorities, of a miniature painter, named Benedict Bordoni, was baptized by the name of Julius, studied at the University of Padua, adopted the medical profession, and having attracted the favourable notice of Antoine de la Rovere, Bishop of Agen in Gascony, accompanied him thither, in 1525, in the quality of domestic physician. We are not informed of the exact time at which he thought fit to make addition to his real name, but in 1528 he obtained letters of naturalization under the sounding appellation of Julius Cæsar de Lescalle de Bordoms, or Bordonis; and in 1529 he married a girl of sixteen, by whom he had a very numerous family. This is his real history, as far as it is known; but the truth was far too commonplace to satisfy his passion for notoriety, and he invented a new version of his history, to the following effect:—
He called himself the son of Benedict de la Scala, one of the bravest captains of the fifteenth century (of whom it is observed that his name unfortunately occurs in no contemporary historian), and through him descended from the ancient family of Princes of Verona. He was born near the Lago di Guarda; and having narrowly escaped, in infancy, the jealous search of the Venetians, who were anxious to cut off every scion of his house, was brought up as a page in the service of the Emperor Maximilian. He served with distinction in the Italian wars. But the desire of recovering Verona, the inheritance of his family, from Venice, ever haunted him; and seeing no chance any other way, he became a monk, in hope of rising to the Holy Chair, and rendering the resources of the papacy subservient to the gratification of this ruling passion. The frivolous and wearisome observances of the cloister soon disgusted him, and he (broke his vows, we presume, and) returned to his old trade as a soldier, and again distinguished himself in the wars of Piedmont, while at the same time he studied the ancient languages, philosophy, and medicine. At the solicitation of the Bishop of Agen he closed his adventurous course, as is above related. This extravagant story, entirely without foundation in any of its parts, and garnished with abundance of gasconade, was stoutly upheld by the elder Scaliger, and generally believed by his contemporaries: the younger Scaliger wrote a book to maintain it, with equal stoutness, but without equal success.
After Scaliger took up his abode at Agen, his chief employment was the cultivation of learning; his chief passion, the acquisition of fame. In this he succeeded to the extent of his wishes; and we need seek no stronger proof of the ascendancy which he gained over his 34contemporaries, than the general acceptation of the wonderful story which we have just told. De Thou said of him, that the age did not furnish his equal, nor antiquity his superior; and Lipsius classed him with Homer, Hippocrates, and Aristotle, and named him ‘the miracle and glory of his age.’ Unquestionably he possessed a vast fund of knowledge, was an excellent Latin scholar, and wrote extremely well in Latin prose. Of Greek his knowledge probably was much less; he did little for Greek literature, and appears not to have taught his son Joseph so much as the rudiments of the language. His many fine qualities were sadly obscured by a temper arrogant and overbearing in the last degree: on this subject it is enough to refer to the abuse which he lavishes on a better man than himself, the excellent Erasmus, in their controversy concerning Ciceronianism. Unfortunately, he bequeathed the same overweening vanity and propensity to scurrilous language to his still more distinguished son, the original of our portrait.
Joseph Justus Scaliger, the tenth child of this singular man, was born at Agen, August 4, 1540. At the age of eleven he was sent with two of his brothers to study at the University of Bourdeaux; but at the end of three years the plague broke out, and he returned in consequence to his paternal home. The elder Scaliger from that time forward took charge of Joseph’s education: concerning his method of teaching we know little more than that he obliged his pupil to compose an essay every day upon some historical subject. He died in 1558; and in the following year Joseph Scaliger went to Paris, and devoted himself to the study of Greek under the celebrated Turnebus. At that time his acquaintance, if he had any, with the language was very slight. Before two months elapsed he found the progress of his master too slow to please him; and resolving to take the matter into his own hands, he made himself cursorily acquainted with the conjugations, and set to work at once upon Homer, whom he read through in twenty-one days, constructing a grammar for himself as he went along. The other Greek poets he perused in the same manner in four months. The orators and historians he took next in order; but these extraordinary exertions rest upon his own testimony, which in things connected with the gratification of his vanity cannot be considered unimpeachable. After two years’ study of Greek he undertook Hebrew and other Oriental languages, which he learned without assistance in the same manner. He certainly possessed an uncommon talent for the study of languages: it is stated by Du Bartas that he knew thirteen,—Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Spanish, Italian, German, 35French, English, Ethiopian, Arabic, Syriac, Chaldaic, and Persian. His habits throughout life were very laborious; he slept little, and sometimes passed days almost without taking food. Heinsius, in his first oration, reports that he had often heard Scaliger speak of having been in Paris during the massacre of St. Bartholomew, and engaged so deeply in his Hebrew studies as for a long time not to be aware of the tumult without. On the contrary, the Vassans, collectors of the ‘Scaligera secunda,’ state, also on the authority of Scaliger’s private conversation, that he was at Lausanne when the massacre took place. The matter is of little moment, excepting in so far as it may serve to illustrate the speaker’s boastful disregard for veracity.
Joseph Scaliger embraced the Reformed religion in 1562, and in the following year became domestic tutor in a noble family named Roche-Pozay. In this connexion he was very fortunate: his patron was a generous and discerning man, by whose liberality he was enabled to visit the principal Universities of France and Germany. He studied theology at Geneva under Beza, and shortly after the massacre of St. Bartholomew, in 1572, was invited to accept the chair of philosophy in the University of that city: this he declined, but it appears that he did give lectures there in 1578. In 1573 he ventured to return to his patron’s estate near Tours, and there composed the greater portion of his works. He visited Italy, whence he brought home a number of inscriptions, which he communicated to Gruter, with leave to publish them in his ‘Thesaurus;’ and he even extended his travels to our northern, and then uninviting, realm of Scotland.
The multiplicity of Scaliger’s labours did not enrich him. “Poverty,” he says in one of his letters, “has been my faithful companion through life, and I never thought to lose her company.” But his spirit was lofty and independent, and he refused on more than one occasion large sums of money, which those who esteemed his merits would have forced upon him. In 1593 he was invited by the States of Holland to accept the professorship of belles-lettres at Leyden, with a liberal salary. This he accepted, so that the close of his life was spent in independence. Unfortunately for his tranquillity, his evil genius of vanity led him in 1594 to publish his testimony to the truth of his own illustrious descent, in his ‘Letter concerning the Antiquity of the Family Della Scala’ (Epistola de vetustate et splendore gentis Scaligeræ, et vita Jul. C. Scaligeri, &c.). It is here, says Niceron, that the vanity and presumption of Scaliger appear to the greatest advantage; and Scioppius, a brother critic and scholar, who expressed the highest regard and admiration for the Leyden professor, 36so long as they were on terms of mutual admiration, no sooner felt a touch of Scaliger’s power of sarcasm, than he attacked him in this weak point, in the ‘Scaliger hypobolimæus; hoc est, Elenchus Epistolæ Joan. Burdonis, pseudo-Scaligeri, de vetustate et splendore gentis Scaligeræ: 1607.’ Scaliger replied in ‘Confutatio stultissimæ Burdonum fabulæ: 1608,’ in which, though the letter of his adversary was short enough, he professed to have detected 499 falsities. Scaliger retorted on Scioppius, whose life and conversation were open enough to attack, in his ‘Confutatio stultissimæ Burdonum fabulæ: 1608,’ published under the name of Rutgersius, one of his pupils. It has been said that the veteran controversialist died of chagrin in consequence of Scioppius’s book. This, however, is not much in accordance with his character; at all events, his annoyance was long in killing him, for he did not die till 1609, and his disease was a dropsy. High honours were paid by the University to his memory; a funeral oration was pronounced in his praise by the eminent scholar Heinsius, and a monument was erected to him at the public expense.
For the fullest account of Scaliger’s very numerous works, we refer to Niceron, ‘Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire des Hommes Illustres,’ vol. 23. The earliest of them, ‘Conjectanea in Varronem,’ was composed when the author was only twenty years old. Another of his earlier productions was an edition of ‘Lycophron,’ with a version into Latin iambics, for which he has obtained the sarcastic commendation of having by a tour de force of which no other person was capable, made the translation quite as unintelligible as the original. He translated the ‘Ajax’ of Sophocles, in the same metre. He has commented upon Cæsar, Catullus, Tibullus and Propertius, Persius, Ausonius, Manilius, the tragedies of Seneca, Theocritus, Bion and Moschus, &c. His original works contain treatises on astronomy, mathematics, numismatics, and chronology, and various departments of philological and antiquarian research. He flattered himself that he had discovered and propounded in his ‘Cyclometrica Elementa duo; nec non Mesolabium;’ a method for the quadrature of the circle: but the fallacy which deceived him was soon exposed by Vieta and others. Scaliger’s most important and most original work is that ‘De Emendatione Temporum, 1583,’ which merits especial praise, as being the first attempt to produce a system of chronology. It contains a vast quantity of learning, in the collection of which the author was greatly assisted by his knowledge of the Oriental languages, as well as of Greek and Latin. That he is often in error is, in this instance, hardly a blemish upon his merited fame: in so vast 37an untrodden field it was impossible to avoid mistakes. And doubtless this would have been willingly conceded, but for his presumptuous, uncharitable, and abusive manner of treating the mistakes of others: those who had suffered from his venomous tongue, of course were ready and eager to revenge themselves at the first opportunity. In the second and third editions he made considerable alteration. Petavius, another eminent chronologer of the same age, who had the advantage, it is to be recollected, of all that Scaliger had done before him, finds great fault with the ‘De Emendatione;’ but he allows that “the learning diffused through it, the immense variety of topics which it embraces, the novelty of the subject, and the decided tone of the author, procured for him a very high reputation.” It was in this that Scaliger propounded the Julian period, as a sort of common measure for the various eras; but it never became general, and has fallen into complete disuse. The same Petavius, in speaking of Scaliger’s letters, which are full of curious matter, easy and familiar, and brilliant without affectation (Epistolæ Omnes, 1627, published by Heinsius), declared, that if he had then seen these “divine letters,” he would never have attacked the author of them. Scaliger’s poems (Poemata Omnia, collected and published in 1615) have not done much for his fame, though he boasted of his critical skill in poetry. “Je me connais en trois choses—in vino, poesi, et juger des personnes. Si bis hominem alloquar, statim scio qualis sit.” (Scaligerana secunda.) From his translation of select epigrams of Martial into Greek (Florilegium Martialis Epigrammatum, cum versione Græca metrica, 1607) a list of sixty-four faults, false quantities and barbarisms, has been drawn up and preserved in the ‘Menagiana,’ vol. i. p. 325; many of them, however, are very trifling.
Concerning Scaliger’s character as a critic, we may quote the opinion of Bayle—‘Nouvelles de la République des Lettres,’ for June 1684—“I know not whether it might not be said that Scaliger had too much wit and learning to write a good commentary; for his wit enabled him to find in the authors on whom he commented more refinement and genius than in fact they possessed; and his deep knowledge of literature was the cause of his fancying a thousand points of connexion between the thoughts of a writer and some rare matter of antiquity. And having made up his mind as to the reference contained in the passage, he proceeded forthwith to correct it accordingly. Unless it should rather be thought that the desire of throwing light upon some mystery of learning, unobserved by previous critics, led him to fancy hidden meanings where they did not really exist. Be this as it may, his notes are full of conjectures, bold, 38ingenious, and learned; but it is not clear that the authors always meant to say all that he has made them. It is possible to go as far wide of the real meaning, by having too much wit, as by having too little; and it will not do to believe that the lines of Horace and Catullus contain all the erudition which it pleases Messieurs the notemakers to bestow upon them.” This passage will sufficiently explain the grounds of the bitter saying, that Scaliger was born to corrupt, rather than to correct, the classics.
The praises bestowed on him by his contemporaries, however, were most extravagant. Heinsius says, in his Funeral Oration, “Men call him differently, an abyss of erudition, a sea of sciences, the sun of doctors, the divine progeny of a divine father, of the race of gods, the greatest work and miracle, the extreme reach of Nature.” His great contemporaries, Casaubon, Lipsius, and De Thou, adopt a somewhat similar style of exaggerated commendation. Such expressions of course are to be taken with allowance; rather as specimens of the taste of the age than as the deliberate testimony of those who use them. That Scaliger was profoundly learned and of immense acquirement, will not be denied; that it is impossible to push things farther than he has, will not now be asserted, “because,” says Niceron, “it has been done by many.” Unfortunately, this extravagant admiration contributed, no doubt, by feeding his vanity, to exacerbate that intolerably scurrilous and malignant humour, the worst part of his character, which he inherited, with his great talents, from his remarkable father.
The Table-Talk, as we may call it, of Scaliger has been collected in two series, entitled ‘Scaligerana, Prima et Secunda.’ For the history of these see Niceron, or the preface to Des Maizeaux’s edition. They bear the same unfavourable impress of character as the rest of his writings: “the pride, arrogance, and venom of an angry pedant reign from the first leaf to the last; and they are sometimes defective in point of learning.” So says Vigneul Marville, and his judgment is fully confirmed by others. “The Scaligerana,” says D’Israeli, “will convince us that he was incapable of thinking or speaking favourably of any person.” We have already quoted one passage which gives a specimen of the strange way in which French and Latin are mixed up in the second series, and we conclude with another, which contains an amusing instance of his vanity, both for himself and his father:—“Auratus dicebat Jul. Cæs. Scaligerum Regi alicui facie similem. Oui, à un Empereur! Il n’y a Roi qui eût si belle façon que lui. Regardez moi! je lui ressemble en tout, et partout, le nez aquilin.”
Engraved by J. Posselwhite.
From the Print by J. Hall, after the Picture by West.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
William Penn was born in London, October 14, 1644. He was the son of a naval officer of the same name, who served with distinction both in the Protectorate and after the Restoration, and who was much esteemed by Charles II. and the Duke of York. At the age of fifteen, he was entered as a gentleman-commoner at Christchurch, Oxford. He had not been long in residence, when he received, from the preaching of Thomas Loe, his first bias towards the doctrines of the Quakers; and in conjunction with some fellow-students, he began to withdraw from attendance on the Established Church, and to hold private prayer-meetings. For this conduct Penn and his friends were fined by the college for non-conformity; and the former was soon involved in more serious censure by his ill-governed zeal, in consequence of an order from the king, that the ancient custom of wearing surplices should be revived. This seemed to Penn an infringement of the simplicity of Christian worship: whereupon he with some friends tore the surplices from the backs of those students who appeared in them. For this act of violence, totally inconsistent, it is to be observed, with the principles of toleration which regulated his conduct in after life, he and they were very justly expelled.
Admiral Penn, who like most sailors possessed a quick temper and high notions of discipline and obedience, was little pleased with this event, and still less satisfied with his son’s grave demeanour, and avoidance of the manners and ceremonies of polite life. Arguments failing, he had recourse to blows, and as a last resource, he turned his son out of doors; but soon relented so far as to equip him, in 1662, for a journey to France, in hope that the gaiety of that country would expel his new-fashioned and, as he regarded them, fanatical 40notions. Paris, however, soon became wearisome to William Penn, and he spent a considerable time at Saumur, for the sake of the instruction and company of Moses Amyrault, an eminent Protestant divine. Here he confirmed and improved his religious impressions, and at the same time acquired, from the insensible influence of those who surrounded him, an increased polish and courtliness of demeanour, which greatly gratified the Admiral on his return home in 1664.
Admiral Penn went to sea in 1664, and remained two years on service. During this time the external effects of his son’s residence in France had worn away, and he had returned to those grave habits, and that rule of associating only with religious people, which had before given his father so much displeasure. To try the effect of absence and change of associates, Admiral Penn sent William to manage his estates in Ireland, a duty which the latter performed with satisfaction both to himself and his employer. But it chanced that, on a visit to Cork, he again attended the preaching of Thomas Loe, by whose exhortations he was deeply impressed. From this time he began to frequent the Quakers’ meetings; and in September, 1667, he was imprisoned, with others, under the persecuting laws which then disgraced our statute-book. Upon application to the higher authorities, he was soon released.
Upon receiving tidings that William had connected himself with the Quakers, the Admiral immediately summoned him to England; and he soon became certified of the fact, among other peculiarities, by his son’s pertinacious adherence to the Quakers’ notions concerning what they called Hat Worship. This led him to a violent remonstrance. William Penn behaved with due respect: but in the main point, that of forsaking his associates and rule of conduct, he yielded nothing. The father confined his demands at last to the simple point, that his son should sit uncovered in the presence of himself, the King, and the Duke of York. Still William Penn felt bound to make not even this concession; and on this refusal, the Admiral again turned him out of doors.
Soon after, in 1668, he began to preach, and in the same year he published his first work, ‘Truth Exalted, &c.’ We cannot here notice his very numerous works, of which the titles run, for the most part, to an extraordinary length: but ‘The Sandy Foundation Shaken,’ published in the same year, claims notice, as having led to his first public persecution. In it he was induced, not to deny the doctrine of the Trinity, which in a certain sense he admitted, but to object to the language in which it is expounded by the English 41Church; and for this offence he was imprisoned for some time in the Tower. During this confinement, he composed ‘No Cross, No Crown,’ one of his principal and most popular works, of which the leading doctrine, admirably exemplified in his own life, was, that the way to future happiness and glory lies, in this world, not through a course of misery and needless mortification, but still through labour, watchfulness, and self-denial, and continual striving against corrupt passions and inordinate indulgences. This is enforced by copious examples from profane as well as sacred history; and the work gives evidence of an extent of learning very creditable to its author, considering his youth, and the circumstances under which it was composed. He was detained in prison for seven months, and treated with much severity. In 1669 he had the satisfaction of being reconciled to his father.
William Penn was one of the first sufferers by the passing of the Conventicle Act, in 1670. He was imprisoned in Newgate, and tried for preaching to a seditious and riotous assembly in Gracechurchstreet; and this trial is remarkable and celebrated in our criminal jurisprudence, for the firmness with which he defended himself, and still more for the admirable courage and constancy with which the jury maintained the verdict of acquittal which they pronounced. He showed on this, and on all other occasions, that he well understood and appreciated the free principles of our constitution, and that he was resolved not to surrender one iota of that liberty of conscience which he claimed for others, as well as for himself. “I am far from thinking it fit,” he said, in addressing the House of Commons, “because I exclaim against the injustice of whipping Quakers for Papists, that Papists should be whipped for their consciences. No, for though the hand pretended to be lifted up against them hath lighted heavily upon us, and we complain, yet we do not mean that any should take a fresh aim at them, or that they should come in our room, for we must give the liberty we ask, and would have none suffer for a truly sober and conscientious dissent on any hand.” His views of religious toleration and civil liberty he has well and clearly explained in the treatise entitled ‘England’s present Interest, &c.,’ published in 1674, in which it formed part of his argument that the liberties of Englishmen were anterior to the settlement of the English church, and could not be affected by discrepancies in their religious belief. He maintained that “to live honestly, to do no injury to another, and to give every man his due, was enough to entitle every native to English privileges. It was this, and not his 42religion, which gave him the great claim to the protection of the government under which he lived. Near three hundred years before Austin set his foot on English ground the inhabitants had a good constitution. This came not in with him. Neither did it come in with Luther; nor was it to go out with Calvin. We were a free people by the creation of God, by the redemption of Christ, and by the careful provision of our never-to-be-forgotten, honourable ancestors: so that our claim to these English privileges, rising higher than Protestantism, could never justly be invalidated on account of non-conformity to any tenet or fashion it might prescribe.”
In the same year died Sir William Penn, in perfect harmony with his son, towards whom he now felt the most cordial regard and esteem, and to whom he bequeathed an estate computed at 1500l. a-year, a large sum in that age. Towards the end of the year he was again imprisoned in Newgate for six months, the statutable penalty for refusing to take the oath of allegiance, which was maliciously tendered to him by a magistrate. This appears to have been the last absolute persecution for religion’s sake which he endured. Religion in England has generally met with more toleration in proportion as it has been backed by the worldly importance of its professors: and though his poor brethren continued to suffer imprisonment in the stocks, fines, and whipping, as the penalty of their peaceable meetings for Divine worship, the wealthy proprietor, though he travelled largely, both in England and abroad, and laboured both in writing and in preaching, as the missionary of his sect, both escaped injury, and acquired reputation and esteem by his self-devotion. To the favour of the King and the Duke of York he had a hereditary claim, which appears always to have been cheerfully acknowledged; and an instance of the rising consideration in which he was held, appears in his being admitted to plead, before a Committee of the House of Commons, the request of the Quakers that their solemn affirmation should be admitted in the place of an oath. An enactment to this effect passed the Commons in 1678, but was lost, in consequence of a prorogation, before it had passed the Lords. It was on this occasion that he made that appeal in behalf of general toleration, of which a part is quoted in the preceding page.
Penn married in 1672, and took up his abode at Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire. In 1677 we find him removed to Worminghurst in Sussex, which long continued to be his place of residence. His first engagement in the plantation of America was in 1676, in consequence of being chosen arbitrator in a dispute between two Quakers, who had 43become jointly concerned in the colony of New Jersey. Though nowise concerned, by interest or proprietorship, (until 1681, when he purchased a share in the eastern district of New Jersey,) he took great pains in this business; he arranged terms, upon which colonists were invited to settle; and he drew up the outline of a simple constitution, reserving to them the right of making all laws by their representatives, of security from imprisonment or fine except by the consent of twelve men of the neighbourhood, and perfect freedom in the exercise of their religion: “regulations,” he said, “by an adherence to which they could never be brought into bondage but by their own consent.” In these transactions he had the opportunity of contemplating the glorious results which might be hoped from a colony founded with no interested views, but on the principles of universal peace, toleration, and liberty: and he felt an earnest desire to be the instrument in so great a work, more especially as it held out a prospect of deliverance to his persecuted Quaker brethren in England, by giving them a free and happy asylum in a foreign land. Circumstances favoured his wish. The Crown was indebted to him 16,000l. for money advanced by the late Admiral for the naval service. It was not unusual to grant not only the property, but the right of government, in large districts in the uncleared part of America, as in the case of New York and New Jersey respectively to the Duke of York and Lord Baltimore: and though it was hopeless to extract money from Charles, yet he was ready enough, in acquittal of this debt, to bestow on Penn, whom he loved, a tract of land from which he himself could never expect any pecuniary return. Accordingly, Penn received, in 1681, a grant by charter of that extensive province, named Pennsylvania by Charles himself, in honour of the Admiral: by which charter he was invested with the property in the soil, with the power of ruling and governing the same; of enacting laws, with the advice and approbation of the freemen of the territory assembled for the raising of money for public uses; of appointing judges, and administering justice. He immediately drew up and published ‘Some Account of Pennsylvania, &c.;’ and then ‘Certain Conditions or Concessions, &c.’ to be agreed on between himself and those who wished to purchase land in the province. These having been accepted by many persons, he proceeded to frame the rough sketch of a constitution, on which he proposed to base the charter of the province. The price fixed on land was forty shillings, with the annual quit-rent of one shilling, for one hundred acres: and it was provided that no one should, in word or deed, affront or wrong any Indian without 44incurring the same penalty as if the offence had been committed against a fellow-planter; that strict precautions should be taken against fraud in the quality of goods sold to them, and that all differences between the two nations should be adjudged by twelve men, six of each. And he declares his intention “to leave myself and my successors no power of doing mischief; that the will of one man may not hinder the good of a whole country.”
This constitution, as originally organized by Penn, consisted, says Mr. Clarkson, “of a Governor, a Council, and an Assembly; the two last of which were to be chosen by, and therefore to be the Representatives of, the people. The Governor was to be perpetual President, but he was to have but a treble vote. It was the office of the Council to prepare and propose bills, to see that the laws were executed, to take care of the peace and safety of the province, to settle the situation of ports, cities, market-towns, roads and other public places, to inspect the public treasury, to erect courts of justice, to institute schools for the virtuous education of youth, and to reward the authors of useful discovery. Not less than two-thirds of these were necessary to make a quorum, and the consent of not less than two-thirds of such quorum in all matters of moment. The Assembly were to have no deliberative power, but when bills were brought to them from the Governor and Council, were to pass or reject them by a plain Yes or No. They were to present Sheriffs and Justices of the Peace to the Governor; a double number, for his choice of half. They were to be chosen annually, and to be chosen by secret ballot.” This ground-work was modified by Penn himself at later periods, and especially by removing that restriction which forbade the Assembly to debate, or to originate bills: and it was this, substantially, which Burke, in his ‘Account of the European Settlements in America’ describes as “that noble charter of privileges, by which he made them as free as any people in the world, and which has since drawn such vast numbers of so many different persuasions and such various countries to put themselves under the protection of his laws. He made the most perfect freedom, both religious and civil, the basis of his establishment; and this has done more towards the settling of the province, and towards the settling of it in a strong and permanent manner, than the wisest regulations could have done on any other plan.”
In 1682 a number of settlers, principally Quakers, having been already sent out, Penn himself embarked for Pennsylvania, leaving his wife and children in England. On occasion of this parting, he addressed to them a long and affectionate letter, which presents a 45very beautiful picture of his domestic character, and affords a curious insight into the minute regularity of his daily habits. He landed on the banks of the Delaware in October, and forthwith summoned an assembly of the freemen of the province, by whom the frame of government, as it had been promulgated in England, was accepted. Penn’s principles did not suffer him to consider his title to the land as valid, without the consent of the natural owners of the soil. He had instructed persons to negotiate a treaty of sale with the Indian nations before his own departure from England; and one of his first acts was to hold that memorable Assembly, to which the history of the world offers none alike, at which this bargain was ratified, and a strict league of amity established. We do not find specified the exact date of this meeting, which took place under an enormous elm-tree, near the site of Philadelphia, and of which a few particulars only have been preserved by the uncertain record of tradition. Well and faithfully was that treaty of friendship kept by the wild denizens of the woods: ‘a friendship,’ says Proud, the historian of Pennsylvania, ‘which for the space of more than seventy years was never interrupted, or so long as the Quakers retained power in the government.’
Penn remained in America until the middle of 1684. During this time much was done towards bringing the colony into prosperity and order. Twenty townships were established, containing upwards of 7000 Europeans; magistrates were appointed; representatives, as prescribed by the constitution, were chosen, and the necessary public business transacted. In 1683 Penn undertook a journey of discovery into the interior; and he has given an interesting account of the country in its wild state, in a letter written home to the Society of Free Traders to Pennsylvania. He held frequent conferences with the Indians, and contracted treaties of friendship with nineteen distinct tribes. His reasons for returning to England appear to have been twofold; partly the desire to settle a dispute between himself and Lord Baltimore, concerning the boundary of their provinces, but chiefly the hope of being able, by his personal influence, to lighten the sufferings and ameliorate the treatment of the Quakers in England. He reached England in October, 1684. Charles II. died in February, 1685. But this was rather favourable to Penn’s credit at court; for besides that James appears to have felt a sincere regard for him, he required for his own church that toleration which Penn wished to see extended to all alike. This credit at court led to the renewal of an old and assuredly most groundless report, that Penn was at heart a Papist—nay, that he was in priest’s orders, and a Jesuit: a report which gave him much uneasiness, and which he 46took much pains in public and in private to contradict. The same credit, and the natural and laudable affection and gratitude towards the Stuart family which he never dissembled, caused much trouble to him after the Revolution. He was continually suspected of plotting to restore the exiled dynasty; was four times arrested, and as often discharged in the total absence of all evidence against him. During the years 1691, 1692, and part of 1693, he remained in London, living, to avoid offence, in great seclusion: in the latter year he was heard in his own defence before the king and council, and informed that he need apprehend no molestation or injury.
The affairs of Pennsylvania fell into some confusion during Penn’s long absence. Even in the peaceable sect of Quakers there were ambitious, bustling and selfish men: and Penn was not satisfied with the conduct either of the representative Assembly, or of those to whom he had delegated his own powers. He changed the latter two or three times, without effecting the restoration of harmony: and these troubles gave a pretext for depriving him of his powers as Governor, in 1693. The real cause was probably the suspicion entertained of his treasonable correspondence with James II. But he was reinstated in August, 1694, by a royal order, in which it was complimentarily expressed that the disorders complained of were produced entirely by his absence. Anxious as he was to return, he did not find an opportunity till 1699: the interval was chiefly employed in religious travel through England and Ireland, and in the labour of controversial writing, from which he seldom had a long respite. His course as a philanthropist on his return to America is honourably marked by an endeavour to ameliorate the condition of Negro slaves. The society of Quakers in Pennsylvania had already come to a resolution, that the buying, selling, and holding men in slavery was inconsistent with the tenets of the Christian religion: and following up this honourable declaration, Penn had no difficulty in obtaining for them free admission into the regular meetings for religious worship, and in procuring that other meetings should be holden for their particular benefit. The Quakers therefore merit our respect as the earliest, as well as some of the most zealous emancipators. Mr. Clarkson says, “When Penn procured the insertion of this resolution in the Monthly Meeting book of Philadelphia, he sealed as assuredly and effectually the Abolition of the Slave Trade, and the Emancipation of the Negroes within his own province, as, when he procured the insertion of the minute relating to the Indians in the same book, he sealed the civilization of the latter; for, from the time the subject became incorporated into the discipline of the Quakers, 47they never lost sight of it. Several of them began to refuse to purchase Negroes at all; and others to emancipate those which they had in their possession, and this of their own accord, and purely from the motives of religion; till at length it became a law of the society that no member could be concerned, directly or indirectly, either in buying and selling, or in holding them in bondage; and this law was carried so completely into effect, that in the year 1780, dispersed as the society was over a vast tract of country, there was not a single Negro as a slave in the possession of an acknowledged Quaker. This example, soon after it had begun, was followed by others of other religious denominations.”
In labouring to secure kind treatment, to raise the character, and to promote the welfare of the Indians, Penn was active and constant, during this visit to America, as before. The legislative measures which took place while he remained, and the bickerings between the Assembly and himself, we pass over, as belonging rather to a history of Pennsylvania, than to the biography of its founder. For the same reason we omit the charges preferred against him by Dr. Franklin. The union in one person of the rights belonging both to a governor and a proprietor, no doubt is open to objection; but this cannot be urged as a fault upon Penn: and we believe that it would be difficult to name any person who has used power and privilege with more disinterested views. That he was indifferent to his powers, or his emoluments, is not to be supposed, and ought not to have been expected. He spent large sums, he bestowed much pains upon the colony: and he felt and stated it to be a great grievance, that, whereas a provision was voted to the royal governor during the period of his own suspension, not so much as a table was kept for himself, and that instead of contributing towards his expenses, even the trivial quit-rents which he had reserved remained unpaid: nay, it was sought by the Assembly, against all justice, to divert them from him, towards the support of the government. It is to be recollected that Franklin wrote for a political object, to overthrow the privileges which Penn’s heirs enjoyed.
The Governor returned to England in 1701, to oppose a scheme agitated in Parliament for abolishing the proprietary governments, and placing the colonies immediately under royal control: the bill, however, was dropped before he arrived. He enjoyed Anne’s favour, as he had that of her father and uncle, and resided much in the neighbourhood of the court, at Kensington and Knightsbridge. In his religious labours he continued constant, as heretofore. He was much harassed by a law-suit, the result of too much confidence in a 48dishonest steward: which being decided against him, he was obliged for a time to reside within the Rules of the Fleet Prison. This, and the expenses in which he had been involved by Pennsylvania, reduced him to distress, and in 1709, he mortgaged the province for £6,600. In 1712 he agreed to sell his rights to the government for £12,000, but was rendered unable to complete the transaction by three apoplectic fits, which followed each other in quick succession. He survived however in a tranquil and happy state, though with his bodily and mental vigour much broken, until July 30, 1718, on which day he died at his seat at Rushcomb, in Berkshire, where he had resided for some years.
His first wife died in 1693. He married a second time in 1696; and left a family of children by both wives, to whom he bequeathed his landed property in Europe and America. His rights of government he left in trust to the Earls of Oxford and Powlett, to be disposed of; but no sale being ever made, the government, with the title of Proprietaries, devolved on the surviving sons of the second family.
Penn’s numerous works were collected, and a life prefixed to them, in 1726. Select editions of them have been since published. Mr. Clarkson’s ‘Life,’ Proud’s ‘History of Pennsylvania,’ and Franklin’s ‘Historical Review, &c. of Pennsylvania,’ for a view of the exceptions which have been taken to Penn’s character as a statesman, may be advantageously consulted.
[From West’s picture of the Treaty between Penn and the Indians.]
Engraved by W. Holl.
From a Picture by Ferdinand, in the Royal Library, Paris.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
Jacques Auguste de Thou, whom it is no exaggerated praise to call the greatest writer of contemporary history that has appeared since the extinction of Roman literature, was descended of a noble family of the Orleanois; and his immediate ancestors for three generations had filled with honour the higher legal offices of the realm. He was born in Paris, October 9, 1553. His temper was naturally studious; but the extreme weakness of his childhood interfered greatly with the early cultivation of his mind, and almost incapacitated him for severe application. He received, however, the best instruction which Paris could afford, until 1570, when he went to the University of Orleans to study law. Thence he removed to Valence in Dauphiny, to attend the lectures of the celebrated civilian Cujas.
De Thou returned to Paris in 1572, and meaning to take orders, applied himself principally to the study of Greek and of the canon law. In the next year he visited Italy in the train of Paul de Foix, ambassador of France to the Pope and other Italian sovereigns, and employed himself diligently and profitably in cultivating the acquaintance of learned men, and in collecting materials for his history, the design of which he had already conceived. He returned to Paris in 1575, and during four years applied himself chiefly to study, taking various occasions to extend his travels into Flanders and Germany. In 1578 he was appointed Conseiller-clerc to the parliament of Paris, and in 1581, one of a commission sent into Guienne, to provide for the better administration of justice, which had been greatly impeded by religious dissension. Returning to Paris in November, 1582, immediately after the decease of his father, and having become the head of his family by the death of two elder 50brothers, he determined to abandon the ecclesiastical profession, and exchanged his place of Conseiller-clerc, for the lay appointment of Maître des Requêtes. In 1586 he obtained the reversion of the office of Président à Mortier, held by his uncle Augustin de Thou; and having obtained a dispensation from the ecclesiastical engagements which he had contracted, he married, in 1587, Marie de Barbanson.
When the Parisians embraced the party of the League, in 1588, and Henry III. was obliged to quit the capital, De Thou followed the person and fortunes of the monarch, and received a commission to travel through Normandy and Picardy, to sound the intentions, and, if possible, to secure the adherence of the authorities, civil and military, of those provinces. His services were rewarded by the dignity of Conseiller d’État. In the autumn he was present at the convention of the States at Blois; but he returned to Paris before the murder of the Duke of Guise. He was not informed of the intention to commit that crime; and he believed, from certain peculiarities of behaviour, that the king had sent for him expressly to communicate that intention, but had changed his mind during the course of the interview. In the tumults which took place on the arrival of the news at Paris, De Thou’s life was in considerable danger, until he effected his escape under the disguise of a soldier, and returned to Blois.
De Thou laboured to induce Henry III. to reconcile himself sincerely to the King of Navarre; and being engaged in a journey to raise supplies of men and money in Germany and Italy when the former was assassinated, he returned with all haste to tender his allegiance to the new monarch, Henry IV., by whom he was favourably received, and employed in the most important and confidential negotiations. Of this period of his life, and of its ill requital, he has spoken with considerable bitterness in a letter dated March 31, 1611, to his friend the President Jeannin, and written, it is to be observed, in a moment of considerable mortification, because his claims to the office of First President had been passed over in favour of M. de Verdun. “I remained,” he says, “after returning from Italy, in Henry IV.’s camp for five years, except when commissioned to repair to Tours, where the Parliament was then held, or to visit other parts of the kingdom upon business. At last, after the king was crowned at Chartres, and the surrender of Paris, being restored to my library and my home, I thought myself sufficiently repaid for my labours, in enjoying, with a sound conscience and unstained fidelity to my sovereign, the benefits of the peace, expecting that the king would do 51something for me, in remembrance of those five years of service in the camp, during which I hardly quitted his side. Throughout that time I was in the greatest need of all things, being deprived of all my means by the war, and having served the whole time at my own cost, without pay or fee. And the king himself used to say that I was very different from other men, inasmuch as I, though a constant loser, made no complaints, while others, who were every day profiting by the public misfortunes, used diligently to complain of their own losses. Which in truth was complimentary enough; but this praise was my only payment for past labours: for the king’s temper changed with his fortune, and I learnt, at my own expense, how fleeting is the favour of princes, and how ready they are in prosperity to forget past sufferings, and to take the mention of them by their fellow-sufferers as a reproach.”
“For two years,” he continues, “nothing was said of me, until the Protestants again made inconvenient demands, and I was selected by the king with full powers to hear their complaints.” These were the disputes which were terminated in 1598, by the publication of the celebrated Edict of Nantes. De Thou was very reluctant to undertake this office, foreseeing that it would involve him in great odium. Nor was he mistaken in this respect. He was a zealous advocate of toleration: and his liberality of spirit, manifested upon this and on other occasions, but most of all in the unsparing impartiality of his History, placed him, though a Catholic, in bad odour at the court of Rome, by whose influence with the Queen Regent, after the death of Henry IV., he was frustrated in the chief object of his ambition, that of succeeding to the office of First President of the Parliament of Paris, which became vacant in 1611. To that of Président à Mortier he had succeeded in 1595, by his uncle’s death. He was deeply mortified at this slight, and meditated the resignation of all his offices: and he has strongly expressed his sense of the weight of his claims, and of the injury done to him by thus overlooking them, in the letter to the President Jeannin, part of which we have just quoted. The first suggestion of pique, however, was overruled by his friends. He was appointed one of the directors-general of finance, after the death of Henry IV., and consequent resignation of Sully, in 1610, and was consulted by the Regent in almost all matters of delicacy and importance. His leisure moments during these last years were devoted to his History, which he did not live to bring down to its intended point of conclusion, the death of Henry IV. He died May 7, 1617, leaving three sons and three daughters by a second marriage: his 52first wife, childless, died in 1601. The eldest of these, François Auguste de Thou, is known in history by having suffered death with Cinq-Mars, in the reign of Louis XIII., for an alleged conspiracy against the state, the real object of which was the overthrow of Cardinal Richelieu.
In 1593 De Thou was appointed principal librarian to Henry IV.; and by his advice the valuable library of Catherine de’ Medici was purchased, and the foundation was laid of that splendour and importance which the Bibliothèque du Roi has since attained. He had himself brought together a very excellent library, a large part of which has since passed into the royal collection. He was a steady friend and favourer of learning and learned men; a zealous, faithful, and disinterested subject; an able statesman; an upright and enlightened magistrate: and his life, both in public and private, displayed the same undeviating integrity and love of truth, which especially distinguish him as an historian.
De Thou began to write his great work, the History of his own Times, in 1591: but, as has been already stated, he had been engaged from early youth in collecting materials for it, and his own description of the pains which he bestowed on the task, will convey the best idea of his zeal and industry. We quote again from the letter to the President Jeannin. “Having always received great pleasure from the perusal of history, and being of opinion that men are to be formed for happiness by examples, as well as precepts, I came to the conclusion, that by undertaking a history of my own time, beginning where Paulus Jovius left off, I should do what would be useful to my country, and honourable to myself. Resolute in this purpose even from boyhood, I laboured afterwards, in my travels, at the bar, in embassies, in the employments of war and peace, for this one object, that when leisure came for the execution of it, I might have all things necessary to my purpose provided. All printed histories I purchased, unprinted ones I procured to be copied, I consulted the notes of military commanders, the records of embassies, the papers of secretaries to kings. I also acquired a great deal of knowledge from the confidential conversations of illustrious men who were my seniors, and weighed, by their judgment and candour, the contradictory reports of party spirit. Thus prepared, I began to compose my History, while the civil war still raged; and I call on God, who gave me strength and understanding to complete a work of such magnitude, amidst such troubles and employments, to witness my entire and uncorrupted honesty, unswayed either by fear or favour, and that I had no other 53end in view but the glory of God, and the benefit of the public. In style, eloquence, perspicuity, depth of thought, I confess myself inferior to many: in good faith and diligence I yield to none who have preceded me in this kind of composition; and I refer this point to the judgment of posterity.” He proceeds to speak of his full knowledge that the tenor of the book would involve him in broils and danger, and expresses a wish that he could have published it anonymously. But he was prepared, he adds, to sacrifice court favour, fortune, and his good name with the public, rather than, by an excess of prudence, throw a shade of discredit upon a work which he had composed with such lofty ends, and with so great labour. He was not wrong in his anticipations. It was impossible honestly to write the history of the stormy and profligate times in which he lived, without saying much that would shock religious zeal, offend party spirit, and raise up bitter enemies in those whose misdeeds were openly and unsparingly brought to light and condemned. De Thou, himself a Catholic, recognised the existence of virtue and talent among the Reformers, and exposed the selfish schemes and atrocious cruelties, which had been formed and exercised under the cloak of maintaining true religion. This was enough to bring on him the hatred of those who still clung to the principles of the League, and the enmity of the court of Rome, which in 1609 placed his History in the list of forbidden books, and, as has been said, exerted its influence with success in 1611, to prevent his promotion. In a Latin epitaph, which he composed for his own tomb, after a solemn declaration of his orthodoxy, he demands, as the only favour which he has to ask of men, to be more kindly treated by them after his death than he had been before it. Posterity at least has responded to the appeal, and by its admiration of the very qualities which involved him in his mortifications, has done him ample justice for the jealousy of Rome, and for the lukewarmness of the master whom he had well served through bad and good fortune.
The History is written in Latin: the style is good, but it is disfigured by the affectation not only of Latinizing names, but of expressing modern offices by classical phrases, which of necessity bear a very forced, or no analogy to the things which they are tortured to denote. For instance, it would be difficult to recognise the Constable of France under the title Magister Equitum. This makes the assistance of an explanatory dictionary very requisite, and such a one was published by Jacques Dupuy, in 1634, under the title, Index Thuani. The History is comprised in 138, or, as divided in some editions, into 143 books; and, in the London edition of 1733, fills six 54ponderous folios. In the relation of foreign affairs, De Thou’s authority is less valuable, for it is stated that he received with little examination the accounts which were transmitted to him from abroad: but for the history of France during the sixteenth century, his work is the standard authority on which later writers have relied. The best and wisest men of all parties have joined, since his death, in according to him the praise of strict integrity and impartiality, a generosity of temper which scorned to suppress or pervert the truth, and great diligence, as well as unusual opportunities, in ascertaining the real course of events. It is not meant to claim for him an entire exemption from the errors of limited information, or the faults of temper and prejudice: defects such as these are incident to all human productions. It is to be observed that the heaviest charges against him on this head have been made by those who were of his own religion.
The first portion of this work was published in 1604, comprising the first eighteen books, with the letter to Henry IV., which serves as a preface. This, which was translated into French, and published separately, has obtained great admiration, as one of the finest specimens extant of this branch of composition. De Thou published the remainder at different times, and superintended several editions. Prudential considerations induced him to make some changes and suppressions, but upon his death-bed he entrusted a perfect manuscript copy to his friends Peter Dupuy and Rigault, with injunctions to publish it. The passages expunged by De Thou himself were subsequently collected and published in Holland, under the title, Thuanus Restitutus. But the most complete edition is that of London, 1733, from the collections and papers of Carte the historian, which were purchased for that purpose by Dr. Mead. This consists of six splendid folio volumes, with a seventh, containing De Thou’s autobiography, and a variety of supplementary pieces. The Eloges of learned men, to the number of 400 and upwards, contained in the History, were extracted and published in a body by Antoine Teissier. The whole has been translated into French.
A doubt has been expressed whether the Latin memoirs which profess to be written by De Thou, proceed from his own pen, or from that of Rigault. They are translated into French, and printed by themselves. They are interspersed with many pieces in Latin verse, which De Thou took pleasure in composing, and wrote with elegance. He composed a poem on Hawking, entitled “Hieracosophion”, and translated the Book of Job, and several portions of the Prophecies. The gleanings of his conversation, extant under the title Thuana, are scarcely worthy of his high reputation.
Engraved by W. Holl.
From a Print by E. Fisher, after a Picture by R. Brompton.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
William Pitt, the first Earl of Chatham, was born in Westminster, November 15, 1708. He was sent to Eton at an early age, and admitted a gentleman-commoner of Trinity College, Oxford, in January, 1726. His father, Robert Pitt, Esq., of Boconnock, in Cornwall, died in the following year, and left to him the scanty inheritance of a younger son. He quitted Oxford without taking a degree; spent some time in travelling on the Continent; and entered the army shortly after his return. He obtained a seat in Parliament for Old Sarum in 1735, and attached himself to the party in opposition, then headed in the lower house by the Pulteneys, and favoured in the upper by the Prince of Wales. His known talents, and his determined hostility, soon drew upon him the anger of Sir Robert Walpole, who is reported to have said, “We must at all events muzzle that terrible cornet of horse.” Failing in this, he had recourse to a method of revenge which would not have been tolerated in later times, and took away Pitt’s commission. For this injury, however, the sufferer received an ample recompense in the increased estimation of the public.
Pitt spoke with great ability and energy, in 1739, against the proposed convention with Spain, and in 1740, against a bill introduced to facilitate the impressment of seamen, containing very arbitrary and oppressive provisions. Many of his speeches have been preserved, to a certain extent, in the periodical works of the day; though it is probable, from the very imperfect mode of reporting which then prevailed, that little remains of their original garb of words. Walpole was compelled to resign in 1742; but, with his usual dexterity, he contrived, by disuniting the opposition, to secure himself from the consequences of an inquiry into his conduct. Pitt spoke with much heat 56and eloquence in favour of the inquiry; and two of his speeches on this subject are reported at considerable length. He obtained no share in the ministry upon Walpole’s fall, and continued to be a leader in opposition during the years 1742–3–4. More especially he was earnest in reprobation of the Hanoverian policy, which was supposed at that time to have an undue preponderance in our councils: and his pertinacity on this point engendered in the breast of George II. a strong personal dislike, which is said to have prevented his admission into that which was whimsically termed the “broad-bottomed administration,” formed at the close of 1744. In that autumn he received a bequest of £10,000 from the celebrated Duchess of Marlborough, “upon account of his merit, in the noble defence he has made for the support of the laws of England, and to prevent the ruin of his country.”
Pitt was assured by the Pelhams, that as soon as the King’s antipathy could be removed, his services would be secured to the government: and he accordingly received the appointment, of Vice-treasurer of Ireland, February 22, 1746, and, May 6, was promoted to the office of Paymaster-general. In the latter capacity he showed his superiority to pecuniary corruption, by foregoing the profit which it had been usual to derive from the large balances retained in that officer’s hands, and by rejecting other lucrative perquisites of office. But he has incurred the charge of political dishonesty, by supporting measures, as a minister, analogous in character to those which, under former governments, he had so strongly condemned. On this subject we may quote the words of a recent writer on the history of parties in England. “By the absorption into the government of almost all its leaders and chief orators, the opposition was for some time reduced in Parliament to extreme insignificance. Mr. Pitt was now one of the most determined supporters of the very measures which the first ten years of his parliamentary life had been spent in condemning and opposing. Nor did he scruple to avow his change of opinion. In reference, for instance, to the claim of exemption from search for British ships when found near the coast of Spanish America, which, urged by the opposition in the time of Sir Robert Walpole, had involved the country in a war with Spain, and was afterwards abandoned at the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle by the government of which Pitt was a member, he said in the House of Commons that he had indeed once been an advocate for that claim; but it was when he was a young man; he was now ten years older, and having considered public affairs more coolly, was convinced it could not be maintained. 57In the same manner very much of his old jealousy of military power and of the prerogative appears to have evaporated in the cooler consideration which he had now been enabled to give to such matters. We do not profess to doubt the perfect honesty of Mr. Pitt in this change of sentiment; and we may also think that his more matured opinions were, upon the whole, more rational than those of his fervid and impetuous nonage as a politician; but the facts (which only furnish an instance of what has often happened) are worth recording as a lesson for such as are capable of understanding it.” It is to be recollected, that the remarkable events of 1745–6 may very well have modified Mr. Pitt’s opinions with respect to the maintenance of a standing army.
On the death of Henry Pelham, March 6, 1754, his brother, the Duke of Newcastle, became First Lord of the Treasury. Pitt’s wishes certainly pointed to the office of Secretary of State, vacated by the Duke, but he received no promotion. This was excused on the ground of the King’s personal dislike; but Pitt felt himself aggrieved; and having neither regard nor respect for the prime minister, he gradually placed himself in decided opposition to the government. Still he retained his place as Paymaster, until November 20, 1755, on which day, with his friends Legge and George Grenville, he was dismissed. In opposition, he resumed his former activity; and he had abundant ground for invective against the incapacity which led to those reverses in the Mediterranean, in America, and in India, which raised a general cry of indignation through the country. The Duke tried in vain to strengthen himself, by making overtures of reconciliation to Mr. Pitt, and at last resigned, November 11, 1756. The Duke of Devonshire went to the Treasury, Pitt was made Secretary of State, and Legge and Grenville both were taken into office. This arrangement was short-lived. The King was ill-pleased at the way in which the present ministry had been forced upon him; and he had a personal dislike to some of them, especially to Pitt, and to the first Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Temple, who was dismissed in April, 1757. Upon this Pitt resigned. During the short period of this administration, he had displayed his vigour and decision in originating measures to repair the loss which we had sustained in America; and had endeavoured, but in vain, to save the unfortunate Admiral Byng.
A sort of ministerial interregnum succeeded, and lasted until the beginning of June. The King tried in vain to construct an administration. Meanwhile Pitt was at the height of popularity; and 58addresses of approbation were showered on him from all parts of the kingdom. At last the King was compelled to recall him; and, after considerable negotiation, he consented to form a government in union with the Duke of Newcastle, whose parliamentary influence conferred on him a degree of importance quite disproportioned to the weakness of his character. Pitt, with the power of Premier, returned to his post as Secretary, and the Duke took the office of First Lord of the Treasury.
Pitt found the country engaged in an unsuccessful war, and hampered with a system of continental alliances, against which he had often directed the full vigour of his eloquence. By pursuing that system he endangered his popularity, and incurred the charge of having sacrificed his principles to his ambition. There is no doubt (and this ought to teach us moderation in our censures), that even honest men, in administration and in opposition, may view the same measures under very different aspects. Objectionable as he had thought and called that policy, he probably persuaded himself that, under existing circumstances, it was inexpedient to change it; and he followed it up with an energy and decision, which at least led to results very different to those which had disgraced the administration of his predecessors. He is reported to have said to the Duke of Devonshire, “My Lord, I am sure I can save this country, and nobody else can;” and the success which attended him made good one half at least of the boast. France was alarmed by frequent, and, on the whole, successful descents upon her shores; our connexion with Frederic of Prussia was strengthened and improved; the plans for the expulsion of the French from North America, which Pitt had formerly conceived, were now carried into effect; and the result of his judgment in selecting officers for foreign service, and of his indefatigable care that no preliminary steps were neglected at home, was seen in those various successes which were crowned by the glorious capture of Quebec, and the ultimate cession of Canada by the French. In three years he raised England from depression and despondency into a situation to give laws to Europe; and during that time he converted into confidence and favour that obstinate dislike with which George II. had so long regarded him. But with the accession of George III., October 25, 1760, a new favourite, Lord Bute, rose into power. Pitt continued at the head of administration for a time, but he found that his counsels had ceased to be the mainspring of government; and having been outvoted in the cabinet when he urged the necessity of immediately declaring war against Spain, he resigned, October 5, 1761, to use his own words, “in order not to remain responsible for measures 59which he was no longer allowed to guide.” The King bestowed on him a pension of 3000l., and raised his wife to the rank of Baroness Chatham.
Not many months elapsed before the new ministers found it absolutely necessary to declare war against Spain, the very point upon which Pitt had resigned. A general peace was effected by the treaty of Paris, signed February 10, 1763, by which Canada and other French possessions in North America were ceded to England. Pitt inveighed strongly, more strongly perhaps than was quite fair and candid, against the terms of this treaty; but he took no active part to overthrow the existing administration. In August, 1763, the King made overtures to induce him to return to office; and it is not very clearly known upon what account this negotiation failed. When Wilkes’s case brought forward the question of general warrants, Pitt took a strong part in condemning the use of them. In January, 1765, he received a second uncommon testimony of respect for his public conduct from Sir William Pynsent, an aged baronet of ancient family in Somersetshire, who, dying, bequeathed to him his property, to the amount of nearly 3000l. a year.
To the scheme for raising a revenue in America, Mr. Pitt was very strongly opposed. Illness prevented his attendance in the House of Commons when that scheme was first brought forward; but in his speech on the meeting of parliament, January 14, 1766, after tidings of the disturbances in America had been received, he declared his opinion in the strongest terms. “It is a long time, Mr. Speaker, since I have attended in parliament. When the resolution was taken in the House to tax America, I was ill in bed. If I could have endured to have been carried in my bed, so great was the agitation of my mind for the consequences, I would have solicited some kind friend to have laid me down on this floor, to have borne my testimony against it.... It is my opinion that this kingdom has no right to lay a tax upon the colonies. At the same time I assert the authority of this kingdom over the colonies to be sovereign and supreme in every circumstance of government and legislation whatsoever.” He recommended that the Stamp Act should be repealed absolutely and immediately, but that the repeal should be accompanied with an assertion of the sovereign power of this country over the colonies, couched in the strongest terms that could be devised, in every point whatsoever, except that of taking their money out of their pocket without their consent. These declarations coincided with the policy of the Marquis of Rockingham, who had been summoned by 60the King to form an administration in July, 1765, and who, without any fault on his side, was involved in all the difficulties and dangers which resulted from his predecessor’s ill-judged scheme for taxing America. Mr. Pitt had previously been applied to, but declined taking office upon the terms proposed; and he showed a coolness towards the Rockingham administration, which appears to have been uncalled for by any difference in their political opinions, and which, as far as we can conjecture from the course of events, was very prejudicial to the country. Disliked by the King, slighted by Mr. Pitt, whose influence in the nation was at this time at its height, harassed by a powerful opposition which regarded it base to yield to the demands of America, the Rockingham government rather fell to pieces than was broken up, little more than a year after its formation; and Mr. Pitt reached the utmost limit of ambition in being commissioned by the King to form a ministry, without the smallest limitation as to terms, in July, 1766.
Whatever gratification he may have felt at the moment, this high position added neither to his glory nor his happiness. It led in the first place to a violent quarrel with his most intimate friend and political associate, Lord Temple, who felt himself slighted by Mr. Pitt’s arrangements. Many of the most important persons, whose support he desired, felt aggrieved by his past conduct, or were offended by the haughtiness of his demeanour: Lord Rockingham, in particular, refused even to grant him an interview. And when the government was formed at last, it was of that ill-assorted and motley character which led Burke, in an often-quoted passage of his great speech on American taxation, to describe it as a “tesselated pavement without cement.” The Duke of Grafton was placed at the Treasury, and for himself Pitt took a peerage and the Privy Seal. The astonishment of every body at this was extreme. Lord Chesterfield says, “Mr. Pitt, who had a carte blanche given him, named every one of them (the new ministry); but what would you think he named himself for?—Lord Privy Seal, and (what will astonish you as it does every mortal here) Earl of Chatham. The joke here is, that he has had a fall up stairs, and has done himself so much hurt that he will never be able to stand upon his legs again. Every body is puzzled how to account for this step; though it would not be the first time that great abilities have been duped by low cunning. But, be it what it will, he is now certainly only Earl of Chatham, and no longer Mr. Pitt in any respect whatever. Such an event, I believe, was never heard nor read of. To withdraw in the fullness of his power, and in the utmost 61gratification of his ambition, from the House of Commons (which procured him his power, and which could alone insure it to him), and to go into that hospital of incurables, the House of Lords, is a measure so unaccountable, that nothing but proof positive could have made me believe it; but true it is.”
At this time often recurring paroxysms of gout had greatly shattered Lord Chatham’s constitution, and incapacitated him for that comprehensive superintendence over the affairs of government which he had exercised during his former glorious administration. Surrounded by a disjointed set of men, fluctuating in opinion, attached neither to each other nor to their chief, it was more than ever necessary that the master-hand should retain its wonted dexterity and power. But the case was very different. During the whole session of Parliament in 1767, Lord Chatham was prevented from attending to business by illness; and after the rising of Parliament he was compelled to inform the King, that “such was his ill state of health, that his Majesty must not expect from him any further advice or assistance in any arrangements whatever.” This declaration may be considered as equivalent to a resignation; but unfortunately he continued nominally in office until October 15, 1768, lending the sanction of his great name to a course of policy the reverse of that which he had advocated, especially in regard of the renewal of the attempt to tax America. On this subject Mr. Thackeray remarks, “A greater contrast in the feelings of the Cabinet and of the nation upon the present resignation of Lord Chatham, to those which were evinced upon his dismission from office in 1757, and upon his retirement in 1761, can hardly be imagined. His dismission in 1757 excited one common cry of enthusiastic admiration towards himself, and of indignation against his political opponents. The attention, not only of Great Britain, but of the whole of Europe, was attracted by his resignation in 1761; and, although the voices of his countrymen were not so universally united in his favour as upon the former occasion, the event was considered as affecting the interests of nations in the four corners of the globe. The resignation of Lord Chatham in 1768 was in fact nothing more than the official relinquishment of an appointment in which he had long ceased to exercise his authority, or to exert his abilities. It was expected by the ministry, it was little regarded by the people of Great Britain, it was almost unknown on the Continent of Europe.”
Repose soon wrought a favourable change in Lord Chatham’s health, for in 1770 he led the opposition in the House of Lords. The proceedings in the House of Commons against Mr. Wilkes formed the 62principal topic of his first attack: but he warned the House against the fatal tendency of the attempts to raise a revenue in America; and he took occasion, at an early period of the session, to express his belief of the necessity of introducing some reform into the representation of the people, and to proclaim his cordial reconciliation and union with the Rockingham party. At the end of January, to the general surprise, the Duke of Grafton resigned; and Lord North succeeding him, formed the first durable administration which had existed since the death of Henry Pelham. During the years 1771, 1772, 1773, and 1774, Lord Chatham very seldom appeared in Parliament. At the beginning of 1775, he made two vain attempts to induce the government to offer overtures of reconciliation to America: but during the greater part of that year, and the whole of 1776, the shattered state of his health prevented him from taking any part in public affairs. May 30, 1777, he came down to the House swathed in flannel, to move an address imploring the King to take the most speedy and effectual measures for putting a stop to hostilities in America, by removing the accumulated grievances of that country: and predicted, with his usual energy and eloquence, the certain results of the conduct which we were pursuing. “You may ravage, you cannot conquer; it is impossible, you cannot conquer the Americans. You talk of your numerous friends to annihilate the Congress, and of your powerful forces to disperse their army. I might as well talk of driving them before me with this crutch. What you have sent there are too many to make peace, too few to make war. If you conquer them, what then? You cannot make them respect you, you cannot make them wear your cloth: you will plant an invincible hatred in their breasts against you. Coming from the stock they do, they can never respect you.” The events of that year, the capture of Philadelphia, and the surrender of Burgoyne, fully justified his predictions. These events had not been announced in England in November, when Parliament again met; but in the debate on the Address on the 18th, Lord Chatham again raised his warning voice to predict the certain failure of the contest in which we were engaged. “I love and honour the English troops: I know their virtues and their valour: I know they can achieve anything except impossibilities; and I know that the conquest of English America is an impossibility. You cannot, I venture to say it, you cannot conquer America.” His speech on this occasion fortunately is very fully reported, and the records of our Parliament contain none more eloquent.
In February, 1778, Lord North announced the resolution of government 63to yield every point in question to the Americans, except their nominal independence of the crown. To this, little opposition was offered in either house; it probably was the line of conduct which Lord Chatham at this late hour would have advised. But the Americans had declared their independence, and were not now to be satisfied with anything short of a formal acknowledgment of it; and here the two great sections of opposition, the Rockingham and Shelburne parties, were divided. The latter, with Lord Chatham at their head, regarded such an acknowledgment as the prelude to the total ruin and degradation of the country. The former held that it was impossible to avoid it at last, and earnestly desired, since the colonists could not be retained as subjects, to secure their alliance to this country, and not to drive them into the arms of France. The Duke of Richmond moved an address embodying these views, April 7th, a day memorable for the most affecting scene ever witnessed within the walls of Parliament. We relate it as nearly as possible from the account communicated to Mr. Seward by an eyewitness, and published in his Anecdotes of distinguished Persons.
“Lord Chatham came into the House of Lords leaning on two friends, wrapped up in flannel, pale and emaciated. Within his large wig little more was to be seen than his aquiline nose, and his penetrating eye. He looked like a dying man; yet never was seen a figure of more dignity; he appeared like a being of superior species.
“He rose from his seat with slowness and difficulty, leaning upon his crutches, and supported under each arm by his two friends. He took one hand from his crutch, and raised it, casting his eyes towards Heaven, and said, ‘I thank God that I have been enabled to come here this day, to perform my duty, and to speak on a subject which has so deeply impressed my mind. I am old and infirm—have one foot—more than one foot, in the grave. I am risen from my bed, to stand up in the cause of my country!—perhaps never again to speak in this House.’
“The reverence, the attention, the stillness of the house, was most affecting: if any one had dropped an handkerchief, the noise would have been heard. At first he spoke in a very low and feeble tone; but as he grew warm his voice rose, and was as harmonious as ever; oratorical and affecting perhaps more than at any former period; both from his own situation and from the importance of the subject on which he spoke. He gave the whole history of the American war; of all the measures to which he had objected; and all the evils which he had prophesied in consequence of them; adding, at the end of each, 64‘And so it proved.’” He concluded with an energetic appeal against the “dismemberment of this ancient and most noble monarchy.” To the Duke of Richmond’s reply he listened with attention and composure: he then rose again, but his strength failed, and he fell back in convulsions in the arms of the Peers who surrounded him. The House immediately adjourned. On the following day the Duke of Richmond’s motion was negatived.
Lord Chatham was removed to Hayes, where he languished until May 12, 1778, on which day he expired. He was honoured with a public funeral, and a public monument in Westminster Abbey; a sum of 20,000l. was voted in discharge of his debts; and a pension of 4,000l. a year was annexed to the earldom of Chatham. He left five children by his wife, Lady Hester Grenville, sister of Earl Temple, whom he married November 6, 1754. He warmly loved and was beloved by his family, and in domestic life enjoyed all the happiness which unbroken confidence and harmony can bestow.
The character of this great man is thus drawn by Lord Chesterfield:—“His constitution refused him the usual pleasures, and his genius forbade him the idle dissipations of youth; for so early as the age of sixteen, he was the martyr of an hereditary gout. He therefore employed the leisure which that tedious and painful distemper either procured or allowed him, in acquiring a great fund of premature and useful knowledge. Thus, by the unaccountable relation of causes and effects, what seemed the greatest misfortune of his life, was perhaps the principal cause of its splendour. His private life was stained by no vice, nor sullied by any meanness. All his sentiments were liberal and elevated. His ruling passion was an unbounded ambition, which, where supported by great abilities, and crowned with great success, makes what the world calls a great man. He was haughty, imperious, impatient of contradiction, and overbearing; qualities which too often accompany, but always clog great ones. He had manners and address, but one might discover through them too great a consciousness of his own superior talents. He was a most agreeable and lively companion in social life, and had such a versatility of wit, that he would adapt it to all sorts of conversation. He had also a happy turn for poetry, but he seldom indulged, and seldom avowed it. He came young into Parliament, and upon that theatre he soon equalled the oldest and the ablest actors. His eloquence was of every kind, and he excelled in the argumentative, as well as in the declamatory way. But his invectives were terrible, and uttered with such energy of diction, and such dignity of action and countenance, 65that he intimidated those who were the most willing and best able to encounter him. Their arms fell out of their hands, and they shrunk under the ascendant which his genius gained over theirs.”
Mr. Thackeray’s ‘History of the Right Hon. W. Pitt, Earl of Chatham,’ in addition to the fullest account of his public and private life, contains copious extracts from the reports of his speeches, and his correspondence. The letters to his nephew, afterwards Lord Camelford, deserve notice, as exhibiting his private character in a very amiable light. The same may be said of the letters to his son, William Pitt, printed by Dr. Tomline in his life of that statesman.
[Death of Chatham, from the picture by J. S. Copley, R.A.]
That most of those who are now by universal consent numbered among the benefactors of the human race reaped little benefit from their genius, however actively exerted, is a melancholy truth not to be disputed, and seldom more strongly exemplified than in the instance of the great composer, who is the subject of this memoir. He to whom all the really civilized parts of the world are so deeply indebted for the increase, to an almost incalculable amount, of the stock of an intellectual and innocent pleasure, scarcely ever enjoyed a moment’s respite from ill-requited labour and corroding anxieties: few, not in a state of actual want, ever suffered more from the evils of poverty; and he who left so valuable a treasure to mankind had not in the hour of death the consolation of feeling that he had been able to secure against the miseries of dependence, an affectionate wife and her helpless offspring.
Johann-Chrysostomus-Wolfgang-Gottlieb Mozart was born at Salzburg, January 26, 1756. His father, Leopold, was sub-chapel master, or organist, to the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, and a skilful performer on the violin, a valuable treatise on which instrument he published, in quarto, under the title of ‘Violinschule,’ in 1769. Whatever time the duties of his office left at his disposal, he devoted to the education of his two children, and he began to give his daughter, who was four years older than her brother, instructions on the harpsichord, when the latter had scarcely completed his third year. The boy’s strong disposition for music then immediately developed itself: his delight was to seek out thirds on the instrument, and his joy was unbounded when he succeeded in discovering one of these harmonious concords.
Engraved by J. Thomson.
From a Print engraved by C. Kohl, 1793.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
67When Wolfgang had attained his fourth year, says M. Schlichtegroll, his father began, though hardly in earnest, to teach him a few minuets and other short pieces of music. It took the child half an hour to learn a minuet, and proportionately more time to master compositions of greater length. In less than two years he had made such progress, that he invented short pieces of music, which his father, to encourage such promising talent, committed to writing. It is to be regretted that not one of these curious manuscripts, if preserved, has ever been produced. Before he began to manifest a predilection for music, his amusements were like those of other children; and so ardent was he in the pursuit of them, that he would willingly have sacrificed his meals rather than be interrupted in his enjoyment. His great sensibility was observable as soon as he could make his feelings understood. Frequently he said to those about him, “Do you love me well?” and when in sport he was answered in the negative, tears immediately began to flow. He pursued everything with extraordinary ardour. While learning the elements of arithmetic, the tables, chairs, even the walls, bore in chalk the marks of his calculations. And here it will not be irrelevant to state,—what we believe has never yet appeared in print,—that his talent for the science of numbers was only inferior to that for music: had he not been distinguished by genius of a higher order, it is probable that his calculating powers would have been sufficiently remarkable to bring him into general notice.
When under six years of age, Mozart surprised his father, though well accustomed to these premature manifestations of musical genius, by the production of a concerto for the harpsichord, written in every respect according to rule, the only objection to which was its difficulty of execution. This circumstance at once determined Leopold Mozart to let the youthful prodigy be seen at some of the courts of Germany. He therefore carried his whole family, as soon as Wolfgang had completed his sixth year, to Munich, where they were received by the Elector in so flattering a manner, that the party returned to Salzburg to prepare for other visits. In 1762 they proceeded to Vienna, and performed at court. Here Mozart, when sitting down to play, said to the emperor Francis I.,—“Is not M. Wagenseil here? he ought to be present; he understands such matters.” The emperor sent for M. Wagenseil. “Sir,” said the child to the composer, “I shall play one of your concertos,—you must turn the leaves for me.” About the same time, a small violin was purchased for him, merely for his amusement; but while it was supposed to be little more than 68a toy in his hands, he made himself so far a master of the instrument, that when Wenzl, the violinist, brought his newly composed trios to Leopold Mozart for his opinion, Wolfgang supplicated to be allowed to take the second violin part, and accomplished the task as much to the satisfaction of the composer as to the wonder of all.
In 1763 the Mozart family commenced an extended tour, giving concerts in the principal cities through which they passed. In Paris they continued five months, and Wolfgang performed on the organ in the chapelle du roi, in presence of the whole court. There he composed and published his first two works, which, compared with other productions of the day, are by no means trivial. In April, 1764, the party arrived in London, where they remained till the middle of the following year. Here, as in France, the boy exhibited his talents before the royal family, and underwent more severe trials than any to which he had before been exposed, through which he passed in a most triumphant manner. So much interest did he excite in London, that the Hon. Daines Barrington drew up an account of his extraordinary performances, which was read before the Royal Society, and declared by the council of that body to be sufficiently interesting and important to form part of the Philosophical Transactions, in the seventieth volume of which it is published. But some suspicions having been entertained by many persons that the declared was not the real age of the youthful prodigy, Mr. Barrington obtained, through Count Haslang, then Bavarian minister at the British court, a certificate of Wolfgang’s birth, signed by the chaplain of the Archbishop of Salzburg, which at once dispelled all doubts on the subject.
In 1765, the family returned to the continent. At the Hague, where Mozart published six sonatas, they remained some months; then paid a second long visit to Paris, and, passing through Switzerland, reached Salzburg in 1768. Some time after, the children performed at Vienna before Joseph II., by whose desire Mozart composed an entire opera, La finta Sposa. Hasse and Metastasio both bestowed great commendations on the work, but it never was produced on the stage, and the probability is that its merit was only of a relative kind.
In 1769, Mozart (in his fourteenth year!) was appointed director of the Archbishop of Salzburg’s concerts. Shortly after he proceeded with his father to Italy, where he was received with enthusiasm. At Rome he gave a proof of memory which is still the subject of conversation in that city. He heard the famous Miserere of Allegri in the pontifical chapel, and knowing that the pope’s singers were forbidden, 69under pain of excommunication, to furnish a copy, or allow one, under any plea, to be taken, he gave his utmost attention to the composition during its performance, wrote it down when he returned home, and exultingly carried it with him to Germany. While in Italy, the pope invested him with the order of the Golden Spur. At Bologna he was unanimously elected a member of the Philharmonic Academy. He reached Milan in October, 1770, and in the following December gave his second opera, Mitridate, which had a run of twenty nights. In 1773 he composed another serious opera, Lucio Silla; this was performed twenty-six nights successively. He produced many other works of various kinds between that year and 1779, when he fixed his residence permanently in Vienna.
In his twenty-fifth year he was captivated by Madlle. Constance Weber, an amiable, accomplished, and celebrated actress, to whom he soon made a proposal of marriage. This was courteously declined by her family, on the ground that his reputation was not then sufficiently established. Upon this he composed his Idomeneo, in order to prove what means were at his command; and, animated by the strongest passion that ever entered his heart, produced an opera which he always considered his highest effort: certainly it was the first that showed his positive strength. Parts of it are in his most original, and grandest manner; but parts show that he had not quite emancipated himself from the thraldom of custom. Some of the airs, though far superior to those of his contemporaries, are too much in the opera style then prevailing, a style now become nearly obsolete; and when, a few years ago, it was wished to bring out Idomeneo at the King’s Theatre, it became evident that, if performed as originally written, its success would be very doubtful. To Madlle. Weber, on whom the composer’s affections were unalterably fixed, was assigned the principal character in the opera, and the high reputation which the author acquired by his work having immediately silenced the objections of Constance’s family, her hand was shortly after the reward of his efforts.
In 1782 Mozart composed Die Entführung aus dem Serail, (L’Enlévement du Sérail,) and here it is evident that he had entirely broken the fetters which before he had only loosened. Here is exhibited that style which, in an improved state, afterwards characterized all his dramatic works. It was on the first representation of this opera that Joseph II. remarked to the composer,—“All this may be very fine, but there are too many notes for our ears.” To which Mozart, with that independent spirit which always characterised him, 70replied,—“There are, Sire, just as many as there ought to be.” Le Nozze di Figaro—second in merit only to Don Giovanni, if to that—was produced in 1786, by command of the Emperor, by whose authority alone an Italian conspiracy against it was suppressed.
In 1787 appeared, first at Prague, the chef-d’œuvre of Mozart, his Don Giovanni, which was received with enthusiasm by the Bohemians, but at that time, and indeed years after, was above the comprehension of the Viennese public, whose taste, unlike that which prevails in the north of Germany, still inclines them to prefer the nerveless, meagre compositions of Italy. “This matchless work of its immortalised author,” never found its way to our Anglo-Italian stage till the year 1817, when it was performed in a manner that surpassed all former representations, and has never since been equalled. The production of Don Giovanni in London,—which put ten thousand pounds into the manager’s pocket, and forms an era in our musical history—was so strenuously opposed by an Italian cabal, that but for the courage and perseverance of the director of that season, it would have been put aside, even after all the expense of getting up and trouble of rehearsing had been incurred. The charming comic opera, Cosi fan tutti, was composed in 1790; Die Zauberflöte and La Clemenza di Tito, in 1791; the latter for the coronation of Leopold II.
The last and, taken as a whole, the most sublime work of Mozart, his Requiem, was written on his death-bed; and having been left in rather an unfinished state, his pupil, Süssmayer, filled up some of the accompaniments. This circumstance led, a few years ago, to a dispute concerning its authorship, some indiscreet friends of the latter having claimed as his composition the best parts of the mass. The assertions by which the claim was supported, and the arguments in its favour, proved unavailing against the internal evidence which the work afforded, and it is to be presumed that the controversy will never be renewed. A story, too, that an anonymous, mysterious stranger commissioned Mozart to compose the Requiem, raised many idle conjectures, some of them of the most grossly superstitious kind. The matter, however, has latterly been very satisfactorily explained.
2. See Harmonicon, vol. iv., page 102.
This illustrious composer, on whom nature bestowed so much vigour of imagination, so little physical strength, never seemed destined to attain longevity. Slightly constructed, and feeble in constitution, he required more mental repose than his necessities would 71allow. His mind did not yield, but his body gave way, and on the 5th of December, 1792, prematurely worn out, he expired thoroughly exhausted, without any appearance of organic disease.
It has been said of Mozart, that his knowledge was bounded by his art, and that detached from this he was little better than a nonentity. That his thoughts were almost wholly bent on music was not a matter of choice, but of necessity. Had not his miserably-remunerated labours occupied nearly all his time, his means would have been still more limited than they were. But we have reason to think (as we have elsewhere stated) that his acquirements were far greater than in England is generally believed; in proof of which we have the best authority for saying, that once, at a court masquerade given at Vienna, Mozart appeared as a physician, and wrote prescriptions in Latin, French, Italian, and German; in which not only an acquaintance with the several languages was shown, but great discernment of character, and considerable wit. Assuming this to be true, he could not have been a very ignorant man, nor always a dull one, out of his profession. But still stronger evidence in favour of his understanding may be extracted from his works. That he who, in his operas, adapted his music with such felicity to the different persons of the drama—who evinced such nicety of discrimination—who represented the passions so accurately—who coloured so faithfully—whose music is so expressive, that without the aid of words it is almost sufficient to render the scene intelligible,—that such a man should not have been endowed with a high order of intellect is hard to be believed, but that his understanding should have been below mediocrity is incredible.
Had Mozart lived, this country, which witnessed his early proofs of genius, would have enjoyed it in its matured and most luxuriant state. When Salomon, the celebrated violin player—an enterprising, liberal, sensible man—was about establishing his subscription-concerts in London, he went to Vienna to engage either Haydn or Mozart to compose symphonies for him, and after several “most amicable and pleasant meetings” (Salomon’s own words) between the parties, it was agreed that Haydn should first proceed to the rich capital of the British dominions, and that the following season he should be succeeded by Mozart. The illness and death of the latter rendered unavailing an arrangement which would at least have compensated his labours more adequately than they had ever before been rewarded. The father of modern orchestral music may be said to have made his fortune—a small one, it is true, but an independence—by his 72visits to London; and the creator of an entirely new, an infinitely superior, style of dramatic music would hardly have been less successful.
The compositions of Mozart are of every kind, and so numerous, that we cannot pretend to give even a bare list of them. But it may be observed, generally, that from the sonata to the symphony, from the simplest romance to the most elaborate musical drama, he—whose career was stopped before he had completed his thirty-sixth year—composed in every imaginable style, and excelled in all. In each class he furnished models of the greatest attainable excellence: “exquisite melodies, profound harmonies, the playful, the tender, the pathetic, and the sublime,” are to be found among his works. It is the exclusive privilege of first rate merit to be more admired as it is better known; and while inferior composers enjoy their day of fashion, and are forgotten, Mozart’s fame will continue to expand in proportion as mankind advances in taste and knowledge.
Engraved by W. Holl.
From a Print by Bolswert, after a Picture by Rubens.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
The family-name of the founder of the Order of Jesuits, commonly called Ignatius Loyola, is stated by Ranke, Romischen Papste, vol. 1, on the authority of judicial records, to have been Don Inigo Lopez de Recalde. He was born in 1491, at the Castle of Loyola, in the province of Guipuscoa, in Spanish Biscay; and being destined to the profession of arms, was sent, at an early age, to learn the rudiments of war and gallantry, at the court of Ferdinand and Isabella. He made great proficiency in both. Endowed with a lively imagination, and an ardent temperament, he became distinguished in arms, and first applied his talents, which were destined to such different purposes, to the composition of poetry. Thus he spent his youth; and he had already reached his thirtieth year, when he was called to the defence of Pampluna against the attack of the French. On this occasion he displayed his wonted valour, and while standing in the breach of the castle, he was struck by a cannon shot which fractured his leg. A tedious confinement followed; in part occasioned, as some assert, by his great anxiety to preserve the symmetry of the limb, which led him to undergo a second operation, to remove a deformity which had been occasioned by an ill-set bone. To relieve his weariness he called for some books of chivalry, but in their place he was supplied with the Lives of Saints, and other devotional works. He read them with extraordinary eagerness. He admired the zeal of those holy men; he sympathized in their sufferings; he envied their glory; and he aspired at their eternal recompense. His thoughts and wishes were thus turned into a new channel, and he entered on the path of spiritual warfare, with his natural ardour stimulated and inflamed by religious devotion.
Accordingly, he rose from his bed of sickness, resolved to renounce the pursuits and pleasures of this world, and to dedicate himself to the 74service of God. Still it was not without a desperate struggle that he could accomplish this resolution. He had a passion for military fame; he had a mistress whom it was necessary to abandon; and his earthly ties were as strong, as his temperament was violent. But the new sprung influence of religion overcame all obstacles. March 24, 1522, he passed the night in prayer and fasting in the church of the Holy Virgin at Montserrat; and having hung up his arms on the altar, he consecrated himself, according to all the forms of chivalry, to her service. At the same time he made a vow to perform a pilgrimage barefoot to Jerusalem; and he carried his immediate penance to such extremes of austerity, as to enervate his frame, and to endanger his life.
As the histories which had most deeply affected his imagination were those of St. Francis and St. Dominic, so the service which he vowed to the Virgin was one of privation and errantry. Accordingly he set out privately on his pilgrimage; and after tarrying some little time at Rome, to obtain the benediction of the Pope, he proceeded to Venice, and from Venice to Cyprus and the Holy Land. He reached Jerusalem, September 4, 1523, in the guise of the poorest pilgrim; and after indulging his piety in frequent visits to all the spots which religion and tradition have consecrated, he offered his services to the ecclesiastical officers resident there, for the conversion of the Infidels, or any other holy purpose. These however were refused, and he was dismissed, somewhat peremptorily, and commanded to return to Europe.
It is curious, in reviewing the lives of some of those eminent men, who have left lasting traces of their exertions, to observe how their own inclinations, had Providence allowed them their course, would sometimes have led them away from the work which they were commissioned to accomplish. Had Wesley proved a successful missionary, which was his earliest enterprise, the society which bears his name might never have existed. Had Loyola been permitted to spend his energies in attempts at converting the Jews or Turks, his life might have been of short duration, and his name might never have been heard beyond the limits of Palestine.
When his pilgrimage was completed, and he was restored to his native country, his passion for religious enterprise and distinction did not in any degree abate; but he soon discovered that his literary acquirements were wholly insufficient for his purpose. He began therefore, at the age of thirty-three, to apply himself to the rudiments 75of grammar; and endeavoured to regain lost time by his zeal and industry. He commenced his labours at Barcelona, and remained there till his pious attempts to reform a convent of abandoned nuns brought down upon him the vengeance of their lovers. Thence he retired to Alcala, where an university had lately been founded by Cardinal Ximenes. Here he pursued his studies with great ardour till the year 1527: he attempted at the same time the three sciences of logic, physic, and theology, and was bent on accomplishing by a single effort what results to other men from the patient employment of much time and labour. But it was too late in life. His mind had been already formed to more active pursuits, and he could not bend it to the acquisition of learning. A confused mass of knowledge, directed by no reflection, and founded on no principles, could neither be applied nor retained; and his endeavour to grasp so much, at so great a disadvantage, ended, where it was sure to end, in entire ignorance. He discovered his failure; and thenceforward directed his energies to a more attainable end: and, though he desisted not entirely from his tardy struggles after learning, he seems rather to have looked for success from the influence which personal intercourse generally enabled him to acquire over those about him. Some lectures, however, which he delivered at Alcala, gave offence to the authorities of that university; and after an imprisonment of forty-two days, he was prohibited from public preaching, until he should have completed a course of four years in theology. It seems too, that, together with two or three companions, he had assumed a peculiar dress, which they were ordered to lay aside.
From Alcala he removed to Salamanca; but there too he had no sooner resumed his preaching than the Inquisitors laid hands on him; and after a second confinement, with severer treatment, he and his companions were again dismissed, under a sentence not widely differing from the preceding. On these occasions it was not so much the character of his sermons which gave the offence, as the circumstance that they were delivered by a layman.
Thus discouraged in his native country, he hoped to find a wider, or at least a safer, field for his exertions in France. Accordingly he departed for Paris, and arrived there in the beginning of February, 1528. His means were extremely small, and even these had been provided by the generosity of his friends. He was deprived of all that remained to him, soon after his arrival, by the treachery of a fellow-student, and had no other method of subsistence than mendicity. 76Thus he lived, returning, as we are informed, with his first ardour to the rudiments of literature, and striving by his instructions and example to extend the narrow limits of his influence. Even thus however he was not beneath the notice of the Inquisitor, a special emissary of Clement VII., then resident at Paris; but on this occasion he cleared himself from any charge or suspicion of heresy, and was absolved without any particular injunction or reproach. But his poverty still compelled him to employ his vacations in begging, through various countries, the means which were to maintain him during his studies; and in one of these mendicant excursions, he visited certain Spanish merchants resident in London. Doubtless his powers of observation were profitably exercised during these wanderings, and his perpetual intercourse, even in the character of a religious beggar, with all classes of all nations, could not fail to improve a penetrating intellect in the art of dealing with mankind.
By this uncommon perseverance he was enabled to finish his course of study of three years, and was admitted to the degree of Master of Arts. Then again he betook himself more especially to theology; and it was at this time (1534) that he formed the first serious design of establishing a new Order. Such a project, in the hands of so very humble a person as Loyola then was, might have seemed wild and hopeless; and the prospect of its success was not improved by the number or quality of his associates. Seven individuals, of no distinguished rank or eminence, personal or ecclesiastical, some of whom were very young and others very poor, met together in the church of Montmartre, August 15, 1534, and devoted themselves to the service of Christ. They were prepared for this solemnity by prayer and fasting. One of them, Le Fevre, who had lately been ordained, administered the sacrament to his brethren in a subterraneous chapel; and all then bound themselves, by a solemn vow, to undertake a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the conversion of the infidels of the East, and to renounce all their possessions, except such as should be necessary for that pilgrimage: or else, in case they should be unable to accomplish that design, to throw themselves at the feet of the Pope, and offer their services as his faithful and gratuitous instruments and missionaries, for the performance of any ministry that he might think proper to impose on them. Another of these devotees was Francis Xavier, a Spaniard, fifteen years younger than Loyola; who, being from the very beginning one of his most zealous disciples, was numbered in later life among the most distinguished ornaments of the society.
Such was the origin of the “Society of the Jesuits.” From this 77little congregation of obscure enthusiasts in the subterraneous chapel of Montmartre arose that redoubted Company, which sprang up into such immediate eminence; which spread so soon through the whole body of Christendom; which took possession of the courts and the consciences of princes, and exerted for so many years a scarcely credible influence, in every quarter of the globe, over the course of human affairs. Its first professed object was the conversion of the infidels: the entire devotion to the Roman See, whence its future importance chiefly proceeded, was not, as it would seem, the primary motive which Ignatius inspired into his followers. Perhaps the chivalrous feeling which animated, or rather created, the earliest efforts of his piety, was not yet extinct within him—or it may have been his policy to put forward, as the leading part of his design, that which required the greatest sacrifice and offered the least reward. But, however that may have been, he had no sooner thus bound his associates together, than he prescribed to them rules and practices of devotion, daily meditations and penances, spiritual conversations, the study and imitation of the character of Jesus, constant self-examination, and frequent communion. He appointed the Day of the Assumption, the anniversary of their vow, for their peculiar observance; and during an interval of preparation necessary for his disciples, he directed his own exertions to repress the progress in France of the doctrines of Luther and Zuinglius.
After visiting his native country, he proceeded to Venice, according to agreement with his followers, for the accomplishment of their vow of pilgrimage: and arrived there at the end of 1535.
Their first design however was to present themselves at Rome. There Ignatius acquired the confidence of Peter Ortiz, a distinguished Spaniard, employed by Charles V. to sustain at the Holy See the validity of the marriage of Catharine of Arragon with Henry VIII. Ortiz presented him to Paul III., who approved his doctrine and encouraged his project. Howbeit, his departure for the Holy Land was prevented by the Turkish war, which at that moment broke out; and at the end of 1537 he assembled his companions, now increased to nine, at Vicenza, and persuaded them, that, as the approach to Palestine was closed, it only remained for them to fulfil the other part of their vow, and offer their devoted services to the Pope. Accordingly, Ignatius, with two others, returned to Rome for that purpose. The rest dispersed themselves among the principal academies of Italy, to gain proselytes. All bound themselves to the observance of certain distinctive rules and practices; and to any interrogatories 78which might be put to them respecting the Order to which they belonged, Ignatius instructed them to reply, that they were members of the Company of Jesus.
The encouragement which he received at Rome induced him to take further measures for the establishment and enlargement of his new Order. He presently recalled his missionaries, and collected them about him at Rome. During their residence at Venice they had taken the two vows of poverty and chastity; they now added that of obedience, and decided to elect a General with absolute power. They next determined to undertake a fourth and peculiar obligation—one, to which they had indeed already engaged themselves in the chapel of Montmartre, but which they had not yet proclaimed to the world—that of doing, without aid or recompense, any errand on which the Pope, as Vicar of Christ, might think fit to send them. Loyola then applied to Paul III. for the confirmation of his Order. Some obstacles arose, which were gradually removed. A charge of heresy, founded chiefly on his early persecutions at Alcala and Salamanca, was advanced with great clamour against him and his companions; but a judicial inquiry, by confirming their innocence, increased their reputation. An influential Cardinal earnestly opposed the establishment of the new Order. But his objections were finally overcome, and, September 27, 1540, the Pope issued his bull to sanction the institution of Ignatius. The number of his disciples was still confined to nine. Three of these were then absent from Italy,—Xavier and Rodriguez on a mission to India, Le Fevre at the Diet of Worms; so that on the day appointed for the election of a general, six only assembled, together with Loyola. He was chosen unanimously: but he affected great sorrow at this decision, and only accepted the honour, after it had been pressed upon him by a second assembly, and urged by the authoritative command of his confessor. The ceremonies of profession were performed in the Church of St. Paul, April 22, 1541; and while Ignatius made his vow of especial obedience directly to the Pope, the vows of the others professed were tendered exclusively to their General.
The Pope immediately availed himself of the services thus offered him, and sent the six disciples on various missions into different parts of Europe. Ignatius alone remained at Rome, and employed himself in offices of piety. He lectured publicly on religious subjects; he discharged many duties of humanity and charity; he took measures for the conversion of the Jews at Rome; he established a penitentiary for women reclaimed from sin; he founded an asylum 79for orphans; and the leisure which he could spare from these holy works, he devoted to composing the Constitutions of his Order.
These were founded on the principle of uniting spiritual meditation with active habits of practical piety; so that, while, on the one hand, he enjoined mental prayer, frequent self-examination, and religious retirement; on the other, he engaged his disciples to use every exertion for the instruction and sanctification of the rest of mankind. He commanded them to be perpetually exercised in preaching and missions, in the conversion of infidels and heretics, in the inspection of prisons and hospitals, in the direction of consciences, and the instruction of youth. To this end, he discouraged every severity of mortification, and all superfluity both in their public and private devotions. He prohibited the possession of property by any of his establishments, except colleges, which he permitted to be endowed for the advantage of necessitous students; and he closed, as far as he was able, all the various sources of ecclesiastical emolument. Similar professions of disinterested devotion and perfect self-denial had laid the foundations of the enormous wealth, power, and luxury of more ancient Orders; and if Ignatius had been actuated by ambition, he could have devised no better means of raising his society to affluence and importance, than by laying the same snare for the credulity of mankind.
In this mere sketch of the life of Loyola, it would be absurd to attempt any account of the internal constitution of his Order, of the particular laws by which it was regulated, of the gradual development of its principles, and the general evils which flowed from them. It is enough to give some faint notion of its earliest progress. Six years after the confirmation of the Order of Jesuits, a college was opened to them in Spain (it was the first of these establishments), by Francis Borgia, Duke of Gandia, and endowed with the same privileges as those of Alcala and Salamanca. Its statutes were composed by Loyola. In the same year, to give some pledge for the sincerity of his vow of self-denial, and to secure his followers against one of the commonest temptations of ambition, he prevailed upon the Pope to exclude them and their successors, by a perpetual edict, from the possession of bishoprics, abbeys, and every description of benefice. This restriction not only stamped them with a peculiar character, and recommended them to popular favour as singular instances of self-devotion, but also left them, for the furtherance of the especial objects of the society, the leisure, talents, and industry which might otherwise have been employed in the pursuit of ecclesiastical dignities, or the performance of pastoral duties. But it was not faithfully observed, even during the lifetime of Ignatius.
80The Spiritual Exercises, the great work of the founder of the Jesuits, is asserted to have been composed by him, aided by the inspiration of the Holy Virgin, very soon after his return from Jerusalem. His capacity for such a composition, at that period of his life, has been disputed by many, and various doubts have been thrown on its genuineness. Howbeit, the book passed for his during the infancy of the society, and in 1548 the Archbishop of Toledo took great pains to suppress it. Loyola turned this attempt into an advantage to himself. He caused the merits of the work to be strongly represented to Paul III., and obtained a bull in praise and confirmation of all contained in it. Thus recommended by the apostolical authority to the meditations of the faithful, it attracted more general attention on its author, and on the institution which he had founded.
After the first step had been taken, the progress of the Company of Jesus surpassed in rapidity all that is recorded of the infancy of the older establishments. It was scarcely planted in Spain before it spread to Ferrara, and other parts of Italy. In 1548 it got footing at Messina and Palermo. In 1550 it was introduced into Bavaria; and in the same year it was still further confirmed by a bull of Julius III., and enriched, as it had previously been, by abundant benefactions from the apostolic treasury. Two years afterwards, it founded a Germanic college at Rome, and by this time it could boast of similar institutions in many of the most civilized cities of Europe. And not in Europe only: its missionaries had already penetrated into India, Africa, and America. In the year 1553 they presented themselves in Cyprus, at Constantinople, and Jerusalem, and were carried by the same impulse into Abyssinia and China. France alone avowed her suspicion of their principles, and refused them admission: nor were the utmost endeavours of Loyola himself able to achieve this object. Howbeit, the perseverance of his followers, supported by their general success, succeeded even there, and in February, 1564, they opened their celebrated college in the Rue St. Jacques at Paris.
Cheered by this sudden and most rapid prosperity, Loyola, whom his disciples represent as the only spring of all the movements of the Company, and the sole spirit of the mighty body which was already spread over all the quarters of the world—whom his enemies describe as a vain, illiterate enthusiast, without talents, without knowledge, a mere machine in the hands of a crafty and worldly hierarchy—peaceably expired at Rome, July 31, 1566, surrounded by his disciples, and animated (as they relate) with the deepest feelings of piety, and gratitude to Providence for the blessing which had been vouchsafed upon his mission.
Engraved by J. T. Wedgwood.
From a Print by R. Dunkarton 1773, after a Picture by F. Parsons.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
Our memoir of the man who originated that system of canal navigation, which contributed in no secondary degree to the wonderful increase of our national wealth in the last century, is taken entirely, and in many parts verbatim, from Dr. Kippis’s Biographia Britannica. The article Brindley in that work, communicated by Brindley’s brother-in-law, Mr. Henshall, and his friend Mr. Bentley, appears to be the only original account of him extant, and the source from which all later accounts have been taken.
James Brindley was born in the parish of Wormhill in Derbyshire, in 1716. He was the son of a small freeholder, who squandered his property in rustic dissipation, and could scarcely afford to give him even the rudiments of education. His boyhood, therefore, was spent in rural labour: but at the age of seventeen he left his home, to be apprenticed to a millwright at Macclesfield. He soon exhibited an uncommon share of mechanical ingenuity, which enabled him to excel his master in planning and executing orders for machinery more complicated than usual, and caused his services to be eagerly sought and highly prized by those who had once occasion to employ him.
At a later period he went into business on his own account, and, by many useful inventions and contrivances, established his reputation throughout the neighbourhood as a skilful mechanic. He gradually obtained a wider range for the exercise of his powers. In 1752 he erected a remarkable engine to drain some coal mines at Clifton, in Lancashire, of which the moving power was a wheel fixed thirty feet below the surface of the earth, and driven by water drawn from the river Irwell, by a tunnel cut for near 600 yards through the rock. In 1755 he was employed to construct portions of the works for a silk mill at Congleton, under the superintendence of an engineer, who proved incompetent to the task which he had in hand. Brindley does not appear ever to have executed machinery of the sort required, and he had not even been permitted to see the general model of the mill: but on the incompetency of his superior being discovered, he came forward and told the proprietors, that if they would let him know 82what was the effect they wished to have produced, and would permit him to perform the business in his own way, he would finish the mill to their satisfaction. The knowledge which they had of his ability and integrity induced them to repose confidence in this assurance; he accomplished that very curious and complex piece of machinery, in a manner far superior to the expectations of his employers, and with the addition of several new and useful contrivances. He also invented machines for making tooth and pinion wheels, which hitherto had been cut by hand, and with great labour.
Many other improvements Brindley introduced into the mechanical arts. But about this time his thoughts were drawn towards a larger sphere of action by the resolution of Francis Duke of Bridgewater to cut a canal from his coal mines at Worsley to the town of Manchester, distant about seven miles. This scheme is said to have been before conceived by one of that nobleman’s predecessors: but that circumstance does not detract from the honour due to the great perseverance and resolution displayed in the execution of his plan. Divesting himself of the splendour which usually belongs to his rank, he devoted his large revenue almost entirely to his favourite undertaking: resisting the temptation to borrow money, lest he should involve himself and his successors in irremediable difficulties, in case of the failure of an undertaking which, from its novelty, no man living could assert to be certain of success. At the same time having selected Brindley as his engineer, on good experience of his skill and talent, he placed a noble confidence in him; and, without fear or distrust, devoted his energy and fortune to work out the magnificent design which the genius of his coadjutor had planned. As the difficulties to be overcome were very great, so there was little experience to guide the projectors. Navigable rivers indeed had been improved, and those which were not navigable by nature had been made so by pounding up their waters with locks and dams: but of canals, properly so called, this was the first constructed in England. That it might be perfect in its kind, it was resolved to preserve a level, and avoid locks altogether: but to effect this obstacles were to be overcome, such as never had been surmounted in England,—obstacles which had always been considered insurmountable. Navigable tunnels were to be cut, long and large mounds to be carried across valleys, and in the line which finally was adopted, an aqueduct bridge of three arches, nearly fifty feet in height, and including the embankments on each side, five hundred yards in length, was to be carried over the river Irwell. This part of the scheme being generally considered wild and extravagant, Brindley, to justify himself to his 83employer, desired that the opinion of another engineer might be taken. This was accordingly done: but the second, on being conducted to the spot where it was intended that the aqueduct should be made, exclaimed, “I have often heard of castles in the air, but never before was shown the place where any of them were to be erected.” But the Duke of Bridgewater’s confidence in Brindley was not to be shaken, and the bridge was undertaken and finished within less than a year.
It is needless now to give the details of works which, though they excited the wonder of contemporaries, have been far surpassed in magnitude by more recent undertakings. One feature in the Duke of Bridgewater’s canal, however, is too remarkable to be passed over: it is continued on the same level more than three quarters of a mile into the heart of the hill in which the collieries are situated, so that after a short transit in low waggons along the galleries of the mine, the coal is deposited at once in the barges which convey it to Manchester. For a fuller account, we may refer to Phillips’s History of Inland Navigation. In 1762, the Duke of Bridgewater obtained an Act of Parliament, enabling him to continue his canal from Worsley in an opposite direction to Runcorn, in the tideway of the Mersey, so as to establish a perfect water-way between Liverpool and Manchester, unembarrassed by the constant current, and inequalities of flood and drought, which impeded the navigation of the Irwell. In this part of the line several deep valleys, especially those of the rivers Mersey and Bollin, were to be crossed, and this was done without the assistance of a single lock. Brindley’s method of constructing the long embankments, which occurred in some places, was remarkable: he built caissons along the line of its intended course, into which boats laden with excavated soil were conducted by the canal itself, and discharged their contents upon the very spot where the ground was to be raised. Thus the canal, as it were, pushed itself forward; and the labour and expense of transporting these immense masses of earth was greatly diminished. To guard against the total loss of water, and ruin to the surrounding country, which might occur from a breach of these embankments, Brindley contrived stops, which were gates so hung as to lie horizontally near the bottom when the water was at rest, but to rise and close when any current should be produced by the banks giving way, and thus prevent the escape of any water, except that portion near the breach which should be comprised between them. It is hardly necessary to add that the result of this, the greatest undertaking perhaps ever performed by any private person out of his own fortune, has been the realization of an enormous income to the peer who undertook it, and to his heirs.
84This success encouraged others to proceed in the same course; and in 1765 a subscription was raised, and an Act of Parliament procured, for uniting the rivers Mersey and Trent, and consequently the ports of Liverpool and Hull, by what is commonly called the Grand Trunk Canal. Brindley bestowed this name upon it, in the expectation that, traversing a large and important portion of our manufacturing district, it would be the main trunk, from which a number of minor branches would spring. The scheme had been projected so early as 1755, and the ground surveyed, which for the most part offered little difficulty. But there was one line of high ground, called Harecastle Hill, which could neither be turned nor surmounted by any expedient that former engineers could devise. Brindley overcame the obstacle by driving a tunnel through it, upwards of a mile and five furlongs in length, and in some parts seventy yards below the surface of the ground. This canal, which is ninety-three miles long, was begun in 1766, and finished in May, 1777, less than eleven years after its commencement. In connexion with it, Brindley planned and executed a branch which joined the Severn, and thus gave Bristol an inland navigation to Hull, Liverpool, and Manchester.
Some notion may be formed of the impulse which Brindley’s energy and skill gave to the system of internal navigation, when it is stated that during the few years which elapsed between the completion of the Bridgewater Canal, and his death in 1772, he was engaged in at least eighteen different projects for cutting canals, or for improving rivers, without including those we have already mentioned. The mere names of these would be matter of little interest; they may be seen in the Biographia Britannica. Nor shall we now be expected to dwell on the unprecedented increase of trade and manufactures during the last century, and to point out how closely this is connected with our great facilities of internal communication. One thing, however, is too remarkable to be passed over: it was as nearly as possible at the same time that Watt, Arkwright, and Brindley, were effecting, each in his own department, those wonderful improvements in mechanical science, which conjointly have given such vast extent and importance to all branches of our manufactures, and which singly would have been, as it were, each of them crippled and imperfect. Of Brindley’s private history, scarcely any particulars are preserved. The following account of his character is stated by Dr. Kippis to proceed from the pen of Mr. Bentley, a partner in the celebrated house of Wedgwood, who knew him well:—
“When any extraordinary difficulty occurred to Mr. Brindley in the execution of his works, having little or no assistance from books, 85or the labours of other men, his resources lay within himself. In order therefore to be quiet and uninterrupted, whilst he was in search of the necessary expedients, he generally retired to his bed; and he has been known to lie there one, two, or three days, till he had attained the object in view. He then would get up, and execute his design without any drawing or model. Indeed, it never was his custom to make either, unless he was obliged to do it to satisfy his employers. His memory was so remarkable, that he has often declared that he could remember and execute all the parts of the most complex machine, provided he had time, in his survey of it, to settle in his mind the several departments, and their relation to each other. His method of calculating the powers of any machine invented by him was peculiar to himself. He worked the question for some time in his head, and then put down the results in figures; after this, taking it up again in that stage, he worked it further in his mind for a certain time, and set down the results as before. In the same way, he still proceeded, making use of figures only at stated periods of the question. Yet the ultimate result was generally true, though the road he travelled in search of it was unknown to all but himself; and, perhaps, it would not have been in his power to have shown it to another.
“The attention which was paid by Mr. Brindley to objects of peculiar magnitude did not permit him to indulge himself in the common diversions of life. Indeed, he had not the least relish for the amusements to which mankind in general are so much devoted. He never seemed in his element, if he was not either planning or executing some great work, or conversing with his friends upon subjects of importance. He was once prevailed upon, when in London, to see a play. Having never been at an entertainment of this kind before, it had a powerful effect upon him, and he complained for several days afterwards, that it had disturbed his ideas, and rendered him unfit for business. He declared, therefore, that he would not go to another play upon any account. It might, however, have contributed to the longer duration of Mr. Brindley’s life, and consequently to the further benefit of the public, if he could have occasionally relaxed the tone of his mind. His not being able to do so, might not solely arise from the vigour of his genius, always bent upon capital designs; but be, in part, the result of that total want of education, which, while it might add strength to his powers in the particular way in which they were exerted, precluded him, at the same time, from those agreeable reliefs that are administered by miscellaneous reading, and a taste in the polite and elegant arts. The only fault he was observed to fall into, was his suffering himself to be prevailed upon to engage in more concerns 86than could be completely attended to by any single man, how eminent soever might be his abilities and diligence. It is apprehended that, by this means, Mr. Brindley shortened his days, and in a certain degree abridged his usefulness. There is, at least, the utmost reason to believe, that his intense application in general to the important undertakings he had in hand brought on a hectic fever, which continued upon him, with little or no intermission, for some years, and at length terminated his life. He died at Turnhurst, in Staffordshire, on the 27th of September, 1772, in the fifty-sixth year of his age, and was buried at New Chapel in the same county. The vast works Mr. Brindley was engaged in at the time of his death, he left to be carried on and completed by his brother-in-law Mr. Henshall, for whom he had a peculiar regard, and of whose integrity and abilities in conducting these works he had the highest opinion.
“The public could only recognise the merit of this extraordinary man in the stupendous undertakings which he carried to perfection, and exhibited to general view. But those who had the advantage of conversing with him familiarly, and of knowing him well in his private character, respected him still more for the uniform and unshaken integrity of his conduct; for his steady attachment to the interest of the community; for the vast compass of his understanding, which seemed to have a natural affinity with all grand objects; and likewise for many noble and beneficent designs, constantly generating in his mind, and which the multiplicity of his engagements, and the shortness of his life, prevented him from bringing to maturity.”
[Aqueduct over the Irwell.]
Engraved by J. Posselwhite.
From a Print by Faustin Anderloni, after a Picture by G. von Kügelgen.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
Schiller is as universally acknowledged to be the second of German, as Milton is of English poets: and these great names, after those of Goethe and Shakspeare, denote the chiefs of the national literature of their respective countries. But the German poets were not merely contemporaries, but associated in friendship and congenial pursuits; and so much light is thrown upon the character of each by its being contemplated in connexion with that of the other, that in our endeavour to compress within very narrow limits the pregnant matter which this great man’s name suggests, we shall take leave to call in aid our attempted characteristics of his greater friend, and request that this article may be considered as a sequel to the former.
Frederick Christopher von Schiller was born at Marbach, in the duchy of Wurtemburg, November 10, 1759. His father held the rank of captain in the service of the duke, and was in fortune so low, that he was glad to place his son, in 1773, after an ordinary school-education, in the ducal academy of Stuttgard, which, partaking of an eleemosynary character, subjected the pupils to military discipline, though training for arts and professions called liberal. Schiller had early in life manifested the sensibilities common to the religious and poetic temperament, but was compelled to forego the study of theology, because this institution made no provision for it. He began with law, but finally went through a course of medical study, so as to obtain the post of regimental surgeon in 1780. These pursuits were against his inclination. During eight years, as he said, his genius was in conflict with military subjection. He ought rather to have said, that thereby his genius received the direction which determined the course of his life. For it was while under the sad impressions 88produced by a life of restraint within the walls of the academy, that he composed his tragedy of The Robbers, which he found means to print in 1781. Germany was at that period without a national theatre; scarcely half-a-dozen original stock-plays could be now produced which were then popular. Hence this juvenile work, with all its faults and extravagances (perhaps on account of these), was received with a tumult of applause in many parts of Germany. He was invited to adapt it to the stage, and it was performed the following year at Manheim. Of this most faulty and most famous maiden-play, it will be sufficient to remark that it exhibits, in over-charged colours, relations of life and character most likely to strike a youthful imagination. It represents in contrast two brothers. One, originally noble and heroic, becomes the perpetrator of those crimes against society, which law punishes with its severest penalties. The other betrays a character far more odious and revolting to the moral sense of mankind. The result is a catastrophe of appalling horror. The young poet solicited for leave of absence to witness the representation of his first play, which was refused him. He therefore, in defiance, made a journey to Manheim, and was punished by a fortnight’s arrest in his own house. He was also found guilty of having in his play uttered a national reflection on the people of the Grisons. For this he was reprimanded, ordered by his sovereign not to write on any subject but medicine, or at least to submit any literary work to the inspection and correction of his Serenity, and threatened with imprisonment in a fortress. While he was compelled to submit to a tyranny so humiliating, he learned that beyond the limits of the petty state to which he belonged, his work was the subject of loud and even extravagant applause. After a severe conflict, he abandoned his parents and the friends of his youth, and in October of the same year made his escape from an intolerable servitude. It has been gravely stated, to the credit of the duke, that he suffered his disobedient subject, some ten years afterwards, when he had acquired celebrity, to visit his family unmolested. That is, he was not seized and shot as a deserter.
When Schiller thus threw himself on the world, he had no other friends than those whom these early fruits of his talents had raised, no other support than the consciousness of those talents, nor other immediate resource than the unwrought materials of two other tragedies in prose, which he produced almost immediately, and which established his character as a dramatic poet. These were the Conspiracy of Fiesco, a political play taken from the romantic tale of St. Real, in which the intrigues of republican faction were picturesquely exhibited, 89and Cabal and Love, in which the tragic distress arises from the conflict between the natural passion of love, and the conventional social duties which originate in the relations of birth and station. During the completion of these juvenile works, which appeared in 1783 and 1784, his first asylum was Manheim, where he even deliberated about becoming an actor; and his first patron was the munificent ecclesiastic Baron von Dalberg, who became at a future period, under the French government, Prince-primate of Catholic Germany. Schiller also became the editor of the Rhenish Mercury, a monthly miscellany devoted to literature and the arts, and engaged in manifold literary labours, for which he had to qualify himself by supplying the defects of a very imperfect education. He early felt the necessity of studying history as indispensable to the cultivation of the serious drama, and so he became an historian by profession. At that time, it was a fashionable opinion that all sciences and arts were to be founded on metaphysics, and he became also a metaphysician. But in order to pursue these studies, it was not on the north-western frontier of Germany that he could profitably remain.
Saxony was already become the seat of literature as well as philosophy. He removed thither, and during the years 1785–1789, he resided at Leipzic, Dresden, Rudolstadt, and Weimar. At the latter place he gained the favour of Wieland and Herder, during the absence of Goethe in Italy. It was in 1787 that these great poets met. Though mutually repelled at first by obvious dissimilarities of character and genius, they were soon attracted and united by their common love of art and poetry. Under the auspices of his new friend, Schiller obtained, in 1789, the professorship of history at the neighbouring University of Jena, where he cultivated, as a teacher and as a writer, both history and philosophy, which in that university were followed with great celebrity: he himself lectured on history and æsthetics (the science of taste). In the year 1790 he united himself in a happy marriage with a lady of good family but small fortune, Fraûlein Lengenfeld. But at this early period he was attacked by disease; and the state of his health compelled his removal to Weimar, whence he never departed. Here he lived in the closest intimacy with Goethe. Their union was a memorable incident, even in the life of Goethe. But it was the one great event in the life of Schiller, by which his education was consummated, and he was enabled to execute nearly all the great works on which his reputation rests. A few years were now spent in intense intellectual labour, rendered painful by the attacks of disease. He edited first 90the Thalia, and then a monthly work of higher pretensions, ‘Die Horen’ [the Hours]. He published for several years an Almanac of the Muses, and with unwearied assiduity devoted himself to the drama as literary manager, translator, editor, and author. The eagerness with which he pursued these various avocations, it has been generally thought, undermined his constitution. For several years before his death he devoted his nights, not days, to poetic composition; and his pale and emaciated countenance, and the lassitude and debility of his frame, announced the ravages of disease which carried him off, May 9, 1805, in the forty-sixth year of his age. He left a widow and several children, who were enabled to occupy an honourable station in society. During his latter years, Schiller enjoyed a pension from the Duke of Weimar, sufficient, in addition to the profits of his works, to enable him to live in comfort; and a patent of nobility was procured for him by the Duke, to replace his lady in her station at the court of Weimar, from which her marriage with a commoner had excluded her. Schiller was in figure tall and thin. The characteristic features of his feeling and melancholy countenance are admirably represented on the colossal bust executed in marble, by Dannecker, which is preserved at Stuttgard.
Schiller’s numerous works may be classed under the heads of criticism, history, lyrical poetry, and the drama. We shall endeavour to characterise them, in the inverse order of their importance. In all of these departments his writings acquired immediate popularity. And in the latter they will enjoy permanent distinction, more from the vigorous style, warm sensibility, and fine moral feeling which are diffused over all his compositions, than from the development of the peculiar genius which any one class especially requires. When Schiller emancipated himself from the thraldom of his youth, the Kantian metaphysics were become popular among students. With characteristic ardour he became a disciple of the new school, and laboured to apply the critical philosophy to poetry and the arts. His first writings were scholastic exercises performed in public. But as the philosophy of his country, like his own mind, was in a state of transition, his metaphysical dissertations on æsthetical education, on naive and sentimental poetry, &c., deserve notice chiefly as appertaining to the literary history of a memorable philosophical crisis. They did not serve even to lay the foundation of a system of poetics, which was reserved for the Schlegels. These constitute three volumes.
The historical works of Schiller originated in his dramatic studies. 91These led him to the subjects of his histories; and his mode of treating these subjects as a dramatist, and an historian, is such that we must blend the consideration of his two historical works with two of his most famous tragedies. The first of his elaborate dramas in blank verse was Don Carlos, in connexion with which was written the commencement of a history of the successful insurrection of the Dutch against the Spanish despotism. In his play he has not, like Otway in his forgotten tragedy, and Alfieri in his Filippo, rendered the real or supposed love of the young prince to his step-mother the most important incident. The heroic reformer, Marquis Posa, is the character that most excites the sympathy of the reader. And it is the sort of prophetic prelude to the reformation that engrosses his attention. So in the history, the author addresses himself rhetorically to the patriotism, the love of religious and civil liberty, and other virtuous feelings of his reader. Schiller is no where the critical investigator of doubtful facts, nor is he an authority to decide the merits of a doubtful character. His other great subject was the Thirty Years’ War. This narrative also is a series of eloquent dissertations, splendid descriptions, and pregnant moral reflections, rather than a philosophic development of the chain of events. His Wallenstein, which dramatises a chapter of that history, is the most laboured of his dramas; and it obtained for him the honour of a translation from a man of kindred genius, Coleridge. In the half comic prelude, called The Camp, and the two parts of the tragedy, all the varieties of the military character and of military cabal are unfolded. Besides the hero himself, the subtle intriguer the elder Piccolomini, is finely contrasted with his high-minded, enthusiastic son, the lover of Thekla, the exquisite daughter of the heroic victim.
Besides the four volumes of these histories, there are two others of minor historical treatises. And it may be noticed here, in connexion with this class of his writings, that he began a romance called the Ghost-Seer, the historical foundation of which lay in the tragi-comic absurdities, and mischievous vagaries of the German illuminati and freemasons, a strange compound of superstition and infidelity, with which were blended political fanaticism, fraud, and sentimental philanthropy. This disease was partly cured by, and partly absorbed in the events of the French Revolution.
But it was as a philosophic and lyric poet that Schiller’s peculiar genius developed itself, and in this class of his works chiefly do we find those qualities which characterise him morally and intellectually, and exhibit him in striking contrast to his friend Goethe. As in his 92philosophical and historical writings, Schiller never wrote under the influence of the mere love of truth, but was impelled by moral feelings, always generous and noble; so it was in his poems. They neither mainly originated in, nor were addressed especially to the imagination. A large portion of them were metaphysical exercises in verse. There were scattered, even among these, the “thoughts that breathe and words that burn,” but they were not poetical, because they were addressed either to the mere intellect, the faculty of solving philosophical problems, or to the will, under the excitement of passions, which, however exalted in their character, are far remote from the exercise of imagination, and do not originate in the sense of beauty. Even the ballads of Schiller are didactic and moral, and therein strikingly contrasted with those of Goethe. Each poet idealised in his own way; but the ideal of the one was framed according to a law of natural, that of the other, according to a law of moral beauty. Goethe avowed his creed, “faults as well as virtue look well in song.” He therefore, availing himself of a style incomparably graceful, exhibits the passions of humanity in all their natural charm, and so fascinates the sense of natural beauty in the reader, that he is content to disregard what a severe moral sense might require. Schiller’s ballads, on the contrary, originate in, and have no other object than to excite, a passionate sympathy with virtuous and heroic affections and actions. But though there is “a pomp and prodigality of phrase,” there is seldom that magic of style that leaves the most fastidious taste gratified. Among these lyric poems, a considerable portion originated in his political and patriotic, or rather philanthropic feelings. To appreciate these, we must bear in mind that Schiller was brought up in a country, the people of which possessed no political power, nor any civil liberty but under sufferance; and that during the more important period of his life, his country suffered under the aggravated oppression of a foreign yoke. No English reader can form a correct judgment of any German political work of the last age, be it of thought or imagination, who for an instant forgets either of these two facts; and in the study of the works of Goethe and Schiller, it is especially necessary to keep them always before us. It must otherwise appear unaccountable, that since the youth of Schiller had been passed in the suffering incident to oppressed poverty; since he had the consciousness of not occupying that station in society to which his natural superiority over others entitled him; since he had the constitutional ardour of a man of genius, and was, by his position in society, led to feel, as a reformer, not to say agitator, on every polemical question 93that could arise between the people and the privileged orders; there should, notwithstanding all this, be so little that is stimulating and practical in his writings. But the wonder ceases, when it is borne in mind, that while in Britain the French Revolution was an object of hope or fear, and was held up as party feelings prompted, either as a warning or an example, in Germany it was seldom more than a problem for the exercise of the talents of speculative men: and whatever susceptibility to insurrectional excitements there might be among any class of the people, was repressed, not merely by the utter extinction of all liberty in France, but by all the humiliations and oppressions endured in every part of Germany from an imperious conquering enemy. Hence, while the German people went far beyond the British in the intensity of their hatred towards France, the privileged order of thinkers among them, from their habits of abstract speculation, were able to contemplate the events of the day, as well as the principles set afloat, with an unsympathising coolness unknown either in England or France. Hence, even in Schiller, whose earliest writings betrayed tendencies from which it might be feared that a German Jacobin would be formed, the love of liberty soon subsided from a passion into a taste. It became a quiet, moral sentiment, like the love of religion, of virtue, of country: he never could indeed lay aside his essentially moral and sentimental nature; nor during the period of his country’s abasement, which to the irretrievable loss of the nation he did not survive, could he, like Goethe, devoting himself to the studies of pure art and science, dismiss by an effort from his mind the consideration of the painful incidents of the day. On the contrary, they entirely filled his soul; they formed the background of all his speculations and feelings, in his dramas, histories, disquisitions, and poems. A sentiment which for years pressed on him, and which appropriately terminates the collection of his poems in two volumes, we will venture to render in prose, as most expressive of the sort of philosophic resignation to which he at length brought himself at the close of the century. “Two mighty nations are wrestling for the sole possession of the world. To annihilate freedom in every country, they wield the trident and the thunderbolt. To them every land must pay tribute. The Gaul, like Brennus, throws his iron sword into the scale of justice, and the Briton greedily stretches out his polypus arms on every side, and will shut up the free realm of Amphitrite, as if it were his own mansion.... Into the still and sacred recesses of the heart you must fly from the pressure of life. 94Freedom is only in the realm of dreams, and the beautiful blooms only in song.”
But it was not as a lyric poet that Schiller exercised the widest influence over his countrymen. It was in the more popular form of the drama, to which perhaps his genius was less adapted, that he sought and acquired a fame that has already reached the utmost limits of European civilization.
His dramatic works fill seven volumes. Not to repeat our remarks on the three juvenile prose tragedies, and on Don Carlos and Wallenstein, we proceed to enumerate the master-pieces which he produced during the last years of his life; but we must, for want of space, pass over unnoticed his less successful attempts at comedy, his translations of Shakspeare’s Macbeth, Racine’s Phaedra, and Gozzi’s Turandot; and his labours on the works of other authors. The result of these, his various studies, was the production of a form of tragedy, which, to be fairly appreciated, must be compared with the French, not the English, drama: for Schiller stands at an immeasurable distance, not merely from Shakspeare, but from the great body of the romantic dramatists of the English and Spanish schools, in whom are to be found either profound development of character, or elaborate skill in the entanglement and management of incident. Schiller has however, on the other hand, enhanced the dignity, and poetically enriched that form of tragedy which the French gratify their vanity by claiming as peculiarly their own, and which they do not hesitate to proclaim an improvement on the Greek! This class is essentially rhetorical. The French public seem to estimate the master-pieces of their favourite tragic poets, chiefly by the number of fine quotable passages they supply; while their critics estimate their worth by their conformity with certain purely artificial rules. One of them says, “Though the English stage has not one perfect tragedy [we had thought Cato to be perfect in their eyes], yet it has many fine scenes: we cannot say so much for the German.” In this the critic is wrong on his own principle. The great works of Schiller contain, relatively, as many splendid declamatory passages as are to be met with in the tragedies of Corneille, Racine, or Voltaire: and he has in the structure of his pieces amply made up for his disregard of the dramatic unities, by the infusion of higher beauties, both of sentiment and character, than the French school can boast of. In the enumeration of his later tragedies, we can merely point out the subjects to which his taste and opinions naturally led him.
95In 1800 he attained the summit of his dramatic reputation by Maria Stuart. This tragedy exhibits, not the early and guilty love, but the late sufferings and death of the Queen of Scots. The author, as becomes the poet, takes no part in the controversies which her ambiguous character has produced. With an allowable departure from historic truth, he brings together the rival queens, and succeeds in rendering Mary an object of admiration and pity, and Elizabeth, not of disgust. He finely opposes the heroic enthusiasm of the youthful Mortimer to the flagitious wiles of the practised courtier Leicester, and avails himself of the most solemn rite of the Roman Catholic church to enhance the picturesque effect, and clothe poetically the religious feeling that adorns and sanctifies the character of the heroine.
In 1801 he produced the most poetical of his historic dramas, the Jungfrau von Orleans. It was reserved for a German to render due honour to the most romantic of French heroines, who was degraded, perhaps, by Shakspeare. The unworthy caricature which passes under his name at least, only shows the virulence of national prejudices. Joan of Arc has been not only shut out from the temple of Fame erected in her own country, but her name has been polluted by the impurities so vilely cast on it by Voltaire: while French literature has only its infamous Pucelle, the German stage has its Virgin of Orleans. In this romantic play, Schiller has poured a richer stream of poetry over the camp and military glory than in his Wallenstein; and has exquisitely contrasted with the sacred virago, the frail, tender, most lovely, and admirable Agnes Sorel.
In 1803 appeared the Braut von Messina, a lyrical play, in which the author has introduced not only a chorus, but other prominent ingredients of the Grecian tragedy, oracles, dreams, an overwhelming fate, and a Nemesis, whose vengeance falls alike on the evil and good; by means of which pity and terror are excited. The odes are splendid, but the dramatic effect on the stage is weak.
In 1804, in the year preceding his death, Schiller produced the most picturesque of his dramas, Wilhelm Tell. The name sufficiently announces the plot, in which well-known incidents are inartificially exhibited. The characters display all the varieties of moral beauty which harmonize with the scene, and those virtues which the incidents are likely to call forth. Throughout there is an exhilarating predominance of good over evil, which forms a pleasing contrast to the fierce passions and barbarous themes which attracted the author in his youth. It was the fit termination of his short career, for it impresses 96the spectator and reader with the feeling that the poet ended his labours a happier and better man than he began. His untimely death while his last work was in the enjoyment of its fresh popularity, spread a universal sorrow over Germany, which had never yet beheld so powerful an intellect devoted to interests of such high morality, and in such perfect harmony, with the wants and wishes of his age and country.
For a further account, we refer to the life by Thomas Carlyle—Leben von Döring; and the brief memoir by Körner, prefixed to the edition in eighteen volumes, Vienna and Stuttgard 1819. Of English translations we may enumerate, besides two of Wallenstein, The Maid of Orleans, printed, but not yet published, by Mr. Drinkwater; Maria Stuart, by Mr. Mellish; and also Don Carlos, and the three prose tragedies by we know not whom. Translations have also been published of the Ghost Seer, and the two historical works; and also of a number of the poems in periodical works, besides several of the ballads, and the Song of the Bell, with illustrations by Retsch.
[From a bust of Schiller by Dannecker.]
Engraved by J. Posselwhite.
From an Original Picture by J. Watts, in the possession of J.A. Roebuck. Esq.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
The life of Jeremy Bentham was peculiarly that of a student, and, consequently, in common with the lives of many others who have acquired extensive celebrity, it presents few passages of a personal kind that can be separated from the account of his studies and his publications. Bentham was the son of an eminent solicitor, resident in the city of London, and was born February 15, 1748. At an early age he was sent to Westminster School, from which he removed to Queen’s College, Oxford. Both at school and at the university he is said to have distinguished himself. At sixteen years of age he took the degree of B.A., and before he was twenty he took that of M.A. No inference, however, as to the development of his talents, or the extent of his acquirements, is to be drawn from the early age at which these degrees were obtained: for it was the common practice, until towards the end of the last century, for students to commence and terminate their studies at the universities, at a very early period of life. While at Oxford, Mr. Bentham subscribed the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, under exceedingly painful feelings of doubt respecting their interpretation. He yielded to the authority of the university, which requires that subscription from its graduates; but this compliance in opposition to his judgment was followed by a sense of bitter regret, which the lapse of time never removed. During his residence at Oxford he attended the celebrated lectures delivered by Blackstone upon the English law, and his dissent to the almost universal panegyric of the lecturer upon every part of the system of which he treated, was expressed in a work published by him soon after he left the university, entitled A Fragment upon Government. In this treatise he exposes, with great force, 98many of the errors that are chargeable upon the Commentaries. The style in which it is written is exceedingly correct, and, like all his earlier works, it is entirely free from those peculiar expressions which abound in the later writings of the author,—expressions which, though they have been the subject of much mirth and ridicule, favoured a precision and accuracy of thought that excuses their use. This Fragment contains the germ of his later works, and is remarkable for the mode it introduced of dealing with the science of government. It was the first philosophic attack upon many of the distinguishing characteristics of the English constitution.
After leaving Oxford, Mr. Bentham became a member of Lincoln’s Inn, and in 1772 was called to the bar. The connexions of his father afforded to him a very favourable prospect of professional advancement, which was greatly extended by his own extraordinary habits of industry. But he was repelled from the practice of the law by the moral sacrifices which he conceived it to require, and by the impossibility of combining it with speculative pursuits. He continued, however, a member of Lincoln’s Inn, of which society he became a bencher in 1817. In the year 1785 he left England for nearly three years, and, after proceeding through France and part of Italy, went on to Smyrna and Constantinople, through Bulgaria, Wallachia, and Moldavia, and joined his brother, afterwards Sir Samuel Bentham, then a lieutenant-colonel in the service of the Emperor of Russia, at Crichoff, in White Russia. At Crichoff he wrote his celebrated letters in defence of usury, which very shortly and accurately expound the principles upon which loans of money are effected, and the impolicy of laws regulating the amount of interest at which loans may be made. When these letters were published, the subject was surrounded with every kind of prejudice, and both judges of our courts of law and moral writers had treated excessive rates of interest as highly censurable and immoral. On this question however, as upon several others, Mr. Bentham preceded his age. Long before he died, his opinions upon usury were supported by the great body of mercantile men, the nature of whose business was once considered hostile to any alteration in the laws regulating rate of interest. His principles have not as yet been fully adopted by the legislature, but he lived to see several acts of parliament passed, in which they were very extensively acted upon. It was also at Crichoff that the letters which subsequently formed the greater portion of his work entitled Panopticon, proposing a systematic plan for the construction and general administration of prisons, were written. The suggestions 99it contained were afterwards formally submitted by him to Mr. Pitt, who readily acknowledged their importance and his willingness to carry them into effect. Difficulties, however, occurred; and though the Milbank Penitentiary was the result of Mr. Pitt’s intercourse with Mr. Bentham, its plan is very different from that which Mr. Bentham proposed; its arrangements are imperfect and have been found, as was foreseen, very inadequate for its purposes, and it was erected at a cost enormously exceeding that which would have accompanied the execution of the original design.
Mr. Bentham died at his residence in Queen Square, Westminster, June 6, 1832, at the advanced age of eighty-five. He had long been possessed of a handsome patrimony, which afforded him an income considerably exceeding his own necessities. His studies were pursued without being affected by any of the interruptions which arise, either from an insufficient income, or from the occupations or distractions which a large one invites. His habits were retiring, and the number of his intimate friends were few, but this arose from no moroseness or unkindness of disposition. “Had he engaged,” says his friend Dr. Southwood Smith, “in the active pursuits of life,—money-getting, power-acquiring pursuits,—he, like other men so engaged, must have had prejudices to humour, interests to conciliate, friends to serve, and enemies to subdue; and, therefore, like other men under the influence of such motives, must sometimes have missed the truth, and sometimes have concealed or modified it. But he placed himself above all danger of the kind, by retiring from the practice of the profession for which he had been educated, and by living in a simple manner on a small income allowed him by his father: and when, by the death of his father, he at length came to the possession of a patrimony which secured to him a moderate competence, from that moment he dismissed from his mind all further thoughts about his private fortune, and lent the whole power of his mind, without distraction, to his legislative and moral labours. Nor was he less careful to keep his benevolent affections fervent, than his understanding free from a wrong bias. He surrounded himself only with persons whose sympathies were like his own, and whose sympathies he might direct to their appropriate objects in the active pursuits of life.”
Though his frame of body was weak, he enjoyed remarkable health. For upwards of sixty years he never suffered from any serious indisposition; and at eighty, his appearance by no means indicated his advanced age. For upwards of fifty years, he devoted eight, and often ten hours, daily, to study, and he adhered with punctilious 100regularity, to a certain fixed distribution of his time and employments.
The works published during his life, though very numerous, formed but a small part of his manuscripts. Those that were published were chiefly edited by friends, who, in most instances, performed the task with great ability and fidelity. Some of his best treatises were published first in France, and in the French language, by his friend M. Dumont, who was also the well-known friend of Romilly and Mirabeau. Through them Mr. Bentham obtained a very extensive reputation in foreign countries, before his name was generally known in England. His admirable book upon Fallacies was also edited in a similar manner; and his masterly treatise upon the Rationale of Evidence was prepared for the press by Mr. John Mill, with more correctness, and a more careful regard for the expressions of Mr. Bentham, than most of his other works. It exhausts its subject, and most thoroughly investigates the doctrines of the English law of evidence. The leading principle which it establishes is, that objections may be made to the credibility of witnesses, but that none should be admitted to their competence. The manuscripts of Mr. Bentham were generally in a state requiring great trouble and labour to render them fit for the press. He often wrote upon the same branch of a subject at different times, adding to and repeating what he had before written. In order, therefore, to bring together all his remarks upon the same subject, much discrimination was required. The temptation to neglect the words of the author, under such circumstances, is necessarily great, and that some of his writings should be published with less attention to them than those above-mentioned, can excite no surprise. He ordered by his will, that his manuscripts should be published by his executors, and left a considerable sum of money for the purpose. One posthumous publication has already shown the difficulty that attends the fulfilment of his directions.
The chief merits of Bentham have been thus stated by Mr. Mill in the Appendix to Mr. E. L. Bulwer’s work, entitled England and the English, in the following words:—“Mr. Bentham, unlike Bacon, did not merely prophesy a science; he made large strides towards the creation of one. He was the first who conceived, with anything approaching to precision, the idea of a Code, or complete body of law; and the distinctive characters of its essential parts,—the Civil Law, the Penal Law, and the Law of Procedure. On the first of these three departments, he rendered valuable service; the third, he actually created. Conformably to the habits of his mind, he set 101about investigating, ab initio, a philosophy, or science, for each of the three branches. He did, with the received principles of each, what a good code would do with the laws themselves;—extirpating the bad; substituting others; re-enacting the good, but in so much clearer and more methodical a form, that those who were most familiar with them before, scarcely recognised them as the same. Even upon old truths, when they pass through his hands, he leaves so many of his marks, that often he almost seems to claim the discovery of what he only systematized.
“In erecting the philosophy of the civil law, he proceeded not much beyond establishing upon its proper basis some of its most general principles, and cursorily discussing some of the most interesting of its details. Nearly the whole of what he has published upon this branch of the law is contained in the Traités de Législation, edited by M. Dumont. To the most difficult part, and that which needed a master-hand to clear away its difficulties, the nomenclature and arrangement of the civil code, he contributed little, except detailed observations and criticisms upon the errors of his predecessors. The “Vue Générale d’un corps complet de Législation,” included in the work just cited, contains almost all that he has given to us upon this subject. In the department of the penal law, he is the author of the best attempt yet made towards a philosophical classification of offences. The theory of punishments (for which, however, more had been done by his predecessors than for any other part of the science of law), he left nearly complete. The theory of procedure (including that of the constitution of the courts of justice), he found in a more utterly barbarous state than even either of the other branches; and he left it incomparably the most perfect. There is scarcely a question of practical importance in the most important department which he has not settled. He has left next to nothing for his successors.”
His work on Judicial Establishments, is one of the best and the most important of those he published; and it will afford the great tests that must hereafter be applied to ascertain the progress of principles which he first expounded. His labours were so much a series of attacks upon the faults of existing institutions, accompanied at the same time with the specific reforms that should follow their correction, and related to matters generally so far removed from the studies of the great body of readers, that they could not be expected to obtain, for many years, that popularity for their writer which he deserved. It is, however, not difficult already to trace the progress of opinions which he was the first to advance, and we may 102already observe changes suggested and adopted by the legislature, which he many years since proposed. The same reasons which have secured to Bacon a reputation upon questions of physical science, which his contemporaries refused to award to him, will, in legislative science, secure a similar reputation to Bentham. The talents of the latter will appear not less important than those of the former, when their effects shall, in the progress of time, be traced upon the opinions and the institutions of the people of this and of other countries.
Engraved by R. Woodman.
From a Print by Caroline Watson, after a Picture by Rosselin.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
After the death of Peter I., the sceptre of Russia passed into hands incompetent to carry on the great scheme of national aggrandizement and civilization which he had originated. Nearly forty years elapsed before there appeared a worthy successor to that remarkable prince: and at last it was a German woman, who, under the title of Catherine II., established Russia in that lofty position which she now occupies among the powers of Europe.
This masculine-minded woman was the daughter of Christian Frederic, prince of Anhalt Zerbst Dornberg, and major-general in the Prussian service. She was born at Stettin, May 2, 1729, and was named at her baptism Sophia Augusta Frederica. In her sixteenth year she was selected by the Empress Elizabeth to become the wife of the Grand-Duke, afterwards Peter III.; and their marriage was solemnized, September 1, 1745, after the bride had made public profession of the faith of the Greek church, and received the name of Catherina Alexiewna. On the events of her life during the next sixteen years, until the death of Elizabeth, it is not necessary to dwell: she then exercised no influence in affairs of state. The example of a most corrupt court, and a sovereign sunk in the grossest sensuality, exerted their natural effect upon her youthful mind: and if she brought principles of morality and chastity from Germany, they were soon extinguished by the evil influence of all around her, and the disgust inspired by an ignorant and besotted husband; during whose life, as well as after her own accession to the throne, she bestowed her favour on a succession of paramours. Her behaviour was less revolting, but her rule of life was hardly more strict than that of the Empress Elizabeth.
104The history of Russia gave encouragement to an able, ambitious spirit, like that of Catherine, to shape for itself a more brilliant prospect than that which lay before her as the wife of a despotic prince, whom she hated, and had reason to fear. Even before the death of Elizabeth, which took place January 2, 1762, N. S., she had intrigued to supplant her husband on the throne; and he had hardly occupied it six months, before she organized the revolution which conducted him to a prison and a grave. The only extenuation of her conduct in this crisis, is the probability, we might almost say certainty, that a similar fate would otherwise have befallen herself. Early on the morning of the 9th of July, Catherine quitted the palace of Peterhoff, on the Neva, to invoke the affection of the regiments of guards at St. Petersburg, who, like the Prætorian troops of Rome, had often bestowed the crown at their free pleasure. Her ready attention to Russian habits and prejudices, her assumed devotion to the Greek church, and the arts of her accomplices, had disposed, not only the soldiers, but a large portion of the citizens, to declare in her favour: and when she applied for protection, and told them “that her danger had driven her to the necessity of coming to ask their assistance, that the Czar had intended to put her to death that very night, together with her son; that she had no other means than by flight of escaping death, and that she had so much confidence in their dispositions as to put herself entirely in their hands,” the assembled crowd was not slow to hail her as their prince, and before the end of the day she had been crowned and proclaimed sovereign of all the Russias, by the title of Catherine II., had been acknowledged by crowds of citizens, and saw herself at the head of 15,000 picked soldiers. The Czar, confused and affrighted, consulted neither his safety nor his honour. On the following day, after some futile demonstrations of resistance, he surrendered his person unconditionally; and on the 17th he perished by a violent death, with the concurrence, no doubt, if not by the command of Catherine.
Nevertheless her situation for some time was critical. The common people reverenced the blood of Peter the Great, and lamented, with anger, the cruel fate which had befallen his grandson. The priests, whose favour Catherine had courted while Grand-Duchess, were disappointed and indignant to find her resolved to cast them off, when they had served her turn, and to limit as much as possible their influence, which had often been troublesome to her predecessors. The courtiers, many of them, were indignant at the sudden elevation of the daring adventurers who had won Catherine her throne. But 105her promptitude and sagacity overcame these troubles and difficulties; and without any very alarming commotions, she gradually acquired that prescriptive right to the throne, which does so much for princes of doubtful title.
The power thus acquired by fraud and murder, Catherine used, on the whole, to the benefit of her subjects, with liberal intentions and with a judicious and enlightened policy. Abroad her views were directed to conquest, with the usual disregard of the common rules of honour and justice, as they are recognised between man and man. This fault she shares with the majority of princes: but the dismemberment of Poland pollutes her memory with one of the foulest stains recorded in history. Without proceeding seriatim through the multifarious events of her long reign, we shall attempt a short sketch of the leading features of her domestic policy and meditated improvements; and conclude with an equally concise outline of its foreign relations.
Her earliest cares and her zealous attention were directed to the fostering of commerce, and the encouragement of national industry in all its important branches: and it ought not to detract from her credit, that some of her measures, in accordance with the system of the age, were not such as modern economical science approves. But we may mention with unmixed praise, as indicative of a far-sighted and disinterested policy, the abolition of numerous monopolies, as well belonging to the crown, as granted to trading companies and private persons. Among these were the caravan-trade between Russia and China, several branches of fisheries, the manufacture of chintzes, the preparation of sugar, the tobacco-trade, and other things which were freely thrown open to individual competition. In promoting agriculture she was no less zealous. She established an experimental school of farming at her country-palace of Tzarsko-Tzelo, at which the most improved system of English agriculture was introduced, and gratuitous instruction was given to persons from all parts of the empire. One of her schemes was the establishment of numerous colonies over the uncultivated steppes of her vast empire: and thousands of families were allured from Poland, Germany, and even France, by the advantages which she held out, not merely to agricultural settlers, but to artificers, merchants, and all who were willing to aid in developing by their industry the unknown resources of the Russian empire. She sought to amend the administration of justice, and, to her high honour, put an end to the use of torture for extracting the truth in criminal proceedings. She abolished an odious tribunal, established by 106Peter I., called the Secret Inquisition Chancery, a kind of Star-Chamber, which gave facility to the most frivolous and malicious investigations, and had recourse to the most intolerable severities in conducting its inquiries. Aspiring to the glory of reforming the government, and giving a new code of laws to the empire, she summoned, in 1767, deputies to Moscow from every part and nation of her dominions, for whose consideration she had previously drawn up a body of instructions, of which the original manuscript, written in her own hand, is preserved in the library of the Academy of Petersburg. The work was greatly needed; for not merely were the general laws of the empire voluminous, insufficient, perplexed, and contradictory, but the particular laws of different provinces were confused and conflicting, and the difficulties arising out of this state of things were increased in a tenfold degree by the venality of the judges. But Catherine wanted perseverance and vigour to work out her scheme through the vexations of conflicting interests and tedious details. The history of this meeting of legislators illustrates the fate of most of her mighty undertakings. In their early sittings anger rose so high on the question of emancipating the serfs, that Catherine dismissed them, never to be recalled. She had acquired the glory of propounding a new code, not of laws, but of instructions for legislators; and the restless activity of her mind was satisfied, and passed to spend itself in some other channel. The instructions abound in philanthropic and wise suggestions; and satisfactorily show that it is much easier to talk than to perform. They are printed under the title “Instructions de Catherine II., pour la Commission chargée de dresser le projet d’un nouveau code des Loix.”
Of learning and of learned men Catherine was a liberal patroness. The love of glory was her ruling passion, and those whose praise was fame were sure of her favourable regard. The French writers were the chief objects of her attention and bounty. She corresponded with Voltaire, whom she earnestly invited to Petersburg: but, as we learn from his correspondence with the Empress, he feared in old age the rigour of a northern climate; perhaps too he recollected how Frederic of Prussia had sunk the philosopher in the king, and felt reluctant to trust himself again within the reach of despotic power: at all events he declined the intended honour. Diderot, at her request, visited Petersburg, and spent several months there; contriving, if Frederic’s account be true, to weary the imperial patience by his turn for argument and repetition. Her benefactions to him had been delicate and splendid. Being informed that poverty compelled him to dispose of 107his library, she purchased it for 15,000 livres, and at the same time left it in his care, and for his use and enjoyment, granting to him an annual salary, under the title of her librarian. With similar liberality she purchased and entrusted to the care of Professor Pallas his own valuable collections of natural history. She sought to attract D’Alembert to Petersburg, and invited him to superintend the education of her son, the Grand-Duke Paul: but he declined her offers. She patronized all institutions for the promotion of science and literature; and the Academy of Sciences at Petersburg owes to her generous support the greater part of its foreign associates, and its high reputation. The discoveries of Billings and others in the Northern and Eastern seas, and the expedition of Pallas and his associates to explore and describe the less known portions of the empire, are also to be mentioned among the scientific honours of her reign. In the patronage of art she was splendid; she loved magnificence, was regardless of expense, and spared no cost to assemble round her throne the greatest rarities of nature, and the most admirable or wonderful productions of man. And the architectural magnificence of St. Petersburg still bears witness to the elevation and splendour of her taste, and the extent of her revenues.
By much the greater part of what has been said, may appear to vindicate Catherine’s title to be called a good, as well as a great sovereign. Such, no doubt, had her moral faculties been better educated, she might have been: but her reign was vitiated, and her talents rendered comparatively useless to her subjects, by one prevailing fault of selfishness. Her temper was averse from wanton cruelty; she loved to see prosperity around her; she loved, still more, the glory of being reputed the author of that prosperity. But she loved to see others happy, not for their sakes, but for her own; we seek in vain in the records of her life for that laborious and self-denying spirit, which is ready to sacrifice its own will for the good of others. Hence the multiplicity of her plans, and the inconstancy of her purposes: she persevered in no task which had lost the excitement of novelty, or no longer nourished the craving appetite for praise. She was too eager to build, to allow the requisite time for laying foundations: and the consequence was seen, even before her death, in the ruined and neglected state of establishments on which she had prided herself, and which men who were no flatterers had regarded as the marks of a new era of civilization in Russia. A French writer, in the Biographie Universelle, says, “Legislation, colonies, education, institutions, canals, towns, fortresses, every thing had been begun, and abandoned 108before completion.” This passion of Catherine, for sketching every thing and finishing nothing, is well characterised by a saying of Joseph II. In her journey to the Crimea, she invited him to lay the second stone of Ekaterinoslaf, of which she herself had just laid the first. Joseph said, after his return, “The Empress of Russia and I completed a great undertaking in one day: she laid the first stone of a city, and I the last.”
Of the more than imperial splendour—the profuse extravagance—of her court and social life, space will not allow us to speak: a number of curious and amusing anecdotes on this subject, and other details relative to her person, manners, and habits, are to be found in Coxe’s Travels in Russia, and Tooke’s Life of the Empress Catherine II. The licentiousness of her conduct we should alike pass over, but for its connexion with affairs of state: for she paraded her prostitution before the eyes of all, apparently considering herself released by supreme rank and irresponsible power, from the control of those decencies which fetter even the vicious. A lover was part of Catherine’s state furniture, and a most expensive one: since the sums lavished on her series of favourites during her reign of thirty-four years, without including the enormous annual expense of their establishment, amounted, according to Mr. Tooke, (vol. iii. p. 374,) to more than eighty millions of roubles. This, at the lowest rate of two shillings a rouble, (Mr. Tooke states it to have been then worth four,) would be more than eight millions of pounds sterling. Nor was this the only evil: though Catherine suffered none of her favourites, except Potemkin, to interfere in the chief affairs of the state, their influence at a distance and in subordinate departments was immense; and whoever enjoyed their protection was sure of advancement beyond his merits, and enabled to tyrannize over others, and trample on law with impunity. Chosen for the most part from officers of the Guard, without a particle of sentiment, solely for personal attractions, we look in vain among them for one raised above the common level by talent or accomplishment, except the celebrated Potemkin, and perhaps the coarse and brutal Orloff, her husband’s murderer, and one of the chief instruments in placing herself upon the throne. Potemkin did possess a certain barbarous grandeur of ideas, fitted to strike an answering chord in Catherine’s ambitious and ostentatious mind; together with an aptitude for affairs, and a nature born to command, had it been improved by education and self-restraint, or chastened by adversity: and he alone, after he ceased to be a lover, preserved an all-ruling influence as a friend and confidant.
109In speaking of Catherine’s foreign policy we must confine ourselves chiefly to two heads,—the humiliation of Turkey, and the spoliation of Poland. Very soon after her accession, a vacancy in the throne of Poland gave her the opportunity of imposing upon that unhappy nation as its new king one of her former lovers, Stanislaus Poniatowsky, whom she knew, from the weakness of his character, to be a fit instrument of maintaining and increasing her influence. Fear of the aggrandizement of so powerful and hostile a neighbour, and, more especially, jealousy of her designs upon Poland, induced the Porte to declare war against her in 1768. For eight years the contest continued, in all respects to the advantage of the Russians; and during the course of it a Russian fleet (conducted, however, in great measure by British officers) appeared for the first time in the Mediterranean, and signalized its prowess by the total destruction of a superior Turkish armament in the bay of Tchesme, in Lemnos. Not less successful were the Russian arms in the Black Sea, and in Moldavia and Wallachia. Still peace was desirable, even to the victor, from the exhaustion of the contest, and it was concluded in 1774, by the treaty of Kainardgi, upon terms very advantageous to Russia, yet perhaps more favourable than Turkey had cause to expect. The reason of this moderation we shall see presently. The free navigation of the Mediterranean seas and the passage of the Dardanelles were secured to Russia, and the district between the rivers Dnieper and Bog was ceded to her. The Tartars of the Crimea were declared independent, which was nearly equivalent to rendering them tributary to Russia: and in fact that country was formally ceded to Catherine in 1783, by the reigning Cham, and the Porte, unwillingly enough, yielded to that arrangement. But the insulting pomp of Catherine, which almost dared in a moment of bravado to threaten Constantinople itself with an invasion, led to a second war in 1786, which, after a bloody and exhausting conflict, terminated in 1791–2, by the treaty of Jassy, by the farther cession, on the part of Turkey, of the provinces between the Bog and the Dniester, which was declared to be thenceforward the frontier of the two empires. The Russian conquests in Bessarabia, Moldavia, and Wallachia were restored. Memorable in this war, for the desperation of their defence by the Turks, and the awful cruelties which attended their capture by the Russians, were the sieges of the strong fortresses of Oczakow at the mouth of the Dnieper, and Ismail on the Danube. On this occasion again, but for the intervention of other European powers, especially England and Prussia, Catherine might probably 110have obtained more favourable terms. But the importance of the acquisitions thus made by her on the Black Sea, from the Straits of Kertsh to the Dniester, is not to be measured by their wealth, scarcely by their extent. It was the command of the commerce of the Black Sea, and the opening a passage to Constantinople, which she had so much desired, and the Porte so much feared, that formed her chief triumph; and in the height of her ambition she dared to project the expulsion of the Turks from Europe, and the re-establishment of a Christian empire in Constantinople.
Not less important were her acquisitions on the western frontier. The atrocious project of partitioning Poland between her three most powerful neighbours, is said by Koch (Tableau des Révolutions) to have originated in the Turkish wars which we have just described. The occupation of Moldavia and Wallachia by the Russians was calculated to alarm the jealousy of Austria; and Koch states, that Frederic II. suggested to the Empress that if she resigned them, as was done by the treaty of Kainardgi, she might take her equivalent from Poland, to a part of which Austria had already laid claim. Other writers have maintained that the scheme originated with Catherine. Be this as it may, the two monarchs readily came to an agreement, at the end of July, 1772: and as the Poles were in no condition to resist, and the powers which had guaranteed the independence of Poland looked on in silence, no opposition beyond remonstrance was made. In 1773, the Diet made a formal act of cession at Warsaw. In this first division, about 6500 square leagues of land, and five millions of human beings were thus robbed of their nationality: and the larger share, containing more than 4000 square leagues and three millions of people, situated in Livonia and Lithuania, was transferred to Russia, and formed into the governments of Polotsk and Mohilow. At the same time the three powers formally renounced all farther claims on Poland, and guaranteed to it its constitution and existence. But treaties are seldom able to bind ambition. A coldness succeeded between Russia and Prussia; and the latter, whose conduct ought to be marked with especial infamy, excited the Polish Diet, under promises of support, to make alterations in the constitution calculated to diminish the influence and rouse the jealousy of Russia. Catherine marched an army into the country in 1792, to support her party; the Poles flew to arms; and the King of Prussia, instead of sending the assistance which he had pledged himself to give, openly joined the Empress. A second partition of the spoil ensued in 1793, in which another portion of Lithuania was assigned to Russia; and another treaty of 111alliance, or rather of subjection, was made. But the nation was roused by despair; and in the following spring that general insurrection broke out, which has given undying fame to the name of Kosciusko. There is a short account of this struggle in the memoir of that hero in our first volume; it terminated in the total subjection and final partition of Poland: in which Russia obtained the remainder of Lithuania, with Semigallia, Courland, &c., to the amount of about 2000 square leagues more. This took place in 1795.
We must refer to the various historical works on these times for an account of Catherine’s complicated negotiations with foreign courts, the blow which she aimed at the British dominion of the sea by the establishment, in 1780, of the celebrated Armed Neutrality, the war which she commenced against Persia at the end of her reign, and other events inferior in importance to those of which we have here given an imperfect outline. It is asserted that, having turned her arms towards the east, she had ventured to conceive the design of overturning the British empire in India. But her ambition and her life were simultaneously cut short by an attack of apoplexy, which carried her off very suddenly, November 9, 1796. She was succeeded by her grandson Paul I.
Catherine, in imitation of Frederic II., aspired to fame as an author. Besides the Instructions, she wrote moral tales and allegories, for the education of her grandchildren, and a number of dramatic pieces and proverbs acted at the Hermitage, and published under the title of Theatre of the Hermitage. Her correspondence with Voltaire and others is published.
[The Pavilion at Tzarsko-Tzelo. From a Print in the King’s Library.]
Daniel, the son of James Foe, citizen and butcher, was born in London, in the parish of Cripplegate, in or about the year 1663: at what time, or on what account he prefixed the syllable De to his paternal name, does not clearly appear. He was a Dissenter himself, and appears to have been of a dissenting family. Early imbued with a dread of Papal ascendancy, he took up arms to support the Duke of Monmouth’s insurrection, and was fortunate in escaping not only the sword, but the legal consequences of that rash adventure. In 1685 he went into business as a hosier, in Freeman’s Yard, Cornhill. He was not successful, probably because his attention was engrossed by affairs foreign to his trade: for he not only mingled in the political and religious dissensions of that stormy time, but was too much occupied, according to his biographer Mr. Chalmers, by engagements, which became neither the conscientious dissenter, nor the steady man of business. “With the usual imprudence of superior genius, he was carried by his vivacity into companies who were gratified by his wit, and he spent those hours in the idle hilarity of the tavern, which he ought to have employed in the calculations of the counting-house; and being obliged to abscond from his creditors in 1692, he attributed those misfortunes to the war, which were doubtless owing to his own misconduct. He afterwards carried on the brick and pantile works near Tilbury Fort, though probably with no success. He was in after-times wittily reproached, ‘that he did not, like the Egyptians, require bricks without straw, but, like the Jews, required bricks without paying his labourers.’ He was born for other enterprises, which, if they did not gain him wealth, have conferred a renown, that will descend the current of time with the language wherein his works are written.” His misfortunes however, even if accompanied by some imprudence, did not alienate his friends. “I was invited,” he says in his Appeal to Honour and Justice, “by some merchants with whom I had corresponded abroad, and some also at home, to settle at Cadiz, and that with offers of very good commissions; but Providence, which had other work for me to do, placed a secret aversion in my mind. Some time after, I was, without the least application of mine, and being then seventy miles from London, sent for to be Accomptant to the Commissioners of the Glass Duty; in which service I continued to the determination of their commission.”
Engraved by J. Thomson.
From a Print by M. Vandergucht.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
113Having lost this occupation, Defoe’s active mind expanded itself in a variety of schemes. He wrote, he tells us, many sheets about the coin; he proposed a law for registering seamen; he projected county banks; factories for goods; a commission of inquiry into the estates of bankrupts; a pension-office for the relief of the poor; an academy “to encourage polite learning, and to polish and refine the English tongue;” and an academy for the education of women, with a view to the improvement of society, by training them to a more exemplary discharge of their social duties. Notices of various of these schemes, and of the use or abuse of a speculative spirit in a mercantile country, will be found in his Essay on Projects, published in January, 1697. In 1701 he produced a satire in verse, called The True-born Englishman, which arose out of a personal and virulent attack, by one Tutchen, on William III., whose faults were finally summed up in the epithet “foreigner.” “This,” Defoe says, “filled me with a kind of rage against the book, and gave birth to a trifle, which I never could hope should have met with such general acceptation as it did—I mean, The True-born Englishman. How this poem was the occasion of my being known to his Majesty; how I afterwards was received by him; how employed; and how, above all my capacity of deserving, rewarded, is no part of the present case:” and history does not supply us with the particulars here left unnoticed. But whatever were Defoe’s services or their rewards, he always expressed his gratitude and affection for King William’s memory in ardent terms. In the same year he published two able tracts in support of the principles of the Revolution, entitled, one, The Original Power of the Collective Body of the People of England Examined and Asserted; the other, The Freeholder’s Plea against the Stock-jobbing Elections of Parliament-men. The following pithy sentence may give some notion of the general tenor of the latter. “It is very rational to suppose that those who buy will sell, or what seems more rational 114they who have bought, must sell.” In these pieces the ultimate resort of all power in the people, and the responsibility of the parliament to the people, inasmuch, to use his own words elsewhere, “as the person sent is less than the sender,” are forcibly explained and asserted. The same principles were developed more strongly in what is commonly called The Legion Letter, a remonstrance against certain exertions of the privilege of parliament, by which the subject’s right of petitioning was thought to be curtailed. This remarkable paper, which, though never clearly avowed, is believed to have been written by Defoe, and presented by him, dressed in women’s clothes, to the Speaker, was entitled, A Memorial from the Gentlemen, Freeholders, and Inhabitants of the Counties of ——, in behalf of themselves, and many thousands of the good people of England, to the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses in Parliament assembled; and ends in the following words: “For Englishmen are no more to be slaves to Parliaments than to Kings.
“If you require to have this Memorial signed with our names, it shall be done on your first orders, and formally presented.”
Of this attempt to intimidate the House no open notice was taken, nor does it appear to have been known at the time who was the author. But any ill-will which the Tories might have against Defoe, if suspected, was gratified by the consequences of a pamphlet which he published in 1702, entitled, The Shortest Way with the Dissenters, or Proposals for the Establishment of the Church. In this ironical performance, which ostensibly recommends the total extirpation of Dissenters from England, he intended to satirize the blind prejudices and headstrong zeal of the high Tory faction: but he had the misfortune to raise up enemies on every side. Some of the Dissenters took it literally, and raised an outcry against him as a persecutor: the Tories understood it better, and had influence enough to get a prosecution commenced against him, and a reward offered for his apprehension, by the government. The House of Commons voted the book a libel, and ordered it to be burnt by the hangman. The printer and the publisher of it were taken into custody, upon which Defoe, who had secreted himself, came forward, “to throw himself upon the favour of Government, rather than that others should be ruined for his mistakes.” He was tried in July, 1703, found guilty of composing and publishing a seditious libel, and, by a very oppressive sentence, was condemned to be imprisoned, to stand in the 115pillory, to pay a fine of 200 marks, and to find security for his good behaviour during seven years. It is in allusion to this that Pope, who ought to have better appreciated such a man, has made an unworthy attack upon Defoe in the Dunciad,
He had no reason to be, and was not, abashed; and he composed a Hymn to the Pillory, and an Elegy on the Author of a True-born Englishman, esteeming himself defunct as an author, when he was obliged to find sureties for good behaviour. These, like all his works, contain the energetic expression of an independent spirit: to poetical merit they have no claim.
Early in 1704, while he was still in prison, Defoe commenced a periodical paper, entitled The Review, which, in addition to the usual topics of news, contained a report of the proceedings of a “Scandal Club, which discusses questions in divinity, morals, war, trade, language, poetry, love, marriage, drunkenness, and gaming. Thus it is easy to see that the Review pointed out the way to the Tatlers, Spectators, and Guardians, which may be allowed, however, to have treated these interesting topics with more delicacy of language, more terseness of style, and greater depth of learning: yet has Defoe many passages, both of prose and poetry, which for refinement of wit, neatness of expression, and efficacy of moral, would do honour either to Steele or Addison.” (Chalmers.) This periodical was published three times a week, until May, 1713, when it was brought to a close. Defoe continued in Newgate until August, 1704, when Harley procured his release, and recommended him to Queen Anne, who seems to have thought that he had been hardly used, and contributed generously towards the relief of his family, reduced to poverty by the misfortunes of its head. She employed him, he says, in “several honourable, though secret services;” and he speaks, in his Appeal to Honour and Justice, of a “special service, in which I ran as much risque of my life as a grenadier upon the counterscarp.” These seem to have been rewarded by a pension, or by some subordinate office; but the exact nature of the recompense is not known. In October, 1706, he was dispatched to Scotland, to assist in promoting the union between the two kingdoms. In addition to his talents and readiness as an author, he possessed great practical knowledge of commerce and matters connected with the revenue: he frequently attended the committees of the Scottish parliament, and made a variety of calculations, relative to trade and taxes, for their use; and he was very serviceable, as a popular writer, in replying to the various attacks which were 116made upon that hated measure. His intimate acquaintance with the transactions of this period qualified him well for a work, which now probably is known to few readers, but which contains a great body of minute information concerning the condition and the history of Scotland at that period,—The History of the Union between England and Scotland: of which Mr. Chalmers says, “The minuteness with which he describes what he saw and heard upon that turbulent stage, where he acted a conspicuous part, is extremely interesting to us, who wish to know what actually passed, however this circumstantiality may have disgusted contemporaneous readers. History is chiefly valuable, as it transmits a faithful copy of the manners and sentiments of every age. This narrative of Defoe is a drama, in which he introduces the highest peers and the lowest peasants speaking and acting, according as they were each actuated by their characteristic passions; and while the man of taste is amused by his manner, the man of business may draw instruction from the documents, which are appended to the end, and interspersed in every page. This publication had alone preserved his name, had his Crusoe pleased us less.” Chalmers naturally makes the most of its merits, for his Life of Defoe was originally prefixed to a reprint of it in 1786: but the author would have been little known if his popularity had depended on this work only.
After his return from Scotland, Defoe resided for some time at Newington. He incurred great obloquy, he says, for trying to make the best of the peace of Utrecht after it was concluded, and bore infinite reproaches as having been hired and bribed to defend a bad peace, upon the supposition that he was the author of pamphlets in which he had no share. To escape from this persecution he went to Halifax, in Yorkshire, where he had ample opportunity to observe the confidence of the Jacobite party, and the success with which they laboured to make converts among the lower ranks. To counteract these plottings, he wrote A Seasonable Caution, Reasons against the Succession of the House of Hanover, and some other pamphlets with similar titles; intending, he says, by means of their apparent drift, to put them into the hands of persons whom the Jacobites had deluded. But Defoe was unfortunate as an ironical writer: perhaps the same qualities which gave his fictions such an air of truth tended to give his irony too much the appearance of earnest. On this, as on a former occasion, some persons were foolish or malicious enough to misconstrue his meaning, and to accuse him of writing seditious libels in favour of the Pretender. On this frivolous charge an information was filed against 117him in the spring of 1713, on which he was taken into custody, and obliged to find bail to a large amount; and the consequences might have been still more serious, but for a second intervention of Harley, who procured a free pardon for him in the following November. Speaking of these very publications in his Appeal, he protests that “if the Elector of Hanover had given me a thousand pounds to have written for the interests of his succession, and to expose, and render the interest of the Pretender odious and ridiculous, I could have done nothing more effectual to these purposes than these books were.”
Well intended and valuable as his labours might be, his only recompense for them was a bare immunity from persecution. After the accession of George I. he was discountenanced and neglected. In 1715 he wrote An Appeal to Honour and Justice, comprising a defence of his character, and a general account of his life, principles, and conduct. He was struck by apoplexy before he had quite completed this work, but recovered the full possession of his faculties, and lived until April 26, 1731. After this attack, whether from the wish to avoid excitement and anxiety, or from the little advantage which his political writings had produced to him, he almost ceased to handle controversial subjects, and devoted himself with unwearying industry to works of a more popular and lucrative kind. Upon the profits of his pen he seems to have depended for his livelihood; and to the necessity of courting popular favour it may probably be attributed, that the subjects of some of his works are vulgar, and the style coarse: but even out of vicious and revolting subjects he had the art of extracting a wholesome moral. The following are the names and dates of the principal productions of his declining years; and it is very remarkable, considering the circumstances in which they were composed, that they should comprise all those fictions to which he owes his imperishable name in British literature:—Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, 1719. Life, Adventures, and Piracies of the Famous Captain Singleton, 1720. Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, 1721. Religious Courtship; Journal of the Plague Year, 1722. Life of Colonel Jack, 1723. Tour through the whole Island of Great Britain, 1724–7. New Voyage round the World, 1725. Political History of the Devil, 1726. Complete English Tradesman, 1727. Plan of English Commerce, 1728. Memoirs of a Cavalier—date uncertain. But notwithstanding the unceasing industry which enabled him to produce these, and many other works, in the time specified, he appears to have died insolvent, for a creditor took out letters of administration on his effects.
118A catalogue of the numerous works known, or confidently believed by the compiler to be Defoe’s, and of those also which are attributed to him on more doubtful evidence, is given by Mr. Chalmers at the end of that edition of his Life which is subjoined to Stockdale’s edition of Robinson Crusoe, in 2 vols. 8vo., 1790; hardly one in four of them has been named in this short account. Defoe was a very rapid, as well as a laborious composer: it is said that he once wrote two shilling pamphlets in a single day. His controversial works however have long lost their interest; and his principal historical work, that on the Union, is too prolix and minute to find general acceptation in our days. In his acquaintance with commerce, and insight into the principles by which it is governed, he is entitled to rank with the most skilful of his contemporaries; but the progress of economical science has of course deprived his commercial writings of most of their value, except as records of the past. Of his numerous works of fiction, we may notice the History of the Plague of London in 1665, Memoirs of a Cavalier, and Robinson Crusoe, as the best known and the most deserving. The first, which professes to be the journal of a saddler resident in Whitechapel during the awful visitation which he describes, is said to have been received as genuine even by Dr. Mead, as no doubt it has been by very many of those who are unacquainted with its real history. There is a homely pathos, a minute and scrupulous adherence to verisimilitude in it which almost irresistibly persuades the reader that none but an eyewitness could have written such an account. The Memoirs of a Cavalier possess the same air of truth. They relate the campaigns of a young Englishman of good family, first in Germany under Gustavus Adolphus, afterwards on the royal side in our civil wars; and depict with great vividness and fidelity the principal events of those interesting and stirring times. But popular as these works have been and deserve to be, they sink into obscurity when compared with the universal acceptation of Robinson Crusoe; the only thing, according to Dr. Johnson, written by mere man, that was ever wished longer by its readers, except Don Quixote and the Pilgrim’s Progress. And Bunyan and Defoe had some points in common. Both came of the people, and both, without the advantages or trammels of a learned education, wrote for and to the people; they slighted no source of pathos or eloquence as being too humble, and cared little for homeliness of phrase, if it expressed their meaning clearly and strongly. It is needless to give any account of a book, which in one shape or other, for in the numerous reprints it has often been curtailed and mutilated, must be familiar to every reader. 119The story is well known to be identical with that of Alexander Selkirk, who, after a solitary abode of four years on the island of Juan Fernandez, returned to England in 1709. Defoe has been charged with surreptitiously obtaining and making an unfair use of this man’s papers; but there seems to be no ground whatever for the accusation. Selkirk’s story had been made public in several forms seven years at least before Robinson Crusoe was written, and it was free to Defoe or to any man to take it as the ground upon which to build a tale. And far from Selkirk’s papers having been traced into Defoe’s hands, it does not even appear that these pretended papers ever were in existence: indeed Selkirk seems, from the published accounts of him, to have been so much below the fictitious Crusoe in the extent of his resources, and the fertility of his ingenuity (and we say this with no desire to undervalue his active spirit and contented temper), that it is hardly possible that he should have furnished more than the first hint, which Defoe has expanded into so instructive, fascinating, and varied a story.
The following lively criticism of this remarkable work is extracted from Dunlop’s History of Fiction:—
“Defoe and Swift, though differing very widely in education, opinions, and character, have at the same time some strong points of resemblance. Both are remarkable for the unaffected simplicity of their narratives—both intermingle so many minute circumstances, and state so particularly names of persons, and dates, and places, that the reader is involuntarily surprised into a persuasion of their truth. It seems impossible that what is so artlessly told should be a fiction, especially as the narrators begin the account of their voyages with such references to persons living, or whom they assert to be alive, and whose place of residence is so accurately mentioned, that one is led to believe a relation must be genuine, which could, if false, have been so easily convicted of falsehood. The incidents too are so very circumstantial, that we think it impossible they could have been mentioned, except they had been real....” Speaking of the moral of Robinson Crusoe, he continues, “We are delighted with the spectacle of difficulty overcome, and with the power of human ingenuity and contrivance to provide not only accommodation but comfort, in the most unfavourable circumstances. Never did human being excite more sympathy in his fate than this shipwrecked mariner: we enter into all his doubts and difficulties, and every rusty nail which he acquires fills us with satisfaction. We thus learn to appreciate our own comforts, and we acquire, at the same time, a habit of 120activity; but above all we attain a trust and devout confidence in Divine mercy and goodness. The author also, by placing his hero in an uninhabited island in the Western Ocean, had an opportunity of introducing scenes which, with the merit of truth, have all the wildness and horror of the most incredible fiction. That foot in the sand—Those Indians who land on the solitary shore to devour their captives, fill us with alarm and terror; and after being relieved from the fear of Crusoe perishing by famine, we are agitated by new apprehensions for his safety. The deliverance of Friday, and the whole character of that young Indian, are painted in the most beautiful manner; and, in short, of all the works of fiction that have ever been composed, Robinson Crusoe is perhaps the most interesting and attractive.”
[Robinson Crusoe building his Boat. From a design by Stothard, R.A.]
Engraved by W. Holl.
From a Print by A. Smith, after a Picture by Allen Ramsay.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
David Hume was born in Edinburgh, April 26, 1711. His father, who was descended from a branch of the Earl of Home’s, or Hume’s, family, died while David was an infant, leaving him, with an elder brother and sister, to the care of his mother, the daughter of Sir Edward Falconer, who devoted the remainder of her days to the welfare of her children. Her property was inconsiderable, and that which fell to David, as a younger son, was very slender. His family, observing the manner in which he acquitted himself at college, would have fixed his attention on the law; but his growing passion for philosophy and general learning rendered him averse to that pursuit, and after a fruitless attempt at Bristol to reconcile himself to a more active kind of employment, he went to France, where he laid down that plan of life to which he ever afterwards adhered. It now became his fixed resolve to secure his independence by means of the most rigid frugality; and to deem every acquisition contemptible, except the improvement of his talents in literature. This was in 1734.
During his three years’ residence in France, Hume composed his Treatise of Human Nature, which he published on his return to England in 1738. The work failed to attract the slightest notice from friend or foe. But our young aspirant was not dismayed; and his buoyant spirit was much strengthened by the degree of success which attended the appearance of the first part of his Essays, which were published at Edinburgh in 1742.
In 1745 Hume quitted the residence of his mother and brother, in compliance with an invitation from the Marquis of Annandale; the friends of that young nobleman having thought that his health and mind required the aid which such a tutorship, or companionship, for 122we hardly know which to call it, would afford. Hume states, that his employment during the twelve months thus passed in England made a considerable accession to his small fortune. “I thus received,” he says, “an invitation from General St. Clair to attend him as a secretary to his expedition, which was at first meant against Canada, but ended in an incursion on the coast of France. Next year, to wit 1747, I received an invitation from the General to attend him in the same station in his military embassy to the courts of Vienna and Turin. I then wore the uniform of an officer, and was introduced at those courts as aid-de-camp to the General, along with Sir Harry Erskine, and Captain Grant, now General Grant. These two years were almost the only interruptions my studies received during the course of my life.”
In 1747 Hume re-cast the first part of his Treatise of Human Nature, and published it under the title of an Inquiry concerning Human Understanding. But this amended performance also failed to produce any immediate effects; and a new edition of his Essays Moral and Political, published about the same time in London, found scarcely a better reception. Still looking to the hopeful side of things, our author composed during 1749 and 1750 the second part of his Essays, which were called Political Discourses; and also his Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, which was another part of his ill-fated Treatise of Human Nature, in a new form. By this time some of the more obnoxious parts of that treatise began to call forth opponents, and it became evident that its author, though much more frequently censured than applauded, was a man of rising reputation. This result was favoured by his determination never to reply to any of his critics, a resolve which the peculiarities of his temper enabled him to act upon to the end of life.
In 1751 he removed to Edinburgh, and being chosen librarian by the Faculty of Advocates in the following year, the plan of writing his History of England was formed. This memorable work commenced with the accession of the House of Stuart; and the author, who was sanguine as to its success, relates that “on the publication of the first volume, he scarcely knew a man in the three kingdoms, considerable for rank or letters, that could endure the book.” After a sale of less than fifty copies in the first year, the work seemed fast sinking into oblivion. This disappointment appears to have affected Hume more than any event which had befallen him; and, had not the war with France at that juncture prevented it, he would probably have gone to that country, never again to have seen his own. But the habits induced 123by a passion for literature are not easily put in abeyance. Soon after receiving this discouragement, Hume published his Natural History of Religion. In 1756 the second volume of the History of England made its appearance, “which not only rose itself, but helped to buoy up its unfortunate brother.” The third volume, relating to the House of Tudor, appeared in 1759, and was censured hardly less than the first. In 1761, the two volumes embracing the early period of our history were published, and, according to their author “with tolerable, and but tolerable success.”
Hume now formed the purpose of spending the remainder of his days in philosophical retirement in Scotland; but was induced in 1763 to visit Paris, in connexion with the embassy of the Earl of Hertford to that city. The honours paid to our philosopher and historian in that capital once disposed him to think of settling there for life. He had now passed his fiftieth year, and his official residence in Paris extended, with a slight intermission, to six years—from 1763 to 1769. From the period of his leaving Paris, to 1775, when his last sickness came upon him, his time appears to have been given chiefly to the enjoyment of his friends; his authorship, and other employments, having secured him an income of not less than 1000l. a year. A disorder in the bowels, which reduced him considerably, but without becoming the occasion of much pain, or at all affecting his spirits, ended his life, August 25, 1776, in the sixty-fifth year of his age.
Hume’s character as a man has been sketched by himself, and his account may be admitted as, in most respects, substantially accurate. He describes himself as mild in disposition, possessing a command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in his passions. “Even my love of literary fame,” he adds, “my ruling passion, never soured my temper, notwithstanding my frequent disappointments. My company was not unacceptable to the young and careless, as well as to the studious and literary; and as I took a particular pleasure in the company of modest women, I had no reason to be displeased with the reception I met with from them. In a word, though most men any wise eminent, have found reason to complain of calumny, I never was touched, or even attacked by her baleful tooth: and though I wantonly exposed myself to the rage of both civil and religious factions, they seemed to be disarmed in my behalf of their wonted fury. My friends never had occasion to vindicate any one circumstance of my character and conduct.” Much to this effect is the testimony of Dr. Adam Smith, the intimate friend of Hume. 124This writer, indeed, does not hesitate to speak of him “as approaching as nearly to the idea of a perfectly wise and virtuous man, as perhaps the nature of human frailty will permit.” Some deduction should of course be made from this language, as that of a natural self-love in the one instance, and of an ardent friendship in the other. It is no proof, for example, of Hume’s exemption from the irascible passions, that he should have been so rarely capable of adverting to the opponents of his favourite speculations in morals or religion, without indulging in reproachful and degrading language; “bigots” and “zealots” being the designations flung at such persons on almost all occasions. In the same spirit the name of a “faction,” is his favourite one for that large class of politicians in this country whose principles did not embrace so much of “the monstrous creed of many made for one,” as belonged to his own. And it is worthy of notice, that a passage in his memoirs, which was inserted by him as an evidence of his exemption from this sort of prejudice and resentment, affords one of the most decisive proofs that he shared in this common weakness much more than himself or his admirers were willing to allow. “Though I had been taught by experience,” he writes, “that the Whig party were in possession of bestowing all places, both in the state and in literature, I was so little inclined to yield to their senseless clamour, that in above a hundred alterations, which further study, reading, or reflection, engaged me to make in the reigns of the two first Stuarts, I have made all of them invariably to the Tory side.” Now what reader can suppose that the inaccuracies detected by a mind without bias, could possibly have occurred in this shape—a hundred on one side, and not one on the other! The fact itself, and the tone in which it is recorded, disclose what our philosopher would fain have concealed. We leave the moral conduct of Hume in the spotless state set forth by his own description of it, though we cannot forbear to remark that such language comes somewhat strangely from a gentleman who had been so fascinated with the manner of the Parisian fashionables under Louis XV., as to have thought of never leaving them. We believe, however, that in his case, the principal attraction of such society was its polish, and not its almost incredible licentiousness. We learn, that in one of those gay assemblies, Hume was induced to make his appearance in the character of a Sultan, placed on a sofa between two of the most beautiful women in Paris. It was his province to solicit the favours of these ladies, and it was theirs to act the part of fair ones who were not to be subdued, and in the dialogue, or rather trilogue, which lasted some quarter of an hour, 125the author of the Treatise of Human Nature, and of the History of England, acquitted himself, we are told, much to the edification of all who were present. In these moments of relaxation, the philosopher was regarded as discovering his amiable sympathy with the ordinary feelings of humanity. It does not appear to have occurred to him, or to his flatterers, to consider the much stronger evidence of the want of such sympathy, which was afforded by his approval of the system of government which had so long spread its terrors and its wrongs over the length and breadth of that splendid, miserable country. Our limits will not allow of any reference to the particulars of the public dispute between Hume and Rousseau, and we therefore abstain from expressing any opinion respecting it.
3. ‘Mémoires et Correspondance de Madame d’Epinay.’ III., 284, 285.
In the philosophical writings of Hume, the great element is scepticism. He had many precursors in that sort of amusing speculation which tends to throw doubt over received opinions; and which, as a natural effect of human vanity, does so the more in regard to those notions which happen to be retained most generally and with the greatest confidence. But these limits did not satisfy the author of the Treatise of Human Nature. The drift of his philosophy is to prove, not only that nothing is known, but that nothing can be known; that the human race are shut up in the most entire ignorance, partly from the character of the objects around them, but mainly from the very framework and nature of the human understanding. Much ingenuity and acuteness was required to give any plausible appearance to a theory so contrary to the natural impressions of mankind, and Hume’s philosophical works afford evidence enough of the sort of talent necessary to his object. But he well knew, that however proper, and however felicitous it might be, to lay low the giant spirit of dogmatism by such means, his own conclusions, in every instance of importance, were hardly less dogmatic than those of his opponents, the principal difference being, that the sources of his assumptions were somewhat more difficult to detect and expose. For what assumption can be greater than that of a right to believe in all unbelief? In this case, the very faculty that doubts must be a figment of vanity. The writer who determines to assail everything, forces on mankind a suspicion of caprice and insincerity, and is not likely to demolish anything. By attempting less, Hume would have accomplished more; and he would not then have called forth that array of philosophic power against himself, which has done so much 126damage to his reputation in this department of his labours. His miscellaneous Essays abound in valuable observations, and are fine models of English composition. The manner in which he met his death is the stock theme with the superficial, as illustrating the power of philosophy. But the man of reflection may perhaps see as much of the weakness of humanity in that event, as of the strength of philosophy; and certainly he will not need to be told, that nothing can be more delusive than the use generally made of such scenes.
It is not however as the philosopher, but as the historian, that Hume is known to the majority of persons, both in this country and on the continent. Those habits of close thought, and that careful use of language, to which he had been so long accustomed in his philosophical studies, qualified him, in a high degree, to treat the topics of history with discrimination, simplicity, and clearness. The evil to be feared was, that he would often allow the sprightliness of narrative to sink into the dullness of disquisition; and that even his narrative would be deficient in that selection of familiar anecdote, and in those picturesque descriptions, which, while having little relation to the great lessons of history, are certainly among its great attractions. But it happens that the narrative of Xenophon himself is not more easy and uninterrupted than that of Hume; nor has the former writer shown a stronger disposition to dwell on domestic incidents, or to throw a dramatic colouring over public occurrences, than the latter. Never did any man bring so much of the power of abstruse thought to the writing of history, and appear to be so much served and so little inconvenienced by it. His station and intercourse in society added much of the feeling and manners of the gentleman to the more grave attainments of the man of learning, and tended to produce that combination of qualities, which made his society at all times agreeable, and has thrown a nameless and irresistible charm over his historical writing. His style was the result of great elaboration, but has every appearance of being that which must have been adopted without effort. It is open, indeed, in almost every page, to much verbal criticism, no book perhaps of the same standing being in this respect so vulnerable. But these lesser blemishes are forgotten amid the many natural and delightful graces with which it is adorned; graces which no one can help feeling, but which it would be as difficult to describe as to imitate.
Having however spoken thus of Mr. Hume’s style, and remarked the general acuteness and frequent justice of his observations, we have fairly exhausted our topics of praise. With regard to the two most 127valuable qualities of a historian—research and integrity, the claims of Hume are in the inverse position of his pretensions in other respects. Instead of seeking, as the author of the Essay on Miracles might have been expected to do, for the best possible testimonies, for these in the greatest possible number, and then sifting them to the utmost, we find him committing himself, with apparent unconsciousness, to the most incompetent guides, often to a single authority where several were accessible, and where several are adduced, attaching no more credit to the depositions of an intelligent writer contemporary with what he records, than to that of some worthless chronicler, who lived some centuries later! This is particularly the case with regard to that portion of our history which precedes the Reformation; and there cannot be a greater mistake than to suppose that his references at the foot of the page in these earlier volumes indicate the sources from which the material of his text was derived. “Ingenious but superficial” is the description of these volumes which Gibbon recorded in his diary, after reading them. In the more modern period of our history, as the authorities relating to it may be consulted by an indolent man with less labour, and by a man of taste with less disgust, we find a little more research and discrimination, but by no means sufficient to render his accounts worthy of implicit confidence, even when not liable to be affected by any of his known partialities. It is to this deficient industry, and to the consequent want of a steady mastery of his subject before beginning to write upon it, that we have mainly to attribute the perpetual contradictions which occur in his description of the great contest under the Stuart princes; contradictions which are so many and so irreconcilable as to make his book one of the most inconsistent that ever emanated from a man of ordinary powers. We have not, of course, space in which to exhibit the proofs of this statement;—but we are confident that inquiry will prove it to be correct.
But the want of industry, though a serious delinquency in a historian, is almost venial when compared with a want of impartiality, and the deficiency of Hume in this last quality has been often and largely exposed. The extent in which the historian was conscious of his own habit of unfairness, it is not in our power to determine; but there is hardly a conceivable form of disingenuousness, of which his volumes might not be shown to afford numerous and striking examples. The volume embracing the reigns of James and Charles was first published, and we have seen that the reception it met with only taught the author to resolve, with a more fixed purpose, as to the complexion of those which were to follow. In instances where his integrity is in the main 128preserved, his eloquence is often so far misdirected that the truth becomes discoloured, and makes the impression of falsehood. In his hands the faults of his favourites lose much of their magnitude and grossness, while their merits are raised much above their proper level, and with regard to their opponents, the inverse process is adopted. Disagreeable facts are passed over, or but partially and very artfully developed; while others, of an opposite nature, have all prominence, and all imaginable force assigned them. Incidents of very rare occurrence, and existing only as exceptions, are culled with the greatest care, and presented as the rule, and as no more than samples of the abundance that might be adduced. And in describing the reasonings and the motives by which the contending parties from time to time were influenced, it is the fixed usage of this writer to consult his own prejudices or imagination much more than the lights afforded by the documents of the times. These summaries, as they are called, are inserted by Hume, in the place of the speeches which the ancient historians were wont to put into the mouth of their leading men; and, interesting as they are, deserve no more credit, considered as the character of parties, or as accounts of what was really said, than it is usual to bestow on those elaborate harangues. There is much reason to believe that the historian began the reigns of the two first Stuarts with a sincere conviction that sufficient allowance had not been made for the peculiar situation of those princes. But his delinquencies are such, that this excuse must be of small avail in his defence. The majority of more than one generation in this country have derived their notions of English history almost exclusively from the pages of Hume; but so low has he fallen as a historical authority, that the persons who have read scarcely anything else, rarely show courage, or rather weakness, enough to make any appeal to him.
Engraved by E. Scriven.
From a Picture by Netscher, in the possession of Mr. Lenoir, at Paris.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
The father of this wise and honest statesman was burgomaster of the town of Dort, or Dordrecht, and one of its representatives in the Assembly of the States of Holland, a man of patriotism, courage, and integrity, who apprehended danger to the liberties of the United Provinces from the hereditary power of the House of Orange, and used his best exertions to counteract it. His sons, Cornelius and John De Witt, born at Dort, the former June 25, 1623, the latter September 25, 1625, inherited his principles and his integrity; and rendered his name illustrious by greater talents exerted in a higher sphere of action. Of these brothers, united in their counsels, their lives, and their deaths, it is the younger, John, the original of our portrait, who rendered the name of De Witt most illustrious, by the ability and virtue with which, during eighteen years, he directed the government of his country.
Cornelius De Witt served in the navy during several years, and distinguished himself in the bloody wars of England and Holland; he also studied jurisprudence in his youth, and displayed talents for civil and military business not unnoticed by his fellow-citizens, who bestowed several municipal offices on him at an early age. The youth of John De Witt appears to have been less occupied by active employments; though he possessed great knowledge and practical skill in maritime affairs, and was esteemed one of the best pilots of his time. The early development of his political talents, aided probably by family connexion, and the respect due to his father’s services, soon introduced him to high civil employment. In 1650 he was appointed Pensionary of his native town, and in 1652, Grand Pensionary of Holland, an office which gave him a commanding influence over the 130deliberations of the whole Union. It was granted nominally only for five years, but in effect was permanent, since at the end of each period it was customary to re-appoint the holder.
It was the leading object of De Witt’s policy to diminish the influence which the princes of the House of Orange had acquired, as much by their services and high personal qualities, as by their power and territorial possessions, and to strengthen the republican institutions of his country, which he saw to be endangered, as it was ultimately destroyed, by their hereditary tenure of the office of Stadtholder. “The chief direction of the affairs of Holland, for eighteen years, continued in the hands of their Pensionary De Witt, a minister of the greatest authority and sufficiency, the greatest application and industry, ever known in their state. In the course of his ministry he and his party reduced, not only all the civil charges of the government in this province, but in a manner all the military commands of the army, out of the hands of persons affectionate to the Prince of Orange, into those esteemed more sure and fast to the interests of their more popular state. And all this was attended for so long a course of years with the perpetual success of their affairs, by the growth of their trade, power and riches at home, and the consideration of their neighbours abroad.” Such is the testimony of Sir William Temple, (Essay on the Origin and Nature of Government,) to the policy, success, and merits of a friend whom he loved and venerated. The position of affairs, when De Witt attained to the direction of the state, favoured the development of his republican views. William II., Prince of Orange, had died in 1650, and his posthumous son and heir, afterwards William III. of England, was an infant. Had the representative of that house been of mature age, we may conclude that gratitude for the eminent services of his predecessors, and the natural inclination of the people towards the form of government to which they had been accustomed, would have led again to the appointment of a Stadtholder in his person. But the office was of a nature which could not be well exercised by a regent, or committed to an infant, without acknowledging a species of hereditary right, scarcely differing from the claims of royalty: and accordingly in some provinces another prince of the Nassau family was appointed Stadtholder, in others, of which Holland was one, the office continued in abeyance, and De Witt, thwarted by no superior, was able to direct his best efforts to counteract the workings of the Orange party, and to effect those changes in the civil and military organization of the state, which are mentioned in the above quotation from Sir W. Temple. The same 131leading principle guided his foreign policy. When he was appointed Grand Pensionary, the Provinces were engaged in war with England; an unequal contest while her government was directed by Cromwell. But the true interest of both parties lay in their amity, and peace was concluded in 1654. While Cromwell lived, the republican party was upheld by his influence. He endeavoured to obtain from the States General, in the treaty of 1654, the perpetual exclusion of the Prince of Orange from the Stadtholdership: but not being able to obtain their consent to this, contented himself with the assent of the States of Holland, as far as regarded their own province, which was accorded by a secret article. After the Restoration it was to be expected that Charles II. would support the interests of his nephew the Prince of Orange; and De Witt thenceforward cultivated the alliance of France in preference to that of England. This, and the jealousy of the English nation at the commercial prosperity of the Dutch, led to the breaking out of a bloody war in 1665, in which the preponderance of success was on the side of England. The spirit, energy, and ability of De Witt was the main stay of his countrymen under the reverses which they sustained in this contest: their disasters were promptly repaired, their defeated armaments refitted, their credit sustained; and Charles II. becoming weary of a war which brought no advantages to compensate for the drain which it occasioned on the treasury, condescended to open negotiations for peace in 1667. These, however, proceeded but slowly: and while they were yet pending, De Witt planned that memorable expedition which surprised our ill-guarded shores, burnt our ships in the Thames, and threw the metropolis into the utmost alarm. The course of diplomacy being quickened by this event, the treaty of Breda was soon after concluded, on terms not disadvantageous to Holland.
In the following year a closer union, called the Triple League, was formed, chiefly by the agency of De Witt and Sir William Temple, between these two powers, in conjunction with Sweden. It was intended to restrain the ambition of Louis XIV., which had manifested itself in such encroachments upon the Spanish Netherlands as gave just cause of anxiety to the United Provinces. De Witt saw that a new danger threatened the independence of his country from abroad, and sacrificed to the emergency his own political prepossessions and his jealousy of everything which could restore the House of Orange to power. So great was his earnestness, that he violated a fundamental principle of the Union, by inducing the States General 132to ratify the treaty at once, instead of referring it, as was prescribed by the constitution, to the acceptance of the several provinces: an act by which, had it proved unpalatable to the nation, the lives of all who were concerned in it were endangered, and which is only to be excused on the plea of necessity, and by the certainty that the measure, which its framers regarded as essential to the welfare of the whole confederacy, would have been frustrated by the influence of France over some or other of its least important members. In 1670 De Witt concluded another treaty with the emperor of Germany and the King of Spain, with the same object of maintaining the power of Spain in the Netherlands, as a barrier against the encroachments of France.
All these precautions were rendered vain by the weak and corrupt conduct of the English Court. The ministers were bribed, and the King cajoled by a French mistress, sent over in the train of his sister the Duchess of Orleans, to renounce the Triple League and to declare war against the United Provinces, in 1672, on the most frivolous pretences. At the same time the king of France in person led against them a numerous, well appointed, and well officered army. It is probable that De Witt had relied with confidence on the sincerity of England in promoting the objects of the Triple League, and that though well aware of the disposition of Louis, he had not thought the danger so near at hand. At all events he had made no sufficient preparation to meet it; and the consequences of this omission were most disastrous. The troops of the Provinces, composed in a great measure of new levies, could make no head; the frontier fortresses yielded almost without resistance; the Rhine was passed, an event remarkable only by the flatteries for which it gave a subject to the French poets; and Louis held his court at Utrecht, while his troops advanced within a few miles of Amsterdam. A loud clamour was now raised against De Witt, who was roundly accused of having disbanded the veteran troops of the Republic, dismantled the fortresses, and exhausted the treasury, that his country might fall an easier prey to the French connexion. This calumny, even at the time, probably, was hardly believed: but too great neglect of the military establishment seems justly chargeable as a fault on his administration. For this, however, some excuse may be found in the necessity of economy, the inconsistency of a mercenary army of foreigners with republican principles, and the readiness of the Orange party to misrepresent this policy of the Pensionary, as tending to concentrate in himself the powers of Stadtholder, a name and office which he had been so eager 133to abolish. By the machinations of that party the embarrassments of the government were increased, and discontent was fomented; and their sufferings and danger led the people to think more and more favourably of the claims of William of Orange. The natural high qualities of that prince had received most careful cultivation under the superintendence of De Witt, who was resolved, he said, to render him capable of serving his country, if any change should throw the administration into his hands. Already, February 25, he had been declared captain-general and admiral of the Provinces. Shortly after, De Witt’s life was attempted by four assassins, who left him for dead, as he was returning home at night, unattended, with his usual simplicity of demeanour. While he lay ill of his wounds, the repeal of the Perpetual Edict passed in 1667, by which the office of Stadtholder was abolished for ever in the province of Holland, was demanded by the populace, with much violence and sedition. That State yielded to the clamour, and the Prince was thus reinstated in the full power enjoyed by his predecessors.
Cornelius De Witt was induced, with great difficulty, to sign the revocation of the Edict. Soon after, he was accused of being concerned in a plot to murder the Prince of Orange. The informer and only witness, one Tichelaer, was a person of infamous character: yet on his evidence this brave and well-deserving citizen was thrown into prison at the Hague, and cruelly tortured to extort confession of a plot, the very existence of which, without that confession, could not be proved. He bore the trial with unshaken constancy, protesting that if they cut him to pieces, they should not make him confess a thing which he had never thought of. Without it, he could not be convicted: but he was stripped of his employments and banished from Holland; and such was the madness of the time, that even this iniquitous decree gave great offence, by its leniency, to the people, who were fully persuaded of Cornelius De Witt’s guilt. John De Witt meanwhile had recovered from his wounds; and finding that in the existing state of public feeling his continuance at the head of affairs was both undesirable for himself and unpleasing to the country, he resigned his office. After the promulgation of his brother’s sentence, he went to receive him upon his delivery from prison; and probably to do him more honour, and testify his own sense of the malice of the charge, and the unworthiness of the treatment which he had received, repaired to the Hague in his coach and four, a sort of display which he was not wont to affect. This bravado proved still 134more unfortunate than ill-judged. The people, collected by the unusual spectacle, began to murmur at the presumption of one suspected traitor coming in state to insult the laws, and triumph in the escape of a traitor-brother from a deserved death. De Witt went to the prison, to convey his brother to his own house; but Cornelius replied, that having suffered so much, being innocent, he would not leave the prison as a culprit, but remain, and appeal against the sentence; a resolution which John De Witt strove in vain to shake. Meanwhile Tichelaer, the informer, was busily engaged in stirring up the populace to riot. Apprehending some disturbance, the States of Holland, which were then sitting at the Hague, requested the Prince of Orange to repair thither with a military force. Meanwhile the tumult spread from the lowest people to the burghers, and a furious mob collected round the gates of the prison where the brothers still remained. The military force which had been sent for did not arrive, and that which was in the city was drawn off, by written order from one or more of the magistrates, upon a false report, that a body of peasants was advancing to pillage the Hague. Actuated by fear, or some worse motive, the gaoler opened the gates, the leaders of the mob rushed in, the brothers were violently dragged from their chamber, and massacred as soon as they reached the street, with circumstances of brutality too revolting to be narrated in detail. Their corpses were dragged to the gibbet, and publicly suspended with the heads downwards; and the mangled limbs of these upright magistrates and patriotic citizens were offered for sale, and bought at prices of fifteen, twenty, and thirty sols.
There is another account, different in some particulars, which intimates that this atrocious murder was preconcerted, and that a train was laid for it, if not by the Prince of Orange himself, at least by the leaders of his party. Such charges are often lightly made; and we are not aware that there is any direct evidence to fix this guilt on any one, certainly not personally on that distinguished monarch. But that there was culpable neglect, even acquitting those in power of wilful connivance, seems certain; and the proceedings of the court which sentenced Cornelius, show that the government was not delicate in finding means to remove those whom it disliked. And William’s subsequent conduct may almost be said to have merited the imputation which he incurred; for though the States of Holland voted the murder detestable in their eyes and the eyes of all the world, and requested the Stadtholder to take proper measures to avenge it, none of the 135murderers were ever brought to justice. The flimsy pretext for this neglect was, that it would be dangerous to inquire into a deed in which the principal burghers of the Hague were concerned.
Mr. Fox, in his History of James II., has made the following reflections on this event. “The catastrophe of De Witt, the wisest, best, and most truly patriotic minister that ever appeared upon the public stage, as it was an act of the most crying injustice and ingratitude, so likewise it is the most completely dis-encouraging example that history affords to the lovers of liberty. If Aristides was banished, he was also recalled: if Dion was repaid for his service to the Syracusans by ingratitude, that ingratitude was more than once repented of: if Sidney and Russell died upon the scaffold, they had not the cruel mortification of falling by the hands of the people; ample justice was done to their memory, and the very sound of their names is still animating to every Englishman attached to their glorious cause. But with De Witt fell also his cause and his party; and although a name so respected by all who revere virtue and wisdom when employed in their noblest sphere, the political service of the public, yet I do not know that even to this day any public honours have been paid by them to his memory.”
After De Witt’s death, all his papers were submitted to the most rigorous examination, in hope of discovering something which should confirm the popular notion of his being traitorously in league with France. One of the persons appointed to perform this service being asked what had been found in De Witt’s papers, replied, “What could we have found? Nothing but probity.” To the moral qualities of integrity, intrepidity, and patience, he added intellectual endowments of the highest order: his perception was acute, his judgment solid; he possessed great skill and readiness in transacting business, and that persuasive influence over those who came in contact with him, which is perhaps the most serviceable gift of a statesman. His manners, we are told by Sir William Temple, (Observations on the United Provinces, c. 11), were such as befitted his station and his principles. “His habit was grave, plain and popular; his table, what only served turn for his family or a friend; his train was only one man, who performed all the menial service of his house at home, and upon his visits of ceremony, putting on a plain livery cloak, attended his coach abroad; for upon other occasions he was seen usually in the streets on foot and alone, like the commonest burgher of the town. Nor was this manner of life affected; but was the general fashion and mode among all the magistrates of the state.”
De Witt cultivated mathematics, and published a Treatise on 136Curves. Burnet says, “Perhaps no man ever applied algebra to all matters of trade so nicely as he did. He made himself so entirely master of the state of Holland, that he understood exactly all the concerns of their revenue, and what sums, and in what manner, could be raised upon any emergent of state. For this he had a pocket book full of tables, and was ever ready to show how they could be furnished with money.” The most remarkable of his works are his Memoirs, published during his life in 1667, in which, after examining the principles which govern the prosperity and decline of states, he proceeds to apply them to Holland, and to review the condition and prospects of the country. They have been translated into French by Mad. Zoutelandt, who has also written a life of the two brothers. De Witt’s correspondence with the plenipotentiaries of France, England, Sweden, Denmark, and Poland, has also been published, and translated into French.
[Murder of the brothers De Witt, from a Dutch print in Wagenaar’s ‘Vaterlandsche Historie,’ 1770.]
Engraved by J. Posselwhite.
From a Print by J. Houbraken 1740.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
John Hampden was the head and representative of an ancient and opulent family, which had received the lands of Hampden in Buckinghamshire from Edward the Confessor, and boasted to have transmitted its wealth, honours, and influence, unimpaired and increasing, in direct male succession, down to this the most illustrious of the house. The date of his birth is 1594; the place of it is generally believed to have been London. Under four years of age, he came, by the death of his father, into possession of the family estates, which, besides the ancient seat and extensive domain in Buckinghamshire, comprehended large possessions in Essex, Oxfordshire, and Berkshire. Our knowledge of his early life may be summed in a few facts and dates. He was brought up at the free-school of Thame, in Oxfordshire; entered as a commoner at Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1609; and was admitted student of the Inner Temple in 1613, where he made considerable progress in the knowledge of common law. His classical attainments also seem to have been respectable, since he was associated, oddly enough, with Laud, then Master of St. John’s, in writing the Oxford gratulatory poems on the marriage of the Elector Palatine and the Princess Elizabeth; from which sprung Prince Rupert, who led the Royalist troops when Hampden received his death-wound. In 1619, he married his first wife Elizabeth Symeon. Inheriting a noble property, he devoted himself, without suffering his literary habits to fall into desuetude, principally to the business and amusements of a country life, having, says Lord Clarendon, “on a sudden retired from a life of great pleasure and licence, to extraordinary sobriety and strictness, and yet retained his usual cheerfulness and affability.” His first entrance into public life was in January, 1620–1, when he took his seat in the Parliament then convened, for 138Grampound, at that time a borough of wealth and importance: a prevalent error, that he sat for the first time in the first Parliament summoned by Charles I. in 1625, is corrected by Lord Nugent, who in his Memorials of Hampden has shown that he sat in the Parliaments of 1621 and 1624; that he was active and diligent in his attendance, and intimately connected himself with Selden, Pym, St. John, and other leaders of the popular party; and that, though he seldom spoke, his capacity for business was known and respected, as appears from the employments in committees and conferences, imposed on him by the House.
In the first Parliament of Charles I., Hampden sat for Wendover, an ancient borough of Buckinghamshire, which with two others had lately regained their dormant privilege of returning members, chiefly by his exertions, and at his expense. In this and in the following Parliament, summoned in February, 1627, Hampden still appears to have taken no leading part. After the dissolution of the latter, he was called upon to contribute to a general loan, which he refused, and was in consequence imprisoned for a time in the Gate House, and then sent still under restraint to reside in Hampshire. The order for his release, with many others, is dated March, 1627–8. On this occasion, he made the remarkable reply to the demand, why he would not contribute to the king’s necessities, that “he could be content to lend as well as others, but feared to draw upon himself that curse in Magna Charta, which should be read twice a year against those who infringe it.”
In the new Parliament which met in March, 1628, Hampden again sat for Wendover, and having become more generally known by the part which he had taken in resisting the demands of the crown, from this time forward, says Lord Nugent, “scarcely was a bill prepared, or an inquiry begun, upon any subject, however remotely affecting any one of the three great matters at issue—privilege, religion, or the supplies—but he was thought fit to be associated with St. John, Selden, Coke and Pym, on the committee.”
That Parliament, after framing the Petition of Right, voting supplies, and taking resolute steps towards procuring a redress of grievances, was hastily and angrily dissolved in May, 1629. Previous to this, Hampden, “although retaining his seat for Wendover, had retired to his estate in Buckinghamshire, to live in entire privacy, without display, but not inactive; contemplating from a distance, the madness of the Government, the luxury and insolence of the courtiers, and the portentous apathy of the people, who, amazed by the late measures, 139and by the prospect of uninterruptedly increasing violence, saw no hope from petition or complaint, and watched, in confusion and silence, the inevitable advance of an open rupture between the King and the Parliament. The literary acquirements of his youth he now carefully improved; increasing that stock of general knowledge which had already gained him the reputation of being one of the most learned and accomplished men of his age: and directing his attention chiefly to writers on history and politics. Davila’s History of the Civil Wars of France became his favourite study, his vade mecum, as Sir Philip Warwick styles it; as if forecasting from afar the course of the storm which hung over his own country, he already saw the sad parallel it was likely to afford to the story of that work. In his retirement, he bent the whole force of his capacious mind to the most effectual means by which the abuses of ecclesiastical authority were to be corrected, and the tide of headlong prerogative checked, whenever the slumbering spirit of the country should be roused to deal with those duties to which he was preparing to devote himself.” (Memorials of Hampden, p. 175.) It may here be added that Hampden’s religious opinions were those of the Independent party, who were honourably distinguished, no less from the Presbyterians than the Episcopalians, by granting to all persons that freedom of conscience and full toleration which they claimed for themselves. While thus awaiting, with study and patient observation, the time when the active service of a real patriot might benefit his country, his domestic happiness received a severe blow by the death of his wife, Aug. 20, 1634.
In the same autumn the scheme of raising a revenue by ship-money was devised. Confined in the first instance to seaport towns, it proved so profitable that the levy was soon extended to inland places. In 1636, the charge was laid, by order of council, upon all counties, cities, and corporate towns, and the sheriffs were required, in case of refusal or delay, to proceed by distress. Here Hampden resolved to make a stand. The sum demanded of him was but thirty-one shillings and sixpence; but the very smallness of the sum served to show that his opposition was directed against the principle of the exaction, and rested on no ground of personal inconvenience, or individual injustice. Proceedings being instituted in the Exchequer for recovery of the money, the case was solemnly argued before the twelve judges, who severally delivered their opinions, and by a majority of eight to four, determined in favour of the crown. “But the judgment,” says Lord Clarendon, “infinitely more advanced him, Mr. Hampden, than the service for which it was given. He was rather of reputation in his 140own country, than of public discourse, or fame in the kingdom, before the business of ship-money: but then he grew the argument of all tongues, every man inquiring who or what he was, that durst, at his own charge, support the liberty and property of the country, as he thought, from being made a prey to the court. His carriage, throughout this agitation, was with that rare temper and modesty, that they who watched him narrowly to find some advantage against his person, to make him less resolute in his cause, were compelled to give him a just testimony.”
These measures, which placed at the king’s disposal the property, were accompanied by equally stringent attacks on the liberties of the country. Tutored by the lofty spirit of Wentworth, Charles resolved, and seemed likely to succeed, to rule independently of Parliaments: and in the sycophancy of the judges, and the unlimited and illegal severities of the courts of the Star-Chamber and High Commission, he had ample means of suppressing murmur, and punishing the refractory. We need not dwell upon the state to which the country was reduced, during the eleven years which elapsed without the meeting of a Parliament: so unpromising did it appear, that even the most resolute of that party comprehended by the Royalists under the general name of Puritans, meditated a withdrawal from the tyranny which they had almost ceased to hope to restrain. Even this however was denied to them by the infatuated jealousy of popular principles entertained by the king and his advisers, who issued an order, April 6, 1638, by which masters of ships were prohibited to carry passengers to America, without special licence. It has often been dwelt on as a very remarkable circumstance, that Hampden, and his cousin Oliver Cromwell, were at this time actually embarked for New England on board one of eight ships then lying in the river and freighted with emigrants, and that these eight ships were specially ordered to be detained.
A dawn of better times appeared, when in consequence of the king’s rash attempt to impose the English ritual upon Scotland, and restore Episcopacy, that country rose in rebellion. The expenses of the war rendered it imperative to obtain supplies; and Charles, fearing at this juncture to resort to fresh impositions, saw no resource except in summoning that which is commonly called the Short Parliament, which met in April, 1640. Hampden was returned for Buckinghamshire. About this time he had married his second wife, Letitia Vachell, but the quiet happiness of his home was henceforth entirely broken up by the disturbances of the times, and he never returned to any settled 141residence at his paternal mansion. In the short and energetic session of this spring he displayed his usual diligence and activity; and his influence was much increased in consequence of his resistance to the demand of ship-money, which had attracted such notice, that Clarendon, in speaking of the opening of the Long Parliament in November following, observes, “the eyes of all men were fixed upon him as their Pater Patriæ, and the pilot that must steer the vessel through the tempests and rocks which threatened it. And I am persuaded his power and interest, at that time, was greater to do good or hurt, than any man in the kingdom, or than any man of his rank hath held in any time: for his reputation of honesty was universal, and his affections seemed so publicly guided, that no corrupt or private ends could bias them.”
The causes of the dissolution of the Short Parliament, and the history of the second Scottish war which compelled Charles I. to summon the Long Parliament, hardly form a part of our subject: it is to be observed however that during the summer and autumn, Hampden, with other leading persons of the popular party, was engaged in active correspondence with the leaders of the Scottish insurrection, in whose success, as tending to the further embarrassment of the king, they placed their best hope of obtaining security for the maintenance of the liberties and privileges of the English people. Of the first great act of that Parliament, the impeachment of Strafford, he was a zealous supporter, and a member of the committee of twelve appointed to arrange the evidence, and to conduct that memorable trial. After the Commons, for reasons which have never been satisfactorily explained, thought fit to change the method of proceeding by introducing a bill of attainder, the name of Hampden appears in none of the records: and it is probable that he abstained from taking any part in the business. It is important to keep this in mind, because the censure, which has justly been cast upon the proceedings of the House of Commons against Lord Strafford, applies solely to the attainder, not to the impeachment. To the question, why, if Hampden disapproved of the attainder, he did not as resolutely oppose it as he had supported the impeachment, the following hypothetical answer is supplied by Lord Nugent. “In a case doubtful to him only as matter of precedent; but clear to him in respect of the guilt of the accused person; in a case in which the accused person, in his estimation, deserved death, and in which all law, except that of the sceptre and the sword, was at an end if he had escaped it; when all the ordinary protection of law to the subject throughout the country was suspended, and suspended mainly by the counsels of Strafford himself, Hampden was not prepared to heroically 142immolate the liberties of England in order to save the life of him who would have destroyed them. Hampden probably considered the bill which took away Strafford’s life (and indeed it must in fairness be so considered) as a revolutionary act undertaken for the defence of the Commonwealth.”
He was an active supporter of two important measures which occupied the Parliament simultaneously with Strafford’s impeachment, the Triennial Bill, for securing the convocation of Parliaments, and the bill for excluding bishops from the House of Lords. After the rejection of the latter, he adopted the views of that more violent party who urged the necessity of abolishing episcopacy altogether. But, notwithstanding his recognised position as a leader of his party, and his known weight in determining the line of conduct to be pursued by it, he was not a frequent speaker, and his name therefore occurs less frequently than would be expected in the records of this eventful period. “His practice was usually to reserve himself until near the close of a debate; and then, having watched its progress, to endeavour to moderate the redundancies of his friends, to weaken the impression produced by its opponents, to confirm the timid, and to reconcile the reluctant. And this he did, according to the testimony of his opponents themselves, with a modesty, gentleness, and apparent diffidence in his own judgment, which generally brought men round to his conclusions.”—(Memorials of Hampden, ii. 47.) He was one of the five members accused of treason, and demanded personally by Charles in the House of Commons, January 6, 1642; “and from this time,” says Clarendon, “his nature and carriage seemed much fiercer than it did before.” Unquestionably that ill-advised step was not likely to conciliate those whose life was aimed at, but it is also clear that before that event, the party, with whom he acted, were preparing for a struggle more serious than that in which they were as yet engaged. A Committee of Public Safety was formed, of which Hampden was a member, the power of the sword was claimed by the Ordinance of Militia, the king on his part issued his Commission of Array, and at last raised his standard at Nottingham, August 22.
In the military events of the first year of the war, Hampden took an active, but subordinate share, as colonel of a regiment of infantry, which he himself raised in Buckinghamshire. Nor did he intermit, as the exigencies of war allowed him, to continue his attendance in Parliament, and to urge there that decisive course of action, which he knew to be necessary to the success of the cause, and laboured in vain to recommend to the Parliamentary general. At the battle of Brentford, his troops, and those of Lord Brook, in support of the London 143regiment under Hollis, bore the brunt of the day against superior numbers, until the army arrived from London in the evening: and on this occasion (as before at Edge Hill, where he arrived too late to take part in the fight,) he in vain urged Essex to convert, by a decisive forward movement, the doubtful issue of the day into victory. During the winter months, while the king held his court at Oxford, and a Parliamentary army lay between London and that city, Hampden’s regiment was quartered in Buckinghamshire, and his own time was divided between the seat of war and the House of Commons.
To this period also, is to be referred the association of six midland counties for the purposes of the war, Bedford, Buckingham, Hertford, Cambridge, Huntingdon, and Northampton; a step which proved of material service in giving strength and union to the Parliamentary cause, and which probably would not have been carried into operation but for Hampden’s peculiar talent of allaying jealousies, reconciling conflicting interests, and smoothing away the obstacles to any business which he undertook.
From March 1, to April 15, a cessation of arms was agreed on in Oxfordshire and Bucks, while an attempt was made to arrange terms of pacification. The treaty having been broken off, war recommenced with an incessant and generally successful series of predatory incursions, conducted by Prince Rupert, on the Parliamentary outposts, which lay widely dispersed in the intricate country on the borders of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. In this district, with which his early habits of the chase had made him familiar, Hampden’s regiment was quartered. He had laboured incessantly, but in vain, to promote some great enterprise, which might give lustre to the seemingly declining cause, and confidence to the adherents, of the Parliament. Failing in this, he manifested no less alacrity in performing his duty than if his views and his suggestions had been adopted: indeed it would be consonant to his character to suppose, that a strict sense of what is due to military discipline, and a desire to avoid even the appearance of slighting his commanding officer, led him to still more zealous exertions. It was in a matter beyond the strict line of his duty that he received his death-wound. On the evening of the 17th of June, Rupert set out from Oxford with about 2000 men, and surprised and burnt two villages, Postcombe and Chinnor, which were occupied by the Parliamentary troops. When the alarm reached Hampden, he instantly set out at the head of a small body of cavalry, which volunteered to follow him, in hopes of being able to delay the Royalists sufficiently to enable Essex to occupy the passes of the Cherwell, and cut them off from Oxford. Strengthened by the accession 144of four troops of horse, he overtook Prince Rupert, who drew up to receive the attack on Chalgrove-field. Early in the action Hampden received two bullets in the shoulder, which shattered the bone, and in an agony of pain he rode off the field; “a thing,” says Clarendon, “he never used to do, and from which it was concluded he was hurt.” Two others of the chief Parliamentary officers present were killed or taken, and the Royalists made good their retreat. Hampden expired at Thame, after six days severe suffering. His last words are thus given from a contemporary publication. “O Lord God of Hosts, great is thy mercy, just and holy are thy dealings unto us sinful men. Save me, O Lord, if it be thy good will, from the jaws of death. Pardon my manifold transgressions, O Lord, save my bleeding country. Have these realms in thy especial keeping. Confound and level in the dust those who would rob the people of their liberty and lawful prerogative. Let the king see his error, and turn the hearts of his wicked counsellors from the malice and wickedness of their designs. Lord Jesu, receive my soul!” He then mournfully uttered, “O Lord, save my country—O Lord, be merciful to” ... and here his speech failed him. He fell back in the bed, and expired.
His death, according to Sir Philip Warwick, was regretted even by the king, “who looked on his interest, if he could gain his affections, as a powerful means of begetting a right understanding between him and the two Houses.” To his own party it was irreparable. It removed the fittest person for the chief command of their troops, which it is not unreasonable to suppose would, upon the removal of Essex, have been vested in him; deprived them of a leader and adviser, who, of all, was the most likely to have confined his wishes to the establishment of a secure peace, on the basis of a strictly limited monarchy; and opened way to the ambition of Cromwell, which probably would never have been developed if Hampden had lived to direct the counsels of the Parliament.
We have already given a portion of Clarendon’s character of Hampden; for the rest of that celebrated passage, we must refer to the History of the Rebellion, book vii. It describes a man of rare virtues, though the political bias of the noble author has thrown a dark colouring over the whole. The latest, and we believe the most elaborate account of this eminent patriot, is that of Lord Nugent, from which the greater part of our memoir is derived. But the memoirs and pamphlets of the time must be intimately studied by those who wish for full information concerning Hampden’s parliamentary life.
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Samuel Johnson was born September 18, 1709, in the city of Lichfield, where his father, a man well respected for sense and learning, carried on the trade of a bookseller, and realized an independence, which he afterwards lost by an unsuccessful speculation. His mother also possessed a strong understanding. From these parents Johnson derived a powerful body, and a mind of uncommon force and compass. Unfortunately both mind and body were tainted by disease: the former by a melancholy, of which he said that it had “made him mad all his life—at least not sober;” the latter by that scrofulous disorder called the king’s evil, for which, in compliance with a popular superstition, recommended by the Jacobite principles of his family, he was touched by Queen Anne. By this disease he lost the sight of one eye, and the other was considerably injured: a calamity which combined with constitutional indolence to prevent his joining in the active sports of his school-fellows. Tardy in the performance of his appointed tasks, he mastered them with rapidity at last, and he early displayed great fondness for miscellaneous reading, and a remarkably retentive memory. After passing through several country schools, and spending near two years in a sort of busy idleness at home, he went to Pembroke College, Oxford, about the age of sixteen. There he made himself more remarkable by wit and humour, and negligence of college discipline, than by his labours for University distinction: his translation of Pope’s Messiah into Latin hexameters was the only exercise on which he bestowed much pains, or by which he obtained much credit. But his high spirits, unless the recollections of his earlier years were tinctured by his habitual despondency, were but the cloak of a troubled mind. “Ah! Sir,” he said to Boswell, “I was mad 146and violent. It was bitterness which they mistook for frolic. I was miserably poor, and I thought to fight my way by my literature and my wit, so I disregarded all power and all authority.” His poverty during this period was indeed extreme: and the scanty remittances by which he was supported, in much humiliation and inconvenience, were altogether stopped at last by his father’s insolvency. He had the mortification to be compelled to quit Oxford in the autumn of 1731, after three years’ residence, without taking a degree; and his father’s death in the December following threw him on the world, with twenty pounds in his pocket.
He first attempted to gain a livelihood in the capacity of usher to a school at Market-Bosworth, in Leicestershire. For that laborious and dreary task he was eminently unfit, except by talent and learning, and he soon quitted a situation which he ever remembered with a degree of aversion amounting to horror. After his marriage he tried the experiment of keeping a boarding-house, near Lichfield, as principal, with little better success. From Bosworth he went to Birmingham, in 1733, where he composed his first work, a translation of the Jesuit Lobo’s Voyage to Abyssinia. He gained several kind and useful acquaintance in the latter town, among whom was Mr. Porter, a mercer, whose widow he married in 1735. She was double his age, and possessed neither beauty, fortune, nor attractive manners, yet she inspired him with an affection which endured, unchilled by the trials of poverty, unchanged by her death, even to the end of his own life, as his private records fully testify. She died in 1752.
In March, 1737, Johnson set out for the metropolis, in hopes of mending his fortunes, as a man of letters, and especially of bringing on the stage his tragedy of Irene. It was long before his desires were gratified in either respect. Irene was not performed till 1749, when his friend and former pupil, Garrick, had the management of Drury-Lane. Garrick’s zeal carried it through nine nights, so that the author, in addition to one hundred pounds from Dodsley for the copyright, had the profit of three nights’ performance, according to the mode of payment then in use. The play however, though bearing the stamp of a vigorous and elevated mind, and by no means wanting in poetical merit, was unfit for acting, through its want of pathos and dramatic effect: and Johnson perhaps perceived his deficiency in these qualities, for he never again wrote for the stage. Garrick said of his friend, that he had neither the faculty to produce, nor the sensibility to receive the impressions of tragedy: and his annotations upon Shakspeare confirm this judgment.
147His first employment after his arrival in London, was as a frequent contributor to the Gentleman’s Magazine, from which, during some years, he derived his chief support. This was a period of labour, poverty, and often of urgent want. Sometimes without a lodging, sometimes without a dinner, he became acquainted with the darker phases of a London life; and among other singular characters, a similarity of fortunes made him acquainted with the notorious Richard Savage, whom he regarded with affection, and whose life is one of the most powerful productions of Johnson’s pen.
In the thoughts suggested, and the knowledge taught, by this rough collision with the world, we may conjecture his imitation of the third satire of Juvenal, entitled London, to have originated. To the majority of the nation it was recommended by its strong invectives against the then unpopular ministry of Sir Robert Walpole, as well as by the energy of thought and style, the knowledge of his subject, and the lively painting in which it abounds: it reached a second edition in the course of a week, and Boswell tells us, on contemporary authority, that “the first buz of the literary circles was, ‘here is an unknown poet, greater even than Pope.’” Yet this admired poem produced only ten guineas to its author, and appears to have done nothing towards improving his prospects, or giving a commercial value to his name: his chief employment was still furnished by the Gentleman’s Magazine; and in November, 1740, he undertook to report, or rather to write, the Parliamentary debates for that publication. At that time the privileges of Parliament were very strictly interpreted, and the avowed publication of debates would have been rigorously suppressed. Such a summary however as could be preserved in the memory, was carried away by persons employed for the purpose, and the task which Johnson undertook was to expand and adorn their imperfect hints from the stores of his own eloquence: in doing which he took care, as he afterwards acknowledged, that “the Whig dogs should not have the best of it.” The speeches of course were referred to fictitious names, and were published under the title, Debates of the Senate of Lilliput: but in February, 1743, Johnson, on finding that they were esteemed genuine, desisted from the employment, declaring that he would not be accessary to the propagation of falsehood. So scrupulous was he on this score, that forty years after, not long before his death, he expressed his regret at having been the author of fictions that had passed for realities.
For a detailed account of this early portion of Johnson’s literary history, we refer the reader to Boswell’s Life, and the list of Johnson’s 148works thereto prefixed, and pass on at once to those greater performances, to which he owes his eminent rank among British writers. Of these the earliest and most celebrated is his Dictionary of the English Language. How long the plan of this work had been meditated, before it was actually commenced, is uncertain: he told Boswell, that his knowledge of our language was not the effect of particular study, but had grown up insensibly in his mind. That he under-rated the time and labour requisite for such a work, is evident from his promising in his prospectus, issued in 1747, to complete it in three years: he probably had also under-rated the needful knowledge, and amount of preparatory study. In fact it was not published till 1755. He received for it 1575l., of which however a very considerable portion was spent in expenses. The prospectus was addressed to Lord Chesterfield; who expressed himself warmly in favour of the design, and from that time forward treated the author with neglect until the time of publication drew nigh, when he again assumed the character of a patron. Fired at this, Johnson repudiated his assistance in a dignified but sarcastic letter, which is printed by Boswell. The transaction merits notice, for it is characteristic of Johnson’s independent spirit, and excited at the time much curiosity and comment.
The Dictionary was justly esteemed a wonderful work: it established at once the author’s reputation among his contemporaries, and was long regarded as the supreme standard by which disputed points in the English language were to be tried. Johnson’s chief qualification for the task lay in the accuracy of his definitions, and the extent of his various and well-remembered reading; his chief disqualification lay in his ignorance of the cognate Teutonic languages, the stock from which the bulk and strength of our own is derived: and in proportion as the history and philosophy of the English language have been more extensively studied, has the need of a more learned and philosophical work of reference been felt. The verbose style of his definitions is rather a fruitful theme of ridicule than an important fault. Shortly before its publication he received from the University of Oxford, which through life he regarded with great affection and veneration, the honorary degree of M.A., a mark of respect by which he was highly gratified.
That his labour in composing this work was not severe, may be inferred from the variety of literary employments in which, during its progress, he found time and inclination to engage: among which we may select for mention the imitation of Juvenal’s tenth satire, entitled Vanity of Human Wishes, and the periodical paper called the Rambler, 149which was published twice a week, from March 20, 1750, to March 17, 1752. Of the whole series, according to Boswell, only four papers, and a part of a fifth, were contributed by other pens: and it is remarkable, considering the general gravity of the subjects, and the elaboration of the style, that most of them were struck off at a heat, when constitutional indolence could procrastinate no longer, without even being read over before they were printed. The circulation of the work was small; for its merits, which lie chiefly in moral instruction and literary criticism, were of too grave a cast to ensure favour: the lighter parts, and the attempts at humour, are the least successful. But its popularity increased as the author’s fame rose, and fashion recommended his grandiloquent style; and before his death it went through numerous editions in a collected form.
In 1756 he issued proposals for an edition of Shakspeare, a scheme which he had contemplated as long back as 1745, when he published Miscellaneous Observations on the Tragedy of Macbeth. He promised to complete it before Christmas, 1757, but it did not appear until October, 1765. Imperfectly versed in the antiquities, literature, and language of the Elizabethan era, the source from which almost all valuable comment on our early dramatists has been drawn, he has done little to elucidate difficulties or correct errors. His preface has been esteemed among the most valuable of his critical essays. But the perusal of his notes, and especially of his summary criticisms on the several plays, will confirm Garrick’s judgment as to his sensibility, and show that he wanted that delicate perception and deep knowledge of the workings of the passions which were necessary to the adequate fulfilment of his most difficult task.
From April 15, 1758, to April 5, 1760, Johnson wrote a second periodical paper, called the Idler. Twelve only, out of one hundred and three essays, were contributed by his friends; the rest were generally written with as much haste, and are of slighter texture, than those of the Rambler. Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, he wrote in the beginning of 1759, to defray the expenses of his mother’s funeral, and pay some trifling debts which she had left. He told Sir Joshua Reynolds, that it was composed in the evenings of one week, and sent to the press in portions as it was written. This anecdote affords a good instance of Johnson’s facility and power, when an adequate stimulus was applied: from the rich imagery, and the varied, powerful strain of reflection which pervade it, and the elaborated pomp of its style, it would assuredly be taken for the product of mature consideration, labour, and frequent revision. For this he received one hundred pounds, and 150twenty-five pounds more at a second edition. It has been translated into most European languages.
In 1762 Johnson accepted a pension of 300l., for which he underwent considerable obloquy. This was entirely undeserved, though in some sort he had brought it on himself by indulging his satirical bias and political predilections in a wayward definition of the words pension and pensioner, in his Dictionary; where other instances occur of his indulging the humour of the moment, whether it prompted him to spleen or merriment. Why he should not have accepted the pension, no sound reason can be given: his Jacobitical predilections, never probably so strong as he used to represent them in the heat of argument, were lost, like those of others, in the hopelessness of the cause; and his Toryism naturally led him to transfer his full respect and allegiance to the reigning king, who never was suspected of an undue bias towards Whiggism. The sum bestowed was no more than an honourable testimony to his literary eminence, and a comfortable provision for his declining age: and as far as it is possible to form an opinion on such matters, the gift was unstained by any compact, expressed or understood, for political support.
Among the more important events of Johnson’s life, we are bound to mention his acquaintance with Mr. Boswell, which commenced in 1763, not only because it formed an important article among the pleasures of the philosopher’s declining years, but because it led to the composition and publication of the most lively and vivid picture ever given by one man of another, the Life of Johnson. By Boswell, Johnson was induced, in compliance with a wish that he had long before entertained, to undertake a journey to the Scottish Highlands and the Hebrides: and it is remarkable that the first English book of travels (as we believe,) into what to the English was then almost a terra incognita, should have been composed by a man so careless of natural beauty, and so little disposed to sacrifice his ease and habits to the cravings of curiosity, as Johnson. His desire to visit that country seems to have arisen rather from a wish to study society in a simple form, than from any taste for the wild beauties of our Northern regions, of which he saw not the most favourable specimen, and has given not a flattering account. His Journey to the Western Islands will be read with pleasure, abounding in acute observation, passages of lofty eloquence, and grateful acknowledgment of the kindness and hospitality which he received; kindness which his snappish railings against the Scotch in general never led him to undervalue or forget. His companion and disciple’s account of their expedition will, however, be read with more 151amusement, from presenting such vivid pictures of the author himself, as well as of the subject which he painted, and of the varied characters to which they were introduced, and scenes in which they intermingled. We may here add that Johnson was a resolute unbeliever in the authenticity of Macpherson’s Ossian, against which, in his book, he pronounced a decided judgment. He thus gave considerable offence to national vanity. To the claims of second-sight he was more favourable. Throughout life he was influenced by a belief, not only in the possibility, but in the occasional exertion of supernatural agencies, beyond the regular operation of the laws of nature.
In 1775, Johnson received from the University of Oxford the honorary degree of D.C.L. The same degree had been conferred on him some time before by the University of Dublin; but he did not then assume the title of doctor. His only subsequent work which requires notice is the Lives of the English Poets, written for a collective edition of them, which the booksellers were about to publish. To the selection of the authors, praise cannot be given: many ornaments to our literature are omitted, and many obscure persons have found a place in the collection: this however, probably, was not Johnson’s fault. The publication began in 1779, and was not completed till 1781: the lives have gone through many editions by themselves. Though strongly coloured by personal and political predilections, they contain much sound criticism, and form a valuable article in British biography.
Many incidents connected with Johnson’s life, his places of residence, his domestication in Mr. Thrale’s family, his connexion with The Club, and the like, have been made generally known by the amusing works of Boswell, Mrs. Piozzi, and others. Perhaps public curiosity was never so strongly directed towards the person, habits, and conversation of any man known only as an author; and certainly it never has been so amply gratified. Boswell’s Life of Johnson is unique in its kind.
His powers of conversation were very great, and not only commanded the admiration and deference of his contemporaries, but have contributed in a principal degree to the upholding of his traditionary fame. They were deformed by an assumption of superiority, and an intolerance of contradiction or opposition, which often betrayed him into offensive rudeness. Yet his temper was at bottom affectionate and humane, his attachments strong, and his charity only bounded, and scarcely bounded, by his means.
The latter years of Dr. Johnson’s life were overshadowed by much 152gloom. Many of his old and most valued friends sank into the grave before him; his bodily frame was much shattered by disease; his spirits became more liable to depression; and his sincere and ardent piety was too deeply tinged by constitutional despondency to afford him steady comfort and support under his sufferings. He was struck by palsy in 1783, but recovered to the use both of his bodily and mental faculties. A complication of asthma and dropsy put an end to his existence, December 13, 1785. During his illness, his anxiety for a protracted life was painfully intense: but his last hours are described by the bystanders to have been calm, happy, and confident. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. A statue to his memory is erected in St. Paul’s Cathedral.
[Monument to Dr. Johnson in St. Paul’s Cathedral.]
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London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
From the American Revolution of 1776 we may date the commencement of that struggle which has agitated and still agitates Europe and the two Americas. By whatever words the character of this struggle may be expressed,—whether under the name of popular rights against exclusive privileges, or self-government or the government of the people, against absolute government or the government of a few, or by any other terms more or less appropriate,—the contest is still going on, openly and actively in those called free governments, silently and languidly in those where the sovereign power is opposed to the extension or introduction of the new doctrines. The contest is between progress (not here considered whether as right or wrong) and standing still; between change, without which there cannot be improvement, and a desire to resist all change, which can hardly end in keeping things stationary, but almost necessarily leads to a backward movement. The contest is not only for the practical application of principles in government, which are vigorously maintained by the one party, and either not denied or faintly opposed by the arguments of the other; but also for the free expression and publication of all opinions on all subjects affecting the moral and political condition of society.
There is no individual, either in America or in Europe, who by his actions and opinions has had a greater influence on this contest than Thomas Jefferson. During a long and laborious life, both in official situations which gave him opportunities that his activity never let slip, and in private life in his extensive correspondence and intercourse with persons of all countries, he constantly, perseveringly, and honestly maintained what he conceived to be the principle of pure 154republican institutions. In the ardour of youth, his zeal and energy mainly contributed to animate his countrymen to declare their independence on a foreign power. In his maturer age, when a member of the General Administration, he struggled, and he struggled at one time almost alone, against a monarchical and aristocratical faction, to maintain the great principles of the Revolution, and develop the doctrines of a pure unmixed popular government. His influence gave to these doctrines a consistency, and a form, and a distinctness, which the mass of the nation could easily seize and retain. He thus became the head of a party in the United States, which, whether always rightly appealing to his doctrines or not for the vindication of their acts, still regards him as the father of their school and the expounder of their principles. By his plain and unaffected manners, and the freedom with which he expressed his opinions on all subjects, he gave a practical example of that republican simplicity which he cultivated, and of that free inquiry which he urged upon all. Such a man must always have many friends and many enemies. From his friends and admirers he has received, perhaps, not more praise than those who believe in the truth of his doctrines and the purity of his conduct are bound to bestow; by his enemies, both at home and abroad, he has been blackened by every term of abuse that bigotry, malice, and falsehood can invent.
Thomas Jefferson was born April 2, 1743, at Shadwell, now in the county of Albemarle, in Virginia. He was educated at the College of William and Mary, at Williamsburg, then the capital of the colony, where, under Dr. Small, a native of Scotland, who was then Professor of Mathematics in the College, he studied mathematics, ethics, and other branches of knowledge. His education, owing to the care of this excellent instructor and his own industry, must have been of a superior kind. In addition to his general acquirements, he made himself well acquainted with the best Greek and Latin writers, and to the end of his long life retained his ability to read them. Mr. Jefferson studied law under Mr. Wythe, then a lawyer of eminence. He made his first appearance at the bar of the General Court in 1767, at the age of twenty-four, about two years after the misunderstanding between Great Britain and the Colonies had commenced. He practised for seven or eight years in the General Court, and was gradually rising to the first rank as an accurate and able lawyer, when he was called away to more important duties by the political events that preceded the American Revolution. In 1769 he was elected a member of the House of Burgesses for the County of Albemarle. In the session of this spring the House unanimously came to 155resolutions in opposition to those which had been lately passed in England by both Houses of Parliament on the affairs of Massachusetts. This measure, which was accompanied with the declaration that the right of laying taxes in Virginia was exclusively vested in its own legislature, and others of a like tendency, induced the Governor, Lord Botetourt, abruptly to dissolve the Assembly. The next day the members met at the Raleigh Tavern, and entered into articles of agreement, by which they bound themselves not to import or purchase certain specified kinds of British merchandise, till the act of parliament for raising a revenue in America was repealed; and they recommended this agreement to be adopted by their constituents. Eighty-eight members signed the agreement, among whom were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others, who afterwards took a distinguished part in public affairs.
In 1773, on the meeting of the Virginia Assembly in the spring, Mr. Jefferson was an active member in organizing the Standing Committee of Correspondence and Inquiry, the main objects of which were to procure early intelligence of the proceedings of the British Parliament, and to maintain a constant communication among all the Colonies. On the dissolution of the Assembly, in May 1774, by the Governor, Lord Dunmore, eighty-nine members met at the Raleigh Tavern, and, among other things, recommended the Committee of Correspondence to communicate with the Committees in the other colonies “on the expediency of appointing deputies for the several colonies of British America, to meet in General Congress, at such place annually as should be thought most convenient,” to consult on their common interests. It was also forthwith agreed that the members who might be elected under the writs at that time issuing in the colony of Virginia, should meet in Convention at Williamsburg on the 1st of August following, in order to appoint delegates to the Congress, if such General Congress should be approved by the other colonies. The Convention did meet, and thus formed the first popular assembly in Virginia, uncontrolled by Governor or Council. Mr. Jefferson, who was one of the deputies, prepared instructions for the delegates who might be sent to the Congress. In his absence, for illness prevented him from attending on this occasion, his instructions were laid on the table for perusal, and were generally approved, but thought too bold in the existing state of affairs. Still the Convention printed them, in the form of a pamphlet, under the title of A Summary View of the Rights of British America. The Convention drew up another set of instructions, which, though not so strong as Mr. Jefferson’s, expressed with great clearness the points at issue 156between the colonies and the mother-country, and the grievances of which the colonies had to complain. The General Congress, consisting of fifty-five members, met at Philadelphia, September 4, 1774. The disputes which had broken out between Lord Dunmore and the Assembly of Virginia were continually increased by fresh causes of mutual irritation. The Governor at last thought it prudent to remove himself and his family into a British ship of war that was lying at York in York River. His whole conduct during this period was feeble and contemptible. His last acts from his head-quarters at Norfolk were to annoy the inhabitants on the rivers and bays by a predatory kind of warfare, to proclaim martial law in the colony, and to give freedom to such of the slaves as would bear arms against their masters. At last, after setting fire to Norfolk, he was obliged to take refuge in his ships, and soon after to leave the country. Thus ended the colonial government in Virginia.
June 21, 1775, Mr. Jefferson took his seat in the General Congress, as one of the delegates from Virginia, and was appointed one of a Committee for preparing a declaration of the cause of taking up arms. A part of the address which he drew up was finally adopted, and no doubt greatly contributed to bring about the more decisive declaration of the following year. In 1776, Mr. Jefferson was again a delegate to Congress, and one of a committee appointed to draw up a Declaration of Independence. The committee was chosen in the usual way, by ballot, and as Mr. Jefferson had received the greatest number of votes, he was deputed by the other members to make the draught. Before it was shown to the committee, a few verbal alterations were made in it by Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams. After being curtailed about one-third, and with some slight alterations in the part retained, it was agreed to by the House, July 4, and signed by all the members present, except one. This instrument is too well known to require any remarks. It has both merits and defects; but it possessed one great quality. It served the purpose for which it was intended, and its author had the satisfaction of seeing the mighty question between the mother-country and the colonies referred to the decision of the sword, the only alternative then left except unconditional and disgraceful submission.
Before their adjournment the Virginia Convention, July 5, had elected Mr. Jefferson a delegate to Congress for another year; but he declined the honour on various grounds, among which was his desire to assist in reforming the laws of Virginia, under the New Constitution, which had just been adopted. Congress also marked their sense of his services by appointing him joint envoy to France, with Dr. 157Franklin and Silas Deane; but domestic considerations induced him to decline this honour also.
From this time Mr. Jefferson’s public life is interwoven with the history of his native state, and with that of the United States. During the war, he took no part in military movements. He was governor of Virginia in part of 1779, 1780, and part of 1781, in which year the State suffered considerably from the incursions of Lord Cornwallis; and at the close of his period of office, he narrowly escaped being taken prisoner by Colonel Tarleton, in his own house at Monticello.
In May, 1784, Mr. Jefferson was appointed by Congress minister to France; where he remained five years, during which he was actively employed in promoting the general interests of his country, and in keeping up an extensive correspondence. His industry and methodical habits enabled him to devote a great deal of his time to the examination of everything that could in any way prove beneficial to his countrymen. His correspondence during this period shows the variety of his pursuits, his unwearied industry, and unbounded zeal for every improvement that could benefit the social condition of man. His remarks on the political troubles of France, of which he witnessed the beginning, are characterized by his usual closeness of observation, and his sanguine anticipations of the benefit that would result from the people being called to participate in the exercise of the sovereign power. After all that has been written on the subject, they will still be read with interest.
He returned to America at the close of 1789, and early in the next year he was appointed Secretary of State by the President, General Washington. He held this office till the end of 1793, when he resigned. From 1793 to 1797 he lived in retirement. In 1797 he was elected Vice-President of the United States; and in 1801 was chosen President, in place of Mr. Adams, by the House of Representatives, on whom the election devolved in consequence of the equal division of the electors’ votes between Mr. Jefferson and Colonel Burr. He was elected a second time, and after fulfilling his term of eight years retired to his favourite residence at Monticello, near the centre of the State of Virginia.
On Mr. Jefferson’s retirement from the Presidency of the United States he received, in the form of a farewell address, the thanks of the General Assembly of his native State, Feb. 9, 1809. After briefly recapitulating the leading measures of his administration, most of which faction itself must allow were eminently calculated to promote the happiness of the nation, and secure those republican principles on which the constitution was founded, the General Assembly conclude 158with bearing testimony to his unvarying singleness of purpose, from the days of his youth when he resisted the Governor Dunmore, to his retirement from the highest honours which the united nation could bestow. This address, which, in point of style, is more free from objection than most American productions of the same class, is such as few men on retiring from power have received, and it was offered for services which few have performed.
In this document, among the advantages for which the nation was indebted to Mr. Jefferson’s administration, the acquisition of Louisiana and with it the free navigation of the Mississippi, are not forgotten. Mr. Jefferson early saw the importance of the United States possessing this great outlet for the commerce of the Western States, and strongly urged it while he was Secretary of State under General Washington. The object was accomplished in 1803, when Louisiana was purchased from the French, for 15,000,000 dollars.
Mr. Jefferson himself thought that the most important service which he ever rendered to his country, was his opposition to the federal party during the presidency of Mr. Adams, while he was himself Vice-President of the United States. Himself in the Senate, and Mr. Gallatin in the House of Representatives, had alone to sustain the brunt of the battle, and to keep the Republican party together. The re-action that ensued, drove Mr. Adams from his office, and placed Mr. Jefferson there. Mr. Jefferson’s administration was characterized by a zealous and unwearied activity in the promotion of all those measures which he believed to be for the general welfare. He never allowed considerations of relationship or friendship to bias him in the selection of proper persons for offices; he always found, as he says, that there were better men for every place than any of his own connexions.
The last years of his life, though spent in retirement, were not wasted in inactivity. He continued his habits of early rising and constant occupation: he maintained a very extensive correspondence with all parts of the world, received at his table a great number of visitors, and was actively engaged in the foundation and direction of the University of Virginia, which was established by the State of Virginia, near the village of Charlottesville, a few miles from Monticello.
The last letter in Mr. Jefferson’s published correspondence, and it is probably the last that he wrote, is in reply to Mr. Weightman of Washington, on behalf of the citizens of Washington who had invited Mr. Jefferson to the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of American Independence. His health would not permit him to accept the invitation: his reply is characteristic. The zeal for 159republican institutions which had animated him during a long life still glows warm and fresh in the letter of a man of the age of fourscore and three, suffering under a painful malady. His firm conviction in the truth of those principles which he had maintained through life, appears stronger as he approaches the termination of his career. He died July 4, 1826, the day of the celebration, just half a century after that on which the instrument was signed. Mr. Adams died on the same day. Mr. Jefferson is buried in the grounds near his own house, with a simple inscription recording him as the author of the Declaration of Independence, and the Act for Religious Toleration; and as the Rector of the University of Virginia. The fact of his having been President of the United States is not mentioned.
The latter days of Mr. Jefferson were embittered by pecuniary difficulties, which were owing, no doubt, in some measure to the neglect of his estates during his long absence on the public service; and in a great degree to an obligation which he incurred to pay a friend’s debts (see an excellent letter to Mr. Madison, Feb. 17, 1826).
In the 4th vol. of his Memoirs, &c., p. 439, are printed his Thoughts on Lotteries, which were written at the time when he was making his application to the Legislature of Virginia for permission to sell his property by lottery, in order to pay his debts and make some provision for his family. The general arguments in defence of lotteries are characterized by Mr. Jefferson’s usual felicity of expression and ingenuity in argument, and they are also in like manner pervaded by the fallacies which are involved in many of his political and moral speculations. But this paper has merits which entitle it to particular attention. It contains a brief recapitulation of his services; and is in fact the epitome of the life of a man who for sixty years was actively and usefully employed for his country. “I came,” he says, “of age in 1764, and was soon put into the nomination of justices of the county in which I live, and at the first election following I became one of its representatives in the legislature;
“I was thence sent to the old Congress;
“Then employed two years with Mr. Pendleton and Wythe, on the revisal and reduction to a single code of the whole body of the British Statutes, the acts of our Assembly, and certain parts of the Common Law;
“Then elected Governor;
“Next to the legislature, and to Congress again;
“Sent to Europe as Minister Plenipotentiary;
“Appointed Secretary of State to the new government;
“Elected Vice-President and President;
160“And lastly, a Visitor and Rector of the University of Virginia. In these different offices, with scarcely any interval between them, I have been in the public service now sixty-one years, and during the far greater part of that time in foreign countries, or in other states.”
This is the outline of Mr Jefferson’s public life: to fill it up would be to write the history of the United States, from the troubles which preceded the declaration of Independence, to Mr. Jefferson’s retirement from the Presidency in 1809.
The paper from which we have already made one extract, presents us with his services, in another point of view, still more interesting. It is an epitome of those great measures which were due mainly or entirely to his firm resolution, unwearied industry, and singleness of mind, in his pursuit of objects which he believed essential to the stability and happiness of his country.
“If legislative services are worth mentioning, and the stamp of liberality and equality, which was necessary to be impressed on our laws in the first crisis of our birth as a nation, was of any value, they will find that the leading and most important laws of that day were prepared by myself, and carried chiefly by my efforts; supported, indeed, by able and faithful coadjutors from the ranks of the House, very effective as seconds, but who would not have taken the field as leaders.
“The prohibition of the further importation of slaves was the first of these measures in time.
“This was followed by the abolition of entails, which broke up the hereditary and high-handed aristocracy, which by accumulating immense masses of property in single lines of families, had divided our country into two distinct orders, of nobles and plebeians.
“But further to complete the equality among our citizens, so essential to the maintenance of republican government, it was necessary to abolish the principle of primogeniture. I drew the law of descents, giving equal inheritance to sons and daughters, which made a part of the revised code.
“The attack on the establishment of a dominant religion was first made by myself. It could be carried at first only by a suspension of salaries for one year, by battling it again at the next session for another year, and so from year to year, until the public mind was ripened for the bill for establishing religious freedom, which I had prepared for the revised code also. This was at length established permanently, and by the efforts of Mr. Madison, being myself in Europe at the time that work was brought forward.
“To these particular services, I think I might add the establishment of our University, as principally my work, acknowledging at the 161same time, as I do, the great assistance received from my able colleagues of the Visitation. But my residence in the vicinity threw of course on me the chief burden of the enterprise, well as of the buildings, as of the general organization and care of the whole. The effect of this institution on the future fame, fortune, and prosperity of our country, can as yet be seen but at a distance. That institution is now qualified to raise its youth to an order of science unequalled in any other state; and this superiority will be the greater from the free range of mind encouraged there, and the restraint imposed at other seminaries by the shackles of a domineering hierarchy, and a bigoted adhesion to ancient habits.”
When Mr. Jefferson was a member of the Colonial Legislature, he made an effort for the emancipation of slaves; but all proposals of that kind, as well as to stop the importation of slaves, were discouraged during the colonial government. The importation of slaves into Virginia, whether by sea or land, was stopped in 1778, in the third year of the Commonwealth, by a bill brought in by Mr. Jefferson, which passed without opposition, and as Mr. Jefferson observes, “stopped the increase of the evil by importation, leaving to future efforts its final eradication.” The Act for the Abolition of Entails was not carried without some opposition, and that for the abolition of the Established Anglican Church was not finally carried till 1778, though before the Revolution the majority of the people had become dissenters from the Church. The reason of the difficulty lay in the majority of the legislature being churchmen.
4. Act in Hening’s Statutes at Large, vol ix., p. 471. Act declaring tenants of lands, or slaves in taille, to hold the same in fee simple. Hening, ix., p. 226.
Mr. Jefferson married, in 1772, Martha Skelton, the widow of Bathurst Skelton. She died ten years after their marriage. One daughter, and a numerous family of grandchildren and great grandchildren, survived him. He was the author of Notes on Virginia, which have been several times printed; but his reputation as a writer rests on his official papers and correspondence, of which latter, we believe, that which is published forms only a part of what he left behind him.
The authorities here used are Jefferson’s Memoirs, Correspondence, &c., London, 1829, and part of the forthcoming Life of Jefferson, by Professor Tucker, of the University of Virginia. An article in the Journal of Education, No. 7, by Professor Tucker, contains a full account of the University of Virginia. To these sources we add, as evidence for some opinions expressed, some personal knowledge of Mr. Jefferson during the last two years of his life.
William Wilberforce, whose name a heartfelt, enlightened, and unwearied philanthropy, directing talents of the highest order, has enrolled among those of the most illustrious benefactors of mankind, was born August 24, 1759, in Hull, where his ancestors had been long and successfully engaged in trade. By his father’s death he was left an orphan at an early age. He received the chief part of his education at the grammar school of Pocklington, in Yorkshire, and at St. John’s College, Cambridge, of which he became a fellow-commoner about 1776 or 1777. When just of age, and apparently before taking his B.A. degree, he was returned for his native town at the general election of 1780. In 1784 he was returned again; but being also chosen member for Yorkshire, he elected to sit for that great county, which he continued to represent until the year 1812, during six successive parliaments. From 1812 to 1825, when he retired from parliament, he was returned by Lord Calthorpe for the borough of Bramber. His politics were in general those of Mr. Pitt’s party, and his first prominent appearance was in 1783, in opposition to Mr. Fox’s India Bill. In 1786 he introduced and carried through the Commons a bill for the amendment of our criminal code, which was roughly handled by the Lord Chancellor Thurlow, and rejected in the House of Lords without a division.
Engraved by E. Scriven.
From a Picture by George Richmond.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
At the time when Mr. Wilberforce was rising into manhood, the iniquity of the Slave Trade had engaged in a slight degree the attention of the public. To the Quakers belongs the high honour of having taken the lead in denouncing that unjust and unchristian traffic. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, during the life of Penn, the Quakers of Pennsylvania passed a censure upon it, and from time to time the Society of Friends expressed their disapprobation of the deportation of negroes, until in 1761 they completed their good work by 163a resolution to disown all such as continued to be engaged in it. Occasionally the question was brought before magistrates, whether a slave became entitled to his liberty upon landing in England. In 1765 Granville Sharp came forward as the protector of a negro, who, having been abandoned and cast upon the world in disease and misery by his owner, was healed and assisted through the charity of Mr. Sharp’s brother. Recovering his value with his health, he was claimed and seized by his master, and would have been shipped to the colonies, as many Africans were, but for the prompt and resolute interference of Mr. Sharp. In several similar cases the same gentleman came forward successfully: but the general question was not determined, or even argued, until 1772, when the celebrated case of the negro Somerset was brought before the Court of King’s Bench, which adjudged, after a deliberate hearing, that in England the right of the master over the slave could not be maintained. The general question was afterwards, in 1778, decided still more absolutely by the Scotch Courts, in the case of Wedderburn v. Knight. In 1783 an event occurred well qualified to rouse the feelings of the nation, and call its attention to the atrocities of which the Slave Trade was the cause and pretext. An action was brought by certain underwriters against the owners of the ship Zong, on the ground that the captain had caused 132 weak, sickly slaves to be thrown overboard, for the purpose of claiming their value, for which the plaintiffs would not have been liable if the cargo had died a natural death. The fact of the drowning was admitted, and defended on the plea that want of water had rendered it necessary; though it appeared that the crew had not been put upon short allowance. It now seems incredible that no criminal proceeding should have been instituted against the perpetrators of this wholesale murder.
In 1785 the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge proposed, as the subject for the Bachelor’s Prize Essay, the question, Is it allowable to enslave men without their consent? Thomas Clarkson, who had gained the prize in the preceding year, again became a candidate. Conceiving that the thesis, though couched in general terms, had an especial reference to the African Slave Trade, he went to London to make inquiries on the subject. Investigation brought under his view a mass of cruelties and abominations, which engrossed his thoughts and shocked his imagination. By night and day they haunted him; and he has described in lively colours the intense pain which this composition, undertaken solely in the spirit of honourable rivalry, inflicted on him. He gained the prize, but found it impossible to discard the subject from his thoughts. In the succeeding autumn, after great 164struggles of mind, he resolved to give up his plan for entering the Church, and devoted time, health and substance (to use his own words) to “seeing these calamities to an end.” In sketching the progress of this great measure, the name of Wilberforce alone will be presented to view; and it is our duty therefore, in the first place, to make honourable mention of him who roused Wilberforce in the cause, and whose athletic vigour and indomitable perseverance surmounted danger, difficulties, fatigues, and discouragements, which few men could have endured, in the first great object of collecting evidence of the cruelties habitually perpetrated in the Slave Trade.
In the first stage of his proceedings, Mr. Clarkson, in the course of his application to members of Parliament, called on Mr. Wilberforce, who stated, that “the subject had often employed his thoughts, and was near his heart.” He inquired into the authorities for the statements laid before him, and became, not only convinced of, but impressed with, the paramount duty of abolishing so hateful a traffic. Occasional meetings of those who were alike interested were held at his house; and in May, 1787, a committee was formed, of which Wilberforce became the Parliamentary leader. Early in 1788 he gave notice of his intention to bring the subject before the House: but owing to his severe indisposition that task was ultimately undertaken by Mr. Pitt, who moved and carried a resolution, pledging the House in the ensuing session to enter on the consideration of the subject. Accordingly, May 12, 1789, Mr. Wilberforce moved a series of resolutions, founded on a report of the Privy Council, exposing the iniquity and cruelty of the traffic in slaves, the mortality which it occasioned among white as well as black men, and the neglect of health and morals by which the natural increase of the race in our West India islands was checked; and concluding with a declaration, that if the causes were removed by which that increase was checked, no considerable inconvenience would result from discontinuing the importation of African slaves. Burke, Pitt, and Fox supported the resolutions. Mr. Wilberforce’s speech was distinguished by eloquence and earnestness, and by its unanswerable appeals to the first principles of justice and religion. The consideration of the subject was ultimately adjourned to the following session. In that, and in two subsequent sessions, the motions were renewed, and the effect of pressing such a subject upon the attention of the country was to open the eyes of many who would willingly have kept them closed, yet could not deny the existence of the evils so forced on their view. In 1792 Mr. Wilberforce’s motion for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was 165met by a proposal to insert in it the word “gradually;” and in pursuance of the same policy, Mr. Dundas introduced a bill to provide for its discontinuance in 1800. The date was altered to 1796, and in that state the bill passed the Commons, but was stopped in the Upper House by a proposal to hear evidence upon it. Mr. Wilberforce annually renewed his efforts, and brought every new argument to bear upon the question, which new discoveries, or the events of the times, produced. In 1799 the friends of the measure resolved on letting it repose for a while, and for five years Mr. Wilberforce contented himself with moving for certain papers; but he took an opportunity of assuring the House that he had not grown cool in the cause, and that he would renew the discussion in a future session. On the 30th of May, 1804, he once more moved for leave to bring in his bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, in a speech of great eloquence and effect. He took the opportunity of making a powerful appeal to the Irish members, before whom, in consequence of the Union, this question was now for the first time brought, and the greater part of whom supported it. The division showed a majority of 124 to 49 in his favour; and the bill was carried through the Commons, but was again postponed in the House of Lords. In 1805 he renewed his motion, but on this occasion it was lost in the Commons by over-security among the friends of the measure. But when Mr. Fox and Lord Grenville took office in 1806, the Abolition was brought forward by the ministers, most of whom supported it, though it was not made a government question in consequence of several members of the cabinet opposing it. The Attorney General (Sir A. Pigott) brought in a bill which was passed into a law, prohibiting the Slave Trade in the conquered colonies, and excluding British subjects from engaging in the foreign Slave Trade; and Mr. Fox, at Mr. Wilberforce’s special request, introduced a resolution pledging the House to take the earliest measures for effectually abolishing the whole Slave Trade: this resolution was carried by a majority of 114 to 15; and January 2, 1807, Lord Grenville brought forward a bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, in the House of Lords, which passed safely through both Houses of Parliament. As however the King was believed to be unfriendly to the measure, some alarm was felt by its friends, lest its fate might still be affected by the dismissal of the ministers, which had been determined upon. Those fears were groundless; for though they received orders to deliver up the seals of their offices on the 25th of March, the royal assent was given by commission by the Lord Chancellor Erskine on the same day; and thus the last act of the administration was to conclude a contest, maintained by prejudice and interest during 166twenty years, for the support of what Mr. Pitt denominated “the greatest practical evil that ever afflicted the human race.”
Among other testimonies to Mr. Wilberforce’s merits, we are not inclined to omit that of Sir James Mackintosh, who in his journal, May 23, 1808, speaks thus of Wilberforce on the “Abolition.” This refers to a pamphlet on the Slave Trade which Mr. Wilberforce had published in 1806. “Almost as much enchanted by Mr. Wilberforce’s book as by his conduct. He is the very model of a reformer. Ardent without turbulence, mild without timidity or coolness, neither yielding to difficulties, nor disturbed or exasperated by them; patient and meek, yet intrepid; persisting for twenty years through good report and evil report; just and charitable even to his most malignant enemies; unwearied in every experiment to disarm the prejudices of his more rational and disinterested opponents, and supporting the zeal, without dangerously exciting the passions, of his adherents.”
The rest of Mr. Wilberforce’s parliamentary conduct was consistent with his behaviour on this question. In debates chiefly political he rarely took a forward part: but where religion and morals were directly concerned, points on which few cared to interfere, and where a leader was wanted, he never shrunk from the advocacy of his opinions. He was a supporter of Catholic Emancipation and Parliamentary Reform; he condemned the encouragement of gambling, in the shape of lotteries established by Government; he insisted on the cruelty of employing boys of tender age as chimney sweepers; he attempted to procure a legislative enactment against duelling, after the hostile meeting between Pitt and Tierney; and on the renewal of the East India Company’s charter in 1816, he gave his zealous support to the propagation of Christianity in Hindostan, in opposition to those who, as has been more recently done in the West Indies, represented the employment of missionaries to be inconsistent with the preservation of our empire. It is encouraging to observe, that with the exception of the one levelled against duelling, all these measures, however violently opposed and unfairly censured, have been carried in a more or less perfect form.
As an author, Mr. Wilberforce’s claim to notice is chiefly derived from his treatise entitled A Practical View of the prevailing religious system of professing Christians in the higher and middle classes in this country, contrasted with Real Christianity. The object of it was to show that the standard of life generally adopted by those classes, not only fell short of, but was inconsistent with, the doctrines of the Gospel. It has justly been applauded as a work of no common courage, not from the asperity of its censures, for it breathes throughout a spirit 167of gentleness and love, but on the joint consideration of the unpopularity of the subject and the writer’s position. The Bishop of Calcutta, in his introductory essay, justly observes, that “the author in attempting it risked every thing dear to a public man and a politician, as such—consideration, weight, ambition, reputation.” And Scott, the divine, one of the most fearless and ardent of men, viewed the matter in the same light, for he wrote, “Taken in all its probable effects, I do sincerely think such a stand for vital Christianity has not been made in my memory. He has come out beyond my expectations.” Of a work so generally known we shall not describe the tendency more at large. It is said to have gone through about twenty editions in Britain, since the publication in 1797, and more in America; and to have been translated into most European languages.
In the discharge of his parliamentary duties Mr. Wilberforce was punctual and active beyond his apparent strength: and those who further recollect his diligent attendance on a vast variety of public meetings and committees connected with religious and charitable purposes, will wonder how a frame naturally weak should so long have endured the wear of such exertion. In 1788, when his illness was a matter of deep concern to the Abolitionists, Dr. Warren said that he had not stamina to last a fortnight. No doubt his bodily powers were greatly aided by the placid and happy frame of mind which he habitually enjoyed: but it is important to relate his own opinion, as delivered by an ear-witness, on the physical benefits which he derived from a strict abstinence from temporal affairs on Sundays. “I have often heard him assert that he never could have sustained the labour and stretch of mind required in his early political life, if it had not been for the rest of his Sabbath: and that he could name several of his contemporaries in the vortex of political cares, whose minds had actually given way under the stress of intellectual labour, so as to bring on a premature death, or the still more dreadful catastrophe of insanity and suicide, who, humanly speaking, might have been preserved in health, if they would but conscientiously have observed the Sabbath.” (Venn’s Sermon.)
In 1797 Mr. Wilberforce married Miss Spooner, daughter of an eminent banker at Birmingham. Four sons survive him. He died, after a gradual decline, July 29, 1833, in Cadogan Place. He directed that his funeral should be conducted without the smallest pomp; but his orders were disregarded in compliance with a requisition addressed to his relatives by many of the most distinguished men of all parties, and couched in the following terms:—“We, the undersigned Members of both Houses of Parliament, being anxious, upon public grounds, to 168show our respect for the memory of the late William Wilberforce, and being also satisfied that public honours can never be more fitly bestowed than upon such benefactors of mankind, earnestly request that he may be buried in Westminster Abbey, and that we, and others who may agree with us in these sentiments, may have permission to attend his funeral.” The attendance of both Houses was numerous. Mr. Wilberforce was interred within a few yards of his great contemporaries Pitt, Fox, and Canning.
Among the other honours paid to his memory may be mentioned the York meeting, held October 3, 1833, at which it was resolved to erect a public memorial in testimony of the high estimation in which Mr. Wilberforce’s character and services were held by men of all parties: and further, “that it is advisable (if the sum raised be adequate) to found a benevolent institution, of a useful description, in this country, and to put up a tablet to the memory of Mr. Wilberforce; but should the subscriptions be insufficient to accomplish such an object, that they should be applied to the erection of a monument.” An asylum for the indigent blind has in consequence been founded. At Hull a monument has likewise been erected to his memory by public subscription; and a statue by Joseph is about to be placed in Westminster Abbey, also by subscription, the surplus of the fund thus raised being reserved for founding an institution congenial to his principles, as soon as it shall be sufficient for the purpose.
No fitting life of Mr. Wilberforce has yet appeared. A short memoir, from the pen of a friend, appeared in the Christian Advocate, August 5, 1833; which we believe may be relied on for accuracy, and which seems to form the basis of other memoirs in the periodical publications. The funeral sermons of Messrs. Brown, Scott, and Venn contain some interesting anecdotes, which are told on good authority.
Engraved by J. Posselwhite.
From a Print by Jas. Heath, after a Picture by Raeburn.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
Joseph Black was born in 1728, near Bourdeaux in France, where his father, a native of Ireland, but of Scottish extraction, who was engaged in the wine trade, then resided. In 1740 young Black was sent home to receive the rudiments of education at a grammar-school in Belfast. Thence he went, in 1746, to Glasgow, and having chosen the profession of medicine, proceeded in that university with the preliminary studies.
At that period, Dr. Cullen had just entered on the then untrodden paths of philosophical chemistry in his lectures, at which Black was an assiduous attendant. He soon formed an intimacy with his instructor, with whom he associated himself in the toils of the laboratory. It was here that he laid the foundation of his future attainments and discoveries, in an accurate and practical knowledge of the science as far as it then reached, and above all in the cultivation of habits of precise and cautious inductive investigation.
In 1750 he removed to Edinburgh to complete his medical course; and it was in connexion with the important inquiries belonging to that department that he made his first discoveries in chemistry.
His first object of research was one which possessed high medical as well as chemical interest:—the nature and properties of magnesia. This substance had hitherto been confounded with lime: Dr. Black first showed it to be characterized by peculiar properties which demonstrate its distinct nature as a separate species of earth. The second point of his investigation was the difference between mild and caustic alkalis, between limestone and quick-lime, common and calcined magnesia, &c. The whole of this subject was at that period 170involved in complete obscurity. Dr. Black showed by simple and decisive experiments the real condition of these substances, and indicated the general law by which they are governed, viz.:—that the difference consists merely in the combination of the simple earth or alkali with a peculiar air, which is driven off by heat, and which was called fixed air by him, and carbonic acid gas by later chemists. He did not however prosecute the inquiry into the nature and properties of this gas. This discovery supplied the foundation on which all subsequent researches and theories have been built. He gave an account of these investigations in an inaugural dissertation, composed as an exercise on taking his Doctor’s degree, and in a paper entitled Experiments on Magnesia Alba, &c., first published in the Edinburgh Physical and Literary Essays in 1755.
It was almost immediately after the publication of these researches that Dr. Cullen was elected Professor of Chemistry at Edinburgh. The reputation which Dr. Black had now acquired pointed him out as the proper person to succeed to the vacant chair at Glasgow, to which he was accordingly appointed in 1756. His department included chemistry and medicine; and he also practised as a physician. His lectures soon became highly popular from the clearness of his style and method, and the beauty and simplicity of his experimental illustrations. He did not however prosecute his inquiries, in that particular department of chemistry, in which he had already had so much success. But in another branch of science his power of original research was signally displayed.
The relations of bodies to heat, especially in connexion with the changes of state they undergo, was a subject which had hitherto excited hardly any notice; and though some effects were such as might have been supposed obvious, still no one had as yet reasoned on them, or understood their nature.
It is a characteristic of great genius to find important matter of reflection in objects which the vulgar pass by as too common to excite notice, and Dr. Black having remarked some very common facts with regard to heat, was conducted to those great discoveries on which his celebrity rests:—that of latent heat, and that of specific heat; which last term is, in fact, only another mode of expressing the same principle. This great truth, the foundation of all our determinate ideas of the causes of those diversities of physical condition which the same mass of matter is capable of assuming, seems to have suggested itself to the mind of the discoverer about the year 1757.
After the invention of the thermometer, it had been among the 171earliest facts observed that changes in the state of bodies, such as boiling, freezing, melting, &c., take place always at certain fixed temperatures as indicated by the thermometer; and at a different degree of the scale, for each different substance. And several of these remarkable points came by custom to be marked upon the thermometric scale.
When however it was said that water always boiled at 212° of Fahrenheit, or froze at 32°, &c., it was not meant that the mass would boil or freeze the instant the thermometer reached that point. It was supposed that a certain increase or diminution of temperature (as the case might be) was necessary for the production of the effect beyond that precise point; though that point marked, as it were, the commencement of the process. The views generally entertained on this subject were however so vague, that it is difficult to make out precisely what was imagined to take place; but it seems to have been supposed, that a very slight accession or loss of heat was sufficient completely to accomplish the change.
Such were the notions which prevailed on the subject prior to the commencement of Dr. Black’s researches. No one advanced, or seemed to have any desire to advance, a step nearer to the truth: yet the whole was a mere question of fact, and a fact of the most obvious nature. In this we cannot fail to observe one of those instructive instances, which the history of science often brings before us, of the unaccountable blindness, even of inquiring minds, to truths constantly before their eyes, or, if perceived, to the importance of their being thoroughly examined. A very little consideration ought to have shown any observer, that the gain or loss of heat in the cases in question is by no means slight or trifling in amount: yet no one thought of this till Dr. Black pointed it out; and no one reasoned upon it, or perceived its bearing, till that philosopher showed the curious inference to be drawn from it. The case was simply this:—Two equal vessels, one full of water just at the freezing temperature, the other of actual ice, are brought into a warm room. In a short time the water acquires the temperature of the room. Exactly the same quantity of heat has been communicated to the vessel of ice; yet, at the end of the same time, it is found to retain precisely the same temperature as at first. A considerable part of it indeed has been melted, but it may take several hours more to melt the whole. Until that change is completed, the temperature does not vary a single degree. As soon as all the ice is liquefied, and not before, the temperature of the mass begins to rise, and proceeds to increase, from this 172time, as rapidly as that of the water in the other vessel did before, until it acquires the temperature of the room.
What then, Dr. Black enquired, becomes of the heat which has been all along given to the vessel of ice? Heat has been communicated to it as well as to the other vessel; yet it has not been employed in raising the temperature, but in some way has been expended in converting the ice into water. It is but this simple fact otherwise stated, when we say that the heat so imparted has disappeared as heat of temperature; but may it not have been destroyed or annihilated? To reply to this question we have only to consider that the same vessel of water, cooled nearly to the freezing point, and then exposed to a much greater degree of cold, must, by the same rule, continue parting with its excess of temperature above that of the colder bodies around it. Yet a thermometer immersed in it continues invariably at 32° till the whole has become ice; it then will sink to the lower temperature, but not before. Thus there must be within it a continued supply of heat in order to keep it up to 32° all the time.
Is not this a sufficient answer to the question just proposed? Adopt any theory you please respecting the nature of heat: suppose a material substance, or conceive an effect, or quality, or a series of vibrations; in any case, what is apparently lost in the former case is regained in the latter. Without sacrifice of accuracy we may affirm, in any sense, that the heat which had disappeared in the process of thawing has re-appeared in the process of congealing. Moreover, the most exact thermometric observations showed the amount in the two cases to be the same. Thus, without reference to any particular theory of the nature of heat, Dr. Black was justified in asserting that a certain portion of heat becomes latent in the water; and that it owes its fluid state to this latent heat.
We have here referred only to one class of these phenomena; to one particular application of the general law. Similar results take place when water boils: the boiler receives as much heat from the fire during the time requisite to raise it to 212° as it does during the next equal portion of time; but its temperature (in an open vessel) will not rise beyond that point. Here then again a quantity of heat has disappeared; but the water is converted into vapour. Collect the vapour in a cold receiver; it produces a high degree of heat, and is re-condensed into the form of water.
The heat then, whatever it be, Dr. Black inferred, is latent in the steam. It is not destroyed; it disappears as temperature, but under other circumstances it can be made to re-appear: it is therefore merely 173concealed, or dormant for the time; and no term can be so proper to describe its condition as latent heat.
Analogous facts are presented by all other bodies which have been subjected to examination. Whenever a change of state from the aëriform to the liquid, or from the solid to the liquid takes place, a corresponding evolution or absorption of heat accompanies it. Every research of experimenters on this subject, since Dr. Black, has contributed fresh instances confirming the universality of this great law of nature.
A solid body then requires a certain portion of heat to be thrown into it, in order to melt, or convert it into a liquid: and the liquid again requires a similar supply to evaporate it into steam, or convert it into an elastic fluid state; and this portion of heat produces no influence on the temperature of the body. The reverse is true of the reverse processes. The quantity of heat so absorbed or given out is different in different bodies.
Not only indeed is this the case in these changes of state, but it is also the case in the simple instance of mere changes in the temperature of bodies; different bodies require different degrees of heat to be communicated, or thrown into them, in order to produce the same increase of sensible temperature. This was the other great result to which we referred at first as the discovery of Dr. Black: he designated this peculiarity in bodies their capacity for heat; a term sufficiently expressive, but which is now more usually exchanged for the term specific heat. The establishment of the accurate values of this capacity or specific heat, in a number of different bodies, has afforded a wide field of research for subsequent experiments. It has been sometimes said that to Dr. Black’s discovery of latent heat we owe the steam-engine. This is, we think, a mistaken view of the matter. That heat will generate steam, and cold condense it, are facts that were well known, independently of the doctrine of latent heat; though that doctrine undoubtedly gives the explanation of them. The knowledge of these facts might therefore have been practically applied in the construction of the steam-engine, had Dr. Black’s discovery never been made. It is at the same time perfectly true, that this theory supplies us with accurate data dependent on the quantity of heat necessary to be communicated, on which calculation must proceed: and it is on the basis of such exact investigation, that the great improvements in the application of steam have been brought about.
To return however to our narrative: though, as we have said, the leading ideas of these discoveries had occurred to the author probably 174about the year 1757, yet it was not till a few years afterwards that he had fully made out his theory. The discovery of specific heat was announced in 1760; and that of latent heat, with all the details of its experimental proof, was laid before a literary society in Glasgow, in a paper read April 23, 1762. After this period a full account of both subjects was regularly introduced by the author into his courses of lectures. He did not himself follow out the train of experimental research to which he had opened the way, but his friends and disciples entered largely upon the investigation of those valuable data, the numerical values expressing the quantities of latent heat and specific heat belonging to different substances.
In 1766, Dr. Cullen having been promoted to the chair of medicine, Dr. Black, again treading in the steps of his revered friend and instructor, was called from Glasgow to the professorship of chemistry at Edinburgh. He was thus placed in a more conspicuous position, and the fame of the Edinburgh school was not a little raised by his accession to it. Students flocked from all quarters in increasing numbers, and Dr. Black now devoted himself entirely to perfecting his chemical lectures.
In reference to this period, it has been sometimes remarked as singular, that while chemical science was beginning to make those rapid strides by which its modern advance has been so much accelerated, Dr. Black should have been contented to go on merely as an able expositor and illustrator of what others were doing, without himself taking any share in their labours. Perhaps it might be difficult to assign any better reasons for this conduct than are to be found in the peculiar disposition of the individual, though it has been alleged that he was actuated by a dread of criticism; this, indeed, can only be regarded as itself an indication of a morbid sensitiveness of mind, of which, unhappily, we have other instances in individuals of the highest philosophical genius; and which has probably, in more than one instance, deprived the world of services which would have been invaluable in the cause of science. Be this as it may, Dr. Black, though he continued by constant revisions and additions to make his lectures amply keep pace with the discoveries of the day, yet himself produced during this period only two papers, and those of minor importance: one appeared in the Philosophical Transactions for 1774, in which he assigned the reason why water which has been boiled freezes more easily than that which has not, viz., the expulsion of the air: another was inserted in the second volume of the Edinburgh Transactions, on the analysis of the water from the Geysers of Iceland.
175It appears from an anecdote related on good authority, (see Edinburgh Encyclopædia, article, Dr. Black) that so early as 1766, when the low specific gravity of hydrogen as discovered by Mr. Cavendish had been announced, the idea of employing it for balloons occurred to Dr. Black; and that he actually exhibited a small one, to the extreme astonishment of a party of friends. It was not till 1782 Montgolfier claimed the merit of originating this idea.
Dr. Black never enjoyed very robust health, but by great care and attention he managed to the best advantage a constitution naturally delicate, pursuing, especially towards the latter part of his life, an extremely regular and abstemious mode of living. About 1793 his strength began to fail. In 1796 he became unequal to the sole discharge of his duties as a lecturer, and employed an assistant. In the following year he was compelled to relinquish lecturing altogether. Though in great weakness, he was able by unremitting precautions to preserve a considerable share of general health. He had always expressed a hope that he might be spared the distress of a long illness; and, in accordance with this wish, while sitting at table partaking of his usual simple fare, he expired November 26, 1799, in so tranquil a manner, that a cup of milk which he had placed on his knee remained unspilt; and it was some time before his servant perceived that life was extinct.
The cast and character of Dr. Black’s mind is illustrated by the whole nature and course of his labours and investigations. Methodical precision and originality of thought were the qualities which pre-eminently distinguished him. In framing general conclusions he was peculiarly cautious and exact. It is clear that he possessed abilities which might have placed him much higher in the rank of original discoverers, had not an unfortunate backwardness, perhaps the result of natural timidity or indolence, perhaps of weak health and incessant employment, withheld him from pushing his researches to a greater extent, and even from asserting his just claims to what he had done, which was in some instances wrongfully appropriated by others. Some charges of this nature have been brought against Lavoisier, in reference to the discovery of the nature of alkalies; but in his writings Lavoisier certainly does ample justice to Black.
In all the best and most substantial qualifications of a teacher and lecturer, he has seldom been surpassed. His method was luminous and natural; his style unadorned, but beautifully perspicuous; his experimental illustrations completely satisfactory and convincing, yet always of the simplest possible kind. He manifested a great dislike 176to any unnecessary parade of apparatus, and the exhibition of showy and striking, but useless phenomena. He aimed not at display and popular fame, but to arrive at the best means of interesting, instructing, and enlightening his pupils. He led them by his own example pre-eminently to value accuracy in the establishment of facts, caution in deducing general conclusions, and a resolute adherence to the results derived from experiment and induction.
Dr. Black’s moral and social character was exactly such as harmonized with his mental endowments. He was moderate in his desires, temperate in his enjoyments, benevolent and warm in his affections. He manifested a strong love of order, propriety, and decorum, and a total absence of jealousy against scientific rivals, or envy of their fame. His disposition was at once serious and cheerful; and he was distinguished by a happy equanimity of temper. He was sometimes accused of penuriousness: but the charge is wholly denied by his relative, Dr. Ferguson; and his intimate friend, Professor Robison, has related many instances of his conduct totally incompatible with such a disposition. In person he was rather above the middle height; of a slender figure, with a mild and engaging countenance.
After Dr. Black’s death his manuscript lectures were revised and published by Professor Robison, in two quarto volumes, in 1803. The first and most important portion of the work is devoted to the subject of heat; and contains the development of the author’s original researches to which we have referred. The simplicity of style, the admirable taste and propriety of language, and the perspicuous and luminous method of illustration, cannot be too highly praised. With respect to the other portion, embracing the details of chemistry properly so called, though the same commendation as to the manner must be bestowed, the matter, which was not less excellent for the time at which the lectures were delivered, was yet, at the period of the publication, necessarily much behind the advance of discovery.
Engraved by J. Posselwhite.
From a Print by J. Houbraken 1738.
Under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
Among the many great names which England boasts of, few have such claims to her gratitude as that of Francis Bacon. For besides the unparalleled services which science received from him, to his original genius we may indirectly ascribe many, if not most, of those large improvements in the arts of life which have raised this nation to the highest place among the countries of the world.
Francis Bacon was the second son, by a second marriage, of Sir Nicholas Bacon, twenty years Keeper of the Great Seal in the reign of Elizabeth, and Anne, daughter of Sir Anthony Cook, the preceptor of Edward the Sixth. He was born at York House or Place, in the Strand, January 22, 1561. In 1573 he was entered of Trinity College, Cambridge. Here he speedily acquired more than the ordinary learning of the age, becoming deeply versed in classical literature. Although taught to look up to Aristotle as to a writer whom it was almost heresy to question, yet at that early age he began to perceive where his philosophy failed, and to conceive the reorganization of a purer and better system. “His exceptions against that great philosopher not being founded on the worthlessness of the author, to whom he would ascribe all high attributes, but for the unfruitfulness of the way; being a philosophy only for disputations and contentions, but barren in the production of works for the benefit of the life of man, in which mind he continued to his dying day.”—(Dr. Rawley’s Life of Bacon.) His intellectual efforts were ever after bent on working out and declaring these novel views, of which, through many modifying and expanding minds, we now reap the fruits.
In 1576 he was entered as a Student in the Society of Gray’s Inn, 178with the view of keeping his terms for the bar. Before, however, he commenced his legal studies, his father sent him to France, in the suite of the Queen’s Ambassador, Sir Amias Paulet. During his residence abroad he wrote his first work, which was not intended originally for publication, but was improved and printed after some years. It is called, A short View of the Present State of Europe. It derives its chief interest from having been written at the early age of nineteen; but the civil and political views are sound, and the composition graceful.
In 1579 Sir Nicholas Bacon died, leaving Francis but a small share of his fortune, in consequence of family circumstances, which we need not here relate. Finding his private means insufficient for his support, he returned to England, and commenced the study of the Law, to which he applied himself with great diligence.
He did not, however, suffer the demands of his profession to interfere with those pursuits, in which he was fully persuaded that his great strength lay. Between the ages of twenty and twenty-eight he produced a work, which he called the Greatest Birth of Time. It was never published, and is lost in its separate form, but the substance of it remains in his Instauration.
In 1582 Bacon was called to the bar, and in 1588 was chosen Reader or Lecturer by the Society of which he was a member, and the same year he received the only mark of honour conferred upon him in the reign of Elizabeth, in the title of Counsel Learned in the Law Extraordinary. It seems strange that Bacon, who was the nephew of the Lord High Treasurer Burleigh, and cousin of the principal Secretary of State Sir Robert Cecil, should never have been able to obtain any office in the Court of Elizabeth. The reason possibly was that he had early attached himself to the faction of the Earl of Essex, who, though the Queen’s greatest favourite, was in constant opposition to her ministers. This unfortunate nobleman exerted himself to the utmost, at the extreme risk of offending: his testy mistress, to secure for Bacon the place of Solicitor General, as the first step of legal advancement; but he was unsuccessful. The ministers declared their belief that Bacon was merely a theorist, and that his talents were not of a nature fitted for practical purposes: perhaps there was no small mixture of jealousy in this declaration. To make some amends to his friend for this disappointment, Essex gave him an estate (which he afterwards sold at an under price for 1300l.) out of his private fortune: one of many kindnesses which Bacon too ill requited.
179In 1592 Bacon published a defence of the government, in answer to a libel, in consequence of which he received the reversion of the register’s office to the Star-chamber, which he did not enjoy till twenty years after. In the Parliament of 1593 he was chosen member for the county of Middlesex, a proof that his public talents were not unappreciated by his countrymen. In the House he shone as an orator of the first class, his speeches were extremely elegant and forcible, and his wit so well blended with good sense and winning manners, as to secure to him the favourable attention of that assembly. He was frequently employed by the government to defend their measures in Parliament, which he did with consummate prudence, but he still went unrewarded.
In 1596 Bacon composed, but did not then print, his Maxims of the Law; and in the year following he published his first edition of Essays, or Counsels Civil and Moral; the work by which he is best known to the general reader. In the trial of the Earl of Essex for high treason (1601) Bacon appeared as counsel for the Crown; and after the execution of that unfortunate nobleman, the Queen directed him to compose and publish An Account of the Earl of Essex’s Treasons. His apparent zeal on this occasion excited the indignation of the people, among whom Essex was much beloved, and he was obliged to apologize for his conduct, by a letter to the Earl of Devonshire, one of the firm partisans of Essex.
The death of Elizabeth, which soon followed that of her favourite, revived Bacon’s hopes of advancement. He applied himself early to obtain the favour of the new king; and a proclamation, which he drew up on James’s arrival, though never published, did him great service. He was introduced to the King at Whitehall, and was knighted, July 23, 1603. In the following year his services to the court in Parliament, and elsewhere, were rewarded by the title of King’s Counsel, with a stipend of forty, and an additional pension of sixty pounds.
But though he seemed in the high road to preferment, Bacon had powerful enemies to obstruct his advancement. Sir Robert Cecil, son of Lord Burleigh, created Earl of Salisbury by James I., though Bacon’s cousin by the maternal side, had always shown himself averse to his kinsman’s preferment, apparently from jealousy of his uncommon talents. Between Bacon and the Attorney-General, Sir Edward Coke, there existed a more violent hostility, arising from various causes. Sir Edward was successful early, Bacon late, and the power which Coke obtained, he used to depress his antagonist. They 180had both been suitors of the rich Lady Hatton, Lord Burleigh’s grand-daughter, whom Coke married; and, as a farther exasperation of their enmity, in that celebrated dispute, which occurred in 1616, between the courts of King’s Bench and Chancery, “Whether the Chancery, after judgment given in the Courts of Law, was prohibited from giving relief upon matters arising in equity, which the judges at law could not determine or relieve,” Bacon had a leading share in obtaining that decision in favour of the privileges of the Court of Chancery, which has had so great an influence upon the jurisdiction of courts.
In 1605 Bacon published his first specimen of The Advancement of Learning. His view of the service he was doing to science, is shewn in a letter to Lord Salisbury, sent with a copy of this work, where he says, that “in this book he was contented to awake better spirits, being himself like a bell-ringer, who is the first to call others to church.”
The following year he married Alice, the daughter of Benedict Barnham, alderman, a lady of large fortune, who outlived him many years, and by whom he had no children. The year 1607 produced him his first solid success. Lord Salisbury had arisen to such power and confidence with his master, that he no longer feared the talents of Bacon, and with his concurrence, if not by his means, Bacon was at length appointed Solicitor-General, which, besides its future promise, was an office worth 5000l. or 6000l. a-year to him in private practice. Though now a busy man, and constantly engaged in affairs of the Crown, he nevertheless found time to write and publish his Wisdom of the Ancients, a work of great elegance and profound learning, but not one to which the present age owes much. In 1611 he was appointed joint judge of the Marshal’s court, and immediately afterwards Attorney-General, on the promotion of Lord Coke to the office of Chief Justice of the King’s Bench. Bacon did not attach himself to the fortunes of the reigning favourite Somerset, and when that lord and his countess were brought to trial for the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury, he had the management of the case for the Crown, which he so conducted as to keep himself out of the disgrace into which Coke and others fell with the King, on account of this critical affair.
He was farther advanced to the office of Lord Keeper in March, 1617, on the resignation of the Lord Chancellor Viscount Brackley, and the same year sat at the head of the council-board, as manager of the King’s affairs, during the absence of the monarch and his new favourite 181Buckingham in Scotland. On the return of the King, Bacon was made Lord High Chancellor, Jan. 4, 1618; and in July following he was created Baron of Verulam. In 1620 he sent to the King his Novum Organum, or ‘New Instrument of Logic, better calculated for the real progress of science than that of Aristotle.’
The next year Bacon received the title of Viscount St. Albans, and opened the Parliament of February, 1621, the most honoured, and among the most powerful subjects of the realm. But this parliament was fatal to him. James had not called this assembly together for more than ten years, except for the short session of two months in 1614, and during that period had been subsisting on the unconstitutional resources of benevolences, and the sale of monopolies. Almost the first act of this parliament was the inquiry into abuses, and more particularly those of the courts of justice, and the sale of patents. As all patents had to pass the seal, it was natural that the conduct of the Lord Keeper should be looked into, and this led to farther inquiry concerning the administration of justice in the Chancellor’s court. The chairman of a committee appointed to conduct this inquiry, brought up two charges of bribery against Bacon. This alarmed James and his favourite, and the parliament was adjourned for three weeks, in the hope that the affair would blow over. But during this recess, twenty-two cases of bribery were charged upon the Chancellor, and a deputation from the lower House waited on him to know whether he would confess or refute them. In a few days he chose to make confession, and threw himself on the mercy of his peers. His confession was not thought ample enough, and too extenuatory; and he was obliged to make one still more full, in writing, upon which a deputation of thirteen Lords was sent to him, to know whether it were really his. His answer to them was, “My Lords, it is my act, my hand, my heart; I beseech your Lordships to be merciful to a broken reed.” At the petition of the Peers, the seals were sequestrated, Bacon was deprived of his speakership and of his seat in Parliament, and farther was fined 40,000l., sentenced to imprisonment during the King’s pleasure, debarred from entering the verge of the Court, and declared incapable of holding any office in future. This penalty was considerably mitigated by James, who confined him but for a short space in the Tower, allowed him to make over the fine to assignees of his own choosing, and, for the settling of his affairs, gave him leave to reside for some time within the verge of the Court. After some years, at the earnest solicitation of Bacon, “that his royal master would be pleased to wipe out his disgrace from the page of history by his princely pardon,” he received the favour he so much desired.
182At the age of sixty-one, Bacon retired to his country-seat at Gorhambury, having an income of about 2500l. His debts amounted to about 30,000l., of which he liquidated a third before his death.
Apart from the noise and stir of life, Bacon more sedulously bent his mind to the cultivation of philosophy, his true field of labour. With the exception of his Reign of Henry the Seventh, and a tract written against the match between Prince Charles and the Infanta of Spain, the five last years of his life were spent in making philosophical experiments, and in moulding his works to a more perfect form. It was his great wish that what he had written should be translated into the general language of learning, Latin; consequently much of his time during this period was employed in translating himself, or revising the translations of his friends. His chief labour, however, was the reduction of his Instauration to a most highly finished state of aphorisms. He took incredible pains with this great performance. His biographer and editor, Dr. Rawley, declares that this work was revised and corrected, almost re-written, at least ten times, and finally left unfinished: for a book which taught what was known in the world, and wherein that knowledge was defective or pretended; which professed to teach a new system, by which general laws should be made for the foundation of true science; and which pointed out what remained to be known, was indeed rather the undertaking of many lives of manhood, than a few years of one suffering under a load of debt, disgrace, infirmity, and age. The peculiarity of Bacon’s philosophical doctrine may be expressed in few words. He found that the beliefs of learned men (apart from religious beliefs) rested upon the authority of one unquestionably great intelligence, Aristotle, who had invented laws of science, unfounded except in the speculations of his own mind, and many of them misunderstood by his idolizers. These laws were given or made, and facts were supposed to follow from them necessarily and without question. But Bacon proposed to found his general laws on actual experiments. So that when by a multitude of facts arising from this course of proceeding, laws should be produced which fairly accounted for phenomena, the application of such laws might farther become the confirmation of fresh and, it may be, more difficult, combinations. It is curious that Bacon’s own experiments should, for the most part, be so signally frivolous and inconclusive. This may be accounted for, in some measure, by the novelty of the method,—his own defence, for he was aware of the fact, is, “that he did not like to throw away any experiment, however seeming foolish, in case that some spark of truth should be contained in it, or suggested by it.” But he certainly did 183not possess the power of applying his own principles to practice, and far better examples of the inductive powers may be found, even in the labours of his predecessors, than any which his own writings afford.
After having spent five years in this labour for posterity, on the 9th of April, 1626, Bacon died at the age of 66, at the house of Lord Arundel, in Highgate, on his way to London. A week’s acute illness carried him to his grave. He was buried at Old Verulam, and for a long time no “stone told where he lay,” till the affection of an old servant erected a marble monument to the memory of his noble master. His name was well known among the continental nations, and he himself was understood and appreciated by them, to a far greater extent than by his fellow-countrymen. Some allusion to this is found in his will, in which, after having commended his soul to God, and his body to the dust, he proceeds, prophetically, to “bequeath his name and fame to foreign nations, and to his own countrymen after some time be passed over.”
The character of Bacon has been held up as an extraordinary anomaly, as containing the extremes of strength and weakness. Pope was pleased to call him
probably for the sake of the powerful contrast presented in the line. That his great strength lay in his intellectual powers there is no doubt, but that his moral power was slight enough for him to deserve the character of “meanest of mankind,” is not to be believed. The wrong he did to Essex is perhaps the strongest stain that remains on his memory. The charge of bribery is not so heinous in him as it appears to be at first sight. He says (and though it be a sophism yet it has some weight,) “that he never sold injustice,” nor did he: his decrees were pronounced without regard to the parties concerned, and were none of them reversed; moreover, judicial bribery was not thought so vicious then as it is now; in France, it was open and daily. Of the twenty-two charges brought against him, five only were really for bribery, that is, while the suit was pending. The rest were presents. He had lived in want for the greater portion of his life, and becoming suddenly rich, and full of various business, he was naturally careless of expenses, and left a great deal more than he ought to have done in the hands of his servants; who lived upon him so extravagantly, that on passing through his hall (when they rose at his presence) he said, “Sit down, my masters, your rise hath been my fall.” There is also every reason to believe that he was induced to suppress his defence by the intrigues of James, and his favourite Buckingham; to whose escape he had the weakness 184to let himself be made a sacrifice. He has been accused of cringing to this powerful favourite in less important particulars; but his letters are no more than a type of the usual style of an inferior to a superior in the Court in which he lived. He fell upon hard times, first the courtier of a princess whose thirst of praise and requisition of humility was unbounded, then the courtier and servant of a king who all but believed himself to be a god. The most marvellous fact of Bacon’s character is, that he who knew men so well, and whose insight into their feelings and motives was so clear, should have been so blind as to remain totally ignorant, as is apparent from all his letters and writings, of that youthful spirit of freedom which in the subsequent reign sprung into such vigorous manhood. But he seems to have been “the king’s true chancellor,” and to have believed most firmly in that Divine right for which James argued and his son died.
Bacon’s private character was generous and humane almost to a fault. His manners were exceedingly winning, and his method of drawing from all sorts of men the information belonging to their separate callings was wonderful. He was constitutionally timid, and was always in weak health. His person was slightly above the common height, his countenance most dignified, and intellectually commanding.
[Statue of Lord Bacon in St. Michael’s Church, St. Alban’s.]
Engraved by W. Holl.
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
From a Bust by Chantrey.
Under the Superintendance of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.
London, Published by Charles Knight & Co. Ludgate Street.
Walter Scott was born in the Old Town of Edinburgh, April 15, 1771, in a house at the head of the College Wynd, which has been pulled down to make way for the new buildings of the University. His father was a writer to the signet, his grandfather a farmer resident in Roxburghshire, who traced his descent to the ancient Border family of Scott of Harden. His infancy gave no promise of the robust manhood which he attained: and in addition to general weakness of constitution, his right foot received an early injury, which rendered him lame through life. This delicacy of health induced his parents to send him, when almost an infant, to his grandfather’s farm at Sandyknow in Roxburghshire, adjoining the Border fortress called Smailholm Tower, in the heart of that romantic pastoral district whose scenery and legends he has rendered famous. “His residence at this secluded spot, which after early boyhood was, we believe, occasionally renewed during the summer vacations of the High School and College, was undoubtedly fraught with many advantages, physical and mental. It was here that his feeble constitution was, by the aid of free air and exercise, gradually strengthened into robustness; and though he never got rid of his lameness, it was so far overcome as to be in after life rather a deformity than an inconvenience. It was here that his love of ballad lore and border story was fostered into a passion; and it was here doubtless, and at the house of one of his uncles, Mr. Thomas Scott, of Woolee, also a Roxburghshire farmer, that he early acquired that intimate acquaintance with the manners, 186character, and language of the Scottish peasantry, which he afterwards turned to such admirable account in his novels.”
5. This, and the other passages marked with inverted commas, except those taken from Scott’s Autobiography, are derived from a memoir of Sir Walter Scott published in the Penny Magazine, No. 37, and written by Scott’s countryman and acquaintance, the late Mr. Pringle.
In October, 1779, he entered the High School of Edinburgh, which he attended during four years. He there acquired the character of being “a remarkably active and dauntless boy, full of all manner of fun, and ready for all manner of mischief;” and so far from being timid or quiet on account of his lameness, that very defect, (as he himself remarked to be usually the case in similar circumstances with boys of enterprising disposition) prompted him to take the lead among all the stirring boys in the street where he lived, or the school which he attended. In Greek and Latin he made little progress, and obtained little credit for talent or industry from his masters; but he has invoked his surviving school-fellows, in the Introduction to the last edition of the Waverley Novels, “to bear witness that I had a distinguished character for talent as a tale-teller, at a time when the applause of my companions was the recompense for the disgraces and punishments which the future romance-writer incurred for being idle himself, and keeping others idle, during hours of the day that should have been employed upon our tasks.”
He entered the University of Edinburgh in October, 1783; but his attendance there was only for two sessions. About the age of fifteen the rupture of a blood-vessel again reduced him to a very weak state, and during the space of two years bodily and mental exertion were forbidden. He had recourse for amusement to a circulating library, “rich,” he says, “in works of fiction, from the romances of chivalry, and the ponderous folios of Cyrus and Cassandra, down to the most approved works of later times. I was plunged into this great ocean of reading without compass or pilot, and unless when some one had the charity to play at chess with me I was allowed to do nothing, save read, from morning to night.... I believe I read almost all the old romances, old plays, and epic poetry in that formidable collection, and no doubt was unconsciously amassing materials for the task in which it has been my lot to be so much employed. At the same time I did not in all respects abuse the license permitted me. Familiar acquaintance with the specious miracles of fiction brought with it some degree of satiety, and I began by degrees to seek in histories, memoirs, voyages and travels, and the like, events nearly as wonderful as those which were the work of the imagination, with the additional advantage that they were at least in a great measure true. The lapse of two years, during which I was left to the service of my own free will, was followed by a temporary residence in 187the country, where I was again very lonely but for the amusement which I derived from a good though old-fashioned library. The vague and wild use which I made of this advantage I cannot describe better than by referring my reader to the desultory studies of Waverley in a similar situation; the passages concerning whose reading were imitated from recollections of my own.”
After recovering from this illness his constitution changed, and he became unusually robust, and capable of enduring great bodily and mental fatigue; even his lameness occasioning no serious inconvenience. He then applied himself in earnest to the study of law, and, to acquire a thorough knowledge of its technicalities, went through the duties of a clerk in his father’s office. He completed the usual course of legal education, and was called to the bar in July, 1792. He seemed however little anxious for business; and as usual, business unsought came slowly: in his legal capacity he acquired neither wealth nor distinction. But, in amends for this, in those days of volunteer corps, he made an admirable quarter-master to the Edinburgh Light Dragoons; and his zeal and skill, and the popularity which his high powers of social entertainment procured, recommended him to the friendship of the Duke of Buccleugh, by whose interest he obtained, in December, 1799, the appointment of Sheriff of Selkirkshire, with a salary of 300l. He had married in 1797 Miss Carpenter, a lady of foreign birth but English parentage, possessed of fortune sufficient, when added to the salary of his office, and his own patrimonial inheritance, to release him from the necessity of labouring at the bar for a livelihood. This was a step on which his mind had been some time bent. “My profession and I,” he says, “came to stand nearly on the footing which honest Slender consoled himself on having established with Mistress Anne Page—‘There was no great love between us at the beginning, and it pleased Heaven to decrease it on farther acquaintance.’ I became sensible that the time was come when I must either buckle myself resolutely to ‘the toil by day, the lamp by night,’ renouncing all the Dalilahs of my imagination, or bid adieu to the profession of the law, and hold another course.”
Scott was not a premature writer; he had reached his twenty-fifth year before he tried his strength in composition, excepting a few trivial attempts in childhood; and his name was still unknown to the public, when he resolved to devote his powers to literature. His first essays were made about 1796, when his attention was caught by the Leonora, and other poems of Bürger, which he translated and published 188anonymously. “The adventure,” he says, “proved a dead loss, and a great part of this edition was condemned to the service of the trunk-maker.” His next performance was a translation of Goethe’s drama, Goetz of Berlichingen, published in 1799. But he continued his devotion to ballad poetry, and as his confidence rose, essayed his strength in Glenfinlas, and the Eve of St. John, his first original compositions. At Lasswade on the banks of the Esk, about five miles from Edinburgh, where he spent several summers after his marriage, he prosecuted with increased zeal and success his favourite inquiries into the antiquities and legendary song of his country, and commenced the work which gave him a name in literature, the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. “The materials for this work were collected during various excursions, or raids, as Sir Walter was wont to call them, through the most remote recesses of the border glens, made by the poetical compiler in person, assisted by one or two other enthusiasts in ballad lore. Pre-eminent among his coadjutors in this undertaking was Dr. John Leyden, an enthusiastic borderer and ballad-monger like himself, and to whom he has gratefully acknowledged his obligations both in verse and prose.”
“Some amusing anecdotes have been printed, and others are still extant in oral tradition among the border hills, of the circumstances attending the collection of these ballads. The old women, who were almost the only remaining depositories of ancient song and tradition, though proud of being solicited to recite them by ‘so grand a man’ as an Edinburgh Advocate, could not repress their astonishment that ‘a man o’ sense and lair’ should spend his time in writing into a book ‘auld ballads and stories of the bluidy Border wars, and paipish times....’ The Minstrelsy was printed at Kelso, in 1802, at first in two volumes, to which a third was added in the second edition. Two years subsequently Scott published the romance of Sir Tristram, a Scottish metrical tale of the thirteenth century, which he showed, in a learned disquisition, to have been composed by Thomas of Ercildown, commonly called the Rhymer.”
“These works, especially the Border Minstrelsy, were favourably received by the public, and established Scott’s reputation on a very respectable footing, as an excellent poetical antiquary, and as a writer of considerable power and promise, both in verse and prose. As yet, however, he had produced no composition of originality and importance sufficient to secure that high and permanent rank in literature, to which his secret ambition led him to aspire. But he had now a subject in hand which was destined to attain for him a 189popularity far beyond what his most sanguine hopes could have ventured to anticipate.”
“The Lay of the Last Minstrel appeared in 1805. The structure of the verse was suggested, as the author states, by the Christabel of Coleridge; a part of which had been repeated to him about the year 1800. The originality, wildness, poetical beauty, and descriptive powers of Scott’s Border romance produced an effect on the public mind, only to be equalled perhaps by some of the earlier works of Byron.”
“In the spring of 1806 Sir Walter obtained an appointment, which, he says, completely met his moderate wishes as to preferment. This was the office of a principal Clerk of Session, of which the duties are by no means heavy, though personal attendance during the sitting of the courts is required. Mr. Pitt, under whose administration the appointment had been granted, having died before it was officially completed, the succeeding Whig ministry had the satisfaction of confirming it. The emoluments of this office were about 1200l. a year; but Scott received no part of the salary till 1812, the appointment being a reversionary one.”
His reputation and his fortune seemed now to be completely established. Marmion, published in 1808, and the Lady of the Lake, in 1810, were received each with greater favour than its predecessor. Don Roderick, 1811, was not successful; Rokeby, 1813, and The Lord of the Isles, 1814, were generally thought inferior in merit to his earlier works. This might arise, in part, from the extraordinary rapidity of their composition: for Rokeby was commenced September 15, and finished December 31, 1812; and the Lord of the Isles was written in the following autumn, with equal rapidity, but under circumstances which rendered the task a burden, and damped the fire of his muse. Still these, like their predecessors, commanded very large sales, and brought in large sums to the author, and large profits to the publishers. His popularity, however, was on the ebb, and it was the general impression that Scott had nearly written himself out. At the time when this was said, he had already published one anonymous poem, the Bridal of Triermain, 1810, as if ashamed of his prolific pen. Afterwards, in 1817, he published Harold the Dauntless, in the same way. The censure, however, was not unfounded; and the two last acknowledged poems of Scott were inferior in interest and execution to his earlier productions. Another reason for the decrease of Scott’s popularity he has himself assigned, in the rapid growth of Lord Byron’s.
190It was about the end of 1813 that accident threw in his way the mislaid manuscript of the beginning of Waverley, seven chapters of which he had composed in 1805, and had thrown aside, in deference to the unfavourable opinion of a critical friend. At different times he had been inclined to resume this work, but had been prevented by the loss of the manuscript: which he now applied himself in earnest to complete. Waverley was published in the summer of 1814; and obtained success beyond the author’s fondest expectations. The history of this wonderful series of works of fiction, and the author’s reasons for adopting and retaining his incognito, are familiar to the public, through his own account in the Introduction to the Waverley Novels. The manner in which the secret was kept is a remarkable anecdote in literary history: for, whatever conclusions might be drawn from internal evidence by Scott’s intimate friends, and from putting things together by the public, not a particle of external evidence was produced to fasten it upon him, until the failure of Constable’s house in 1826 led to Scott’s public avowal of the authorship in 1827. Perhaps this mystery tended to keep alive the public interest: perhaps also Scott had a keener relish of the homage paid to the Great Unknown, than if it had been offered to him in his own person.
Scott’s metrical romances, as they were composed with unexampled rapidity, commanded also unexampled prices from the booksellers. And at the same time he found leisure for a variety of laborious works in criticism, biography, and miscellaneous literature, which added considerably both to his funds and his reputation. Among these were new editions of the works of Dryden and Swift, with biographical accounts; Sadler’s State Papers; Somers’s Tracts; Lives of the Novelists; besides numerous contributions to encyclopædias, reviews, and other periodical publications. His scheme of devoting himself to literature had borne fruit of fame and profit beyond his brightest anticipations. His certain income (we presume after the year 1812) is said by Mr. Pringle to have exceeded 2000l.: and he was supposed to double that sum by the exuberant harvest of his brain.
“Amidst all this labour Scott found abundant leisure not only for his official avocations, but for social enjoyment and rural recreation. While the Court of Session was sitting, he lived in Edinburgh, in a good substantial house in North Castle Street. During the vacations he resided in the country, and appeared to enter with ardour into the ordinary occupations and amusements of country gentlemen. After he was appointed Sheriff of Selkirk he hired for his summer 191residence the house and farm of Ashiesteil, on the banks of the Tweed; and here many of his poetical works were written. But with the increase of his resources grew the desire to possess landed property of his own, where he might indulge his tastes for building, planting, and gardening. Commencing with moderation, he purchased a small farm of about one hundred acres, lying on the south bank of the Tweed, three miles above Melrose, and in the very centre of that romantic and legendary country which his first great poem has made familiar to every reader. This spot, then called Cartly Hole, had a northern exposure, and at that time a somewhat bleak and uninviting aspect: the only habitable house upon it was a small and inconvenient farm-house. Such was the nucleus of the mansion and estate of Abbotsford. By degrees, as his resources increased, he added farm after farm to his domain, and reared his chateau, turret after turret, till he completed what a French tourist not inaptly terms ‘a romance of stone and lime,’ clothing meanwhile the hills behind, and embowering the lawns before, with flourishing woods of his own planting. The embellishment of his house and grounds, and the enlargement of his landed property, became, after the establishment of his literary reputation, the objects, apparently, of Scott’s most engrossing interest; and whatever may be the intrinsic value of the estate as a heritage to his posterity, he has at least succeeded in erecting a scene altogether of no ordinary attractions, and worthy of being associated with his distinguished name.”
“During the greater part of the summer and autumn he kept house at Abbotsford like a wealthy country gentleman, receiving with a cordial, yet courtly, hospitality, the many distinguished persons, both from England and the Continent, who found means to obtain an introduction to his enchanted castle. Anything more delightful than a visit to Abbotsford, when Sir Walter was in the full enjoyment of his health and spirits, can scarcely be imagined. After his morning labours, which, even when busiest, were seldom protracted beyond mid-day, (his time for composition being usually from seven to eleven or twelve o’clock,) he devoted himself to the entertainment of his guests with so much unaffected cordiality, such hilarity of spirits, and such homely kindliness of manner, and above all with such an entire absence of literary pretension, that the shyest stranger found himself at once on terms of the easiest familiarity with the most illustrious man in Europe.”
In the spring of 1820, Scott was created a baronet by George IV., as a testimony of personal regard; and on the King’s visit to Scotland 192in 1822, he was appointed to superintend the arrangements for his Majesty’s reception; an office gratifying to his national feelings and antiquarian tastes, as well as to his aristocratical predilections.
The profusion of his expenditure no doubt had considerable effect in strengthening the general belief that Scott was the author of the Waverley Novels; inasmuch as he possessed no ostensible means from which the sums expended in the purchase and improvement of Abbotsford, as well as the liberal hospitality which he there exercised, could be defrayed. His urbanity, his innate kindliness of nature, his unassuming demeanour, and readiness to foster humble merit, had almost disarmed ill-will, besides softening the asperity of party feelings; and men looked without envy on a fortune which, to be the produce of one man’s literary labours for the short space of twenty years, seemed almost beyond belief, as well as beyond example, and acknowledged it to be deserved, without a doubt of its continuance, or reality. In this belief, (for otherwise he would have acted differently, being naturally a prudent man,) Scott himself rested secure, until January, 1826, when the house of Constable and Co. became bankrupt, at the close of that calamitous season which pressed so heavily upon all branches of trade. He then, to use his own words, found himself called on to meet the demands of creditors upon commercial establishments with which his fortunes had long been bound up, to the extent of no less a sum than 120,000l. How and why he was led into so deep a confidence, and how far the prices received for his works were connected with his commercial transactions, has never, we believe, been clearly explained, nor does it much import the public to know; the error, so far as his reputation is concerned, (and the only charge against him was want of prudence,) he amply redeemed by the nobleness of his conduct under this crushing misfortune; and it has been truly said that “the honour which rests upon his memory for his gigantic exertions to pay off this immense debt without deduction, is a far nobler heritage to his posterity than the most princely fortune.”
“On meeting his creditors, he refused to accept of any compromise, and declared his determination, if life was spared him, to pay off every shilling. He insured his life in their favour for 22,000l.; surrendered all his available property in trust (Abbotsford being rendered inalienable by the marriage articles of his eldest son); sold his town house and furniture, and removed to a humbler dwelling; and then set himself calmly down to the stupendous task of reducing this load of debt. The only indulgence he asked for was time; and, to the honour of the parties 193concerned, time was liberally and kindly given him. A month or two after the crash of Constable’s house, Lady Scott died; domestic affliction thus following fast upon worldly calamity.”
For five years after his pecuniary misfortunes, namely, from January 1826 to the spring of 1831, Sir Walter continued his indefatigable labours; and in that period, besides several new works of fiction, he produced the History of Scotland, published in Lardner’s Cyclopædia, Tales of a Grandfather, Letters on Demonology, and a number of smaller pieces. The Life of Napoleon was in part composed anterior to the calamity of which we speak: it was published in 1827, and though read with interest, did not display the research and impartiality which the character of an historian requires. He also superintended a new edition of the Waverley Novels, with prefaces and illustrative notes; and the profits of all these works were so considerable, that by the close of 1830, 54,000l. had been paid off; all of which, except six or seven thousand, had been produced by his own literary labours. The copyright of the published novels was sold by Constable’s creditors for 8,400l., half of which was assigned to Sir Walter by his creditors, in consideration of his assistance in furnishing prefaces and notes to the new edition.
But over-exertion in the evening of life, and under circumstances too well calculated to weaken the elasticity of his spirits, and to destroy the pleasure which he used to feel in composition, broke his constitution and brought on premature old age. In the autumn of 1830 he retired from his office of Clerk of Session. In the following winter, symptoms of paralysis began to appear. Still he continued to labour until the summer of 1831, in the course of which mental exertion was strictly forbidden. He was advised to visit Italy in the following autumn, and even in his declining condition must have been gratified by the sympathy and the honour rendered to him. A passage to Malta in the Barham man-of-war was granted to him by the British Government; and at Rome and Naples he was received with honours rarely paid except to royal blood. But his desire to return to his native land became irrepressible; and he hurried homewards, taking the route by the Rhine, with a rapidity which proved very injurious. He reached London in nearly the last stage of physical and mental weakness. Still the love of his native land was strong in death, and after remaining some weeks in the metropolis, he was conveyed at his own earnest desire by sea to Leith, and reached Abbotsford, July 11. After lingering two months, almost without consciousness, in the last stage of his most afflictive malady, 194he expired, September 22, 1832. His body was laid in his family burial-place in the ruined abbey of Dryburgh on the Tweed.
Throughout the kingdom his death was regarded like the loss of a friend; and the general admiration of his talents, respect for his conduct, and sympathy for his misfortunes, was shown by the favourable reception of a project for raising a subscription to discharge the incumbrances existing on the Abbotsford estate, and to preserve it by entail in Sir Walter’s family, as a lasting memorial of his genius.
Scott’s works, in the last uniform edition, fill eighty-eight closely printed duodecimo volumes. Of these his poems occupy twelve, the novels forty-eight, the miscellaneous prose works twenty-eight. The Letters on Demonology, History of Scotland, and a few minor productions are not included herein, in consequence of the copyrights being vested in different hands. From his numerous unnamed works, we may select for mention his Border Antiquities, Picturesque Scenery of Scotland, his share in Weber and Jameson’s Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, Paul’s Letters, which contain the liveliest description ever given of the Battle of Waterloo, and three dramas, Halidon Hill, the Doom of Devorgoil, and the Auchindrane Tragedy.
[View of Abbotsford.]
195In closing this Series, an apology may be thought necessary for the omission of many portraits which have formerly been advertised for publication. In a few instances this has arisen from the nonexistence of authentic portraits; in some from their remoteness, or the difficulty of obtaining leave to copy those which are known to exist: the latter causes have compelled us to engrave from prints to a greater extent than was at first contemplated. But where access could be had to the originals, in France and Italy as well as England, artists have been employed to copy them for the engraver’s use; and it is our duty to express our gratitude for the liberality with which applications for this purpose have, for the most part, been acceded to. One important branch of science, metaphysics, has been left with very few representatives, in consequence of the highly controversial nature of the subject. This work was planned to include those, and those only, of all nations, who since the revival of art and within the era of authentic portraiture, have been great originators and inventors in arts, sciences, and literature: but the line which separates those who have originated from those who have improved or greatly excelled, is so hard to draw, that many persons have been admitted, whose claims may not be reconcilable with a strict adherence to the principle at first laid down; and one extension forms a precedent and reason for another. Regarding it as a collection of the most distinguished men of modern times, completeness is impossible, from the vast extent of the subject and the diversities of judgement which differences in character, the bias of natural prejudices, and greater or less familiarity with the results of their lives, cause men to pass upon the worth and eminence of others. A Briton may think the foreigners in our collection too numerous; a foreigner will be as likely to say, that in choosing full one half from our own countrymen, we have given way to national pride: but to every nation its own great men are the most interesting and the most important. We believe, however, that except where no portraits can be found, as in the cases of the inventor of Printing, and the discoverer of the New World, no branch of science is without one or more of its fittest and most distinguished representatives; and we claim the merit 196of having brought together, in a book of easy access, a greater number of the genuine likenesses of men eminent in every branch of honourable distinction than has ever been included in a similar scheme.
6. There is a Portrait of Columbus at Naples, but it is of a late age.
An extension of the work would no doubt have allowed us to approximate somewhat nearer to completeness. But in every undertaking of this sort there is a limit in respect of size and expense which it is inexpedient to pass: and this consideration prescribes that for the present we should end our labour. But death has added many illustrious names to our list since it was first drawn up; and as every year lays some honoured head in the grave, a fresh fund of interest, and fresh reasons for the resumption of the work, will be continually accruing. It is, therefore, not unlikely that the Gallery of Portraits may hereafter be resumed and continued in a similar form.
A series of Indexes is subjoined, which present the portraits in alphabetical and chronological order, and classed according to the pursuits in which they have excelled, and the nations to which they belong. This it is hoped will make amends for the absence of any system in the order of their issuing, which would have rendered it almost impossible to maintain the monthly publication with punctuality.
We avail ourselves of this opportunity to correct a few mistakes in the text; but have not thought it necessary to give a list of obvious or unimportant errata.
Life of Fox, vol. i., p. 107, par. 3. The anecdote here told, applies, we have been informed, not to the debate on the Test Act, but to the application of dissenting ministers for relief on the subject of Subscription.
Life of Banks, vol. i., p. 193, for February 13, read January 4: on the authority of his baptismal register. See Penny Cyclopædia.
Life of More, vol. ii., p. 32, line 22, for 1555, read 1535.
Life of Pascal, vol. ii., p. 51, for Sir W., read Sir John Herschel.
Life of Bentley, vol. iii., p. 51, three lines from bottom, for 1781, read 1701.
Life of Schwartz, vol. iii., p. 93, last line but one, for being, read besides.
Life of D’Aguesseau, vol. iv., p. 5, eleven lines from bottom, read, in which, it was said, the obnoxious.
Life of Blake, vol. v., p. 77, read, Robert Blake was born at the seaport town of Bridgewater in Somersetshire, where his father followed the occupation of a merchant, in August, 1598.
Ib., p. 82, line 5, after April 20, insert 1657.
Ib., p. 83, line 15, for revolution, read restoration.
Life of Maskelyne, vol. vi., p. 21, last line but six, omit did.
Life of Jenner, vol. vi., p. 28, line 18. We believe this statement to be exaggerated; but have not the means before us of tracing the error.
|Date of Birth.||Date of Death.||Vol.||Page.|
|Antonio (see Raimondi).|
|Buonarotti (see Michael Angelo).|
|Chatham, Earl of||1708||1778||vii.||55|
|Epée, De l’||1712||1789||iv.||113|
|Jones, Sir W.||1746||1794||v.||134|
|Lionardo da Vinci||1452||1519||iv.||21|
|Medici (see Lorenzo).|
|Vinci (see Lionardo).|
|STATESMEN AND LAWYERS.|
|Lorenzo de’ Medici||1492|
|British and American.|
|Dutch and German.|
|Germans, Swedes, and Poles.|
|MEN OF LETTERS.|
|Dutch and German.|
|ARTS AND SCIENCES.|
|British and American.|
|German and Swedish|
|Lionardo da Vinci||1519|
|Dutch and German.|
|Lorenzo de’ Medici||1492|
|Lionardo da Vinci||1519|