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Title: Curiosities of Literature,  Vol. II (of 3) - Edited, With Memoir And Notes, By His Son, The Earl Of Beaconsfield
Author: Disraeli, Isaac, 1766-1848
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Curiosities of Literature,  Vol. II (of 3) - Edited, With Memoir And Notes, By His Son, The Earl Of Beaconsfield" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.





A New Edition












     NOBILITY     11

       VARIOUS NATIONS.     12





     THE EARLY DRAMA.     40




     SOLITUDE     50



     RICHARDSON.     62

     INFLUENCE OF A NAME.     65

     THE JEWS OF YORK.     75



     POPES.     83













       CHILD.     186






     NAMES OF OUR STREETS.     239





     ROBINSON CRUSOE.     274





     CONDEMNED POETS.     303


     TOM O'BEDLAMS.     311





       GENERAL, &C., &C., &C.     355








     QUOTATION.     416





     PARODIES.     453



     PSALM-SINGING.     472











Of his romantic excursion into Spain for the Infanta, many curious
particulars are scattered amongst foreign writers, which display the
superstitious prejudices which prevailed on this occasion, and, perhaps,
develope the mysterious politics of the courts of Spain and Rome.

Cardinal Gaetano, who had long been nuncio in Spain, observes, that the
people, accustomed to revere the Inquisition as the oracle of divinity,
abhorred the proposal of the marriage of the Infanta with an heretical
prince; but that the king's council, and all wise politicians, were
desirous of its accomplishment. Gregory XV. held a consultation of
cardinals, where it was agreed that the just apprehension which the
English catholics entertained of being more cruelly persecuted, if this
marriage failed, was a sufficient reason to justify the pope. The
dispensation was therefore immediately granted, and sent to the nuncio
of Spain, with orders to inform the Prince of Wales, in case of rupture,
that no impediment of the marriage proceeded from the court of Rome,
who, on the contrary, had expedited the dispensation.

The prince's excursion to Madrid was, however, universally blamed, as
being inimical to state interests. Nani, author of a history of Venice,
which, according to his digressive manner, is the universal history of
his times, has noticed this affair. "The people talked, and the English
murmured more than any other nation, to see the only son of the king and
heir of his realms venture on so long a voyage, and present himself
rather as a hostage, than a husband to a foreign court, which so widely
differed in government and religion, to obtain by force of prayer and
supplications a woman whom Philip and his ministers made a point of
honour and conscience to refuse."[1]

Houssaie observes, "The English council were against it, but king James
obstinately resolved on it; being over-persuaded by Gondomar, the
Spanish ambassador, whose facetious humour and lively repartees greatly
delighted him. Gondomar persuaded him that the presence of the prince
would not fail of accomplishing this union, and also the restitution of
the electorate to his son-in-law the palatine. Add to this, the Earl of
Bristol, the English ambassador-extraordinary at the court of Madrid,
finding it his interest, wrote repeatedly to his majesty that the
success was certain if the prince came there, for that the Infanta would
be charmed with his personal appearance and polished manners. It was
thus that James, seduced by these two ambassadors, and by his parental
affection for both his children, permitted the Prince of Wales to travel
into Spain." This account differs from Clarendon.

Wicquefort says, "that James in all this was the dupe of Gondomar, who
well knew the impossibility of this marriage, which was alike inimical
to the interests of politics and the Inquisition. For a long time he
amused his majesty with hopes, and even got money for the household
expenses of the future queen. He acted his part so well, that the King
of Spain recompensed the knave, on his return, with a seat in the
council of state." There is preserved in the British Museum a
considerable series of letters which passed between James I. and the
Duke of Buckingham and Charles, during their residence in Spain.

I shall glean some further particulars concerning this mysterious affair
from two English contemporaries, Howel and Wilson, who wrote from their
own observations. Howel had been employed in this projected match, and
resided during its negotiation at Madrid.

Howel describes the first interview of Prince Charles and the Infanta.
"The Infanta wore a blue riband about her arm, that the prince might
distinguish her, and as soon as she saw the prince her colour rose very
high."--Wilson informs us that "two days after this interview the prince
was invited to run at the ring, where his fair mistress was a spectator,
and to the glory of his fortune, and the great contentment both of
himself and the lookers-on, he took the ring the very first course."
Howel, writing from Madrid, says, "The people here do mightily magnify
the gallantry of the journey, and cry out that he deserved to have the
Infanta thrown into his arms the first night he came." The people
appear, however, some time after, to doubt if the English had any
religion at all. Again, "I have seen the prince have his eyes immovably
fixed upon the Infanta half an hour together in a thoughtful speculative
posture." Olivares, who was no friend to this match, coarsely observed
that the prince watched her as a cat does a mouse. Charles indeed acted
everything that a lover in one of the old romances could have done.[2]
He once leapt over the walls of her garden, and only retired by the
entreaties of the old marquis who then guarded her, and who, falling on
his knees, solemnly protested that if the prince spoke to her his head
would answer for it. He watched hours in the street to meet with her;
and Wilson says he gave such liberal presents to the court, as well as
Buckingham to the Spanish beauties, that the Lord Treasurer Middlesex
complained repeatedly of their wasteful prodigality.[3]

Let us now observe by what mode this match was consented to by the
courts of Spain and Rome. Wilson informs us that Charles agreed "That
any one should freely propose to _him_ the arguments in favour of the
catholic religion, without giving any impediment; but that he would
never, directly or indirectly, permit any one to speak to the _Infanta_
against the same." They probably had tampered with Charles concerning
his religion. A letter of Gregory XV. to him is preserved in Wilson's
life, but its authenticity has been doubted. Olivares said to
Buckingham, "You gave me some assurance and hope of the prince's
_turning catholic_." The duke roundly answered that it was false. The
Spanish minister, confounded at the bluntness of our English duke, broke
from him in a violent rage, and lamented that state matters would not
suffer him to do himself justice. This insult was never forgiven; and
some time afterwards he attempted to revenge himself on Buckingham, by
endeavouring to persuade James that he was at the head of a conspiracy
against him.

We hasten to conclude these anecdotes, not to be found in the pages of
Hume and Smollett.--Wilson says that both kingdoms
rejoiced:--"Preparations were made in England to entertain the Infanta;
a new church was built at St. James's, the foundation-stone of which was
laid by the Spanish ambassador, for the public exercise of her religion:
her portrait was multiplied in every corner of the town; such as hoped
to flourish under her eye suddenly began to be powerful. In Spain (as
Wilson quaintly expresses himself) the substance was as much courted as
the shadow here. Indeed the Infanta, Howel tells us, was applying hard
to the English language, and was already called the Princess of England.
To conclude,--Charles complained of the repeated delays; and he and the
Spanish court parted with a thousand civilities. The Infanta however
observed, that had the Prince loved her, he would not have quitted her."

How shall we dispel those clouds of mystery with which politics have
covered this strange transaction? It appears that James had in view the
restoration of the palatinate to his daughter, whom he could not
effectually assist; that the court of Rome had speculations of the most
dangerous tendency to the protestant religion; that the marriage was
broken off by that personal hatred which existed between Olivares and
Buckingham; and that, if there was any sincerity existing between the
parties concerned, it rested with the Prince and the Infanta, who were
both youthful and romantic, and were but two beautiful ivory balls in
the hands of great players.


The Duke of Buckingham, in his bold and familiar manner, appears to have
been equally a favourite with James I. and Charles I. He behaved with
singular indiscretion both at the courts of France and Spain.

Various anecdotes might be collected from the memoir writers of those
countries, to convince us that our court was always little respected by
its ill choice of this ambassador. His character is hit off by one
master-stroke from the pencil of Hume: "He had," says this penetrating
observer of men, "English familiarity and French levity;" so that he was
in full possession of two of the most offensive qualities an ambassador
can possess.

Sir Henry Wotton has written an interesting life of our duke. At school
his character fully discovered itself, even at that early period of
life. He would not apply to any serious studies, but excelled in those
lighter qualifications adapted to please in the world. He was a graceful
horseman, musician, and dancer. His mother withdrew him from school at
the early age of thirteen, and he soon became a domestic favourite. Her
fondness permitted him to indulge in every caprice, and to cultivate
those agreeable talents which were natural to him. His person was
beautiful, and his manners insinuating. In a word, he was adapted to
become a courtier. The fortunate opportunity soon presented itself; for
James saw him, and invited him to court, and showered on him, with a
prodigal hand, the cornucopia of royal patronage.

Houssaie, in his political memoirs, has detailed an anecdote of this
duke, only known to the English reader in the general observation of the
historian. When he was sent to France, to conduct the Princess Henrietta
to the arms of Charles I., he had the insolence to converse with the
Queen of France, not as an ambassador, but as a lover! The Marchioness
of Senecy, her lady of honour, enraged at seeing this conversation
continue, seated herself in the arm-chair of the Queen, who that day was
confined to her bed; she did this to hinder the insolent duke from
approaching the Queen, and probably taking other liberties. As she
observed that he still persisted in the lover, "Sir," she said, in a
severe tone of voice, "you must learn to be silent; it is not thus we
address the Queen of France."

This audacity of the duke is further confirmed by Nani, in his sixth
book of the History of Venice; an historian who is not apt to take
things lightly. For when Buckingham was desirous of once more being
ambassador at that court, in 1626, it was signified by the French
ambassador, that for reasons _well known to himself_, his person would
not be agreeable to his most Christian majesty. In a romantic threat,
the duke exclaimed, he would go and see the queen in spite of the French
court; and to this petty affair is to be ascribed the war between the
two nations!

The Marshal de Bassompiere, in the journal of his embassy, affords
another instance of his "English familiarity." He says, "The King of
England gave me a long audience, and a very disputatious one. He put
himself in a passion, while I, without losing my respect, expressed
myself freely. The Duke of Buckingham, when he observed the king and
myself very warm, leapt suddenly betwixt his majesty and me, exclaiming,
'I am come to set all to rights betwixt you, which I think is high

Cardinal Richelieu hated Buckingham as sincerely as did the Spaniard
Olivares. This enmity was apparently owing to the cardinal writing to
the duke without leaving any space open after the title of Monsieur; the
duke, to show his equality, returned his answer in the same
"paper-sparing" manner. Richelieu was jealous of Buckingham, whose
favour with the Queen of France was known.

This ridiculous circumstance between Richelieu and Buckingham reminds me
of a similar one, which happened to two Spanish Lords:--One signed at
the end of his letter EL _Marques_ (THE _Marquis_), as if the title had
been peculiar to himself for its excellence. His national vanity
received a dreadful reproof from his correspondent, who, jealous of his
equality, signed OTRO _Marqies_ (ANOTHER _Marquis_).

An anecdote given by Sir Henry Wotton offers a characteristic trait of
Charles and his favourite:--

"They were now entered into the deep time of Lent, and could get no
flesh into their inns; whereupon fell out a pleasant passage (if I may
insert it by the way among more serious):--There was near Bayon a herd
of goats with their young ones; on which sight Sir Richard Graham
(master of the horse to the marquis) tells the marquis he could snap one
of the kids, and make some shift to carry him close to their lodgings;
which the prince overhearing, 'Why, Richard,' says he, 'do you think you
may practise here your old tricks again upon the borders?' Upon which
word they first gave the goatherd good contentment, and then while the
marquis and his servant, being both on foot, were chasing the kid about
the flock, the prince from horseback killed him in the head with a
Scottish pistol. Let this serve for a journal parenthesis, which yet may
show how his highness, even in such light and sportful damage, had a
noble sense of just dealing."


Dr. Cayet is an old French controversial writer, but is better known in
French literature as an historian. His _Chronologie Novenaire_ is full
of anecdotes unknown to other writers. He collected them from his own
observations, for he was under-preceptor to Henry IV. The dreadful
massacre of St. Bartholomew took place in the reign of Charles IX.; on
which occasion the English court went into mourning. The singular death
of Charles has been regarded by the Huguenots as an interposition of
divine justice: he died bathed in his blood, which burst from his veins.
The horrors of this miserable prince on his dying bed are forcibly
depicted by the anecdotes I am now collecting. I shall premise, however,
that Charles was a mere instrument in the hands of his mother, the
political and cruel Catherine of Medicis.

Dr. Cayet, with honest _naïveté_, thus relates what he knew to have
passed a few hours before his death.

"King Charles, feeling himself near his end, after having passed some
time without pronouncing a word, said, as he turned himself on one side,
and as if he seemed to awake, 'Call my brother!' The queen mother was
present, who immediately sent for the Duke of Alençon. The king
perceiving him, turned his back, and again said, 'Let my brother come!'
The queen, his mother, replied, 'Sir, I do not know whom you mean; here
is your brother.' The king was displeased, and said, 'Let them bring my
brother the King of Navarre; it is he who is my brother.' The queen
mother observing the dying monarch's resolute order, sent for him; but,
for reasons known only to herself, she commanded the captain of the
guards to conduct him under the vaults. They went to the King of
Navarre, and desired him to come and speak to the king; at that moment,
this prince has since repeatedly said, he felt a shuddering and
apprehension of death so much that he would not go. But King Charles
persisting on his coming, the queen mother assured him that he should
receive no injury. In this promise, however, he put little trust. He
went, accompanied by the Viscount d'Auchy, on whose word he chiefly
relied. Having, however, observed under these vaults a great number of
halberdiers and arquebusiers in ranks, he would have returned, when the
viscount and the captain reassured him that no harm should happen to
him. The soldiers bowed, and their behaviour was respectful. By a
private staircase he entered the chamber of the king, who, immediately
on perceiving him, turned towards him, and stretched out his arms. The
King of Navarre was affected; he sighed and wept, and fell on his knees
at the side of the bed. Charles embraced, and having kissed him, said,
'My brother, you lose a good master and a good friend. I know it is not
you who occasions me so much trouble; had I believed what they said, you
would not have been alive; but I have always loved you. It is to you
alone I trust my wife and daughter; earnestly do I recommend them to
your care. _Do not trust the queen_; but God protect you!'

"The queen mother here interrupted him, 'Ah, sir, do not say
that!'--'Yes, madam, I must say it; it is the truth. Believe me, my
brother; love me; assist my wife and daughter, and implore God for mercy
on me. Adieu, my brother, adieu!' The King of Navarre remained till his
majesty expired."

The following minute particulars are drawn from the journal of Pierre de
L'Etoile. In the simplicity of his narration, so pleasing in the old
writers, the _nurse_ and the _monarch,_--the religious remorse of the
one, and the artless consolations of the other,--become interesting

"King Charles, two days before his death, having called for Mazzille,
his chief physician, and complaining of the pains he suffered, asked him
if it was not possible that he, and so many other celebrated physicians
that were in his realms, could give some alleviation to his disorder;
'for I am,' said he, 'cruelly and horridly tormented.' To which Mazzille
replied, that whatever had depended on them had been tried, but that in
truth God only could be the sovereign physician in such complaints. 'I
believe,' said the king, 'that what you say is true, and that you know
nothing else. Draw from me my _custode_ (or large cap), that I may try
to rest.' Mazzille withdrew, and left orders that all should leave the
king except three, viz., La Tour, St. Pris, and his nurse, whom his
majesty greatly loved, _although she was a Huguenot_. As she had just
seated herself on a coffer, and began to doze, she heard the king groan
bitterly, weeping and sighing; she then approached the bed softly, and
drawing away his _custode_, the king said to her, giving vent to a heavy
sigh, and shedding tears plentifully, insomuch that they interrupted his
discourse--'Ah! my dear nurse! my beloved woman, what blood! what
murders! Ah! I have followed wicked advice! O my God! pardon me, and be
merciful. I know not where I am, they have made me so perplexed and
agitated. How will all this end!--What shall I do? I am lost for ever! I
know it.'--Then the nurse thus addressed him:--'Sire, be the murders on
those who forced you to order them; your majesty could not help it, and
since you never consented, and now regret them, believe God will never
impute them to you, and will cover them with the mantle of justice of
his Son, to whom alone you should look for aid. Ah! for the honour of
God, let your majesty cease from this weeping.' Having said this, she
rose for a handkerchief, for his was drenched with tears: Charles having
taken it from her, made a sign that she should retire and leave him to

The dreadful narrative of the massacre of St. Bartholomew is detailed in
the history of De Thou; and the same scene is painted in glowing, though
in faithful colours, by Voltaire in the Henriade.--Charles, whose last
miserable moments we come from contemplating, when he observed several
fugitive Huguenots about his palace in the morning after the massacre of
30,000 of their friends, took a fowling-piece, and repeatedly fired at

Such was the effect of religion operating, perhaps not on a malignant,
but on a feeble mind!


If the golden gate of preferment is not usually opened to men of real
merit, persons of no worth have entered it in a most extraordinary

Chevreau informs us that the Sultan Osman having observed a gardener
planting a cabbage with some peculiar dexterity, the manner so attracted
his imperial eye that he raised him to an office near his person, and
shortly afterwards he rewarded the planter of cabbages by creating him
_beglerbeg_ or viceroy of the Isle of Cyprus.

Marc Antony gave the house of a Roman citizen to a cook, who had
prepared for him a good supper! Many have been raised to extraordinary
preferment by capricious monarchs for the sake of a jest. Lewis XI.
promoted a poor priest whom he found sleeping in the porch of a church,
that the proverb might be verified, that to lucky men good fortune will
come even when they are asleep! Our Henry VII. made a viceroy of Ireland
if not for the sake of, at least with a clench. When the king was told
that all Ireland could not rule the Earl of Kildare, he said, then shall
this earl rule all Ireland.

It is recorded of Henry VIII. that he raised a servant to a considerable
dignity because he had taken care to have a roasted boar prepared for
him, when his majesty happened to be in the humour of feasting on one!
and the title of _Sugar-loaf-court,_ in Leadenhall-street, was probably
derived from another piece of munificence of this monarch: the widow of
a Mr. Cornwallis was rewarded by the gift of a dissolved priory there
situated, for some _fine puddings_ with which she had presented his

When Cardinal de Monte was elected pope, before he left the conclave, he
bestowed a cardinal's hat upon a servant, whose chief merit consisted in
the daily attentions he paid to his holiness's monkey!

Louis Barbier owed all his good fortune to the familiar knowledge he had
of Rabelais. He knew his Rabelais by heart. This served to introduce him
to the Duke of Orleans, who took great pleasure in reading that author.
It was for this he gave him an abbey, and he was gradually promoted till
he became a cardinal.

George Villiers was suddenly raised from private station, and loaded
with wealth and honours by James the First, merely for his personal
beauty.[4] Almost all the favourites of James became so from their

M. de Chamillart, minister of France, owed his promotion merely to his
being the only man who could beat Louis XIV. at billiards. He retired
with a pension, after ruining the finances of his country.

The Duke of Luynes was originally a country lad, who insinuated himself
into the favour of Louis XIII. then young, by making bird-traps
(pies-grièches) to catch sparrows. It was little expected (says
Voltaire) that these puerile amusements were to be terminated by a most
sanguinary revolution. De Luynes, after causing his patron, the Marshal
D'Ancre, to be assassinated, and the queen-mother to be imprisoned,
raised himself to a title and the most tyrannical power.

Sir Walter Raleigh owed his promotion to an act of gallantry to Queen
Elizabeth, and Sir Christopher Hatton owed his preferment to his
dancing: Queen Elizabeth, observes Granger, with all her sagacity, could
not see the future lord chancellor in the fine dancer. The same writer
says, "Nothing could form a more curious collection of memoirs than
_anecdotes of preferment_." Could the secret history of great men be
traced, it would appear that merit is rarely the first step to
advancement. It would much oftener be found to be owing to superficial
qualifications, and even vices.


Francis the First was accustomed to say, that when the nobles of his
kingdom came to court, they were received by the world as so many little
_kings_; that the day after they were only beheld as so many _princes_;
but on the third day they were merely considered as so many _gentlemen_,
and were confounded among the crowd of courtiers.--It was supposed that
this was done with a political view of humbling the proud _nobility_;
and for this reason Henry IV. frequently said aloud, in the presence of
the princes of the blood, _We are all gentlemen._

It is recorded of Philip the Third of Spain, that while he exacted the
most punctilious respect from the _grandees_, he saluted the _peasants_.
He would never be addressed but on the knees; for which he gave this
artful excuse, that as he was of low stature, every one would have
appeared too high for him. He showed himself rarely even to his
grandees, that he might the better support his haughtiness and repress
their pride. He also affected to speak to them by half words; and
reprimanded them if they did not guess the rest. In a word, he omitted
nothing that could mortify _his nobility._


When men, writes the philosophical compiler of "_L'Esprit des Usages et
des Coutumes_," salute each other in an amicable manner, it signifies
little whether they move a particular part of the body, or practise a
particular ceremony. In these actions there must exist different
customs. Every nation imagines it employs the most reasonable ones; but
all are equally simple, and none are to be treated as ridiculous.

This infinite number of ceremonies may be reduced to two kinds; to
reverences or salutations, and to the touch of some part of the human
body. To bend and prostrate oneself to express sentiments of respect,
appears to be a natural motion; for terrified persons throw themselves
on the earth when they adore invisible beings; and the affectionate
touch of the person they salute is an expression of tenderness.

As nations decline from their ancient simplicity, much farce and grimace
are introduced. Superstition, the manners of a people, and their
situation, influence the modes of salutation; as may be observed from
the instances we collect.

Modes of salutation have sometimes very different characters, and it is
no uninteresting speculation to examine their shades. Many display a
refinement of delicacy, while others are remarkable for their
simplicity, or for their sensibility. In general, however, they are
frequently the same in the infancy of nations, and in more polished
societies. Respect, humility, fear, and esteem, are expressed much in a
similar manner, for these are the natural consequence of the
organisation of the body.

These demonstrations become in time only empty civilities, which signify
nothing; we shall notice what they were originally, without reflecting
on what they are.

Primitive nations have no peculiar modes of salutation; they know no
reverences or other compliments, or they despise and disdain them. The
Greenlanders laugh when they see an European uncover his head, and bend
his body before him whom he calls his superior.

The Islanders, near the Philippines, take the hand or foot of him they
salute, and with it they gently rub their face. The Laplanders apply
their nose strongly against that of the person they salute. Dampier
says, that at New Guinea they are satisfied to put on their heads the
leaves of trees, which have ever passed for symbols of friendship and
peace. This is at least a picturesque salute.

Other salutations are very incommodious and painful; it requires great
practice to enable a man to be polite in an island situated in the
straits of the Sound. Houtman tells us they saluted him in this
grotesque manner: "They raised his left foot, which they passed gently
over the right leg, and from thence over his face." The inhabitants of
the Philippines use a most complex attitude; they bend their body very
low, place their hands on their cheeks, and raise at the same time one
foot in the air with their knee bent.

An Ethiopian takes the robe of another, and ties it about his own waist,
so that he leaves his friend half naked. This custom of undressing on
these occasions takes other forms; sometimes men place themselves naked
before the person whom they salute; it is to show their humility, and
that they are unworthy of appearing in his presence. This was practised
before Sir Joseph Banks, when he received the visits of two female
Otaheitans. Their innocent simplicity, no doubt, did not appear immodest
in the eyes of the _virtuoso_.

Sometimes they only undress partially. The Japanese only take off a
slipper; the people of Arracan their sandals in the street, and their
stockings in the house.

In the progress of time it appears servile to uncover oneself. The
grandees of Spain claim the right of appearing covered before the king,
to show that they are not so much subjected to him as the rest of the
nation: and (this writer truly observes) we may remark that the
_English_ do not uncover their heads so much as the other nations of
Europe. Mr. Hobhouse observes that uncovering the head, with the Turks,
is a mark of indecent familiarity; in their mosques the Franks must keep
their hats on. The Jewish custom of wearing their hats in their
synagogues is, doubtless, the same oriental custom.

In a word, there is not a nation, observes the humorous Montaigne, even
to the people who when they salute turn their backs on their friends,
but that can be justified in their customs.

The negroes are lovers of ludicrous actions, and hence all their
ceremonies seem farcical. The greater part pull the fingers till they
crack. Snelgrave gives an odd representation of the embassy which the
king of Dahomy sent to him. The ceremonies of salutation consisted in
the most ridiculous contortions. When two negro monarchs visit, they
embrace in snapping three times the middle finger.

Barbarous nations frequently imprint on their salutations the
dispositions of their character. When the inhabitants of Carmena (says
Athenæus) would show a peculiar mark of esteem, they breathed a vein,
and presented for the beverage of their friend the flowing blood. The
Franks tore the hair from their head, and presented it to the person
they saluted. The slave cut his hair, and offered it to his master.

The Chinese are singularly affected in their personal civilities. They
even calculate the number of their reverences. These are the most
remarkable postures. The men move their hands in an affectionate manner,
while they are joined together on the breast, and bow their head a
little. If they respect a person, they raise their hands joined, and
then lower them to the earth in bending the body. If two persons meet
after a long separation, they both fall on their knees and bend the face
to the earth, and this ceremony they repeat two or three times. Surely
we may differ here with the sentiment of Montaigne, and confess this
ceremony to be ridiculous. It arises from their national affectation.
They substitute artificial ceremonies for natural actions.

Their expressions mean as little as their ceremonies. If a Chinese is
asked how he finds himself in health, he answers, _Very well; thanks to
your abundant felicity_. If they would tell a man that he looks well,
they say, _Prosperity is painted on your face_: or, _Your air announces
your happiness_.

If you render them any service, they say, _My thanks shall be immortal_.
If you praise them, they answer, _How shall I dare to persuade myself of
what you say of me_? If you dine with them, they tell you at parting,
_We have not treated you with sufficient distinction_. The various
titles they invent for each other it would be impossible to translate.

It is to be observed that all these answers are prescribed by the
Chinese ritual, or Academy of Compliments. There, are determined the
number of bows: the expressions to be employed; the genuflexions, and
the inclinations which are to be made to the right or left hand; the
salutations of the master before the chair where the stranger is to be
seated, for he salutes it most profoundly, and wipes the dust away with
the skirts of his robe; all these and other things are noticed, even to
the silent gestures by which you are entreated to enter the house. The
lower class of people are equally nice in these punctilios; and
ambassadors pass forty days in practising them before they are enabled
to appear at court. A tribunal of ceremonies has been erected; and every
day very odd decrees are issued, to which the Chinese most religiously

The marks of honour are frequently arbitrary; to be seated with us is a
mark of repose and familiarity; to stand up, that of respect. There are
countries, however, in which princes will only be addressed by persons
who are seated, and it is considered as a favour to be permitted to
stand in their presence. This custom prevails in despotic countries; a
despot cannot suffer without disgust the elevated figure of his
subjects; he is pleased to bend their bodies with their genius; his
presence must lay those who behold him prostrate on the earth; he
desires no eagerness, no attention; he would only inspire terror.


In the Memoirs of the French Academy, a little essay on this subject is
sufficiently curious; the following contains the facts:--

FIREWORKS were not known to antiquity.--It is certainly a modern
invention. If ever the ancients employed fires at their festivals, it
was only for religious purposes.

Fire, in primæval ages, was a symbol of respect, or an instrument of
terror. In both these ways God manifested himself to man. In the holy
writings he compares himself sometimes to an ardent fire, to display his
holiness and his purity; sometimes he renders himself visible under the
form of a burning bush, to express himself to be as formidable as a
devouring fire: again, he rains sulphur; and often, before he speaks, he
attracts the attention of the multitude by flashes of lightning.

Fire was worshipped as a divinity by several idolaters: the Platonists
confounded it with the heavens, and considered it as the divine
intelligence. Sometimes it is a symbol of majesty.--God walked (if we
may so express ourselves) with his people, preceded by a pillar of fire;
and the monarchs of Asia, according to Herodotus, commanded that such
ensigns of their majesty should be carried before them. These fires,
according to Quintus Curtius, were considered as holy and eternal, and
were carried at the head of their armies on little altars of silver, in
the midst of the magi who accompanied them and sang their hymns.

Fire was also a symbol of majesty amongst the Romans; and if it was used
by them in their festivals, it was rather employed for the ceremonies of
religion than for a peculiar mark of their rejoicings. Fare was always
held to be most proper and holy for sacrifices; in this the Pagans
imitated the Hebrews. The fire so carefully preserved by the Vestals was
probably an imitation of that which fell from heaven on the victim
offered by Aaron, and long afterwards religiously kept up by the
priests. Servius, one of the seven kings of Rome, commanded a great fire
of straw to be kindled in the public place of every town in Italy to
consecrate for repose a certain day in seed-time, or sowing.

The Greeks lighted lamps at a certain feast held in honour of Minerva,
who gave them oil; of Vulcan, who was the inventor of lamps; and of
Prometheus, who had rendered them service by the fire which he had
stolen from heaven. Another feast to Bacchus was celebrated by a grand
nocturnal illumination, in which wine was poured forth profusely to all
passengers. A feast in memory of Ceres, who sought so long in the
darkness of hell for her daughter, was kept by burning a number of

Great illuminations were made in various other meetings; particularly
in the Secular Games, which lasted three whole nights; and so carefully
were they kept up, that these nights had no darkness.

In all their rejoicings the ancients indeed used fires; but they were
intended merely to burn their sacrifices, and, as the generality of them
were performed at night, the illuminations served to give light to the

Artificial fires were indeed frequently used by them, but not in public
rejoicings; like us, they employed them for military purposes; but we
use them likewise successfully for our decorations and amusement.

From the latest times of paganism to the early ages of Christianity, we
can but rarely quote instances of fire lighted up for other purposes, in
a public form, than for the ceremonies of religion; illuminations were
made at the baptism of princes, as a symbol of that life of light in
which they were going to enter by faith; or at the tombs of martyrs, to
light them during the watchings of the night. All these were abolished,
from the various abuses they introduced.

We only trace the rise of _feux-de-joie_, or fireworks, given merely for
amusing spectacles to delight the eye, to the epocha of the invention of
powder and cannon, at the close of the thirteenth century. It was these
two inventions, doubtless, whose effects furnished the ideas of all
those machines and artifices which form the charms of these fires.

To the Florentines and the Siennese are we indebted not only for the
preparation of powder with other ingredients to amuse the eyes, but also
for the invention of elevated machines and decorations adapted to
augment the pleasure of the spectacle. They began their attempts at the
feasts of Saint John the Baptist and the Assumption, on wooden edifices,
which they adorned with painted statues, from whose mouth and eyes
issued a beautiful fire. Callot has engraven numerous specimens of the
pageants, triumphs, and processions, under a great variety of grotesque
forms:--dragons, swans, eagles, &c., which were built up large enough to
carry many persons, while they vomited forth the most amusing firework.

This use passed from Florence to Rome, where, at the creation of the
popes, they displayed illuminations of hand-grenadoes, thrown from the
height of a castle. _Pyrotechnics_ from that time have become an art,
which, in the degree the inventors have displayed ability in combining
the powers of architecture, sculpture, and painting, have produced a
number of beautiful effects, which even give pleasure to those who read
the descriptions without having beheld them.[6]

A pleasing account of decorated fireworks is given in the Secret Memoirs
of France. In August, 1764, Torré, an Italian artist, obtained
permission to exhibit a pyrotechnic operation.--The Parisians admired
the variety of the colours, and the ingenious forms of his fire. But his
first exhibition was disturbed by the populace, as well as by the
apparent danger of the fire, although it was displayed on the
Boulevards. In October it was repeated; and proper precautions having
been taken, they admired the beauty of the fire, without fearing it.
These artificial fires are described as having been rapidly and
splendidly executed. The exhibition closed with a transparent triumphal
arch, and a curtain illuminated by the same fire, admirably exhibiting
the palace of Pluto. Around the columns, stanzas were inscribed,
supported by Cupids, with other fanciful embellishments. Among these
little pieces of poetry appeared the following one, which ingeniously
announced a more perfect exhibition:

    Les vents, les frimats, les orages,
      Eteindront ces FEUX, pour un tems;
    Mais, ainsi que les FLEURS, avec plus d'avautage,
      Ils renaîtront dans le printems.


    The icy gale, the falling snow,
      Extinction to these FIRES shall bring;
    But, like the FLOWERS, with brighter glow,
      They shall renew their charms in spring.

The exhibition was greatly improved, according to this promise of the
artist. His subject was chosen with much felicity; it was a
representation of the forges of Vulcan under Mount Ætna. The interior of
the mount discovered Vulcan and his Cyclops. Venus was seen to descend,
and demand of her consort armour for Æneas. Opposite to this was seen
the palace of Vulcan, which presented a deep and brilliant perspective.
The labours of the Cyclops produced numberless very happy combinations
of artificial fires. The public with pleasing astonishment beheld the
effects of the volcano, so admirably adapted to the nature of these
fires. At another entertainment he gratified the public with a
representation of Orpheus and Eurydice in hell; many striking
circumstances occasioned a marvellous illusion. What subjects indeed
could be more analogous to this kind of fire? Such scenical fireworks
display more brilliant effects than our stars, wheels, and rockets.


The following are the _express words_ contained in the regulation of the
popes to prohibit the use of the _Bible_.

"As it is manifest, by _experience_, that if the use of the holy writers
is permitted in the vulgar tongue more evil than profit will arise,
_because_ of the temerity of man; it is for this reason all Bibles are
prohibited (_prohibentur Biblia_) with all their _parts_, whether they
be printed or written, in whatever vulgar language soever; as also are
prohibited all summaries or abridgments of Bibles, or any books of the
holy writings, although they should only be historical, and that in
whatever Vulgar tongue they may be written."

It is there also said, "That the reading the Bibles of _catholic
editors_ may be permitted to those by whose perusal or power the _faith_
may be spread, and who will not _criticise_ it. But this _permission_ is
not to be granted without an express _order_ of the _bishop_, or the
_inquisitor_, with the _advice_ of the _curate_ and _confessor_; and
their permission must first be had in _writing_. And he who, without
permission, presumes to _read_ the holy writings, or to have them in his
_possession_, shall not be _absolved_ of his sins before he first shall
have returned the Bible to his bishop."

A Spanish author says, that if a person should come to his bishop to ask
for leave to _read_ the _Bible_, with the best intention, the bishop
should answer him from Matthew, ch. xx. ver. 20, "_You know not what you
ask_." And indeed, he observes, the nature of this demand indicates an
_heretical disposition_.

The reading of the Bible was prohibited by Henry VIII., except by those
who occupied high offices in the state; a noble lady or gentlewoman
might read it in "their garden or orchard," or other retired places; but
men and women in the lower ranks were positively forbidden to read it,
or to have it read to them, under the penalty of a month's imprisonment.

Dr. Franklin has preserved an anecdote of the prohibited Bible in the
time of our Catholic Mary. His family had an English Bible; and to
conceal it the more securely, they conceived the project of fastening it
open with packthreads across the leaves, on the inside of the lid of a
close-stool! "When my great-grandfather wished to read to his family, he
reversed the lid of the close-stool upon his knees, and passed the
leaves from one side to the other, which were held down on each by the
packthread. One of the children was stationed at the door to give notice
if he saw an officer of the Spiritual Court make his appearance; in that
case the lid was restored to its place, with the Bible concealed under
it as before."

The reader may meditate on what the _popes did_, and what they probably
would _have done_, had not Luther happily been in a humour to abuse the
pope, and begin a REFORMATION. It would be curious to sketch an account
of the _probable_ situation of _Europe_ at the present moment, had the
pontiffs preserved the omnipotent power of which they had gradually
possessed themselves.

It appears, by an act dated in 1516, that the Bible was called
_Bibliotheca_, that is _per emphasim, the Library_. The word library was
limited in its signification then to the biblical writings; no other
books, compared with the holy writings, appear to have been worthy to
rank with them, or constitute what we call a library.

We have had several remarkable attempts to recompose the Bible; Dr.
Geddes's version is aridly literal, and often ludicrous by its
vulgarity; as when he translates the _Passover_ as the _Skipover_, and
introduces _Constables_ among the ancient Israelites; but the following
attempts are of a very different kind. Sebastian _Castillon_--who
afterwards changed his name to _Castalion_, with his accustomed
affectation referring to _Castalia_, the fountain of the Muses--took a
very extraordinary liberty with the sacred writings. He fancied he could
give the world a more classical version of the Bible, and for this
purpose introduces phrases and entire sentences from profane writers
into the text of holy writ. His whole style is finically quaint,
overloaded with prettinesses, and all the ornaments of false taste. Of
the noble simplicity of the Scripture he seems not to have had the
remotest conception.

But an attempt by Père Berruyer is more extraordinary; in his _Histoire
du Peuple de Dieu_, he has recomposed the Bible as he would have written
a fashionable novel. He conceives that the great legislator of the
Hebrews is too barren in his descriptions, too concise in the events he
records, nor is he careful to enrich his history by pleasing reflections
and interesting conversation pieces, and hurries on the catastrophes, by
which means he omits much entertaining matter: as for instance, in the
loves of Joseph and the wife of Potiphar, Moses is very dry and concise,
which, however, our Père Berruyer is not. His histories of Joseph, and
of King David, are relishing morsels, and were devoured eagerly in all
the boudoirs of Paris. Take a specimen of the style. "Joseph combined,
with a regularity of features and a brilliant complexion, an air of the
noblest dignity; all which contributed to render him one of the most
amiable men in Egypt." At length "she declares her passion, and pressed
him to answer her. It never entered her mind that the advances of a
woman of her rank could ever be rejected. Joseph at first only replied
to all her wishes by his cold embarrassments. She would not yet give him
up. In vain he flies from her; she was too passionate to waste even the
moments of his astonishment." This good father, however, does ample
justice to the gallantry of the Patriarch Jacob. He offers to serve
Laban, seven years for Rachel. "Nothing is too much," cries the
venerable novelist, "when one really loves;" and this admirable
observation he confirms by the facility with which the obliging Rachel
allows Leah for one night to her husband! In this manner the patriarchs
are made to speak in the tone of the tenderest lovers; Judith is a
Parisian coquette, Holofernes is rude as a German baron; and their
dialogues are tedious with all the reciprocal politesse of metaphysical
French lovers! Moses in the desert, it was observed, is precisely as
pedantic as Père Berruyer addressing his class at the university. One
cannot but smile at the following expressions:--"By the easy manner in
which God performed miracles, one might easily perceive they cost no
effort." When he has narrated an "Adventure of the Patriarchs," he
proceeds, "After such an extraordinary, or curious, or interesting
adventure," &c. This good father had caught the language of the beau
monde, but with such perfect simplicity that, in employing it on sacred
history, he was not aware of the ludicrous style in which he was

A Gothic bishop translated the Scriptures into the Goth language, but
omitted the _Books of Kings_! lest the _wars_, of which so much is there
recorded, should increase their inclination to fighting, already too
prevalent. Jortin notices this castrated copy of the Bible in his
Remarks on Ecclesiastical History.

As the Bible, in many parts, consists merely of historical transactions,
and as too many exhibit a detail of offensive ones, it has often
occurred to the fathers of families, as well as to the popes, to
prohibit its general reading. Archbishop Tillotson formed a design of
purifying the historical parts. Those who have given us a _Family
Shakspeare_, in the same spirit may present us with a _Family Bible_.

In these attempts to recompose the Bible, the broad vulgar colloquial
diction, which has been used by our theological writers, is less
tolerable than the quaintness of Castalion and the floridity of Père

The style now noticed long disgraced the writings of our divines; and we
see it sometimes still employed by some of a certain stamp. Matthew
Henry, whose commentaries are well known, writes in this manner on
Judges ix.:--"We are here told by what acts Abimelech _got into the
saddle_.--None would have _dreamed_ of making such a _fellow_ as he
king.--See how he has _wheedled_ them into the choice. He hired into his
service the _scum_ and _scoundrels_ of the country. Jotham was really a
_fine gentleman_.--The Sechemites that set Abimelech up, were the first
to _kick him off_. The Sechemites said all the ill they could of him in
their _table-talk_; they _drank healths_ to his _confusion_.--Well,
Gaal's interest in Sechem is soon at an end. _Exit Gaal_!"

Lancelot Addison, by the vulgar coarseness of his style, forms an
admirable contrast with the amenity and grace of his son's Spectators.
He tells us, in his voyage to Barbary, that "A rabbin once told him,
among other _heinous stuff_, that he did not expect the felicity of the
next world on the account of any merits but his own; whoever kept the
law would arrive at the bliss, by _coming upon his own legs_."

It must be confessed that the rabbin, considering he could not
conscientiously have the same creed as Addison, did not deliver any very
"heinous stuff," in believing that other people's merits have nothing to
do with our own; and that "we should stand on our own legs!" But this
was not "proper words in proper places."


It is curious to observe the various substitutes for paper before its

Ere the invention of recording events by writing, trees were planted,
rude altars were erected, or heaps of stone, to serve as memorials of
past events. Hercules probably could not write when he fixed his famous

The most ancient mode of writing was on _bricks_, _tiles_, and
_oyster-shells_, and on _tables of stone_; afterwards on _plates_ of
various materials, on _ivory_, on _barks_ of trees, on _leaves_ of

Engraving memorable events on hard substances was giving, as it were,
speech to rocks and metals. In the book of Job mention is made of
writing on _stone_, on _rocks_, and on sheets of _lead_. On tables of
_stone_ Moses received the law written by the finger of God. Hesiod's
works were written on _leaden_ tables: lead was used for writing, and
rolled up like a cylinder, as Pliny states. Montfaucon notices a very
ancient book of eight leaden leaves, which on the back had rings
fastened by a small leaden rod to keep them together. They afterwards
engraved on bronze: the laws of the Cretans were on bronze tables; the
Romans etched their public records on brass. The speech of Claudius,
engraved on plates of bronze, is yet preserved in the town-hall of
Lyons, in France.[8] Several bronze tables, with Etruscan characters,
have been dug up in Tuscany. The treaties among the Romans, Spartans,
and the Jews, were written on brass; and estates, for better security,
were made over on this enduring metal. In many cabinets may be found the
discharge of soldiers, written on copper-plates. This custom has been
discovered in India: a bill of feoffment on copper, has been dug up near
Bengal, dated a century before the birth of Christ.

Among these early inventions many were singularly rude, and miserable
substitutes for a better material. In the shepherd state they wrote
their songs with thorns and awls on straps of leather, which they wound
round their crooks. The Icelanders appear to have scratched their
_runes_, a kind of hieroglyphics, on walls; and Olaf, according to one
of the Sagas, built a large house, on the bulks and spars of which he
had engraved the history of his own and more ancient times; while
another northern hero appears to have had nothing better than his own
chair and bed to perpetuate his own heroic acts on. At the town-hall, in
Hanover, are kept twelve wooden boards, overlaid with bees'-wax, on
which are written the names of owners of houses, but not the names of
streets. These _wooden manuscripts_ must have existed before 1423, when
Hanover was first divided into streets. Such manuscripts may be found in
public collections. These are an evidence of a rude state of _society_.
The same event occurred among the ancient Arabs, who, according to the
history of Mahomet, seemed to have carved on the shoulder-bones of sheep
remarkable events with a knife, and tying them with a string, hung up
these sheep-bone chronicles.

The laws of the twelve tables, which the Romans chiefly copied from the
Grecian code, were, after they had been approved by the people, engraven
on brass: they were melted by lightning, which struck the Capitol; a
loss highly regretted by Augustus. This manner of writing we still
retain, for inscriptions, epitaphs, and other memorials designed to
reach posterity.

These early inventions led to the discovery of tables of _wood_; and as
_cedar_ has an antiseptic quality from its bitterness, they chose this
wood for cases or chests to preserve their most important writings. This
well-known expression of the ancients, when they meant to give the
highest eulogium of an excellent work, _et cedro digna locuti_, that it
was worthy to be written on _cedar_, alludes to the _oil of cedar_, with
which valuable MSS. of parchment were anointed, to preserve them from
corruption and moths. Persius illustrates this:--

    Who would not leave posterity such rhymes
    As _cedar oil_ might keep to latest times!

They stained materials for writing upon, with purple, and rubbed them
with exudations from the cedar. The laws of the emperors were published
on _wooden tables_, painted with ceruse; to which custom Horace alludes:
_Leges incidere ligno_. Such _tables_, the term now softened into
_tablets_, are still used, but in general are made of other materials
than wood. The same reason for which they preferred the _cedar_ to other
wood induced to write on _wax_, as being incorruptible. Men generally
used it to write their testaments on, the better to preserve them; thus
Juvenal says, _Ceras implere capaces_. This thin paste of wax was also
used on tablets of wood, that it might more easily admit of erasure, for
daily use.

They wrote with an iron bodkin, as they did on the other substances we
have noticed. The _stylus_ was made sharp at one end to write with, and
blunt and broad at the other, to efface and correct easily: hence the
phrase _vertere stylum_, to turn the stylus, was used to express
blotting out. But the Romans forbad the use of this sharp instrument,
from the circumstance of many persons having used them as daggers. A
schoolmaster was killed by the Pugillares or table-books, and the styles
of his own scholars.[9] They substituted a _stylus_ made of the bone of
a bird, or other animal; so that their writings resembled engravings.
When they wrote on softer materials, they employed _reeds_ and _canes_
split like our _pens_ at the points, which the orientalists still use to
lay their colour or ink neater on the paper.

Naudé observes, that when he was in Italy, about 1642, he saw some of
those waxen tablets, called Pugillares, so called because they were held
in one hand; and others composed of the barks of trees, which the
ancients employed in lieu of paper.

On these tablets, or table-books Mr. Astle observes, that the Greeks and
Romans continued the use of waxed table-books long after the use of the
papyrus, leaves and skins became common; because they were convenient
for correcting extemporaneous compositions: from these table-books they
transcribed their performances correctly into parchment books, if for
their own private use; but if for sale, or for the library, the
_Librarii_, or Scribes, performed the office. The writing on table-books
is particularly recommended by Quintilian in the third chapter of the
tenth book of his Institutions; because the wax is readily effaced for
any corrections: he confesses weak eyes do not see so well on paper, and
observes that the frequent necessity of dipping the pen in the inkstand
retards the hand, and is but ill-suited to the celerity of the mind.
Some of these table-books are conjectured to have been large, and
perhaps heavy, for in Plautus, a school-boy is represented breaking his
master's head with his table-book. The critics, according to Cicero,
were accustomed in reading their wax manuscripts to notice obscure or
vicious phrases by joining a piece of red wax, as we should underline
such by red ink.

Table-hooks written upon with styles were not entirely laid aside in
Chaucer's time, who describes them in his Sompner's tale:--

    His fellow had a staffe tipp'd with horne,
    _A paire of tables all of iverie_;
    And a _pointell polished_ fetouslie,
    And wrote alwaies the names, as he stood,
    Of all folke, that gave hem any good.[10]

By the word _pen_ in the translation of the Bible we must understand an
iron _style_. Table-books of ivory are still used for memoranda, written
with black-lead pencils. The Romans used ivory to write the edicts of
the senate on, with a black colour; and the expression of _libri
elephantini_, which some authors imagine alludes to books that for their
_size_ were called _elephantine_, were most probably composed of ivory,
the tusk of the elephant: among the Romans they were undoubtedly scarce.

The _pumice stone_ was a writing-material of the ancients; they used it
to smoothe the roughness of the parchment, or to sharpen their reeds.

In the progress of time the art of writing consisted in _painting_ with
different kinds of _ink_. This novel mode of writing occasioned them to
invent other materials proper to receive their writing; the thin bark of
certain _trees_ and _plants_, or _linen_; and at length, when this was
found apt to become mouldy, they prepared the _skins of animals_; on the
dried skins of serpents were once written the Iliad and Odyssey. The
first place where they began to dress these skins was _Pergamus_, in
Asia; whence the Latin name is derived of _Pergamenoe_ or _parchment_.
These skins are, however, better known amongst the authors of the purest
Latin under the name of _membrana_; so called from the membranes of
various animals of which they were composed. The ancients had
_parchments_ of three different colours, white, yellow, and purple. At
Rome white parchment was disliked, because it was more subject to be
soiled than the others, and dazzled the eye. They generally wrote in
letters of gold and silver on purple or violet parchment. This custom
continued in the early ages of the church; and copies of the evangelists
of this kind are preserved in the British Museum.

When the Egyptians employed for writing the _bark_ of a _plant_ or
_reed_, called _papyrus_, or paper-rush, it superseded all former modes,
for its convenience. Formerly it grew in great quantities on the sides
of the Nile. This plant has given its name to our _paper_, although the
latter is now composed of linen and rags, and formerly had been of
cotton-wool, which was but brittle and yellow; and improved by using
cotton rags, which they glazed. After the eighth century the papyrus was
superseded by parchment. The _Chinese_ make their _paper_ with _silk_.
The use of _paper_ is of great antiquity. It is what the ancient
Latinists call _charta_ or _chartae_. Before the use of _parchment_ and
_paper_ passed to the Romans, they used the thin peel found between the
wood and the bark of trees. This skinny substance they called _liber_,
from whence the Latin word _liber_, a book, and _library_ and
_librarian_ in the European languages, and the French _livre_ for book;
but we of northern origin derive our _book_ from the Danish _bog_, the
beech-tree, because that being the most plentiful in Denmark was used to
engrave on. Anciently, instead of folding this bark, this parchment, or
paper, as we fold ours, they rolled it according as they wrote on it;
and the Latin name which they gave these rolls has passed into our
language as well as the others. We say a _volume_, or volumes, although
our books are composed of leaves bound together. The books of the
ancients on the shelves of their libraries were rolled up on a pin and
placed erect, titled on the outside in red letters, or rubrics, and
appeared like a number of small pillars on the shelves.[11]

The ancients were as curious as ourselves in having their books richly
conditioned. Propertius describes tablets with gold borders, and Ovid
notices their red titles; but in later times, besides the tint of purple
with which they tinged their vellum, and the liquid gold which they
employed for their ink, they inlaid their covers with precious stones:
and I have seen, in the library at Triers or Treves, a manuscript, the
donation of some princess to a monastery, studded with heads wrought in
fine cameos.[12] In the early ages of the church they painted on the
outside commonly a dying Christ. In the curious library of Mr. Douce is
a Psalter, supposed once to have appertained to Charlemagne; the vellum
is purple, and the letters gold. The Eastern nations likewise tinged
their MSS. with different colours and decorations. Astle possessed
Arabian MSS. of which some leaves were of a deep yellow, and others of a
lilac colour. Sir William Jones describes an oriental MS. in which the
name of Mohammed was fancifully adorned with a garland of tulips and
carnations, painted in the brightest colours. The favourite works of the
Persians are written on fine silky paper, the ground of which is often
powdered with gold or silver dust; the leaves are frequently
illuminated, and the whole book is sometimes perfumed with essence of
roses, or sandal wood. The Romans had several sorts of paper, for which
they had as many different names; one was the _Charta Augusta_, in
compliment to the emperor; another _Livinia_, named after the empress.
There was a _Charta blanca_, which obtained its title from its beautiful
whiteness, and which we appear to have retained by applying it to a
blank sheet of paper which is only signed, _Charte Blanche_. They had
also a _Charta nigra_, painted black, and the letters were in white or
other colours.

Our present paper surpasses all other materials for ease and convenience
of writing. The first paper-mill in England was erected at Dartford, by
a German, in 1588, who was knighted by Elizabeth; but it was not before
1713 that one Thomas Watkins, a stationer, brought the art of
paper-making to any perfection, and to the industry of this individual
we owe the origin of our numerous paper-mills. France had hitherto
supplied England and Holland.

The manufacture of paper was not much encouraged at home, even so late
as in 1662; and the following observations by Fuller are curious,
respecting the paper of his times:--"Paper participates in some sort of
the characters of the country which makes it; the _Venetian_, being
neat, subtile, and court-like; the _French_, light, slight, and slender;
the _Dutch_, thick, corpulent, and gross, sucking up the ink with the
sponginess thereof." He complains that the paper-manufactories were not
then sufficiently encouraged, "considering the vast sums of money
expended in our land for paper, out of Italy, France, and Germany, which
might be lessened, were it made in our nation. To such who object that
we can never equal the perfection of _Venice-paper_, I return, neither
can we match the purity of Venice-glasses; and yet many _green ones_ are
blown in Sussex, profitable to the makers, and convenient for the users.
Our _home-spun paper_ might be found beneficial." The present German
printing-paper is made so disagreeable both to printers and readers from
their paper-manufacturers making many more reams of paper from one cwt.
of rags than formerly. Rags are scarce, and German writers, as well as
their language, are voluminous.

Mr. Astle deeply complains of the inferiority of our _inks_ to those of
antiquity; an inferiority productive of the most serious consequences,
and which appears to originate merely in negligence. From the important
benefits arising to society from the use of ink, and the injuries
individuals may suffer from the frauds of designing men, he wishes the
legislature would frame some new regulations respecting it. The
composition of ink is simple, but we possess none equal in beauty and
colour to that used by the ancients; the Saxon MSS. written in England
exceed in colour anything of the kind. The rolls and records from the
fifteenth century to the end of the seventeenth, compared with those of
the fifth to the twelfth centuries, show the excellence of the earlier
ones, which are all in the finest preservation; while the others are so
much defaced, that they are scarcely legible.

The ink of the ancients had nothing in common with ours, but the colour
and gum. Gall-nuts, copperas, and gum make up the composition of our
ink; whereas _soot_ or _ivory-black_ was the chief ingredient in that of
the ancients.[13]

Ink has been made of various colours; we find gold and silver ink, and
red, green, yellow, and blue inks; but the black is considered as the
best adapted to its purpose.


The following circumstances probably gave rise to the tyranny of the
feudal power, and are the facts on which the fictions of romance are
raised. Castles were erected to repulse the vagrant attacks of the
Normans; and in France, from the year 768 to 987, these places disturbed
the public repose. The petty despots who raised these castles pillaged
whoever passed, and carried off the females who pleased them. Rapine, of
every kind were the _privileges_ of the feudal lords! Mezeray observes,
that it is from these circumstances romancers have invented their tales
of _knights errant_, _monsters_, and _giants_.

De Saint Foix, in his "Historical Essays," informs us that "women and
girls were not in greater security when they passed by abbeys. The monks
sustained an assault rather than relinquish their prey: if they saw
themselves losing ground, they brought to their walls the relics of some
saint. Then it generally happened that the assailants, seized with awful
veneration, retired, and dared not pursue their vengeance. This is the
origin of the _enchanters_, of the _enchantments_, and of the _enchanted
castles_ described in romances."

To these may be added what the author of "Northern Antiquities," Vol.
I. p. 243, writes, that as the walls of the castles ran winding round
them, they often called them by a name which signified _serpents_ or
_dragons_; and in these were commonly secured the women and young maids
of distinction, who were seldom safe at a time when so many bold
warriors were rambling up and down in search of adventures. It was this
custom which gave occasion to ancient romancers, who knew not how to
describe anything simply, to invent so many fables concerning princesses
of great beauty guarded by _dragons_.

A singular and barbarous custom prevailed during this period; it
consisted in punishments by _mutilations_. It became so general that the
abbots, instead of bestowing canonical penalties on their monks, obliged
them to cut off an ear, an arm, or a leg!

Velly, in his History of France, has described two festivals, which give
a just idea of the manners and devotion of a later period, 1230, which
like the ancient mysteries consisted of a mixture of farce and piety:
religion in fact was their amusement! The following one existed even to
the Reformation:--

In the church of Paris, and in several other cathedrals of the kingdom,
was held the _Feast of Fools_ or madmen. "The priests and clerks
assembled elected a pope, an archbishop, or a bishop, conducted them in
great pomp to the church, which they entered dancing, masked, and
dressed in the apparel of women, animals, and merry-andrews; sung
infamous songs, and converted the altar into a beaufet, where they ate
and drank during the celebration of the holy mysteries; played with
dice; burned, instead of incense, the leather of their old sandals; ran
about, and leaped from seat to seat, with all the indecent postures with
which the merry-andrews know how to amuse the populace."

The other does not yield in extravagance. "This festival was called the
_Feast of Asses_, and was celebrated at Beauvais. They chose a young
woman, the handsomest in the town; they made her ride on an ass richly
harnessed, and placed in her arms a pretty infant.[14] In this state,
followed by the bishop and clergy, she marched in procession from the
cathedral to the church of St. Stephen's; entered into the sanctuary;
placed herself near the altar, and the mass began; whatever the choir
sung was terminated by this charming burthen, _Hihan, hihan_! Their
prose, half Latin and half French, explained the fine qualities of the
animal. Every strophe finished by this delightful invitation:--

    Hez, sire Ane, ça chantez,
    Belle bouche rechignez,
    Vous aurés du foin assez,
    Et de l'avoine si plantez.

They at length exhorted him, in making a devout genuflexion, to forget
his ancient food, for the purpose of repeating without ceasing, _Amen,
Amen_. The priest, instead of _Ite missa est_, sung three times, _Hihan,
hihan, hihan_! and the people three times answered, _Hihan, hihan,
hihan_! to imitate the braying of that grave animal.[15]

What shall we think of this imbecile mixture of superstition and farce?
This _ass_ was perhaps typical of the _ass_ which Jesus rode! The
children of Israel worshipped a golden ass, and Balaam made another
speak. How fortunate then was _James Naylor_, who desirous of entering
Bristol on an _ass_, Hume informs us--it is indeed but a piece of cold
pleasantry--that all Bristol could not afford him _one_!

At the time when all these follies were practised, they would not suffer
men to play at _chess_! Velly says, "A statute of Eudes de Sully
prohibits clergymen not only from playing at chess, but even from having
a chess-board in their house." Who could believe, that while half the
ceremonies of religion consisted in the grossest buffoonery, a prince
preferred death rather than cure himself by a remedy which offended his
chastity! Louis VIII. being dangerously ill, the physicians consulted,
and agreed to place near the monarch while he slept a young and
beautiful lady, who, when he awoke, should inform him of the motive
which had conducted her to him. Louis answered, "No, my girl, I prefer
dying rather than to save my life by a _mortal sin_!" And, in fact, the
good king died! He would not be prescribed for out of the whole
Pharmacopoeia of Love!

An account of our taste in female beauty is given, by Mr. Ellis, who
observes, in his notes to Way's Fabliaux, "In the times of chivalry the
minstrels dwelt with great complacency on the fair hair and delicate
complexion of their damsels. This taste was continued for a long time,
and to render the hair light was a great object of education. Even when
wig first came into fashion they were all flaxen. Such was the colour of
the Gauls and of their German conquerors. It required some centuries to
reconcile their eyes to the swarthy beauties of their Spanish and their
Italian neighbours."[16]

The following is an amusing anecdote of the difficulty in which an
honest Vicar of Bray found himself in those contentious times.

When the court of Rome, under the pontificates of Gregory IX. and
Innocent IV., set no bounds to their ambitious projects, they were
opposed by the Emperor Frederick; who was of course anathematised. A
curate of Paris, a humorous fellow, got up in his pulpit with the bull
of Innocent in his hand. "You know, my brethren (said he), that I am
ordered to proclaim an excommunication against Frederick. I am ignorant
of the motive. All that I know is, that there exist, between this Prince
and the Roman Pontiff great differences, and an irreconcileable hatred.
God only knows which of the two is wrong. Therefore with all my power I
excommunicate him who injures the other; and I absolve him who suffers,
to the great scandal of all Christianity."

The following anecdotes relate to a period which is sufficiently remote
to excite curiosity; yet not so distant as to weaken the interest we
feel in those minutiæ of the times.

The present one may serve as a curious specimen of the despotism and
simplicity of an age not literary, in discovering the author of a libel.
It took place in the reign of Henry VIII. A great jealousy subsisted
between the Londoners and those foreigners who traded here. The
foreigners probably (observes Mr. Lodge, in his Illustrations of English
History) worked cheaper and were more industrious.

There was a libel affixed on St. Paul's door, which reflected on Henry
VIII. and these foreigners, who were accused of buying up the wool with
the king's money, to the undoing of Englishmen. This tended to inflame
the minds of the people. The method adopted to discover the writer of
the libel must excite a smile in the present day, while it shows the
state in which knowledge must have been in this country. The plan
adopted was this: In every ward one of the King's council, with an
alderman of the same, was commanded to see every man write that could,
and further took every man's book and sealed them, and brought them to
Guildhall to confront them with the original. So that if of this number
many wrote alike, the judges must have been much puzzled to fix on the

Our hours of refection are singularly changed in little more than two
centuries. In the reign of Francis I. (observes the author of
Récréations Historiques) they were accustomed to say,--

    Lever à cinq, dîner à neuf,
    Souper à cinq, coucher à neuf,
    Fait vivre d'ans nonante et neuf.

Historians observe of Louis XII. that one of the causes which
contributed to hasten his death was the entire change of his regimen.
The good king, by the persuasion of his wife, says the history of
Bayard, changed his manner of living: when he was accustomed to dine at
eight o'clock, he agreed to dine at twelve; and when he was used to
retire at six o'clock in the evening, he frequently sat up as late as

Houssaie gives the following authentic notice drawn from the registers
of the court, which presents a curious account of domestic life in the
fifteenth century. Of the dauphin Louis, son of Charles VI., who died at
the age of twenty, we are told, "that he knew the Latin and French
languages; that he had many musicians in his chapel; passed the night in
vigils; dined at three in the afternoon, supped at midnight, went to bed
at the break of day, and thus was _ascertené_ (that is threatened) with
a short life." Froissart mentions waiting upon the Duke of Lancaster at
five o'clock in the afternoon, when he _had supped_.

The custom of dining at nine in the morning relaxed greatly under
Francis I., successor of Louis XII. However, persons of quality dined
then the latest at ten; and supper was at five or six in the evening. We
may observe this in the preface to the Heptameron of the Queen of
Navarre, where this princess, describing the mode of life which the
lords and ladies whom she assembles at the castle of Madame Oysille,
should follow, to be agreeably occupied and to banish languor, thus
expresses herself: "As soon as the morning rose, they went to the
chamber of Madame Oysille, whom they found already at her prayers; and
when they had heard during a good hour her lecture, and then the mass,
they went to dine at ten o'clock; and afterwards each privately retired
to his room, but did not fail at noon to meet in the meadow." Speaking
of the end of the first day (which was in September) the same lady
Oysille says, "Say where is the sun? and hear the bell of the abbey,
which has for some time called us to vespers; in saying this they all
rose and went to the religionists _who had waited for them above an
hour_. Vespers heard, they went to supper, and after having played a
thousand sports in the meadow they retired to bed." All this exactly
corresponds with the lines above quoted. Charles V. of France, however,
who lived near two centuries before Francis, dined at ten, supped at
seven, and all the court was in bed by nine o'clock. They sounded the
curfew, which bell warned them to cover their fire, at six in the
winter, and between eight and nine in the summer. Under the reign of
Henry IV. the hour of dinner at court was eleven, or at noon the latest;
a custom which prevailed even in the early part of the reign of Louis
XIV. In the provinces distant from Paris, it is very common to dine at
nine; they make a second repast about two o'clock, sup at five; and
their last meal is made just before they retire to bed. The labourers
and peasants in France have preserved this custom, and make three meals;
one at nine, another at three, and the last at the setting of the sun.

The Marquis of Mirabeau, in "L'Ami des Hommes," Vol. I. p. 261, gives a
striking representation of the singular industry of the French citizens
of that age. He had learnt from several ancient citizens of Paris, that
if in their youth a workman did not work two hours by candle-light,
either in the morning or evening, he even adds in the longest days, he
would have been noticed as an idler, and would not have found persons
to employ him. On the 12th of May, 1588, when Henry III. ordered his
troops to occupy various posts at Paris, Davila writes that the
inhabitants, warned by the noise of the drums, began to shut their doors
and shops, which, according to the customs of that town to work before
daybreak, were already opened. This must have been, taking it at the
latest, about four in the morning. "In 1750," adds the ingenious writer,
"I walked on that day through Paris at full six in the morning; I passed
through the most busy and populous part of the city, and I only saw open
some stalls of the vendors of brandy!"

To the article, "Anecdotes of Fashions," (see Vol. I., p. 216) we may
add, that in England a taste for splendid dress existed in the reign of
Henry VII.; as is observable by the following description of Nicholas
Lord Vaux. "In the 17th of that reign, at the marriage of Prince Arthur,
the brave young Vaux appeared in a gown of purple velvet, adorned with
pieces of gold so thick, and massive, that, exclusive of the silk and
furs, it was valued at a thousand pounds. About his neck he wore a
collar of SS, weighing eight hundred pounds in nobles. In those days it
not only required great bodily strength to support the weight of their
cumbersome armour; their very luxury of apparel for the drawing-room
would oppress a system of modern muscles."

In the following reign, according to the monarch's and Wolsey's
magnificent taste, their dress was, perhaps, more generally sumptuous.
We then find the following rich ornaments in vogue. Shirts and shifts
were embroidered with gold, and bordered with lace. Strutt notices also
perfumed gloves lined with white velvet, and splendidly worked with
embroidery and gold buttons. Not only gloves, but various other parts of
their habits, were perfumed; shoes were made of Spanish perfumed skins.

Carriages were not then used;[17] so that lords would carry princesses
on a pillion behind them, and in wet weather the ladies covered their
heads with hoods of oil-cloth: a custom that has been generally
continued to the middle of the seventeenth century. Coaches were
introduced into England by Fitzalan Earl of Arundel, in 1580, and at
first were only drawn by a pair of horses. The favourite Buckingham,
about 1619, began to have them drawn by six horses; and Wilson, in his
life of James I., tells us this "was wondered at as a novelty, and
imputed to him as a mastering pride." The same _arbiter elegantiarum_
introduced sedan-chairs. In France, Catherine of Medicis was the first
who used a coach, which had leathern doors and curtains, instead of
glass windows. If the carriage of Henry IV. had had glass windows, this
circumstance might have saved his life. Carriages were so rare in the
reign of this monarch, that in a letter to his minister Sully, he
notices that having taken medicine that day, though he intended to have
called on him, he was prevented because the queen had gone out with the
carriage. Even as late as in the reign of Louis XIV. the courtiers rode
on horseback to their dinner parties, and wore their light boots and
spurs. Count Hamilton describes his boots of white Spanish leather, with
gold spurs.

Saint Foix observes, that in 1658 there were only 310 coaches in Paris,
and in 1758 there were more than 14,000.

Strutt has judiciously observed, that though "luxury and grandeur were
so much affected, and appearances of state and splendour carried to such
lengths, we may conclude that their household furniture and domestic
necessaries were also carefully attended to; on passing through their
houses, we may expect to be surprised at the neatness, elegance, and
superb appearance of each room, and the suitableness of every ornament;
but herein we may be deceived. The taste of elegance amongst our
ancestors was very different from the present, and however we may find
them extravagant in their apparel, excessive in their banquets, and
expensive in their trains of attendants; yet, follow them home, and
within their houses you shall find their furniture is plain and homely;
no great choice, but what was useful, rather than any for ornament or

Erasmus, as quoted by Jortin, confirms this account, and makes it worse;
he gives a curious account of English dirtiness; he ascribes the plague,
from which England was hardly ever free, and the sweating-sickness,
partly to the incommodious form, and bad exposition of the houses, to
the filthiness of the streets, and to the sluttishness within doors.
"The floors," says he, "are commonly of clay, strewed with rushes; under
which lies, unmolested, an ancient collection of beer, grease,
fragments, bones, spittle, excrement of dogs and cats, and everything
that is nasty."[18] And NOW, certainly we are the cleanest nation in
Europe, and the word COMFORTABLE expresses so peculiar an idea, that it
has been adopted by foreigners to describe a sensation experienced
nowhere but in England.

I shall give a sketch of the domestic life of a nobleman in the reign of
Charles the First, from the "Life of the Duke of Newcastle," written by
his Duchess, whom I have already noticed. It might have been impertinent
at the time of its publication; it will now please those who are curious
about English manners.

                      "_Of his Habit_.

"He accoutres his person according to the fashion, if it be one that is
not troublesome and uneasy for men of heroic exercises and actions. He
is neat and cleanly; which makes him to be somewhat long in dressing,
though not so long as many effeminate persons are. He shifts ordinarily
once a day, and every time when he uses exercise, or his temper is more
hot than ordinary.

                       "_Of his Diet_.

"In his diet he is so sparing and temperate, that he never eats nor
drinks beyond his set proportion, so as to satisfy only his natural
appetite; he makes but one meal a day, at which he drinks two good
glasses of small beer, one about the beginning, the other at the end
thereof, and a little glass of sack in the middle of his dinner; which
glass of sack he also uses in the morning for his breakfast, with a
morsel of bread. His supper consists of an egg and a draught of small
beer. And by this temperance he finds himself very healthful, and may
yet live many years, he being now of the age of seventy-three.

              "_His Recreation and Exercise_.

"His prime pastime and recreation hath always been the exercise of
mannage and weapons, which heroic arts he used to practise every day;
but I observing that when he had overheated himself he would be apt to
take cold, prevailed so far, that at last he left the frequent use of
the mannage, using nevertheless still the exercise of weapons; and
though he doth not ride himself so frequently as he hath done, yet he
taketh delight in seeing his horses of mannage rid by his escuyers, whom
he instructs in that art for his own pleasure. But in the art of weapons
(in which he has a method beyond all that ever was famous in it, found
out by his own ingenuity and practice) he never taught any body but the
now Duke of Buckingham, whose guardian he hath been, and his own two
sons. The rest of his time he spends in music, poetry, architecture, and
the like."

The value of money, and the increase of our opulence, might form, says
Johnson, a curious subject of research. In the reign of Edward the
Sixth, Latimer mentions it as a proof of his father's prosperity, that
though but a yeoman, he gave his daughters five pounds each for their
portion.[19] At the latter end of Elizabeth's reign, seven hundred
pounds were such a temptation to courtship, as made all other motives
suspected. Congreve makes twelve thousand pounds more than a
counterbalance to the affection of Belinda. No poet will now fly his
favourite character at less than fifty thousand. Clarissa Harlowe had
but a moderate fortune.

In Sir John Vanbrugh's Confederacy, a woman of fashion is presented with
a bill of millinery _as long as herself_.--Yet it only amounts to a poor
fifty pounds! at present this sounds oddly on the stage. I have heard of
a lady of quality and fashion who had a bill of her fancy dressmaker,
for the expenditure of one year, to the tune of, or rather, which closed
in the deep diapason of, six thousand pounds!


"It is curious to trace the first rude attempts of the drama in various
nations; to observe at that moment how crude is the imagination, and to
trace the caprices it indulges; and that the resemblance in these
attempts holds in the earliest essays of Greece, of France, of Spain, of
England, and, what appears extraordinary, even of China and Mexico."

The rude beginnings of the drama of Greece are sufficiently known, and
the old _mysteries_ of Europe have been exhibited in a former article.
The progress of the French theatre has been this:--

Etienne Jodelle, in 1552, seems to have been the first who had a tragedy
represented of his own invention, entitled Cleopatra--it was a servile
imitation of the form of the Grecian tragedy; but if this did not
require the highest genius, it did the utmost intrepidity; for the
people were, through long habit, intoxicated with the wild amusement
they amply received from their farces and moralities.

The following curious anecdote, which followed the first attempt at
classical imitation, is very observable. Jodelle's success was such,
that his rival poets, touched by the spirit of the Grecian muse, showed
a singular proof of their enthusiasm for this new poet, in a _classical_
festivity which gave room for no little scandal in that day; yet as it
was produced by a carnival, it was probably a kind of drunken bout.
Fifty poets, during the carnival of 1552, went to Arcueil. Chance, says
the writer of the life of the old French bard Ronsard, who was one of
the present _profane_ party, threw across their road a _goat_--which
having caught, they ornamented the goat with chaplets of flowers, and
carried it triumphantly to the hall of their festival, to appear to
sacrifice to Bacchus, and to present it to Jodelle; for the goat, among
the ancients, was the prize of the tragic bards; the victim of Bacchus,
who presided over tragedy,

    Carmine, qui tragico, vilem certavit ob hircum.

The goat thus adorned, and his beard painted, was hunted about the long
table, at which the fifty poets were seated; and after having served
them for a subject of laughter for some time, he was hunted out of the
room, and not sacrificed to Bacchus. Each of the guests made verses on
the occasion, in imitation of the Bacchanalia of the ancients. Ronsard
composed some dithyrambics to celebrate the festival of the goat of
Etienne Jodelle; and another, entitled "Our travels to Arcueil."
However, this Bacchaualian freak did not finish as it ought, where it
had begun, among the poets. Several ecclesiastics sounded the alarm, and
one Chandieu accused Ronsard with having performed an idolatrous
sacrifice; and it was easy to accuse the moral habits of _fifty poets_
assembled together, who were far, doubtless, from being irreproachable.
They repented for some time of their classical sacrifice of a goat to

Hardi, the French Lope de Vega, wrote 800 dramatic pieces from 1600 to
1637; his imagination was the most fertile possible; but so wild and
unchecked, that though its extravagances are very amusing, they served
as so many instructive lessons to his successors. One may form a notion
of his violation of the unities by his piece "La Force du Sang." In the
first act Leocadia is carried off and ravished. In the second she is
sent back with an evident sign of pregnancy. In the third she lies in,
and at the close of this act her son is about ten years old. In the
fourth, the father of the child acknowledges him; and in the fifth,
lamenting his son's unhappy fate, he marries Leocadia. Such are the
pieces in the infancy of the drama.

Rotrou was the first who ventured to introduce several persons in the
same scene; before his time they rarely exceeded two persons; if a third
appeared, he was usually a mute actor, who never joined the other two.
The state of the theatre was even then very rude; the most lascivious
embraces were publicly given and taken; and Rotrou even ventured to
introduce a naked page in the scene, who in this situation holds a
dialogue with one of his heroines. In another piece, "_Scedase, ou
l'hospitalité violée_," Hardi makes two young Spartans carry off
Scedase's two daughters, ravish them on the stage, and, violating them
in the side scenes, the spectators heard their cries and their
complaints. Cardinal Richelieu made the theatre one of his favourite
pursuits, and though not successful as a dramatic writer, his
encouragement of the drama gradually gave birth to genius. Scudery was
the first who introduced the twenty-four hours from Aristotle; and
Mairet studied the construction of the fable, and the rules of the
drama. They yet groped in the dark, and their beauties were yet only
occasional; Corneille, Racine, Molière, Crebillon, and Voltaire
perfected the French drama.

In the infancy of the tragic art in our country, the bowl and dagger
were considered as the great instruments of a sublime pathos; and the
"_Die all_" and "_Die nobly_" of the exquisite and affecting tragedy of
Fielding were frequently realised in our popular dramas. Thomas Goff, of
the university of Oxford, in the reign of James I., was considered as no
contemptible tragic poet: he concludes the first part of his Courageous
Turk, by promising a second, thus:--

    If this first part, gentles! do like you well,
    The second part shall _greater murthers_ tell.

Specimens of extravagant bombast might be selected from his tragedies.
The following speech of Amurath the Turk, who coming on the stage, and
seeing "an appearance of the heavens being on fire, comets and blazing
stars, thus addresses the heavens," which seem to have been in as mad a
condition as the poet's own mind:--

    --How now, ye heavens! grow you
    So proud, that you must needs _put on curled locks_,
    And clothe yourselves in _periwigs of fire_!"

In the Raging Turk, or Bajazet the Second, he is introduced with this
most raging speech:--

    Am I not emperor? he that breathes a no
    Damns in that negative syllable his soul;
    Durst any god gainsay it, he should feel
    The strength of fiercest giants in my armies;
    Mine anger's at the highest, and I could shake
    The firm foundation of the earthly globe;
    Could I but grasp the poles in these two hands
    I'd pluck the world asunder.
    He would scale heaven, and when he had
    ----got beyond the utmost sphere,
    Besiege the concave of this universe,
    And hunger-starve the gods till they confessed
    What furies did oppress his sleeping soul.

These plays went through two editions: the last printed in 1656.

The following passage from a similar bard is as precious. The king in
the play exclaims,--

    By all the ancient gods of Rome and Greece,
    I love my daughter!--better than my niece!
    If any one should ask the reason why,
    I'd tell them--Nature makes the stronger tie!

One of the rude French plays, about 1600, is entitled "_La Rebellion,
ou meseontentment des Grenouilles contre Jupiter_," in five acts. The
subject of this tragi-comic piece is nothing more than the fable of the
frogs who asked Jupiter for a king. In the pantomimical scenes of a wild
fancy, the actors were seen croaking in their fens, or climbing up the
steep ascent of Olympus; they were dressed so as to appear gigantic
frogs; and in pleading their cause before Jupiter and his court, the
dull humour was to croak sublimely, whenever they did not agree with
their judge.

Clavigero, in his curious history of Mexico, has given Acosta's account
of the Mexican theatre, which appears to resemble the first scenes among
the Greeks, and these French frogs, but with more fancy and taste.
Acosta writes, "The small theatre was curiously whitened, adorned with
boughs, and arches made of flowers and feathers, from which were
suspended many birds, rabbits, and other pleasing objects. The actors
exhibited burlesque characters, feigning themselves deaf, sick with
colds, lame, blind, crippled, and addressing an idol for the return of
health. The deaf people answered at cross-purposes; those who had colds
by coughing, and the lame by halting; all recited their complaints and
misfortunes, which produced infinite mirth among the audience. Others
appeared under the names of different little animals; some disguised as
beetles, some like toads, some like lizards, and upon encountering each,
other, reciprocally explained their employments, which was highly
satisfactory to the people, as they performed their parts with infinite
ingenuity. Several little boys also, belonging to the temple, appeared
in the disguise of butterflies, and birds of various colours, and
mounting upon the trees which were fixed there on purpose, little balls
of earth were thrown at them with slings, occasioning many humorous
incidents to the spectators."

Something very wild and original appears in this singular exhibition;
where at times the actors seem to have been spectators, and the
spectators were actors.


As a literary curiosity, can we deny a niche to that "obliquity of
distorted wit," of Barton Holyday, who has composed a strange comedy, in
five acts, performed at Christ Church, Oxford, 1630, _not_ for the
_entertainment_, as an anecdote records, of James the First?

The title of the comedy of this unclassical classic, for Holyday is
known as the translator of Juvenal with a very learned commentary, is
TEXNOTAMIA, or the Marriage of the Arts, 1630, quarto; extremely dull,
excessively rare, and extraordinarily high-priced among collectors.

It may be exhibited as one of the most extravagant inventions of a
pedant. Who but a pedant could have conceived the dull fancy of forming
a comedy, of five acts, on the subject of _marrying the Arts_! They are
the dramatis personæ of this piece, and the bachelor of arts describes
their intrigues and characters. His actors are Polites, a
magistrate;--Physica;--Astronomia, daughter to Physica;--Ethicus, an old
man;--Geographus, a traveller and courtier, in love with
Astronomia;--Arithmetica, in love with
Geometres;--Logicus;--Grammaticus, a schoolmaster;--Poeta;--Historia, in
love with Poeta;--Rhetorica, in love with Logicus;--Melancholico,
Poeta's man;--Phantastes, servant to Geographus;--Choler, Grammaticus's

All these refined and abstract ladies and gentlemen have as bodily
feelings, and employ as gross language, as if they had been every-day
characters. A specimen of his grotesque dulness may entertain:--

    Fruits of dull heat, and sooterkins of wit.

Geographus opens the play with declaring his passion to Astronomia, and
that very rudely indeed! See the pedant wreathing the roses of Love!

"_Geog._ Come, now you shall, Astronomia.

_Ast._ What shall I, Geographus?

_Geog._ Kisse!

_Ast._ What, in spite of my teeth!

_Geog._ No, not so! I hope you do not use to kisse with your teeth.

_Ast._ Marry, and I hope I do not use to kisse without them.

_Geog._ Ay, but my fine wit-catcher, I mean you do not show your teeth
when you kisse."

He then kisses her, as he says, in the different manners of a French,
Spanish and Dutch kiss. He wants to take off the zone of Astronomia. She
begs he would not fondle her like an elephant as he is; and Geographus
says again, "Won't you then?"

_Ast._ Won't I what?

_Geo._ Be kinde?

_Ast._ Be kinde! How?"

Fortunately Geographus is here interrupted by Astronomia's mother
Physica. This dialogue is a specimen of the whole piece: very flat, and
very gross. Yet the piece is still curious,--not only for its absurdity,
but for that sort of ingenuity, which so whimsically contrived to bring
together the different arts; this pedantic writer, however, owes more to
the subject, than the subject derived from him; without wit or humour,
he has at times an extravagance of invention. As for
instance,--Geographus and his man Phantastes describe to Poeta the lying
wonders they pretend to have witnessed; and this is one:--

"_Phan._ Sir, we met with a traveller that could speak six languages at
the same instant.

_Poeta_. How? at the same instant, that's impossible!

_Phan._ Nay, sir, the actuality of the performance puts it beyond all
contradiction. With his tongue he'd so vowel you out as smooth _Italian_
as any man breathing; with his eye he would sparkle forth the proud
_Spanish_; with his nose blow out most robustious _Dutch_; the creaking
of his high-heeled shoe would articulate exact _Polonian_; the knocking
of his shinbone feminine _French_; and his belly would grumble most pure
and scholar-like _Hungary_."

This, though extravagant without fancy, is not the worst part of the
absurd humour which runs through this pedantic comedy.

The classical reader may perhaps be amused by the following strange
conceits. Poeta, who was in love with Historia, capriciously falls in
love with Astronomia, and thus compares his mistress:--

    Her _brow_ is like a brave _heroic_ line
    That does a sacred majestie inshrine;
    Her _nose, Phaleuciake_-like, in comely sort,
    Ends in a _Trochie_, or a long and short.
    Her _mouth_ is like a pretty _Dimeter_;
    Her _eie-brows_ like a little-longer _Trimeter_.
    Her _chinne_ is an _adonicke_, and her _tongue_
    Is an _Hypermeter_, somewhat too long.
    Her _eies_ I may compare them unto two
    Quick-turning _dactyles_, for their nimble view.
    Her _ribs_ like staues of _Sapphicks_ doe descend
    Thither, which but to name were to offend.
    Her _arms_ like two _Iambics_ raised on hie,
    Doe with her brow bear equal majestie;
    Her _legs_ like two straight _spondees_ keep apace
    Slow as two _scazons_, but with stately grace.

The piece concludes with a speech by Polites, who settles all the
disputes and loves of the Arts. Poeta promises for the future to attach
himself to Historia. Rhetorica, though she loves Logicus, yet as they do
not mutually agree, she is united to Grammaticus. Polites counsels
Phlegmatico, who is Logicus's man, to leave off smoking, and to learn
better manners; and Choler, Grammaticus's man, to bridle himself;--that
Ethicus and Oeconoma would vouchsafe to give good advice to Poeta and
Historia;--and Physica to her children Geographus and Astronomia! for
Grammaticus and Rhetorica, he says, their tongues will always agree, and
will not fall out; and for Geometres and Arithmetica, they will be very
regular. Melancholico, who is Poeta's man, is left quite alone, and
agrees to be married to Musica: and at length Phantastes, by the
entreaty of Poeta, becomes the servant of Melancholico, and Musica.
Physiognomus and Cheiromantes, who are in the character of gipsies and
fortune-tellers, are finally exiled from the island of Fortunata, where
lies the whole scene of the action in the residence of the _Married

The pedant-comic-writer has even attended to the dresses of his
characters, which are minutely given. Thus Melancholico wears a black
suit, a black hat, a black cloak, and black worked band, black gloves,
and black shoes. Sanguis, the servant of Medicus, is in a red suit; on
the breast is a man with his nose bleeding; on the back, one letting
blood in his arm; with a red hat and band, red stockings and red pumps.

It is recorded of this play, that the Oxford scholars resolving to give
James I. a relish of their genius, requested leave to act this notable
piece. Honest Anthony Wood tells us, that it being too grave for the
king, and too scholastic for the auditory, or, as some have said, the
actors had taken too much wine, his majesty offered several times, after
two acts, to withdraw. He was prevailed to sit it out, in mere charity
to the Oxford scholars. The following humorous epigram was produced on
the occasion:--

    At _Christ-church marriage_, done before the king,
    Lest that those mates should want _an offering_,
    The king himself _did offer_;--What, I pray?
    He _offered twice_ or _thrice_--to go away!"


Crown, in his "City Politiques," 1688, a comedy written to satirise the
Whigs of those days, was accused of having copied his character too
closely after life, and his enemies turned his comedy into a libel. He
has defended himself in his preface from this imputation. It was
particularly laid to his charge, that in the characters of Bartoline, an
old corrupt lawyer, and his wife Lucinda, a wanton country girl, he
intended to ridicule a certain Serjeant M---- and his young wife. It was
even said that the comedian mimicked the odd speech of the aforesaid
Serjeant, who, having lost all his teeth, uttered his words in a very
peculiar manner. On this, Crown tells us in his defence, that the
comedian must not be blamed for this peculiarity, as it was an
_invention_ of the author himself, who had taught it to the player. He
seems to have considered it as no ordinary invention, and was so pleased
with it that he has most painfully printed the speeches of the lawyer in
this singular gibberish; and his reasons, as well as his discovery,
appear remarkable.

He says, that "Not any one old man more than another is mimiqued, by Mr.
Lee's way of speaking, which all comedians can witness, was my own
_invention_, and Mr. Lee was taught it by me. To prove this farther, I
have _printed_ Bartoline's part in that manner of spelling by which I
taught it Mr. Lee. They who have no teeth cannot pronounce many letters
plain, but perpetually lisp and break their words, and some words they
cannot bring out at all. As for instance _th_ is pronounced by thrusting
the tongue hard to the teeth, therefore that sound they cannot make, but
something like it. For that reason you will often find in Bartoline's
part, instead of _th_, _ya_, as _yat_ for that; _yish_ for this; _yosh_
for those; sometimes a _t_ is left out, as _housand_ for thousand;
_hirty_ for thirty. _S_ they pronounce like _sh_, as _sher_ for sir;
_musht_ for must; _t_ they speak like _ch_,--therefore you will find
_chrue_ for true; _chreason_ for treason; _cho_ for to; _choo_ for two;
_chen_ for ten; _chake_ for take. And this _ch_ is not to be pronounced
like _k_, as 'tis in Christian, but as in child, church, chest. I desire
the reader to observe these things, because otherwise he will hardly
understand much of the lawyer's part, which in the opinion of all is the
most divertising in the comedy; but when this ridiculous way of speaking
is familiar with him, it will render the part more pleasant."

One hardly expects so curious a piece of orthoëpy in the preface to a
comedy. It may have required great observation and ingenuity to have
discovered the cause of old toothless men mumbling their words. But as a
piece of comic humour, on which the author appears to have prided
himself, the effect is far from fortunate. Humour arising from a
personal defect is but a miserable substitute for that of a more genuine
kind. I shall give a specimen of this strange gibberish as it is so
laboriously printed. It may amuse the reader to see his mother language
transformed into so odd a shape that it is with difficulty he can
recognise it.

Old Bartoline thus speaks:--"I wrong'd _my shelf, cho entcher incho
bondsh_ of marriage and could not perform _covenantsh_ I might well
_hinke_ you would _chake_ the forfeiture of the bond; and I never found
_equichy_ in a _bedg_ in my life; but I'll trounce you _boh_; I have
paved _jaylsh_ wi' the _bonesh_ of honester people _yen_ you are, _yat_
never did me nor any man any wrong, but had law of _yeir shydsh_ and
right o' _yeir shydsh_, but because _yey_ had not me o' _yeir shydsh_. I
ha' _hrown_ 'em in _jaylsh_, and got _yeir eshchatsch_ for my _clyentsh
yat_ had no more _chytle_ to 'em _yen dogsh_."


Desmarets, the friend of Richelieu, was a very extraordinary character,
and produced many effusions of genius in early life, till he became a
mystical fanatic. It was said of him that "he was the greatest madman
among poets, and the best poet among madmen." His comedy of "The
Visionaries" is one of the most extraordinary dramatic projects, and, in
respect to its genius and its lunacy, may be considered as a literary

In this singular comedy all Bedlam seems to be let loose on the stage,
and every character has a high claim to an apartment in it. It is indeed
suspected that the cardinal had a hand in this anomalous drama, and in
spite of its extravagance it was favourably received by the public, who
certainly had never seen anything like it.

Every character in this piece acts under some hallucination of the mind,
or a fit of madness. Artabaze is a cowardly hero, who believes he has
conquered the world. Amidor is a wild poet, who imagines he ranks above
Homer. Filidan is a lover, who becomes inflammable as gunpowder for
every mistress he reads of in romances. Phalante is a beggarly bankrupt,
who thinks himself as rich as Croesus. Melisse, in reading the "History
of Alexander," has become madly in love with this hero, and will have no
other husband than "him of Macedon." Hesperie imagines her fatal charms
occasion a hundred disappointments in the world, but prides herself on
her perfect insensibility. Sestiane, who knows no other happiness than
comedies, and whatever she sees or hears, immediately plans a scene for
dramatic effect, renounces any other occupation; and finally, Alcidon,
the father of these three mad girls, as imbecile as his daughters are
wild. So much for the amiable characters!

The plot is in perfect harmony with the genius of the author, and the
characters he has invented--perfectly unconnected, and fancifully wild.
Alcidon resolves to marry his three daughters, who, however, have no
such project of their own. He offers them to the first who comes. He
accepts for his son-in-law the first who offers, and is clearly
convinced that he is within a very short period of accomplishing his
wishes. As the four ridiculous personages whom we have noticed
frequently haunt his house, he becomes embarrassed in finding one lover
too many, having only three daughters.

The catastrophe relieves the old gentleman from his embarrassments.
Melisse, faithful to her Macedonian hero, declares her resolution of
dying before she marries any meaner personage. Hesperie refuses to
marry, out of pity for mankind; for to make one man happy she thinks she
must plunge a hundred into despair. Sestiane, only passionate for
comedy, cannot consent to any marriage, and tells her father, in very
lively verses,

    Je ne veux point, mon père, espouser un censeur;
    Puisque vous me souffrez recevoir la douceur
    Des plaisirs innocens que le théâtre apporte,
    Prendrais-je le hasard de vivre d'autre sorte?
    Puis on a des enfans, qui vous sont sur les bras,
    Les mener an théâtre, O Dieux! quel embarras!
    Tantôt couche ou grossesse, on quelque maladie;
    Pour jamais vous font dire, adieu la comédie!


    No, no, my father, I will have no critic,
    (Miscalled a husband) since you still permit
    The innocent sweet pleasures of the stage;
    And shall I venture to exchange my lot?
    Then we have children folded in our arms
    To bring them to the play-house; heavens! what troubles!
    Then we lie in, are big, or sick, or vexed:
    These make us bid farewell to comedy!

At length these imagined sons-in-law appear; Filidan declares that in
these three girls he cannot find the mistress he adores. Amidor
confesses he only asked for one of his daughters out of pure gallantry,
and that he is only a lover--in verse! When Phalante is questioned after
the great fortunes he hinted at, the father discovers that he has not a
stiver, and out of credit to borrow: while Artabaze declares that he
only allowed Alcidon, out of mere benevolence, to flatter himself for a
moment with the hope of an honour that even Jupiter would not dare to
pretend to. The four lovers disperse and leave the old gentleman more
embarrassed than ever, and his daughters perfectly enchanted to enjoy
their whimsical reveries, and die old maids--all alike "Visionaries!"


We possess, among our own native treasures, two treatises on this
subject, composed with no ordinary talent, and not their least value
consists in one being an apology for solitude, while the other combats
that prevailing passion of the studious. Zimmerman's popular work is
overloaded with commonplace; the garrulity of eloquence. The two
treatises now noticed may be compared to the highly-finished gems, whose
figure may be more finely designed, and whose strokes may be more
delicate in the smaller space they occupy than the ponderous block of
marble hewed out by the German chiseller.

Sir George Mackenzie, a polite writer, and a most eloquent pleader,
published, in 1665, a moral essay, preferring Solitude to public
employment. The eloquence of his style was well suited to the dignity of
his subject; the advocates for solitude have always prevailed over those
for active life, because there is something sublime in those feelings
which would retire from the circle of indolent triflers, or depraved
geniuses. The tract of Mackenzie was ingeniously answered by the elegant
taste of John Evelyn in 1667. Mackenzie, though he wrote in favour of
solitude, passed a very active life, first as a pleader, and afterwards
as a judge; that he was an eloquent writer, and an eloquent critic, we
have the authority of Dryden, who says, that till he was acquainted with
that noble wit of Scotland, Sir George Mackenzie, he had not known the
beautiful turn of words and thoughts in poetry, which Sir George had
explained and exemplified to him in conversation. As a judge, and king's
advocate, will not the barbarous customs of the age defend his name? He
is most hideously painted forth by the dark pencil of a poetical
Spagnoletti (Grahame), in his poem on "The Birds of Scotland." Sir
George lived in the age of rebellion, and used torture: we must entirely
put aside his political, to attend to his literary character. Blair has
quoted his pleadings as a model of eloquence, and Grahame is unjust to
the fame of Mackenzie, when he alludes to his "half-forgotten name." In
1689, he retired to Oxford, to indulge the luxuries of study in the
Bodleian Library, and to practise that solitude which so delighted him
in theory; but three years afterwards he fixed himself in London.
Evelyn, who wrote in favour of public employment being preferable to
solitude, passed his days in the tranquillity of his studies, and wrote
against the habits which he himself most loved. By this it may appear,
that that of which we have the least experience ourselves, will ever be
what appears most delightful! Alas! everything in life seems to have in
it the nature of a bubble of air, and, when touched, we find nothing but
emptiness in our hand. It is certain that the most eloquent writers in
favour of solitude have left behind them too many memorials of their
unhappy feelings, when they indulged this passion to excess; and some
ancient has justly said, that none but a god, or a savage, can suffer
this exile from human nature.

The following extracts from Sir George Mackenzie's tract on Solitude are
eloquent and impressive, and merit to be rescued from that oblivion
which surrounds many writers, whose genius has not been effaced, but
concealed, by the transient crowd of their posterity:--

     I have admired to see persons of virtue and humour long much to
     be in the city, where, when they come they found nor sought for
     no other divertissement than to visit one another; and there to
     do nothing else than to make legs, view others habit, talk of
     the weather, or some such pitiful subject, and it may be, if
     they made a farther inroad upon any other affair, they did so
     pick one another, that it afforded them matter of eternal
     quarrel; for what was at first but an indifferent subject, is
     by interest adopted into the number of our quarrels.--What
     pleasure can be received by talking of new fashions, buying and
     selling of lands, advancement or ruin of favourites, victories
     or defeats of strange princes, which is the ordinary subject of
     ordinary conversation?--Most desire to frequent their
     superiors, and these men must either suffer their raillery, or
     must not be suffered to continue in their society; if we
     converse with them who speak with more address than ourselves,
     then we repine equally at our own dulness, and envy the
     acuteness that accomplishes the speaker; or, if we converse
     with duller animals than ourselves, then we are weary to draw
     the yoke alone, and fret at our being in ill company; but if
     chance blows us in amongst our equals, then we are so at guard
     to catch all advantages, and so interested in point d'honneur,
     that it rather cruciates than recreates us. How many make
     themselves cheap by these occasions, whom we had valued highly
     if they had frequented us less! And how many frequent persons
     who laugh at that simplicity which the addresser admires in
     himself as wit, and yet both recreate themselves with double

     In solitude, he addresses his friend:--"My dear Celador, enter
     into your own breast, and there survey the several operations
     of your own soul, the progress of your passions, the
     strugglings of your appetite, the wanderings of your fancy, and
     ye will find, I assure you, more variety in that one piece than
     there is to be learned in all the courts of Christendom.
     Represent to yourself the last age, all the actions and
     interests in it, how much this person was infatuated with zeal,
     that person with lust; how much one pursued honour, and another
     riches; and in the next thought draw that scene, and represent
     them all turned to dust and ashes!"

I cannot close this subject without the addition of some anecdotes,
which may be useful. A man of letters finds solitude necessary, and for
him solitude has its pleasures and its conveniences; but we shall find
that it also has a hundred things to be dreaded.

Solitude is indispensable for literary pursuits. No considerable work
has yet been composed, but its author, like an ancient magician, retired
first to the grove or the closet, to invocate his spirits. Every
production of genius must be the production of enthusiasm. When the
youth sighs and languishes, and feels himself among crowds in an irksome
solitude,--that is the moment to fly into seclusion and meditation.
Where can he indulge but in solitude the fine romances of his soul?
where but in solitude can he occupy himself in useful dreams by night,
and, when the morning rises, fly without interruption to his unfinished
labours? Retirement to the frivolous is a vast desert, to the man of
genius it is the enchanted garden of Armida.

Cicero was uneasy amidst applauding Rome, and he has designated his
numerous works by the titles of his various villas, where they were
composed. Voltaire had talents, and a taste for society, yet he not only
withdrew by intervals, but at one period of his life passed five years
in the most secret seclusion and fervent studies. Montesquieu quitted
the brilliant circles of Paris for his books, his meditations, and for
his immortal work, and was ridiculed by the gay triflers he
relinquished. Harrington, to compose his Oceana, severed himself from
the society of his friends, and was so wrapped in abstraction, that he
was pitied as a lunatic. Descartes, inflamed by genius, abruptly breaks
off all his friendly connexions, hires an obscure house in an
unfrequented corner at Paris, and applies himself to study during two
years unknown to his acquaintance. Adam Smith, after the publication of
his first work, throws himself into a retirement that lasted ten years;
even Hume rallied him for separating himself from the world; but the
great political inquirer satisfied the world, and his friends, by his
great work on the Wealth of Nations.

But this solitude, at first a necessity, and then a pleasure, at length
is not borne without repining. I will call for a witness a great genius,
and he shall speak himself. Gibbon says, "I feel, and shall continue to
feel, that domestic solitude, however it may be alleviated by the world,
by study, and even by friendship, is a comfortless state, which will
grow more painful as I descend in the vale of years." And afterwards he
writes to a friend, "Your visit has only served to remind me that man,
however amused and occupied in his closet, was not made to live alone."

I must therefore now sketch a different picture of literary solitude
than some sanguine and youthful minds conceive.

Even the sublimest of men, Milton, who is not apt to vent complaints,
appears to have felt this irksome period of life. In the preface to
Smectymnuus, he says, "It is but justice, not to defraud of due esteem
the _wearisome labours_ and _studious watchings,_ wherein I have spent
and _tired_ out almost a whole youth."

Solitude in a later period of life, or rather the neglect which awaits
the solitary man, is felt with acuter sensibility. Cowley, that
enthusiast for rural seclusion, in his retirement calls himself "The
melancholy Cowley." Mason has truly transferred the same epithet to
Gray. Bead in his letters the history of solitude. We lament the loss of
Cowley's correspondence, through the mistaken notion of Sprat; he
assuredly had painted the sorrows of his heart. But Shenstone has filled
his pages with the cries of an amiable being whose soul bleeds in the
dead oblivion of solitude. Listen to his melancholy expressions:--"Now I
am come from a visit, every little uneasiness is sufficient to
introduce my whole train of melancholy considerations, and to make me
utterly dissatisfied with the life I now lead, and the life I foresee I
shall lead. I am angry, and envious, and dejected, and frantic, and
disregard all present things, as becomes a madman to do. I am infinitely
pleased (though it is a gloomy joy) with the application of Dr. Swift's
complaint, that he is forced to die in a rage, like a poisoned rat in a
hole." Let the lover of solitude muse on its picture throughout the
year, in the following stanza by the same poet:--

    Tedious again to curse the drizzling day,
      Again to trace the wintry tracks of snow!
    Or, soothed by vernal airs, again survey
      The self-same hawthorns bud, and cowslips blow!

Swift's letters paint in terrifying colours a picture of solitude, and
at length his despair closed with idiotism. The amiable Gresset could
not sport with the brilliant wings of his butterfly muse, without
dropping some querulous expression on the solitude of genius. In his
"Epistle to his Muse," he exquisitely paints the situation of men of

    ----Je les vois, victimes du génie,
    Au foible prix d'un éclat passager,
    Vivre isolés, sans jouir de la vie!

And afterwards he adds,

    Vingt ans d'ennuis, pour quelques jours de gloire!

I conclude with one more anecdote on solitude, which may amuse. When
Menage, attacked by some, and abandoned by others, was seized by a fit
of the spleen, he retreated into the country, and gave up his famous
Mercuriales; those Wednesdays when the literati assembled at his house,
to praise up or cry down one another, as is usual with the literary
populace. Menage expected to find that tranquillity in the country which
he had frequently described in his verses; but as he was only a poetical
plagiarist, it is not strange that our pastoral writer was greatly
disappointed. Some country rogues having killed his pigeons, they gave
him more vexation than his critics. He hastened his return to Paris. "It
is better," he observed, "since we are born to suffer, to feel only
reasonable sorrows."


The memorable friendship of Beaumont and Fletcher so closely united
their labours, that we cannot discover the productions of either; and
biographers cannot, without difficulty, compose the memoirs of the one,
without running into the life of the other. They pourtrayed the same
characters, while they mingled sentiment with sentiment; and their days
were as closely interwoven as their verses. Metastasio and Farinelli
were born about the same time, and early acquainted. They called one
another _Gemello_, or The Twin, both the delight of Europe, both lived
to an advanced age, and died nearly at the same time. Their fortune
bore, too, a resemblance; for they were both pensioned, but lived and
died separated in the distant courts of Vienna and Madrid. Montaigne and
Charron were rivals, but always friends; such was Montaigne's affection
for Charron, that he permitted him by his will to bear the full arms of
his family; and Charron evinced his gratitude to the manes of his
departed friend, by leaving his fortune to the sister of Montaigne, who
had married. Forty years of friendship, uninterrupted by rivalry or
envy, crowned the lives of Poggius and Leonard Aretin, two of the
illustrious revivers of letters. A singular custom formerly prevailed
among our own writers, which was an affectionate tribute to our literary
veterans by young writers. The former adopted the latter by the title of
sons. Ben Jonson had twelve of these poetical sons. Walton the angler
adopted Cotton, the translator of Montaigne.

Among the most fascinating effusions of genius are those little pieces
which it consecrates to the cause of friendship. In that poem of Cowley,
composed on the death of his friend Harvey, the following stanza
presents a pleasing picture of the employments of two young students:--

    Say, for you saw us, ye immortal lights,
    How oft unwearied have we spent the nights!
    Till the Ledæan stars, so famed for love,
    Wondered at us from above.
    We spent them not in toys, in lust, or wine,
       But search of deep philosophy,
       Wit, eloquence, and poetry,
    Arts which I loved, for they, my friend, were thine.

Milton has not only given the exquisite Lycidas to the memory of a
young friend, but in his _Epitaphium Damonis_, to that of Deodatus, has
poured forth some interesting sentiments. It has been versified by
Langhorne. Now, says the poet,

    To whom shall I my hopes and fears impart,
    Or trust the cares and follies of my heart?

The elegy of Tickell, maliciously called by Steele "prose in rhyme," is
alike inspired by affection and fancy; it has a melodious languor, and a
melancholy grace. The sonnet of Gray to the memory of West is a
beautiful effusion, and a model for English sonnets. Helvetius was the
protector of men of genius, whom he assisted not only with his
criticism, but his fortune. At his death, Saurin read in the French
Academy an epistle to the manes of his friend. Saurin, wrestling with
obscurity and poverty, had been drawn into literary existence by the
supporting hand of Helvetius. Our poet thus addresses him in the warm
tones of gratitude:

    C'est toi qui me cherchant au sein de l'infortune,
      Relevas mon sort abattu,
    Et sus me rendre chère une vie importune.

        * * * *

    Qu'importent ces pleurs--
    O douleur impuissante! ô regrets superflus!
    Je vis, helas! Je vis, et mon ami n'est plus!


    In misery's haunts, thy friend thy bounties seize,
    And give an urgent life some days of ease;
    Ah! ye vain griefs, superfluous tears I chide!
    I live, alas! I live--and thou hast died!

The literary friendship of a father with his son is one of the rarest
alliances in the republic of letters. It was gratifying to the feelings
of young Gibbon, in the fervour of literary ambition, to dedicate his
first-fruits to his father. The too lively son of Crebillon, though his
was a very different genius to the grandeur of his father's, yet
dedicated his works to him, and for a moment put aside his wit and
raillery for the pathetic expressions of filial veneration. We have had
a remarkable instance in the two Richardsons; and the father, in his
original manner, has in the most glowing language expressed his
affectionate sentiments. He says, "My time of learning was employed in
business; but after all, I have the Greek and Latin tongues, because a
part of me possesses them, to whom I can recur at pleasure, just as I
have a hand when I would write or paint, feet to walk, and eyes to see.
My son is my learning, as I am that to him which he has not.--We make
one man, and such a compound man may probably produce what no single man
can." And further, "I always think it my peculiar happiness to be as it
were enlarged, expanded, made another man, by the acquisition of my son;
and he thinks in the same manner concerning my union with him." This is
as curious as it is uncommon; however the cynic may call it egotism!

Some for their friend have died penetrated with inconsolable grief; some
have sacrificed their character to preserve his own; some have shared
their limited fortune; and some have remained attached to their friend
in the cold season of adversity.

Jurieu denounced Bayle as an impious writer, and drew his conclusions
from the "Avis aux Réfugiés." This work is written against the
Calvinists, and therefore becomes impious in Holland. Bayle might have
exculpated himself with facility, by declaring the work was composed by
La Roque; but he preferred to be persecuted rather than to ruin his
friend; he therefore was silent, and was condemned. When the minister
Fouquet was abandoned by all, it was the men of letters he had
patronised who never forsook his prison; and many have dedicated their
works to great men in their adversity, whom they scorned to notice at
the time when they were noticed by all. The learned Goguet bequeathed
his MSS. and library to his friend Fugere, with whom he had united his
affections and his studies. His work on the "Origin of the Arts and
Sciences" had been much indebted to his aid. Fugere, who knew his friend
to be past recovery, preserved a mute despair, during the slow and
painful disease; and on the death of Goguet, the victim of sensibility
perished amidst the manuscripts which his friend had in vain bequeathed
to prepare for publication. The Abbé de Saint Pierre gave an interesting
proof of literary friendship. When he was at college he formed a union
with Varignon, the geometrician. They were of congenial dispositions.
When he went to Paris he invited Varignon to accompany him; but Varignon
had nothing, and the Abbé was far from rich. A certain income was
necessary for the tranquil pursuits of geometry. Our Abbé had an income
of 1800 livres; from this he deducted 300, which he gave to the
geometrician, accompanied by a delicacy which few but a man of genius
could conceive. "I do not give it to you," he said, "as a salary, but an
annuity, that you may be independent, and quit me when you dislike me."
Something nearly similar embellishes our own literary history. When
Akenside was in great danger of experiencing famine as well as fame, Mr.
Dyson allowed him three hundred pounds a year. Of this gentleman,
perhaps, nothing is known; yet whatever his life may be, it merits the
tribute of the biographer. To close with these honourable testimonies of
literary friendship, we must not omit that of Churchill and Lloyd. It is
known that when Lloyd heard of the death of our poet, he acted the part
which Fugere did to Goguet. The page is crowded, but my facts are by no
means exhausted.

The most illustrious of the ancients prefixed the name of some friend to
the head of their works.--We too often place that of some patron. They
honourably inserted it in their works. When a man of genius, however,
shows that he is not less mindful of his social affection than his fame,
he is the more loved by his reader. Plato communicated a ray of his
glory to his brothers; for in his Republic he ascribes some parts to
Adimanthus and Glauchon; and Antiphon the youngest is made to deliver
his sentiments in the Parmenides, To perpetuate the fondness of
friendship, several authors have entitled their works by the name of
some cherished associate. Cicero to his Treatise on Orators gave the
title of Brutus; to that of Friendship, Lelius; and to that of Old Age,
Cato. They have been imitated by the moderns. The poetical Tasso to his
dialogue on Friendship gave the name of Manso, who was afterwards his
affectionate biographer. Sepulvueda entitles his Treatise on Glory by
the name of his friend Gonsalves. Lociel to his Dialogues on the Lawyers
of Paris prefixes the name of the learned Pasquier. Thus Plato
distinguishes his Dialogues by the names of certain persons; the one on
Lying is entitled Hippius; on Rhetoric, Gorgias; and on Beauty, Phædrus.

Luther has perhaps carried this feeling to an extravagant point. He was
so delighted by his favourite "Commentary on the Epistle to the
Galatians," that he distinguished it by a title of doting fondness; he
named it after his wife, and called it "His Catherine."


Some have exercised this power of abstraction to a degree that appears
marvellous to volatile spirits, and puny thinkers.

To this patient habit, Newton is indebted for many of his great
discoveries; an apple falls upon him in his orchard,--and the system of
attraction succeeds in his mind! he observes boys blowing soap bubbles,
and the properties of light display themselves! Of Socrates, it is said,
that he would frequently remain an entire day and night in the same
attitude, absorbed in meditation; and why should we doubt this, when we
know that La Fontaine and Thomson, Descartes and Newton, experienced the
same abstraction? Mercator, the celebrated geographer, found such
delight in the ceaseless progression of his studies, that he would never
willingly quit his maps to take the necessary refreshments of life. In
Cicero's Treatise on Old Age, Cato applauds Gallus, who, when he sat
down to write in the morning, was surprised by the evening; and when he
took up his pen in the evening was surprised by the appearance of the
morning. Buffon once described these delicious moments with his
accustomed eloquence:--"Invention depends on patience; contemplate your
subject long; it will gradually unfold, till a sort of electric spark
convulses for a moment the brain, and spreads down to the very heart a
glow of irritation. Then come the luxuries of genius! the true hours for
production and composition; hours so delightful, that I have spent
twelve and fourteen successively at my writing-desk, and still been in a
state of pleasure." The anecdote related of Marini, the Italian poet,
may be true. Once absorbed in revising his Adonis, he suffered his leg
to be burnt for some time, without any sensation.

Abstraction of this sublime kind is the first step to that noble
enthusiasm which accompanies Genius; it produces those raptures and that
intense delight, which some curious facts will explain to us.

Poggius relates of Dante, that he indulged his meditations more strongly
than any man he knew! whenever he read, he was only alive to what was
passing in his mind; to all human concerns, he was as if they had not
been! Dante went one day to a great public procession; he entered the
shop of a bookseller to be a spectator of the passing show. He found a
book which greatly interested him; he devoured it in silence, and
plunged into an abyss of thought. On his return he declared that he had
neither seen, nor heard, the slightest occurrence of the public
exhibition which had passed before him. This enthusiasm renders
everything surrounding us as distant as if an immense interval separated
us from the scene. A modern astronomer, one summer night, withdrew to
his chamber; the brightness of the heaven showed a phenomenon. He passed
the whole night in observing it, and when they came to him early in the
morning, and found him in the same attitude, he said, like one who had
been recollecting his thoughts for a few moments, "It must be thus; but
I'll go to bed before 'tis late!" He had gazed the entire night in
meditation, and did not know it.

This intense abstraction operates visibly; this perturbation of the
faculties, as might be supposed, affects persons of genius physically.
What a forcible description the late Madame Roland, who certainly was a
woman of the first genius, gives of herself on her first reading of
Telemachus and Tasso. "My respiration rose; I felt a rapid fire
colouring my face, and my voice changing, had betrayed my agitation; I
was Eucharis for Telemachus, and Erminia for Tancred; however, during
this perfect transformation, I did not yet think that I myself was any
thing, for any one. The whole had no connexion with myself, I sought for
nothing around me; I was them, I saw only the objects which existed for
them; it was a dream, without being awakened."--Metastasio describes a
similar situation. "When I apply with a little attention, the nerves of
my sensorium are put into a violent tumult. I grow as red in the face as
a drunkard, and am obliged to quit my work." When Malebranche first took
up Descartes on Man, the germ and origin of his philosophy, he was
obliged frequently to interrupt his reading by a violent palpitation of
the heart. When the first idea of the Essay on the Arts and Sciences
rushed on the mind of Rousseau, it occasioned such a feverish agitation
that it approached to a delirium.

This delicious inebriation of the imagination occasioned the ancients,
who sometimes perceived the effects, to believe it was not short of
divine inspiration. Fielding says, "I do not doubt but that the most
pathetic and affecting scenes have been writ with tears." He perhaps
would have been pleased to have confirmed his observation by the
following circumstances. The tremors of Dryden, after having written an
Ode, a circumstance tradition has accidentally handed down, were not
unusual with him; in the preface to his Tales he tells us, that in
translating Homer he found greater pleasure than in Virgil; but it was
not a pleasure without pain; the _continual agitation of the spirits_
must needs be a weakener to any constitution, especially in age, and
many pauses are required for refreshment betwixt the heats. In writing
the ninth scene of the second act of the Olimpiade, Metastasio found
himself in tears; an effect which afterwards, says Dr. Burney, proved
very contagious. It was on this occasion that that tender poet
commemorated the circumstance in the following interesting sonnet:--

                         SONNET FROM METASTASIO.
     "_Scrivendo l'Autore in Vienna l'anno 1733 la sua Olimpiade si
     senti commosa fino alle lagrime nell' esprimere la divisione di
     due teneri amici: e meravigliandosi che un falso, e da lui
     inventato disastro, potesse cagionargli una si vera passione,
     si fece a riflettere quanto poco ragionevole e solido
     fondamento possano aver le altre che soglion frequentamente
     agitarci, nel corso di nostra vita_.

    Sogni e favole io fingo, e pure in carte
    Mentre favole, e sogni, orno e disegno,
    In lor, (folle ch' io son!) prendo tal parte
    Che del mal che inventai piango, e mi sdegno.
    Ma forse allor che non m' inganna l'arte,
    Più saggio io sono e l'agitato ingegno
    Forse allo più tranquillo? O forse parte
    Da più salda cagion l'amor, lo sdegno?
    Ah che non sol quelle, ch'io canto, o scrivo
    Favole son; ma quanto temo, o spero,
    Tutt' è manzogna, e delirando io vivo!
    Sogno della mia vita è il corso intero.
    Deh tu, Signor, quando a destarmi arrivo
    Fa, ch'io trovi riposo in sen del VERO.

     _In 1733, the Author, composing his Olimpiade, felt himself
     suddenly moved, even to tears, in expressing the separation of
     two tender lovers. Surprised that a fictitious grief, invented
     too by himself, could raise so true a passion, he reflected how
     little reasonable and solid a foundation the others had, which,
     so frequently agitated us in this state of our existence._


    Fables and dreams I feign; yet though but verse
      The dreams and fables that adorn this scroll,
    Fond fool! I rave, and grieve as I rehearse;
    Perhaps the dear delusion of my heart
      Is wisdom; and the agitated mind,
    As still responding to each plaintive part,
    With love and rage, a tranquil hour can find.
    Ah! not alone the tender RHYMES I give
      Are fictions: but my FEARS and HOPES I deem
    Are FABLES all; deliriously I live,
      And life's whole course is one protracted dream.
    Eternal Power! when shall I wake to rest
      This wearied brain on TRUTH'S immortal breast?


The censure which the Shakspeare of novelists has incurred for the
tedious procrastination and the minute details of his fable; his slow
unfolding characters, and the slightest gestures of his personages, is
extremely unjust; for is it not evident that we could not have his
peculiar excellences without these accompanying defects? When characters
are fully delineated, the narrative must be suspended. Whenever the
narrative is rapid, which so much delights superficial readers, the
characters cannot be very minutely featured; and the writer who aims to
instruct (as Richardson avowedly did) by the glow and eloquence of his
feelings, must often sacrifice to this his local descriptions.
Richardson himself has given us the principle that guided him in
composing. He tells us, "If I give speeches and conversations, I ought
to give them justly; for the _humours_ and _characters_ of persons
cannot be known unless I _repeat_ what they say, and their _manner_ of

Foreign critics have been more just to Richardson than many of his own
countrymen. I shall notice the opinions of three celebrated writers,
D'Alembert, Rousseau, and Diderot.

D'Alembert was a great mathematician. His literary taste was extremely
cold: he was not worthy of reading Richardson. The volumes, if he ever
read them, must have fallen from his hands. The delicate and subtle
turnings, those folds of the human heart, which require so nice a touch,
was a problem which the mathematician could never solve. There is no
other demonstration in the human heart, but an appeal to its feelings:
and what are the calculating feelings of an arithmetician of lines and
curves? He therefore declared of Richardson that "La Nature est bonne \xC3
imiter, mais non pas jusqu'à l'ennui."

But thus it was not with the other two congenial geniuses! The fervent
opinion of Rousseau must be familiar to the reader; but Diderot, in his
éloge on Richardson, exceeds even Rousseau in the enthusiasm of his
feelings. I extract some of the most interesting passages. Of Clarissa
he says, "I yet remember with delight the first time it came into my
hands. I was in the country. How deliciously was I affected! At every
moment I saw my happiness abridged by a page. I then experienced the
same sensations those feel who have long lived with one they love, and
are on the point of separation. At the close of the work I seemed to
remain deserted."

The impassioned Diderot then breaks forth:--"Oh, Richardson! thou
singular genius in my eyes! thou shalt form my reading in all times. If
forced by sharp necessity, my friend falls into indigence; if the
mediocrity of my fortune is not sufficient to bestow on my children the
necessary cares for their education, I will sell my books,--but thou
shalt remain! yes, thou shalt rest in the _same class_ with MOSES,
HOMER, EURIPIDES, and SOPHOCLES, to be read alternately.

"Oh Richardson, I dare pronounce that the most veritable history is full
of fictions, and thy romances are full of truths. History paints some
individuals; thou paintest the human species. History attributes to some
individuals what they have neither said nor done; all that thou
attributest to man he has said and done. History embraces but a portion
of duration, a point on the surface of the globe; thou hast embraced all
places and all times. The human heart, which has ever been and ever
shall be the same, is the model which thou copiest. If we were severely
to criticise the best historian, would he maintain his ground as thou?
In this point of view, I venture to say, that frequently history is a
miserable romance; and romance, as thou hast composed it, is a good
history. Painter of nature, thou never liest!

"I have never yet met with a person who shared my enthusiasm, that I was
not tempted to embrace, and to press him in my arms!

"Richardson is no more! His loss touches me, as if my brother was no
more. I bore him in my heart without having seen him, and knowing him
but by his works. He has not had all the reputation he merited.
Richardson! if living thy merit has been disputed; how great wilt thou
appear to our children's children, when we shall view thee at the
distance we now view Homer! Then who will dare to steal a line from thy
sublime works! Thou hast had more admirers amongst us than in thine own
country, and at this I rejoice!"

It is probable that to a Frenchman the _style_ of Richardson is not so
objectionable when translated, as to ourselves. I think myself that it
is very idiomatic and energetic; others have thought differently. The
misfortune of Richardson was, that he was unskilful in the art of
writing, and that he could never lay the pen down while his inkhorn
supplied it.

He was delighted by his own works. No author enjoyed so much the bliss
of excessive fondness. I heard from the late Charlotte Lenox the
anecdote which so severely reprimanded his innocent vanity, which
Boswell has recorded. This lady was a regular visitor at Richardson's
house, and she could scarcely recollect one visit which was not taxed by
our author reading one of his voluminous letters, or two or three, if
his auditor was quiet and friendly.

The extreme delight which he felt on a review of his own works the works
themselves witness. Each is an evidence of what some will deem a violent
literary vanity. To _Pamela_ is prefixed a _letter_ from the _editor_
(whom we know to be the _author_), consisting of one of the most
minutely laboured panegyrics of the work itself, that ever the blindest
idolater of some ancient classic paid to the object of his frenetic
imagination. In several places there, he contrives to repeat the
striking parts of the narrative which display the fertility of his
imagination to great advantage. To the author's own edition of his
_Clarissa_ is appended an _alphabetical arrangement_ of the sentiments
dispersed throughout the work; and such was the fondness that dictated
this voluminous arrangement, that such trivial aphorisms as, "habits are
not easily changed," "men are known by their companions," &c., seem
alike to be the object of their author's admiration. This collection of
sentiments, said indeed to have been sent to him anonymously, is curious
and useful, and shows the value of the work, by the extensive grasp of
that mind which could think so justly on such numerous topics. And in
his third and final labour, to each volume of _Sir Charles Grandison_ is
not only prefixed a complete _index_, with as much exactness as if it
were a History of England, but there is also appended a _list_ of the
_similes_ and allusions in the volume; some of which do not exceed
_three_ or _four_ in nearly as many hundred pages.

Literary history does not record a more singular example of that
self-delight which an author has felt on a revision of his works. It was
this intense pleasure which produced his voluminous labours. It must be
confessed there are readers deficient in that sort of genius which makes
the mind of Richardson so fertile and prodigal.


    What's in a NAME? That which we call a rose,
    By any other name would smell as sweet.

Names, by an involuntary suggestion, produce an extraordinary illusion.
Favour or disappointment has been often conceded as the _name_ of the
claimant has affected us; and the accidental affinity or coincidence of
a _name_, connected with ridicule or hatred, with pleasure or disgust,
has operated like magic. But the facts connected with this subject will
show how this prejudice has branched out.[20]

Sterne has touched on this unreasonable propensity of judging by
_names_, in his humorous account of the elder Mr. Shandy's system of
Christian names. And Wilkes has expressed, in Boswell's Life of Johnson,
all the influence of baptismal _names_, even in matters of poetry! He
said, "The last city poet was _Elkanah_ Settle. There is _something_ in
_names_ which one cannot help feeling. Now _Elkanah_ Settle sounds so
queer, who can expect much from _that name_? We should have no
hesitation to give it for _John Dryden_ in preference to _Elkanah
Settle_, from the _names only_, without knowing their different merits."

A lively critic noticing some American poets, says "There is or was a
Mr. Dwight who wrote a poem in the shape of an epic; and his baptismal
name was _Timothy_;" and involuntarily we infer the sort of epic that a
_Timothy_ must write. Sterne humorously exhorts all godfathers not "to
Nicodemus a man into nothing."

There is more truth in this observation than some may be inclined to
allow; and that it affects mankind strongly, all ages and all climates
may be called on to testify. Even in the barbarous age of Louis XI.,
they felt a delicacy respecting _names_, which produced an ordinance
from his majesty. The king's barber was named _Olivier le Diable_. At
first the king allowed him to got rid of the offensive part by changing
it to _Le Malin_; but the improvement was not happy, and for a third
time he was called _Le Mauvais_. Even this did not answer his purpose;
and as he was a great racer, he finally had his majesty's ordinance to
be called _Le Dain_, under penalty of law if any one should call him _Le
Diable_, _Le Malin_, or _Le Mauvais_. According to Platina, Sergius the
Second was the first pope who changed his name in ascending the papal
throne; because his proper name was _Hog's-mouth_, very unsuitable with
the pomp of the tiara. The ancients felt the same fastidiousness; and
among the Romans, those who were called to the equestrian order, having
low and vulgar _names_, were new named on the occasion, lest the former
one should disgrace the dignity.[21]

When _Burlier_, a French wit, was chosen for the preceptor of Colbert's
son, he felt his _name_ was so uncongenial to his new profession, that
he assumed the more splendid one of _D'Aucour_, by which he is now
known. Madame _Gomez_ had married a person named _Bonhomme_; but she
would never exchange her nobler Spanish name to prefix her married one
to her romances, which indicated too much of meek humility. _Guez_ (a
beggar) is a French writer of great pomp of style; but he felt such
extreme delicacy at so low a name, that to give some authority to the
splendour of his diction, he assumed the name of his estate, and is well
known as _Balzac_. A French poet of the name of Theophile _Viaut_,
finding that his surname pronounced like _veau_ (calf), exposed him to
the infinite jests of the minor wits, silently dropped it, by retaining
the more poetical appellation of _Theophile_. Various literary artifices
have been employed by some who, still preserving a natural attachment to
the names of their fathers, yet blushing at the same time for their
meanness, have in their Latin works attempted to obviate the ridicule
which they provoked. One _Gaucher_ (left-handed) borrowed the name of
_Scevola_, because Scevola, having burnt his right arm, became
consequently left-handed. Thus also one _De la Borgne_ (one-eyed) called
himself _Strabo_; _De Charpentier_ took that of _Fabricius_; _De Valet_
translated his _Servilius_; and an unlucky gentleman, who bore the name
of _Du bout d'Homme,_ boldly assumed that of _Virulus_. Dorat, a French
poet, had for his real name _Disnemandi_, which, in the dialect of the
Limousins, signifies one who dines in the morning; that is, who has no
other dinner than his breakfast. This degrading name he changed to
_Dorat_, or gilded, a nickname which one of his ancestors had borne for
his fair tresses. But by changing his _name_, his feelings were not
entirely quieted, for unfortunately his daughter cherished an invincible
passion for a learned man, who unluckily was named _Goulu_; that is, a
shark, as gluttonous as a shark. Miss _Disnemandi_ felt naturally a
strong attraction for a _goulu_; and in spite of her father's
remonstrances, she once more renewed his sorrows in this alliance!

There are unfortunate names, which are very injurious to the cause in
which they are engaged; for instance, the Long Parliament in Cromwell's
time, called by derision the _Rump_, was headed by one _Barebones_, a
leather-seller. It was afterwards called by his unlucky name, which
served to heighten the ridicule cast over it by the nation.

Formerly a custom prevailed with learned men to change their names. They
showed at once their contempt for vulgar denominations and their
ingenious erudition. They christened themselves with Latin and Greek.
This disguising of names came, at length, to be considered to have a
political tendency, and so much alarmed Pope Paul the Second, that he
imprisoned several persons for their using certain affected names, and
some, indeed, which they could not give a reason why they assumed.
_Desiderius Erasmus_ was a name formed out of his family name _Gerard_,
which in Dutch signifies amiable; or GAR _all_, AERD _nature_. He first
changed it to a Latin word of much the same signification, _desiderius_,
which afterwards he refined into the Greek _Erasmus_, by which name he
is now known. The celebrated _Reuchlin_, which in German signifies
_smoke_, considered it more dignified to smoke in Greek by the name of
_Capnio_. An Italian physician of the name of _Senza Malizia_, prided
himself as much on his translating it into the Greek _Akakia_, as on the
works which he published under that name. One of the most amiable of the
reformers was originally named _Hertz Schwartz_ (black earth), which he
elegantly turned into the Greek name _Melancthon_. The vulgar name of a
great Italian poet was _Trapasso_; but when the learned Gravius resolved
to devote the youth to the muses, he gave him a mellifluous name, which
they have long known and cherished--_Metastasio_.

Harsh names will have, in spite of all our philosophy, a painful and
ludicrous effect on our ears and our associations: it is vexatious that
the softness of delicious vowels, or the ruggedness of inexorable
consonants, should at all be connected with a man's happiness, or even
have an influence on his fortune.

The actor _Macklin_ was softened down by taking in the first and last
syllables of the name of _Macklaughlin_, as _Malloch_ was polished to
_Mallet_; and even our sublime Milton, in a moment of humour and hatred
to the Scots, condescends to insinuate that their barbarous names are
symbolical of their natures,--and from a man of the name of _Mac
Collkittok_, he expects no mercy. Virgil, when young, formed a design of
a national poem, but was soon discouraged from proceeding, merely by the
roughness and asperity of the old Roman names, such as _Decius Mus_;
_Lucumo_; _Vibius Caudex_. The same thing has happened to a friend who
began an Epic on the subject of _Drake's_ discoveries; the name of the
hero often will produce a ludicrous effect, but one of the most unlucky
of his chief heroes must be _Thomas Doughty_! One of Blackmore's chief
heroes in his Alfred is named _Gunter_; a printer's erratum might have
been fatal to all his heroism; as it is, he makes a sorry appearance.
Metastasio found himself in the same situation. In one of his letters he
writes, "The title of my new opera is _Il Re Pastor_. The chief incident
is the restitution of the kingdom of Sidon to the lawful heir: a prince
with such a _hypochondriac name_, that he would have disgraced the
title-page of any piece; who would have been able to bear an opera
entitled _L'Abdolonimo_? I have contrived to name him as seldom as
possible." So true is it, as the caustic Boileau exclaims of an epic
poet of his days, who had shown some dexterity in cacophony, when he
chose his hero--

    O le plaisant projet d'un poète ignorant,
    Qui de tant de heros va choisir _Childebrand_!
    D'un seul nom quelquefois le son dur et bizarre
    Bend un poème entier, ou burlesque ou barbare.
                                _Art Poétique_, c. iii. v. 241.

    In such a crowd the Poet were to blame
    To choose _King Chilperic_ for his hero's name.
                                   SIR W. SOAMES.

This epic poet perceiving the town joined in the severe raillery of the
poet, published a long defence of his hero's name; but the town was
inexorable, and the epic poet afterwards changed _Childebrand's_ name
to _Charles Martel_, which probably was discovered to have something
more humane. Corneille's _Pertharite_ was an unsuccessful tragedy, and
Voltaire deduces its ill fortune partly from its barbarous _names_, such
as _Garibald_ and _Edvidge_. Voltaire, in giving the _names_ of the
founders of Helvetic freedom, says, the difficulty of pronouncing these
respectable names is injurious to their celebrity; they are _Melchthal_,
_Stawffarcher_, and _Valtherfurst_.

We almost hesitate to credit what we know to be true, that the _length_
or the _shortness_ of a _name_ can seriously influence the mind. But
history records many facts of this nature. Some nations have long
cherished a feeling that there is a certain elevation or abasement in
proper names. Montaigne on this subject says, "A gentleman, one of my
neighbours, in over-valuing the excellences of old times, never omitted
noticing the pride and magnificence of the _names_ of the nobility of
those days! Don _Grumedan_, _Quadragan_, _Argesilan_, when fully
sounded, were evidently men of another stamp than _Peter_, _Giles_, and
_Michel_." What could be hoped for from the names of Ebenezer, Malachi,
and Methusalem? The Spaniards have long been known for cherishing a
passion for dignified names, and are marvellously affected by long and
voluminous ones; to enlarge them they often add the places of their
residence. We ourselves seem affected by triple names; and the authors
of certain periodical publications always assume for their _nom de
guerre_ a triple name, which doubtless raises them much higher in their
reader's esteem than a mere Christian and surname. Many Spaniards have
given themselves _names_ from some remarkable incident in their lives.
One took the name of the Royal Transport, for having conducted the
Infanta in Italy. Orendayes added de la Paz, for having signed the peace
in 1725. Navarro, after a naval battle off Toulon, added la Vittoria,
though he had remained in safety at Cadiz while the French admiral Le
Court had fought the battle, which was entirely in favour of the
English. A favourite of the King of Spain, a great genius, and the
friend of Farinelli, who had sprung from a very obscure origin, to
express his contempt of these empty and haughty _names_ assumed, when
called to the administration, that of the Marquis of _La Ensenada_
(nothing in himself).

But the influence of _long names_ is of very ancient standing. Lucian
notices one _Simon_, who coming to a great fortune aggrandised his name
to _Simonides_. _Dioclesian_ had once been plain _Diocles_ before he was
emperor. When _Bruna_ became queen of France, it was thought proper to
convey some of the regal pomp in her name by calling her _Brunehault_.

The Spaniards then must feel a most singular contempt for a _very short
name_, and on this subject Fuller has recorded a pleasant fact. An
opulent citizen of the name of _John Cuts_ (what name can be more
unluckily short?) was ordered by Elizabeth to receive the Spanish
ambassador; but the latter complained grievously, and thought he was
disparaged by the _shortness_ of his _name_. He imagined that a man
bearing a monosyllabic name could never, in the great alphabet of civil
life, have performed anything great or honourable; but when he found
that honest _John Cuts_ displayed a hospitality which had nothing
monosyllabic in it, he groaned only at the utterance of the _name_ of
his host.

There are _names_, indeed, which in the social circle will in spite of
all due gravity awaken a harmless smile, and Shenstone solemnly thanked
God that his name was not liable to a pun. There are some names which
excite horror, such as Mr. Stabback; others contempt, as Mr. Twopenny;
and others of vulgar or absurd signification, subject too often to the
insolence of domestic witlings, which occasions irritation even in the
minds of worthy, but suffering, men.

There is an association of pleasing ideas with certain _names_,--and in
the literary world they produce a fine effect. _Bloomfield_ is a name
apt and fortunate for a rustic bard; as _Florian_ seems to describe his
sweet and flowery style. Dr. Parr derived his first acquaintance with
the late Mr. _Homer_ from the aptness of his name, associating with his
pursuits. Our writers of romances and novels are initiated into all the
arcana of _names_, which cost them many painful inventions. It is
recorded of one of the old Spanish writers of romance, that he was for
many days at a loss to coin a fit name for one of his giants; he wished
to hammer out one equal in magnitude to the person he conceived in
imagination; and in the haughty and lofty name of _Traquitantos_, he
thought he had succeeded. Richardson, the great father of our novelists,
appears to have considered the _name_ of Sir _Charles Grandison_ as
_perfect_ as his character, for his heroine writes, "You know his _noble
name_, my Lucy." He felt the same for his _Clementina_, for Miss Byron
writes, "Ah, Lucy, what a _pretty name_ is _Clementina_!" We experience
a certain tenderness for _names_, and persons of refined imaginations
are fond to give affectionate or lively epithets to things and persons
they love. Petrarch would call one friend _Lellus_, and another
_Socrates_, as descriptive of their character.

In our own country, formerly, the ladies appear to have been equally
sensible to poetical or elegant _names_, such as _Alicia, Celicia,
Diana, Helena_, &c. Spenser, the poet, gave to his two sons two _names_
of this kind; he called one _Silvanus_, from the woody Kilcolman, his
estate; and the other _Peregrine_, from his having been born in a
strange place, and his mother then travelling. The fair Eloisa gave the
whimsical name of _Astrolabus_ to her boy; it bore some reference to the
stars, as her own to the sun.

Whether this name of _Astrolabus_ had any scientific influence over the
son, I know not; but I have no doubt that whimsical names may have a
great influence over our characters. The practice of romantic names
among persons, even of the lowest orders of society, has become a very
general evil: and doubtless many unfortunate beauties, of the names of
_Clarissa_ and _Eloisa_, might have escaped under the less dangerous
appellatives of _Elizabeth_ or _Deborah_. I know a person who has not
passed his life without some inconvenience from his _name_, mean talents
and violent passions not according with _Antoninus_; and a certain
writer of verses might have been no versifier, and less a lover of the
true Falernian, had it not been for his namesake _Horace_. The
Americans, by assuming _Roman_ names, produce ludicrous associations;
_Romulus_ Higgs, and _Junius Brutus_ Booth. There was more sense, when
the Foundling Hospital was first instituted, in baptizing the most
robust boys, designed for the sea-service, by the names of Drake,
Norris, or Blake, after our famous admirals.

It is no trifling misfortune in life to bear an illustrious name; and in
an author it is peculiarly severe. A history now by a Mr. Hume, or a
poem by a Mr. Pope, would be examined with different eyes than had they
borne any other name. The relative of a great author should endeavour
not to be an author. Thomas Corneille had the unfortunate honour of
being brother to a great poet, and his own merits have been considerably
injured by the involuntary comparison. The son of Racine has written
with an amenity not unworthy of his celebrated father; amiable and
candid, he had his portrait painted, with the works of his father in
his hand, and his eye fixed on this verse from Phædra,--

    Et moi, fils inconnu d'un si glorieux père!

But even his modesty only served to whet the dart of epigram. It was
once bitterly said of the son of an eminent literary character,--

    He tries to write because his father writ,
    And shows himself a bastard by his wit.

Amongst some of the disagreeable consequences attending some _names_,
is, when they are unluckily adapted to an uncommon rhyme; how can any
man defend himself from this malicious ingenuity of wit? _Freret_, one
of those unfortunate victims to Boileau's verse, is said not to have
been deficient in the decorum of his manners, and he complained that he
was represented as a drunkard, merely because his _name rhymed_ to
_Cabaret_. Murphy, no doubt, felicitated himself in his literary quarrel
with Dr. _Franklin_, the poet and critical reviewer, by adopting the
singular rhyme of "envy rankling" to his rival's and critic's name.

Superstition has interfered even in the _choice of names_, and this
solemn folly has received the name of a science, called _Onomantia_; of
which the superstitious ancients discovered a hundred foolish mysteries.
They cast up the numeral letters of _names_, and Achilles was therefore
fated to vanquish Hector, from the numeral letters in his name amounting
to a higher number than his rival's. They made many whimsical divisions
and subdivisions of names, to prove them lucky or unlucky. But these
follies are not those that I am now treating on. Some names have been
considered as more auspicious than others. Cicero informs us that when
the Romans raised troops, they were anxious that the _name_ of the first
soldier who enlisted should be one of good augury. When the censors
numbered the citizens, they always began by a fortunate name, such as
_Salvius Valereus_. A person of the name of _Regillianus_ was chosen
emperor, merely from the royal sound of his name, and _Jovian_ was
elected because his name approached nearest to the beloved one of the
philosophic _Julian_. This fanciful superstition was even carried so far
that some were considered as auspicious, and others as unfortunate. The
superstitious belief in _auspicious names_ was so strong, that Cæsar,
in his African expedition, gave a command to an obscure and distant
relative of the Scipios, to please the popular prejudice that the
Scipios were invincible in Africa. Suetonius observes that all those of
the family of Cæsar who bore the surname of Caius perished by the sword.

The Emperor Severus consoled himself for the licentious life of his
empress Julia, from the fatality attending those of her _name_. This
strange prejudice of lucky and unlucky names prevailed in modern Europe.
The successor of Adrian VI. (as Guicciardini tells us) wished to
preserve his own name on the papal throne; but he gave up the wish when
the conclave of cardinals used the powerful argument that all the popes
who had preserved their own names had died in the first year of their
pontificates. Cardinal Marcel Cervin, who preserved his name when
elected pope, died on the twentieth day of his pontificate, and this
confirmed this superstitious opinion. La Motte le Vayer gravely asserts
that all the queens of Naples of the name of _Joan_, and the kings of
Scotland of the name of _James_, have been unfortunate: and we have
formal treatises of the fatality of Christian names. It is a vulgar
notion that every female of the name of _Agnes_ is fated to become mad.
Every nation has some names labouring with this popular prejudice.

Herrera, the Spanish historian, records an anecdote in which the choice
of a queen entirely arose from her _name_. When two French ambassadors
negotiated a marriage between one of the Spanish princesses and Louis
VIII., the names of the Royal females were _Urraca_ and _Blanche_. The
former was the elder and the more beautiful, and intended by the Spanish
court for the French monarch; but they resolutely preferred _Blanche_,
observing that the _name_ of _Urraca_ would never do! and for the sake
of a more mellifluous sound, they carried off, exulting in their own
discerning ears, the happier named, but less beautiful princess.

There are _names_ indeed which are painful to the feelings, from the
associations of our passions.[22] I have seen the Christian _name_ of a
gentleman, the victim of the caprice of his godfather, who is called
_Blast us Godly_,--which, were he designed for a bishop, must irritate
religious feelings. I am not surprised that one of the Spanish monarchs
refused to employ a sound catholic for his secretary, because his name
(_Martin Lutero_) had an affinity to the _name_ of the reformer. Mr.
Rose has recently informed us that an architect called _Malacarne_, who,
I believe, had nothing against him but his _name_, was lately deprived
of his place as principal architect by the Austrian government,--let us
hope not for his unlucky _name_; though that government, according to
Mr. Rose, acts on capricious principles! The fondness which some have
felt to perpetuate their _names_, when their race has fallen extinct, is
well known; and a fortune has then been bestowed for a change of name.
But the affection for names has gone even farther. A _similitude of
names_, Camden observes, "dothe kindle sparkes of love and liking among
meere strangers." I have observed the great pleasure of persons with
uncommon names meeting with another of the same name; an instant
relationship appears to take place; and I have known that fortunes have
been bequeathed for _namesakes_. An ornamental manufacturer, who bears a
name which he supposes to be very uncommon, having executed an order for
a gentleman of the _same name_, refused to send his bill, never having
met with the like, preferring to payment the honour of serving him for

Among the Greeks and the Romans, beautiful and significant names were
studied. The sublime Plato himself has noticed the present topic; his
visionary ear was sensible to the delicacy of a name; and his exalted
fancy was delighted with _beautiful names_, as well as every other
species of beauty. In his Cratylus he is solicitous that persons should
have happy, harmonious, and attractive _names_. According to Aulus
Gellius, the Athenians enacted by a public decree, that no slave should
ever bear the consecrated names of their two youthful patriots,
Harmodius and Aristogiton,--names which had been devoted to the
liberties of their country, they considered would be contaminated by
servitude. The ancient Romans decreed that the surnames of infamous
patricians should not be borne by any other patrician of that family,
that their very names might be degraded and expire with them. Eutropius
gives a pleasing proof of national friendships being cemented by a
_name_; by a treaty of peace between the Romans and the Sabines, they
agreed to melt the two nations into one mass, that they should bear
their _names_ conjointly; the Roman should add his to the Sabine, and
the Sabine take a Roman name.[23]

The ancients _named_ both persons and things from some event or other
circumstance connected with the object they were to name. Chance, fancy,
superstition, fondness, and piety, have invented _names_. It was a
common and whimsical custom among the ancients, (observes Larcher) to
give as _nicknames_ the _letters_ of the alphabet. Thus a lame girl was
called _Lambda_, on account of the resemblance which her lameness made
her bear to the letter λ, or _lambda_! Æsop was called _Theta_ by his
master, from his superior acuteness. Another was called _Beta_, from his
love of beet. It was thus Scarron, with infinite good temper, alluded to
his zig-zag body, by comparing himself to the letter s or z.

The learned Calmet also notices among the Hebrews _nicknames_ and names
of raillery taken from defects of body or mind, &c. One is called Nabal,
or _fool_; another Hamor, the _Ass_; Hagab, the _Grasshopper_, &c. Women
had frequently the names of animals; as Deborah, the _Bee_; Rachel, the
_Sheep_. Others from their nature or other qualifications; as Tamar, the
_Palm-tree_; Hadassa, the _Myrtle_; Sarah, the _Princess_; Hannah, the
_Gracious_. The Indians of North America employ sublime and picturesque
_names_; such are the great Eagle--the Partridge--Dawn of the
Day!--Great swift Arrow!--Path-opener!--Sun-bright!


Among the most interesting passages of history are those in which we
contemplate an oppressed, yet sublime spirit, agitated by the conflict
of two terrific passions: implacable hatred attempting a resolute
vengeance, while that vengeance, though impotent, with dignified and
silent horror, sinks into the last expression of despair. In a
degenerate nation, we may, on such rare occasions, discover among them a
spirit superior to its companions and its fortune.

In the ancient and modern history of the Jews we may find two kindred
examples. I refer the reader for the more ancient narrative to the
second book of Maccabees, chap. xiv. v. 37. No feeble and unaffecting
painting is presented in the simplicity of the original. I proceed to
relate the narrative of the Jews of York.

When Richard I. ascended the throne, the Jews, to conciliate the royal
protection, brought their tributes. Many had hastened from remote parts
of England, and appearing at Westminster, the court and the mob imagined
that they had leagued to bewitch his majesty. An edict was issued to
forbid their presence at the coronation; but several, whose curiosity
was greater than their prudence, conceived that they might pass
unobserved among the crowd, and ventured to insinuate themselves into
the abbey. Probably their voice and their visage alike betrayed them,
for they were soon discovered; they flew diversely in great
consternation, while many were dragged out with little remains of life.

A rumour spread rapidly through the city, that in honour of the festival
the Jews were to be massacred. The populace, at once eager of royalty
and riot, pillaged and burnt their houses, and murdered the devoted
Jews. Benedict, a Jew of York, to save his life, received baptism; and
returning to that city, with his friend Jocenus, the most opulent of the
Jews, died of his wounds. Jocenus and his servants narrated the late
tragic circumstances to their neighbours, but where they hoped to move
sympathy they excited rage. The people at York soon gathered to imitate
the people at London; and their first assault was on the house of the
late Benedict, which having some strength and magnitude, contained his
family and friends, who found their graves in its ruins. The alarmed
Jews hastened to Jocenus, who conducted them to the governor of York
Castle, and prevailed on him to afford them an asylum for their persons
and effects. In the mean while their habitations were levelled, and the
owners murdered, except a few unresisting beings, who, unmanly in
sustaining honour, were adapted to receive baptism.

The castle had sufficient strength for their defence; but a suspicion
arising that the governor, who often went out, intended to betray them,
they one day refused him entrance. He complained to the sheriff of the
county, and the chiefs of the violent party, who stood deeply indebted
to the Jews, uniting with him, orders were issued to attack the castle.
The cruel multitude, united with the soldiery, felt such a desire of
slaughtering those they intended to despoil, that the sheriff, repenting
of the order, revoked it, but in vain; fanaticism and robbery once set
loose will satiate their appetency for blood and plunder. They solicited
the aid of the superior citizens, who, perhaps not owing quite so much
money to the Jews, humanely refused it; but having addressed the clergy
(the barbarous clergy of those days) were by them animated, conducted,
and blest.

The leader of this rabble was a canon regular, whose zeal was so fervent
that he stood by them in his surplice, which he considered as a coat of
mail, and reiteratedly exclaimed, "Destroy the enemies of Jesus!" This
spiritual laconism invigorated the arm of men who perhaps wanted no
other stimulative than the hope of obtaining the immense property of the
besieged. It is related of this canon, that every morning before he went
to assist in battering the walls he swallowed a consecrated wafer. One
day having approached too near, defended as he conceived by his
surplice, this church militant was crushed by a heavy fragment of the
wall, rolled from the battlement.

But the avidity of certain plunder prevailed over any reflection, which,
on another occasion, the loss of so pious a leader might have raised.
Their attacks continued; till at length the Jews perceived they could
hold out no longer, and a council was called, to consider what remained
to be done in the extremity of danger.

Among the Jews, their elder Rabbin was most respected. It has been
customary with this people to invite for this place some foreigner,
renowned among them for the depth of his learning, and the sanctity of
his manners. At this time the _Haham_, or elder Rabbin, was a foreigner,
who had been sent over to instruct them in their laws, and was a person,
as we shall observe, of no ordinary qualifications. When the Jewish
council was assembled, the Haham rose, and addressed them in this
manner--"Men of Israel! the God of our ancestors is omniscient, and
there is no one who can say, Why doest thou this? This day He commands
us to die for His law; for that law which we have cherished from the
first hour it was given, which we have preserved pure throughout our
captivity in all nations, and which for the many consolations it has
given us, and the eternal hope it communicates, can we do less than die?
Posterity shall behold this book of truth, sealed with our blood; and
our death, while it displays our sincerity, shall impart confidence to
the wanderer of Israel. Death is before our eyes; and we have only to
choose an honourable and easy one. If we fall into the hands of our
enemies, which you know we cannot escape, our death will be ignominious
and cruel; for these Christians, who picture the Spirit of God in a
dove, and confide in the meek Jesus, are athirst for our blood, and
prowl around the castle like wolves. It is therefore my advice that we
elude their tortures; that we ourselves should be our own executioners;
and that we voluntarily surrender our lives to our Creator. We trace the
invisible Jehovah in his acts; God seems to call for us, but let us not
be unworthy of that call. Suicide, on occasions like the present, is
both rational and lawful; many examples are not wanting among our
forefathers: as I advise, men of Israel, they have acted on similar
occasions." Having said this, the old man sat down and wept.

The assembly was divided in their opinions. Men of fortitude applauded
its wisdom, but the pusillanimous murmured that it was a dreadful

Again the Rabbin rose, and spoke these few words in a firm and decisive
tone:--"My children! since we are not unanimous in our opinions, let
those who do not approve of my advice depart from this assembly!"--Some
departed, but the greater number attached themselves to their venerable
priest. They now employed themselves in consuming their valuables by
fire; and every man, fearful of trusting to the timid and irresolute
hand of the women, first destroyed his wife and children, and then
himself. Jocenus and the Rabbin alone remained. Their lives were
protracted to the last, that they might see everything performed,
according to their orders. Jocenus being the chief Jew, was
distinguished by the last mark of human respect, in receiving his death
from the consecrated hand of the aged Rabbin, who immediately after
performed the melancholy duty on himself.

All this was transacted in the depth of the night. In the morning the
walls of the castle were seen wrapt in flames, and only a few miserable
and pusillanimous beings, unworthy of the sword, were viewed on the
battlements, pointing to their extinct brethren. When they opened the
gates of the castle, these men verified the prediction of their late
Rabbin; for the multitude, bursting through the solitary courts, found
themselves defrauded of their hopes, and in a moment avenged themselves
on the feeble wretches who knew not how to die with honour.

Such is the narrative of the Jews of York, of whom the historian can
only cursorily observe that five hundred destroyed themselves; but it is
the philosopher who inquires into the causes and the manner of these
glorious suicides. These are histories which meet only the eye of few,
yet they are of infinitely more advantage than those which are read by
every one. We instruct ourselves in meditating on these scenes of heroic
exertion; and if by such histories we make but a slow progress in
chronology, our heart however expands with sentiment.

I admire not the stoicism of Cato, more than the fortitude of the
Rabbin; or rather we should applaud that of the Rabbin much more; for
Cato was familiar with the animating visions of Plato, and was the
associate of Cicero and of Caesar. The Rabbin had probably read only the
Pentateuch, and mingled with companions of mean occupations, and meaner
minds. Cato was accustomed to the grandeur of the mistress of the
universe; and the Rabbin to the littleness of a provincial town. Men,
like pictures, may be placed in an obscure and unfavourable light; but
the finest picture, in the unilluminated corner, still retains the
design and colouring of the master. My Rabbin is a companion for Cato.
His history is a tale

    Which Cato's self had not disdained to hear.--POPE.


The sovereignty of the seas, which foreigners dispute with us, is as
much a conquest as any one obtained on land; it is gained and preserved
by our cannon, and the French, who, for ages past, exclaim against what
they call our tyranny, are only hindered from becoming themselves
universal tyrants over laud and sea, by that sovereignty of the seas
without which Great Britain would cease to exist.

In a memoir of the French Institute, I read a bitter philippic against
this sovereignty, and a notice then adapted to a writer's purpose, under
Bonaparte, of two great works: the one by Selden, and the other by
Grotius, on this subject. The following is the historical anecdote,
useful to revive:--

In 1634 a dispute arose between the English and Dutch concerning the
herring-fishery upon the British coast. The French and Dutch had always
persevered in declaring that the seas were perfectly free; and grounded
their reasons on a work of Grotius.

So early as in 1609 the great Grotius had published his treatise of
_Mare Liberum_ in favour of the freedom of the seas. And it is a curious
fact, that in 1618, Selden had composed another treatise in defence of
the king's dominion over the seas; but which, from accidents which are
known, was not published till the dispute revived the controversy.
Selden, in 1636, gave the world his _Mare Clausum_, in answer to the
_Mare Liberum_ of Grotius.

Both these great men felt a mutual respect for each other. They only
knew the rivalry of genius.

As a matter of curious discussion and legal investigation, the
philosopher must incline to the arguments of Selden, who has proved by
records the first occupancy of the English; and the English dominion
over the four seas, to the utter exclusion of the French and Dutch from
fishing, without our licence. He proves that our kings have always
levied great sums, without even the concurrence of their parliaments,
for the express purpose of defending this sovereignty at sea. A copy of
Selden's work was placed in the council-chest of the Exchequer, and in
the court of admiralty, as one of our most precious records.

The historical anecdote is finally closed by the Dutch themselves, who
now agreed to acknowledge the English sovereignty in the seas, and pay a
tribute of thirty thousand pounds to the King of England, for liberty to
fish in the seas, and consented to annual tributes.

That the Dutch yielded to Selden's arguments is a triumph we cannot
venture to boast. The _ultima ratio regum_ prevailed; and when we had
destroyed their whole fishing fleet, the affair appeared much clearer
than in the ingenious volumes of Grotius or Selden. Another Dutchman
presented the States-General with a ponderous reply to Selden's _Mare
Clausum_, but the wise Sommelsdyke advised the States to suppress the
idle discussion; observing that this affair must be decided by the
_sword_, and not by the _pen_.

It may be curious to add, that as no prevailing or fashionable subject
can be agitated, but some idler must interfere to make it extravagant
and very new, so this grave subject did not want for something of this
nature. A learned Italian, I believe, agreed with our author Selden in
general, that the _sea_, as well as the _earth_, is subject to some
States; but he maintained, that the dominion of the sea belonged to the


M. Morin, a French academician, has amused himself with collecting
several historical notices of this custom. I give a summary, for the
benefit of those who have had the honour of kissing his majesty's hand.
It is not those who kiss the royal hand who could write best on the

This custom is not only very ancient, and nearly universal, but has been
alike participated by religion and society.

To begin with religion. From the remotest times men saluted the sun,
moon, and stars, by kissing the hand. Job assures us that he was never
given to this superstition, xxxi. 26. The same honour was rendered to
Baal, 1 Kings xix. 18. Other instances might be adduced.

We now pass to Greece. There all foreign superstitions were received.
Lucian, after having mentioned various sorts of sacrifices which the
rich offered the gods, adds, that the poor adored them by the simpler
compliment of kissing their hands. That author gives an anecdote of
Demosthenes, which shows this custom. When a prisoner to the soldiers of
Antipater, he asked to enter a temple.--When he entered, he touched his
mouth with his hands, which the guards took for an act of religion. He
did it, however, more securely to swallow the poison he had prepared for
such an occasion. He mentions other instances.

From the Greeks it passed to the Romans. Pliny places it among those
ancient customs of which they were ignorant of the origin or the reason.
Persons were treated as atheists, who would not kiss their hands when
they entered a temple. When Apuleius mentions Psyche, he says, she was
so beautiful that they adored her as Venus, in kissing the right hand.

The ceremonial action rendered respectable the earliest institutions of
Christianity. It was a custom with the primæval bishops to give their
hands to be kissed by the ministers who served at the altar.

This custom, however, as a religious rite, declined with Paganism.

In society our ingenious academician considers the custom of kissing
hands as essential to its welfare. It is a mute form, which expresses
reconciliation, which entreats favours, or which thanks for those
received. It is an universal language, intelligible without an
interpreter; which doubtless preceded writing, and perhaps speech

Solomon says of the flatterers and suppliants of his time, that they
ceased not to kiss the hands of their patrons, till they had obtained
the favours which they solicited. In Homer we see Priam kissing the
hands and embracing the knees of Achilles, while he supplicates for the
body of Hector.

This custom prevailed in ancient Rome, but it varied. In the first ages
of the republic, it seems to have been only practised by inferiors to
their superiors:--equals gave their hands and embraced. In the progress
of time even the soldiers refused to show this mark of respect to their
generals; and their kissing the hand of Cato when he was obliged to quit
them was regarded as an extraordinary circumstance, at a period of such
refinement. The great respect paid to the tribunes, consuls, and
dictators, obliged individuals to live with them in a more distant and
respectful manner; and instead of embracing them as they did formerly,
they considered themselves as fortunate if allowed to kiss their hands.
Under the emperors, kissing hands became an essential duty, even for the
great themselves; inferior courtiers were obliged to be content to adore
the purple, by kneeling, touching the robe of the emperor by the right
hand, and carrying it to the mouth. Even this was thought too free; and
at length they saluted the emperor at a distance, by kissing their
hands, in the same manner as when they adored their gods.

It is superfluous to trace this custom in every country where it exists.
It is practised in every known country, in respect to sovereigns and
superiors, even amongst the negroes, and the inhabitants of the New
World. Cortez found it established at Mexico, where more than a thousand
lords saluted him, in touching the earth with their hands, which they
afterwards carried to their mouths.

Thus, whether the custom of salutation is practised by kissing the hands
of others from respect, or in bringing one's own to the mouth, it is of
all other customs the most universal. This practice is now become too
gross a familiarity, and it is considered as a meanness to kiss the hand
of those with whom we are in habits of intercourse; and this custom
would be entirely lost, if _lovers_ were not solicitous to preserve it
in all its full power.


Valois observes that the Popes scrupulously followed, in the early ages
of the church, the custom of placing their names after that of the
person whom they addressed in their letters. This mark of their humility
he proves by letters written by various Popes. Thus, when the great
projects of politics were yet unknown to them, did they adhere to
Christian meekness. At length the day arrived when one of the Popes,
whose name does not occur to me, said that "it was safer to quarrel with
a prince than with a friar." Henry VI. being at the feet of Pope
Celestine, his holiness thought proper to kick the crown off his head;
which ludicrous and disgraceful action Baronius has highly praised.
Jortin observes on this great cardinal, and advocate of the Roman see,
that he breathes nothing but fire and brimstone; and accounts kings and
emperors to be mere catchpolls and constables, bound to execute with
implicit faith all the commands of insolent ecclesiastics. Bellarmin was
made a cardinal for his efforts and devotion to the papal cause, and
maintaining this monstrous paradox,--that if the pope forbid the
exercise of virtue, and command that of vice, the Roman church, under
pain of a sin, was obliged to abandon virtue for vice, if it would not
sin against _conscience_!

It was Nicholas I., a bold and enterprising Pope, who, in 858,
forgetting the pious modesty of his predecessors, took advantage of the
divisions in the royal families of France, and did not hesitate to place
his name before that of the kings and emperors of the house of France,
to whom he wrote. Since that time he has been imitated by all his
successors, and this encroachment on the honours of monarchy has passed
into a custom from having been tolerated in its commencement.

Concerning the acknowledged _infallibility of the Popes_, it appears
that Gregory VII., in council, decreed that the church of Rome neither
_had erred_, and _never should err_. It was thus this prerogative of his
holiness became received, till 1313, when John XXII. abrogated decrees
made by three popes his predecessors, and declared that what was done
_amiss_ by one pope or council might be _corrected_ by another; and
Gregory XI., 1370, in his will deprecates, _si quid in catholicâ fide
erasset_. The university of Vienna protested against it, calling it a
contempt of God, and an idolatry, if any one in matters of faith should
appeal from a _council_ to the _Pope_; that is, from _God_ who presides
in _councils_, to _man_. But the _infallibility_ was at length
established by Leo X., especially after Luther's opposition, because
they despaired of defending their indulgences, bulls, &c., by any other

Imagination cannot form a scene more terrific than when these men were
in the height of power, and to serve their political purposes hurled the
thunders of their _excommunications_ over a kingdom. It was a national
distress not inferior to a plague or famine.

Philip Augustus, desirous of divorcing Ingelburg, to unite himself to
Agnes de Meranie, the Pope put his kingdom under an interdict. The
churches were shut during the space of eight months; they said neither
mass nor vespers; they did not marry; and even the offspring of the
married, born at this unhappy period, _were considered as illicit_: and
because the king would not sleep with his wife, it was not permitted to
any of his subjects to sleep with theirs! In that year France was
threatened with an extinction of the ordinary generation. A man under
this curse of public penance was divested of all his functions, civil,
military, and matrimonial; he was not allowed to dress his hair, to
shave, to bathe, nor even change his linen; so that upon the whole this
made a filthy penitent. The good king Robert incurred the censures of
the church for having married his cousin. He was immediately abandoned.
Two faithful domestics alone remained with him, and these always passed
through the fire whatever he touched. In a word, the horror which an
excommunication occasioned was such, that a courtesan, with whom one
Peletier had passed some moments, having learnt soon afterwards that he
had been about six months an excommunicated person, fell into a panic,
and with great difficulty recovered from her convulsions.


To literary composition we may apply the saying of an ancient
philosopher:--"A little thing gives perfection, although perfection is
not a little thing."

The great legislator of the Hebrews orders us to pull off the fruit for
the first three years, and not to taste them. He was not ignorant how it
weakens a young tree to bring to maturity its first fruits. Thus, on
literary compositions, our green essays ought to be picked away. The
word _Zamar_, by a beautiful metaphor from _pruning trees_, means in
Hebrew to _compose verses_. Blotting and correcting was so much
Churchill's abhorrence, that I have heard from his publisher he once
energetically expressed himself, that _it was like cutting away one's
own flesh_. This strong figure sufficiently shows his repugnance to an
author's duty. Churchill now lies neglected, for posterity will only
respect those who

    ----File off the mortal part
    Of glowing thought with Attic art.

I have heard that this careless bard, after a successful work, usually
precipitated the publication of another, relying on its crudeness being
passed over by the public curiosity excited by its better brother. He
called this getting double pay, for thus he secured the sale of a
hurried work. But Churchill was a spendthrift of fame, and enjoyed all
his revenue while he lived; posterity owes him little, and pays him

Bayle, an experienced observer in literary matters, tells us that
_correction_ is by no means practicable by some authors, as in the case
of Ovid. In exile, his compositions were nothing more than spiritless
repetitions of what he had formerly written. He confesses both
negligence and idleness in the corrections of his works. The vivacity
which animated his first productions failing him when he revised his
poems, he found correction too laborious, and he abandoned it. This,
however, was only an excuse. "It is certain that _some authors cannot
correct_. They compose with pleasure, and with ardour; but they exhaust
all their force. They fly with but one wing when they review their
works; the first fire does not return; there is in their imagination a
certain calm which hinders their pen from making any progress. Their
mind is like a boat, which only advances by the strength of oars."

Dr. More, the Platonist, had such an exuberance of fancy, that
_correction_ was a much greater labour than _composition_. He used to
say, that in writing his works, he was forced to cut his way through a
crowd of thoughts as through a wood, and that he threw off in his
compositions as much as would make an ordinary philosopher. More was a
great enthusiast, and, of course, an egotist, so that _criticism_
ruffled his temper, notwithstanding all his Platonism. When accused of
obscurities and extravagances, he said that, like the ostrich, he laid
his eggs in the sands, which would prove vital and prolific in time;
however, these ostrich-eggs have proved to be addled.

A habit of correctness in the lesser parts of composition will assist
the higher. It is worth recording that the great Milton was anxious for
correct punctuation, and that Addison was solicitous after the minutiæ
of the press. Savage, Armstrong, and others, felt tortures on similar
objects. It is said of Julius Scaliger, that he had this peculiarity in
his manner of composition: he wrote with such accuracy that his MSS. and
the printed copy corresponded page for page, and line for line.

Malherbe, the father of French poetry, tormented himself by a prodigious
slowness; and was employed rather in perfecting than in forming works.
His muse is compared to a fine woman in the pangs of delivery. He
exulted in his tardiness, and, after finishing a poem of one hundred
verses, or a discourse of ten pages, he used to say he ought to repose
for ten years. Balzac, the first writer in French prose who gave majesty
and harmony to a period, did not grudge to expend a week on a page,
never satisfied with his first thoughts. Our "costive" Gray entertained
the same notion: and it is hard to say if it arose from the sterility of
their genius, or their sensibility of taste.

The MSS. of Tasso, still preserved, are illegible from the vast number
of their corrections. I have given a fac-simile, as correct as it is
possible to conceive, of one page of Pope's MS. Homer, as a specimen of
his continual corrections and critical erasures. The celebrated Madame
Dacier never could satisfy herself in translating Homer: continually
retouching the version, even in its happiest passages. There were
several parts which she translated in six or seven manners; and she
frequently noted in the margin--_I have not yet done it_.

When Pascal became warm in his celebrated controversy, he applied
himself with incredible labour to the composition of his "Provincial
Letters." He was frequently twenty days occupied on a single letter. He
recommenced some above seven and eight times, and by this means obtained
that perfection which has made his work, as Voltaire says, "one of the
best books ever published in France."

The Quintus Curtius of Vaugelas occupied him thirty years: generally
every period was translated in the margin five or six different ways.
Chapelain and Conrart, who took the pains to review this work
critically, were many times perplexed in their choice of passages; they
generally liked best that which had been first composed. Hume had never
done with corrections; every edition varies from the preceding ones. But
there are more fortunate and fluid minds than these. Voltaire tells us
of Fenelon's Telemachus, that the amiable author composed it in his
retirement, in the short period of three months. Fenelon had, before
this, formed his style, and his mind overflowed with all the spirit of
the ancients. He opened a copious fountain, and there were not ten
erasures in the original MS. The same facility accompanied Gibbon after
the experience of his first volume; and the same copious readiness
attended Adam Smith, who dictated to his amanuensis, while he walked
about his study.

The ancients were as pertinacious in their corrections. Isocrates, it is
said, was employed for ten years on one of his works, and to appear
natural studied with the most refined art. After a labour of eleven
years, Virgil pronounced his Æneid imperfect. Dio Cassius devoted twelve
years to the composition of his history, and Diodorus Siculus, thirty.

There is a middle between velocity and torpidity; the Italians say, it
is not necessary to be a stag, but we ought not to be a tortoise.

Many ingenious expedients are not to be contemned in literary labours.
The critical advice,

    To choose an _author_ as we would a _friend_,

is very useful to young writers. The finest geniuses have always
affectionately attached themselves to some particular author of
congenial disposition. Pope, in his version of Homer, kept a constant
eye on his master Dryden; Corneille's favourite authors were the
brilliant Tacitus, the heroic Livy, and the lofty Lucan: the influence
of their characters may be traced in his best tragedies. The great
Clarendon, when employed in writing his history, read over very
carefully Tacitus and Livy, to give dignity to his style; Tacitus did
not surpass him in his portraits, though Clarendon never equalled Livy
in his narrative.

The mode of literary composition adopted by that admirable student Sir
William Jones, is well deserving our attention. After having fixed on
his subjects, he always added the _model_ of the composition; and thus
boldly wrestled with the great authors of antiquity. On board the
frigate which was carrying him to India, he projected the following
works, and noted them in this manner:--

     1. Elements of the Laws of England.
             _Model_--The Essay on Bailments. ARISTOTLE.

     2. The History of the American War.
                       _Model_--THUCYDIDES and POLYBIUS.

     3. Britain Discovered, an Epic Poem. Machinery--Hindu
            Gods.   _Model_--HOMER.

     4. Speeches, Political and Forensic.

     5. Dialogues, Philosophical and Historical.

And of favourite authors there are also favourite works, which we love
to be familiarised with. Bartholinus has a dissertation on reading
books, in which he points out the superior performances of different
writers. Of St. Austin, his City of God; of Hippocrates, _Coacæ
Prænotiones_; of Cicero, _De Officiis_; of Aristotle, _De Animalibus_;
of Catullus, _Coma Berenices_; of Virgil, the sixth book of the Æneid,
&c. Such judgments are indeed not to be our guides; but such a mode of
reading is useful, by condensing our studies.

Evelyn, who has written treatises on several subjects, was occupied for
years on them. His manner of arranging his materials, and his mode of
composition, appear excellent. Having chosen a subject, he analysed it
into its various parts, under certain heads, or titles, to be filled up
at leisure. Under these heads he set down his own thoughts as they
occurred, occasionally inserting whatever was useful from his reading.
When his collections were thus formed, he digested his own thoughts
regularly, and strengthened them by authorities from ancient and modern
authors, or alleged his reasons for dissenting from them. His
collections in time became voluminous, but he then exercised that
judgment which the formers of such collections are usually deficient in.
With Hesiod he knew that "half is better than the whole," and it was his
aim to express the quintessence of his reading, but not to give it in a
crude state to the world, and when his _treatises_ were sent to the
press, they were not half the size of his collections.

Thus also Winkelmann, in his "History of Art," an extensive work, was
long lost in settling on a plan; like artists, who make random sketches
of their first conceptions, he threw on paper ideas, hints, and
observations which occurred in his readings--many of them, indeed, were
not connected with his history, but were afterwards inserted in some of
his other works.

Even Gibbon tells us of his Roman History, "at the outset all was dark
and doubtful; even the title of the work, the true æra of the decline
and fall of the empire, the limits of the introduction, the division of
the chapters, and the order of the narration; and I was often tempted to
cast away the labour of seven years." Akenside has exquisitely described
the progress and the pains of genius in its delightful reveries:
Pleasures of Imagination, b. iii. v. 373. The pleasures of composition
in an ardent genius were never so finely described as by Buffon.
Speaking of the hours of composition he said, "These are the most
luxurious and delightful moments of life: moments which have often
enticed me to pass fourteen hours at my desk in a state of transport;
this _gratification_ more than _glory_ is my reward."

The publication of Gibbon's Memoirs conveyed to the world a faithful
picture of the most fervid industry; it is in _youth_ the foundations of
such a sublime edifice as his history must be laid. The world can now
trace how this Colossus of erudition, day by day, and year by year,
prepared himself for some vast work.

Gibbon has furnished a new idea in the art of reading! We ought, says
he, not to attend to the _order of our books, so much as of our
thoughts_. "The perusal of a particular work gives birth perhaps to
ideas unconnected with the subject it treats; I pursue these ideas, and
quit my proposed plan of reading." Thus in the midst of Homer he read
Longinus; a chapter of Longinus led to an epistle of Pliny; and having
finished Longinus, he followed the train of his ideas of the sublime and
beautiful in the Inquiry of Burke, and concluded with comparing the
ancient with the modern Longinus. Of all our popular writers the most
experienced reader was Gibbon, and he offers an important advice to an
author engaged on a particular subject: "I suspended my perusal of any
new book on the subject till I had reviewed all that I knew, or
believed, or had thought on it, that I might be qualified to discern how
much the authors added to my original stock."

These are valuable hints to students, and such have been practised by
others.[24] Ancillon was a very ingenious student; he seldom read a book
throughout without reading in his progress many others; his
library-table was always covered with a number of books for the most
part open: this variety of authors bred no confusion; they all assisted
to throw light on the same topic; he was not disgusted by frequently
seeing the same thing in different writers; their opinions were so many
new strokes, which completed the ideas which he had conceived. The
celebrated Father Paul studied in the same manner. He never passed over
an interesting subject till he had confronted a variety of authors. In
historical researches he never would advance, till he had fixed, once
for all, the places, time, and opinions--a mode of study which appears
very dilatory, but in the end will make a great saving of time, and
labour of mind: those who have not pursued this method are all their
lives at a loss to settle their opinions and their belief, from the want
of having once brought them to such a test.

I shall now offer a plan of Historical Study, and a calculation of the
necessary time it will occupy, without specifying the authors; as I only
propose to animate a young student, who feels he has not to number the
days of a patriarch, that he should not be alarmed at the vast labyrinth
historical researches present to his eye. If we look into public
libraries, more than thirty thousand volumes of history may be found.

Lenglet du Fresnoy, one of the greatest readers, calculated that he
could not read, with satisfaction, more than ten hours a day, and ten
pages in folio an hour; which makes one hundred pages every day.
Supposing each volume to contain one thousand pages, every month would
amount to three volumes, which make thirty-six volumes in folio in the
year. In fifty years a student could only read eighteen hundred volumes
in folio. All this, too, supposing uninterrupted health, and an
intelligence as rapid as the eyes of the laborious researcher. A man can
hardly study to advantage till past twenty, and at fifty his eyes will
be dimmed, and his head stuffed with much reading that should never be
read. His fifty years for eighteen hundred volumes are reduced to thirty
years, and one thousand volumes! And, after all, the universal historian
must resolutely face thirty thousand volumes!

But to cheer the historiographer, he shows, that a public library is
only necessary to be consulted; it is in our private closet where should
be found those few writers who direct us to their rivals, without
jealousy, and mark, in the vast career of time, those who are worthy to
instruct posterity. His calculation proceeds on this plan, that _six
hours_ a day, and the term of _ten years_, are sufficient to pass over,
with utility, the immense field of history.

He calculates an alarming extent of historical ground.

     For a knowledge of Sacred History he gives             3 months.
     Ancient Egypt, Babylon, and Assyria, modern Assyria}
       or Persia                                        }   1 do.
     Greek History                                          6 do.
     Roman History by the moderns                           7 do.
     Roman History by the original writers                  6 do.
     Ecclesiastical History, general and particular        30 do.
     Modern History                                        24 do.
     To this may be added for recurrences and re-perusals  48 do.
                                  The total will amount to 10½ years.

Thus, in _ten years and a half_, a student in history has obtained an
universal knowledge, and this on a plan which permits as much leisure as
every student would choose to indulge.

As a specimen of Du Fresnoy's calculations, take that of Sacred

     For reading Père Calmet's learned dissertations in the}
       order he points out                                 }  12 days
     For Père Calmet's History, in 2 vols. 4to (now in 4)     12
     For Prideaux's History                                   10
     For Josephus                                             12
     For Basnage's History of the Jews                        20
                                                       In all 66 days.

     He allows, however, ninety days for obtaining a sufficient knowledge of
     Sacred History.

In reading this sketch, we are scarcely surprised at the erudition of a
Gibbon; but having admired that erudition, we perceive the necessity of
such a plan, if we would not learn what we have afterwards to unlearn.

A plan like the present, even in a mind which should feel itself
incapable of the exertion, will not be regarded without that reverence
we feel for genius animating such industry. This scheme of study, though
it may never be rigidly pursued, will be found excellent. Ten years'
labour of happy diligence may render a student capable of consigning to
posterity a history as universal in its topics, as that of the historian
who led to this investigation.


    Tantus amor florum, et generandi gloria mellis.
                     _Georg._ Lib. iv. v. 204.

    Such rage of honey in our bosom beats,
    And such a zeal we have for flowery sweets!

This article was commenced by me many years ago in the early volumes of
the Monthly Magazine, and continued by various correspondents, with
various success. I have collected only those of my own contribution,
because I do not feel authorised to make use of those of other persons,
however some may be desirable. One of the most elegant of literary
recreations is that of tracing poetical or prose imitations and
similarities; for assuredly, similarity is not always imitation. Bishop
Hurd's pleasing essay on "The Marks of Imitation" will assist the critic
in deciding on what may only be an accidental similarity, rather than a
studied imitation. Those critics have indulged an intemperate abuse in
these entertaining researches, who from a _single word_ derive the
imitation of an _entire passage_. Wakefield, in his edition of Gray, is
very liable to this censure.

This kind of literary amusement is not despicable: there are few men of
letters who have not been in the habit of marking parallel passages, or
tracing imitation, in the thousand shapes it assumes; it forms, it
cultivates, it delights taste to observe by what dexterity and variation
genius conceals, or modifies, an original thought or image, and to view
the same sentiment, or expression, borrowed with art, or heightened by
embellishment. The ingenious writer of "A Criticism on Gray's Elegy, in
continuation of Dr. Johnson's," has given some observations on this
subject, which will please. "It is often entertaining to trace
imitation. To detect the adopted image; the copied design; the
transferred sentiment; the appropriated phrase; and even the acquired
manner and frame, under all the disguises that imitation, combination,
and accommodation may have thrown around them, must require both parts
and diligence; but it will bring with it no ordinary gratification. A
book professedly on the 'History and Progress of Imitation in Poetry,'
written by a man of perspicuity, an adept in the art of discerning
likenesses, even when minute, with examples properly selected, and
gradations duly marked, would make an impartial accession to the store
of human literature, and furnish rational curiosity with a high regale."
Let me premise that these notices (the wrecks of a large collection of
passages I had once formed merely as exercises to form my taste) are not
given with the petty malignant delight of detecting the unacknowledged
imitations of our best writers, but merely to habituate the young
student to an instructive amusement, and to exhibit that beautiful
variety which the same image is capable of exhibiting when retouched
with all the art of genius.

Gray, in his "Ode to Spring," has

    The Attic warbler POURS HER THROAT.

Wakefield in his "Commentary" has a copious passage on this poetical
diction. He conceives it to be "an admirable improvement of the Greek
and Roman classics:"

    --κἑεν αυδἡν: HES. Scut. Her. 396.
    --Suaves ex ore _loquelas_
    _Funde_.                    LUCRET. i. 40.

This learned editor was little conversant with modern literature, as he
proved by his memorable editions of Gray and Pope. The expression is
evidently borrowed not from Hesiod, nor from Lucretius, but from a
brother at home.

    Is it for thee, the Linnet POURS HER THROAT?
                            _Essay on Man_, Ep. iii, v. 33.

Gray, in the "Ode to Adversity," addresses the power thus,

    Thou tamer of the human breast,
    The bad affright, afflict the best.

Wakefield censures the expression "_torturing hour_," by discovering an
impropriety and incongruity. He says, "consistency of figure rather
required some _material_ image, like _iron scourge_ and _adamantine
chain_." It is curious to observe a verbal critic lecture such a poet as
Gray! The poet probably would never have replied, or, in a moment of
excessive urbanity, he might have condescended to point out to this
minutest of critics the following passage in Milton:--

    ----When the SCOURGE
    Inexorably, and the TORTURING HOUR
    Calls us to penance.
                       _Par. Lost_, B. ii. v. 90.

Gray, in his "Ode to Adversity," has

    Light THEY DISPERSE, and with them go

Fond of this image, he has it again in his "Bard,"

    They SWARM, that in thy NOONTIDE BEAM are born,

Perhaps the germ of this beautiful image may be found in Shakspeare:--

    ---- for men, like BUTTERFLIES,
    Show not their mealy wings but to THE SUMMER.
                          _Troilus and Cressida_, Act iii. s. 7.

And two similar passages in _Timon of Athens_:--

    The swallow follows not summer more willingly than we your lordship.

    _Timon_. Nor more willingly leaves winter; such _summer birds_ are
    men.--Act iii.

Again in the same,

    ----one cloud of winter showers
    These flies are couch'd.--Act ii.

Gray, in his "Progress of Poetry," has

    In climes beyond the SOLAR ROAD.

Wakefield has traced this imitation to Dryden; Gray himself refers to
Virgil and Petrarch. Wakefield gives the line from Dryden, thus:--

    Beyond the year, and out of heaven's high-way;

which he calls extremely bold and poetical. I confess a critic might be
allowed to be somewhat fastidious in this unpoetical diction on the
_high-way_, which I believe Dryden never used. I think his line was

    Beyond the year, out of the SOLAR WALK.

Pope has expressed the image more elegantly, though copied from Dryden,

    Far as the SOLAR WALK, or milky way.

Gray has in his "Bard,"

    Dear as the light that visits these sad eyes,
    Dear as the ruddy drops that warm my heart.

Gray himself points out the imitation in Shakspeare of the latter image;
but it is curious to observe that Otway, in his _Venice Preserved_,
makes Priuli most pathetically exclaim to his daughter, that she is

    Dear as the vital warmth that feeds my life,
    Dear as these eyes that weep in fondness o'er thee.

Gray tells us that the image of his "Bard,"

    Loose his beard and hoary hair
    Streamed like a METEOR to the troubled air,

was taken from a picture of the Supreme Being by Raphael. It is,
however, remarkable, and somewhat ludicrous, that the _beard_ of
Hudibras is also compared to a _meteor_: and the accompanying
observation of Butler almost induces one to think that Gray derived from
it the whole plan of that sublime Ode--since his _Bard_ precisely
performs what the _beard_ of Hudibras _denounced_. These are the

    This HAIRY METEOR did denounce
    _The fall of sceptres and of crowns_.
                                           _Hudibras_, c. 1.

I have been asked if I am serious in my conjecture that "the _meteor
beard_" of Hudibras might have given birth to the "_Bard_" of Gray? I
reply, that the _burlesque_ and the _sublime_ are extremes, and extremes
meet. How often does it merely depend on our own state of mind, and on
our own taste, to consider the sublime as burlesque! A very vulgar, but
acute genius, Thomas Paine, whom we may suppose destitute of all
delicacy and refinement, has conveyed to us a notion of the _sublime_,
as it is probably experienced by ordinary and uncultivated minds; and
even by acute and judicious ones, who are destitute of imagination. He
tells us that "the _sublime_ and the _ridiculous_ are often so nearly
related, that it is difficult to class them separately. One step above
the sublime makes the ridiculous, and one step above the ridiculous
makes the sublime again." May I venture to illustrate this opinion?
Would it not appear the ridiculous or burlesque to describe the sublime
revolution of the _Earth_ on her axle, round the _Sun_, by comparing it
with the action of a _top_ flogged by a boy? And yet some of the most
exquisite lines in Milton do this; the poet only alluding in his mind to
the _top_. The earth he describes, whether

    ----She from west her _silent course_ advance
    With _inoffensive pace_ that _spinning sleeps_
    On her _soft axle_, while she _paces even_.

Be this as it may! it has never I believe been remarked (to return to
Gray) that when he conceived the idea of the beard of his _Bard_, he had
in his mind the _language_ of Milton, who describes Azazel sublimely

    The imperial ensign, which full high advanced,
    _Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind_.
                                       _Par. Lost_, B. i. v. 535.

Very similar to Gray's

    _Streamed like a meteor to the troubled air!_

Gray has been severely censured by Johnson for the expression,

    Give _ample room and verge enough_,
    The characters of hell to trace.--_The Bard_.

On the authority of the most unpoetical of critics, we must still hear
that the poet _has no line so bad_.--"_ample room_" is feeble, but would
have passed unobserved in any other poem but in the poetry of Gray, who
has taught us to admit nothing but what is exquisite. "_Verge enough_"
is poetical, since it conveys a material image to the imagination. No
one appears to have detected the source from whence, probably, the
_whole line_ was derived. I am inclined to think it was from the
following passage in Dryden:

    Let fortune empty her whole quiver on me,
    I have a soul that, like an AMPLE SHIELD,
    Can take in all, and VERGE ENOUGH for more!
                           Dryden's _Don Sebastian._

Gray in his Elegy has

    Even in our ashes live their wonted fires.

This line is so obscure that it is difficult to apply it to what
precedes it. Mason in his edition in vain attempts to derive it from a
thought of Petrarch, and still more vainly attempts to amend it;
Wakefield expends an octavo page to paraphrase this single verse. From
the following lines of Chaucer, one would imagine Gray caught the
recollected idea. The old Reve, in his prologue, says of himself, and of
old men,

    For whan we may not don than wol we speken;
    Yet in our ASHEN cold is FIRE yreken.
                    TYRWHIT'S _Chaucer_, vol. i. p. 153, v. 3879.

Gray has a very expressive _word_, highly poetical, but I think not


Daniel has, as quoted in Cooper's Muses' Library,

    And _in himself with sorrow_, does complain
    The misery of DARK FORGETFULNESS.

A line of Pope's, in his Dunciad, "High-born Howard," echoed in the ear
of Gray, when he gave, with all the artifice of alliteration,

    High-born Hoel's harp.

Johnson bitterly censures Gray for giving to adjectives the termination
of participles, such as the _cultured_ plain; the _daisied_ bank: but he
solemnly adds, I was sorry to see in the line of a scholar like Gray,
"the _honied_ spring." Had Johnson received but the faintest tincture of
the rich Italian school of English poetry, he would never have formed so
tasteless a criticism. _Honied_ is employed by Milton in more places
than one.

    Hide me from day's garish eye
    While the bee with HONIED thigh
                         _Penseroso_, v. 142.

The celebrated stanza in Gray's Elegy seems partly to be borrowed.

    Full many a gem of purest ray serene
    The dark unfathom'd eaves of ocean bear:
    Full many a _flower_ is torn to blush _unseen,_
    And _waste its sweetness in the desert air_.

Pope had said:

    There kept by charms conceal'd from mortal eye,
    Like _roses_ that in _deserts bloom_ and _die_.
                                        _Rape of the Lock._

Young says of nature:

    In distant wilds by human eye _unseen_
    She rears her _flowers_ and spreads her velvet green;
    Pure gurgling rills the lonely _desert_ trace,
    And _waste their music_ on the savage race.

And Shenstone has--

    And like the _desert's lily_ bloom to fade!
                                            Elegy iv.

Gray was so fond of this pleasing imagery, that he repeats it in his Ode
to the Installation; and Mason echoes it in his Ode to Memory.

Milton thus paints the evening sun:

    If chance the radiant SUN with FAREWELL SWEET
    Extends his evening beam, the fields revive,
    The birds their notes renew, &c.
                                   _Par. Lost_, B. ii. v. 492.

Can there be a doubt that he borrowed this beautiful _farewell_ from an
obscure poet, quoted by Poole, in his "English Parnassus," 1657? The
date of Milton's great work, I find since, admits the conjecture: the
first edition being that of 1669. The homely lines in Poole are these,

    To Thetis' watery bowers the _sun_ doth hie,
    BIDDING FAREWELL unto the gloomy sky.

Young, in his "Love of Fame," very adroitly improves on a witty conceit
of Butler. It is curious to observe that while Butler had made a remote
allusion of a _window_ to a _pillory_, a conceit is grafted on this
conceit, with even more exquisite wit.

    Each WINDOW like the PILLORY appears,
    With HEADS thrust through: NAILED BY THE EARS!
                          _Hudibras_, Part ii. c. 3, v. 301.

    An opera, like a PILLORY, may be said
                                          YOUNG'S _Satires_.

In the Duenna we find this thought differently illustrated; by no means
imitative, though the satire is congenial. Don Jerome alluding to the
_serenaders_ says, "These amorous orgies that steal the senses in the
_hearing_; as they say Egyptian embalmers serve mummies, _extracting the
brain through the ears_." The wit is original, but the subject is the
same in the three passages; the whole turning on the allusion to the
_head_ and to the _ears_.

When Pope composed the following lines on Fame,

    How vain that second life in others' breath,
    The ESTATE which wits INHERIT after death;
    Ease, health, and life, for this they must resign,
    (Unsure the _tenure_, but how vast the _fine!_)
                                      _Temple of Fame_.

he seems to have had present in his mind a single idea of Butler, by
which he has very richly amplified the entire imagery. Butler says,

    Honour's a LEASE for LIVES TO COME,
    And cannot be extended from
                     _Hudibras_, Part i. c. 3, v. 1043.

The same thought may be found in Sir George Mackenzie's "Essay on
preferring Solitude to public Employment," first published in 1665:
Hudibras preceded it by two years. The thought is strongly expressed by
the eloquent Mackenzie: "_Fame is a revenue payable only to our ghosts_;
and to deny ourselves all present satisfaction, or to expose ourselves
to so much hazard for this, were as great madness as to starve
ourselves, or fight desperately for food, to be laid on our tombs after
our death."

Dryden, in his "Absalom and Achitophel," says of the Earl of

    David for him his tuneful harp had strung,
    _And Heaven had wanted one immortal song_.

This verse was ringing in the ear of Pope, when with equal modesty and
felicity he adopted it in addressing his friend Dr. Arbuthnot.

    Friend of my life; which did not you prolong,
    _The world had wanted many an idle song!_

Howell has prefixed to his Letters a tedious poem, written in the taste
of the times, and he there says of _letters_, that they are

    The heralds and sweet harbingers that move
    From _East to West, on embassies of love_;
    They can the _tropic cut_, and _cross the line_.

It is probable that Pope had noted this thought, for the following lines
seem a beautiful heightening of the idea:

    Heaven first taught _letters_, for some wretch's aid,
    Some banish'd _lover_, or some captive maid.

Then he adds, they

    _Speed the soft intercourse_ from soul to soul,
    And waft a sigh from _Indus_ to the _Pole_.

There is another passage in "Howell's Letters," which has a great
affinity with a thought of Pope, who, in "the Rape of the Lock," says,

    Fair tresses man's imperial race ensnare,
    And _beauty draws us with a single hair_.

Howell writes, p. 290, "'Tis a powerful sex:--they were too strong for
the first, the strongest and wisest man that was; they must needs be
strong, when _one hair of a woman can draw more than an hundred pair of

Pope's description of the death of the lamb, in his "Essay on Man," is
finished with the nicest touches, and is one of the finest pictures our
poetry exhibits. Even familiar as it is to our ear, we never examine it
but with undiminished admiration.

    The _lamb_, thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
    Had he thy reason, would he skip and play?
    Pleased to the last he crops the flowery food,
    And licks the hand just rais'd to shed his blood.

After pausing on the last two fine verses, will not the reader smile
that I should conjecture the image might originally have been discovered
in the following humble verses in a poem once considered not as

    A gentle _lamb_ has rhetoric to plead,
    And when she sees the butcher's knife decreed,
    Her voice entreats him not to make her bleed.
                               DR. KING'S _Mully of Mountown_.

This natural and affecting image might certainly have been observed by
Pope, without his having perceived it through the less polished lens of
the telescope of Dr. King. It is, however, a _similarity_, though it
may not be an _imitation_; and is given as an example of that art in
composition which can ornament the humblest conception, like the
graceful vest thrown over naked and sordid beggary.

I consider the following lines as strictly copied by Thomas Warton:

                    The daring artist
    Explored the pangs that rend the royal breast,
    _Those wounds that lurk beneath the tissued vest_.
                                     T. WARTON on Shakspeare.

Sir Philip Sidney, in his "Defence of Poesie," has the same image. He
writes, "Tragedy openeth the greatest _wounds_, and showeth forth the
_ulcers_ that are _covered with tissue_."

The same appropriation of thought will attach to the following lines of

    While the charm'd reader with thy thought complies,
    And views thy _Rosamond_ with _Henry's_ eyes.
                                         TICKELL to ADDISON.

Evidently from the French Horace:

    En vain contre le Cid un ministre se ligue;
    Tout Paris, pour _Chimene_, a les yeux de _Rodrigue_.

Oldham, the satirist, says in his satires upon the Jesuits, that had
Cain been of this black fraternity, he had not been content with a
quarter of mankind.

    Had he been Jesuit, _had he but put on
    Their savage cruelty, the rest had gone!_
                                                Satire ii.

Doubtless at that moment echoed in his poetical ear the energetic and
caustic epigram of Andrew Marvel, against Blood stealing the crown
dressed in a parson's cassock, and sparing the life of the keeper:

    With the Priest's vestment _had he but put on
    The Prelate's cruelty--the Crown had gone!_

The following passages seem echoes to each other, and it is but justice
due to Oldham, the satirist, to acknowledge him as the parent of this

    On Butler who can think without just rage,
    _The glory and the scandal of the age_?
                                  _Satire against Poetry_.

It seems evidently borrowed by Pope, when he applies the thought to

    At length Erasmus, that great injured name,
    The _glory of the priesthood_ and the _shame_!

Young remembered the antithesis when he said,

    Of some for _glory_ such the boundless rage,
    That they're the blackest _scandal_ of the age.

Voltaire, a great reader of Pope, seems to have borrowed part of the

    _Scandale_ d'Eglise, et des rois le modèle.

De Caux, an old French poet, in one of his moral poems on an hour-glass,
inserted in modern collections, has many ingenious thoughts. That this
poem was read and admired by Goldsmith, the following beautiful image
seems to indicate. De Caux, comparing the world to his hour-glass, says

                         _C'est un verre qui luit,
    Qu'un souffle peut détruire, et qu'un souffle a produit._

Goldsmith applies the thought very happily--

    Princes and lords may flourish or may fade;
    _A breath can make them, as a breath has made._

I do not know whether we might not read, for modern copies are sometimes

    A breath _unmakes_ them, as a breath has made.

Thomson, in his pastoral story of Palemon and Lavinia, appears to have
copied a passage from Otway. Palemon thus addresses Lavinia:--

    Oh, let me now into a richer soil
    _Transplant_ thee safe, where vernal _suns_ and showers
    Diffuse their warmest, largest influence;
    And of my _garden_ be the pride and joy!

Chamont employs the same image when speaking of Monimia; he says--

    You took her up a _little tender flower_,
    ---- and with a careful loving hand
    _Transplanted_ her into your own fair _garden_,
    Where the _sun_ always shines.

The origin of the following imagery is undoubtedly Grecian; but it is
still embellished and modified by our best poets:--

                  ----While universal _Pan_,
    Knit with the _graces_ and the _hours, in dance
    Led_ on th' eternal spring.
                                   _Paradise Lost_.

Thomson probably caught this strain of imagery:

                    Sudden to heaven
    Thence weary vision turns, where _leading soft
    The silent hours_ of love, with purest ray
    Sweet _Venus_ shines.
                               _Summer_, v. 1692.

Gray, in repeating this imagery, has borrowed a remarkable epithet from

    Lo, where the _rosy-bosom'd hours,
    Fair Venus' train_, appear.
                                  _Ode to Spring_.

    Along the crisped shades and bowers
    Revels the spruce and jocund _spring_;
    The _graces_ and the _rosy-bosom'd hours_
    Thither all their bounties bring.
                                  _Comus_, v. 984.

Collins, in his Ode to _Fear_, whom he associates with _Danger_, there
grandly personified, was I think considerably indebted to the following
stanza of Spenser:

    Next him was _Fear_, all arm'd from top to toe,
    Yet thought himself not safe enough thereby:
    But fear'd each sudden movement to and fro;
    And _his own arms_ when glittering he did spy,
    Or _clashing heard_, he fast away did fly,
    As ashes pale of hue and wingy heel'd;
    And evermore on _Danger_ fix'd his eye,
    'Gainst whom he always bent a brazen shield,
    Which his right hand unarmed fearfully did wield.
                             _Faery Queen_, B. iii. c. 12, s. 12.

Warm from its perusal, he seems to have seized it as a hint to the Ode
to Fear, and in his "Passions" to have very finely copied an idea here:

    First _Fear_, his hand, his skill to try,
      Amid the chords bewildered laid,
    And _back recoil'd_, he knew not why,
      _E'en at the sound himself had made._
                                        _Ode to the Passions_.

The stanza in Beattie's "Minstrel," first book, in which his "visionary
boy," after "the storm of summer rain," views "the rainbow brighten to
the setting sun," and runs to reach it:

    Fond fool, that deem'st the streaming glory nigh,
    How vain the chase thine ardour has begun!
    'Tis fled afar, ere half thy purposed race be run;
    Thus it fares with age, &c.

The same train of thought and imagery applied to the same subject,
though the image itself be somewhat different, may be found in the poems
of the platonic John Norris; a writer who has great originality of
thought, and a highly poetical spirit. His stanza runs thus:

    So to the unthinking boy the distant sky
    Seems on some mountain's surface to relie;
    He with ambitious haste climbs the ascent,
        _Curious to touch the firmament_;
        But when with an unwearied pace,
    He is arrived at the long-wish'd-for place,
    With sighs the sad defeat he does deplore,
    His heaven is still as distant as before!
              _The Infidel_, by JOHN NORRIS.

In the modern tragedy of _The Castle Spectre_ is this fine description
of the ghost of Evelina:--"Suddenly a female form glided along the
vault. I flew towards her. My arms were already _unclosed to clasp
her,--when suddenly her figure changed_! Her face grew pale--a stream of
blood gushed from her bosom. While speaking, her form withered away;
_the flesh fell from her bones_; a skeleton loathsome and meagre clasped
me in her _mouldering arms_. Her infected breath was mingled with mine;
her _rotting fingers_ pressed my hand; and my face was covered with her
kisses. Oh! then how I trembled with disgust!"

There is undoubtedly singular merit in this description. I shall
contrast it with one which the French Virgil has written, in an age
whose faith was stronger in ghosts than ours, yet which perhaps had less
skill in describing them. There are some circumstances which seem to
indicate that the author of the _Castle Spectre_ lighted his torch at
the altar of the French muse. Athalia thus narrates her dream, in which
the spectre of Jezabel, her mother, appears:

    C'étoit pendant l'horreur d'une profonde nuit,
    Ma mère Jezabel devant moi s'est montrée,
    Comme au jour de sa mort, pompeusement paree.--
    ---- En achevant ces mots epouvantables,
    Son ombre vers mon lit a paru se baisser,
    Et moi, je lui tendois les mains pour l'embrasser,
    Mais _je n'ai plus trouvé qu'un horrible mélange
    D'os et de chair meurtris_, et trainée dans la fange,
    _Des lambeaux pleins de sang et des membres affreux_.
                               RACINE'S _Athalie_, Acte ii. s. 5.

Goldsmith, when, in his pedestrian tour, he sat amid the Alps, as he
paints himself in his "Traveller," and felt himself the solitary
neglected genius he was, desolate amidst the surrounding scenery,
probably at that moment applied to himself the following beautiful
imagery of Thomson:

    As in the hollow breast of Apennine
    Beneath the centre of encircling hills,
    A myrtle rises, far from human eyes,
    And breathes its balmy fragrance o'er the wild.
                                      _Autumn_, v. 202.

Goldsmith very pathetically applies a similar image:

    E'en now where Alpine solitudes ascend,
    I sit me down a pensive hour to spend,
    Like yon _neglected shrub_ at random cast,
    That shades the steep, and sighs at every blast.

Akenside illustrates the native impulse of genius by a simile of
Memnon's marble statue, sounding its lyre at the touch of the sun:

    For as old Memnon's image, long renown'd
    By fabling Nilus, to the quivering touch
    Of Titan's ray, with each repulsive string
    Consenting, sounded through the warbling air
    Unbidden strains; even so did nature's hand, &c.

It is remarkable that the same image, which does not appear obvious
enough to have been the common inheritance of poets, is precisely used
by old Regnier, the first French satirist, in the dedication of his
Satires to the French king. Louis XIV. supplies the place of nature to
the courtly satirist. These are his words:--"On lit qu'en Ethiope il y
avoit une statue qui rendoit un son harmonieux, toutes les fois que le
soleil levant la regardoit. Ce même miracle, Sire, avez vous fait en
moi, qui touché de l'astre de Votre Majesté, ai reçu la voix et la

In that sublime passage in "Pope's Essay on Man," Epist. i. v. 237,

    Vast chain of being! which from God began,

and proceeds to

    From nature's chain whatever link you strike,
    Tenth, or ten thousandth, breaks the chain alike.

Pope seems to have caught the idea and image from Waller, whose last
verse is as fine as any in the "Essay on Man:"--

    The chain that's fixed to the throne of Jove,
    On which the fabric of our world depends,
    One link dissolv'd, the whole creation ends.
                _Of the Danger his Majesty escaped_, &c. v. 168.

It has been observed by Thyer, that Milton borrowed the expression
_imbrowned_ and _brown_, which he applies to the evening shade, from the
Italian. See Thyer's elegant note in B. iv., v. 246:

    ----And where the unpierced shade
    _Imbrowned_ the noon tide bowers.

And B. ix., v. 1086:

    ---- Where highest Woods impenetrable
    To sun or star-light, spread their umbrage broad,
    And _brown as evening_.

_Fa l'imbruno_ is an expression used by the Italians to denote the
approach of the evening. Boiardo, Ariosto and Tasso, have made a very
picturesque use of this term, noticed by Thyer. I doubt if it be
applicable to our colder climate; but Thomson appears to have been
struck by the fine effect it produces in poetical landscape; for he has

    ----With quickened step
    _Brown night_ retires.
                      _Summer_, v. 51.

If the epithet be true, it cannot be more appropriately applied than in
the season he describes, which most resembles the genial clime with the
deep serenity of an Italian heaven. Milton in Italy had experienced the
_brown evening_, but it may be suspected that Thomson only recollected
the language of the poet.

The same observation may be made on two other poetical epithets. I shall
notice the epithet "LAUGHING" applied to inanimate objects; and "PURPLE"
to beautiful objects."

The natives of Italy and the softer climates receive emotions from the
view of their WATERS in the SPRING not equally experienced in the
British roughness of our skies. The fluency and softness of the water
are thus described by Lucretius:--

    ----Tibi suaveis Dædala tellus
    Submittit flores: _tibi_ RIDENT _æquora ponti_.

Inelegantly rendered by Creech,

    The roughest sea puts on smooth looks, and SMILES.

Dryden more happily,

    The ocean SMILES, and smooths her wavy breast.

But Metastasio has copied Lucretius:--

    A te fioriscono
      Gli erbosi prat:
    E i flutti RIDONO
      Nel mar placati.

It merits observation, that the _Northern Poets_ could not exalt their
imagination higher than that the water SMILED, while the modern Italian,
having before his eyes _a different Spring_, found no difficulty in
agreeing with the ancients, that the waves LAUGHED. Modern poetry has
made a very free use of the animating epithet LAUGHING. Gray has
LAUGHING FLOWERS: and Langhorne in two beautiful lines personifies

    Where Tweed's soft banks in liberal beauty lie,
    And Flora LAUGHS beneath an azure sky.

Sir William Jones, in the spirit of Oriental poetry, has "the LAUGHING
AIR." Dryden has employed this epithet boldly in the delightful lines,
almost entirely borrowed from his original, Chaucer:--

    The morning lark, the messenger of day,
    Saluted in her song the morning gray;
    And soon the sun arose, with beams so bright,
    That all THE HORIZON LAUGHED to see the joyous sight.
                              _Palamon and Arcite_, B. ii.[25]

It is extremely difficult to conceive what the ancients precisely meant
by the word _purpureus_. They seem to have designed by it anything
BRIGHT and BEAUTIFUL. A classical friend has furnished me with numerous
significations of this word which are very contradictory. Albinovanus,
in his elegy on Livia, mentions _Nivem purpureum_. Catullus, _Quercus
ramos purpureos_. Horace, _Purpureo bibet ore nectar_, and somewhere
mentions _Olores purpureos_. Virgil has _Purpuream vomit ille animam_;
and Homer calls the sea _purple_, and gives it in some other book the
same epithet, when in a storm.

The general idea, however, has been fondly adopted by the finest writers
in Europe. The PURPLE of the ancients is not known to us. What idea,
therefore, have the moderns affixed to it? Addison, in his Vision of the
Temple of Fame, describes the country as "being covered with a kind of
PURPLE LIGHT." Gray's beautiful line is well known:--

    The bloom of young desire and _purple light_ of love.

And Tasso, in describing his hero Godfrey, says, Heaven

    Gli empie d'onor la faccia, e vi riduce
    Di Giovinezza _il bel purpureo lume_.

Both Gray and Tasso copied Virgil, where Venus gives to her son Æneas--

    ----_Lumenque_ Juventæ

Dryden has omitted the _purple light_ in his version, nor is it given by
Pitt; but Dryden expresses the general idea by

    ---- With hands divine,
    Had formed his curling locks and _made his temples shine_,
    And given his rolling eys a _sparkling grace_.

It is probable that Milton has given us his idea of what was meant by
_this purple light_, when applied to the human countenance, in the
felicitous expression of


Gray appears to me to be indebted to Milton for a hint for the opening
of his Elegy: as in the first line he had Dante and Milton in his mind,
he perhaps might also in the following passage have recollected a
congenial one in Comus, which he altered. Milton, describing the
evening, marks it out by

    ---- What time the _laboured ox_
    In his loose traces from the furrow came,
    And the _swinkt hedger_ at his supper sat.

Gray has

    The _lowing herd_ wind slowly o'er the lea,
    The _ploughman_ homeward plods his weary way.

Warton has made an observation on this passage in Comus; and observes
further that it is a _classical_ circumstance, but not a _natural_ one,
in an _English landscape_, for our ploughmen quit their work at noon. I
think, therefore, the imitation is still more evident; and as Warton
observes, both Gray and Milton copied here from books, and not from

There are three great poets who have given us a similar incident.

Dryden introduces the highly finished picture of the _hare_ in his Annus

                   _Stanza_ 131.
    So I have seen some _fearful hare_ maintain
      A course, till tired before the dog she lay,
    Who stretched behind her, pants upon the plain,
      Past power to kill, as she to get away.

    With his loll'd tongue he faintly licks his prey;
      His warm breath blows her flix up as she lies:
    She trembling creeps upon the ground away
      And looks back to him with _beseeching eyes_.

Thomson paints the _stag_ in a similar situation:--

    ----Fainting breathless toil
    Sick seizes on his heart--he stands at bay:
    The _big round tears_ run down his _dappled_ face,
    He _groans_ in anguish.
                                 _Autumn_, v. 451.

Shakspeare exhibits the same object:--

    The wretched animal heaved forth such _groans_,
    That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat
    Almost to bursting; and the _big round tears_
    Coursed one another down his _innocent nose_
    In piteous chase.

Of these three pictures the _beseeching eyes_ of Dryden perhaps is more
pathetic than _the big round tears_, certainly borrowed by Thomson from
Shakspeare, because the former expression has more passion, and is
therefore more poetical. The sixth line in Dryden is perhaps exquisite
for its imitative harmony, and with peculiar felicity paints the action
itself. Thomson adroitly drops the _innocent nose_, of which one word
seems to have lost its original signification, and the other offends now
by its familiarity. _The dappled face_ is a term more picturesque, more
appropriate, and more poetically expressed.


The manuscripts of Pope's version of the Iliad and Odyssey are preserved
in the British Museum in three volumes, the gift of David Mallet. They
are written chiefly on the backs of letters, amongst which are several
from Addison, Steele, Jervaise, Rowe, Young, Caryl, Walsh, Sir Godfrey
Kneller, Fenton, Craggs, Congreve, Hughes, his mother Editha, and Lintot
and Tonson the booksellers.[26]

From these letters no information can be gathered, which merits public
communication; they relate generally to the common civilities and common
affairs of life. What little could be done has already been given in the
additions to Pope's works.

It has been observed, that Pope taught himself to write, by copying
printed books: of this singularity we have in this collection a
remarkable instance; several parts are written in Roman and Italic
characters, which for some time I mistook for print; no imitation can be
more correct.

What appears on this Fac-Simile I have printed, to assist its
deciphering; and I have also subjoined the passage as it was given to
the public, for immediate reference. The manuscript from whence this
page is taken consists of the first rude sketches; an intermediate copy
having been employed for the press; so that the corrected verses of this
Fac-Simile occasionally vary from those published.

This passage has been selected, because the parting of Hector and
Andromache is perhaps the most pleasing episode in the Iliad, while it
is confessedly one of the most finished passages.

The lover of poetry will not be a little gratified, when he contemplates
the variety of epithets, the imperfect idea, the gradual embellishment,
and the critical rasures which are here discovered.[27] The action of
Hector, in lifting his infant in his arms, occasioned Pope much trouble;
and at length the printed copy has a different reading.

I must not omit noticing, that the whole is on the back of a letter
franked by Addison; which cover I have given at one corner of the plate.

The parts distinguished by Italics were rejected.

      Thus having spoke, the illustrious chief of Troy
    _Extends his eager arms to embrace his boy_,
    Stretched his fond arms to seize the _beauteous_ boy;
    The _boy_ clung crying to his nurse's breast,
    Scar'd at the dazzling helm and nodding crest.
                        each _kind_
    With silent pleasure _the_ fond parent smil'd,
    And Hector hasten'd to relieve his child.
    The glittering terrors unbound,
    _His radiant helmet_ from his brows _unbrac'd_,
                                  _on the ground, he
    And on the ground the glittering terror plac'd_,
    And placed the _radiant_ helmet on the ground,
    _Then seized the boy and raising him in air_,
    Then _fondling_ in his arms his infant heir,
    Thus to the gods addrest a father's prayer.
                    glory fills
      O thou, whose _thunder shakes_ th' ethereal throne,
    And all ye other _powers_ protect my son!
    _Like mine, this war, blooming youth with every virtue blest_,
    _The shield and glory of the Trojan race;
    Like mine his valour, and his just renown.
    Like mine his labours, to defend the crown_.
    Grant him, like me, to purchase just renown,
               the Trojans
    To guard _my country_, to defend the crown:
    _In arms like me, his country's war to wage_,
    And rise the Hector of the future age!
    Against his country's foes the war to wage,
    And rise the Hector of the future age!
    So when triumphant from the _glorious_ toils
    Of heroes slain, he bears the reeking spoils,
    Whole hosts may
    _All Troy shall_ hail him, with deserv'd acclaim,
        own the son
    And _cry, this chief_ transcends his father's fame.
    While pleas'd, amidst the general shouts of Troy,
    His mother's conscious heart o'erflows with joy.
               fondly on her
      He said, and gazing _o'er his consort's charms_,
    Restor'd his infant to her longing arms.
    Soft _in_ her fragrant breast the babe she laid,
    _Prest to her heart_, and with a smile survey'd;
           to repose
    Hush'd _him to rest_, and with a smile survey'd.
    But soon the troubled pleasure _mixt with rising fears_,
                                      dash'd with fear,
    The tender pleasure soon, chastised by fear,
    She mingled with the smile a tender tear.

The passage appears thus in the printed work. I have marked in Italics
the _variations_.

       Thus having spoke, the illustrious chief of Troy
    Stretch'd his fond arms to _clasp_ the lovely boy.
    The babe clung crying to his nurse's breast,
    Scar'd at the dazzling helm and nodding crest.
    With _secret_[28] pleasure each fond parent smil'd,
    And Hector hasted to relieve his child,
    The glittering terrors from his brows unbound,
    And placed the _beaming_ helmet on the ground:
    _Then kiss'd the child_, and lifting high in air,
    Thus to the gods _preferr'd_ a father's prayer:

      O thou, whose glory fills th' ethereal throne,
    And all ye deathless powers, protect my son!
    Grant him like me to purchase just renown,
    To guard the Trojans, to defend the crown;
    Against his country's foes the war to wage,
    And rise the Hector of the future age!
    So when, triumphant from successful toils,
    Of heroes slain he bears the reeking spoils,
    Whole hosts may hail him, with deserv'd acclaim,
    And say, _this chief_ transcends his father's fame:
    While pleas'd amidst the general shouts of Troy,
    His mother's conscious heart o'erflows with joy.

    He _spoke_, and fondly gazing on her charms,
    Restor'd _the pleasing burden to her arms_:
    Soft on her fragrant breast the babe she laid,
    Hush'd to repose, and with a smile survey'd.
    The _troubled pleasure_ soon chastis'd by fear,
    She mingled with the smile a tender tear.


There is such a thing as Literary Fashion, and prose and verse have been
regulated by the same caprice that cuts our coats and cocks our hats.
Dr. Kippis, who had a taste for literary history, has observed that
"'Dodsley's Oeconomy of Human Life' long received the most extravagant
applause, from the supposition that it was written by a celebrated
nobleman; an instance of the power of _Literary Fashion_; the history of
which, as it hath appeared in various ages and countries, and as it hath
operated with respect to the different objects of science, learning,
art, and taste, would form a work that might be highly instructive and

The favourable reception of Dodsley's "Oeconomy of Human Life," produced
a whole family of oeconomies; it was soon followed by a _second part_,
the gratuitous ingenuity of one of those officious imitators, whom an
original author never cares to thank. Other oeconomies trod on the heels
of each other.

For some memoranda towards a history of literary fashions, the following
may be arranged:--

At the restoration of letters in Europe, commentators and compilers were
at the head of the literati; translators followed, who enriched
themselves with their spoils on the commentators. When in the progress
of modern literature, writers aimed to rival the great authors of
antiquity, the different styles, in their servile imitations, clashed
together; and parties were formed who fought desperately for the style
they chose to adopt. The public were long harassed by a fantastic race,
who called themselves Ciceronian, of whom are recorded many ridiculous
practices, to strain out the words of Cicero into their hollow
verbosities. They were routed by the facetious Erasmus. Then followed
the brilliant æra of epigrammatic points; and good sense, and good
taste, were nothing without the spurious ornaments of false wit.
Another age was deluged by a million of sonnets; and volumes were for a
long time read, without their readers being aware that their patience
was exhausted. There was an age of epics, which probably can never
return again; for after two or three, the rest can be but repetitions
with a few variations.

In Italy, from 1530 to 1580, a vast multitude of books were written on
Love; the fashion of writing on that subject (for certainly it was not
always a passion with the indefatigable writer) was an epidemical
distemper. They wrote like pedants, and pagans; those who could not
write their love in verse, diffused themselves in prose. When the
Poliphilus of Colonna appeared, which is given in the form of a dream,
this dream made a great many dreamers, as it happens in company (says
the sarcastic Zeno) when one yawner makes many yawn. When Bishop Hall
first published his satires, he called them "Toothless Satires," but his
latter ones he distinguished as "Biting Satires;" many good-natured men,
who could only write good-natured verse, crowded in his footsteps, and
the abundance of their labours only showed that even the "toothless"
satires of Hall could bite more sharply than those of servile imitators.
After Spenser's "Faerie Queen" was published, the press overflowed with
many mistaken imitations, in which fairies were the chief actors--this
circumstance is humorously animadverted on by Marston, in his satires,
as quoted by Warton: every scribe now falls asleep, and in his

    ----dreams, straight tenne pound to one
    Outsteps some _fairy_----
    Awakes, straiet rubs his eyes, and PRINTS HIS TALE.

The great personage who gave a fashion to this class of literature was
the courtly and romantic Elizabeth herself; her obsequious wits and
courtiers would not fail to feed and flatter her taste. Whether they all
felt the beauties, or languished over the tediousness of "The Faerie
Queen," and the "Arcadia" of Sidney, at least her majesty gave a vogue
to such sentimental and refined romance. The classical Elizabeth
introduced another literary fashion; having translated the Hercules
Oetacus, she made it fashionable to translate Greek tragedies. There was
a time, in the age of fanaticism, and the Long Parliament, that books
were considered the more valuable for their length. The seventeenth
century was the age of folios. Caryl wrote a "Commentary on Job" in two
volumes folio, of above one thousand two hundred sheets! as it was
intended to inculcate the virtue of patience, these volumes gave at once
the theory and the practice. One is astonished at the multitude of the
divines of this age; whose works now lie buried under the brick and
mortar tombs of four or five folios, which, on a moderate calculation,
might now be "wire-woven" into thirty or forty modern octavos.

In Charles I.'s time, love and honour were heightened by the wits into
florid romance; but Lord Goring turned all into ridicule; and he was
followed by the Duke of Buckingham, whose happy vein of ridicule was
favoured by Charles II., who gave it the vogue it obtained.

Sir William Temple justly observes, that changes in veins of wit are
like those of habits, or other modes. On the return of Charles II., none
were more out of fashion among the new courtiers than the old Earl of
Norwich, who was esteemed the greatest wit, in his father's time, among
the old.

Modern times have abounded with what may be called fashionable
literature. Tragedies were some years ago as fashionable as comedies are
at this day;[29] Thomson, Mallet, Francis, Hill, applied their genius to
a department in which they lost it all. Declamation and rant, and
over-refined language, were preferred to the fable, the manners, and to
nature--and these now sleep on our shelves! Then too we had a family of
paupers in the parish of poetry, in "Imitations of Spenser." Not many
years ago, Churchill was the occasion of deluging the town with
_political poems in quarto_.--These again were succeeded by _narrative
poems_, in the ballad measure, from all sizes of poets.--The Castle of
Otranto was the father of that marvellous, which once over-stocked the
circulating library and closed with Mrs. Radcliffe.--Lord Byron has been
the father of hundreds of graceless sons!--Travels and voyages have long
been a class of literature so fashionable, that we begin to prepare for,
or to dread, the arrival of certain persons from the Continent!

Different times, then, are regulated by different tastes. What makes a
strong impression on the public at one time, ceases to interest it at
another; an author who sacrifices to the prevailing humours of his day
has but little chance of being esteemed by posterity; and every age of
modern literature might, perhaps, admit of a new classification, by
dividing it into its periods of _fashionable literature_.


        Il est des gens de qui l'esprit guindé
        Sous un front jamais déridé
        Ne souffre, n'approuve, et n'estime
        Que le pompeux, et le sublime;
        Pour moi j'ose poser en fait
        Qu'en de certains momens l'esprit le plus parfait
        Peut aimer sans rougir jusqu'aux marionettes;
        Et qu'il est des tems et des lieux,
        Où le grave, et le sérieux,
        Ne valent pas d'agréables sornettes.
                                  Peau d'Ane.

        People there are who never smile;
        Their foreheads still unsmooth'd the while,
        Some lambent flame of mirth will play,
        That wins the easy heart away;
        Such only choose in prose or rhyme
        A bristling pomp,--they call sublime!
        I blush not to like Harlequin,
        Would he but talk,--and all his kin.
      Yes, there are times, and there are places,
    When flams and old wives' tales are worth the Graces.

Cervantes, in the person of his hero, has confessed the delight he
received from amusements which disturb the gravity of some, who are apt,
however, to be more entertained by them than they choose to acknowledge.
Don Quixote thus dismisses a troop of merry strollers--"_Andad con Dios,
buena gente, y hazad vuestra fiesta, porque desde muchacho fui
aficionado a la_ Carátula, _y en mi mocedad se ne ivan los ojos tras la_
Farándula." In a literal version the passage may run thus:--"Go, good
people, God be with you, and keep your merry making! for from childhood
I was in love with the _Carátula_, and in my youth my eyes would lose
themselves amidst the _Farándula_." According to Pineda, _La Carátula_
is an actor masked, and _La Farándula_ is a kind of farce.[30]

Even the studious Bayle, wrapping himself in his cloak, and hurrying to
the market-place to Punchinello, would laugh when the fellow had humour
in him, as was usually the case; and I believe the pleasure some still
find in pantomimes, to the annoyance of their gravity, is a very natural
one, and only wants a little more understanding in the actors and the

The truth is, that here our Harlequin and all his lifeless family are
condemned to perpetual silence. They came to us from the genial hilarity
of the Italian theatre, and were all the grotesque children of wit, and
whim, and satire. Why is this burlesque race here privileged to cost so
much, to do so little, and to repeat that little so often? Our own
pantomime may, indeed, boast of two inventions of its own growth: we
have turned Harlequin into a magician, and this produces the surprise of
sudden changes of scenery, whose splendour and curious correctness have
rarely been equalled: while in the metamorphosis of the scene, a certain
sort of wit to the eye, "mechanic wit," as it has been termed, has
originated; as when a surgeon's shop is turned into a laundry, with the
inscription "Mangling done here;" or counsellors at the bar changed into

Every one of this grotesque family were the creatures of national
genius, chosen by the people for themselves. Italy, both ancient and
modern, exhibits a gesticulating people of comedians, and the same comic
genius characterised the nation through all its revolutions, as well as
the individual through all his fortunes. The lower classes still betray
their aptitude in that vivid humour, where the action is suited to the
word--silent gestures sometimes expressing whole sentences. They can
tell a story, and even raise the passions, without opening their lips.
No nation in modern Europe possesses so keen a relish for the
_burlesque_, insomuch as to show a class of unrivalled poems, which are
distinguished by the very title; and perhaps there never was an Italian
in a foreign country, however deep in trouble, but would drop all
remembrance of his sorrows, should one of his countrymen present himself
with the paraphernalia of Punch at the corner of a street. I was
acquainted with an Italian, a philosopher and a man of fortune, residing
in this country, who found so lively a pleasure in performing
Punchinello's little comedy, that, for this purpose, with considerable
expense and curiosity, he had his wooden company, in all their costume,
sent over from his native place. The shrill squeak of the tin whistle
had the same comic effect on him as the notes of the _Ranz des Vaches_
have in awakening the tenderness of domestic emotions in the wandering
Swiss--the national genius is dramatic. Lady Wortley Montagu, when she
resided at a villa near Brescia, was applied to by the villagers for
leave to erect a theatre in her saloon: they had been accustomed to turn
the stables into a playhouse every carnival. She complied, and, as she
tells us, was "surprised at the beauty of their scenes, though painted
by a country painter. The performance was yet more surprising, the
actors being all peasants; but the Italians have so natural a genius for
comedy, they acted as well as if they had been brought up to nothing
else, particularly the _Arlequino_, who far surpassed any of our
English, though only the tailor of our village, and I am assured never
saw a play in any other place." Italy is the mother, and the nurse, of
the whole Harlequin race.

Hence it is that no scholars in Europe but the most learned Italians,
smit by the national genius, could have devoted their vigils to narrate
the revolutions of pantomime, to compile the annals of Harlequin, to
unrol the genealogy of Punch, and to discover even the most secret
anecdotes of the obscurer branches of that grotesque family, amidst
their changeful fortunes, during a period of two thousand years! Nor is
this all; princes have ranked them among the Rosciuses; and Harlequins
and Scaramouches have been ennobled. Even Harlequins themselves have
written elaborate treatises on the almost insurmountable difficulties of
their art. I despair to convey the sympathy they have inspired me with
to my reader; but every _Tramontane_ genius must be informed, that of
what he has never seen he must rest content to be told.

Of the ancient Italian troop we have retained three or four of the
characters, while their origin has nearly escaped our recollection; but
of the burlesque comedy, the extempore dialogue, the humorous fable, and
its peculiar species of comic acting, all has vanished.

Many of the popular pastimes of the Romans unquestionably survived their
dominion, for the people will amuse themselves, though their masters may
be conquered; and tradition has never proved more faithful than in
preserving popular sports. Many of the games of our children were played
by Roman boys; the mountebanks, with the dancers and tumblers on their
moveable stages, still in our fairs, are Roman; the disorders of the
_Bacchanalia_, Italy appears to imitate in her carnivals. Among these
Roman diversions certain comic characters have been transmitted to us,
along with some of their characteristics, and their dresses. The
speaking pantomimes and extemporal comedies which have delighted the
Italians for many centuries, are from this ancient source.[32]

Of the _Mimi_ and the _Pantomimi_ of the Romans the following notices
enter into our present researches:

The _Mimi_ were an impudent race of buffoons, who exulted in mimicry,
and, like our domestic fools, were admitted into convivial parties to
entertain the guests; from them we derive the term _mimetic_ art. Their
powers enabled them to perform a more extraordinary office, for they
appear to have been introduced into funerals, to mimic the person, and
even the language of the deceased. Suetonius describes an _Archimimus_
accompanying the funeral of Vespasian. This Arch-mime performed his part
admirably, not only representing the person, but imitating, according to
custom, _ut est mos_, the manners and language of the living emperor. He
contrived a happy stroke at the prevailing foible of Vespasian, when he
inquired the cost of all this funeral pomp--"Ten millions of sesterces!"
On this he observed, that if they would give him but a hundred thousand
they might throw his body into the Tiber.

The _Pantomimi_ were quite of a different class. They were tragic
actors, usually mute; they combined with the arts of gesture music and
dances of the most impressive character. Their silent language often
drew tears by the pathetic emotions which they excited: "Their very nod
speaks, their hands talk, and their fingers have a voice," says one of
their admirers. Seneca, the father, grave as was his profession,
confessed his taste for pantomimes had become a passion;[33] and by the
decree of the Senate, that "the Roman knights should not attend the
pantomimic players in the streets," it is evident that the performers
were greatly honoured. Lucian has composed a curious treatise on
pantomimes. We may have some notion of their deep conception of
character, and their invention, by an anecdote recorded by Macrobius of
two rival pantomimes. When Hylas, dancing a hymn, which closed with the
words "The great Agamemnon," to express that idea he took it in its
literal meaning, and stood erect, as if measuring his size--Pylades, his
rival, exclaimed, "You make him tall, but not great!" The audience
obliged Pylades to dance the same hymn; when he came to the words he
collected himself in a posture of deep meditation. This silent
pantomimic language we ourselves have witnessed carried to singular
perfection; when the actor Palmer, after building a theatre, was
prohibited the use of his voice by the magistrates. It was then he
powerfully affected the audience by the eloquence of his action in the
tragic pantomime of Don Juan![34]

These pantomimi seem to have been held in great honour; many were
children of the Graces and the Virtues! The tragic and the comic masks
were among the ornaments of the sepulchral monuments of an archmime and
a pantomime. Montfaucon conjectures that they formed a select
fraternity.[35] They had such an influence over the Roman people, that
when two of them quarrelled, Augustus interfered to renew their
friendship. Pylades was one of them; and he observed to the emperor,
that nothing could be more useful to him than that the people should be
perpetually occupied with the _squabbles_ between him and Bathyllus! The
advice was accepted, and the emperor was silenced.

The parti-coloured hero, with every part of his dress, has been drawn
out of the great wardrobe of antiquity: he was a Roman Mime. HARLEQUIN
is described with his shaven head, _rasis capitibus_; his sooty face,
_fuligine faciem obducti_; his flat, unshod feet, _planipedes_; and his
patched coat of many colours, _Mimi centunculo_.[36] Even
_Pullicinella_, whom we familiarly call PUNCH, may receive, like other
personages of not greater importance, all his dignity from antiquity;
one of his Roman ancestors having appeared to an antiquary's visionary
eye in a bronze statue; more than one erudite dissertation authenticates
the family likeness; the nose long, prominent, and hooked; the staring
goggle eyes; the hump at his back and at his breast; in a word, all the
character which so strongly marks the Punch-race, as distinctly as whole
dynasties have been featured by the Austrian lip and the Bourbon

The genealogy of the whole family is confirmed by the general term,
which includes them all; for our _Zany_, in Italian _Zanni_, comes
direct from _Sannio_, a buffoon: and a passage in Cicero, _De Oratore_,
paints Harlequin and his brother gesticulators after the life; the
perpetual trembling motion of their limbs, their ludicrous and flexible
gestures, and all the mimicry of their faces:--_Quid enim potest tam
ridiculum, quam_ SANNIO _esse? Qui ore, vultu, imitandis motibus, voce,
denique corpore ridetur ipso_. Lib. ii. sect. 51. "For what has more of
the ludicrous than SANNIO? who, with his mouth, his face, imitating
every motion, with his voice, and, indeed, with all his body, provokes

These are the two ancient heroes of pantomime. The other characters are
the laughing children of mere modern humour. Each of these chimerical
personages, like so many county members, come from different provinces
in the gesticulating land of pantomime; in little principalities the
rival inhabitants present a contrast in manners and characters which
opens a wider field for ridicule and satire than in a kingdom where an
uniformity of government will produce an uniformity of manners. An
inventor appeared in Ruzzante, an author and actor who flourished about
1530. Till his time they had servilely copied the duped fathers, the
wild sons, and the tricking valets, of Plautus and Terence; and,
perhaps, not being writers of sufficient skill, but of some invention,
were satisfied to sketch the plots of dramas, but boldly trusted to
extempore acting and dialogue. Ruzzante peopled the Italian stage with a
fresh enlivening crowd of pantomimic characters; the insipid dotards of
the ancient comedy were transformed into the Venetian Pantaloon and the
Bolognese Doctor; while the hare-brained fellow, the arch knave, and the
booby, were furnished from Milan, Bergamo, and Calabria. He gave his
newly-created beings new language and a new dress. From Plautus he
appears to have taken the hint of introducing all the Italian dialects
into one comedy, by making each character use his own; and even the
modern Greek, which, it seems, afforded many an unexpected play on
words, for the Italian.[39] This new kind of pleasure, like the language
of Babel, charmed the national ear; every province would have its
dialect introduced on the scene, which often served the purpose both of
recreation and a little innocent malice. Their _masks_ and _dresses_
were furnished by the grotesque masqueraders of the carnival, which,
doubtless, often contributed many scenes and humours to the quick and
fanciful genius of Ruzzante. I possess a little book of Scaramouches,
&c. by Callot. Their masks and their costume must have been copied from
these carnival scenes. We see their strongly-featured masks; their
attitudes, pliant as those of a posture-master; the drollery of their
figures; while the grotesque creatures seem to leap, and dance, and
gesticulate, and move about so fantastically under his sharp graver,
that they form as individualised a race as our fairies and witches;
mortals, yet like nothing mortal![40]

The first Italian actors wore masks--objections have been raised against
their use. Signorelli shows the inferiority of the moderns in deviating
from the moveable or rather double masks of antiquity, by which the
actor could vary the artificial face at pleasure. The mask has had its
advocates, for some advantages it possesses over the naked face; a mask
aggravates the features, and gives a more determined expression to the
comic character; an important effect among this fantastical group.[41]

The HARLEQUIN in the Italian theatre has passed through all the
vicissitudes of fortune. At first he was a true representative of the
ancient Mime, but afterwards degenerated into a booby and a gourmand,
the perpetual butt for a sharp-witted fellow, his companion, called
Brighella; the knife and the whetstone. Harlequin, under the reforming
hand of Goldoni, became a child of nature, the delight of his country;
and he has commemorated the historical character of the great Harlequin
Sacchi. It may serve the reader to correct his notions of one, from the
absurd pretender with us who has usurped the title. "Sacchi possessed a
lively and brilliant imagination. While other Harlequins merely repeated
themselves, Sacchi, who always adhered to the essence of the play,
contrived to give an air of freshness to the piece by his new sallies
and unexpected repartees. His comic traits and his jests were neither
taken from the language of the lower orders, nor that of the comedians.
He levied contributions on comic authors, on poets, orators, and
philosophers; and in his impromptus they often discovered the thoughts
of Seneca, Cicero, or Montaigne. He possessed the art of appropriating
the remains of these great men to himself, and allying them to the
simplicity of the blockhead; so that the same proposition which was
admired in a serious author, became highly ridiculous in the mouth of
this excellent actor."[42] In France Harlequin was improved into a wit,
and even converted into a moralist; he is the graceful hero of Florian's
charming compositions, which please even in the closet. "This imaginary
being, invented by the Italians, and adopted by the French," says the
ingenious Goldoni, "has the exclusive right of uniting _naïveté_ with
_finesse_, and no one ever surpassed Florian in the delineation of this
amphibious character. He has even contrived to impart sentiment,
passion, and morality to his pieces."[43] Harlequin must be modelled as
a national character, the creature of manners; and thus the history of
such a Harlequin might be that of the age and of the people, whose
genius he ought to represent.

The history of a people is often detected in their popular amusements;
one of these Italian pantomimic characters shows this. They had a
_Capitan_, who probably originated in the _Miles gloriosus_ of Plautus;
a brother, at least, of our Ancient Pistol and Bobadil. The ludicrous
names of this military poltroon were _Spavento_ (Horrid fright),
_Spezza-fer_ (Shiver-spear), and a tremendous recreant was Captain
_Spavento de Val inferno_. When Charles V. entered Italy, a Spanish
Captain was introduced; a dreadful man he was too, if we are to be
frightened by names: _Sanqre e Fuego_! and _Matamoro_! His business was
to deal in Spanish rhodomontades, to kick out the native Italian
_Capitan_, in compliment to the Spaniards, and then to take a quiet
caning from Harlequin, in compliment to themselves. When the Spaniards
lost their influence in Italy, the Spanish Captain was turned into
Scaramouch, who still wore the Spanish dress, and was perpetually in a
panic. The Italians could only avenge themselves on the Spaniards in
pantomime! On the same principle the gown of Pantaloon over his red
waistcoat and breeches, commemorates a circumstance in Venetian history
expressive of the popular feeling; the dress is that of a Venetian
citizen, and his speech the dialect; but when the Venetians lost
Negropont, they changed their upper dress to black, which before had
been red, as a national demonstration of their grief.

The characters of the Italian pantomime became so numerous, that every
dramatic subject was easily furnished with the necessary personages of
comedy. That loquacious pedant the _Dottore_ was taken from the lawyers
and the physicians, babbling false Latin in the dialect of learned
Bologna. _Scapin_ was a livery servant who spoke the dialect of Bergamo,
a province proverbially abounding with rank intriguing knaves, who, like
the slaves in Plautus and Terence, were always on the watch to further
any wickedness; while Calabria furnished the booby Giangurgello with his
grotesque nose. Molière, it has been ascertained, discovered in the
Italian theatre at Paris his "Médecin malgré lui," his "Etourdi," his
"L'Avare," and his "Scapin." Milan offered a pimp in the _Brighella_;
Florence an ape of fashion in _Gelsomino_. These and other pantomimic
characters, and some ludicrous ones, as the _Tartaglia_, a spectacled
dotard, a stammerer, and usually in a passion, had been gradually
introduced by the inventive powers of an actor of genius, to call forth
his own peculiar talents.

The Pantomimes, or, as they have been described, the continual
Masquerades, of Ruzzante, with all these diversified personages, talking
and acting, formed, in truth, a burlesque comedy. Some of the finest
geniuses of Italy became the votaries of Harlequin; and the Italian
pantomime may be said to form a school of its own. The invention of
Ruzzante was one capable of perpetual novelty. Many of these actors have
been chronicled either for the invention of some comic character, or for
their true imitation of nature in performing some favourite one. One,
already immortalised by having lost his real name in that of _Captain
Matamoros_, by whose inimitable humours he became the most popular man
in Italy, invented the Neapolitan Pullicinello; while another, by deeper
study, added new graces to another burlesque rival.[44] One Constantini
invented the character of Mezetin, as the Narcissus of pantomime. He
acted without a mask, to charm by the beautiful play of his countenance,
and display the graces of his figure; the floating drapery of his
fanciful dress could be arranged by the changeable humour of the wearer.
Crowds followed him in the streets, and a King of Poland ennobled him.
The Wit and Harlequin Dominic sometimes dined at the table of Louis
XIV.--Tiberio Fiorillo, who invented the character of Scaramouch, had
been the amusing companion of the boyhood of Louis XIV.; and from him
Molière learnt much, as appears by the verses under his portrait:--

    Cet illustre comédien
    De son art traça la carrière:
    Il fut le maître de Molière,
    Et la Nature fut le sien.

The last lines of an epitaph on one of these pantomimic actors may be
applied to many of them during their flourishing period:--

    Toute sa vie il a fait rire;
    Il a fait pleurer à sa mort.

Several of these admirable actors were literary men, who have written on
their art, and shown that it was one. The Harlequin Cecchini composed
the most ancient treatise on this subject, and was ennobled by the
Emperor Matthias; and Nicholas Barbieri, for his excellent acting called
the _Beltrame_, a Milanese simpleton, in his treatise on comedy, tell us
that he was honoured by the conversation of Louis XIII. and rewarded
with fortune.

What was the nature of that perfection to which the Italian pantomime
reached; and that prodigality of genius which excited such enthusiasm,
not only among the populace, but the studious, and the noble, and the
men of genius?

The Italian Pantomime had two peculiar features; a species of buffoonery
technically termed _Lazzi_, and one of a more extraordinary nature, the
_extempore dialogue_ of its comedy.

These _Lazzi_ were certain pleasantries of gesticulation, quite
national, yet so closely allied to our notions of buffoonery, that a
northern critic would not readily detect the separating shade; yet
Riccoboni asserts that they formed a critical, and not a trivial art.
That these arts of gesticulation had something in them peculiar to
Italian humour, we infer from Gherardi, who could not explain the term
but by describing it as "_Un Tour_; JEU ITALIEN!" It was so peculiar to
them, that he could only call it by their own name. It is difficult to
describe that of which the whole magic consists in being seen; and what
is more evanescent than the humour which consists in gestures?

"_Lazzi_," says Riccoboni, "is a term corrupted from the old Tuscan
_Lacci_, which signifies a knot, or something which connects. These
pleasantries called _Lazzi_ are certain actions by which the performer
breaks into the scene, to paint to the eye his emotions of panic or
jocularity; but as such gestures are foreign to the business going on,
the nicety of the art consists in not interrupting the scene, and
connecting the _Lazzi_ with it; thus to _tie_ the whole together."
_Lazzi_, then, seems a kind of mimicry and gesture, corresponding with
the passing scene; and we may translate the term by one in our
green-room dialect, _side-play_. Riccoboni has ventured to describe some
_Lazzi_. When Harlequin and Scapin represent two famished servants of a
poor young mistress, among the arts by which they express the state of
starvation, Harlequin having murmured, Scapin exhorts him to groan, a
music which brings out their young mistress, Scapin explains Harlequin's
impatience, and begins a proposal to her which might extricate them all
from their misery. While Scapin is talking, Harlequin performs his
_Lazzi_--imagining he holds a hatful of cherries, he seems eating them,
and gaily flinging the stones at Scapin; or with a rueful countenance he
is trying to catch a fly, and with his hand, in comical despair, would
chop off the wings before he swallows the chameleon game. These, with
similar _Lazzi_, harmonise with the remonstrance of Scapin, and
re-animate it; and thus these "_Lazzi_, although they seem to interrupt
the progress of the action, yet in cutting it they slide back into it,
and connect or tie the whole." These _Lazzi_ are in great danger of
degenerating into puerile mimicry or gross buffoonery, unless fancifully
conceived and vividly gesticulated. But the Italians seem to possess the
arts of gesture before that of speech; and this national characteristic
is also Roman. Such, indeed, was the powerful expression of their
mimetic art, that when the select troop under Riccoboni, on their first
introduction into France only spoke in Italian, the audience, who did
not understand the _words_, were made completely masters of the _action_
by their pure and energetic imitations of nature. The Italian theatre
has, indeed, recorded some miracles of this sort. A celebrated
Scaramouch, without uttering a syllable, kept the audience for a
considerable time in a state of suspense by a scene of successive
terrors; and exhibited a living picture of a panic-stricken man.
Gherardi in his "Théâtre Italien," conveys some idea of the scene.
Scaramouch, a character usually represented in a fright, is waiting for
his master Harlequin in his apartment; having put everything in order,
according to his confused notions, he takes the guitar, seats himself in
an arm-chair, and plays. Pasquariel comes gently behind him, and taps
time on his shoulders--this throws Scaramouch into a panic. "It was then
that incomparable model of our most eminent actors," says Gherardi,
"displayed the miracles of his art; that art which paints the passions
in the face, throws them into every gesture, and through a whole scene
of frights upon frights, conveys the most powerful expression of
ludicrous terror. This man moved all hearts by the simplicity of nature,
more than skilful orators can with all the charms of persuasive
rhetoric." On this memorable scene a great prince observed that
"_Scaramuccia non parla, e dica gran cosa_:" "He speaks not, but he says
many great things."

In gesticulation and humour our Rich[45] appears to have been a complete
Mime: his genius was entirely confined to Pantomime; and he had the
glory of introducing Harlequin on the English stage, which he played
under the feigned name of _Lun_. He could describe to the audience by
his signs and gestures as intelligibly as others could express by words.
There is a large caricature print of the triumph which Rich had obtained
over the severe Muses of Tragedy and Comedy, which lasted too long not
to excite jealousy and opposition from the _corps dramatique_.

Garrick, who once introduced a speaking Harlequin, has celebrated the
silent but powerful language of Rich:--

    When LUN appear'd, with matchless art and whim,
    He gave the power of speech to every limb;
    Tho' mask'd and mute, conveyed his quick intent,
    And told in frolic gestures what he meant:
    But now the motley coat and sword of wood
    Require a tongue to make them understood!

The Italian EXTEMPORAL COMEDY is a literary curiosity which claims our


It is a curiosity in the history of national genius to discover a people
with such a native fund of comic humour, combined with such passionate
gesticulation, that they could deeply interest in acting a Comedy,
carried on by dialogue, intrigue, and character, _all' improvista_, or
_impromptu_; the actors undergoing no rehearsal, and, in fact, composing
while they were acting. The plot, called _Scenario_, consisting merely
of the scenes enumerated, with the characters indicated, was first
written out; it was then suspended at the back of the stage, and from
the mere inspection, the actors came forward to perform the dialogue
entirely depending on their own genius.[46]

"These pieces must have been detestable, and the actors mere buffoons,"
exclaim the northern critics, whose imaginations have a coldness in
them, like a frost in spring. But when the art of Extemporal Comedy
flourished among these children of fancy, the universal pleasure these
representations afforded to a whole vivacious people, and the recorded
celebrity of their great actors, open a new field for the speculation of
genius. It may seem more extraordinary that some of its votaries have
maintained that it possessed some peculiar advantages over written
compositions. When Goldoni reformed the Italian theatre by regular
comedies, he found an invincible opposition from the enthusiasts of
their old Comedy: for two centuries it had been the amusement of Italy,
and was a species of comic entertainment which it had created. Inventive
minds were fond of sketching out these outlines of pieces, and other men
of genius delighted in their representation.

The inspiration of national genius alone could produce this phenomenon;
and these Extemporal Comedies were, indeed, indigenous to the soil.
Italy, a land of _Improvisatori_, kept up from the time of their old
masters, the Romans, the same fervid fancy. The ancient _Atellanæ
Fabulæ_, or Atellane Farces, originated at Atella, a town in the
neighbourhood of ancient Naples; and these, too, were extemporal
Interludes, or, as Livy terms them, _Exodia_. We find in that historian
a little interesting narrative of the theatrical history of the Romans;
when the dramatic performances at Rome were becoming too sentimental and
declamatory, banishing the playfulness and the mirth of Comedy, the
Roman youth left these graver performances to the professed actors, and
revived, perhaps in imitation of the licentious _Satyra_ of the Greeks,
the ancient custom of versifying pleasantries, and throwing out jests
and raillery among themselves for their own diversion.[47] These Atellan
Farces were probably not so low in humour as they have been
represented;[48] or at least the Roman youth, on their revival,
exercised a chaster taste, for they are noticed by Cicero in a letter to
his literary friend Papyrius Pætus. "But to turn from the serious to the
jocose part of your letter--the strain of pleasantry you break into,
immediately after having quoted the tragedy of Oenomaus, puts me in mind
of the _modern method_ of introducing at the _end_ of these _graver
dramatic pieces_ the _buffoon humour of our low Mimes_ instead of the
_more delicate burlesque of the old Atellan Farces_."[49] This very
curious passage distinctly marks out the two classes, which so many
centuries after Cicero were revived in the _Pantomime_ of Italy, and in
its _Extemporal Comedy_.[50]

The critics on our side of the Alps reproached the Italians for the
extemporal comedies; and Marmontel rashly declared that the nation did
not possess a single comedy which could endure perusal. But he drew his
notions from the low farces of the Italian theatre at Paris, and he
censured what he had never read.[51] The comedies of Bibiena, Del Lasca,
Del Secchi, and others, are models of classical comedy, but not the
popular favourites of Italy. Signorelli distinguishes two species of
Italian comedy: those which he calls _commedie antiche ed eruditi_,
ancient and learned comedies; and those of _commedie dell' arte_, or _a
soggetto_, comedies suggested.--The first were moulded on classical
models, recited in their academies to a select audience, and performed
by amateurs; but the _commedie a soggetto_, the extemporal comedies,
were invented by professional actors of genius. More delightful to the
fancy of the Italians, and more congenial to their talents, in spite of
the graver critics, who even in their amusements cannot cast off the
manacles of precedence, the Italians resolved to be pleased for
themselves, with their own natural vein; and preferred a freedom of
original humour and invention incompatible with regular productions, but
which inspired admirable actors, and secured full audiences.

Men of great genius had a passion for performing in these extemporal
comedies. Salvator Rosa was famous for his character of a Calabrian
clown; whose original he had probably often studied amidst that
mountainous scenery in which his pencil delighted. Of their manner of
acting I find an interesting anecdote in Passeri's life of this great
painter; he shall tell his own story.

"One summer Salvator Rosa joined a company of young persons who were
curiously addicted to the making of _commedie all' improviso_. In the
midst of a vineyard they raised a rustic stage, under the direction of
one Mussi, who enjoyed some literary reputation, particularly for his
sermons preached in Lent.

"Their second comedy was numerously attended, and I went among the rest;
I sat on the same bench, by good fortune, with the Cavalier Bernini,
Romanelli, and Guido, all well-known persons. Salvator Rosa, who had
already made himself a favourite with the Roman people, under the
character of _Formica_[52] opened with a prologue, in company with other
actors. He proposed, for relieving themselves of the extreme heats and
_ennui_, that they should make a comedy, and all agreed. Formica then
spoke these exact words:

"_Non boglio già, che facimmo commedie come cierti, che tagliano li
panni aduosso a chisto, o a chillo; perche co lo tiempo se fa vedere
chiù veloce lo taglio de no rasuolo, che la penna de no poeta; e ne
manco boglio, che facimmo venire nella scena porta, citazioni,
acquavitari, e crapari, e ste schifenze che tengo spropositi da aseno._"

One part of this humour lies in the dialect, which is Venetian; but
there was a concealed stroke of satire, a snake in the grass. The sense
of the passage is, "I will not, however, that we should make a comedy
like certain persons who cut clothes, and put them on this man's back,
and on that man's back; for at last the time comes which shows how much
faster went the cut of the shears than the pen of the poet; nor will we
have entering on the scene, couriers, brandy-sellers, and goatherds, and
there stare shy and blockish, which I think worthy the senseless
invention of an ass."

Passeri now proceeds: "At this time Bernini had made a comedy in the
Carnival, very pungent and biting; and that summer he had one of
Castelli's performed in the suburbs, where, to represent the dawn of
day, appeared on the stage water-carriers, couriers, and goat-herds,
going about--all which is contrary to rule, which allows of no character
who is not concerned in the dialogue to mix with the groups. At these
words of the Formica, I, who well knew his meaning, instantly glanced my
eye at Bernini, to observe his movements; but he, with an artificial
carelessness, showed that this 'cut of the shears' did not touch him;
and he made no apparent show of being hurt. But Castelli, who was also
near, tossing his head and smiling in bitterness, showed clearly that he
was hit."

This Italian story, told with all the poignant relish of these vivacious
natives, to whom such a stinging incident was an important event, also
shows the personal freedoms taken on these occasions by a man of genius,
entirely in the spirit of the ancient Roman Atellana, or the Grecian

Riccoboni has discussed the curious subject of Extemporal Comedy with
equal modesty and feeling; and Gherardi, with more exultation and
egotism. "This kind of _spectacle_," says Riccoboni, "is peculiar to
Italy; one cannot deny that it has graces perfectly its own, and which
written Comedy can never exhibit. This _impromptu_ mode of acting
furnishes opportunities for a perpetual change in the performance, so
that the same _scenario_ repeated still appears a new one: thus one
Comedy may become twenty Comedies. An actor of this description, always
supposing an actor of genius, is more vividly affected than one who has
coldly got his part by rote." But Riccoboni could not deny that there
were inconveniences in this singular art. One difficulty not easily
surmounted was the preventing of all the actors speaking together; each
one eager to reply before the other had finished. It was a nice point to
know when to yield up the scene entirely to a predominant character,
when agitated by violent passion; nor did it require a less exercised
tact to feel when to stop; the vanity of an actor often spoiled a fine

It evidently required that some of the actors at least should be blessed
with genius, and what is scarcely less difficult to find, with a certain
equality of talents; for the performance of the happiest actor of this
school greatly depends on the excitement he receives from his companion;
an actor beneath mediocrity would ruin a piece. "But figure, memory,
voice, and even sensibility, are not sufficient for the actor _all'
improvista_; he must be in the habit of cultivating the imagination,
pouring forth the flow of expression, and prompt in those flashes which
instantaneously vibrate in the plaudits of an audience." And this
accomplished extemporal actor feelingly laments that those destined to
his profession, who require the most careful education, are likely to
have received the most neglected one. Lucian, in his curious treatise on
Tragic Pantomime, asserts that the great actor should also be a man of
letters, and such were Garrick and Kemble.

The lively Gherardi throws out some curious information respecting this
singular art: "Any one may learn a part by rote, and do something bad,
or indifferent, on another theatre. With us the affair is quite
otherwise; and when an Italian actor dies, it is with infinite
difficulty we can supply his place. An Italian actor learns nothing by
head; he looks on the subject for a moment before he comes forward on
the stage, and entirely depends on his imagination for the rest. The
actor who is accustomed merely to recite what he has been taught is so
completely occupied by his memory, that he appears to stand, as it were,
unconnected either with the audience or his companion; he is so
impatient to deliver himself of the burthen he is carrying, that he
trembles like a school-boy, or is as senseless as an Echo, and could
never speak if others had not spoken before. Such a tutored actor among
us would be like a paralytic arm to a body; an unserviceable member,
only fatiguing the healthy action of the sound parts. Our performers,
who became illustrious by their art, charmed the spectators by the
beauty of their voice, their spontaneous gestures, the flexibility of
their passions, while a certain natural air never failed them in their
motions and their dialogue."

Here, then, is a species of the histrionic art unknown to us, and
running counter to that critical canon which our great poet, but not
powerful actor, has delivered to the actors themselves, "to speak no
more than is set down for them." The present art consisted in happily
performing the reverse.

Much of the merit of these actors unquestionably must be attributed to
the felicity of the national genius. But there were probably some secret
aids in this singular art of Extemporal Comedy which the pride of the
artist has concealed. Some traits in the character, and some wit in the
dialogue, might descend traditionally; and the most experienced actor on
that stage would make use of his memory more than he was willing to
confess. Goldoni records an unlucky adventure of his "Harlequin Lost and
Found," which outline he had sketched for the Italian company; it was
well received at Paris, but utterly failed at Fontainebleau, for some of
the actors had thought proper to incorporate too many jokes of the "Cocu
Imaginaire," which displeased the court, and ruined the piece. When a
new piece was to be performed, the chief actor summoned the troop in the
morning, read the plot, and explained the story, to contrive scenes. It
was like playing the whole performance before the actors. These hints of
scenes were all the rehearsal. When the actor entered on the scene he
did not know what was to come, nor had he any prompter to help him on;
much, too, depended on the talents of his companions; yet sometimes a
scene might be preconcerted. Invention, humour, bold conception of
character, and rapid strokes of genius, they habitually exercised--and
the pantomimic arts of gesture, the passionate or humorous expression of
their feelings, would assist an actor when his genius for a moment had
deserted him. Such excellence was not long hereditary, and in the
decline of this singular art its defects became more apparent. The race
had degenerated; the inexperienced actor became loquacious; long
monologues were contrived by a barren genius to hide his incapacity for
spirited dialogue; and a wearisome repetition of trivial jests, coarse
humour, and vulgar buffoonery, damned the _Commedia a soggetto_, and
sunk it to a Bartholomew-fair play. But the miracle which genius
produced it may repeat, whenever the same happy combination of
circumstances and persons shall occur together.

I shall give one anecdote to record the possible excellence of the art.
Louis Riccoboni, known in the annals of this theatre by the adopted name
of Lelio, his favourite _amoroso_ character, was not only an
accomplished actor, but a literary man; and with his wife Flaminia,
afterwards the celebrated novelist, displayed a rare union of talents
and of minds. It was suspected that they did not act _all' improvista_,
from the facility and the elegance of their dialogue; and a clamour was
now raised in the literary circles, who had long been jealous of the
fascination which attracted the public to the Italian theatre. It was
said that the Riccobonis were imposing on the public credulity; and that
their pretended Extemporal Comedies were preconcerted scenes. To
terminate this civil war between the rival theatres, La Motte offered to
sketch a plot in five acts, and the Italians were challenged to perform
it. This defiance was instantly accepted. On the morning of the
representation Lelio detailed the story to his troop, hung up the
_Scenario_ in its usual place, and the whole company was ready at the
drawing of the curtain. The plot given in by La Motte was performed to
admiration; and all Paris witnessed the triumph. La Motte afterwards
composed this very comedy for the French theatre, _L'Amante difficile_,
yet still the extemporal one at the Italian theatre remained a more
permanent favourite; and the public were delighted by seeing the same
piece perpetually offering novelties and changing its character at the
fancy of the actors. This fact conveys an idea of dramatic execution
which does not enter into our experience. Riccoboni carried the
_Commedie dell' Arte_ to a new perfection, by the introduction of an
elegant fable and serious characters; and he raised the dignity of the
Italian stage, when he inscribed on its curtain,



The pantomimic characters and the extemporal comedy of Italy may have
had some influence even on our own dramatic poets: this source has
indeed escaped all notice; yet I incline to think it explains a
difficult point in Massinger, which has baffled even the keen spirit of
Mr. Gifford.

A passage in Massinger bears a striking resemblance with one in
Molière's "Malade Imaginaire." It is in "The Emperor of the East," vol.
iii. 317. The Quack or "Empiric's" humorous notion is so closely that of
Molière's, that Mr. Gifford, agreeing with Mr. Gilchrist, "finds it
difficult to believe the coincidence accidental;" but the greater
difficulty is, to conceive that "Massinger ever fell into Molière's
hands." At that period, in the infancy of our literature, our native
authors and our own language were as insulated as their country. It is
more than probable that Massinger and Molière had drawn from the same
source--the Italian Comedy. Massinger's "Empiric," as well as the
acknowledged copy of Molière's "Médecin," came from the "Dottore" of the
Italian Comedy. The humour of these old Italian pantomimes was often as
traditionally preserved as proverbs. Massinger was a student of Italian
authors; and some of the lucky hits of their theatre, which then
consisted of nothing else but these burlesque comedies, might have
circuitously reached the English bard; and six-and-thirty years
afterwards, the same traditional jests might have been gleaned by the
Gallic one from the "Dottore," who was still repeating what he knew was
sure of pleasing. Our theatres of the Elizabethan period seem to have
had here the extemporal comedy after the manner of the Italians; we
surely possess one of these _Scenarios_, in the remarkable "Platts,"
which were accidentally discovered at Dulwich College, bearing every
feature of an Italian _Scenario_. Steevens calls them "_a mysterious
fragment_ of ancient stage direction," and adds, that "the paper
describes a species of dramatic entertainment of which no memorial is
preserved in any annals of the English stage."[53] The commentators on
Shakspeare appear not to have known the nature of these Scenarios. The
"Platt," as it is called, is fairly written in a large hand, containing
directions appointed to be stuck up near the prompter's station; and it
has even an oblong hole in its centre to admit of being suspended on a
wooden peg. Particular scenes are barely ordered, and the names, or
rather nicknames, of several of the players, appear in the most familiar
manner, as they were known to their companions in the rude green-room of
that day: such as "Pigg, White and Black Dick and Sam, Little Will
Barne, Jack Gregory, and the Red-faced fellow."[54] Some of these
"Platts" are on solemn subjects, like the tragic pantomime; and in some
appear "Pantaloon, and his man Peascod, with _spectacles_." Steevens
observes, that he met with no earlier example of the appearance of
Pantaloon, as a specific character on our stage; and that this direction
concerning "the spectacles" cannot fail to remind the reader of a
celebrated passage in _As You Like It_:

    ----The lean and _slipper'd Pantaloon_,
    With _spectacles_ on nose----.

Perhaps, he adds, Shakspeare alludes to this personage, as habited in
his own time. The old age of Pantaloon is marked by his _leanness_, and
his _spectacles_ and his _slippers_. He always runs after Harlequin, but
cannot catch him; as he runs in _slippers_ and without _spectacles_, is
liable to pass him by without seeing him. Can we doubt that this
Pantaloon had come from the Italian theatre, after what we have already
said? Does not this confirm the conjecture, that there existed an
intercourse between the Italian theatre and our own? Farther, Tarleton
the comedian, and others, celebrated for their "extemporal wit," was the
writer or inventor of one of these "Platts." Stowe records of one of our
actors that "he had a quick, delicate, refined, _extemporal_ wit." And
of another, that "he had a wondrous, plentiful, pleasant, _extemporal_
wit." These actors, then, who were in the habit of exercising their
impromptus, resembled those who performed in the unwritten comedies of
the Italians. Gabriel Harvey, the Aristarchus of the day, compliments
Tarleton for having brought forward a _new species of dramatic
exhibition_. If this compliment paid to Tarleton merely alludes to his
dexterity at _extemporaneous wit_ in the character of the _clown_, as my
friend Mr. Douce thinks, this would be sufficient to show that he was
attempting to introduce on our stage the extemporal comedy of the
Italians, which Gabriel Harvey distinguishes as "a new species." As for
these "Platts," which I shall now venture to call "Scenarios," they
surprise by their bareness, conveying no notion of the piece itself,
though quite sufficient for the actors. They consist of mere exits and
entrances of the actors, and often the real names of the actors are
familiarly mixed with those of the _dramatis personæ_. Steevens has
justly observed, however, on these skeletons, that although "the drift
of these dramatic pieces cannot be collected from the mere outlines
before us, yet we must not charge them with absurdity. Even the scenes
of Shakspeare would have worn as unpromising an aspect, had their
skeletons only been discovered." The printed _scenarios_ of the Italian
theatre were not more intelligible; exhibiting only the _hints_ for

Thus, I think, we have sufficient evidence of an intercourse subsisting
between the English and Italian theatres, not hitherto suspected; and I
find an allusion to these Italian pantomimes, by the great town-wit Tom
Nash, in his "Pierce Pennilesse," which shows that he was well
acquainted with their nature. He indeed exults over them, observing that
our plays are "honourable and full of gallant resolution, not
consisting, like theirs, of pantaloon, a zany, and a w---- e, (alluding
to the women actors of the Italian stage;[55]) but of emperors, kings,
and princes." My conviction is still confirmed, when I find that Stephen
Gosson wrote the comedy of "Captain Mario;" it has not been printed, but
"Captain Mario" is one of the Italian characters.[56]

Even at a later period, the influence of these performances reached the
greatest name in the English Parnassus. One of the great actors and
authors of these pieces, who published eighteen of these irregular
productions, was Andreini, whose name must have the honour of being
associated with Milton's, for it was his comedy or opera which threw the
first spark of the Paradise Lost into the soul of the epic poet--a
circumstance which will hardly be questioned by those who have examined
the different schemes and allegorical personages of the first projected
_drama_ of Paradise Lost: nor was Andreini, as well as many others of
this race of Italian dramatists, inferior poets. The Adamo of Andreini
was a personage sufficiently original and poetical to serve as the model
of the Adam of Milton. The youthful English poet, at its representation,
carried it away in his mind. Wit indeed is a great traveller; and thus
also the "Empiric" of Massinger might have reached us from the Bolognese

The late Mr. Hole, the ingenious writer on the Arabian Nights, observed
to me that _Molière_, it must be presumed, never read _Fletcher's_
plays, yet his "Bourgeois Gentilhomme" and the other's "Noble Gentleman"
bear in some instances a great resemblance. Both may have drawn from the
same Italian source of comedy which I have here indicated.

Many years after this article was written, has appeared "The History of
English Dramatic Poetry," by Mr. Collier. That very laborious
investigator has an article on "Extemporal Plays and Plots," iii. 393.
The nature of these "_plats"_ or "plots" he observes, "our theatrical
antiquaries have not explained." The truth is that they never suspected
their origin in the Italian "scenarios." My conjectures are amply
confirmed by Mr. Collier's notices of the intercourse of our players
with the Italian actors. Whetstone's Heptameron, in 1582, mentions "the
comedians of Ravenna, who are not _tied to any written device_." In
Kyd's Spanish Tragedy the extemporal art is described:---

    The Italian tragedians were so sharp of wit,
    That in one hour of meditation
    They would perform anything in action.

These extemporal players were witnessed much nearer than in Italy--at
the Théâtre des Italiens at Paris--for one of the characters replies--

    I have seen the like,
    In Paris, among the French tragedians.

Ben Jonson has mentioned the Italian "extemporal plays" in his "Case is
Altered;" and an Italian _commediante_ his company were in London in
1578, who probably let our players into many a secret.


Men of genius have devoted some of their hours, and even governments
have occasionally assisted, to render the people happier by song and
dance. The Grecians had songs appropriated to the various trades. Songs
of this nature would shorten the manufacturer's tedious task-work, and
solace the artisan at his solitary occupation. A beam of gay fancy
kindling his mind, a playful change of measures delighting his ear, even
a moralising verse to cherish his better feelings--these ingeniously
adapted to each profession, and some to the display of patriotic
characters, and national events, would contribute something to public
happiness. Such themes are worthy of a patriotic bard, of the Southeys
for their hearts, and the Moores for their verse.

Fletcher of Saltoun said, "If a man were permitted to make all the
ballads, he need not care who should make all the laws of a nation." The
character of a people is preserved in their national songs. "God save
the King" and "Rule Britannia" were long our English national airs.

"The story of Amphion building Thebes with his lyre was not a fable,"
says Dr. Clarke, "At Thebes, in the harmonious adjustment of those
masses which remain belonging to the ancient walls, we saw enough to
convince us that this story was no fable; for it was a very ancient
custom to _carry on immense labour by an accompaniment of music and
singing_. The custom still exists both in Egypt and Greece. It might,
therefore, be said that the _Walls of Thebes_ were built at the sound of
the only musical instrument then in use; because, according to the
_custom of the country_, the lyre was necessary for the accomplishment
of the work."[57] The same custom appears to exist in Africa. Lander
notices at Yàoorie that the "labourers in their plantations were
attended by a drummer, that they might be excited by the sound of his
instrument to work well and briskly."[58]

Athenæus[59] has preserved the Greek names of different songs as sung by
various trades, but unfortunately none of the songs themselves. There
was a song for the corn-grinders; another for the workers in wool;
another for the weavers. The reapers had their carol; the herdsmen had a
song which an ox-driver of Sicily had composed; the kneaders, and the
bathers, and the galley-rowers, were not without their chant. We have
ourselves a song of the weavers, which Ritson has preserved in his
"Ancient Songs;" and it may be found in the popular chap-book of "The
Life of Jack of Newbury;" and the songs of anglers, of old Izaak Walton,
and Charles Cotton, still retain their freshness.

Among the Greeks, observed Bishop Heber, the hymn which placed Harmodius
in the green and flowery island of the Blessed, was chanted by the
potter to his wheel, and enlivened the labours of the Piræan mariner.

Dr. Johnson is the only writer I recollect who has noticed something of
this nature which he observed in the Highlands. "The strokes of the
sickle were timed by the modulation of the _harvest song_, in which all
their voices were united. They accompany every action which can be done
in equal time with an _appropriate strain_, which has, they say, not
much meaning, but its effects are regularity and cheerfulness. There is
an _oar song_ used by the Hebrideans."

But if these chants "have not much meaning," they will not produce the
desired effect of touching the heart, as well as giving vigour to the
arm of the labourer. The gondoliers of Venice while away their long
midnight hours on the water with the stanzas of Tasso. Fragments of
Homer are sung by the Greek sailors of the Archipelago; the severe
labour of the trackers, in China, is accompanied with a song which
encourages their exertions, and renders these simultaneous. Mr. Ellis
mentions that the sight of the lofty pagoda of Tong-chow served as a
great topic of incitement in the song of the trackers, toiling against
the stream, to their place of rest. The canoemen, on the Gold Coast, in
a very dangerous passage, "on the back of a high curling wave, paddling
with all their might, singing or rather shouting their wild song, follow
it up," says M'Leod, who was a lively witness of this happy combination
of song, of labour, and of peril, which he acknowledged was "a very
terrific process." Our sailors at Newcastle, in heaving their anchors,
have their "Heave and ho! rum-below!" but the Sicilian mariners must be
more deeply affected by their beautiful hymn to the Virgin. A society,
instituted in Holland for general good, do not consider among their
least useful projects that of having printed at a low price a collection
of _songs for sailors_.

It is extremely pleasing, as it is true, to notice the honest exultation
of an excellent ballad-writer, C. Dibdin, in his Professional Life. "I
have learnt my songs have been considered as an object of national
consequence; that they have been the solace of sailors and long
voyagers, in storms, in battle; and that they have been quoted in
mutinies, to the restoration of order and discipline."[60] The
Portuguese soldiery in Ceylon, at the siege of Colombo, when pressed
with misery and the pangs of hunger, during their marches, derived not
only consolation, but also encouragement, by rehearsing the stanzas of
the Lusiad.

We ourselves have been a great ballad nation, and once abounded with
songs of the people; not, however, of this particular species, but
rather of narrative poems. They are described by Puttenham, a critic in
the reign of Elizabeth, as "small and popular songs sung by those
_Cantabanqui_, upon benches and barrels' heads, where they have no other
audience than boys, or country fellows that pass by them in the streets;
or else by blind harpers, or such like tavern minstrels, that give a fit
of mirth for a groat." Such were these "Reliques of Ancient English
Poetry," which Selden collected, Pepys preserved, and Percy published.
Ritson, our great poetical antiquary in these sort of things, says that
few are older than the reign of James I. The more ancient songs of the
people perished by having been printed in single sheets, and by their
humble purchasers having no other library to preserve them than the
walls on which they pasted them. Those we have consist of a succeeding
race of ballads, chiefly revived or written by Richard Johnson, the
author of the well-known romance of the Seven Champions, and Delony, the
writer of Jack of Newbury's Life, and the "Gentle Craft," who lived in
the time of James and Charles.[61] One Martin Parker was a most
notorious ballad scribbler in the reign of Charles I. and the Protector.

These writers, in their old age, collected their songs into little penny
books, called "Garlands," some of which have been republished by Ritson;
and a recent editor has well described them as "humble and amusing
village strains, founded upon the squabbles of a wake, tales of untrue
love, superstitious rumours, or miraculous traditions of the hamlet."
They enter into the picture of our manners, as much as folio chronicles.

These songs abounded in the good old times of Elizabeth and James; for
Hall in his Satires notices them as

    Sung to the wheel, and sung unto the payle;

that is, sung by maidens spinning, or milking; and indeed Shakspeare had
described them as "old and plain," chanted by

    The spinsters, and the knitters in the sun,
    And the free maids that weave their threads with bones.
                                               _Twelfth Night_.

They were the favourites of the Poet of Nature, who takes every
opportunity to introduce them into the mouths of his clown, his fool,
and his itinerant Autolycus. When the musical Dr. Burney, who had
probably not the slightest conception of their nature, and perhaps as
little taste for their rude and wild simplicity, ventured to call the
songs of Autolycus, "two _nonsensical_ songs," the musician called down
on himself one of the bitterest notes from Steevens that ever
commentator penned against a profane scoffer.[62]

Whatever these songs were, it is evident they formed a source of
recreation to the solitary task-worker. But as the more masculine trades
had their own songs, whose titles only appear to have reached us, such
as "The Carman's Whistle," "Watkin's Ale," "Chopping Knives," they were
probably appropriated to the respective trades they indicate. The tune
of the "Carman's Whistle" was composed by Bird, and the favourite tune
of "Queen Elizabeth" may be found in the collection called "Queen
Elizabeth's Virginal Book." One who has lately heard it played says,
"that it has more air than the other execrable compositions in her
Majesty's book, something resembling a French quadrille."

The feeling our present researches would excite would naturally be most
strongly felt in small communities, where the interest of the governors
is to contribute to the individual happiness of the laborious classes.
The Helvetic society requested Lavater to compose the
_Schweitzerlieder_, or Swiss Songs, which are now sung by the youth of
many of the cantons; and various Swiss poets have successfully composed
on national subjects, associated with their best feelings. In such
paternal governments as was that of Florence under the Medici, we find
that songs and dances for the people engaged the muse of Lorenzo, who
condescended to delight them with pleasant songs composed in popular
language; the example of such a character was followed by the men of
genius of the age. These ancient songs, often adapted to the different
trades, opened a vein of invention in the new characters, and allusions,
the humorous equivoques, and, sometimes, by the licentiousness of
popular fancy. They were collected in 1559, under the title of "Canti
Carnascialeschi," and there is a modern edition, in 1750, in two volumes
quarto. It is said they sing to this day a popular one by Lorenzo,

    Ben venga Maggio
    E 'l gonfalon selvaggio,[63]

which has all the florid brilliancy of an Italian spring.

The most delightful songs of this nature would naturally be found among
a people whose climate and whose labours alike inspire a general
hilarity; and the vineyards of France have produced a class of songs, of
excessive gaiety and freedom, called _Chansons de Vendange_. Le
Grand-d'Assoucy describes them in his _Histoire de la Vie privée des
Français_. "The men and women, each with a basket on their arm, assemble
at the foot of the hill; there stopping, they arrange themselves in a
circle. The chief of this band tunes up a joyous song, whose burthen is
chorused: then they ascend, and, dispersed in the vineyard, they work
without interrupting their tasks, while new couplets often resound from
some of the vine-dressers; sometimes intermixed with a sudden jest at a
traveller. In the evening, their supper scarcely over, their joy
recommences, they dance in a circle, and sing some of those songs of
free gaiety, which the moment excuses, known by the name of _vineyard
songs_. The gaiety becomes general; masters, guests, friends, servants,
all dance together; and in this manner a day of labour terminates, which
one might mistake for a day of diversion. It is what I have witnessed in
Champagne, in a land of vines, far different from the country where the
labours of the harvest form so painful a contrast."

The extinction of those songs which formerly kept alive the gaiety of
the domestic circle, whose burthens were always chorused, is lamented by
the French antiquary. "Our fathers had a custom to amuse themselves at
the dessert of a feast by a joyous song of this nature. Each in his turn
sung--all chorused." This ancient gaiety was sometimes gross and noisy;
but he prefers it to the tame decency of our times--these smiling, not
laughing days of Lord Chesterfield.

    On ne rit plus, on sourit aujourd'hui;
    Et nos plaisirs sont voisins de l'ennui.

These are the old French _Vaudevilles_, formerly sung at meals by the
company. Count de Grammont is mentioned by Hamilton as being

    Agréable et vif en propos;
    Célèbre diseur de bon mots,
    _Recueil vivant d'antiques Vaudevilles_.

These _Vaudevilles_ were originally invented by a fuller of _Vau de
Vire_, or the valley by the river _Vire_, and were sung by his men as
they spread their cloths on the banks of the river. They were songs
composed on some incident or adventure of the day. At first these gay
playful effusions were called the songs of _Vau de Vire_, till they
became known as _Vaudevilles_. Boileau has well described them:--

    La liberté franchise en ses vers se déploie;
    Cet enfant de plaisir veut naître dans la joie.

It is well known how the attempt ended, of James I. and his unfortunate
son, by the publication of their "Book of Sports," to preserve the
national character from the gloom of fanatical puritanism; among its
unhappy effects there was however one not a little ludicrous. The
Puritans, offended by the gentlest forms of mirth, and every day
becoming more sullen, were so shocked at the simple merriment of the
people, that they contrived to parody these songs into spiritual ones;
and Shakspeare speaks of the Puritan of his day "singing psalms to
hornpipes." As Puritans are the same in all times, the Methodists in our
own repeated the foolery, and set their hymns to popular tunes and jigs,
which one of them said "were too good for the devil." They have sung
hymns to the air of "The beds of sweet roses," &c. Wesley once, in the
pulpit, described himself, in his old age, in the well known ode of
Anacreon, by merely substituting his own name![64] There have been
Puritans among other people as well as our own: the same occurrence took
place both in Italy and France. In Italy, the Carnival songs were turned
into pious hymns; the hymn _Jesu fammi morire_ is sung to the music of
_Vaga bella e gentile_--_Crucifisso a capo chino_ to that of _Una donna
d'amor fino_, one of the most indecent pieces in the _Canzoni a ballo_;
and the hymn beginning

    Ecco 'l Messia
    E la Madre Maria,

was sung to the gay tune of Lorenzo de' Medici,

    Ben venga Maggio,
    E 'l gonfalon selvaggio.

Athenæus notices what we call slang or flash songs. He tells us that
there were poets who composed songs in the dialect of the mob; and who
succeeded in this kind of poetry, adapted to their various characters.
The French call such songs _Chansons à la Vadé_; the style of the
_Poissardes_ is ludicrously applied to the gravest matters of state, and
convey the popular feelings in the language of the populace. This sort
of satirical song is happily defined,

    Il est l'esprit de ceux qui n'en ont pas.

Athenæus has also preserved songs, sung by petitioners who went about on
holidays to collect alms. A friend of mine, with taste and learning, has
discovered in his researches "The Crow Song" and "The Swallow Song," and
has transfused their spirit in a happy version. I preserve a few
striking ideas.

The collectors for "The Crow" sung:

    My good worthy masters, a pittance bestow,
    Some oatmeal, or barley, or wheat for _the Crow_.
    A loaf, or a penny, or e'en what you will;--
    From the poor man, a grain of his salt may suffice,
    For your Crow swallows all, and is not over-nice.
    And the man who can now give his grain, and no more,
    May another day give from a plentiful store.--
    Come, my lad, to the door, Plutus nods to our wish,
    And our sweet little mistress comes out with a dish;
    She gives us her figs, and she gives us a smile--
    Heaven send her a husband!--
    And a boy to be danced on his grandfather's knee,
    And a girl like herself all the joy of her mother,
    Who may one day present her with just such another.
      Thus we carry our Crow-song to door after door,
    Alternately chanting we ramble along,
    And we treat all who give, or give not, with a song.

Swallow-singing, or Chelidonising, as the Greek term is, was another
method of collecting eleemosynary gifts, which took place in the month
Boedromion, or August.

      The Swallow, the Swallow is here,
    With his back so black, and his belly so white,
      He brings on the pride of the year,
    With the gay months of love, and the days of delight.
    Come bring out your good humming stuff,
    Of the nice tit-bits let the Swallow partake;
    And a slice of the right Boedromion cake.
    So give, and give quickly,--
    Or we'll pull down the door from its hinges:
    Or we'll steal young madam away!
    But see! we're a merry boy's party,
    And the Swallow, the Swallow is here!

These songs resemble those of our own ancient mummers, who to this day,
in honour of Bishop Blaize, the Saint of Woolcombers, go about chanting
on the eves of their holidays.[65] A custom long existed in this country
to elect a Boy-Bishop in almost every parish;[66] the Montem at Eton
still prevails for the Boy-Captain; and there is a closer connexion,
perhaps, between the custom which produced the "Songs of the Crow and
the Swallow," and our Northern mummeries, than may be at first
suspected. The Pagan Saturnalia, which the Swallow song by its pleasant
menaces resembles, were afterwards disguised in the forms adopted by the
early Christians; and such are the remains of the Roman Catholic
religion, in which the people were long indulged in their old taste for
mockery and mummery. I must add in connexion with our main inquiry, that
our own ancient beggars had their songs, in their old cant language,
some of which are as old as the Elizabethan period, and many are
fancifully characteristic of their habits and their feelings.


There has been a class of men whose patriotic affection, or whose
general benevolence, have been usually defrauded of the gratitude their
country owes them: these have been the introducers of new flowers, new
plants, and new roots into Europe; the greater part which we now enjoy
was drawn from the luxuriant climates of Asia, and the profusion which
now covers our land originated in the most anxious nursing, and were the
gifts of individuals. Monuments are reared, and medals struck, to
commemorate events and names, which are less deserving our regard than
those who have transplanted into the colder gardens of the North the
rich fruits, the beautiful flowers, and the succulent pulse and roots of
more favoured spots; and carrying into their own country, as it were,
another Nature, they have, as old Gerard well expresses it, "laboured
with the soil to make it fit for the plants, and with the plants to make
them delight in the soil."

There is no part of the characters of PEIRESC and EVELYN, accomplished
as they are in so many, which seems more delightful to me, than their
enthusiasm for the garden, the orchard, and the forest.

PEIRESC, whose literary occupations admitted of no interruption, and
whose universal correspondence throughout the habitable globe was more
than sufficient to absorb his studious life, yet was the first man, as
Gassendus relates in his interesting manner, whose incessant inquiries
procured a great variety of jessamines; those from China, whose leaves,
always green, bear a clay-coloured flower, and a delicate perfume; the
American, with a crimson-coloured, and the Persian, with a
violet-coloured flower; and the Arabian, whose tendrils he delighted to
train over "the banqueting-house in his garden;" and of fruits, the
orange-trees with a red and parti-coloured flower; the medlar; the rough
cherry without stone; the rare and luxurious vines of Smyrna and
Damascus; and the fig-tree called Adam's, whose fruit by its size was
conjectured to be that with which the spies returned from the land of
Canaan. Gassendus describes the transports of Peiresc, when, the sage
beheld the Indian ginger growing green in his garden, and his delight in
grafting the myrtle on the musk vine, that the experiment might show us
the myrtle wine of the ancients. But transplanters, like other
inventors, are sometimes baffled in their delightful enterprises; and
we are told of Peiresc's deep regret when he found that the Indian
cocoa-nut would only bud, and then perish in the cold air of France,
while the leaves of the Egyptian papyrus refused to yield him their
vegetable paper. But it was his garden which propagated the exotic
fruits and flowers, which he transplanted into the French king's, and
into Cardinal Barberini's, and the curious in Europe; and these
occasioned a work on the manuring of flowers by Ferrarius, a botanical
Jesuit, who there described these novelties to Europe.

Had Evelyn only composed the great work of his "Sylva, or a Discourse of
Forest Trees," his name would have excited the gratitude of posterity.
The voice of the patriot exults in the dedication to Charles II.
prefixed to one of the later editions. "I need not acquaint your
majesty, how many millions of timber-trees, besides infinite others,
have been propagated and planted throughout your vast dominions, at the
instigation and by the sole direction of this work, because your majesty
has been pleased to own it publicly for my encouragement." And surely
while Britain retains her awful situation among the nations of Europe,
the "Sylva" of Evelyn will endure with her triumphant oaks. It was a
retired philosopher who aroused the genius of the nation, and who,
casting a prophetic eye towards the age in which we live, contributed to
secure our sovereignty of the seas. The present navy of Great Britain
has been constructed with the oaks which the genius of Evelyn planted!

Animated by a zeal truly patriotic, De Serres in France, 1599, composed
a work on the art of raising silk-worms, and dedicated it to the
municipal body of Paris, to excite the inhabitants to cultivate
mulberry-trees. The work at first produced a strong sensation, and many
planted mulberry-trees in the vicinity of Paris; but as they were not
yet used to raise and manage the silk-worm, they reaped nothing but
their trouble for their pains. They tore up the mulberry-trees they had
planted, and, in spite of De Serres, asserted that the northern climate
was not adapted for the rearing of that tender insect. The great Sully,
from his hatred of all objects of luxury, countenanced the popular
clamour, and crushed the rising enterprise of De Serres. The monarch was
wiser than the minister. The book had made sufficient noise to reach the
ear of Henry IV.; who desired the author to draw up a memoir on the
subject, from which the king was induced to plant mulberry-trees in all
the royal gardens; and having imported the eggs of silk-worms from
Spain, this patriotic monarch gave up his orangeries, which he
considered but as his private gratification, for that leaf which,
converted into silk, became a part of the national wealth. It is to De
Serres, who introduced the plantations of mulberry-trees, that the
commerce of France owes one of her staple commodities; and although the
patriot encountered the hostility of the prime minister, and the hasty
prejudices of the populace in his own day, yet his name at this moment
is fresh in the hearts of his fellow-citizens; for I have just received
a medal, the gift of a literary friend from Paris, which bears his
portrait, with the reverse, "_Société de Agriculture du Département de
la Seine_." It was struck in 1807. The same honour is the right of
Evelyn from the British nation.

There was a period when the spirit of plantation was prevalent in this
kingdom; it probably originated from the ravages of the soldiery during
the civil wars. A man, whose retired modesty has perhaps obscured his
claims on our regard, the intimate friend of the great spirits of that
age, by birth a Pole, but whose mother had probably been an
Englishwoman, Samuel Hartlib, to whom Milton addressed his tract on
education, published every manuscript he collected on the subjects of
horticulture and agriculture. The public good he effected attracted the
notice of Cromwell, who rewarded him with a pension, which after the
restoration of Charles II. was suffered to lapse, and Hartlib died in
utter neglect and poverty. One of his tracts is "A design for plenty by
an universal planting of fruit-trees." The project consisted in
inclosing the waste lands and commons, and appointing officers, whom he
calls fruiterers, or wood-wards, to see the plantations were duly
attended to. The writer of this project observes on fruits, that it is a
sort of provisions so natural to the taste, that the poor man and even
the child will prefer it before better food, "as the story goeth," which
he has preserved in these ancient and simple lines:--

    The poor man's child invited was to dine,
    With flesh of oxen, sheep, and fatted swine,
    (Far better cheer than he at home could find,)
    And yet this child to stay had little minde.
    "You have," quoth he, "no apple, froise, nor pie,
    Stewed pears, with bread and milk, and walnuts by."

The enthusiasm of these transplanters inspired their labours. They have
watched the tender infant of their planting, till the leaf and the
flowers and the fruit expanded under their hand; often indeed they have
ameliorated the quality, increased the size, and even created a new
species. The apricot, drawn from America, was first known in Europe in
the sixteenth century: an old French writer has remarked, that it was
originally not larger than a damson; our gardeners, he says, have
improved it to the perfection of its present size and richness. One of
these enthusiasts is noticed by Evelyn, who for forty years had in vain
tried by a graft to bequeath his name to a new fruit; but persisting on
wrong principles this votary of Pomona has died without a name. We
sympathise with Sir William Temple when he exultingly acquaints us with
the size of his orange-trees, and with the flavour of his peaches and
grapes, confessed by Frenchmen to have equalled those of Fontainebleau
and Gascony, while the Italians agreed that his white figs were as good
as any of that sort in Italy; and of his "having had the honour" to
naturalise in this country four kinds of grapes, with his liberal
distributions of cuttings from them, because "he ever thought all things
of this kind the commoner they are the better."

The greater number of our exotic flowers and fruits were carefully
transported into this country by many of our travelled nobility and
gentry;[67] some names have been casually preserved. The learned Linacre
first brought, on his return from Italy, the damask rose; and Thomas
Lord Cornwall, in the reign of Henry VIII., enriched our fruit gardens
with three different plums. In the reign of Elizabeth, Edward Grindal,
afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, returning from exile, transported
here the medicinal plant of the tamarisk: the first oranges appear to
have been brought into England by one of the Carew family; for a century
after, they still flourished at the family seat at Beddington, in
Surrey. The cherry orchards of Kent were first planted about
Sittingbourne, by a gardener of Henry VIII.; and the currant-bush was
transplanted when our commerce with the island of Zante was first opened
in the same reign. The elder Tradescant, in 1620, entered himself on
board of a privateer, armed against Morocco, solely with a view of
finding an opportunity of stealing apricots into Britain: and it appears
that he succeeded in his design. To Sir Walter Raleigh we have not been
indebted solely for the luxury of the tobacco-plant, but for that
infinitely useful root, which forms a part of our daily meal, and often
the entire meal of the poor man--the potato, which deserved to have been
called a _Rawleigh_. Sir Anthony Ashley, of Winburne St. Giles,
Dorsetshire, first planted cabbages in this country, and a cabbage at
his feet appears on his monument: before his time we had them from
Holland. Sir Richard Weston first brought clover grass into England from
Flanders, in 1645; and the figs planted by Cardinal Pole at Lambeth, so
far back as the reign of Henry VIII., are said to be still remaining
there: nor is this surprising, for Spilman, who set up the first
paper-mill in England, at Dartford, in 1590, is said to have brought
over in his portmanteau the two first lime-trees, which he planted here,
and which are still growing. The Lombardy poplar was introduced into
England by the Earl of Rochford, in 1758. The first mulberry-trees in
this country are now standing at Sion-house. By an Harleian MS. 6884, we
find that the first general planting of mulberries and making of silk in
England was by William Stallenge, comptroller of the custom-house, and
Monsieur Verton, in 1608. It is probable that Monsieur Verton
transplanted this novelty from his own country, where we have seen De
Serres' great attempt. Here the mulberries have succeeded better than
the silk-worms.

The very names of many of our vegetable kingdom indicate their locality,
from the majestic cedar of Lebanon, to the small Cos-lettuce, which came
from the isle of Cos; the cherries from Cerasuntis, a city of Pontus;
the peach, or _persicum_, or _mala Persica_, Persian apples, from
Persia; the pistachio, or _psittacia_, is the Syrian word for that nut.
The chestnut, or _chataigne_ in French, and _castagna_ in Italian, from
Castagna, a town of Magnesia. Our plums coming chiefly from Syria and
Damascus, the damson, or damascene plum, reminds us of its distant

It is somewhat curious to observe on this subject, that there exists an
unsuspected intercourse between nations, in the propagation of exotic
plants. Lucullus, after the war with Mithridates, introduced cherries
from Pontus into Italy; and the newly-imported fruit was found so
pleasing, that it was rapidly propagated, and six-and twenty years
afterwards Pliny testifies the cherry-tree passed over into Britain.
Thus a victory obtained by a Roman consul over a king of Pontus, with
which it would seem that Britain could not have the remotest interest,
was the real occasion of our countrymen possessing cherry-orchards. Yet
to our shame must it be told, that these cherries from the king of
Pontus's city of Cerasuntis are not the cherries we are now eating; for
the whole race of cherry-trees was lost in the Saxon period, and was
only restored by the gardener of Henry VIII., who brought them from
Flanders--without a word to enhance his own merits, concerning the
_bellum Mithridaticum_!

A calculating political economist will little sympathise with the
peaceful triumphs of those active and generous spirits, who have thus
propagated the truest wealth, and the most innocent luxuries of the
people. The project of a new tax, or an additional consumption of ardent
spirits, or an act of parliament to put a convenient stop to population
by forbidding the banns of some happy couple, would be more congenial to
their researches; and they would leave without regret the names of those
whom we have held out to the grateful recollections of their country.
The Romans, who, with all their errors, were at least patriots,
entertained very different notions of these introducers into their
country of exotic fruits and flowers. Sir William Temple has elegantly
noticed the fact. "The great captains, and even consular men, who first
brought them over, took pride in giving them their own names, by which
they ran a great while in Rome, as in memory of some great service or
pleasure they had done their country; so that not only laws and battles,
but several sorts of apples and pears, were called Manlian and Claudian,
Pompeyan and Tiberian, and by several other such noble names." Pliny has
paid his tribute of applause to Lucullus, for bringing cherry and
nut-trees from Pontus into Italy. And we have several modern instances,
where the name of the transplanter, or rearer, has been preserved in
this sort of creation. Peter Collinson, the botanist, to "whom the
English gardens are indebted for many new and curious species which he
acquired by means of an extensive correspondence in America," was highly
gratified when Linnæus baptized a plant with his name; and with great
spirit asserts his honourable claim: "Something, I think, was due to me
for the great number of plants and seeds I have annually procured from
abroad, and you have been so good as to pay it, by giving me a species
of eternity, botanically speaking; that is, a name as long as men and
books endure." Such is the true animating language of these patriotic

Some lines at the close of Peacham's Emblems give an idea of an English
fruit-garden in 1612. He mentions that cherries were not long known,[68]
and gives an origin to the name of filbert.

      The Persian Peach, and fruitful Quince;[69]
    And there the forward Almond grew,
      With Cherries knowne no longer time since;
    The Winter Warden, orchard's pride;
      The _Philibert_[70] that loves the vale,
    And red queen apple,[71] so envide
    Of school-boies, passing by the pale.


A person whose history will serve as a canvass to exhibit some scenes of
the arts of the money-trader was one AUDLEY, a lawyer, and a great
practical philosopher, who concentrated his vigorous faculties in the
science of the relative value of money. He flourished through the reigns
of James I., Charles I., and held a lucrative office in the "court of
wards," till that singular court was abolished at the time of the
Restoration.[72] In his own times he was called "The great Audley," an
epithet so often abused, and here applied to the creation of enormous
wealth. But there are minds of great capacity, concealed by the nature
of their pursuits; and the wealth of Audley may be considered as the
cloudy medium through which a bright genius shone, and which, had it
been thrown into a nobler sphere of action, the "greatness" would have
been less ambiguous.

Audley lived at a time when divines were proclaiming "the detestable sin
of Usury," prohibited by God and man; but the Mosaic prohibition was the
municipal law of an agricultural commonwealth, which being without
trade, the general poverty of its members could afford no interest for
loans; but it was not forbidden the Israelite to take usury from "the
stranger." Or they were quoting from the Fathers, who understood this
point, much as they had that of "original sin," and "the immaculate
conception;" while the scholastics amused themselves with a quaint and
collegiate fancy which they had picked up in Aristotle, that interest
for money had been forbidden by nature, because coin in itself was
barren and unpropagating, unlike corn, of which every grain will produce
many. But Audley considered no doubt that money was not incapable of
multiplying itself, provided it was in hands which knew to make it grow
and "breed," as Shylock affirmed. The lawyers then, however, did not
agree with the divines, nor the college philosophers; they were
straining at a more liberal interpretation of this odious term "Usury."
Lord Bacon declared, that the suppression of Usury is only fit for an
Utopian government; and Audley must have agreed with the learned Cowell,
who in his "Interpreter" derives the term ab _usu_ et _ære_, quasi _usu
æra_, which in our vernacular style was corrupted into _Usury_. Whatever
the _sin_ might be in the eye of some, it had become at least a
_controversial sin_, as Sir Symonds D'Ewes calls it, in his manuscript
Diary, who, however, was afraid to commit it.[73] Audley, no doubt,
considered that _interest_ was nothing more than _rent_ for _money_; as
_rent_ was no better than _Usury_ for _land_. The legal interest was
then "ten in the hundred;" but the thirty, the fifty, and the hundred
for the hundred, the gripe of Usury, and the shameless contrivances of
the money-traders, these he would attribute to the follies of others, or
to his own genius.

This sage on the wealth of nations, with his pithy wisdom and quaint
sagacity, began with two hundred pounds, and lived to view his
mortgages, his statutes, and his judgments so numerous, that it was
observed his papers would have made a good map of England. A
contemporary dramatist, who copied from life, has opened the chamber of
such an Usurer,--perhaps of our Audley.

           ---- Here lay
    A manor bound fast in a skin of parchment,
    The wax continuing hard, the acres melting;
    Here a sure deed of gift for a market-town,
    If not redeem'd this day, which is not in
    The unthrift's power; there being scarce one shire
    In Wales or England, where my monies are not
    Lent out at usury, the certain hook
    To draw in more.
                            MASSINGER'S _City Madam_.

This genius of thirty per cent. first had proved the decided vigour of
his mind, by his enthusiastic devotion to his law-studies: deprived of
the leisure for study through his busy day, he stole the hours from his
late nights and his early mornings; and without the means to procure a
law-library, he invented a method to possess one without the cost; as
far as he learned, he taught, and by publishing some useful tracts on
temporary occasions, he was enabled to purchase a library. He appears
never to have read a book without its furnishing him with some new
practical design, and he probably studied too much for his own
particular advantage. Such devoted studies was the way to become a
lord-chancellor; but the science of the law was here subordinate to that
of a money-trader.

When yet but a clerk to the Clerk in the Counter, frequent opportunities
occurred which Audley knew how to improve. He became a money-trader as
he had become a law-writer, and the fears and follies of mankind were to
furnish him with a trading capital. The fertility of his genius appeared
in expedients and in quick contrivances. He was sure to be the friend of
all men falling out. He took a deep concern in the affairs of his
master's clients, and often much more than they were aware of. No man so
ready at procuring bail or compounding debts. This was a considerable
traffic then, as now. They hired themselves out for bail, swore what was
required, and contrived to give false addresses, which is now called
leg-bail. They dressed themselves out for the occasion; a great
seal-ring flamed on the finger, which, however, was pure copper gilt,
and they often assumed the name of some person of good credit. Savings,
and small presents for gratuitous opinions, often afterwards discovered
to be very fallacious ones, enabled him to purchase annuities of easy
landowners, with their treble amount secured on their estates. The
improvident owners, or the careless heirs, were soon entangled in the
usurer's nets; and, after the receipt of a few years, the annuity, by
some latent quibble, or some irregularity in the payments, usually ended
in Audley's obtaining the treble forfeiture. He could at all times
out-knave a knave. One of these incidents has been preserved. A draper,
of no honest reputation, being arrested by a merchant for a debt of
£200, Audley bought the debt at £40, for which the draper immediately
offered him £50. But Audley would not consent, unless the draper
indulged a sudden whim of his own: this was a formal contract, that the
draper should pay within twenty years, upon twenty certain days, a penny
doubled. A knave, in haste to sign, is no calculator; and, as the
contemporary dramatist describes one of the arts of those citizens, one
part of whose business was

    To swear and break: they all grow rich by breaking!

the draper eagerly compounded. He afterwards "grew rich." Audley,
silently watching his victim, within two years, claims his doubled
pennies, every month during twenty months. The pennies had now grown up
to pounds. The knave perceived the trick, and preferred paying the
forfeiture of his bond for £500, rather than to receive the visitation
of all the little generation of compound interest in the last descendant
of £2000, which would have closed with the draper's shop. The inventive
genius of Audley might have illustrated that popular tract of his own
times, Peacham's "Worth of a Penny;" a gentleman who, having scarcely
one left, consoled himself by detailing the numerous comforts of life it
might procure in the days of Charles II.

Such petty enterprises at length assumed a deeper cast of interest. He
formed temporally partnerships with the stewards of country gentlemen.
They underlet estates which they had to manage; and anticipating the
owner's necessities, the estates in due time became cheap purchases for
Audley and the stewards. He usually contrived to make the wood pay for
the land, which he called "making the feathers pay for the goose." He
had, however, such a tenderness of conscience for his victim, that,
having plucked the live feathers before he sent the unfledged goose on
the common, he would bestow a gratuitous lecture in his own
science--teaching the art of making them grow again, by showing how to
raise the remaining rents. Audley thus made the tenant furnish at once
the means to satisfy his own rapacity, and his employer's necessities.
His avarice was not working by a blind, but on an enlightened principle;
for he was only enabling the landlord to obtain what the tenant, with
due industry, could afford to give. Adam Smith might have delivered
himself in the language of old Audley, so just was his standard of the
value of rents. "Under an easy landlord," said Audley, "a tenant seldom
thrives; contenting himself to make the just measure of his rents, and
not labouring for any surplusage of estate. Under a hard one, the tenant
revenges himself upon the land, and runs away with the rent. I would
raise my rents to the present price of all commodities: for if we should
let our lands, as other men have done before us, now other wares daily
go on in price, we should fall backward in our estates." These axioms of
political economy were discoveries in his day.

Audley knew mankind practically, and struck into their humours with the
versatility of genius: oracularly deep with the grave, he only stung the
lighter mind. When a lord borrowing money complained to Audley of his
exactions, his lordship exclaimed, "What, do you not intend to use a
conscience?" "Yes, I intend hereafter to use it. We moneyed people must
balance accounts: if you do not pay me, you cheat me; but, if you do,
then I cheat your lordship." Audley's moneyed conscience balanced the
risk of his lordship's honour against the probability of his own
rapacious profits. When he resided in the Temple among those "pullets
without feathers," as an old writer describes the brood, the good man
would pule out paternal homilies on improvident youth, grieving that
they, under pretence of "learning the law, only learnt to be lawless;"
and "never knew by their own studies the process of an execution, till
it was served on themselves." Nor could he fail in his prophecy; for at
the moment that the stoic was enduring their ridicule, his agents were
supplying them with the certain means of verifying it. It is quaintly
said, he had his _decoying_ as well as his _decaying_ gentlemen.

The arts practised by the money-traders of that time have been detailed
by one of the town-satirists of the age. Decker, in his "English
Villanies," has told the story: we may observe how an old story contains
many incidents which may be discovered in a modern one. The artifice of
covering the usury by a pretended purchase and sale of certain wares,
even now practised, was then at its height.

In _Measure for Measure_ we find,

     "Here's young Master Rash, he's in for a commodity of _brown
     paper and old ginger_, nine score and seventeen pounds; of
     which he made five marks ready money."

The eager "gull," for his immediate wants, takes at an immense price any
goods on credit, which he immediately resells for less than half the
cost; and when despatch presses, the vender and the purchaser have been
the same person, and the "brown paper and old ginger" merely

The whole displays a complete system of dupery, and the agents were
graduated. "The Manner of undoing Gentlemen by taking up of
Commodities," is the title of a chapter in "English Villanies." The
"warren" is the cant term which describes the whole party; but this
requires a word of explanation.

It is probable that rabbit-warrens were numerous about the metropolis, a
circumstance which must have multiplied the poachers. Moffet, who wrote
on diet in the reign of Elizabeth, notices their plentiful supply "for
the poor's maintenance."--I cannot otherwise account for the
appellatives given to sharpers, and the terms of cheatery being so
familiarly drawn from a rabbit-warren; not that even in that day these
cant terms travelled far out of their own circle; for Robert Greene
mentions a trial in which the judges, good simple men! imagined that the
coney-catcher at the bar was a warrener, or one who had the care of a

The cant term of "warren" included the young coneys, or half-ruined
prodigals of that day, with the younger brothers, who had accomplished
their ruin; these naturally herded together, as the pigeon and the
black-leg of the present day. The coney-catchers were those who raised a
trade on their necessities. To be "conie-catched" was to be cheated. The
warren forms a combination altogether, to attract some novice, who in
_esse_ or in _posse_ has his present means good, and those to come
great; he is very glad to learn how money can be raised. The warren seek
after a _tumbler_, a sort of hunting dog; and the nature of a London
tumbler was to "hunt dry-foot," in this manner:--"The tumbler is let
loose, and runs snuffing up and down in the shops of mercers,
goldsmiths, drapers, haberdashers, to meet with a _ferret_, that is, a
citizen who is ready to sell a commodity." The tumbler in his first
course usually returned in despair, pretending to have out-wearied
himself by hunting, and swears that the city ferrets are so coaped (that
is, have their lips stitched up close) that he can't get them to open to
so great a sum as £500, which the warren wants. "This herb being chewed
down by the rabbit-suckers, almost kills their hearts. It irritates
their appetite, and they keenly bid the tumbler, if he can't fasten on
plate, or cloth, or silks, to lay hold of _brown paper_, _Bartholomew
babies_, _lute-strings_, or _hob-nails_. It hath been verily reported,"
says Decker, "that one gentleman of great hopes took up £100 in
hobby-horses, and sold them for £30; and £16 in joints of mutton and
quarters of lamb, ready roasted, and sold them for three pounds." Such
commodities were called _purse-nets_.--The tumbler, on his second hunt,
trots up and down again; and at last lights on a _ferret_ that will
deal: the names are given in to a scrivener, who inquires whether they
are good men, and finds four out of the five are wind-shaken, but the
fifth is an oak that can bear the hewing. "Bonds are sealed, commodities
delivered, and the tumbler fetches his second career; and their credit
having obtained the purse-nets, the wares must now obtain money." The
_tumbler_ now hunts for the _rabbit suckers_, those who buy these
_purse-nets_; but the _rabbit-suckers_ seem greater devils than the
_ferrets_, for they always bid under; and after many exclamations the
_warren_ is glad that the seller should repurchase his own commodities
for ready money, at thirty or fifty _per cent._ under the cost. The
story does not finish till we come to the manner "How the warren is
spoiled." I shall transcribe this part of the narrative in the lively
style of this town writer. "While there is any grass to nibble upon, the
rabbits are there; but on the cold day of repayment they retire into
their caves; so that when the _ferret_ makes account of _five_ in chase,
four disappear. Then he grows fierce, and tears open his own jaws to
suck blood from him that is left. Serjeants, marshalmen, and bailiffs
are sent forth, who lie scenting at every corner, and with terrible paws
haunt every walk. The bird is seized upon by these hawks, his estate
looked into, his wings broken, his lands made over to a stranger. He
pays £500, who never had but £60, or to prison; or he seals any bond,
mortgages any lordship, does anything, yields anything. A little way in,
he cares not how far he wades; the greater his possessions are, the
apter he is to take up and to be trusted--thus gentlemen are _ferretted_
and undone!" It is evident that the whole system turns on the single
novice; those who join him in his bonds are stalking horses; the whole
was to begin and to end with the single individual, the great coney of
the warren. Such was the nature of those "commodities" to which
Massinger and Shakspeare allude, and which the modern dramatist may
exhibit in his comedy, and be still sketching after life.

Another scene, closely connected with the present, will complete the
picture. "The Ordinaries" of those days were the lounging places of the
men of the town, and the "fantastic gallants," who herded together.[75]
Ordinaries were the "exchange for news," the echoing places for all
sorts of town-talk: there they might hear of the last new play and poem,
and the last fresh widow, who was sighing for some knight to make her a
lady; these resorts were attended also "to save charges of
housekeeping." The reign of James I. is characterised by all the
wantonness of prodigality among one class, and all the penuriousness and
rapacity in another, which met in the dissolute indolence of a peace of
twenty years. But a more striking feature in these "Ordinaries" showed
itself as soon as "the voyder had cleared the table." Then began "the
shuffling and cutting on one side, and the bones rattling on the other."
The "Ordinarie," in fact, was a gambling-house, like those now
expressively termed "Hells," and I doubt if the present "Infernos"
exceed the whole _diablerie_ of our ancestors.

In the former scene of sharping they derived their cant terms from a
rabbit-warren, but in the present their allusions partly relate to an
aviary, and truly the proverb suited them, "of birds of a feather."
Those who first propose to sit down to play are called the _leaders_;
the ruined gamesters are the _forlorn-hope_; the great winner is the
_eagle_; a stander-by, who encourages, by little ventures himself, the
freshly-imported gallant, who is called the _gull_, is the
_wood-pecker_; and a monstrous bird of prey, who is always hovering
round the table, is the _gull-groper_, who, at a pinch, is the
benevolent Audley of the Ordinary.

There was, besides, one other character of an original cast, apparently
the friend of none of the party, and yet in fact, "the Atlas which
supported the Ordinarie on his shoulders:" he was sometimes
significantly called the _impostor_.

The _gull_ is a young man whose father, a citizen or a squire, just
dead, leaves him "ten or twelve thousand pounds in ready money, besides
some hundreds a-year." Scouts are sent out, and lie in ambush for him;
they discover what "apothecarie's shop he resorts to every morning, or
in what tobacco-shop in Fleet-street he takes a pipe of smoke in the
afternoon;" the usual resorts of the loungers of that day. Some sharp
wit of the Ordinarie, a pleasant fellow, whom Robert Greene calls the
"taker-up," one of universal conversation, lures the heir of seven
hundred a-year to "The Ordinarie." A _gull_ sets the whole aviary in
spirits; and Decker well describes the flutter of joy and expectation:
"The _leaders_ maintained themselves brave; the _forlorn-hope_, that
drooped before, doth now gallantly come on; the _eagle_ feathers his
nest; the _wood-pecker_ picks up the crumbs; the _gull-groper_ grows fat
with good feeding; and the _gull_ himself, at whom every one has a pull,
hath in the end scarce feathers to keep his back warm."

During the _gull's_ progress through Primero and Gleek,[76] he wants
for no admirable advice and solemn warnings from two excellent friends;
the _gull-groper_, and at length, the _impostor_. The _gull-groper_, who
knows, "to half an acre," all his means, takes the _gull_ when out of
luck to a side-window, and in a whisper talks of "dice being made of
women's bones, which would cozen any man:" but he pours his gold on the
board; and a bond is rapturously signed for the next quarter-day. But
the _gull-groper_, by a variety of expedients, avoids having the bond
duly discharged; he contrives to get a judgment, and a serjeant with his
mace procures the forfeiture of the bond; the treble value. But the
"impostor" has none of the milkiness of the "_gull-groper_"--he looks
for no favour under heaven from any man; he is bluff with all the
Ordinarie; he spits at random; jingles his spurs into any man's cloak;
and his "humour" is, to be a devil of a dare-all. All fear him as the
tyrant they must obey. The tender _gull_ trembles, and admires this
roysterer's valour. At length the devil he feared becomes his champion;
and the poor _gull_, proud of his intimacy, hides himself under this
_eagle's_ wings.

The _impostor_ sits close by his elbow, takes a partnership in his game,
furnishes the stakes when out of luck, and in truth does not care how
fast the gull loses; for a twirl of his mustachio, a tip of his nose, or
a wink of his eye, drives all the losses of the gull into the profits of
the grand confederacy at the Ordinarie. And when the impostor has fought
the gull's quarrels many a time, at last he kicks up the table; and the
gull sinks himself into the class of the forlorn-hope; he lives at the
mercy of his late friends the gull-groper and the impostor, who send him
out to lure some tender bird in feather.

Such were the _hells_ of our ancestors, from which our worthies might
take a lesson; and the "warren" in which the Audleys were the

But to return to our Audley; this philosophical usurer never pressed
hard for his debts; like the fowler, he never shook his nets lest he
might startle, satisfied to have them, without appearing to hold them.
With great fondness he compared his "bonds to infants, which battle best
by sleeping." To battle is to be nourished, a term still retained at the
University of Oxford. His familiar companions were all subordinate
actors in the great piece he was performing; he too had his part in the
scene. When not taken by surprise, on his table usually lay open a great
Bible, with Bishop Andrews's folio Sermons, which often gave him an
opportunity of railing at the covetousness of the clergy; declaring
their religion was "a mere preach," and that "the time would never be
well till we had Queen Elizabeth's Protestants again in fashion." He was
aware of all the evils arising out of a population beyond the means of
subsistence, and dreaded an inundation of men, spreading like the spawn
of cod. Hence he considered marriage, with a modern political economist,
as very dangerous; bitterly censuring the clergy, whose children, he
said, never thrived, and whose widows were left destitute. An
apostolical life, according to Audley, required only books, meat, and
drink, to be had for fifty pounds a year! Celibacy, voluntary poverty,
and all the mortifications of a primitive Christian, were the virtues
practised by this puritan among his money bags.

Yet Audley's was that worldly wisdom which derives all its strength from
the weaknesses of mankind. Everything was to be obtained by stratagem;
and it was his maxim, that to grasp our object the faster, we must go a
little round about it. His life is said to have been one of intricacies
and mysteries, using indirect means in all things; but if he walked in a
labyrinth, it was to bewilder others; for the clue was still in his own
hand; all he sought was that his designs should not be discovered by his
actions. His word, we are told, was his bond; his hour was punctual; and
his opinions were compressed and weighty: but if he was true to his
bond-word, it was only a part of the system to give facility to the
carrying on of his trade, for he was not strict to his honour; the pride
of victory, as well as the passion for acquisition, combined in the
character of Audley, as in more tremendous conquerors. His partners
dreaded the effects of his law-library, and usually relinquished a claim
rather than stand a latent suit against a quibble. When one menaced him
by showing some money-bags, which he had resolved to empty in law
against him, Audley then in office in the court of wards, with a
sarcastic grin, asked "Whether the bags had any bottom?" "Ay!" replied
the exulting possessor, striking them. "In that case, I care not,"
retorted the cynical officer of the court of wards; "for in this court I
have a constant spring; and I cannot spend in other courts more than I
gain in this." He had at once the meanness which would evade the law,
and the spirit which could resist it.

The genius of Audley had crept out of the purlieus of Guildhall, and
entered the Temple; and having often sauntered at "Powles" down the
great promenade which was reserved for "Duke Humphrey and his
guests,"[77] he would turn into that part called "The Usurer's Alley,"
to talk with "Thirty in the hundred," and at length was enabled to
purchase his office at that remarkable institution, the court of wards.
The entire fortunes of those whom we now call wards in chancery were in
the hands, and often submitted to the arts or the tyranny of the
officers of this court.

When Audley was asked the value of this new office, he replied, that "It
might be worth some thousands of pounds to him who after his death would
instantly go to heaven; twice as much to him who would go to purgatory:
and nobody knows what to him who would adventure to go to hell." Such
was the pious casuistry of a witty usurer. Whether he undertook this
last adventure, for the four hundred thousand pounds he left behind him,
how can a sceptical biographer decide? Audley seems ever to have been
weak when temptation was strong.

Some saving qualities, however, were mixed with the vicious ones he
liked best. Another passion divided dominion with the sovereign one:
Audley's strongest impressions of character were cast in the old
law-library of his youth, and the pride of legal reputation was not
inferior in strength to the rage for money. If in the "court of wards"
he pounced on incumbrances which lay on estates, and prowled about to
discover the craving wants of their owners, it appears that he also
received liberal fees from the relatives of young heirs, to protect them
from the rapacity of some great persons, but who could not certainly
exceed Audley in subtilty. He was an admirable lawyer, for he was not
satisfied with _hearing_, but _examining_ his clients; which he called
"pinching the cause where he perceived it was foundered." He made two
observations on clients and lawyers, which have not lost their
poignancy. "Many clients in telling their case, rather plead than relate
it, so that the advocate heareth not the true state of it, till opened
by the adverse party. Some lawyers seem to keep an assurance-office in
their chambers, and will warrant any cause brought unto them, knowing
that if they fail, they lose nothing but what was lost long since--their

The career of Audley's ambition closed with the extinction of the "court
of wards," by which he incurred the loss of above £100,000. On that
occasion he observed that "His ordinary losses were as the shavings of
his beard, which only grew the faster by them; but the loss of this
place was like the cutting off of a member, which was irrecoverable."
The hoary usurer pined at the decline of his genius, discoursed on the
vanity of the world, and hinted at retreat. A facetious friend told him
a story of an old rat, who having acquainted the young rats that he
would at length retire to his hole, desiring none to come near him;
their curiosity, after some days, led them to venture to look into the
hole; and there they discovered the old rat sitting in the midst of a
rich Parmesan cheese. The loss of the last £100,000 may have disturbed
his digestion, for he did not long survive his court of wards.

Such was this man, converting wisdom into cunning, invention into
trickery, and wit into cynicism. Engaged in no honourable cause, he
however showed a mind resolved; making plain the crooked and involved
path he trod. _Sustine et abstine_, to bear and forbear, was the great
principle of Epictetus, and our moneyed Stoic bore all the contempt and
hatred of the living smilingly, while he forbore all the consolations of
our common nature to obtain his end. He died in unblest celibacy,--and
thus he received the curses of the living for his rapine, while the
stranger who grasped the million he had raked together owed him no
gratitude at his death.


I have already drawn a picture of Jewish history in our country; the
present is a companion-piece, exhibiting a Roman Catholic one.

The domestic history of our country awakens our feelings far more than
the public. In the one, we recognise ourselves as men; in the other, we
are nothing but politicians. The domestic history is, indeed, entirely
involved in the fate of the public; and our opinions are regulated
according to the different countries, and by the different ages we live
in; yet systems of politics, and modes of faith, are, for the
individual, but the chance occurrences of human life, usually found in
the cradle and laid in the grave: it is only the herd of mankind, or
their artful leaders, who fight and curse one another with so much
sincerity. Amidst these intestine struggles, or, perhaps, when they have
ceased, and our hearts are calm, we perceive the eternal force of nature
acting on humanity; then the heroic virtues and private sufferings of
persons engaged in an opposite cause, and acting on different principles
than our own, appeal to our sympathy, and even excite our admiration. A
philosopher, born a Roman Catholic, assuredly could commemorate many a
pathetic history of some heroic Huguenot; while we, with the same
feeling in our heart, discover a romantic and chivalrous band of

Chidiock Titchbourne is a name which appears in the conspiracy of
Anthony Babington against Elizabeth, and the history of this
accomplished young man may enter into the romance of real life. Having
discovered two interesting domestic documents relative to him, I am
desirous of preserving a name and a character which have such claims on
our sympathy.

There is an interesting historical novel, entitled "The Jesuit," whose
story is founded on this conspiracy; remarkable for being the production
of a lady, without, if I recollect rightly, a single adventure of love.
Of the fourteen characters implicated in this conspiracy, few were of
the stamp of men ordinarily engaged in dark assassinations. Hume has
told the story with his usual grace: the fuller narrative may be found
in Camden; but the tale may yet receive from the character of Chidiock
Titchbourne, a more interesting close.

Some youths, worthy of ranking with the heroes, rather than with the
traitors of England, had been practised on by the subtilty of Ballard, a
disguised Jesuit of great intrepidity and talents, whom Camden calls "a
silken priest in a soldier's habit:" for this versatile intriguer
changed into all shapes, and took up all names: yet, with all the arts
of a political Jesuit, he found himself entrapped in the nets of that
more crafty one, the subdolous Walsingham. Ballard had opened himself to
Babington, a Catholic; a youth of large fortune, the graces of whose
person were only inferior to those of his mind. In his travels, his
generous temper had been touched by some confidential friends of the
Scottish Mary; and the youth, susceptible of ambition, had been
recommended to that queen; and an intercourse of letters took place,
which seemed as deeply tinctured with love as with loyalty. The
intimates of Babington were youths of congenial tempers and studies;
and, in their exalted imaginations, they could only view in the
imprisoned Mary of Scotland a sovereign, a saint, and a woman. But
friendship the most tender, if not the most sublime ever recorded,
prevailed among this band of self-devoted victims; and the Damon and
Pythias of antiquity were here out-numbered.

But these conspirators were surely more adapted for lovers than for
politicians. The most romantic incidents are interwoven in this dark
conspiracy. Some of the letters to Mary were conveyed by a secret
messenger, really in the pay of Walsingham; others were lodged in a
concealed place, covered by a loosened stone, in the wall of the queen's
prison. All were transcribed by Walsingham before they reached Mary.
Even the spies of that singular statesman were the companions or the
servants of the arch-conspirator Ballard; for the minister seems only to
have humoured his taste in assisting him through this extravagant plot.
Yet, as if a plot of so loose a texture was not quite perilous enough,
the extraordinary incident of a picture, representing the secret
conspirators in person, was probably considered as the highest stroke of
political intrigue! The accomplished Babington had portrayed the
conspirators, himself standing in the midst of them, that the imprisoned
queen might thus have some kind of personal acquaintance with them.
There was at least as much of chivalry as of Machiavelism in this
conspiracy. This very picture, before it was delivered to Mary, the
subtile Walsingham had copied, to exhibit to Elizabeth the faces of her
secret enemies. Houbraken, in his portrait of Walsingham, has introduced
in the vignette the incident of this picture being shown to Elizabeth; a
circumstance happily characteristic of the genius of this crafty and
vigilant statesman. Camden tells us that Babington had first inscribed
beneath the picture this verse:--

    Hi mihi sunt comites, quos ipsa pericula ducunt.
    These are my companions, whom the same dangers lead.

But as this verse was considered by some of less heated fancies as much
too open and intelligible, they put one more ambiguous:--

              Quorsum hæc alio properantibus?
    What are these things to men hastening to another purpose?

This extraordinary collection of personages must have occasioned many
alarms to Elizabeth, at the approach of any stranger, till the
conspiracy was suffered to be sufficiently matured to be ended. Once she
perceived in her walks a conspirator; and on that occasion erected her
"lion port," reprimanding her captain of the guards, loud enough to meet
the conspirator's ear, that "he had not a man in his company who wore a
sword."--"Am not I fairly guarded?" exclaimed Elizabeth.

It is in the progress of the trial that the history and the feelings of
these wondrous youths appear. In those times, when the government of the
country yet felt itself unsettled, and mercy did not sit in the
judgment-seat, even one of the judges could not refrain from being
affected at the presence of so gallant a band as the prisoners at the
bar: "Oh, Ballard, Ballard!" the judge exclaimed, "what hast thou done?
A sort (a company) of brave youths, otherwise endued with good gifts, by
thy inducement hast thou brought to their utter destruction and
confusion." The Jesuit himself commands our respect, although we refuse
him our esteem; for he felt some compunction at the tragical executions
which were to follow, and "wished all the blame might rest on him, could
the shedding of his blood be the saving of Babington's life!"

When this romantic band of friends were called on for their defence, the
most pathetic instances of domestic affection appeared. One had engaged
in this plot solely to try to save his friend, for he had no hopes of
it, nor any wish for its success; he had observed to his friend, that
the "haughty and ambitious mind of Anthony Babington would be the
destruction of himself and his friends;" nevertheless he was willing to
die with them! Another, to withdraw if possible one of those noble
youths from the conspiracy, although he had broken up housekeeping,
said, to employ his own language, "I called back my servants again
together, and began to keep house again more freshly than ever I did,
only because I was weary to see Tom Salusbury's straggling, and willing
to keep him about home." Having attempted to secrete his friend, this
gentleman observed, "I am condemned, because I suffered Salusbury to
escape, when I knew he was one of the conspirators. My case is hard and
lamentable; either to betray my friend, whom I love as myself, and to
discover Tom Salusbury, the best man in my country, of whom I only made
choice, or else to break my allegiance to my sovereign, and to undo
myself and my posterity for ever." Whatever the political casuist may
determine on this case, the social being carries his own manual in the
heart. The principle of the greatest of republics was to suffer nothing
to exist in competition with its own ambition; but the Roman history is
a history without fathers and brothers! Another of the conspirators
replied, "For flying away with my friend I fulfilled the part of a
friend." When the judge observed, that, to perform his friendship he had
broken his allegiance to his sovereign, he bowed his head and confessed,
"Therein I have offended." Another, asked why he had fled into the
woods, where he was discovered among some of the conspirators, proudly
(or tenderly) replied, "For company!"

When the sentence of condemnation had passed, then broke forth among
this noble band that spirit of honour, which surely had never been
witnessed at the bar among so many criminals. Their great minds seemed
to have reconciled them to the most barbarous of deaths; but as their
estates as traitors might be forfeited to the queen, their sole anxiety
was now for their families and their creditors. One in the most pathetic
terms recommends to her majesty's protection a beloved wife; another a
destitute sister; but not among the least urgent of their supplications,
was one that their creditors might not be injured by their untimely end.
The statement of their affairs is curious and simple. "If mercy be not
to be had," exclaimed one, "I beseech you, my good lords, this; I owe
some sums of money, but not very much, and I have more owing to me; I
beseech that my debts may be paid with that which is owing to me."
Another prayed for a pardon; the judge complimented him, that "he was
one who might have done good service to his country," but declares he
cannot obtain it.--"Then," said the prisoner, "I beseech that six
angels, which such an one hath of mine, may be delivered to my brother
to pay my debts."--"How much are thy debts?" demanded the judge. He
answered, "The same six angels will discharge it."

That nothing might be wanting to complete the catastrophe of their sad
story, our sympathy must accompany them to their tragical end, and to
their last words. These heroic yet affectionate youths had a trial
there, intolerable to their social feelings. The terrific process of
executing traitors was the remains of feudal barbarism, and has only
been abolished very recently. I must not refrain from painting this
scene of blood; the duty of an historian must be severer than his taste,
and I record in the note a scene of this nature.[78] The present one was
full of horrors. Ballard was first executed, and snatched alive from
the gallows to be embowelled: Babington looked on with an undaunted
countenance, steadily gazing on that variety of tortures which he
himself was in a moment to pass through; the others averted their faces,
fervently praying. When the executioner began his tremendous office on
Babington, the spirit of this haughty and heroic man cried out amidst
the agony, _Parce mihi, Domine Jesu!_ Spare me, Lord Jesus! There were
two days of execution; it was on the first that the noblest of these
youths suffered; and the pity which such criminals had excited among the
spectators evidently weakened the sense of their political crime; the
solemnity, not the barbarity, of the punishment affects the populace
with right feelings. Elizabeth, an enlightened politician, commanded
that on the second day the odious part of the sentence against traitors
should not commence till after their death.

One of these _generosi adolescentuli_, youths of generous blood, was
CHIDIOCK TITCHBOURNE, of Southampton, the more intimate friend of
Babington. He had refused to connect himself with the assassination of
Elizabeth, but his reluctant consent was inferred from his silence. His
address to the populace breathes all the carelessness of life, in one
who knew all its value. Proud of his ancient descent from a family which
had existed before the Conquest till now without a stain, he paints the
thoughtless happiness of his days with his beloved friend, when any
object rather than matters of state engaged their pursuits; the hours of
misery were only first known the day he entered into the conspiracy. How
feelingly he passes into the domestic scene, amidst his wife, his child,
and his sisters! and even his servants! Well might he cry, more in
tenderness than in reproach, "Friendship hath brought me to this!"

     "Countrymen, and my dear friends, you expect I should speak
     something; I am a bad orator, and my text is worse: It were in
     vain to enter into the discourse of the whole matter for which
     I am brought hither, for that it hath been revealed heretofore;
     let me be a warning to all young gentlemen, especially
     _generosis adolescentulis_. I had a friend, a dear friend, of
     whom I made no small account, _whose friendship hath brought me
     to this_; he told me the whole matter, I cannot deny, as they
     had laid it down to be done; but I always thought it impious,
     and denied to be a dealer in it; but the regard of my friend
     caused me to be a man in whom the old proverb was verified; I
     was silent, and so consented. Before this thing chanced, we
     lived together in most nourishing estate: Of whom went report
     in the _Strand_, _Fleet-street_, and elsewhere about _London_,
     but of _Babington and Titchbourne_? No threshold was of force
     to brave our entry. Thus we lived, and wanted nothing we could
     wish for; and God knows what less in my head than _matters of
     state_. Now give me leave to declare the miseries I sustained
     after I was acquainted with the action, wherein I may justly
     compare my estate to that of Adam's, who could not abstain _one
     thing forbidden_, to enjoy all other things the world could
     afford; the terror of conscience awaited me. After I considered
     the dangers whereinto I was fallen, I went to Sir John Peters
     in Essex, and appointed my horses should meet me at London,
     intending to go down into the country. I came to London, and
     then heard that all was bewrayed; whereupon, like Adam, we fled
     into the woods to hide ourselves. My dear countrymen, my
     sorrows may be your joy, yet mix your smiles with tears, and
     pity my case; _I am descended from a house, from two hundred
     years before the Conquest, never stained till this my
     misfortune. I have a wife and one child; my wife Agnes, my dear
     wife, and there's my grief--and six sisters left in my hand--my
     poor servants, I know, their master being taken, were
     dispersed; for all which I do most heartily grieve_. I expected
     some favour, though I deserved nothing less, that the remainder
     of my years might in some sort have recompensed my former
     guilt; which seeing I have missed, let me now meditate on the
     joys I hope to enjoy."

Titchbourne had addressed a letter to his "dear wife Agnes," the night
before he suffered, which I discovered among the Harleian MSS.[79] It
overflows with the most natural feeling, and contains some touches of
expression, all sweetness and tenderness, which mark the Shakspearean
era. The same MS. has also preserved a more precious gem, in a small
poem, composed at the same time, which indicates his genius, fertile in
imagery, and fraught with the melancholy philosophy of a fine and
wounded spirit. The unhappy close of the life of such a noble youth,
with all the prodigality of his feelings, and the cultivation of his
intellect, may still excite that sympathy in the _generosis
adolescentulis_, which Chidiock Titchbourne would have felt for them!

     "A letter written by CHEDIOCK TICHEBURNE the night before he
     suffered death, vnto his wife, dated of anno 1586.

     "To the most loving wife alive, I commend me vnto her, and
     desire God to blesse her with all happiness, pray for her dead
     husband, and be of good comforte, for I hope in Jesus Christ
     this morning to see the face of my maker and redeemer in the
     most joyful throne of his glorious kingdome. Commend me to all
     my friends, and desire them to pray for me, and in all charitie
     to pardon me, if I have offended them. Commend me to my six
     sisters poore desolate soules, advise them to serue God, for
     without him no goodness is to be expected: were it possible, my
     little sister Babb: the darlinge of my race might be bred by
     her, God would rewarde her; but I do her wrong I confesse, that
     hath by my desolate negligence too little for herselfe, to add
     a further charge vnto her. Deere wife forgive me, that have by
     these means so much impoverished her fortunes; patience and
     pardon good wife I craue--make of these our necessities a
     vertue, and lay no further burthen on my neck than hath
     alreadie been. There be certain debts that I owe, and because I
     know not the order of the lawe, piteous it hath taken from me
     all, forfeited by my course of offence to her majestie, I
     cannot aduise thee to benefit me herein, but if there fall out
     wherewithal, let them be discharged for God's sake. I will not
     that you trouble yourselfe with the performance of these
     matters, my own heart, but make it known to my uncles, and
     desire them, for the honour of God and ease of their soule, to
     take care of them as they may, and especially care of my
     sisters bringing up the burthen is now laide on them. Now,
     Sweet-cheek, what is left to bestow on thee, a small joynture,
     a small recompense for thy deservinge, these legacies
     followinge to be thine owne. God of his infinite goodness give
     thee grace alwaies to remain his true and faithfull servant,
     that through the merits of his bitter and blessed passion thou
     maist become in good time of his kingdom with the blessed women
     in heaven. May the Holy Ghost comfort thee with all necessaries
     for the wealth of thy soul in the world to come, where, until
     it shall please almighty God I meete thee, farewell lovinge
     wife, farewell the dearest to me on all the earth, farewell!

     "By the hand from the heart of thy most faithful louinge



     "Made by CHEDIOCK TICHBORNE of himselfe in the Tower, the night
     before he suffered death, who was executed in Lincoln's Inn
     Fields for treason. 1586.

    My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
      My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
    My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
      And all my goodes is but vain hope of gain.
    The day is fled, and yet I saw no sun,
    And now I live, and now my life is done!

    My spring is past, and yet it hath not sprung,
      The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves are green,
    My youth is past, and yet I am but young,
      I saw the world, and yet I was not seen;
    My thread is cut, and yet it is not spun,
    And now I live, and now my life is done!

    I sought for death, and found it in the wombe,
      I lookt for life, and yet it was a shade,
    I trade the ground, and knew it was my tombe,
      And now I dye, and now I am but made.
    The glass is full, and yet my glass is run;
    And now I live, and now my life is done![80]


The year 1566 was a remarkable period in the domestic annals of our
great Elizabeth; then, for a moment, broke forth a noble struggle
between the freedom of the subject and the dignity of the sovereign.

One of the popular grievances of her glorious reign was the maiden state
in which the queen persisted to live, notwithstanding such frequent
remonstrances and exhortations. The nation in a moment might be thrown
into the danger of a disputed succession; and it became necessary to
allay that ferment which existed among all parties, while each was
fixing on its own favourite, hereafter to ascend the throne. The birth
of James I. this year, re-animated the partisans of Mary of Scotland;
and men of the most opposite parties in England unanimously joined in
the popular cry for the marriage of Elizabeth, or a settlement of the
succession. This was a subject most painful to the thoughts of
Elizabeth; she started from it with horror, and she was practising every
imaginable artifice to evade it.

The real cause of this repugnance has been passed over by our
historians. Camden, however, hints at it, when he places among other
popular rumours of the day, that "men cursed Huic, the queen's
physician, for dissuading her from marriage, for I know not what female
infirmity." The queen's physician thus incurred the odium of the nation
for the integrity of his conduct: he well knew how precious was her

This fact, once known, throws a new light over her conduct; the
ambiguous expressions which she constantly employs, when she alludes to
her marriage in her speeches, and in private conversations, are no
longer mysterious. She was always declaring, that she knew her subjects
did not love her so little, as to wish to bury her before her time; even
in the letter I shall now give, we find this remarkable
expression:--urging her to marriage, she said, was "asking nothing less
than wishing her to dig her grave before she was dead." Conscious of the
danger of her life by marriage, she had early declared when she ascended
the throne, that "she would live and die a maiden queen:" but she
afterwards discovered the political evil resulting from her unfortunate
situation. Her conduct was admirable; her great genius turned even her
weakness into strength, and proved how well she deserved the character
which she had already obtained from an enlightened enemy--the great
Sixtus V., who observed of her, _Ch'era un gran cervello di
Principessa_! She had a princely head-piece! Elizabeth allowed her
ministers to pledge her royal word to the commons, as often as they
found necessary, for her resolution to marry; she kept all Europe at her
feet, with the hopes and fears of her choice; she gave ready
encouragements, perhaps allowed her agents to promote even invitations,
to the offers of marriage she received from crowned heads; and all the
coquetries and cajolings, so often and so fully recorded, with which she
freely honoured individuals, made her empire an empire of love, where
love, however, could never appear. All these were merely political
artifices, to conceal her secret resolution, which was, not to marry.

At the birth of James I. as Camden says, "the sharp and hot spirits
broke out, accusing the queen that she was neglecting her country and
posterity." All "these humours," observes Hume, "broke out with great
vehemence, in a new session of parliament, held after six prorogations."
The peers united with the commoners. The queen had an empty exchequer,
and was at their mercy. It was a moment of high ferment. Some of the
boldest, and some of the most British spirits were at work; and they,
with the malice or wisdom of opposition, combined the supply with the
succession; one was not to be had without the other.

This was a moment of great hope and anxiety with the French court; they
were flattering themselves that her reign was touching a crisis; and La
Mothe Fenelon, then the French ambassador at the court of Elizabeth,
appears to have been busied in collecting hourly information of the warm
debates in the commons, and what passed in their interviews with the
queen. We may rather be astonished where he procured so much secret
intelligence: he sometimes complains that he is not able to acquire it
as fast as Catherine de Medicis and her son Charles IX. wished. There
must have been Englishmen at our court who were serving as French spies.
In a private collection, which consists of two or three hundred original
letters of Charles IX., Catherine de Medicis, Henry III., and Mary of
Scotland, &c., I find two despatches of this French ambassador, entirely
relating to the present occurrence. What renders them more curious is,
that the debates on the question of the succession are imperfectly given
in Sir Symonds D'Ewes's journals; the only resource open to us. Sir
Symonds complains of the negligence of the clerk of the commons, who
indeed seems to have exerted his negligence, whenever it was found most
agreeable to the court party.

Previous to the warm debates in the commons, of which the present
despatch furnishes a lively picture, on Saturday, 12th October, 1566, at
a meeting of the lords of the council, held in the queen's apartment,
the Duke of Norfolk, in the name of the whole nobility, addressed
Elizabeth, urging her to settle the suspended points of the succession,
and of her marriage, which had been promised in the last parliament. The
queen was greatly angered on the occasion; she would not suffer their
urgency on those points, and spoke with great animation. "Hitherto you
have had no opportunity to complain of me; I have well governed the
country in peace, and if a late war of little consequence has broken
out, which might have occasioned my subjects to complain of me, with me
it has not originated, but with yourselves, as truly I believe. Lay your
hands on your hearts, and blame yourselves. In respect to the choice of
the succession, not one of ye shall have it; that choice I reserve to
myself alone. I will not be buried while I am living, as my sister was.
Do I not well know, how during the life of my sister every one hastened
to me at Hatfield; I am at present inclined to see no such travellers,
nor desire on this your advice in any way.[82] In regard to my marriage,
you may see enough, that I am not distant from it, and in what respects
the welfare of the kingdom: go each of you, and do your own duty."

     _27th October, 1566._


"By my last despatch of the 21st instant,[83] among other matters, I
informed your majesty of what was said on Saturday the 19th as well in
parliament, as in the chamber of the queen, respecting the circumstance
of the succession to this crown; since which I have learned other
particulars, which occurred a little before, and which I will not now
omit to relate, before I mention what afterwards happened.

"On Wednesday, the 16th of the present month, the comptroller of the
queen's household[84] moved, in the lower house of parliament, where the
deputies of towns and counties meet, to obtain a subsidy;[85] taking
into consideration, among other things, that the queen had emptied the
exchequer, as well in the late wars, as in the maintenance of her ships
at sea, for the protection of her kingdom, and her subjects; and which
expenditure has been so excessive, that it could no further be supported
without the aid of her good subjects, whose duty it was to offer money
to her majesty, even before she required it, in consideration that,
hitherto, she had been to them a benignant and courteous mistress.

"The comptroller having finished, one of the deputies, a country
gentleman, rose in reply. He said, that he saw no occasion, nor any
pressing necessity, which ought to move her majesty to ask for money of
her subjects. And, in regard to the wars, which it was said had
exhausted her treasury, she had undertaken them for herself, as she had
thought proper; not for the defence of her kingdom, nor for the
advantage of her subjects; but there was one thing which seemed to him
more urgent, and far more necessary to examine concerning this
campaign; which was, how the money raised by the late subsidy had been
spent; and that every one who had had the handling of it should produce
their accounts, that it might be known if the monies had been well or
ill spent.

"On this, rises one named Mr. _Basche_,[86] purveyor of the marine, and
also a member of the said parliament; who shows that it was most
necessary that the commons should vote the said subsidies to her
majesty, who had not only been at vast charges, and was so daily, to
maintain a great number of ships, but also in building new ones;
repeating what the comptroller of the household had said, that they
ought not to wait till the queen asked for supplies, but should make a
voluntary offer of their services.

"Another country gentleman rises and replies, that the said _Basche_ had
certainly his reasons to speak for the queen in the present case, since
a great deal of her majesty's monies for the providing of ships passed
through his hands; and the more he consumed, the greater was his profit.
According to his notion, there were but too many purveyors in this
kingdom, whose noses had grown so long, that they stretched from London
to the west.[87] It was certainly proper to know if all they levied by
their commission for the present campaign was entirely employed to the
queen's profit. Nothing further was debated on that day.

"The Friday following when the subject of the subsidy was renewed, one
of the gentlemen-deputies showed, that the queen having prayed[88] for
the last subsidy, had promised, and pledged her faith to her subjects,
that after that one she never more would raise a single penny on them;
and promised even to free them from the wine-duty, of which promise they
ought to press for the performance; adding, that it was far more
necessary for this kingdom to speak concerning an heir or successor to
their crown, and of her marriage, than of a subsidy.

"The next day, which was Saturday the 19th, they all began, with the
exception of a single voice, a loud outcry for the succession. Amidst
these confused voices and cries, one of the council prayed them to have
a little patience, and with time they should be satisfied; but that, at
this moment, other matters pressed,--it was necessary to satisfy the
queen about a subsidy. 'No! no!' cried the deputies, 'we are expressly
charged not to grant anything until the queen resolvedly answers that
which we now ask: and we require you to inform her majesty of our
intention, which is such as we are commanded to by all the towns and
subjects of this kingdom, whose deputies we are. We further require an
act, or acknowledgment, of our having delivered this remonstrance, that
we may satisfy our respective towns and counties that we have performed
our charge.' They alleged for an excuse, that if they had omitted any
part of this, _their heads would answer for it_. We shall see what will
come of this.[89]

"Tuesday the 22nd, the principal lords, and the bishops of London, York,
Winchester, and Durham, went together, after dinner, from the parliament
to the queen, whom they found in her private apartment. There, after
those who were present had retired, and they remained alone with her,
the great treasurer having the precedence in age, spoke first in the
name of all. He opened, by saying, that the commons had required them to
unite in one sentiment and agreement, to solicit her majesty to give her
answer as she had promised, to appoint a successor to the crown;
declaring it was necessity that compelled them to urge this point, that
they might provide against the dangers which might happen to the
kingdom, if they continued without the security they asked. This had
been the custom of her royal predecessors, to provide long beforehand
for the succession, to preserve the peace of the kingdom; that the
commons were all of one opinion, and so resolved to settle the
succession before they would speak about a subsidy, or any other matter
whatever; that, hitherto, nothing but the most trivial discussions had
passed in parliament, and so great an assembly was only wasting their
time, and saw themselves entirety useless. They, however, supplicated
her majesty, that she would be pleased to declare her will on this
point, or at once to put an end to the parliament, so that every one
might retire to his home.

"The Duke of Norfolk then spoke, and, after him, every one of the other
lords, according to his rank, holding the same language in strict
conformity with that of the great treasurer.

"The queen returned no softer answer than she had on the preceding
Saturday, to another party of the same company; saying that 'The commons
were very rebellious, and that they had not dared to have attempted such
things during the life of her father: that it was not for them to impede
her affairs, and that it did not become a subject to compel the
sovereign. What they asked was nothing less than wishing her to dig her
grave before she was dead.' Addressing herself to the lords, she said,
'My lords, do what you will; as for myself, I shall do nothing but
according to my pleasure. All the resolutions which you may make can
have no force without my consent and authority; besides, what you desire
is an affair of much too great importance to be declared to a knot of
hare-brains.[90] I will take counsel with men who understand justice and
the laws, as I am deliberating to do: I will choose half-a-dozen of the
most able I can find in my kingdom for consultation, and after having
their advice, I will then discover to you my will.' On this she
dismissed them in great anger.

"By this, sire, your majesty may perceive that this queen is every day
trying new inventions to escape from this passage (that is, on fixing
her marriage, or the succession). She thinks that the Duke of Norfolk is
principally the cause of this insisting,[91] which one person and the
other stand to; and is so angried against him, that, if she can find any
decent pretext to arrest him, I think she will not fail to do it; and he
himself, as I understand, has already very little doubt of this.[92]
The duke told the earl of Northumberland, that the queen remained
steadfast to her own opinion, and would take no other advice than her
own, and would do everything herself."

The storms in our parliament do not necessarily end in political
shipwrecks, whenever the head of the government is an Elizabeth. She,
indeed, sent down a prohibition to the house from all debate on the
subject. But when she discovered a spirit in the commons, and language
as bold as her own royal style, she knew how to revoke the exasperating
prohibition. She even charmed them by the manner; for the commons
returned her "prayers and thanks," and accompanied them with a subsidy.
Her majesty found by experience, that the present, like other passions,
was more easily calmed and quieted by following than resisting, observes
Sir Symonds D'Ewes.

The wisdom of Elizabeth, however, did not weaken her intrepidity. The
struggle was glorious for both parties; but how she escaped through the
storm which her mysterious conduct had at once raised and quelled, the
sweetness and the sharpness, the commendation and the reprimand of her
noble speech in closing the parliament, are told by Hume with the usual
felicity of his narrative.[93]


Prince Henry, the son of James I., whose premature death was lamented by
the people, as well as by poets and historians, unquestionably would
have proved an heroic and military character. Had he ascended the
throne, the whole face of our history might have been changed; the days
of Agincourt and Cressy had been revived, and Henry IX. had rivalled
Henry V. It is remarkable that Prince Henry resembled that monarch in
his features, as Ben Jonson has truly recorded, though in a
complimentary verse, and as we may see by his picture, among the ancient
English ones at Dulwich College. Merlin, in a masque by Jonson,
addresses Prince Henry,

    Yet rests that other thunderbolt of war,
    Harry the Fifth; to whom in face you are
    So like, as fate would have you so in worth.

A youth who perished in his eighteenth year has furnished the subject
of a volume, which even the deficient animation of its writer has not
deprived of attraction.[94] If the juvenile age of Prince Henry has
proved such a theme for our admiration, we may be curious to learn what
this extraordinary youth was even at an earlier period. Authentic
anecdotes of children are rare; a child has seldom a biographer by his
side. We have indeed been recently treated with "Anecdotes of Children,"
in the "Practical Education" of the literary family of the Edgeworths;
but we may presume that as Mr. Edgeworth delighted in pieces of curious
machinery in his house, these automatic infants, poets, and
metaphysicians, of whom afterwards we have heard no more, seem to have
resembled other automata, moving without any native impulse.

Prince Henry, at a very early age, not exceeding five years, evinced a
thoughtfulness of character, extraordinary in a child. Something in the
formation of this early character may be attributed to the Countess of
Mar. This lady had been the nurse of James I., and to her care the king
intrusted the prince. She is described in a manuscript of the times, as
"an ancient, virtuous, and severe lady, who was the prince's governess
from his cradle." At the age of five years the prince was consigned to
his tutor, Mr. (afterwards Sir) Adam Newton, a man of learning and
capacity, whom the prince at length chose for his secretary. The
severity of the old countess, and the strict discipline of his tutor,
were not received without affection and reverence; although not at times
without a shrewd excuse, or a turn of pleasantry, which latter faculty
the princely boy seems to have possessed in a very high degree.

The prince early attracted the attention and excited the hopes of those
who were about his person. A manuscript narrative has been preserved,
which was written by one who tells us, that he was "an attendant upon
the prince's person since he was under the age of three years, having
always diligently observed his disposition, behaviour, and
speeches."[95] It was at the earnest desire of Lord and Lady Lumley that
the writer of these anecdotes drew up this relation. The manuscript is
without date; but as Lord Lumley died in April, 1609, and leaving no
heir, his library was then purchased for the prince, Henry could not
have reached his fifteenth year; this manuscript was evidently composed
earlier: so that the _latest_ anecdotes could not have occurred beyond
his thirteenth or fourteenth year,--a time of life when few children can
furnish a curious miscellany about themselves.

The writer set down every little circumstance he considered worth
noticing, as it occurred. I shall attempt a sort of arrangement of the
most interesting, to show, by an unity of the facts, the characteristic
touches of the mind and dispositions of the princely boy.

Prince Henry in his childhood rarely wept, and endured pain without a
groan. When a boy wrestled with him in earnest, and threw him, he was
not "seen to whine or weep at the hurt." His sense of justice was early;
for when his playmate the little Earl of Mar ill-treated one of his
pages, Henry reproved his puerile friend: "I love you because you are my
lord's son and my cousin; but, if you be not better conditioned, I will
love such an one better," naming the child that had complained of him.

The first time he went to the town of Stirling, to meet the king,
observing without the gate of the town a stack of corn, it fancifully
struck him with the shape of the top he used to play with, and the child
exclaimed, "That's a good top." "Why do you not then play with it?" he
was answered. "Set you it up for me, and I will play with it." This is
just the fancy which we might expect in a lively child, with a
shrewdness in the retort above its years.

His martial character was perpetually discovering itself. When asked
what instrument he liked best, he answered, "a trumpet." We are told
that none could dance with more grace, but that he never delighted in
dancing; while he performed his heroical exercises with pride and
delight, more particularly when before the king, the constable of
Castile, and other ambassadors. He was instructed by his master to
handle and toss the pike, to march and hold himself in an affected style
of stateliness, according to the martinets of those days; but he soon
rejected such petty and artificial fashions; yet to show that this
dislike arose from no want of skill in a trifling accomplishment, he
would sometimes resume it only to laugh at it, and instantly return to
his own natural demeanour. On one of these occasions, one of these
martinets observing that they could never be good soldiers unless they
always kept true order and measure in marching, "What then must they
do," cried Henry, "when they wade through a swift-running water?" In all
things freedom of action from his own native impulse he preferred to the
settled rules of his teachers; and when his physician told him that he
rode too fast, he replied, "Must I ride by rules of physic?" When he was
eating a cold capon in cold weather, the physician told him that that
was not meat for the weather. "You may see, doctor," said Henry, "that
my cook is no astronomer." And when the same physician, observing him
eat cold and hot meat together, protested against it, "I cannot mind
that now," said the royal boy, facetiously, "though they should have run
at tilt together in my belly."

His national affections were strong. When one reported to Henry that the
King of France had said that his bastard, as well as the bastard of
Normandy, might conquer England, the princely boy exclaimed, "I'll to
cuffs with him, if he go about any such means." There was a dish of
jelly before the prince, in the form of a crown, with three lilies; and
a kind of buffoon, whom the prince used to banter, said to the prince
that that dish was worth a crown. "Ay!" exclaimed the future English
hero, "I would I had that crown!"--"It would be a great dish," rejoined
the buffoon. "How can that be," rejoined the prince, "since you value it
but a crown?" When James I. asked him whether he loved Englishmen or
Frenchmen better, he replied, "Englishmen, because he was of kindred to
more noble persons of England than of France;" and when the king
inquired whether he loved the English or the Germans better, he replied
the English; on which the king observing that his mother was a German,
the prince replied, "'Sir, you have the wyte thereof;'--a northern
speech," adds the writer, "which is as much as to say,--you are the
cause thereof."

Born in Scotland, and heir to the crown of England at a time when the
mutual jealousies of the two nations were running so high, the boy often
had occasion to express the unity of affection which was really in his
heart. Being questioned by a nobleman, whether, after his father, he had
rather be king of England or Scotland, he asked, "Which of them was
best?" Being answered, that it was England; "Then," said the
Scottish-born prince, "would I have both!" And once, in reading this
verse in Virgil,

    Tros Tyriusve mihi nullo discrimine agetur,

the boy said he would make use of that verse for himself, with a slight
alteration, thus,

    Anglus Scotusve mihi nullo discrimine agetur.

He was careful to keep alive the same feeling in another part of the
British dominions; and the young prince appears to have been regarded
with great affection by the Welsh; for when once the prince asked a
gentleman at what mark he should shoot, the courtier pointed with levity
at a Welshman who was present. "Will you see, then," said the princely
boy, "how I will shoot at Welshmen?" Turning his back from him, the
prince shot his arrow in the air. When a Welshman, who had taken a large
carouse, in the fulness of his heart and his head, said in the presence
of the king, that the prince should have 40,000 Welshmen, to wait upon
him against any king in Christendom; the king, not a little jealous,
hastily inquired, "To do what?" The little prince turned away the
momentary alarm by his facetiousness: "To cut off the heads of 40,000

His bold and martial character was discoverable in minute circumstances
like these. Eating in the king's presence a dish of milk, the king asked
him why he ate so much child's meat. "Sir, it is also man's meat," Henry
replied; and immediately after having fed heartily on a partridge, the
king observed that that meat would make him a coward, according to the
prevalent notions of the age respecting diet; to which the young prince
replied, "though it be but a cowardly fowl, it shall not make me a
coward." Once taking strawberries with two spoons, when one might have
sufficed, our infant Mars gaily exclaimed, "The one I use as a rapier
and the other as a dagger!"

Adam Newton appears to have filled his office as preceptor with no
servility to the capricious fancies of the princely boy. Desirous,
however, of cherishing the generous spirit and playful humour of Henry,
his tutor encouraged a freedom of jesting with him, which appears to
have been carried at times to a degree of momentary irritability on the
side of the tutor, by the keen humour of the boy. While the royal pupil
held his master in equal reverence and affection, the gaiety of his
temper sometimes twitched the equability or the gravity of the
preceptor. When Newton, wishing to set an example to the prince in
heroic exercises, one day practised the pike, and tossing it with such
little skill as to have failed in the attempt, the young prince telling
him of his failure, Newton obviously lost his temper, observing, that
"to find fault was an evil humour." "Master, I take the humour of you."
"It becomes not a prince," observed Newton. "Then," retorted the young
prince, "doth it worse become a prince's master!" Some of these harmless
bickerings are amusing. When his tutor, playing at shuffle-board with
the prince, blamed him for changing so often, and taking up a piece,
threw it on the board, and missed his aim, the prince smilingly
exclaimed, "Well thrown, master;" on which the tutor, a little vexed,
said "he would not strive with a prince at shuffle-board." Henry
observed, "Yet you gownsmen should be best at such exercises, which are
not meet for men who are more stirring." The tutor, a little irritated,
said, "I am meet for whipping of boys." "You vaunt, then," retorted the
prince, "that which a ploughman or cart-driver can do better than you."
"I can do more," said the tutor, "for I can govern foolish children." On
which the prince, who, in his respect for his tutor, did not care to
carry the jest farther, rose from the table, and in a low voice to those
near him said, "he had need be a wise man that could do that." Newton
was sometimes severe in his chastisement; for when the prince was
playing at goff, and having warned his tutor, who was standing by in
conversation, that he was going to strike the ball, and having lifted up
the goff-club, some one observing, "Beware, sir, that you hit not Mr.
Newton!" the prince drew back the club, but smilingly observed, "Had I
done so, I had but paid my debts." At another time, when he was amusing
himself with the sports of a child, his tutor wishing to draw him to
more manly exercises, amongst other things, said to him in good humour,
"God send you a wise wife!" "That she may govern you and me!" said the
prince. The tutor observed, that "he had one of his own;" the prince
replied, "But mine, if I have one, would govern your wife, and by that
means would govern both you and me!" Henry, at this early age, excelled
in a quickness of reply, combined with reflection, which marks the
precocity of his intellect. His tutor having laid a wager with the
prince that he could not refrain from standing with his back to the
fire, and seeing him forget himself once or twice, standing in that
posture, the tutor said, "Sir, the wager is won, you have failed twice."
"Master," replied Henry, "Saint Peter's cock crew thrice."--A musician
having played a voluntary in his presence, was requested to play the
same again. "I could not for the kingdom of Spain," said the musician,
"for this were harder than for a preacher to repeat word by word a
sermon that he had not learned by rote." A clergyman standing by,
observed that he thought a preacher might do that: "Perhaps," rejoined
the young prince, "for a bishopric!"

The natural facetiousness of his temper appears frequently in the good
humour with which the little prince was accustomed to treat his
domestics. He had two of opposite characters, who were frequently set by
the ears for the sake of the sport; the one, Murray, nicknamed "the
tailor," loved his liquor; and the other was a stout "trencherman." The
king desired the prince to put an end to these broils, and to make the
men agree, and that the agreement should be written and subscribed by
both. "Then," said the prince, "must the drunken tailor subscribe it
with chalk, for he cannot write his name, and then I will make them
agree upon this condition--that the trencherman shall go into the
cellar, and drink with Will Murray, and Will Murray shall make a great
wallet for the trencherman to carry his victuals in."--One of his
servants having cut the prince's finger, and sucked out the blood with
his mouth, that it might heal the more easily, the young prince, who
expressed no displeasure at the accident, said to him pleasantly, "If,
which God forbid! my father, myself, and the rest of his kindred should
fail, you might claim the crown, for you have now in you the
blood-royal."--Our little prince once resolved on a hearty game of play,
and for this purpose only admitted his young gentlemen, and excluded the
men: it happened that an old servant, not aware of the injunction,
entered the apartment, on which the prince told him he might play too;
and when the prince was asked why he admitted this old man rather than
the other men, he rejoined, "Because he had a right to be of their
number, for _Senex bis puer_."

Nor was Henry susceptible of gross flattery, for when once he wore white
shoes, and one said that he longed to kiss his foot, the prince said to
the fawning courtier, "Sir, I am not the pope;" the other replied that
"he would not kiss the pope's foot, except it were to bite off his great
toe." The prince gravely rejoined: "At Rome you would be glad to kiss
his foot and forget the rest."

It was then the mode, when the king or the prince travelled, to sleep
with their suite at the houses of the nobility; and the loyalty and zeal
of the host were usually displayed in the reception given to the royal
guest. It happened that in one of these excursions the prince's servants
complained that they had been obliged to go to bed supperless, through
the pinching parsimony of the house, which the little prince at the time
of hearing seemed to take no great notice of. The next morning the lady
of the house coming to pay her respects to him, she found him turning
over a volume that had many pictures in it; one of which was a painting
of a company sitting at a banquet: this he showed her. "I invite you,
madam, to a feast." "To what feast?" she asked. "To this feast," said
the boy. "What! would your highness give me but a painted feast?" Fixing
his eye on her, he said, "No better, madam, is found in this house."
There was a delicacy and greatness of spirit in this ingenious reprimand
far excelling the wit of a child.

According to this anecdote-writer, it appears that James the First
probably did not delight in the martial dispositions of his son, whose
habits and opinions were, in all respects, forming themselves opposite
to his own tranquil and literary character. The writer says, that "his
majesty, with the tokens of love to him, would sometimes interlace sharp
speeches, and other demonstrations of fatherly severity." Henry, who
however lived, though he died early, to become a patron of ingenious
men, and a lover of genius, was himself at least as much enamoured of
the pike as of the pen. The king, to rouse him to study, told him, that
if he did not apply more diligently to his book, his brother, duke
Charles, who seemed already attached to study, would prove more able for
government and for the cabinet, and that himself would be only fit for
field exercises and military affairs. To his father, the little prince
made no reply; but when his tutor one day reminded him of what his
father had said, to stimulate our young prince to literary diligence,
Henry asked, whether he thought his brother would prove so good a
scholar. His tutor replied that he was likely to prove so. 'Then,'
rejoined our little prince, 'will I make Charles Archbishop of

Our Henry was devoutly pious, and rigid in never permitting before him
any licentious language or manners. It is well known that James the
First had a habit of swearing,--expletives in conversation, which, in
truth, only expressed the warmth of his feelings; but in that age, when
Puritanism had already possessed half the nation, an oath was considered
as nothing short of blasphemy. Henry once made a keen allusion to this
verbal frailty of his father's; for when he was told that some hawks
were to be sent to him, but it was thought that the king would intercept
some of them, he replied, "He may do as he pleases, for he shall not be
put to the oath for the matter." The king once asking him what were the
best verses he had learned in the first book of Virgil, Henry answered,

    'Rex erat Æneas nobis, quo justior alter
    Nec pietate fuit, nec bello major et armis.'"

Such are a few of the puerile anecdotes of a prince who died in early
youth, gleaned from a contemporary manuscript, by an eye and ear
witness. They are trifles, but trifles consecrated by his name. They are
genuine; and the philosopher knows how to value the indications of a
great and heroic character. There are among them some which may occasion
an inattentive reader to forget that they are all the speeches and the
actions of a child!


Of court-etiquette few are acquainted with the mysteries, and still
fewer have lost themselves in its labyrinth of forms. Whence its origin?
Perhaps from those grave and courtly Italians, who, in their petty
pompous courts, made the whole business of their effeminate days consist
in _punctilios_; and, wanting realities to keep themselves alive,
affected the mere shadows of life and action, in a world of these
mockeries of state. It suited well the genius of a people who boasted of
elementary works to teach how affronts were to be given, and how to be
taken; and who had some reason to pride themselves in producing the
Cortegiano of Castiglione, and the Galateo of Della Casa. They carried
this refining temper into the most trivial circumstances, when a court
was to be the theatre, and monarchs and their representatives the
actors. Precedence, and other honorary discriminations, establish the
useful distinctions of ranks, and of individuals; but their minuter
court forms, subtilised by Italian conceits, with an erudition of
precedents, and a logic of nice distinctions, imparted a mock dignity
of science to the solemn fopperies of a master of the ceremonies, who
exhausted all the faculties of his soul on the equiponderance of the
first place of inferior degree with the last of a superior; who turned
into a political contest the placing of a chair and a stool; made a
reception at the stairs'-head, or at the door, raise a clash between two
rival nations; a visit out of time require a negotiation of three
months; or an awkward invitation produce a sudden fit of sickness; while
many a rising antagonist, in the formidable shapes of ambassadors, were
ready to despatch a courier to their courts, for the omission or neglect
of a single _punctilio_. The pride of nations, in pacific times, has
only these means to maintain their jealousy of power: yet should not the
people be grateful to the sovereign who confines his campaigns to his
drawing-room: whose field-marshal is a tripping master of the
ceremonies; whose stratagems are only to save the inviolability of
court-etiquette; and whose battles of peace are only for precedence?

When the Earls of Holland and Carlisle, our ambassadors extraordinary to
the court of France, in 1624, were at Paris, to treat of the marriage of
Charles with Henrietta, and to join in a league against Spain, before
they showed their propositions, they were desirous of ascertaining in
what manner Cardinal Richelieu would receive them. The Marquis of
Ville-aux-Clers was employed in this negotiation, which appeared at
least as important as the marriage and the league. He brought for
answer, that the cardinal would receive them as he did the ambassadors
of the Emperor and the King of Spain; that he could not give them the
right hand in his own house, because he never honoured in this way those
ambassadors; but that, in reconducting them out of his room, he would go
farther than he was accustomed to do, provided that they would permit
him to cover this unusual proceeding with a pretext, that the others
might not draw any consequences from it in their favour. Our ambassadors
did not disapprove of this expedient, but they begged time to receive
the instructions of his majesty. As this would create a considerable
delay, they proposed another, which would set at rest, for the moment,
the _punctilio_. They observed, that if the cardinal would feign himself
sick, they would go to see him: on which the cardinal immediately went
to bed, and an interview, so important to both nations, took place, and
articles of great difficulty were discussed by the cardinal's bedside!
When the Nuncio Spada would have made the cardinal jealous of the
pretensions of the English ambassadors, and reproached him with yielding
his precedence to them, the cardinal denied this. "I never go before
them, it is true, but likewise I never accompany them; I wait for them
only in the chamber of audience, either seated in the most honourable
place, or standing till the table is ready: I am always the first to
speak, and the first to be seated; and besides, I have never chosen to
return their visit, which has made the Earl of Carlisle so

Such was the ludicrous gravity of those court etiquettes, or
_punctilios_, combined with political consequences, of which I am now to
exhibit a picture.

When James the First ascended the throne of his united kingdoms, and
promised himself and the world long halcyon days of peace, foreign
princes, and a long train of ambassadors from every European power,
resorted to the English court. The pacific monarch, in emulation of an
office which already existed in the courts of Europe, created that of
MASTER OF THE CEREMONIES, after the mode of France, observes Roger
Coke.[97] This was now found necessary to preserve the state, and allay
the perpetual jealousies of the representatives of their sovereigns. The
first officer was Sir Lewis Lewknor,[98] with an assistant, Sir John
Finett, who at length succeeded him, under Charles the First, and seems
to have been more amply blest with the genius of the place; his soul
doted on the honour of the office; and in that age of peace and of
ceremony, we may be astonished at the subtilty of his inventive shifts
and contrivances, in quieting that school of angry and rigid boys whom
he had under his care--the ambassadors of Europe!

Sir John Finett, like a man of genius in office, and living too in an
age of diaries, has not resisted the pleasant labour of perpetuating his
own narrative.[99] He has told every circumstance, with a chronological
exactitude, which passed in his province as master of the ceremonies;
and when we consider that he was a busy actor amidst the whole
diplomatic corps, we shall not he surprised by discovering, in this
small volume of great curiosity, a vein of secret and authentic history;
it throws a new light on many important events, in which the historians
of the times are deficient, who had not the knowledge of this assiduous
observer. But my present purpose is not to treat Sir John with all the
ceremonious _punctilios_, of which he was himself the arbiter; nor to
quote him on grave subjects, which future historians may well do.

This volume contains the rupture of a morning, and the peace-makings of
an evening; sometimes it tells of "a _clash_ between the Savoy and
Florence ambassadors for precedence;"--now of "_questions_ betwixt the
Imperial and Venetian ambassadors, concerning _titles_ and _visits_,"
how they were to address one another, and who was to pay the first
visit!--then "the Frenchman takes _exceptions_ about _placing_." This
historian of the levee now records, "that the French ambassador gets
ground of the Spanish;" but soon after, so eventful were these
drawing-room politics, that a day of festival has passed away in
suspense, while a privy council has been hastily summoned, to inquire
_why_ the French ambassador had "a defluction of rheum in his teeth,
besides a fit of the ague," although he hoped to be present at the same
festival next year! or being invited to a mask, declared "his stomach
would not agree with cold meats:" "thereby pointing" (shrewdly observes
Sir John) "at the invitation and presence of the Spanish ambassador,
who, at the mask _the Christmas before_, had appeared in the first

Sometimes we discover our master of the ceremonies disentangling himself
and the lord chamberlain from the most provoking perplexities by a
clever and civil lie. Thus it happened, when the Muscovite ambassador
would not yield precedence to the French nor Spaniard. On this occasion,
Sir John, at his wits' end, contrived an obscure situation, in which the
Russ imagined he was highly honoured, as there he enjoyed a full sight
of the king's face, though he could see nothing of the entertainment
itself; while the other ambassadors were so kind as "not to take
exception," not caring about the Russian, from the remoteness of his
country, and the little interest that court then had in Europe! But Sir
John displayed even a bolder invention when the Muscovite, at his
reception at Whitehall, complained that only one lord was in waiting at
the stairs'-head, while no one had met him in the court-yard. Sir John
assured him that in England it was considered a greater honour to be
received by one lord than by two!

Sir John discovered all his acumen in the solemn investigation of "Which
was the upper end of the table?" Arguments and inferences were deduced
from precedents quoted; but as precedents sometimes look contrary ways,
this affair might still have remained _sub judice_, had not Sir John
oracularly pronounced that "in spite of the chimneys in England, where
the best man sits, is that end of the table." Sir John, indeed, would
often take the most enlarged view of things; as when the Spanish
ambassador, after hunting with the king at Theobalds, dined with his
majesty in the privy-chamber, his son Don Antonio dined in the
council-chamber with some of the king's attendants. Don Antonio seated
himself on a stool at the end of the table. "One of the gentlemen-ushers
took exception at this, being, he said, irregular and unusual, that
place being ever wont to be reserved _empty for state_!" In a word, no
person in the world was ever to sit on that stool; but Sir John, holding
a conference before he chose to disturb the Spanish grandee, finally
determined that "this was the _superstition_ of a gentleman-usher, and
it was therefore neglected." Thus Sir John could, at a critical moment,
exert a more liberal spirit, and risk an empty stool against a little
ease and quiet; which were no common occurrences with that martyr of
state, a master of ceremonies!

But Sir John,--to me he is so entertaining a personage that I do not
care to get rid of him,--had to overcome difficulties which stretched
his fine genius on tenter-hooks. Once--rarely did the like unlucky
accident happen to the wary master of the ceremonies--did Sir John
exceed the civility of his instructions, or rather his
half-instructions. Being sent to invite the Dutch ambassador and the
States' commissioners, then a young and new government, to the
ceremonies of St. George's day, they inquired whether they should have
the same respect paid to them as other ambassadors? The bland Sir John,
out of the milkiness of his blood, said he doubted it not. As soon,
however, as he returned to the lord chamberlain, he discovered that he
had been sought for up and down, to stop the invitation. The lord
chamberlain said Sir John had exceeded his commission, if he had invited
the Dutchmen "to stand in the closet of the queen's side; because the
Spanish ambassador would never endure them _so near him, where there was
but a thin wainscot board between, and a window which might be opened_!"
Sir John said gently, he had done no otherwise than he had been desired;
which however the lord chamberlain, _in part_, denied, (cautious and
civil!) "and I was not so unmannerly as to contest against," (supple,
but uneasy!) This affair ended miserably for the poor Dutchmen. Those
new republicans were then regarded with the most jealous contempt by all
the ambassadors, and were just venturing on their first dancing-steps,
to move among crowned heads. The Dutch now resolved not to be present;
declaring they had just received an _urgent invitation_, from the Earl
of Exeter, to dine at Wimbledon. A piece of _supercherie_ to save
appearances; probably the happy contrivance of the combined geniuses of
the lord chamberlain and the master of the ceremonies!

I will now exhibit some curious details from these archives of
fantastical state, and paint a courtly world, where politics and
civility seem to have been at perpetual variance.

When the Palatine arrived in England to marry Elizabeth, the only
daughter of James the First, "the feasting and jollity" of the court
were interrupted by the discontent of the archduke's ambassador, of
which these were the material points:--

Sir John waited on him, to honour with his presence the solemnity on the
second or third days, either to dinner or supper, or both.

The archduke's ambassador paused: with a troubled countenance inquiring
whether the Spanish ambassador was invited. "I answered, answerable to
my instructions in case of such demand, that he was sick, and could not
be there. He was yesterday, quoth he, so well, as that the offer might
have very well been made him, and perhaps accepted."

To this Sir John replied, that the French and Venetian ambassadors
holding between them one course of correspondence, and the Spanish and
the archduke's another, their invitations had been usually joint.

This the archduke's ambassador denied; and affirmed that they had been
separately invited to Masques, &c., but he had never;--that France had
always yielded precedence to the archduke's predecessors, when they were
but Dukes of Burgundy, of which he was ready to produce "ancient
proofs;" and that Venice was a mean republic, a sort of burghers, and a
handful of territory, compared to his monarchical sovereign:--and to all
this he added, that the Venetian bragged of the frequent favours he had

Sir John returns in great distress to the lord chamberlain and his
majesty. A solemn declaration is drawn up, in which James I. most
gravely laments that the archduke's ambassador has taken this offence;
but his majesty offers these most cogent arguments in his own favour:
that the Venetian had announced to his majesty that his republic had
ordered his men new liveries on the occasion, an honour, he adds, not
usual with princes--the Spanish ambassador, not finding himself well for
the first day (because, by the way, he did not care to dispute
precedence with the Frenchman), his majesty conceiving that the
solemnity of the marriage being one continued act through divers days,
it admitted neither _prius_ nor _posterius_: and then James proves too
much, by boldly asserting, that the _last day_ should be taken for the
_greatest day!_--as in other cases, for instance in that of Christmas,
where Twelfth-day, the last day, is held as the greatest.

But the French and Venetian ambassadors, so envied by the Spanish and
the archduke's, were themselves not less chary, and crustily fastidious.
The insolent Frenchman first attempted to take precedence of the Prince
of Wales; and the Venetian stood upon this point, that they should sit
on chairs, though the prince had but a stool; and, particularly, that
the carver should not stand before him. "But," adds Sir John, "neither
of them prevailed in their reasonless pretences."

Nor was it peaceable even at the nuptial dinner, which closed with the
following catastrophe of etiquette:--

Sir John having ushered among the countesses the lady of the French
ambassador, he left her to the ranging of the lord chamberlain, who
ordered she should be placed at the table next beneath the countesses,
and above the baronesses. But lo! "The Viscountess of Effingham
standing to her _woman's right_, and possessed already of her proper
place (as she called it), would not remove lower, so _held the hand_ of
the ambassadrice, till after dinner, when the French ambassador,
informed of the difference and opposition, called out for his wife's
coach!" With great trouble, the French lady was persuaded to stay, the
Countess of Kildare and the Viscountess of Haddington making no scruple
of yielding their places. Sir John, unbending his gravity, facetiously
adds, "The Lady of Effingham, in the interim, forbearing (with rather
too much than little stomach) both her supper and her company." This
spoilt child of quality, tugging at the French ambassadress to keep her
down, mortified to be seated at the side of the Frenchwoman that day,
frowning and frowned on, and going supperless to bed, passed the
wedding-day of the Palatine and Princess Elizabeth like a cross girl on
a form.

One of the most subtle of these men of _punctilio_, and the most
troublesome, was the Venetian ambassador; for it was his particular
aptitude to find fault, and pick out jealousies among all the others of
his body.

On the marriage of the Earl of Somerset, the Venetian was invited to the
masque, but not the dinner, as last year the reverse had occurred. The
Frenchman, who drew always with the Venetian, at this moment chose to
act by himself on the watch of precedence, jealous of the Spaniard newly
arrived. When invited, he inquired if the Spanish ambassador was to be
there? and humbly beseeched his majesty to be excused, from
indisposition. We shall now see Sir John put into the most lively action
by the subtle Venetian.

"I was scarcely back at court with the French ambassador's answer, when
I was told that a gentleman from the Venetian ambassador had been to
seek me, who, having at last found me, said that his lord desired me,
that if ever I would do him favour, I would take the pains to come to
him instantly. I, winding the cause to be some new buzz gotten into his
brain, from some intelligence he had from the French of that morning's
proceeding, excused my present coming, that I might take further
instructions from the lord chamberlain; wherewith, as soon as I was
sufficiently armed, I went to the Venetian."

But the Venetian would not confer with Sir John, though he sent for him
in such a hurry, except in presence of his own secretary. Then the
Venetian desired Sir John to repeat the _words_ of his own
_invitation_, and _those_ also of his own _answer_! which poor Sir John
actually did! For he adds, "I yielded, but not without discovering my
insatisfaction to be so peremptorily pressed on, as if he had meant to
trip me."

The Venetian having thus compelled Sir John to con over both invitation
and answer, gravely complimented him on his correctness to a tittle! Yet
still was the Venetian not in less trouble: and now he confessed that
the king had given a formal invitation to the French ambassador,--and
not to him!

This was a new stage in this important negotiation: it tried all the
diplomatic sagacity of Sir John to extract a discovery; and which was,
that the Frenchman had, indeed, conveyed the intelligence secretly to
the Venetian.

Sir John now acknowledged that he had suspected as much when he received
the message; and not to be taken by surprise, he had come prepared with
a long apology, ending, for peace sake, with the same formal invitation
for the Venetian. Now the Venetian insisted again that Sir John should
deliver the invitation in the _same precise words_ as it had been given
to the Frenchman. Sir John, with his never-failing courtly docility,
performed it to a syllable. Whether both parties during all these
proceedings could avoid moving a risible muscle at one another, our
grave authority records not.

The Venetian's final answer seemed now perfectly satisfactory, declaring
he would not excuse his absence as the Frenchman had, on the most
frivolous pretence; and farther, he expressed his high satisfaction with
last year's substantial testimony of the royal favour, in the public
honours conferred on him, and regretted that the quiet of his majesty
should be so frequently disturbed by these _punctilios_ about
invitations, which so often "over-thronged his guests at the feast."

Sir John now imagined that all was happily concluded, and was retiring
with the sweetness of a dove, and the quietness of a mouse, to fly to
the lord chamberlain, when behold the Venetian would not relinquish his
hold, but turned on him "with the reading of another scruple, _et hinc
illæ lachrymæ!_ asking whether the archduke's ambassador was also
invited?" Poor Sir John, to keep himself clear "from categorical
asseverations," declared "he could not resolve him." Then the Venetian
observed, "Sir John was dissembling! and he hoped and imagined that Sir
John had in his instructions, that he was first to have gone to him
(the Venetian), and on his return to the archduke's ambassador." Matters
now threatened to be as irreconcileable as ever, for it seems the
Venetian was standing on the point of precedency with the archduke's
ambassador. The political Sir John, wishing to gratify the Venetian at
no expense, adds, "he thought it ill manners to mar a belief of an
ambassador's making," and so allowed him to think that he had been
invited before the archduke's ambassador!

This Venetian proved himself to be, to the great torment of Sir John, a
stupendous genius in his own way; ever on the watch to be treated _al
paro di teste coronate_--equal with crowned heads; and, when at a tilt,
refused being placed among the ambassadors of Savoy and the
States-general, &c., while the Spanish and French ambassadors were
seated alone on the opposite side. The Venetian declared that this would
be a diminution of his quality; _the first place of an inferior degree
being ever held worse than the last of a superior_. This refined
observation delighted Sir John, who dignifies it as an axiom, yet
afterwards came to doubt it with a _sed de hoc quære_--query this! If it
be true in politics, it is not so in common sense, according to the
proverbs of both nations; for the honest English declares, that "Better
be the _head_ of the yeomanry than the _tail_ of the gentry;" while the
subtle Italian has it, "_E meglio esser testa di Luccio, che coda di
Storione_;" "better be the head of a pike than the tail of a sturgeon."
But before we quit Sir John, let us hear him in his own words, reasoning
with fine critical tact, which he undoubtedly possessed, on right and
left hands, but reasoning with infinite modesty as well as genius. Hear
this sage of _punctilios_, this philosopher of courtesies.

"The Axiom before delivered by the Venetian ambassador was _judged_ upon
_discourse_ I had with _some of understanding_, to be of value in a
_distinct company, but might be otherwise in a joint assembly_!" And
then Sir John, like a philosophical historian, explores some great
public event--"As at the conclusion of the peace at Vervins (the only
part of the peace he cared about), the French and Spanish meeting,
contended for precedence--who should sit at the right hand of the pope's
_legate_: an expedient was found, of sending into France for the pope's
_nuncio_ residing there, who, seated at the right hand of the said
_legate_ (the legate himself sitting at the table's end), the French
ambassador being offered the choice of the next place, he took that at
the legate's left hand, leaving the second at the right hand to the
Spanish, who, taking it, persuaded himself to have the better of it;
_sed de hoc quære_." How modestly, yet how shrewdly insinuated!

So much, if not too much, of the Diary of a Master of the Ceremonies;
where the important personages strangely contrast with the frivolity and
foppery of their actions.

By this work it appears that all foreign ambassadors were entirely
entertained, for their diet, lodgings, coaches, with all their train, at
the cost of the English monarch, and on their departure received
customary presents of considerable value; from 1000 to 5000 ounces of
gilt plate; and in more cases than one, the meanest complaints were made
by the ambassadors about short allowances. That the foreign ambassadors
in return made presents to the masters of the ceremonies from thirty to
fifty "pieces," or in plate or jewels; and some so grudgingly, that Sir
John Finett often vents his indignation, and commemorates the indignity.
As thus,--on one of the Spanish ambassadors-extraordinary waiting at
Deal for three days, Sir John, "expecting the wind with the patience of
an _hungry entertainment_ from a _close-handed ambassador_, as his
_present to me_ at his parting from Dover being but an old gilt livery
pot, that had lost his fellow, not worth above twelve pounds,
accompanied with two pair of Spanish gloves to make it almost thirteen,
to my shame and his." When he left this scurvy ambassador-extraordinary
to his fate aboard the ship, he exults that "the cross-winds held him in
the Downs almost a seven-night before they would blow him over."

From this mode of receiving ambassadors, two inconveniences resulted;
their perpetual jars of _punctilio_, and their singular intrigues to
obtain precedence, which so completely harassed the patience of the most
pacific sovereign, that James was compelled to make great alterations in
his domestic comforts, and was perpetually embroiled in the most
ridiculous contests. At length Charles I. perceived the great charge of
these embassies, ordinary and extraordinary, often on frivolous
pretences; and with an empty treasury, and an uncomplying parliament, he
grew less anxious for such ruinous honours.[100] He gave notice to
foreign ambassadors, that he should not any more "defray their diet,
nor provide coaches for them," &c. "This frugal purpose" cost Sir John
many altercations, who seems to view it as the glory of the British
monarch being on the wane. The unsettled state of Charles was appearing
in 1636, by the querulous narrative of the master of the ceremonies; the
etiquettes of the court were disturbed by the erratic course of its
great star; and the master of the ceremonies was reduced to keep blank
letters to superscribe, and address to any nobleman who was to be found,
from the absence of the great officers of state. On this occasion the
ambassador of the Duke of Mantua, who had long desired his parting
audience, when the king objected to the unfitness of the place he was
then in, replied, that, "if it were under a tree, it should be to him as
a palace."

Yet although we smile at this science of etiquette and these rigid forms
of ceremony, when they were altogether discarded a great statesman
lamented them, and found the inconvenience and mischief in the political
consequences which followed their neglect. Charles II., who was no
admirer of these regulated formalities of court etiquette, seems to have
broken up the pomp and pride of the former master of the ceremonies; and
the grave and great chancellor of human nature, as Warburton calls
Clarendon, censured and felt all the inconveniences of this open
intercourse of an ambassador with the king. Thus he observed in the case
of the Spanish ambassador, who, he writes, "took the advantage of the
license of the court, where no rules or formalities were yet established
(and to which the king himself was not enough inclined), but all doors
open to all persons; which the ambassador finding, he made himself a
domestic, came to the king at all hours, and spake to him when, and as
long as he would, without any ceremony, or _desiring an audience
according to the old custom_; but came into the bed-chamber while the
king was dressing himself, and mingled in all discourses with the same
freedom he would use in his own. And from this never-heard-of license,
introduced by the _French_ and the _Spaniard at this time, without any
dislike in the king, though not permitted in any court in Christendom_,
many inconveniences and mischiefs broke in, which could never after be
shut out."[101]


We converse with the absent by letters, and with ourselves by diaries;
but vanity is more gratified by dedicating its time to the little
labours which have a chance of immediate notice, and may circulate from
hand to hand, than by the honester pages of a volume reserved only for
solitary contemplation; or to be a future relic of ourselves, when we
shall no more hear of ourselves.

Marcus Antoninus's celebrated work entitled Των εις εαυτον, _Of the
things which concern himself_, would be a good definition of the use and
purpose of a diary. Shaftesbury calls a diary, "A fault-book," intended
for self-correction; and a Colonel Harwood, in the reign of Charles the
First, kept a diary, which, in the spirit of the times, he entitled
"Slips, Infirmities, and Passages of Providence." Such a diary is a
moral instrument, should the writer exercise it on himself, and on all
around him. Men then wrote folios concerning themselves; and it
sometimes happened, as proved by many, which I have examined in
manuscript, that often writing in retirement, they would write when they
had nothing to write.

Diaries must be out of date in a lounging age, although I have myself
known several who have continued the practice with pleasure and
utility.[102] One of our old writers quaintly observes, that "the
ancients used to take their stomach-pill of self-examination every
night. Some used little books, or tablets, which they tied at their
girdles, in which they kept a memorial of what they did, against their
night-reckoning." We know that Titus, the delight of mankind, as he has
been called, kept a diary of all his actions, and when at night he
found upon examination that he had performed nothing memorable, he
would exclaim, "_Amici! diem perdidimus!_" Friends! we have lost a day!

Among our own countrymen, in times more favourable for a concentrated
mind than in this age of scattered thoughts and of the fragments of
genius, the custom long prevailed: and we their posterity are still
reaping the benefit of their lonely hours and diurnal records. It is
always pleasing to recollect the name of Alfred, and we have deeply to
regret the loss of a manual which this monarch, so strict a manager of
his time, yet found leisure to pursue: it would have interested us much
more even than his translations, which have come down to us. Alfred
carried in his bosom memorandum leaves, in which he made collections
from his studies, and took so much pleasure in the frequent examination
of this journal, that he called it his _hand-book_, because, says
Spelman, day and night he ever had it in hand with him. This manual, as
my learned friend Mr. Turner, in his elaborate and philosophical Life of
Alfred, has shown by some curious extracts from Malmsbury, was the
repository of his own occasional literary reflections. An association of
ideas connects two other of our illustrious princes with Alfred.

Prince Henry, the son of James I., our English Marcellus, who was wept
by all the Muses, and mourned by all the brave in Britain, devoted a
great portion of his time to literary intercourse; and the finest
geniuses of the age addressed their works to him, and wrote several at
the prince's suggestion. Dallington, in the preface to his curious
"Aphorisms, Civil and Militarie," has described Prince Henry's domestic
life: "Myself," says he, "the unablest of many in that academy, for so
was his family, had this _especial employment for his proper use_, which
he pleased favourably to entertain, and _often to read over_."

The diary of Edward VI., written with his own hand, conveys a notion of
that precocity of intellect, in that early educated prince, which would
not suffer his infirm health to relax in his royal duties. This prince
was solemnly struck with the feeling that he was not seated on a throne
to be a trifler or a sensualist: and this simplicity of mind is very
remarkable in the entries of his diary; where, on one occasion, to
remind himself of the causes of his secret proffer of friendship to aid
the Emperor of Germany with men against the Turk, and to keep it at
present secret from the French court, the young monarch inserts, "This
was done on intent to get some friends. The reasonings be in my desk."
So zealous was he to have before him a state of public affairs, that
often in the middle of the month he recalls to mind passages which he
had omitted in the beginning: what was done every day of moment, he
retired into his study to set down.--Even James the Second wrote with
his own hand the daily occurrences of his times, his reflections and
conjectures. Adversity had schooled him into reflection, and softened
into humanity a spirit of bigotry; and it is something in his favour,
that after his abdication he collected his thoughts, and mortified
himself by the penance of a diary.--Could a Clive or a Cromwell have
composed one? Neither of these men could suffer solitude and darkness;
they started at their casual recollections:--what would they have done,
had memory marshalled their crimes, and arranged them in the terrors of

When the national character retained more originality and individuality
than our monotonous habits now admit, our later ancestors displayed a
love of application, which was a source of happiness, quite lost to us.
Till the middle of the last century they were as great economists of
their time as of their estates; and life with them was not one hurried
yet tedious festival. Living more within themselves, more separated,
they were therefore more original in their prejudices, their principles,
and in the constitution of their minds. They resided more on their
estates, and the metropolis was usually resigned to the men of trade in
their Royal Exchange, and the preferment-hunters among the backstairs at
Whitehall. Lord Clarendon tells us, in his "Life," that his grandfather,
in James the First's time, had never been in London after the death of
Elizabeth, though he lived thirty years afterwards; and his wife, to
whom he had been married forty years, had never once visited the
metropolis. On this fact he makes a curious observation: "The wisdom and
frugality of that time being such, that few gentlemen made journeys to
London, or any other expensive journey, but upon important business, and
their wives never; by which Providence they enjoyed and improved their
estates in the country, and kept good hospitality in their house,
brought up their children well, and were beloved by their neighbours."
This will appear a very coarse homespun happiness, and these must seem
very gross virtues to our artificial feelings; yet this assuredly
created a national character; made a patriot of every country
gentleman; and, finally, produced in the civil wars some of the most
sublime and original characters that ever acted a great part on the
theatre of human life.

This was the age of DIARIES! The head of almost every family formed one.
Ridiculous people may have written ridiculous diaries, as Elias
Ashmole's;[103] but many of our greatest characters in public life have
left such monuments of their diurnal labours.

These diaries were a substitute to every thinking man for our
newspapers, magazines, and Annual Registers; but those who imagine that
_these_ are a substitute for the scenical and dramatic life of the diary
of a man of genius, like Swift, who wrote one, or even of a lively
observer, who lived amidst the scenes he describes, as Horace Walpole's
letters to Sir Horace Mann, which form a regular diary, only show that
they are better acquainted with the more ephemeral and equivocal

There is a curious passage in a letter of Sir Thomas Bodley,
recommending to Sir Francis Bacon, then a young man on his travels, the
mode by which he should make his life "profitable to his country and his
friends." His expressions are remarkable. "Let all these riches be
treasured up, not only in your memory, where time may lessen your stock,
but rather in _good writings_ and _books of account_, which will keep
them safe for your use hereafter." By these _good writings_ and _books
of account_, he describes the diaries of a student and an observer;
these "good writings" will preserve what wear out in the memory, and
these "books of account" render to a man an account of himself to

It was this solitary reflection and industry which assuredly contributed
so largely to form the gigantic minds of the Seldens, the Camdens, the
Cokes, and others of that vigorous age of genius. When Coke fell into
disgrace, and retired into private life, the discarded statesman did not
pule himself into a lethargy, but on the contrary seemed almost to
rejoice that an opportunity was at length afforded him of indulging in
studies more congenial to his feelings. Then he found leisure not only
to revise his former writings, which were thirty volumes written with
his own hand, but, what most pleased him, he was enabled to write a
manual, which he called _Vade Mecum_, and which contained a
retrospective view of his life, since he noted in that volume the most
remarkable occurrences which happened to him. It is not probable that
such a MS. could have been destroyed but by accident; and it might,
perhaps, yet be recovered.

"The interest of the public was the business of Camden's life," observes
Bishop Gibson; and, indeed, this was the character of the men of that
age. Camden kept a diary of all occurrences in the reign of James the
First; not that at his advanced age, and with his infirm health, he
could ever imagine that he should make use of these materials; but he
did this, inspired by the love of truth, and of that labour which
delights in preparing its materials for posterity. Bishop Gibson has
made an important observation on the nature of such a diary, which
cannot be too often repeated to those who have the opportunities of
forming one; and for them I transcribe it. "Were this practised by
persons of learning and curiosity, who have opportunities of seeing into
the public affairs of a kingdom, the short hints and strictures of this
kind would often set things in a truer light than regular histories."

A student of this class was Sir Symonds D'Ewes, an independent country
gentleman, to whose zeal we owe the valuable journals of parliament in
Elizabeth's reign, and who has left in manuscript a voluminous diary,
from which may be drawn some curious matters.[104] In the preface to his
journals, he has presented a noble picture of his literary reveries, and
the intended productions of his pen. They will animate the youthful
student, and show the active genius of the gentlemen of that day. The
present diarist observes, "Having now finished these volumes, I have
already entered upon other and greater labours, conceiving myself not to
be born for myself alone,

    "Qui vivat sibi solus, homo nequit esse beatus,
        Malo mori, nam sic vivere nolo mihi."

He then gives a list of his intended historical works, and adds, "These
I have proposed to myself to labour in, besides divers others, smaller
works: like him that shoots at the sun, not in hopes to reach it, but to
shoot as high as possibly his strength, art, or skill will permit. So
though I know it impossible to finish all these during my short and
uncertain life, having already entered into the thirtieth year of my
age, and having many unavoidable cares of an estate and family, yet, if
I can finish a little in each kind, it may hereafter stir up some able
judges to add an end to the whole:

    "Sic mihi contingat vivere, sicque mori."

Richard Baxter, whose facility and diligence, it is said, produced one
hundred and forty-five distinct works, wrote, as he himself says, "in
the crowd of all my other employments." Assuredly the one which may
excite astonishment is his voluminous autobiography, forming a folio of
more than seven hundred closely-printed pages; a history which takes a
considerable compass, from 1615 to 1684; whose writer pries into the
very seed of events, and whose personal knowledge of the leading actors
of his times throws a perpetual interest over his lengthened pages. Yet
this was not written with a view of publication by himself; he still
continued this work, till time and strength wore out the hand that could
no longer hold the pen, and left it to the judgment of others whether it
should be given to the world.

These were private persons. It may excite our surprise to discover that
our statesmen, and others engaged in active public life, occupied
themselves with the same habitual attention to what was passing around
them in the form of diaries, or their own memoirs, or in forming
collections for future times, with no possible view but for posthumous
utility. They seem to have been inspired by the most genuine passion of
patriotism, and an awful love of posterity. What motive less powerful
could induce many noblemen and gentlemen to transcribe volumes; to
transmit to posterity authentic narratives, which would not even admit
of contemporary notice; either because the facts were then well known to
all, or of so secret a nature as to render them dangerous to be
communicated to their own times. They sought neither fame nor interest:
for many collections of this nature have come down to us without even
the names of the scribes, which have been usually discovered by
accidental circumstances. It may be said that this toil was the pleasure
of idle men:--the idlers then were of a distinct race from our own.
There is scarcely a person of reputation among them, who has not left
such laborious records of himself. I intend drawing up a list of such
diaries and memoirs, which derive their importance from diarists
themselves. Even the women of this time partook of the same thoughtful
dispositions. It appears that the Duchess of York, wife to James the
Second, and the daughter of Clarendon, drew up a narrative of his life;
the celebrated Duchess of Newcastle has formed a dignified biography of
her husband; Lady Fanshaw's Memoirs have been recently published; and
Mrs. Hutchinson's Memoirs of her Colonel have delighted every curious

Whitelocke's "Memorials" is a diary full of important public matters;
and the noble editor, the Earl of Anglesea, observes, that "our author
not only served the state, in several stations, both at home and in
foreign countries, but likewise conversed with books, and made himself a
large provision from his studies and contemplation, like that noble
Roman Portius Cato, as described by Nepos. He was all along so much in
business, one would not imagine he ever had leisure for books; yet, who
considers his studies might believe he had been always shut up with his
friend Selden, and the dust of action never fallen on his gown." When
Whitelocke was sent on an embassy to Sweden, he journalised it; it
amounts to two bulky quartos, extremely curious. He has even left us a
History of England.

Yet all is not told of Whitelocke; and we have deeply to regret the
loss, or at least the concealment, of a work addressed to his family,
which apparently would be still more interesting, as exhibiting his
domestic habits and feelings, and affording a model for those in public
life who had the spirit to imitate such greatness of mind, of which we
have not many examples.--Whitelocke had drawn up a great work, which he
entitled, "_Remembrances of the Labours of Whitelocke in the Annales of
his Life, for the instruction of his Children_." To Dr. Morton, the
editor of Whitelocke's "Journal of the Swedish Ambassy," we owe the
notice of this work; and I shall transcribe his dignified feelings in
regretting the want of these MSS. "Such a work, and by such a father, is
become the inheritance of every child, whose abilities and station in
life may at any time hereafter call upon him to deliberate for his
country,--and for his family and person, as parts of the great whole;
and I confess myself to be one of those who lament the suppression of
that branch of the _Annales_ which relates to the author himself in his
_private capacity_; they would have afforded great pleasure as well as
instruction to the world in their entire form. The first volume,
containing the first twenty years of his life, may one day see the
light; but the greatest part has hitherto escaped my inquiries." This is
all we know of a work of equal moral and philosophical curiosity. The
preface, however, to these "Remembrances," has been fortunately
preserved, and it is an extraordinary production. In this it appears
that Whitelocke himself owed the first idea of his own work to one left
by his father, which existed in the family, and to which he repeatedly
refers his children. He says, "The memory and worth of your deceased
grandfather deserves all honour and imitation, both from you and me; his
'Liber Famelicus,' his own story, written by himself, _will be left to
you_, and was an encouragement and precedent to this larger work." Here
is a family picture quite new to us; the heads of the house are its
historians, and these records of the heart were animated by examples and
precepts, drawn from their own bosoms; and, as Whitelocke feelingly
expresses it, "all is recommended to the perusal and intended for the
instruction of my own house; and almost in every page you will find a
dedication to you, my dear children."

The habit of laborious studies, and a zealous attention to the history
of his own times, produced the Register and Chronicle of Bishop Kennett.
"Containing matters of fact, delivered in the words of the most
authentic papers and records, all daily entered and commented on:" it
includes an account of all pamphlets as they appeared. This history,
more valuable to us than to his own contemporaries, occupied two large
folios, of which only one has been printed: a zealous labour, which
could only have been carried on from a motive of pure patriotism. It is,
however, but a small part of the diligence of the bishop, since his own
manuscripts form a small library of themselves.

The malignant vengeance of Prynne in exposing the diary of Laud to the
public eye, lost all its purpose, for nothing appeared more favourable
to Laud than this exposition of his private diary. We forget the
harshness in the personal manners of Laud himself, and sympathise even
with his errors, when we turn over the simple leaves of this diary,
which obviously was not intended for any purpose but for his own private
eye and collected meditations.[105] There his whole heart is laid open:
his errors are not concealed, and the purity of his intentions is
established. Laud, who too haughtily blended the prime minister with the
archbishop, still, from conscientious motives, in the hurry of public
duties, and in the pomp of public honours, could steal aside into
solitude, to account to God and himself for every day, and "the evil

The diary of Henry Earl of Clarendon, who inherited the industry of his
father, has partly escaped destruction; it presents us with a picture of
the manners of the age, from whence, says Bishop Douglas, we may learn
that at the close of the last century, a man of the first quality made
it his constant practice to pass his time without shaking his arm at a
gaming-table, associating with jockeys at Newmarket, or murdering time
by a constant round of giddy dissipation, if not of criminal indulgence.
Diaries were not uncommon in the last age: Lord Anglesea, who made so
great a figure in the reign of Charles the Second, left one behind him;
and one said to have been written by the Duke of Shrewsbury still

But the most admirable example is Lord Clarendon's History of his own
"Life," or rather of the court, and every event and person passing
before him. In this moving scene he copies nature with freedom, and has
exquisitely touched the individual character. There that great statesman
opens the most concealed transactions, and traces the views of the most
opposite dispositions; and, though engaged, when in exile, in furthering
the royal intercourse with the loyalists, and when, on the Restoration,
conducting the difficult affairs of a great nation, a careless monarch,
and a dissipated court, yet besides his immortal history of the civil
wars, "the chancellor of human nature" passed his life in habitual
reflection, and his pen in daily employment. Such was the admirable
industry of our later ancestors: their diaries and their memoirs are its

James the Second is an illustrious instance of the admirable industry of
our ancestors. With his own hand this prince wrote down the chief
occurrences of his times, and often his instant reflections and
conjectures. Perhaps no sovereign prince, said Macpherson, has been
known to have left behind him better materials for history. We at length
possess a considerable portion of his diary, which is that of a man of
business and of honest intentions, containing many remarkable facts
which had otherwise escaped from our historians.

The literary man has formed diaries purely of his studies, and the
practice may he called _journalising the mind_, in a summary of studies,
and a register of loose hints and _sbozzos_, that sometimes happily
occur; and like Ringelbergius, that enthusiast for study, whose animated
exhortations to young students have been aptly compared to the sound of
a trumpet in the field of battle, marked down every night, before going
to sleep, what had been done during the studious day. Of this class of
diaries, Gibbon has given us an illustrious model: and there is an
unpublished quarto of the late Barré Roberts, a young student of genius,
devoted to curious researches, which deserves to meet the public
eye.[106] I should like to see a little book published with this title,
"_Otium delitiosum in quo objecta vel in actione, vel in lectione, vel
in visione ad singulos dies Anni 1629 observata representantur_." This
writer was a German, who boldly published for the course of one year,
whatever he read or had seen every day in that year. As an experiment,
if honestly performed, this might be curious to the philosophical
observer; but to write down everything, may end in something like

A great poetical contemporary of our own country does not think that
even Dreams should pass away unnoticed; and he calls this register his
_Nocturnals_. His dreams are assuredly poetical; as Laud's, who
journalised his, seem to have been made up of the affairs of state and
religion;--the personages are his patrons, his enemies, and others; his
dreams are scenical and dramatic. Works of this nature are not designed
for the public eye; they are domestic annals, to be guarded in the
little archives of a family; they are offerings cast before our Lares.

    Pleasing, when youth is long expired, to trace
      The forms our pencil or our pen design'd;
    Such was our youthful air, and shape, and face,
      Such the soft image of our youthful mind.


In the history of literature, and perhaps in that of the human mind, the
institution of the LICENSERS OF THE PRESS, and CENSORS OF BOOKS, was a
bold invention, designed to counteract that of the Press itself; and
even to convert this newly-discovered instrument of human freedom into
one which might serve to perpetuate that system of passive obedience
which had so long enabled modern Rome to dictate her laws to the
universe. It was thought possible in the subtlety of Italian _astuzia_
and Spanish monachism, to place a sentinel on the very thoughts as well
as on the persons of authors; and in extreme cases, that books might be
condemned to the flames as well as heretics.

Of this institution, the beginnings are obscure, for it originated in
caution and fear; but as the work betrays the workman, and the national
physiognomy the native, it is evident that so inquisitorial an act could
only have originated in the Inquisition itself. Feeble or partial
attempts might previously have existed, for we learn that the monks had
a part of their libraries called the _inferno_, which was not the part
which they least visited, for it contained, or hid, all the prohibited
books which they could smuggle into it. But this inquisitorial power
assumed its most formidable shape in the council of Trent, when some
gloomy spirits from Rome and Madrid foresaw the revolution of this new
age of books. The triple-crowned pontiff had in vain rolled the thunders
of the Vatican, to strike out of the hands of all men the volumes of
Wickliffe, of Huss, and of Luther, and even menaced their eager readers
with death. At this council Pius IV. was presented with a catalogue of
books of which they denounced that the perusal ought to be forbidden;
his bull not only confirmed this list of the condemned, but added rules
how books should be judged. Subsequent popes enlarged these catalogues,
and added to the rules, as the monstrous novelties started up.
Inquisitors of books were appointed; at Rome they consisted of certain
cardinals and "the master of the holy palace;" and literary inquisitors
were elected at Madrid, at Lisbon, at Naples, and for the Low Countries;
they were watching the ubiquity of the human mind. These catalogues of
prohibited books were called _Indexes_; and at Rome a body of these
literary despots are still called "the Congregation of the Index." The
simple _Index_ is a list of condemned books which are never to be
opened; but the _Expurgatory Index_ indicates those only prohibited till
they have undergone a purification. No book was allowed to be on any
subject, or in any language, which contained a single position, an
ambiguous sentence, even a word, which, in the most distant sense, could
be construed opposite to the doctrines of the supreme authority of this
council of Trent; where it seems to have been enacted, that all men,
literate and illiterate, prince and peasant, the Italian, the Spaniard
and the Netherlander, should take the mint-stamp of their thoughts from
the council of Trent, and millions of souls be struck off at one blow,
out of the same used mould.

The sages who compiled these Indexes, indeed, long had reason to imagine
that passive obedience was attached to the human character: and
therefore they considered, that the publications of their adversaries
required no other notice than a convenient insertion in their indexes.
But the heretics diligently reprinted them with ample prefaces and
useful annotations; Dr. James, of Oxford, republished an Index with due
animadversions. The parties made an opposite use of them: while the
catholic crossed himself at every title, the heretic would purchase no
book which had not been indexed. One of their portions exposed a list of
those authors whose heads were condemned as well as their books: it was
a catalogue of men of genius.

The results of these indexes were somewhat curious. As they were formed
in different countries, the opinions were often diametrically opposite
to each other. The learned Arias Montanus, who was a chief inquisitor in
the Netherlands, and concerned in the Antwerp Index, lived to see his
own works placed in the Roman Index; while the inquisitor of Naples was
so displeased with the Spanish Index, that he persisted to assert that
it had never been printed at Madrid! Men who began by insisting that all
the world should not differ from their opinions, ended by not agreeing
with themselves. A civil war raged among the Index-makers; and if one
criminated, the other retaliated. If one discovered ten places necessary
to be expurgated, another found thirty, and a third inclined to place
the whole work in the condemned list. The inquisitors at length became
so doubtful of their own opinions, that they sometimes expressed in
their license for printing, that "they tolerated the reading, after the
book had been corrected by themselves, till such time as the work should
be considered worthy of some farther correction." The expurgatory
Indexes excited louder complaints than those which simply condemned
books; because the purgers and castrators, as they were termed, or as
Milton calls them, "the executioners of books," by omitting, or
interpolating passages, made an author say, or unsay, what the
inquisitors chose; and their editions, after the death of the authors,
were compared to the erasures or forgeries in records: for the books
which an author leaves behind him, with his last corrections, are like
his last will and testament, and the public are the legitimate heirs of
an author's opinions.

The whole process of these expurgatory Indexes, that "rakes through the
entrails of many an old good author, with a violation worse than any
could be offered to his tomb," as Milton says, must inevitably draw off
the life-blood, and leave an author a mere spectre! A book in Spain and
Portugal passes through six or seven courts before it can be published,
and is supposed to recommend itself by the information, that it is
published with _all_ the necessary privileges. They would sometimes keep
works from publication till they had "properly qualified them,
_interemse calficam_," which in one case is said to have occupied them
during forty years. Authors of genius have taken fright at the gripe of
"the master of the holy palace," or the lacerating scratches of the
"corrector-general por su magestad." At Madrid and Lisbon, and even at
Rome, this licensing of books has confined most of their authors to the
body of the good fathers themselves.

The Commentaries on the Lusiad, by Faria de Souza, had occupied his
zealous labours for twenty-five years, and were favourably received by
the learned. But the commentator was brought before this tribunal of
criticism and religion, as suspected of heretical opinions; when the
accuser did not succeed before the inquisitors of Madrid, he carried the
charge to that of Lisbon: an injunction was immediately issued to forbid
the sale of the Commentaries, and it cost the commentator an elaborate
defence, to demonstrate the catholicism of the poet and himself. The
Commentaries finally were released from perpetual imprisonment.

This system has prospered to admiration, in keeping public opinion down
to a certain meanness of spirit, and happily preserved stationary the
childish stupidity through the nation, on which so much depended.

Nani's History of Venice is allowed to be printed, because it contained
_nothing against princes_. Princes then were either immaculate or
historians false. The History of Guicciardini is still scarred with the
merciless wound of the papistic censor; and a curious account of the
origin and increase of papal power was long wanting in the third and
fourth book of his history. Velly's History of France would have been an
admirable work had it not been printed at Paris!

When the insertions in the Index were found of no other use than to
bring the peccant volumes under the eyes of the curious, they employed
the secular arm in burning them in public places. The history of these
literary conflagrations has often been traced by writers of opposite
parties; for the truth is, that both used them: zealots seem all formed
of one material, whatever be their party. They had yet to learn, that
burning was not confuting, and that these public fires were an
advertisement by proclamation. The publisher of Erasmus's Colloquies
intrigued to procure the burning of his book, which raised the sale to
twenty-four thousand!

A curious literary anecdote has reached us of the times of Henry VIII.
Tonstall, Bishop of London, accused at that day for his moderation in
preferring the burning of books to that of authors, which was then
getting into practice, to testify his abhorrence of Tindal's principles,
who had printed a translation of the New Testament, a sealed book for
the multitude, thought of purchasing all the copies of Tindal's
translation, and annihilating them in the common flame. This occurred to
him when passing through Antwerp in 1529, then a place of refuge for the
Tindalists. He employed an English merchant there for this business, who
happened to be a secret follower of Tindal, and acquainted him with the
bishop's intention. Tindal was extremely glad to hear of the project,
for he was desirous of printing a more correct edition of his version;
the first impression still hung on his hands, and he was too poor to
make a new one; he gladly furnished the English merchant with all his
unsold copies, which the bishop as eagerly bought, and had them all
publicly burnt in Cheapside. The people not only declared this was a
"burning of the word of God," but it inflamed the desire of reading that
volume; and the second edition was sought after at any price. When one
of the Tindalists, who was sent here to sell them, was promised by the
lord chancellor, in a private examination, that he should not suffer if
he would reveal who encouraged and supported his party at Antwerp, the
Tindalist immediately accepted the offer, and assured the lord
chancellor that the greatest encouragement they had was from Tonstall,
the Bishop of London, who had bought up half the impression, and enabled
them to produce a second!

In the reign of Henry VIII. we seem to have burnt books on both sides;
it was an age of unsettled opinions; in Edward's, the Catholic works
were burnt; and Mary had her pyramids of Protestant volumes; in
Elizabeth's, political pamphlets fed the flames; and libels in the reign
of James I. and his sons.

Such was this black dwarf of literature, generated by Italian craft and
Spanish monkery, which, however, was fondly adopted as it crept in among
all the nations of Europe. France cannot exactly fix on the era of her
_Censeurs de Livres_; and we ourselves, who gave it its death-blow,
found the custom prevail without any authority from our statutes. The
practice of licensing books was unquestionably derived from the
Inquisition, and was applied here first to books of religion. Britain
long groaned under the leaden stamp of an _Imprimatur_. Oxford and
Cambridge still grasp at this shadow of departed literary despotism;
they have their licensers and their _Imprimaturs_. Long, even in our
land, men of genius were either suffering the vigorous limbs of their
productions to be shamefully mutilated in public, or voluntarily
committed a literary suicide in their own manuscripts. Camden declared
that he was not suffered to print all his Elizabeth, and sent those
passages over to De Thou, the French historian, who printed his history
faithfully two years after Camden's first edition, 1615. The same
happened to Lord Herbert's History of Henry VIII. which has never been
given according to the original, which is still in existence. In the
poems of Lord Brooke, we find a lacuna of the first twenty pages; it was
a poem on Religion, cancelled by the order of Archbishop Laud. The great
Sir Matthew Hale ordered that none of his works should be printed after
his death; as he apprehended that, in the licensing of them, some things
might be struck out or altered, which he had observed, not without some
indignation, had been done to those of a learned friend; and he
preferred bequeathing his uncorrupted MSS. to the Society of Lincoln's
Inn, as their only guardians, hoping that they were a treasure worth
keeping. Contemporary authors have frequent allusions to such books,
imperfect and mutilated at the caprice or the violence of a licenser.

The laws of England have never violated the freedom and the dignity of
its press. "There is no law to prevent the printing of any book in
England, only a decree in the Star-chamber," said the learned
Selden.[107] Proclamations were occasionally issued against authors and
books; and foreign works were, at times, prohibited. The freedom of the
press was rather circumvented, than openly attacked, in the reign of
Elizabeth, who dreaded the Roman Catholics, who were at once disputing
her right to the throne, and the religion of the state. Foreign
publications, or "books from any parts beyond the seas," were therefore
prohibited.[108] The press, however, was not free under the reign of a
sovereign, whose high-toned feelings, and the exigencies of the times,
rendered as despotic in _deeds_, as the pacific James was in _words_.
Although the press had then no restrictions, an author was always at the
mercy of the government. Elizabeth too had a keen scent after what she
called treason, which she allowed to take in a large compass. She
condemned one author (with his publisher) to have the hand cut off which
wrote his book; and she hanged another.[109] It was Sir Francis Bacon,
or his father, who once pleasantly turned aside the keen edge of her
regal vindictiveness; for when Elizabeth was inquiring whether an
author, whose book she had given him to examine, was not guilty of
treason, he replied, "Not of treason, madam, but of robbery, if you
please; for he has taken all that is worth noticing in him from Tacitus
and Sallust." With the fear of Elizabeth before his eyes, Holinshed
castrated the volumes of his History. When Giles Fletcher, after his
Russian embassy, congratulated himself with having escaped with his
head, and on his return wrote a book called "The Russian Commonwealth,"
describing its tyranny, Elizabeth forbad the publishing of the work. Our
Russian merchants were frightened, for they petitioned the queen to
suppress the work; the original petition, with the offensive passages,
exists among the Lansdowne manuscripts. It is curious to contrast this
fact with another better known, under the reign of William the Third;
then the press had obtained its perfect freedom, and even the shadow of
the sovereign could not pass between an author and his work. When the
Danish ambassador complained to the king of the freedom which Lord
Molesworth had exercised on his master's government, in his Account of
Denmark, and hinted that, if a Dane had done the same with a King of
England, he would, on complaint, have taken the author's head off--"That
I cannot do," replied the sovereign of a free people; "but if you
please, I will tell him what you say, and he shall put it into the next
edition of his book." What an immense interval between the feelings of
Elizabeth and William, with hardly a century betwixt them!

James the First proclaimed Buchanan's history, and a political tract of
his, at "the Mercat Cross;" and every one was to bring his copy "to be
perusit and purgit of the offensive and extraordinare materis," under a
heavy penalty. Knox, whom Milton calls "the Reformer of a Kingdom," was
also curtailed; and "the sense of that great man shall, to all
posterity, be lost for the fearfulness or the presumptuous rashness of a
perfunctory licenser."

The regular establishment of licensers of the press appeared under
Charles the First. It must be placed among the projects of Laud, and the
king, I suspect, inclined to it; for by a passage in a manuscript letter
of the times, I find, that when Charles printed his speech on the
dissolution of the parliament, which excited such general discontent,
some one printed Queen Elizabeth's last speech as a companion-piece.
This was presented to the king by his own printer, John Bill, not from a
political motive, but merely by way of complaint that another had
printed, without leave or license, that which, as the king's printer, he
asserted was his own copyright. Charles does not seem to have been
pleased with the gift, and observed, "You printers print anything."
Three gentlemen of the bed-chamber, continues the writer, standing by,
commended Mr. Bill very much, and prayed him to come oftener with such
rarities to the king, because they might do some good.[110]

One of the consequences of this persecution of the press was, the
raising up of a new class of publishers, under the government of Charles
I., those who became noted for what was then called "unlawful and
unlicensed books." Sparkes, the publisher of Prynne's "Histriomastix,"
was of this class. I have elsewhere entered more particularly into this
subject.[111] The Presbyterian party in parliament, who thus found the
press closed on them, vehemently cried out for its freedom: and it was
imagined, that when they had ascended into power, the odious office of a
licenser of the press would have been abolished; but these pretended
friends of freedom, on the contrary, discovered themselves as tenderly
alive to the office as the old government, and maintained it with the
extremest vigour. Such is the political history of mankind.

The literary fate of Milton was remarkable: his genius was castrated
alike by the monarchical and the republican government. The royal
licenser expunged several passages from Milton's history, in which
Milton had painted the superstition, the pride, and the cunning of the
Saxon monks, which the sagacious licenser applied to Charles II. and the
bishops; but Milton had before suffered as merciless a mutilation from
his old friends the republicans; who suppressed a bold picture, taken
from life, which he had introduced into his History of the Long
Parliament and Assembly of Divines. Milton gave the unlicensed passages
to the Earl of Anglesea, a literary nobleman, the editor of Whitelocke's
Memorials; and the castrated passage, which could not be licensed in
1670, was received with peculiar interest when separately published in
1681.[112] "If there be found in an author's book one sentence of a
venturous edge, uttered in the height of zeal, and who knows whether it
might not be the dictate of a divine spirit, yet not suiting every low
decrepit humour of their own, they will not pardon him their dash."

This office seems to have lain dormant a short time under Cromwell, from
the scruples of a conscientious licenser, who desired the council of
state, in 1649, for reasons given, to be discharged from that
employment. This Mabot, the licenser, was evidently deeply touched by
Milton's address for "The Liberty of Unlicensed Printing." The office
was, however, revived on the restoration of Charles II.; and through the
reign of James II. the abuses of licensers were unquestionably not
discouraged: their castrations of books reprinted appear to have been
very artful; for in reprinting Gage's "Survey of the West Indies," which
originally consisted of twenty-two chapters, in 1648 and 1657, with a
dedication to Sir Thomas Fairfax,--in 1677, after expunging the passages
in honour of Fairfax, the dedication is dexterously turned into a
preface; and the twenty-second chapter being obnoxious for containing
particulars of the artifices of "the papalins," as Milton calls the
Papists, in converting the author, was entirely chopped away by the
licenser's hatchet. The castrated chapter, as usual, was preserved
afterwards separately. Literary despotism at least is short-sighted in
its views, for the expedients it employs are certain of overturning

On this subject we must not omit noticing one of the noblest and most
eloquent prose compositions of Milton; "the Areopagitica; a Speech for
the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing." It is a work of love and
inspiration, and breathing the most enlarged spirit of literature;
separating, at an awful distance from the multitude, that character "who
was born to study and to love learning for itself, not for lucre, or any
other end, but, perhaps, for that lasting fame and perpetuity of praise,
which God and good men have consented shall be the reward of those whose
published labours advance the good of mankind."

One part of this unparalleled effusion turns on "the quality which ought
to be in every licenser." It will suit our new licensers of public
opinion, a laborious corps well known, who constitute themselves without
an act of Star-chamber. I shall pick out but a few sentences, that I may
add some little facts, casually preserved, of the ineptitude of such an

     "He who is made judge to sit upon the birth or death of books,
     whether they may be wafted into this world or not, had need to
     be a man above the common measure, both studious, learned, and
     judicious; there may be else no mean mistakes in his censure.
     If he be of such worth as behoves him, there cannot be a more
     tedious and unpleasing journey-work, a greater loss of time
     levied upon his head, than to be made the perpetual reader of
     unchosen books and pamphlets. There is no book acceptable,
     unless at certain seasons; but to be enjoyned the reading of
     that at all times, whereof three pages would not down at any
     time, is an imposition which I cannot believe how he that
     values time and his own studies, or is but of a sensible
     nostril, should be able to endure.--What advantage is it to be
     a man over it is to be a boy at school, if we have only 'scaped
     the ferula to come under the fescue of an _Imprimatur_?--if
     serious and elaborate writings, as if they were no more than
     the theme of a grammar lad under his pedagogue, must not be
     uttered without the cursory eyes of a temporising licenser?
     When a man writes to the world, he summons up all his reason
     and deliberation to assist him; he searches, meditates, is
     industrious, and likely consults and confers with his judicious
     friends, as well as any that writ before him; if in this, the
     most consummate act of his fidelity and ripeness, no years, no
     industry, no former proof of his abilities can bring him to
     that state of maturity as not to be still mistrusted and
     suspected, unless he carry all his considerate diligence, all
     his midnight watchings, and expense of Palladian oil, to the
     hasty view of an unleisured licenser, perhaps much his younger,
     perhaps inferior in judgment, perhaps one who never knew the
     labour of book writing; and if he be not repulsed or slighted,
     must appear in print like a Punie with his guardian, and his
     censor's hand on the back of his title to be his bail and
     surety that he is no idiot or seducer, it cannot be but a
     dishonour and derogation to the author, to the book, to the
     privilege and dignity of learning."

The reader may now follow the stream in the great original; I must,
however, preserve one image of exquisite sarcasm.

     "Debtors and delinquents walk about without a keeper; but
     inoffensive books must not stir forth without a visible jailor
     in their title; nor is it to the common people less than a
     reproach; for if we dare not trust them with an English
     pamphlet, what do we but censure them for a giddy, vitious, and
     ungrounded people, in such a sick and weak state of faith and
     discretion, as to be able to take nothing but thro' the
     glister-pipe of a licenser!"

The ignorance and stupidity of these censors were often, indeed, as
remarkable as their exterminating spirit. The noble simile of Milton, of
Satan with the rising sun, in the first book of the Paradise Lost, had
nearly occasioned the suppression of our national epic: it was supposed
to contain a treasonable allusion. The tragedy of Arminius, by one
Paterson, who was an amanuensis of the poet Thomson, was intended for
representation, but the dramatic censor refused a license: as Edward and
Eleanora was not permitted to be performed, being considered a party
work, our sagacious state-critic imagined that Paterson's _own_ play was
in the same predicament by being in the same hand-writing! Malebranche
said, that he could never obtain an approbation for his "Research after
Truth," because it was unintelligible to his censors; at length Mezeray,
the historian, approved of it as a book of geometry. Latterly, in
France, it is said that the greatest geniuses were obliged to submit
their works to the critical understanding of persons who had formerly
been low dependents on some man of quality, and who appear to have
brought the same servility of mind to the examination of works of
genius. There is something, which, on the principle of incongruity and
contrast, becomes exquisitely ludicrous, in observing the works of men
of genius allowed to be printed, and even commended, by certain persons
who have never printed their names but to their licenses. One of these
gentlemen suppressed a work, because it contained principles of
government which appeared to him not conformable to the laws of Moses.
Another said to a geometrician--"I cannot permit the publication of your
book: you dare to say, that, between two given points, the shortest line
is the straight line. Do you think me such an idiot as not to perceive
your allusion? If your work appeared, I should make enemies of all those
who find, by crooked ways, an easier admittance into court, than by a
straight line. Consider their number!" This seems, however, to be an
excellent joke. At this moment the censors in Austria appear singularly
inept; for, not long ago, they condemned as heretical, two books; one of
which, entitled "_Principes de la Trigonométrie_," the censor would not
allow to be printed, because the _Trinity_, which he imagined to be
included in trigonometry, was not permitted to be discussed: and the
other, on the "Destruction of Insects," he insisted had a covert
allusion to the _Jesuits_, who, he conceived, were thus malignantly

A curious literary anecdote has been recorded of the learned Richard
Simon. Compelled to insert in one of his works the qualifying opinions
of the censor of the Sorbonne, he inserted them within crotchets. But a
strange misfortune attended this contrivance. The printer, who was not
let into the secret, printed the work without these essential marks: by
which means the enraged author saw his own peculiar opinions overturned
in the very work written to maintain them!

These appear trifling minutiæ; and yet, like a hair in a watch, which
utterly destroys its progress, these little ineptiæ obliged writers to
have recourse to foreign presses; compelled a Montesquieu to write with
concealed ambiguity, and many to sign a recantation of principles which
they could never change. The recantation of Selden, extorted from his
hand on his suppressed "Historie of Tithes," humiliated a great mind;
but it could not remove a particle from the masses of his learning, nor
darken the luminous conviction of his reasonings; nor did it diminish
the number of those who assented and now assent to his principles.
Recantations usually prove the force of authority rather than the change
of opinion. When a Dr. Pocklington was condemned to make a recantation,
he hit the etymology of the word, while he caught at the spirit--he
began thus: "If _canto_ be to sing, _recanto_ is to sing again." So that
he rechanted his offending opinions, by repeating them in his

At the Revolution in England, licenses for the press ceased; but its
liberty did not commence till 1694, when every restraint was taken off
by the firm and decisive tone of the Commons. It was granted, says our
philosophic Hume, "to the great displeasure of the king and his
ministers, who, seeing nowhere in any government, during present or past
ages, any example of such unlimited freedom, doubted much of its
salutary effects; and probably thought that no books or writings would
ever so much improve the general understanding of men, as to render it
safe to entrust them with an indulgence so easily abused."

And the present moment verifies the prescient conjecture of the
philosopher. Such is the licentiousness of our press, that some, not
perhaps the most hostile to the cause of freedom, would not be averse to
manacle authors once more with an IMPRIMATUR. It will not be denied that
Erasmus was a friend to the freedom of the press; yet he was so shocked
at the licentiousness of Luther's pen, that there was a time when he
considered it necessary to restrain its liberty. It was then as now.
Erasmus had, indeed, been miserably calumniated, and expected future
libels. I am glad, however, to observe, that he afterwards, on a more
impartial investigation, confessed that such a remedy was much more
dangerous than the disease. To restrain the liberty of the press, can
only be the interest of the individual, never that of the public; one
must be a patriot here: we must stand in the field with an unshielded
breast, since the safety of the people is the supreme law. There were,
in Milton's days, some who said of this institution, that, although the
inventors were bad, the thing, for all that, might be good. "This may be
so," replies the vehement advocate for "unlicensed printing." But as the
commonwealths have existed through all ages, and have forborne to use
it, he sees no necessity for the invention; and held it as a dangerous
and suspicious fruit from the tree which bore it. The ages of the wisest
commonwealths, Milton seems not to have recollected, were not diseased
with the popular infection of publications, issuing at all hours, and
propagated with a celerity on which the ancients could not calculate.
The learned Dr. _James_, who has denounced the invention of the
_Indexes_, confesses, however, that it was not unuseful when it
restrained the publications of atheistic and immoral works. But it is
our lot to bear with all the consequent evils, that we may preserve the
good inviolate; since, as the profound Hume has declared, "The LIBERTY
OF BRITAIN IS GONE FOR EVER, when such attempts shall succeed."

A constitutional sovereign will consider the freedom of the press as the
sole organ of the feelings of the people. Calumniators he will leave to
the fate of calumny; a fate similar to those who, having overcharged
their arms with the fellest intentions, find that the death which they
intended for others, in bursting, only annihilates themselves.


The "true" modern critics on our elder writers are apt to thunder their
anathemas on innocent heads: little versed in the eras of our
literature, and the fashions of our wit, popular criticism must submit
to be guided by the literary historian.

Kippis condemns Sir Symonds D'Ewes for his admiration of two anagrams,
expressive of the feelings of the times. It required the valour of
Falstaff to attack extinct anagrams; and our pretended English Bayle
thought himself secure in pronouncing all anagrammatists to be wanting
in judgment and taste: yet, if this mechanical critic did not know
something of the state and nature of anagrams in Sir Symonds' day, he
was more deficient in that curiosity of literature which his work
required, than plain honest Sir Symonds in the taste and judgment of
which he is so contemptuously deprived. The author who thus decides on
the tastes of another age by those of his own day, and whose knowledge
of the national literature does not extend beyond his own century, is
neither historian nor critic. The truth is, that ANAGRAMS were then the
fashionable amusements of the wittiest and the most learned.

Kippis says, and others have repeated, "That Sir Symonds D'Ewes's
judgment and taste, with regard to wit, were as contemptible as can well
be imagined, will be evident from the following passage taken from his
account of Carr Earl of Somerset, and his wife: 'This discontent gave
many satirical wits occasion to vent themselves into stingie [stinging]
libels, in which they spared neither the persons nor families of that
unfortunate pair. There came also two anagrams to my hands, _not
unworthy to be owned by the rarest wits of this age_.' These were, one
very descriptive of the lady, and the other, of an incident in which
this infamous woman was so deeply criminated.

     _Car finds a Whore.     O! O! base Murther_."

This sort of wit is not falser at least than the criticism which infers
that D'Ewes' "judgment and taste were as contemptible as can well be;"
for he might have admired these anagrams, which, however, are not of the
nicest construction, and yet not have been so destitute of those
qualities of which he is so authoritatively divested.

Camden has a chapter in his "Remains" on ANAGRAMS, which he defines to
be a dissolution of a (person's) name into its letters, as its elements;
and a new connexion into words is formed by their transposition, if
possible, without addition, subtraction, or change of the letters: and
the words must make a sentence applicable to the person named. The
Anagram is complimentary or satirical; it may contain some allusion to
an event, or describe some personal characteristic.[113]

Such difficult trifles it may be convenient at all times to discard;
but, if ingenious minds can convert an ANAGRAM into a means of
exercising their ingenuity, the things themselves will necessarily
become ingenious. No ingenuity can make an ACROSTIC ingenious; for this
is nothing but a mechanical arrangement of the letters of a name, and
yet this literary folly long prevailed in Europe.

As for ANAGRAMS, if antiquity can consecrate some follies, they are of
very ancient date. They were classed, among the Hebrews, among the
cabalistic sciences; they pretended to discover occult qualities in
proper names; it was an oriental practice; and was caught by the Greeks.
Plato had strange notions of the influence of _Anagrams_ when drawn out
of persons' names; and the later Platonists are full of the mysteries of
the anagrammatic virtues of names. The chimerical associations of the
character and qualities of a man with his name anagrammatised may often
have instigated to the choice of a vocation, or otherwise affected his

Lycophron has left some on record,--two on Ptolemæus Philadelphus, King
of Egypt, and his Queen Arsinöe. The king's name was thus

     Ἁπὁ μελιτος, MADE OF HONEY:

and the queen's,

     Ἡρας ιον, JUNO'S VIOLET.

Learning, which revived under Francis the First in France, did not
disdain to cultivate this small flower of wit. Daurat had such a
felicity in making these trifles, that many illustrious persons sent
their names to him to be anagrammatised. Le Laboureur, the historian,
was extremely pleased with the anagram made on the mistress of Charles
the Ninth of France. Her name was

     _Marie Touchet_.

which is historically just.

In the assassin of Henry the Third,

     _Frère Jacques Clement_,

they discovered


I preserve a few specimens of some of our own anagrams. The mildness of
the government of Elizabeth, contrasted with her intrepidity against the
Iberians, is thus picked out of her title; she is made the English
ewe-lamb, and the lioness of Spain:--

     _Elizabetha Regina Angliæ_.

The unhappy history of Mary Queen of Scots, the deprivation of her
kingdom, and her violent death, were expressed in this Latin anagram:--

     _Maria Steuarda Scotorum Regina_:

and in

     _Maria Stevarta_

Another fanciful one on our James the First, whose rightful claim to the
British monarchy, as the descendant of the visionary Arthur, could only
have satisfied genealogists of romance reading:--

     _Charles James Steuart_.

Sylvester, the translator of Du Bartas, considered himself fortunate
when he found in the name of his sovereign the strongest bond of
affection to his service. In the dedication he rings loyal changes on
the name of his liege, _James Stuart_ in which he finds _a just master!_

The anagram on Monk, afterwards Duke of Albemarle, on the restoration
of Charles the Second, included an important date in our history:--

    _Georgius Monke, Dux de Aumarle.
    Ego regem reduxi An°Sa_. MDCLVV.

A slight reversing of the letters in a name produced a happy compliment;
as in _Vernon_ was found _Renoun_; and the celebrated Sir Thomas _Wiat_
bore his own designation in his name, _a Wit_.[114] Of the poet _Waller_
the anagrammatist said,

    His brows need not with Lawrel to be bound,
    Since in his _name_ with _Lawrel_ he is crown'd.

_Randle Holmes_, who has written a very extraordinary volume on
heraldry, was complimented by an expressive anagram:--

    _Lo, Men's Herald!_

These anagrams were often devoted to the personal attachments of love or
friendship. A friend delighted to twine his name with the name of his
friend. _Crashawe_, the poet, had a literary intimate of the name of
_Car_, who was his posthumous editor; and, in prefixing some elegiac
lines, discovers that his late friend Crashawe was Car; for so the
anagram of _Crashawe_ runs: _He was Car._ On this quaint discovery, he
has indulged all the tenderness of his recollections:--

    Was Car then Crashawe, or was Crashawe Car?
    Since both within one name combined are.
    Yes, Car's Crashawe, he Car; 'tis Love alone
    Which melts two hearts, of both composing one,
    So Crashawe's still the same, &c.

A happy anagram on a person's name might have a moral effect on the
feelings: as there is reason to believe, that certain celebrated names
have had some influence on the personal character. When one _Martha
Nicholson_ was found out to be _Soon calm in Heart_, the anagram, in
becoming familiar to her, might afford an opportune admonition. But,
perhaps, the happiest of anagrams was produced on a singular person and
occasion. Lady Eleanor Davies, the wife of the celebrated Sir John
Davies, the poet, was a very extraordinary character. She was the
Cassandra of her age; and several of her predictions warranted her to
conceive she was a prophetess. As her prophecies in the troubled times
of Charles I. were usually against the government, she was at length
brought by them into the court of High Commission. The prophetess was
not a little mad, and fancied the spirit of Daniel was in her, from an
anagram she had formed of her name--


The anagram had too much by an L, and too little by an s; yet _Daniel_
and _reveal_ were in it, and that was sufficient to satisfy her
inspirations. The court attempted to dispossess the spirit from the
lady, while the bishops were in vain reasoning the point with her out of
the scriptures, to no purpose, she poising text against text:--one of
the deans of the Arches, says Heylin, "shot her thorough and thorough
with an arrow borrowed from her own quiver:" he took a pen, and at last
hit upon this elegant anagram:


The happy fancy put the solemn court into laughter, and Cassandra into
the utmost dejection of spirit. Foiled by her own weapons, her spirit
suddenly forsook her; and either she never afterwards ventured on
prophesying, or the anagram perpetually reminded her hearers of her
state--and we hear no more of this prophetess!

Thus much have I written in favour of Sir Symonds D'Ewes's keen relish
of a "stingie anagram;" and on the error of those literary historians,
who do not enter into the spirit of the age they are writing on.

We find in the Scribleriad, the ANAGRAMS appearing in the land of false

    But with still more disorder'd march advance,
    (Nor march it seem'd, but wild fantastic dance,)
    The uncouth ANAGRAMS, distorted train,
    Shifting, in double mazes, o'er the plain.
                                    C. ii. 161.

The fine humour of Addison was never more playful than in his account of
that anagrammatist, who, after shutting himself up for half a year, and
having taken certain liberties with the name of his mistress,
discovered, on presenting his anagram, that he had misspelt her surname;
by which he was so thunderstruck with his misfortune, that in a little
time after he lost his senses, which, indeed, had been very much
impaired by that continual application he had given to his anagram.

One Frenzelius, a German, prided himself on perpetuating the name of
every person of eminence who died by an anagram; but by the description
of the bodily pain he suffered on these occasions, when he shut himself
up for those rash attempts, he seems to have shared in the dying pangs
of the mortals whom he so painfully celebrated. Others appear to have
practised this art with more facility. A French poet, deeply in love, in
one day sent his mistress, whose name was _Magdelaine_, three dozen of
anagrams on her single name!

Even old Camden, who lived in the golden age of anagrams, notices the
_difficilia quæ pulchra_, the charming difficulty, "as a whetstone of
patience to them that shall practise it. For some have been seen to bite
their pen, scratch their heads, bend their brows, bite their lips, beat
the board, tear their paper, when their names were fair for somewhat,
and caught nothing therein." Such was the troubled happiness of an
anagrammatist: yet, adds our venerable author, notwithstanding "the sour
sort of critics, good anagrams yield a delightful comfort and pleasant
motion in honest minds."[115]

When the mania of making ANAGRAMS prevailed, the little persons at court
flattered the great ones at inventing anagrams for them; and when the
wit of the maker proved to be as barren as the letters of the name, they
dropped or changed them, raving with the alphabet, and racking their
wits. Among the manuscripts of the grave Sir Julius Cæsar, one cannot
but smile at a bundle emphatically endorsed "Trash." It is a collection
of these court-anagrams; a remarkable evidence of that ineptitude to
which mere fashionable wit can carry the frivolous.

In consigning this intellectual exercise to oblivion, we must not
confound the miserable and the happy together. A man of genius would not
consume an hour in extracting even a fortunate anagram from a name,
although on an extraordinary person or occasion its appositeness might
be worth an epigram. Much of its merit will arise from the association
of ideas; a trifler can only produce what is trifling, but an elegant
mind may delight by some elegant allusion, and a satirical one by its
causticity. We have some recent ones, which will not easily be

A similar contrivance, that of ECHO VERSES, may here be noticed. I have
given a specimen of these in a modern French writer, whose sportive pen
has thrown out so much wit and humour in his ECHOES.[116] Nothing ought
to be contemned which, in the hands of a man of genius, is converted
into a medium of his talents. No verses have been considered more
contemptible than these, which, with all their kindred, have been
anathematised by Butler, in his exquisite character of "a small poet" in
his "Remains," whom he describes as "tumbling through the hoop of an
anagram" and "all those gambols of wit." The philosophical critic will
be more tolerant than was the orthodox church wit of that day, who was,
indeed, alarmed at the fantastical heresies which were then prevailing.
I say not a word in favour of unmeaning ACROSTICS; but ANAGRAMS and ECHO
VERSES may be shown capable of reflecting the ingenuity of their makers.
I preserve a copy of ECHO VERSES, which exhibit a curious picture of the
state of our religious fanatics, the Roundheads of Charles I., as an
evidence, that in the hands of a wit even such things can be converted
into the instruments of wit.

At the end of a comedy presented at the entertainment of the prince, by
the scholars of Trinity College, Cambridge, in March, 1641, printed for
James Calvin, 1642, the author, Francis Cole, holds in a print a paper
in one hand, and a round hat in the other. At the end of all is this
humorous little poem.

                    THE ECHO.

    Now, Echo, on what's religion grounded?
    Whose its professors most considerable?
    How do these prove themselves to be the godly?
    But they in life are known to be the holy,
                                            _O lie!_
    Who are these preachers, men or women-common?
    Come they from any universitie?
    Do they not learning from their doctrine sever?
    Yet they pretend that they do edifie:
                                           _O fie!_
    What do you call it then, to fructify?
    What church have they, and what pulpits?
    But now in chambers the Conventicle;
    The godly sisters shrewdly are belied.
    The godly number then will soon transcend.
    As for the temples, they with zeal embrace them.
                                           _Rase them!_
    What do they make of bishop's hierarchy?
    Are crosses, images, ornaments their scandall?
    Nor will they leave us many ceremonies.
    Must even religion down for satisfaction?
    How stand they affected to the government civil?
    But to the king they say they are most loyal.
                                           _Lye all!_
    Then God keep King and State from these same men.


We are often perplexed to decide how the names of some of our eminent
men ought to be written; and we find that they are even now written
diversely. The truth is, that our orthography was so long unsettled
among us, that it appears by various documents of the times which I have
seen, that persons were at a loss how to write their own names, and most
certainly have written them variously. I have sometimes suspected that
estates may have been lost, and descents confounded, by such uncertain
and disagreeing signatures of the same person. In a late suit respecting
the Duchess of Norfolk's estate, one of the ancestors has his name
printed _Higford_, while in the genealogy it appears _Hickford_. I think
I have seen Ben _Jonson's_ name written by himself with an _h_; and
_Dryden_ made use of an _i_. I have seen an injunction to printers with
the sign-manual of Charles II., not to print Samuel _Boteler_ esquire's
book or poem called Hudibras, without his consent; but I do not know
whether Butler thus wrote his name. As late as in 1660, a Dr. _Crovne_
was at such a loss to have his name pronounced rightly, that he tried
six different ways of writing it, as appears by printed books; Cron,
Croon, Crovn, Crone, Croone, and Crovne; all of which appear under his
own hand, as he wrote it differently at different periods of his life.
In the subscription book of the Royal Society he writes _W. Croone_, but
in his will at the Commons he signs _W. Crovne_. _Ray_ the naturalist
informs us that he first wrote his name _Wray_, but afterwards omitted
the _W_. Dr. _Whitby_, in books published by himself, writes his name
sometimes _Whiteby_. And among the Harleian Manuscripts there is a large
collection of letters, to which I have often referred, written between
1620 and 1630, by Joseph _Mead_; and yet in all his printed letters, and
his works, even within that period, it is spelt _Mede_; by which
signature we recognise the name of a learned man better known to us: it
was long before I discovered the letter-writer to have been this
scholar. Oldys, in some curious manuscript memoirs of his family, has
traced the family name through a great variety of changes, and sometimes
it is at such variance that the person indicated will not always appear
to have belonged to the family. We saw recently an advertisement in the
newspapers offering five thousand pounds to prove a marriage in the
family of the Knevetts, which occurred about 1633. What most
disconcerted the inquirers is their discovery that the family name was
written in six or seven different ways: a circumstance which I have no
doubt will be found in most family names in England. Fuller mentions
that the name of _Villers_ was spelt _fourteen_ different ways in the
deeds of that family.

I shall illustrate this subject by the history of the _names_ of two of
our most illustrious countrymen, Shakspeare and Rawleigh.

We all remember the day when a violent literary controversy was opened,
nor is it yet closed, respecting the spelling of our poet's name. One
great editor persisted in his triumphant discovery, by printing
_Shakspere_, while another would only partially yield, _Shakspeare_; but
all parties seemed willing to drop the usual and natural derivation of
his name, in which we are surely warranted from a passage in a
contemporary writer, who alludes by the name to a conceit of his own, of
the _martial_ spirit of the poet.[118] The truth seems to be, then, that
personal names were written by the ear, since the persons themselves did
not attend to the accurate writing of their own names, which they
changed sometimes capriciously, and sometimes with anxious nicety. Our
great poet's name appears _Shakspere_ in the register of Stratford
church; it is _Shakspeare_ in the body of his will, but that very
instrument is indorsed Mr. _Shackspere's_ will. He himself has written
his name in two different ways, _Shakspeare_ and _Shakspere_. Mr. Colman
says, the poet's name in his own county is pronounced with the first _a_
short, which accounts for this mode of writing the name, and proves that
the orthoëpy rather than the orthography of a person's name was most
attended to; a very questionable and uncertain standard.[119]

Another remarkable instance of this sort is the name of Sir Walter
_Rawley_, which I am myself uncertain how to write; although I have
discovered a fact which proves how it should be pronounced.

Rawley's name was spelt by himself and by his contemporaries in all
sorts of ways. We find it Ralegh, Raleigh, Rawleigh, Raweley, and Rawly;
the last of which at least preserves its pronunciation. This great man,
when young, subscribed his name "Walter _Raweley_ of the Middle Temple"
to a copy of verses, prefixed to a satire called the Steel-Glass, in
George Gascoigne's Works, 1576. Sir Walter was then a young student, and
these verses, both by their spirit and signature, cannot fail to be his;
however, this matter is doubtful, for the critics have not met elsewhere
with his name thus written. The orthoëpy of the name of this great man I
can establish by the following fact. When Sir Walter was first
introduced to James the First, on the King's arrival in England, with
whom, being united with an opposition party, he was no favourite, the
Scottish monarch gave him this broad reception: "Rawly! Rawly! true
enough, for I think of thee very _Rawly_, mon!" There is also an enigma
contained in a distich written by a lady of the times, which preserves
the real pronunciation of the name of this extraordinary man.

    What's bad for the stomach, and the word of dishonour,
    Is the name of the man, whom the king will not honour.

Thus our ancient personal names were written down by the ear at a period
when we had no settled orthography; and even at a later period, not
distant from our own times, some persons, it might be shown, have been
equally puzzled how to write their names; witness the Thomsons,
Thompsons; the Wartons, Whartons, &c.


Lord Orford has in one of his letters projected a curious work to be
written in a walk through the streets of the metropolis, similar to a
French work, entitled "Anecdotes des Rues de Paris." I know of no such
work, and suspect the vivacious writer alluded in his mind to Saint
Foix's "Essais Historiques sur Paris," a very entertaining work, of
which the plan is that projected by his lordship. We have had Pennant's
"London," a work of this description; but, on the whole, this is a
superficial performance, as it regards manners, characters, and events.
That antiquary skimmed everything, and grasped scarcely anything; he
wanted the patience of research, and the keen spirit which revivifies
the past. Should Lord Orford's project be carried into execution, or
rather should Pennant be hereafter improved, it would be first necessary
to obtain the original names, or the meanings, of our streets, free from
the disguise in which time has concealed them. We shall otherwise lose
many characters of persons, and many remarkable events, of which their
original denominations would remind the historian of our streets.

I have noted down a few of these modern misnomers, that this future
historian may be excited to discover more.

_Mincing-lane_ was _Mincheon-lane_; from tenements pertaining to the
Mincheons, or nuns of St. Helen's, in Bishopsgate-street.

_Gutter-lane_, corrupted from _Guthurun's-lane_; from its first owner, a
citizen of great trade.

_Blackwall-hall_ was _Bakewell's-hall_, from one Thomas Bakewell; and
originally called _Basing's-haugh_, from a considerable family of that
name, whose arms were once seen on the ancient building, and whose name
is still perpetuated in _Basing's-lane_.

_Finch-lane_ was _Finke's-lane_, from a whole family of this name.

_Thread-needle-street_ was originally _Thrid-needle-street_, as Samuel
Clarke dates it from his study there.

_Billiter-lane_ is a corruption of _Bellzetter's-lane_, from the first
builder or owner.

_Crutched-friars_ was _Crowched_ or _Crossed-friars_.

_Lothbury_ was so named from the noise of founders at their work; and,
as Howell pretends, this place was called _Lothbury_, "disdainedly."

_Garlick-hill_ was _Garlicke-hithe_, or _hive_, where garlick was sold.

_Fetter-lane_ has been erroneously supposed to have some connexion with
the _fetters_ of criminals. It was in Charles the First's time written
_Fewtor-lane_, and is so in Howell's "Londinopolis," who explains it
from "_Fewtors_ (or idle people) lying there as in a way leading to
gardens." It was the haunt of these _Faitors_, or "mighty beggars." The
_Faitour_, that is, a _defaytor_, or _defaulter_, became _Fewtor_; and
in the rapid pronunciation, or conception, of names, _Fewtor_ has ended
in _Fetter-lane_.

_Gracechurch-street_, sometimes called _Gracious-street_, was originally
_Grass-street_, from a herb-market there.

_Fenchurch-street_, from a fenny or moorish ground by a river side.

_Galley-key_ has preserved its name, but its origin may have been lost.
Howell, in his "Londinopolis," says, "here dwelt strangers called
_Galley-men_, who brought wines, &c. in _Galleys_."

"_Greek-street_," says Pennant, "I am sorry to degrade into
_Grig-street_;" whether it alludes to the little vivacious eel, or to
the merry character of its tenants, he does not resolve.

_Bridewell_ was _St. Bridget's-well_, from one dedicated to Saint Bride,
or Bridget.

_Marybone_ was _St. Mary-on-the-Bourne_, corrupted to _Marybone_; as
_Holborn_ was _Old Bourn_, or the Old River; _Bourne_ being the ancient
English for _river_; hence the Scottish _Burn_.

_Newington_ was _New-town_.

_Maiden-lane_ was so called from an image of the Virgin, which, in
Catholic days, had stood there, as Bagford writes to Hearne; and he
says, that the frequent sign of the _Maiden-head_ was derived from "our
Lady's head."

_Lad-lane_ was originally _Lady's-lane_, from the same personage.

_Rood-lane_ was so denominated from a Rood, or Jesus on the cross, there
placed, which was held in great regard.

_Piccadilly_ was named after a hall called _Piccadilla-hall_, a place of
sale for _Piccadillies_, or _turn-overs_; a part of the fashionable
dress which appeared about 1614. It has preserved its name uncorrupted;
for Barnabe Rice, in his "Honestie of the Age," has this passage on "the
body-makers that do swarm through all parts, both of London and about
London. The body is still pampered up in the very dropsy of excess. He
that some fortie years sithens should have asked after a _Pickadilly_, I
wonder who would have understood him; or could have told what a
_Pickcadilly_ had been, either fish or flesh."[120]

Strype notices that in the liberties of Saint Catharine is a place
called _Hangmen's-gains_; the traders of _Hammes_ and _Guynes_, in
France, anciently resorted there; thence the strange corruption.

_Smithfield_ is a corruption of _Smoothfield_; smith signifies smooth,
from the Saxon ʃmeð. An antiquarian friend has seen it designated in a
deed as _campus planus_, which confirms the original meaning. It is
described in Fitz Stephen's account of London, written before the
twelfth century, as a plain field, both in reality and name, where
"every Friday there is a celebrated rendezvous of fine horses, brought
hither to be sold. Thither come to look or buy a great number of earls,
barons, knights, and a swarm of citizens. It is a pleasing sight to
behold the ambling nags and generous colts, proudly prancing." This
ancient writer continues a minute description, and, perhaps, gives the
earliest one of a horse-race in this country. It is remarkable that
_Smithfield_ should have continued as a market for cattle for more than
six centuries, with only the change of its vowels.

This is sufficient to show how the names of our streets require either
to be corrected, or explained by their historian. The French, among the
numerous projects for the moral improvement of civilised man, had one,
which, had it not been polluted by a horrid faction, might have been
directed to a noble end. It was to name streets after eminent men. This
would at least preserve them from the corruption of the people, and
exhibit a perpetual monument of moral feeling and of glory, to the
rising genius of every age. With what excitement and delight may the
young contemplatist, who first studies at Gray's Inn, be reminded of

The names of streets will often be found connected with some singular
event, or the character of some person; and _anecdotes of our streets_
might occupy an entertaining antiquary. Not long ago, a Hebrew, who had
a quarrel with his community about the manner of celebrating the Jewish
festival in commemoration of the fate of Haman, called _Purim_, built a
neighbourhood at Bethnal-green, and retained the subject of his anger in
the name which the houses bear, of _Purim_-place. This may startle some
theological antiquary at a remote period, who may idly lose himself in
abstruse conjectures on the sanctity of a name, derived from a
well-known Hebrew festival; and, perhaps, in his imagination be induced
to colonise the spot with an ancient horde of Israelites!


It is an odd circumstance in literary research, that I am enabled to
correct a story which was written about 1680. The Aubrey Papers,
recently published with singular faithfulness, retaining all their
peculiarities, even to the grossest errors, were memoranda for the use
of Anthony Wood's great work. But beside these, the Oxford antiquary had
a very extensive literary correspondence; and it is known, that when
speechless and dying he evinced the fortitude to call in two friends to
destroy a vast multitude of papers: about two bushels full were ordered
for the fires lighted for the occasion; and, "as he was expiring, he
expressed both his knowledge and approbation of what was done, by
throwing out his hands." These two bushels full were not, however, all
his papers; his more private ones he had ordered not to be opened for
seven years. I suspect also, that a great number of letters were not
burnt on this occasion; for I have discovered a manuscript written about
1720 to 1730, and which, the writer tells us, consists of "Excerpts out
of Anthony Wood's papers." It is closely written, and contains many
curious facts not to be found elsewhere. These papers of Anthony Wood
probably still exist in the Ashmolean Museum; should they have perished,
in that case this solitary manuscript will be the sole record of many
interesting particulars.

By these I correct a little story, which may be found in the Aubrey
Papers, vol. iii. 395. It is an account of one Nicholas Hill, a man of
great learning, and in the high confidence of a remarkable and
munificent Earl of Oxford, travelling with him abroad. I transcribe the
printed Aubrey account.

"In his travels with his lord (I forget whether Italy or Germany, but I
think the former), a poor man begged him to give him a penny. 'A penny!'
said Mr. Hill; 'what dost say to ten pounds?'--'Ah! ten pounds,' said
the beggar; 'that would make a man happy.' Mr. Hill gave him
immediately ten pounds, and putt it downe upon account. Item, _to a
beggar ten pounds to make him happy_!"--The point of this story has been
marred in the telling: it was drawn up from the following letter by
Aubrey to A. Wood, dated July 15, 1689. "A poor man asked Mr. Hill, his
lordship's steward, once to give him sixpence, or a shilling, for an
alms. 'What dost say, if I give thee ten pounds?' 'Ten pounds! _that
would make a man of me_!' Hill gave it him, and put down in his account,
'£10 _for making a man_,' which his lordship inquiring about for the
oddness of the expression, not only allowed, but was pleased with it."

This philosophical humorist was the steward of Edward Vere, Earl of
Oxford, in the reign of Elizabeth. This peer was a person of elegant
accomplishments; and Lord Orford, in his "Noble Authors," has given a
higher character of him than perhaps he may deserve. He was of the
highest rank, in great favour with the queen, and, in the style of the
day, when all our fashions and our poetry were moulding themselves on
the Italian model, he was the "Mirrour of Tuscanismo;" and, in a word,
this coxcombical peer, after seven years' residence in Florence,
returned highly "Italianated." The ludicrous motive of this
peregrination is given in the present manuscript account. Haughty of his
descent and alliance, irritable with effeminate delicacy and personal
vanity, a little circumstance, almost too minute to be recorded,
inflicted such an injury on his pride, that in his mind it required
years of absence from the court of England ere it could be forgotten.
Once making a low obeisance to the queen, before the whole court, this
stately and inflated peer suffered a mischance, which has happened, it
is said, on a like occasion--it was "light as air!" But this accident so
sensibly hurt his mawkish delicacy, and so humbled his aristocratic
dignity, that he could not raise his eyes on his royal mistress. He
resolved from that day to "be a banished man," and resided for seven
years in Italy, living in more grandeur at Florence than the Grand Duke
of Tuscany. He spent in those years forty thousand pounds. On his return
he presented the queen with embroidered gloves and perfumes, then for
the first time introduced into England, as Stowe has noticed. Part of
the new presents seem to have some reference to the earl's former
mischance. The queen received them graciously, and was even painted
wearing those gloves; but my authority states, that the masculine sense
of Elizabeth could not abstain from congratulating the noble coxcomb;
perceiving, she said, that at length my lord had forgot the mentioning
the little mischance of seven years ago!

This peer's munificence abroad was indeed the talk of Europe; but the
secret motive of this was as wicked as that of his travels had been
ridiculous. This Earl of Oxford had married the daughter of Lord
Burleigh, and when this great statesman would not consent to save the
life of the Duke of Norfolk, the friend of this earl, he swore to
revenge himself on the countess, out of hatred to his father-in-law. He
not only forsook her, but studied every means to waste that great
inheritance which had descended to him from his ancestors. Secret
history often startles us with unexpected discoveries: the personal
affectations of this earl induced him to quit a court where he stood in
the highest favour, to domesticate himself abroad; and a family _pique_
was the secret motive of that splendid prodigality which, at Florence,
could throw into shade the court of Tuscany itself.


The memorable grand dinner given by the classical doctor in Peregrine
Pickle, has indisposed our tastes for the cookery of the ancients; but,
since it is often "the cooks who spoil the broth," we cannot be sure but
that even "the black Lacedæmonian," stirred by the spear of a Spartan,
might have had a poignancy for him, which did not happen at the more
recent classical banquet.

The cookery of the ancients must have been superior to our humbler art,
since they could find dainties in the tough membranous parts of the
matrices of a sow, and the flesh of young hawks, and a young ass. The
elder Pliny records, that one man had studied the art of fattening
snails with paste so successfully, that the shells of some of his snails
would contain many quarts.[121] The same monstrous taste fed up those
prodigious goose livers; a taste still prevailing in Italy. Swine were
fattened with whey and figs; and even fish in their ponds were increased
by such artificial means. Our prize oxen might have astonished a Roman
as much as one of their crammed peacocks would ourselves. Gluttony
produces monsters, and turns away from nature to feed on unwholesome
meats. The flesh of young foxes about autumn, when they fed on grapes,
is praised by Galen; and Hippocrates equals the flesh of puppies to that
of birds. The humorous Dr. King, who has touched on this subject,
suspects that many of the Greek dishes appear charming from their
mellifluous terminations, resounding with a _floios_ and _toios_. Dr.
King's description of the Virtuoso Bentivoglio or Bentley, with his
"Bill of Fare" out of Athenæus, probably suggested to Smollett his
celebrated scene.

The numerous descriptions of ancient cookery which Athenæus has
preserved indicate an unrivalled dexterity and refinement: and the
ancients, indeed, appear to have raised the culinary art into a science,
and dignified cooks into professors. They had writers who exhausted
their erudition and ingenuity in verse and prose; while some were proud
to immortalise their names by the invention of a poignant sauce, or a
popular _gâteau_. Apicius, a name immortalised, and now synonymous with
a gorger, was the inventor of cakes called Apicians; and one
Aristoxenes, after many unsuccessful combinations, at length hit on a
peculiar manner of seasoning hams, thence called Aristoxenians. The name
of a late nobleman among ourselves is thus invoked every day.

Of these _Eruditæ gultæ_ Archestratus, a culinary philosopher, composed
an epic or didactic poem on good eating. His "Gastrology" became the
creed of the epicures, and its pathos appears to have made what is so
expressively called "their mouths water." The idea has been recently
successfully imitated by a French poet.[122] Archestratus thus opens his

    I write these precepts for immortal Greece,
    That round a table delicately spread,
    Or three, or four, may sit in choice repast,
    Or five at most. Who otherwise shall dine,
    Are like a troop marauding for their prey.

The elegant Romans declared that a repast should not consist of less in
number than the Graces, nor of more than the Muses. They had, however, a
quaint proverb, which Alexander ab Alexandro has preserved, not
favourable even to so large a dinner-party as nine; it turns on a play
of words:--

    Septem convivium, Novem convicium facere.[123]

An elegant Roman, meeting a friend, regretted he could not invite him to
dinner, "because my _number_ is complete."

When Archestratus acknowledges that some things are for the winter, and
some for the summer, he consoles himself, that though we cannot have
them at the same time, yet, at least, we may talk about them at all

This great genius seems to have travelled over land and seas that he
might critically examine the things themselves, and improve, with new
discoveries, the table-luxuries. He indicates the places for peculiar
edibles and exquisite potables; and promulgates his precepts with the
zeal of a sublime legislator, who is dictating a code designed to
ameliorate the imperfect state of society.

A philosopher worthy to bear the title of cook, or a cook worthy to be a
philosopher, according to the numerous curious passages scattered in
Athenæus, was an extraordinary genius, endowed not merely with a natural
aptitude, but with all acquired accomplishments. The philosophy, or the
metaphysics, of cookery appears in the following passage:--

    "Know then, the COOK, a dinner that's bespoke,
    Aspiring to prepare, with prescient zeal
    Should know the tastes and humours of the guests;
    For if he drudges through the common work,
    Thoughtless of manner, careless what the place
    And seasons claim, and what the favouring hour
    Auspicious to his genius may present,
    Why, standing 'midst the multitude of men,
    Call we this plodding _fricasseer_ a Cook?
    Oh differing far! and one is not the other!
    We call indeed the _general_ of an army
    Him who is charged to lead it to the war;
    But the true general is the man whose mind,
    Mastering events, anticipates, combines;
    Else is he but a _leader_ to his men!
    With our profession thus: the first who comes
    May with a humble toil, or slice, or chop,
    Prepare the ingredients, and around the fire
    Obsequious, him I call a fricasseer!
    But ah! the cook a brighter glory crowns!
    Well skill'd is he to know the place, the hour,
    Him who invites, and him who is invited,
    What fish in season makes the market rich,
    A choice delicious rarity! I know
    That all, we always find; but always all,
    Charms not the palate, critically fine.
    Archestratus, in culinary lore
    Deep for his time, in this more learned age
    Is wanting; and full oft he surely talks
    Of what he never ate. Suspect his page,
    Nor load thy genius with a barren precept.
    Look not in books for what some idle sage
    So idly raved; for cookery is an art
    Comporting ill with rhetoric; 'tis an art
    Still changing, and of momentary triumph!
    Know on thyself thy genius must depend.
    All books of cookery, all helps of art,
    All critic learning, all commenting notes,
    Are vain, if, void of genius, thou wouldst cook!"
      The culinary sage thus spoke: his friend
    Demands, "Where is the ideal cook thou paint'st?"
    "Lo, I the man?" the savouring sage replied.
    "Now be thine eyes the witness of my art!
    This tunny drest, so odorous shall steam,
    The spicy sweetness so shall steal thy sense,
    That thou in a delicious reverie
    Shalt slumber heavenly o'er the Attic dish!"

In another passage a Master-Cook conceives himself to be a pupil of
Epicurus, whose favourite but ambiguous axiom, that "Voluptuousness is
the sovereign good," was interpreted by the _bon-vivans_ of antiquity in
the plain sense.

                  MASTER COOK.
    Behold in me a pupil of the school
    Of the sage Epicurus.

                        Thou a sage!

                  MASTER COOK.
    Ay! Epicurus too was sure a cook,
    And knew the sovereign good. Nature his study,
    While practice perfected his theory.
    Divine philosophy alone can teach
    The difference which the fish _Glociscus_[124] shows
    In winter and in summer: how to learn
    Which fish to choose, when set the Pleiades,
    And at the solstice. 'Tis change of seasons
    Which threats mankind, and shakes their changeful frame.
    This dost thou comprehend? Know, what we use
    In season, is most seasonably good!

    Most learned cook, who can observe these canons

                    MASTER COOK.
    And therefore phlegm and colics make a man
    A most indecent guest. The aliment
    Dress'd in my kitchen is true aliment;
    Light of digestion easily it passes;
    The chyle soft-blending from the juicy food
    Repairs the solids.

                Ah! the chyle! the solids!
    Thou new Democritus! thou sage of medicine!
    Versed in the mysteries of the Iatric art!

                    MASTER COOK.
    Now mark the blunders of our vulgar cooks!
    See them prepare a dish of various fish,
    Showering profuse the pounded Indian grain,
    An overpowering vapour, gallimaufry
    A multitude confused of pothering odours!
    But, know, the genius of the art consists
    To make the nostrils feel each scent distinct;
    And not in washing plates to free from smoke.
    I never enter in my kitchen, I!
    But sit apart, and in the cool direct,
    Observant of what passes, scullions' toil.

    What dost thou there?

                    MASTER COOK.
                I guide the mighty whole;
    Explore the causes, prophesy the dish.
    'Tis thus I speak: "Leave, leave that ponderous ham;
    Keep up the fire, and lively play the flame
    Beneath those lobster patties; patient here,
    Fix'd as a statue, skim, incessant skim.
    Steep well this small Glociscus in its sauce,
    And boil that sea-dog in a cullender;
    This eel requires more salt and marjoram;
    Roast well that piece of kid on either side
    Equal; that sweetbread boil not over much."
    'Tis thus, my friend, I make the concert play.


    O man of science! 'tis thy babble kills!

                      MASTER COOK.

    And then no useless dish my table crowds;
    Harmonious ranged, and consonantly just.


    Ha! what means this?

                      MASTER COOK.

                           Divinest music all!
    As in a concert instruments resound,
    My ordered dishes in their courses chime.
    So Epicurus dictated the art
    Of sweet voluptuousness, and ate in order,
    Musing delighted o'er the sovereign good!
    Let raving Stoics in a labyrinth
    Run after virtue; they shall find no end.
    Thou, what is foreign to mankind, abjure.


    Right honest Cook! thou wak'st me from their dreams!

Another cook informs us that he adapts his repasts to his personages.

    I like to see the faces of my guests,
    To feed them as their age and station claim.
    My kitchen changes, as my guests inspire
    The various spectacle; for lovers now,
    Philosophers, and now for financiers.
    If my young royster be a mettled spark,
    Who melts an acre in a savoury dish
    To charm his mistress, scuttle-fish and crabs,
    And all the shelly race, with mixture due
    Of cordials filtered, exquisitely rich.
    For such a host, my friend! expends much more
    In oil than cotton; solely studying love!
    To a philosopher, that animal,
    Voracious, solid ham and bulky feet;
    But to the financier, with costly niceness,
    Glociscus rare, or rarity more rare.
    Insensible the palate of old age,
    More difficult than the soft lips of youth,
    To move, I put much mustard in their dish;
    With quickening sauces make their stupor keen,
    And lash the lazy blood that creeps within.

Another genius, in tracing the art of cookery, derives from it nothing
less than the origin of society; and I think that some philosopher has
defined man to be "a cooking animal."


    "The art of cookery drew us gently forth
    From that ferocious life, when void of faith
    The Anthropophaginian ate his brother!
    To cookery we owe well-ordered states,
    Assembling men in dear society.
    Wild was the earth, man feasting upon man,
    When one of nobler sense and milder heart
    First sacrificed an animal; the flesh
    Was sweet; and man then ceased to feed on man!
    And something of the rudeness of those times
    The priest commemorates; for to this day
    He roasts the victim's entrails without salt.
    In those dark times, beneath the earth lay hid
    The precious salt, that gold of cookery!
    But when its particles the palate thrill'd,
    The source of seasonings, charm of cookery! came.
    They served a paunch with rich ingredients stored;
    And tender kid, within two covering plates,
    Warm melted in the mouth. So art improved!
    At length a miracle not yet perform'd,
    They minced the meat, which roll'd in herbage soft,
    Nor meat nor herbage seem'd, but to the eye,
    And to the taste, the counterfeited dish
    Mimick'd some curious fish; invention rare!
    Then every dish was season'd more and more,
    Salted, or sour, or sweet, and mingled oft
    Oatmeal and honey. To enjoy the meal
    Men congregated in the populous towns,
    And cities flourish'd which we cooks adorn'd
    With all the pleasures of domestic life.

An arch-cook insinuates that there remain only two "pillars of the
state," besides himself, of the school of Sinon, one of the great
masters of the condimenting art. Sinon, we are told, applied the
elements of all the arts and sciences to this favourite one. Natural
philosophy could produce a secret seasoning for a dish; and architecture
the art of conducting the smoke out of a chimney: which, says he, if
ungovernable, makes a great difference in the dressing. From the
military science he derived a sublime idea of order; drilling the under
cooks, marshalling the kitchen, hastening one, and making another a
sentinel. We find, however, that a portion of this divine art, one of
the professors acknowledges to be vapouring and bragging!--a seasoning
in this art, as well as in others. A cook ought never to come
unaccompanied by all the pomp and parade of the kitchen: with a scurvy
appearance, he will be turned away at sight; for all have eyes, but few
only understanding.[125]

Another occult part of this profound mystery, besides vapouring,
consisted, it seems, in filching. Such is the counsel of a patriarch to
an apprentice! a precept which contains a truth for all ages of cookery.

    Carian! time well thy ambidextrous part,
    Nor always filch. It was but yesterday,
    Blundering, they nearly caught thee in the fact;
    None of thy balls had livers, and the guests,
    In horror, pierced their airy emptiness.
    Not even the brains were there, thou brainless hound!
    If thou art hired among the middling class,
    Who pay thee freely, be thou honourable!
    But for this day, where now we go to cook,
    E'en cut the master's throat for all I care;
    "A word to th' wise," and show thyself my scholar!
    There thou mayst filch and revel; all may yield
    Some secret profit to thy sharking hand.
    'Tis an old miser gives a sordid dinner,
    And weeps o'er every sparing dish at table;
    Then if I do not find thou dost devour
    All thou canst touch, e'en to the very coals,
    I will disown thee! Lo! old Skin-flint comes;
    In his dry eyes what parsimony stares!

These cooks of the ancients, who appear to have been hired for a grand
dinner, carried their art to the most whimsical perfection. They were so
dexterous as to be able to serve up a whole pig boiled on one side, and
roasted on the other. The cook who performed this feat defies his guests
to detect the place where the knife had separated the animal, or how it
was contrived to stuff the belly with an olio composed of thrushes and
other birds, slices of the matrices of a sow, the yolks of eggs, the
bellies of hens with their soft eggs flavoured with a rich juice, and
minced meats highly spiced. When this cook is entreated to explain his
secret art, he solemnly swears by the manes of those who braved all the
dangers of the plain of Marathon, and combated at sea at Salamis, that
he will not reveal the secret that year. But of an incident so
triumphant in the annals of the gastric art, our philosopher would not
deprive posterity of the knowledge. The animal had been bled to death by
a wound under the shoulder, whence, after a copious effusion, the
master-cook extracted the entrails, washed them with wine, and hanging
the animal by the feet, he crammed down the throat the stuffings already
prepared. Then covering the half of the pig with a paste of barley,
thickened with wine and oil, he put it in a small oven, or on a heated
table of brass, where it was gently roasted with all due care: when the
skin was browned, he boiled the other side; and then, taking away the
barley paste, the pig was served up, at once boiled and roasted. These
cooks, with a vegetable, could counterfeit the shape and the taste of
fish and flesh. The king of Bithynia, in some expedition against the
Scythians, in the winter, and at a great distance from the sea, had a
violent longing for a small fish called _aphy_--a pilchard, a herring,
or an anchovy. His cook cut a turnip to the perfect imitation of its
shape; then fried in oil, salted, and well powdered with the grains of a
dozen black poppies, his majesty's taste was so exquisitely deceived,
that he praised the root to his guests as an excellent fish. This
transmutation of vegetables into meat or fish is a province of the
culinary art which we appear to have lost; yet these are _cibi
innocentes_, compared with the things themselves. No people are such
gorgers of mere animal food as our own; the art of preparing vegetables,
pulse, and roots, is scarcely known in this country. This cheaper and
healthful food should be introduced among the common people, who neglect
them from not knowing how to dress them. The peasant, for want of this
skill, treads under foot the best meat in the world; and sometimes the
best way of dressing it is least costly.

The gastric art must have reached to its last perfection, when we find
that it had its history; and that they knew how to ascertain the æra of
a dish with a sort of chronological exactness. The philosophers of
Athenæus at table dissert on every dish, and tell us of one called
_maati_, that there was a treatise composed on it; that it was first
introduced at Athens, at the epocha of the Macedonian empire, but that
it was undoubtedly a Thessalian invention; the most sumptuous people of
all the Greeks. The _maati_ was a term at length applied to any dainty
of excessive delicacy, always served the last.

But as no art has ever attained perfection without numerous admirers,
and as it is the public which only can make such exquisite cooks, our
curiosity may be excited to inquire whether the patrons of the gastric
art were as great enthusiasts as its professors.

We see they had writers who exhausted their genius on these professional
topics; and books of cookery were much read: for a comic poet, quoted by
Athenæus, exhibits a character exulting in having procured "The New
Kitchen of Philoxenus, which," says he, "I keep for myself to read in my
solitude." That these devotees to the culinary art undertook journeys to
remote parts of the world, in quest of these discoveries, sufficient
facts authenticate. England had the honour to furnish them with oysters,
which they fetched from about Sandwich. Juvenal[126] records that
Montanus was so well skilled in the science of good eating, that he
could tell by the first bite whether they were English or not. The
well-known Apicius poured into his stomach an immense fortune. He
usually resided at Minturna, a town in Campania, where he ate shrimps at
a high price: they were so large, that those of Smyrna, and the prawns
of Alexandria, could not be compared with the shrimps of Minturna.
However, this luckless epicure was informed that the shrimps in Africa
were more monstrous; and he embarks without losing a day. He encounters
a great storm, and through imminent danger arrives at the shores of
Africa. The fishermen bring him the largest for size their nets could
furnish. Apicius shakes his head: "Have you never any larger?" he
inquires. The answer was not favourable to his hopes. Apicius rejects
them, and fondly remembers the shrimps of his own Minturna. He orders
his pilot to return to Italy, and leaves Africa with a look of contempt.

A fraternal genius was Philoxenus: he whose higher wish was to possess a
crane's neck, that he might be the longer in savouring his dainties; and
who appears to have invented some expedients which might answer, in some
degree, the purpose. This impudent epicure was so little attentive to
the feelings of his brother guests, that in the hot bath he avowedly
habituated himself to keep his hands in the scalding water; and even
used to gargle his throat with it, that he might feel less impediment in
swallowing the hottest dishes. He bribed the cooks to serve up the
repast smoking hot, that he might gloriously devour what he chose before
any one else could venture to touch the dish. It seemed as if he had
used his fingers to handle fire. "He is an oven, not a man!" exclaimed a
grumbling fellow-guest. Once having embarked for Ephesus, for the
purpose of eating fish, his favourite food, he arrived at the market,
and found all the stalls empty. There was a wedding in the town, and all
the fish had been bespoken. He hastens to embrace the new-married
couple, and singing an epithalamium, the dithyrambic epicure enchanted
the company. The bridegroom was delighted by the honour of the presence
of such a poet, and earnestly requested he would come on the morrow. "I
will come, young friend, if there is no fish at the market!"--It was
this Philoxenus, who, at the table of Dionysius, the tyrant of Sicily,
having near him a small barbel, and observing a large one near the
prince, took the little one, and held it to his ear. Dionysius inquired
the reason. "At present," replied the ingenious epicure, "I am so
occupied by my Galatea," (a poem in honour of the mistress of the
tyrant,) "that I wished to inquire of this little fish, whether he could
give me some information about Nereus; but he is silent, and I imagine
they have taken him up too young: I have no doubt that old one, opposite
to you, would perfectly satisfy me." Dionysius rewarded the pleasant
conceit with the large barbel.


The Stagyrite discovered that our nature delights in imitation, and
perhaps in nothing more than in representing personages different from
ourselves in mockery of them; in fact, there is a passion for masquerade
in human nature. Children discover this propensity; and the populace,
who are the children of society, through all ages have been humoured by
their governors with festivals and recreations, which are made up of
this malicious transformation of persons and things; and the humble
orders of society have been privileged by the higher, to please
themselves by burlesquing and ridiculing the great, at short seasons, as
some consolation for the rest of the year.

The Saturnalia of the Romans is a remarkable instance of this
characteristic of mankind. Macrobius could not trace the origin of this
institution, and seems to derive it from the Grecians; so that it might
have arisen in some rude period of antiquity, and among another people.
This conjecture seems supported by a passage in Gibbon's
Miscellanies,[127] who discovers traces of this institution among the
more ancient nations; and Huet imagined that he saw in the jubilee of
the Hebrews some similar usages. It is to be regretted, that Gibbon does
not afford us any new light on the cause in which originated the
institution itself. The jubilee of the Hebrews was the solemn festival
of an agricultural people, but bears none of the ludicrous
characteristics of the Roman Saturnalia.

It would have been satisfactory to have discovered the occasion of the
inconceivable licentiousness which was thus sanctioned by the
legislator,--this overturning of the principles of society, and this
public ridicule of its laws, its customs, and its feelings. We are told,
these festivals, dedicated to Saturn, were designed to represent the
natural equality which prevailed in his golden age; and for this purpose
the slaves were allowed to change places with the masters. This was,
however, giving the people a false notion of the equality of men; for,
while the slave was converted into the master, the pretended equality
was as much violated as in the usual situation of the parties. The
political misconception of this term of natural equality seems, however,
to have been carried on through all ages; and the political Saturnalia
had lately nearly thrown Europe into a state of that worse than slavery,
where slaves are masters.

The Roman Saturnalia were latterly prolonged to a week's debauchery and
folly; and a diary of that week's words and deeds would have furnished a
copious chronicle of _Facetiæ_. Some notions we acquire from the laws of
the Saturnalia of Lucian, an Epistle of Seneca's,[128] and from Horace,
who from his love of quiet, retired from the city during this noisy

It was towards the close of December, that all the town was in an
unusual motion, and the children everywhere invoking Saturn; nothing now
to be seen but tables spread out for feasting, and nothing heard but
shouts of merriment: all business was dismissed, and none at work but
cooks and confectioners; no account of expenses was to be kept, and it
appears that one-tenth part of a man's income was to be appropriated to
this jollity. All exertion of mind and body was forbidden, except for
the purposes of recreation; nothing to be read or recited which did not
provoke mirth, adapted to the season and the place. The slaves were
allowed the utmost freedom of raillery and truth, with their
masters;[129] sitting with them at the table, dressed in their clothes,
playing all sorts of tricks, telling them of their faults to their
faces, while they smutted them. The slaves were imaginary kings, as
indeed a lottery determined their rank; and as their masters attended
them, whenever it happened that these performed their offices clumsily,
doubtless with some recollections of their own similar misdemeanors, the
slave made the master leap into the water head-foremost. No one was
allowed to be angry, and he who was played on, if he loved his own
comfort, would be the first to laugh. Glasses of all sizes were to be
ready, and all were to drink when and what they chose; none but the most
skilful musicians and tumblers were allowed to perform, for those people
are worth nothing unless exquisite, as the Saturnalian laws decreed.
Dancing, singing, and shouting, and carrying a female musician thrice
round on their shoulders, accompanied by every grotesque humour they
imagined, were indulged in that short week, which was to repay the many
in which the masters had their revenge for the reign of this pretended
equality. Another custom prevailed at this season: the priests performed
their sacrifices to Saturn bare-headed, which Pitiscus explains in the
spirit of this extraordinary institution, as designed to show that time
discovers, or, as in the present case of the bare-headed priests,
uncovers, all things.

Such was the Roman Saturnalia, the favourite popular recreations of
Paganism; and as the sports and games of the people outlast the date of
their empires, and are carried with them, however they may change their
name and their place on the globe, the grosser pleasures of the
Saturnalia were too well adapted to their tastes to be forgotten. The
Saturnalia, therefore, long generated the most extraordinary
institutions among the nations of modern Europe; and what seems more
extraordinary than the unknown origin of the parent absurdity itself,
the Saturnalia crept into the services and offices of the Christian
church. Strange it is to observe at the altar the rites of religion
burlesqued, and all its offices performed with the utmost buffoonery. It
is only by tracing them to the Roman Saturnalia that we can at all
account for these grotesque sports--that extraordinary mixture of
libertinism and profaneness, so long continued under Christianity.

Such were the feasts of the ass, the feast of fools or madmen, _fête des
fous_--the feast of the bull--of the Innocents--and that of the
_soudiacres_, which, perhaps, in its original term, meant only
sub-deacons, but their conduct was expressed by the conversion of a pun
into _saoudiacres_ or _diacres saouls_, drunken deacons. Institutions of
this nature, even more numerous than the historian has usually recorded,
and varied in their mode, seem to surpass each other in their utter

These profane festivals were universally practised in the middle ages,
and, as I shall show, comparatively even in modern times. The ignorant
and the careless clergy then imagined it was the securest means to
retain the populace, who were always inclined to these pagan revelries.

These grotesque festivals have sometimes amused the pens of foreign and
domestic antiquaries: for our own country has participated as keenly in
these irreligious fooleries. In the feast of asses, an ass covered with
sacerdotal robes was gravely conducted to the choir, where service was
performed before the ass, and a hymn chanted in as discordant a manner
as they could contrive; the office was a medley of all that had been
sung in the course of the year; pails of water were flung at the head of
the chanters; the ass was supplied with drink and provender at every
division of the service; and the asinines were drinking, dancing, and
braying for two days. The hymn to the ass has been preserved; each
stanza ends with the burthen "Hez! Sire Ane, hez!" "Huzza! Seignior Ass,
Huzza!" On other occasions, they put burnt old shoes to fume in the
censers; ran about the church, leaping, singing, and dancing obscenely;
scattering ordure among the audience; playing at dice upon the altar!
while a _boy-bishop_, or a _pope of fools_, burlesqued the divine
service. Sometimes they disguised themselves in the skins of animals,
and pretending to be transformed into the animal they represented, it
became dangerous, or worse, to meet these abandoned fools. There was a
_precentor of fools_, who was shaved in public, during which he
entertained the populace with all the balderdash his genius could
invent. We had in Leicester, in 1415, what was called a _glutton-mass_,
during the five days of the festival of the Virgin Mary. The people rose
early to mass, during which they practised eating and drinking with the
most zealous velocity, and, as in France, drew from the corners of the
altar the rich puddings placed there.

So late as in 1645, a pupil of Gassendi, writing to his master, what he
himself witnessed at Aix on the feast of the Innocents, says, "I have
seen, in some monasteries in this province, extravagances solemnised,
which the pagans would not have practised. Neither the clergy, nor the
guardians, indeed, go to the choir on this day, but all is given up to
the lay brethren, the cabbage-cutters, the errand-boys, the cooks and
scullions, the gardeners; in a word, all the menials fill their places
in the church, and insist that they perform the offices proper for the
day. They dress themselves with all the sacerdotal ornaments, but torn
to rags, or wear them inside out; they hold in their hands the books
reversed or sideways, which they pretend to read with large spectacles
without glasses, and to which they fix the shells of scooped oranges,
which renders them so hideous, that one must have seen these madmen to
form a notion of their appearance; particularly while dangling the
censers, they keep shaking them in derision, and letting the ashes fly
about their heads and faces one against the other. In this equipage they
neither sing hymns, nor psalms, nor masses; but mumble a certain
gibberish, as shrill and squeaking as a herd of pigs whipped on to
market. The nonsense verses they chant are singularly barbarous:--

    Hæc est clara dies, clararum clara dierum,
    Hæc est festa dies, festarum festa dierum.[131]

These are scenes which equal any which the humour of the Italian
burlesque poets have invented, and which might have entered with effect
into the "Malmantile racquistato" of Lippi; but that they should have
been endured amidst the solemn offices of religion, and have been
performed in cathedrals, while it excites our astonishment, can only be
accounted for by perceiving that they were, in truth, the Saturnalia of
the Romans. Mr. Turner observes, without perhaps having a precise notion
that they were copied from the Saturnalia, that "It could be only by
rivalling the pagan revelries, that the Christian ceremonies could gain
the ascendancy." Our historian further observes, that these "licentious
festivities were called the _December liberties_, and seem to have begun
at one of the most solemn seasons of the Christian year, and to have
lasted through the chief part of January." This very term, as well as
the time, agrees with that of the ancient Saturnalia:--

    Age, _libertate Decembri_,
    Quando ita majores voluerunt, utere: narra.
                                         HOR. lib. ii. sat. 7.

The Roman Saturnalia, thus transplanted into Christian churches, had
for its singular principle, that of inferiors, whimsically and in
mockery, personifying their superiors, with a licensed licentiousness.
This forms a distinct characteristic from those other popular customs
and pastimes which the learned have also traced to the Roman, and even
more ancient nations. Our present inquiry is, to illustrate that
proneness in man, of delighting to reverse the order of society, and
ridiculing its decencies.

Here we had our _boy-bishop_, a legitimate descendant of this family of
foolery. On St. Nicholas's day, a saint who was the patron of children,
the boy-bishop with his _mitra parva_ and a long crosier, attended by
his school-mates as his diminutive prebendaries, assumed the title and
state of a bishop. The child-bishop preached a sermon, and afterwards,
accompanied by his attendants, went about singing and collecting his
pence: to such theatrical processions in collegiate bodies, Warton
attributes the custom, still existing at Eton, of going _ad
montem_.[132] But this was a tame mummery, compared with the grossness
elsewhere allowed in burlesquing religious ceremonies. The English, more
particularly after the Reformation, seem not to have polluted the
churches with such abuses. The relish for the Saturnalia was not,
however, less lively here than on the Continent; but it took a more
innocent direction, and was allowed to turn itself into civil life: and
since the people would be gratified by mock dignities, and claimed the
privilege of ridiculing their masters, it was allowed them by our kings
and nobles; and a troop of grotesque characters, frolicsome great men,
delighting in merry mischief, are recorded in our domestic annals.

The most learned Selden, with parsimonious phrase and copious sense, has
thus compressed the result of an historical dissertation: he derives our
ancient Christmas sports at once from the true, though remote, source.
"Christmas succeeds the Saturnalia; the same time, the same number of
holy-days; then the master waited upon the servant, like the _lord of
misrule_."[133] Such is the title of a facetious potentate, who, in this
notice of Selden's, is not further indicated, for this personage was
familiar in his day, but of whom the accounts are so scattered, that
his offices and his glory are now equally obscure. The race of this
nobility of drollery, and this legitimate king of all hoaxing and
quizzing, like mightier dynasties, has ceased to exist.

In England our festivities at Christmas appear to have been more
entertaining than in other countries. We were once famed for merry
Christmases and their pies; witness the Italian proverb, "_Ha piu di
fare che i forni di Natale in Inghilterra_:" "He has more business than
English ovens at Christmas." Wherever the king resided, there was
created for that merry season a Christmas prince, usually called "the
_Lord of Misrule_;" and whom the Scotch once knew under the significant
title of "the _Abbot of Unreason_." His office, according to Stowe, was
"to make the rarest pastimes to delight the beholder." Every nobleman,
and every great family, surrendered their houses, during this season, to
the Christmas prince, who found rivals or usurpers in almost every
parish; and more particularly, as we shall see, among the grave students
in our inns of court.

The Italian Polydore Vergil, who, residing here, had clearer notions of
this facetious personage, considered the Christmas Prince as peculiar to
our country. Without venturing to ascend in his genealogy, we must admit
his relationship to that ancient family of foolery we have noticed,
whether he be legitimate or not. If this whimsical personage, at his
creation, was designed to regulate "misrule," his lordship, invested
with plenary power, came himself, at length, to delight too much in his
"merry disports." Stubbes, a morose puritan in the days of Elizabeth,
denominates him "a grand captaine of mischiefe," and has preserved a
minute description of all his wild doings in the country; but as Strutt
has anticipated me in this amusing extract, I must refer to his "Sports
and Pastimes of the People of England," p. 254.[134] I prepare another
scene of unparalleled Saturnalia, among the grave judges and serjeants
of the law, where the Lord of Misrule is viewed amidst his frolicsome
courtiers, with the humour of hunting the fox and the cat with ten
couple of hounds round their great hall, among the other merry disports
of those joyous days when sages could play like boys.

For those who can throw themselves back amidst the grotesque humours and
clumsy pastimes of our ancestors, who, without what we think to be
taste, had whim and merriment--there has been fortunately preserved a
curious history of the manner in which "A grand Christmas" was kept at
our Inns of Court, by the grave and learned Dugdale, in his "Origines
Juridicales:" it is a complete festival of foolery, acted by the
students and law-officers. They held for that season everything in
mockery: they had a mock parliament, a Prince of _Sophie_, or Wisdom, an
honourable order of Pegasus, a high constable, a marshal, a master of
the game, a ranger of the forest, lieutenant of the Tower, which was a
temporary prison for Christmas delinquents, all the paraphernalia of a
court, burlesqued by these youthful sages before the boyish judges.

The characters personified were in the costume of their assumed offices.
On Christmas-day, the constable-marshal, accoutred with a complete
gilded "harness," showed that everything was to be chivalrously ordered;
while the lieutenant of the Tower, in "a fair white armour," attended
with his troop of halberdiers; and the Tower was then placed beneath the
fire. After this opening followed the costly feasting; and then, nothing
less than a hunt with a pack of hounds in their hall!

The master of the game dressed in green velvet, and the ranger of the
forest in green satin, bearing a green bow and arrows, each with a
hunting horn about their necks, blowing together three blasts of venery
(or hunting), they pace round about the fire three times. The master of
the game kneels to be admitted into the service of the high-constable. A
huntsman comes into the hall, with nine or ten couple of hounds,
bearing on the end of his staff a pursenet, which holds a fox and a cat:
these were let loose and hunted by the hounds, and killed beneath the

These extraordinary amusements took place after their repast; for these
grotesque Saturnalia appeared after that graver part of their grand
Christmas. Supper ended, the constable-marshal presented himself with
drums playing, mounted on a stage borne by four men, and carried round;
at length he cries out, "a lord! a lord!" &c., and then calls his mock
court every one by name.

Sir Francis Flatterer, of Fowlshurt.

Sir Randall Rackabite, of Rascal-hall, in the county of Rakehell.

Sir Morgan Mumchance, of Much Monkery, in the county of Mad Mopery.

Sir Bartholomew Bald-breech, of Buttock-bury, in the county of

They had also their mock arraignments. The king's-serjeant, after dinner
or supper, "oratour-like," complained that the constable-marshal had
suffered great disorders to prevail; the complaint was answered by the
common-serjeant, who was to show his talent at defending the cause. The
king's-serjeant replies; they rejoin, &c.: till one at length is
committed to the Tower, for being found most deficient. If any offender
contrived to escape from the lieutenant of the Tower into the buttery
and brought into the hall a manchet (or small loaf) upon the point of a
knife, he was pardoned; for the buttery in this jovial season was
considered as a sanctuary. Then began the _revels_. Blount derives this
term from the French _reveiller_, to awake from sleep. These were sports
of dancing, masking comedies, &c. (for some were called solemn revels,)
used in great houses, and were so denominated because they were
performed by night; and these various pastimes were regulated by a
master of the revels.

Amidst "the grand Christmass," a personage of no small importance was
"the Lord of Misrule." His lordship was abroad early in the morning, and
if he lacked any of his officers, he entered their chambers to drag
forth the loiterers; but after breakfast his lordship's power ended, and
it was in suspense till night, when his personal presence was paramount,
or, as Dugdale expresses it, "and then his power is most potent."

Such were then the pastimes of the whole learned bench; and when once it
happened that the under-barristers did not dance on Candlemas day,
according to the ancient order of the society, when the judges were
present, the whole bar was offended, and at Lincoln's-Inn were by
decimation put out of commons, for example sake; and should the same
omission be repeated, they were to be fined or disbarred; for these
dancings were thought necessary, "as much conducing to the making of
gentlemen more fit for their books at other times," I cannot furnish a
detailed notice of these pastimes; for Dugdale, whenever he indicates
them, spares his gravity from recording the evanescent frolics, by a
provoking _&c. &c. &c._

The dance "round about the coal-fire" is taken off in the _Rehearsal_.
These revels have also been ridiculed by Donne in his Satires, Prior in
his Alma, and Pope in his Dunciad. "The judge to dance, his brother
serjeants calls."[136]

"The Lord of Misrule," in the inns of court, latterly did not conduct
himself with any recollection of "_Medio tutissimus ibis_," being
unreasonable; but the "sparks of the Temple," as a contemporary calls
them, had gradually, in the early part of Charles the First's reign,
yielded themselves up to excessive disorders. Sir Symonds D'Ewes, in his
MS. diary in 1620, has noticed their choice of a lieutenant, or lord of
misrule, who seems to have practised all the mischief he invented; and
the festival days, when "a standing table was kept," were accompanied by
dicing, and much gaming, oaths, execrations, and quarrels: being of a
serious turn of mind, he regrets this, for he adds, "the sport, of
itself, I conceive to be lawful."

I suspect that the last memorable act of a Lord of Misrule of the inns
of court occurred in 1627, when the Christmas game became serious. The
Lord of Misrule then issued an edict to his officers to go out at
Twelfth-night to collect his rents in the neighbourhood of the Temple,
at the rate of five shillings a house; and on those who were in their
beds, or would not pay, he levied a distress. An unexpected resistance
at length occurred in a memorable battle with the Lord Mayor in
person:--and I shall tell how the Lord of Misrule for some time stood
victor, with his gunner, and his trumpeter, and his martial array: and
how heavily and fearfully stood my Lord Mayor amidst his "watch and
ward:" and how their lordships agreed to meet half way, each to preserve
his independent dignity, till one knocked down the other: and how the
long halberds clashed with the short swords: how my Lord Mayor
valorously took the Lord of Misrule prisoner with his own civic hand:
and how the Christmas prince was immured in the Counter; and how the
learned Templars insisted on their privilege, and the unlearned of
Ram's-alley and Fleet-street asserted their right of saving their
crown-pieces: and finally how this combat of mockery and earnestness was
settled, not without the introduction of "a god," as Horace allows on
great occasions, in the interposition of the king and the
attorney-general--altogether the tale had been well told in some comic
epic; but the wits of that day let it pass out of their hands.

I find this event, which seems to record the last desperate effort of a
"Lord of Misrule," in a manuscript letter of the learned Mede to Sir
Martin Stuteville; and some particulars are collected from Hammond
L'Estrange's Life of Charles the First.

     "_Jan._ 12, 1627-8.

"On Saturday the Templars chose one Mr. Palmer their Lord of Misrule,
who, on Twelfth-eve, late in the night, sent out to gather up his rents
at five shillings a house in Ram-alley and Fleet-street. At every door
they came they winded the Temple-horn, and if at the second blast or
summons they within opened not the door, then the Lord of Misrule cried
out, 'Give fire, gunner!' His gunner was a robustious Vulcan, and the
gun or petard itself was a huge overgrown smith's hammer. This being
complained of to my Lord Mayor, he said he would be with them about
eleven o'clock on Sunday night last; willing that all that ward should
attend him with their halberds, and that himself, besides those that
came out of his house, should bring the Watches along with him. His
lordship, thus attended, advanced as high as Ram-alley in martial
equipage; when forth came the Lord of Misrule, attended by his gallants,
out of the Temple-gate, with their swords, all armed _in cuerpo_. A
halberdier bade the Lord of Misrule come to my Lord Mayor. He answered,
No! let the Lord Mayor come to me! At length they agreed to meet half
way; and, as the interview of rival princes is never without danger of
some ill accident, so it happened in this: for first, Mr. Palmer being
quarrelled with for not pulling off his hat to my Lord Mayor, and giving
cross answers, the halberds began to fly about his ears, and he and his
company to brandish their swords. At last being beaten to the ground,
and the Lord of Misrule sore wounded, they were fain to yield to the
longer and more numerous weapon. My Lord Mayor taking Mr. Palmer by the
shoulder, led him to the Compter, and thrust him in at the prison-gate
with a kind of indignation; and so, notwithstanding his hurts, he was
forced to lie among the common prisoners for two nights. On Tuesday the
king's attorney became a suitor to my Lord Mayor for their liberty;
which his lordship granted, upon condition that they should repay the
gathered rents, and do reparations upon broken doors. Thus the game
ended. Mr. Attorney-General, being of the same house, fetched them in
his own coach, and carried them to the court, where the King himself
reconciled my Lord Mayor and them together with joining all hands; the
gentlemen of the Temple being this Shrovetide to present a Mask to their
majesties, over and besides the king's own great Mask, to be performed
at the Banqueting-house by an hundred actors."

Thus it appears, that although the grave citizens did well and rightly
protect themselves, yet, by the attorney-general taking the Lord of
Misrule in his coach, and the king giving his royal interference between
the parties, that they considered that this Lord of Foolery had certain
ancient privileges; and it was, perhaps, a doubt with them, whether this
interference of the Lord Mayor might not be considered as severe and
unseasonable. It is probable, however, that the arm of the civil power
brought all future Lords of Misrule to their senses. Perhaps this
dynasty in the empire of foolery closed with this Christmas prince, who
fell a victim to the arbitrary taxation he levied. I find after this
orders made for the Inner Temple, for "preventing of that general
scandal and obloquie, which the House hath heretofore incurred in time
of Christmas:" and that "there be not any going abroad out of the gates
of this House, by any _lord_ or others, to break open any house, or take
anything in the name of rent or a distress."

These "Lords of Misrule," and their mock court and royalty, appear to
have been only extinguished with the English sovereignty itself, at the
time of our republican government. Edmund Gayton tells a story, to show
the strange impressions of strong fancies: as his work is of great
rarity, I shall transcribe the story in his own words, both to give a
conclusion to this inquiry, and a specimen of his style of narrating
this sort of little things. "A gentleman was importuned, at a fire-night
in the public-hall, to accept the high and mighty place of a
mock-emperor, which was duly conferred upon him by seven mock-electors.
At the same time, with much wit and ceremony, the emperor accepted his
chair of state, which was placed in the highest table in the hall; and
at his instalment all pomp, reverence, and signs of homage were used by
the whole company; insomuch that our emperor, having a spice of
self-conceit before, was soundly peppered now, for he was instantly
metamorphosed into the stateliest, gravest, and commanding soul that
ever eye beheld. Taylor acting Arbaces, or Swanston D'Amboise, were
shadows to him: his pace, his look, his voice, and all his garb, was
altered. Alexander upon his elephant, nay, upon the castle upon that
elephant, was not so high; and so close did this imaginary honour stick
to his fancy, that for many years he could not shake off this one
night's assumed deportments, until the times came that drove all
monarchical imaginations not only out of his head, but every
one's."[137] This mock "emperor" was unquestionably one of these "Lords
of Misrule," or "a Christmas Prince." The "public hall" was that of the
Temple, or Lincoln's Inn, or Gray's Inn.[138] And it was natural
enough, when the levelling equality of our theatrical and practical
commonwealths-men were come into vogue, that even the shadowy regality
of mockery startled them by reviving the recollections of ceremonies and
titles, which some might incline, as they afterwards did, seriously to
restore. The "Prince of Christmas" did not, however, attend the
Restoration of Charles the Second.

The Saturnalian spirit has not been extinct even in our days. The Mayor
of Garrat, with the mock addresses and burlesque election, was an image
of such satirical exhibitions of their superiors, so delightful to the
people.[139] France, at the close of Louis the Fourteenth's reign, first
saw her imaginary "Regiment de la Calotte," which was the terror of the
sinners of the day, and the blockheads of all times. This "regiment of
the skull-caps" originated in an officer and a wit, who, suffering from
violent headaches, was recommended the use of a skull-cap of lead; and
his companions, as great wits, formed themselves into a regiment, to be
composed only of persons distinguished by their extravagances in words
or in deeds. They elected a general, they had their arms blazoned, and
struck medals, and issued "brevets," and "lettres patentes," and granted
pensions to certain individuals, stating their claims to be enrolled in
the regiment for some egregious extravagance. The wits versified these
army commissions; and the idlers, like pioneers, were busied in clearing
their way, by picking up the omissions and commissions of the most noted
characters. Those who were favoured with its "brevets" intrigued against
the regiment; but at length they found it easier to wear their
"calotte," and say nothing. This society began in raillery and
playfulness, seasoned by a spice of malice. It produced a great number
of ingenious and satirical little things. That the privileges of the
"calotte" were afterwards abused, and calumny too often took the place
of poignant satire, is the history of human nature as well as of "the

Another society in the same spirit has been discovered in one of the
lordships of Poland. It was called "The Republic of Baboonery." The
society was a burlesque model of their own government: a king,
chancellor, councillors, archbishops, judges, &c. If a member would
engross the conversation, he was immediately appointed orator of the
republic. If he spoke with impropriety, the absurdity of his
conversation usually led to some suitable office created to perpetuate
his folly. A man talking too much of dogs, would be made a master of the
buck-hounds; or vaunting his courage, perhaps a field-marshal; and if
bigoted on disputable matters and speculative opinions in religion, he
was considered to be nothing less than an inquisitor. This was a
pleasant and useful project to reform the manners of the Polish youth;
and one of the Polish kings good-humourdly observed, that he considered
himself "as much King of Baboonery as King of Poland." We have had in
our own country some attempts at similar Saturnalia; but their success
has been so equivocal that they hardly afford materials for our domestic


In the south aisle of Westminster Abbey stands a monument erected to the
memory of Lady Grace Gethin.[141] A statue of her ladyship represents
her kneeling, holding a book in her hand. This accomplished lady was
considered as a prodigy in her day, and appears to have created a
feeling of enthusiasm for her character. She died early, having scarcely
attained to womanhood, although a wife; for "all this goodness and all
this excellence was bounded within the compass of twenty years."

But it is her book commemorated in marble, and not her character, which
may have merited the marble that chronicles it, which has excited my
curiosity and my suspicion. After her death a number of loose papers
were found in her handwriting, which could not fail to attract, and,
perhaps, astonish their readers, with the maturity of thought and the
vast capacity which had composed them. These reliques of genius were
collected together, methodised under heads, and appeared with the title
of "Reliquiæ Gethinianæ; or some remains of Grace Lady Gethin, lately
deceased: being a collection of choice discourses, pleasant apothegms,
and witty sentences; written by her for the most part by way of essay,
and at spare hours; published by her nearest relations, to preserve her
memory. Second edition, 1700."

Of this book, considering that comparatively it is modern, and the copy
before me is called a second edition, it is somewhat extraordinary that
it seems always to have been a very scarce one. Even Ballard, in his
Memoirs of Learned Ladies (1750), mentions that these remains "are very
difficult to be procured;" and Sir William Musgrave in a manuscript note
observed, that "this book was very scarce." It bears now a high price. A
hint is given in the preface that the work was chiefly printed for the
use of her friends; yet, by a second edition, we must infer that the
public at large were so. There is a poem prefixed with the signature
W.C. which no one will hesitate to pronounce is by Congreve; he wrote
indeed another poem to celebrate this astonishing book, for, considered
as the production of a young lady, it is a miraculous, rather than a
human, production. The last lines in this poem we might expect from
Congreve in his happier vein, who contrives to preserve his panegyric
amidst that caustic wit, with which he keenly touched the age.


    I that hate books, such as come daily out
    By public license to the reading rout,
    A due religion yet observe to this;
    And here assert, if any thing's amiss,
    It can be only the compiler's fault,
    Who has ill-drest the charming author's thought,--
    That was all right: her beauteous looks were join'd
    To a no less admired excelling mind.

    But, oh! this glory of frail Nature's dead,
    As I shall be that write, and you that read.[142]
    Once, to be out of fashion, I'll conclude
    With something that may tend to public good;
    I wish that piety, for which in heaven
    The fair is placed--to the lawn sleeves were given:
    Her justice--to the knot of men, whose care
    From the raised millions is to take their share.

The book claimed all the praise the finest genius could bestow on it.
But let us hear the editor.--He tells us, that "It is a vast
disadvantage to authors to publish their _private undigested thoughts_,
and _first notions hastily set down_, and designed only as materials for
a future structure." And he adds, "That the work may not come short of
that great and just expectation which the world had of her whilst she
was alive, and still has of everything that is the genuine product of
her pen, they must be told that this _was written for the most part in
haste_, were her _first conceptions_ and overflowings of her luxuriant
fancy, noted with _her pencil at spare hours_, or _as she was dressing_,
as her Πἁρεργον only; and _set down just as they came into her mind_."

All this will serve as a memorable example of the cant and mendacity of
an editor! and that total absence of critical judgment that could assert
such matured reflection, in so exquisite a style, could ever have been
"first conceptions, just as they came into the mind of Lady Gethin, as
she was dressing."

The truth is, that Lady Gethin may have had little concern in all these
"Reliquiæ Gethinianæ." They indeed might well have delighted their
readers; but those who had read Lord Bacon's Essays, and other writers,
such as Owen Feltham and Osborne, from whom these relics are chiefly
extracted, might have wondered that Bacon should have been so little
known to the families of the Nortons and the Gethins, to whom her
ladyship was allied; to Congreve and to the editor; and still more
particularly to subsequent compilers, as Ballard in his Memoirs, and
lately the Rev. Mark Noble in his Continuation of Granger; who both,
with all the innocence of Criticism, give specimens of these "Relics,"
without a suspicion that they were transcribing literally from Lord
Bacon's Essays! Unquestionably Lady Gethin herself intended no
imposture; her mind had all the delicacy of her sex; she noted much from
the books she seems most to have delighted in; and nothing less than the
most undiscerning friends could have imagined that everything written by
the hand of this young lady was her "first conceptions;" and _apologise_
for some of the finest thoughts, in the most vigorous style which the
English language can produce. It seems, however, to prove that Lord
Bacon's Essays were not much read at the time this volume appeared.

The marble book in Westminster Abbey must, therefore, lose most of its
leaves; but it was necessary to discover the origin of this miraculous
production of a young lady. What is Lady Gethin's, or what is not hers,
in this miscellany of plagiarisms, it is not material to examine. Those
passages in which her ladyship speaks in her own person probably are of
original growth; of this kind many evince great vivacity of thought,
drawn from actual observation on what was passing around her; but even
among these are intermixed the splendid passages of Bacon and other

I shall not crowd my pages with specimens of a very suspicious author.
One of her subjects has attracted my attention; for it shows the corrupt
manners of persons of fashion who lived between 1680 and 1700. To find a
mind so pure and elevated as Lady Gethin's unquestionably was,
discussing whether it were most advisable to have for a husband a
general lover, or one attached to a mistress, and deciding by the force
of reasoning in favour of the dissipated man (for a woman, it seems, had
only the alternative), evinces a public depravation of morals. These
manners were the wretched remains of the court of Charles the Second,
when Wycherley, Dryden, and Congreve seem to have written with much less
invention, in their indecent plots and language, than is imagined.

     I know not which is worse, to be wife to a man that is
     continually changing his _loves_, or to an husband that hath
     but one mistress whom he loves with a constant passion. And if
     you keep some measure of civility to her, he will at least
     esteem you; but he of the roving humour plays an hundred
     frolics that divert the town and perplex his wife. She often
     meets with her husband's mistress, and is at a loss how to
     carry herself towards her. 'Tis true the constant man is ready
     to sacrifice, every moment, his whole family to his love; he
     hates any place where she is not, is prodigal in what concerns
     his love, covetous in other respects; expects you should be
     blind to all he doth, and though you can't but see, yet must
     not dare to complain. And though both, he who lends his heart
     to whosoever pleases it, and he that gives it entirely to one,
     do both of them require the exactest devoir from their wives,
     yet I know not if it be not better to be wife to an inconstant
     husband (provided he be something discreet), than to a constant
     fellow who is always perplexing her with his inconstant humour.
     For the unconstant lovers are commonly the best humoured; but
     let them be what they will, women ought not to be unfaithful
     for Virtue's sake and their own, nor to offend by example. It
     is one of the best bonds of charity and obedience in the wife
     if she think her husband wise, which she will never do if she
     find him jealous.

     "Wives are young men's mistresses, companions for middle age,
     and old men's nurses."

The last degrading sentence is found alas! in the Moral Essays of Bacon.
Lady Gethin, with an intellect superior to that of the women of that
day, had no conception of the dignity of the female character, the
claims of virtue, and the duties of honour. A wife was only to know
obedience and silence: however, she hints that such a husband should not
be jealous! There was a sweetness in revenge reserved for some of these
married women.


Robinson Crusoe, the favourite of the learned and the unlearned, of the
youth and the adult; the book that was to constitute the library of
Rousseau's Emilius, owes its secret charm to its being a new
representation of human nature, yet drawn from an existing state; this
picture of self-education, self-inquiry, self-happiness, is scarcely a
fiction, although it includes all the magic of romance; and is not a
mere narrative of truth, since it displays all the forcible genius of
one of the most original minds our literature can boast. The history of
the work is therefore interesting. It was treated in the author's time
as a mere idle romance, for the philosophy was not discovered in the
story; after his death it was considered to have been pillaged from the
papers of Alexander Selkirk, confided to the author, and the honour, as
well as the genius, of De Foe were alike questioned.

The entire history of this work of genius may now be traced, from the
first hints to the mature state, to which only the genius of De Foe
could have wrought it.

The adventures of Selkirk are well known: he was found on the desert
island of Juan Fernandez, where he had formerly been left, by Woodes
Rogers and Edward Cooke, who in 1712 published their voyages, and told
the extraordinary history of Crusoe's prototype, with all those curious
and minute particulars which Selkirk had freely communicated to them.
This narrative of itself is extremely interesting, and has been given
entire by Captain Burney; it may also be found in the Biographia

In this artless narrative we may discover more than the embryo of
Robinson Crusoe.--The first appearance of Selkirk, "a man clothed in
goats' skins, who looked more wild than the first owners of them." The
two huts he had built, the one to dress his victuals, the other to sleep
in: his contrivance to get fire, by rubbing two pieces of pimento wood
together; his distress for the want of bread and salt, till he came to
relish his meat without either; his wearing out his shoes, till he grew
so accustomed to be without them, that he could not for a long time
afterwards, on his return home, use them without inconvenience; his
bedstead of his own contriving, and his bed of goat-skins; when his
gunpowder failed, his teaching himself by continual exercise to run as
swiftly as the goats; his falling from a precipice in catching hold of a
goat, stunned and bruised, till coming to his senses he found the goat
dead under him; his taming kids to divert himself by dancing with them
and his cats; his converting a nail into a needle; his sewing his
goatskins with little thongs of the same; and when his knife was worn to
the back, contriving to make blades out of some iron hoops. His solacing
himself in this solitude by singing psalms, and preserving a social
feeling in his fervent prayers. And the habitation which Selkirk had
raised, to reach which they followed him "with difficulty, climbing up
and creeping down many rocks, till they came at last to a pleasant spot
of ground full of grass and of trees, where stood his two huts, and his
numerous tame goats showed his solitary retreat;" and, finally, his
indifference to return to a world from which his feelings had been so
perfectly weaned.--Such were the first rude materials of a new situation
in human nature; an European in a primeval state, with the habits or
mind of a savage.

The year after this account was published, Selkirk and his adventures
attracted the notice of Steele, who was not likely to pass unobserved a
man and a story so strange and so new. In his paper of "The Englishman,"
Dec. 1713, he communicates farther particulars of Selkirk. Steele became
acquainted with him; he says, that "he could discern that he had been
much separated from company from his aspect and gesture. There was a
strong but cheerful seriousness in his looks, and a certain disregard to
the ordinary things about him, as if he had been sunk in thought. The
man frequently bewailed his return to the world, which could not, he
said, with all its enjoyments, restore him to the tranquillity of his
solitude." Steele adds another very curious change in this wild man,
which occurred some time after he had seen him. "Though I had frequently
conversed with him, after a few months' absence, he met me in the
street, and though he spoke to me, I could not recollect that I had seen
him. Familiar converse in this town had taken off the loneliness of his
aspect, and quite altered the air of his face." De Foe could not fail of
being struck by these interesting particulars of the character of
Selkirk; but probably it was another observation of Steele which threw
the germ of Robinson Crusoe into the mind of De Foe. "It was matter of
great curiosity to hear him, as he was a man of sense, give an account
of the _different revolutions in his own mind in that long solitude_."

The work of De Foe, however, was no sudden ebullition: long engaged in
political warfare, condemned to suffer imprisonment, and at length
struck by a fit of apoplexy, this unhappy and unprosperous man of genius
on his recovery was reduced to a comparative state of solitude. To his
injured feelings and lonely contemplations, Selkirk in his Desert Isle,
and Steele's vivifying hint, often occurred; and to all these we perhaps
owe the instructive and delightful tale, which shows man what he can do
for himself, and what the fortitude of piety does for man. Even the
personage of Friday is not a mere coinage of his brain: a Mosquito
Indian, described by Dampier, was the prototype. Robinson Crusoe was not
given to the world till 1719, seven years after the publication of
Selkirk's adventures.[143] Selkirk could have no claims on De Foe; for
he had only supplied the man of genius with that which lies open to all;
and which no one had, or perhaps could have, converted into the
wonderful story we possess but De Foe himself. Had De Foe not written
Robinson Crusoe, the name and story of Selkirk had been passed over like
others of the same sort; yet Selkirk has the merit of having detailed
his own history, in a manner so interesting, as to have attracted the
notice of Steele, and to have inspired the genius of De Foe.

After this, the originality of Robinson Crusoe will no longer be
suspected; and the idle tale which Dr. Beattie has repeated of Selkirk
having supplied the materials of his story to De Foe, from which our
author borrowed his work, and published for his own profit, will be
finally put to rest. This is due to the injured honour and genius of De


Literature, and the arts connected with it, in this free country, have
been involved with its political state, and have sometimes flourished or
declined with the fortunes, or been made instrumental to the purposes,
of the parties which had espoused them. Thus in our dramatic history, in
the early period of the Reformation, the Catholics were secretly working
on the stage; and long afterwards the royalist party, under Charles the
First, possessed it till they provoked their own ruin. The Catholics, in
their expiring cause, took refuge in the theatre, and disguised the
invectives they would have invented in sermons, under the more popular
forms of the drama, where they freely ridiculed the chiefs of the _new
religion_, as they termed the Reformation, and "the new Gospellers," or
those who quoted their Testament, as an authority for their proceedings.
Fuller notices this circumstance. "The popish priests, though unseen,
stood behind the hangings, or lurked in the tyring-house."[144] These
found supporters among the elder part of their auditors, who were
tenacious of their old habits and doctrines; and opposers in the
younger, who eagerly adopted the term Reformation in its full sense.

This conduct of the Catholics called down a proclamation from Edward the
Sixth, (1549,) when we find that the government was most anxious that
these pieces should not be performed in "the English tongue;" so that we
may infer that the government was not alarmed at treason in Latin.[145]
This proclamation states, "that a great number of those that be common
players of interludes or plays, as well within the city of London as
elsewhere, who for the most part play such interludes as contain matter
tending to sedition, &c., &c., whereupon are grown, and daily are like
to grow, much division, tumult, and uproars in this realm. The king
charges his subjects that they should not openly or secretly play in the
_English tongue_ any kind of _Interlude_, _Play_, _Dialogue_, or other
matter set forth in _form of Play_, on pain of imprisonment," &c.[146]

This was, however, but a temporary prohibition; it cleared the stage for
a time of these Catholic dramatists; but _reformed Enterludes_, as they
were termed, were afterwards permitted.

These Catholic dramas would afford some speculations to historical
inquirers: we know they made very free strictures on the first heads of
the Reformation, on Cromwell, Cranmer, and their party; but they were
probably overcome in their struggles with their prevailing rivals. Some
may yet possibly lurk in their manuscript state. We have, printed, one
of those Moralities, or moral plays, or allegorical dramatic pieces,
which succeeded the Mysteries in the reign of Henry the Eighth, entitled
"Every Man:" in the character of that hero, the writer not unaptly
designates Human Nature herself.[147] This comes from the Catholic
school, to recall the auditors back to the forsaken ceremonies of that
church; but it levels no strokes of personal satire on the Reformers.
Percy observed that, from the solemnity of the subjects, the summoning
of man out of the world by death, and by the gravity of its conduct, not
without some attempts, however rude, to excite terror and pity, this
Morality may not improperly be referred to the class of Tragedy. Such
ancient simplicity is not worthless to the poetical antiquary; although
the mere modern reader would soon feel weary at such inartificial
productions, yet the invention which may be discovered in these rude
pieces would be sublime, warm with the colourings of a Gray or a

On the side of the Reformed we have no deficiency of attacks on the
superstitions and idolatries of the Romish church; and Satan, and his
old son Hypocrisy, are very busy at their intrigues with another hero
called "Lusty Juventus," and the seductive mistress they introduce him
to, "Abominable Living:" this was printed in the reign of Edward the
Sixth. It is odd enough to see quoted in a dramatic performance chapter
and verse, as formally as if a sermon were to be performed. There we
find such rude learning as this:--

    Read the V. to the Galatians, and there you shall see
    That the flesh rebelleth against the spirit--

or in homely rhymes like these--

    I will show you what St. Paul doth declare
    In his epistle to the Hebrews, and the X. chapter.

In point of historical information respecting the pending struggle
between the Catholics and the "new Gospellers," we do not glean much
secret history from these pieces; yet they curiously exemplify that
regular progress in the history of man, which has shown itself in the
more recent revolutions of Europe; the old people still clinging, from
habit and affection, to what is obsolete, and the young ardent in
establishing what is new; while the balance of human happiness trembles
between both.

Thus "Lusty Juventus" conveys to us in his rude simplicity the feeling
of that day. Satan, in lamenting the downfall of superstition, declares

    The old people would believe still in my laws,
    But the younger sort lead them a contrary way--
    They will live as the Scripture teacheth them.

Hypocrisy, when informed by his old master, the Devil, of the change
that "Lusty Juventus" has undergone, expresses his surprise; attaching
that usual odium of meanness on the early reformers, in the spirit that
the Hollanders were nicknamed at their first revolution by their lords
the Spaniards, "Les Gueux," or the Beggars.

    What, is Juventus become so tame,
    To be a new Gospeller?

But in his address to the young reformer, who asserts that he is not
bound to obey his parents but "in all things honest and lawful,"
Hypocrisy thus vents his feelings:--

    Lawful, quoth ha! Ah! fool! fool!
    Wilt thou set men to school
    When they be old?
    I may say to you secretly,
    The world was never merry
    Since children were so bold;
    Now every boy will be a teacher,
    The father a fool, the child a preacher;
    This is pretty gear!
    The foul presumption of youth
    Will shortly turn to great ruth,
    I fear, I fear, I fear!

In these rude and simple lines there is something like the artifice of
composition: the repetition of words in the first and the last lines was
doubtless intended as a grace in the poetry. That the ear of the poet
was not unmusical, amidst the inartificial construction of his verse,
will appear in this curious catalogue of holy things, which Hypocrisy
has drawn up, not without humour, in asserting the services he had
performed for the Devil.

    And I brought up such superstition
    Under the name of holiness and religion,
    That deceived almost all.

    As--holy cardinals, holy popes,
    Holy vestments, holy copes,
    Holy hermits, and friars,
    Holy priests, holy bishops,
    Holy monks, holy abbots,
    Yea, and all obstinate liars.

    Holy pardons, holy beads,
    Holy saints, holy images,
    With holy holy blood.
    Holy stocks, holy stones,
    Holy clouts, holy bones,
    Yea, and holy holy wood.

    Holy skins, holy bulls,
    Holy rochets, and cowls,
    Holy crutches and staves,
    Holy hoods, holy caps,
    Holy mitres, holy hats,
    And good holy holy knaves.

    Holy days, holy fastings,
    Holy twitchings, holy tastings
    Holy visions and sights,
    Holy wax, holy lead,
    Holy water, holy bread,
    To drive away sprites.

    Holy fire, holy palme,
    Holy oil, holy cream,
    And holy ashes also;
    Holy broaches, holy rings,
    Holy kneeling, holy censings,
    And a hundred trim-trams mo.

    Holy crosses, holy bells,
    Holy reliques, holy jouels,
    Of mine own invention;
    Holy candles, holy tapers,
    Holy parchments, holy papers;--
    Had not you a holy son?

Some of these Catholic dramas were long afterwards secretly performed
among Catholic families. In an unpublished letter of the times, I find a
cause in the Star-chamber respecting a play being acted at Christmas,
1614, at the house of Sir John Yorke; the consequences of which were
heavy fines and imprisonment. The letter-writer describes it as
containing "many foul passages to the vilifying of our religion and
exacting of popery, for which he and his lady, as principal procurers,
were fined one thousand pounds apiece, and imprisoned in the Tower for a
year; two or three of his brothers at five hundred pounds apiece, and
others in other sums."


A period in our dramatic annals has been passed over during the progress
of the civil wars, which indeed was one of silence, but not of repose in
the theatre. It lasted beyond the death of Charles the First, when the
fine arts seemed also to have suffered with the monarch. The theatre,
for the first time in any nation, was abolished by a public ordinance,
and the actors, and consequently all that family of genius who by their
labours or their tastes are connected with the drama, were reduced to
silence. The actors were forcibly dispersed, and became even some of the
most persecuted objects of the new government.

It may excite our curiosity to trace the hidden footsteps of this
numerous fraternity of genius. Hypocrisy and Fanaticism had, at length,
triumphed over Wit and Satire. A single blow could not, however,
annihilate those never-dying powers; nor is suppression always
extinction. Reduced to a state which did not allow of uniting in a body,
still their habits and their affections could not desert them: actors
would attempt to resume their functions, and the genius of the authors
and the tastes of the people would occasionally break out, though
scattered and concealed.

Mr. Gifford has noticed, in his introduction to Massinger, the noble
contrast between our actors at that time, with those of revolutionary
France, when, to use his own emphatic expression--"One wretched actor
only deserted his sovereign; while of the vast multitude fostered by the
nobility and the royal family of France, not one individual adhered to
their cause: all rushed madly forward to plunder and assassinate their

The contrast is striking, but the result must be traced to a different
principle; for the cases are not parallel as they appear. The French
actors did not occupy the same ground as ours. Here, the fanatics shut
up the theatre, and extirpated the art and the artists: there, the
fanatics enthusiastically converted the theatre into an instrument of
their own revolution, and the French actors therefore found an increased
national patronage. It was natural enough that actors would not desert a
flourishing profession. "The plunder and assassinations," indeed, were
quite peculiar to themselves as Frenchmen, not as actors.

The destruction of the theatre here was the result of an ancient quarrel
between the puritanic party and the whole _corps dramatique_. In this
little history of plays and players, like more important history, we
perceive how all human events form but a series of consequences, linked
together; and we must go back to the reign of Elizabeth to comprehend an
event which occurred in that of Charles the First. It has been perhaps
peculiar to this land of contending opinions, and of happy and unhappy
liberty, that a gloomy sect was early formed, who drawing, as they
fancied, the principles of their conduct from the literal precepts of
the Gospel, formed those views of human nature which were more
practicable in a desert than a city, and which were rather suited to a
monastic order than to a polished people. These were our puritans, who
at first, perhaps from utter simplicity, among other extravagant
reforms, imagined that of the extinction of the theatre. Numerous works
from that time fatigued their own pens and their readers' heads, founded
on literal interpretations of the Scriptures, which were applied to our
drama, though written ere our drama existed: voluminous quotations from
the Fathers, who had only witnessed farcical interludes and licentious
pantomimes: they even quoted classical authority to prove that a
"stage-player" was considered infamous by the Romans; among whom,
however, Roscius, the admiration of Rome, received the princely
remuneration of a thousand denarii per diem; the tragedian, Æsopus,
bequeathed about £150,000 to his son;[148] remunerations which show the
high regard in which the great actors were held among the Roman people.

A series of writers might be collected of these anti-dramatists.[149]
The licentiousness of our comedies had too often indeed presented a fair
occasion for their attacks; and they at length succeeded in purifying
the stage: we owe them this good, but we owe little gratitude to that
blind zeal which was desirous of extinguishing the theatre, which wanted
the taste also to feel that the theatre was a popular school of
morality; that the stage is a supplement to the pulpit; where virtue,
according to Plato's sublime idea, moves our love and affections when
made visible to the eye. Of this class, among the earliest writers was
Stephen Gosson, who in 1579 published "The School of Abuse, or a
Pleasant Invective against Poets, Players, Jesters, and such like
Caterpillars." Yet this Gosson dedicated his work to Sir Philip Sidney,
a great lover of plays, and one who has vindicated their morality in his
"Defence of Poesy." The same puritanic spirit soon reached our
universities; for when a Dr. Gager had a play performed at Christchurch,
Dr. Reynolds, of Queen's College, terrified at the Satanic novelty,
published "The Ouerthrow of Stage-plays," 1593; a tedious invective,
foaming at the mouth of its text with quotations and authorities; for
that was the age when authority was stronger than opinion, and the
slightest could awe the readers. Reynolds takes great pains to prove
that a stage-play is infamous, by the opinions of antiquity; that a
theatre corrupts morals, by those of the Fathers; but the most
reasonable point of attack is "the sin of boys wearing the dress and
affecting the airs of women."[150] This was too long a flagrant evil in
the theatrical economy. To us there appears something so repulsive in
the exhibition of boys, or men, personating female characters, that one
cannot conceive how they could ever have been tolerated as a substitute
for the spontaneous grace, the melting voice, and the soothing looks of
a female. It was quite impossible to give the tenderness of a woman to
any perfection of feeling, in a personating male; and to this cause may
we not attribute that the female characters have never been made chief
personages among our elder poets, as they would assuredly have been, had
they not been conscious that the male actor could not have sufficiently
affected the audience? A poet who lived in Charles the Second's day, and
who has written a prologue to Othello, to introduce the _first actress_
on our stage, has humorously touched on this gross absurdity.

    Our women are defective, and so sized,
    You'd think they were some of the Guard disguised;
    For to speak truth, men act, that are between
    Forty and fifty, wenches of fifteen;
    With brows so large, and nerve so uncompliant,
    When you call _Desdemona_--enter _Giant_.

Yet at the time the absurd custom prevailed, Tom Nash, in his _Pierce
Pennilesse_, commends our stage for not having, as they had abroad,
women-actors, or "courtezans," as he calls them: and even so late as in
1650, when women were first introduced on our stage, endless are the
apologies for the _indecorum_ of this novel usage! Such are the
difficulties which occur even in forcing bad customs to return to
nature; and so long does it take to infuse into the multitude a little
common sense! It is even probable that this happy revolution originated
from mere necessity, rather than from choice; for the boys who had been
trained to act female characters before the Rebellion, during the
present suspension of the theatre, had grown too masculine to resume
their tender office at the Restoration; and, as the same poet observes,

    Doubting we should never play agen,
    We have played all our _women_ into _men_;

so that the introduction of women was the mere result of
necessity:--hence all these apologies for the most natural ornament of
the stage.[151]

This volume of Reynolds seems to have been the shadow and precursor of
one of the most substantial of literary monsters, in the tremendous
"Histriomastix, or Player's Scourge," of Prynne, in 1633. In that
volume, of more than a thousand closely-printed quarto pages, all that
was ever written against plays and players, perhaps, may be found: what
followed could only have been transcripts from a genius who could raise
at once the Mountain and the Mouse. Yet Collier, so late as in 1698,
renewed the attack still more vigorously, and with final success;
although he left room for Arthur Bedford a few years afterwards, in his
"Evil and Danger of Stage-plays:" in which extraordinary work he
produced "seven thousand instances, taken out of plays of the present
century;" and a catalogue of "fourteen hundred texts of scripture,
ridiculed by the Stage." This religious anti-dramatist must have been
more deeply read in the drama than even its most fervent lovers. His
piety pursued too deeply the study of such impious productions; and such
labours were probably not without more amusement than he ought to have
found in them.

This stage persecution, which began in the reign of Elizabeth, had been
necessarily resented by the theatrical people, and the fanatics were
really objects too tempting for the traders in wit and satire to pass
by. They had made themselves very marketable; and the puritans, changing
their character with the times, from Elizabeth to Charles the First,
were often the _Tartuffes_ of the stage.[152] But when they became the
government itself, in 1642, all the theatres were suppressed, because
"stage-plaies do not suit with seasons of humiliation; but fasting and
praying have been found very effectual." This was but a mild cant, and
the suppression, at first, was only to be temporary. But as they gained
strength, the hypocrite, who had at first only struck a gentle blow at
the theatre, with redoubled vengeance buried it in its own ruins.
Alexander Brome, in his verses on Richard Brome's Comedies, discloses
the secret motive:--

                      ---- 'Tis worth our note,
    Bishops and _players_, both suffer'd in one vote:
    And reason good, for _they_ had cause to fear them;
    One did suppress their schisms, and t'other JEER THEM.
    Bishops were guiltiest, for they swell'd with riches;
    T'other had nought but verses, songs and speeches,
    And by their ruin, the state did no more
    But rob the spittle, and unrag the poor.

They poured forth the long-suppressed bitterness of their souls six
years afterwards, in their ordinance of 1648, for "the suppression of
all stage-plaies, and for the taking down all their boxes, stages, and
seats whatsoever, that so there might be no more plaies acted." "Those
proud parroting players" are described as "a sort of superbious
ruffians; and, because sometimes the asses are clothed in lions' skins,
the dolts imagine themselves somebody, and walke in as great state as
Cæsar." This ordinance against "boxes, stages, and seats," was, without
a metaphor, a war of extermination. They passed their ploughshare over
the land of the drama, and sowed it with their salt; and the spirit
which raged in the governing powers appeared in the deed of one of their
followers. When an actor had honourably surrendered himself in battle to
this spurious "saint," he exclaimed, "Cursed be he who doth the work of
the Lord negligently," and shot his prisoner because he was an actor!

We find some account of the dispersed actors in that curious morsel of
"Historica Histrionica," preserved in the twelfth volume of Dodsley's
Old Plays; full of the traditional history of the theatre, which the
writer appears to have gleaned from the reminiscences of the old
cavalier, his father.

The actors were "Malignants" to a man, if we except that "wretched
actor," as Mr. Gifford distinguishes him, who was, however, only such
for his politics: and he pleaded hard for his treason, that he really
was a presbyterian, although an actor. Of these men, who had lived in
the sunshine of a court, and amidst taste and criticism, many perished
in the field, from their affection for their royal master. Some sought
humble occupations; and not a few, who, by habits long indulged, and
their own turn of mind, had hands too delicate to put to work, attempted
often to entertain secret audiences, and were often dragged to prison.

These disturbed audiences were too unpleasant to afford much employment
to the actors. Francis Kirkman, the author and bookseller, tells us they
were often seized on by the soldiers, and stripped and fined at their
pleasure. A curious circumstance occurred in the economy of these
strolling theatricals: these seizures often deprived them of their
wardrobe; and among the stage directions of the time, may be found among
the exits and the entrances, these: _Enter the red coat--Exit hat and
cloak_, which were, no doubt, considered not as the least precious parts
of the whole living company: they were at length obliged to substitute
painted cloth for the splendid habits of the drama.

At this epoch a great comic genius, Robert Cox, invented a peculiar sort
of dramatic exhibition, suited to the necessities of the time, short
pieces which he mixed with other amusements, that these might disguise
the acting. It was under the pretence of rope-dancing that he filled the
Red Bull playhouse, which was a large one, with such a confluence that
as many went back for want of room as entered. The dramatic contrivance
consisted of a combination of the richest comic scenes into one piece,
from Shakspeare, Marston, Shirley, &c., concealed under some taking
title; and these pieces of plays were called "Humours" or "Drolleries."
These have been collected by Marsh, and reprinted by Kirkman, as put
together by Cox, for the use of theatrical booths at fairs.[153] The
argument prefixed to each piece serves as its plot; and drawn as most
are from some of our dramas, these "Drolleries" may still be read with
great amusement, and offer, seen altogether, an extraordinary specimen
of our national humour. The price this collection obtains among
book-collectors is excessive. In "The bouncing Knight, or the Robbers
robbed," we recognise our old friend Falstaff, and his celebrated
adventure: "The Equal Match" is made out of "Rule a Wife and have a
Wife;" and thus most. There are, however, some original pieces, by Cox
himself, which were the most popular favourites; being characters
created by himself, for himself, from ancient farces: such were _The
Humours of John Swabber, Simpleton the Smith_, &c. These remind us of
the extemporal comedy and the pantomimical characters of Italy, invented
by actors of genius. This Cox was the delight of the city, the country,
and the universities: assisted by the greatest actors of the time,
expelled from the theatre, it was he who still preserved alive, as it
were by stealth, the suppressed spirit of the drama. That he merited the
distinctive epithet of "the incomparable Robert Cox," as Kirkman calls
him, we can only judge by the memorial of our mimetic genius, which will
be best given in Kirkman's words. "As meanly as you may now think of
these Drolls, they were then acted by the best comedians; and, I may
say, by some that then exceeded all now living; the incomparable Robert
Cox, who was not only the principal actor, but also the contriver and
author of most of these farces. How have I heard him cried up for his
_John Swabber_, and _Simpleton the Smith_; in which he being to appear
with a large piece of bread and butter, I have frequently known several
of the female spectators and auditors to long for it; and once that
well-known natural, _Jack Adams of Clerkenwell_, seeing him with bread
and butter on the stage, and knowing him, cried out, 'Cuz! Cuz! give me
some!' to the great pleasure of the audience. And so naturally did he
act the smith's part, that being at a fair in a country town, and that
farce being presented, the only master-smith of the town came to him,
saying, 'Well, although your father speaks so ill of you, yet when the
fair is done, if you will come and work with me, I will give you twelve
pence a week more than I give any other journeyman.' Thus was he taken
for a smith bred, that was, indeed, as much of any trade."

To this low state the gloomy and exasperated fanatics, who had so often
smarted under the satirical whips of the dramatists, had reduced the
drama itself; without, however, extinguishing the talents of the
players, or the finer ones of those who once derived their fame from
that noble arena of genius, the English stage. At the first suspension
of the theatre by the Long Parliament in 1642, they gave vent to their
feelings in an admirable satire. About this time "petitions" to the
parliament from various classes were put into vogue; multitudes were
presented to the House from all parts of the country, and from the city
of London; and some of these were extraordinary. The _porters_, said to
have been 15,000 in number, declaimed with great eloquence on the
bloodsucking malignants for insulting the privileges of parliament, and
threatened to come to extremities, and make good the saying "necessity
has no law;" there was one from the _beggars_, who declared, that by
means of the bishops and popish lords they knew not where to get bread;
and we are told of a third from the _tradesmen's wives_ in London,
headed by a brewer's wife: all these were encouraged by their party, and
were alike "most thankfully accepted."

The satirists soon turned this new political trick of "petitions" into
an instrument for their own purpose: we have "Petitions of the
Poets,"--of the House of Commons to the King,--Remonstrances to the
Porters' Petition, &c.: spirited political satires. One of these, the
"Players' Petition to the Parliament," after being so long silenced,
that they might play again, is replete with sarcastic allusions. It may
be found in that rare collection, entitled "Rump Songs," 1662, but with
the usual incorrectness of the press in that day. The following extract
I have corrected from a manuscript copy:--

    Now while you reign, our low petition craves
    That we, the king's true subjects and your slaves,
    May in our comic mirth and tragic rage
    Set up the theatre, and show the stage;
    This shop of truth and fancy, where we vow
    Not to act anything you disallow.
    We will not dare at your strange votes to jeer,
    Or personate King PYM[154] with his state-fleer;
    Aspiring Catiline should be forgot,
    Bloody Sejanus, or whoe'er could plot
    Confusion 'gainst a state; the war betwixt
    The Parliament and just Harry the Sixth
    Shall have no thought or mention, 'cause their power
    Not only placed, but lost him in the Tower;
    Nor will we parallel, with least suspicion,
    Your synod with the Spanish inquisition.
       All these, and such like maxims as may mar
    Your soaring plots, or show you what you are,
    We shall omit, lest our inventions shake them:
    Why should the men be wiser than you make them?
       We think there should not such a difference be
    'Twixt our profession and your quality:
    You meet, plot, act, talk high with minds immense;
    The like with us, but only we speak sense
    Inferior unto yours; we can tell how
    To depose kings, there we know more than you,
    Although not more than what we would; then we
    Likewise in our vast privilege agree;
    But that yours is the larger; and controls
    Not only lives and fortunes, but men's souls,
    Declaring by an enigmatic sense
    A privilege on each man's conscience,
    As if the Trinity could not consent
    To save a soul but by the parliament.
    We make the people laugh at some strange show,
    And as they laugh at us, they do at you;
    Only i' the contrary we disagree,
    For you can make them cry faster than we.
    Your tragedies more real are express'd,
    You murder men in earnest, we in jest:
    There we come short; but if you follow thus,
    Some wise men fear you will come short of us.
       As humbly as we did begin, we pray,
    Dear schoolmasters, you'll give us leave to play
    Quickly before the king comes; for we would
    Be glad to say you've done a little good
    Since you have sat: your play is almost done
    As well as ours--would it had ne'er begun.
    But we shall find, ere the last act be spent,
    _Enter the King, exeunt the Parliament._
    And _Heigh then up we go!_ who by the frown
    Of guilty members have been voted down,
    Until a legal trial show us how
    You used the king, and _Heigh then up go you!_
    So pray your humble slaves with all their powers,
    That when they have their due, you may have yours.

Such was the petition of the suppressed players in 1642; but, in 1653,
their secret exultation appears, although the stage was not yet restored
to them, in some verses prefixed to RICHARD BROME'S Plays, by ALEXANDER
BROME, which may close our little history. Alluding to the theatrical
people, he moralises on the fate of players:--

    See the strange twirl of times; when such poor things
    Outlive the dates of parliaments or kings!
    This revolution makes exploded wit
    Now see the fall of those that ruin'd it;
    And the condemned stage hath now obtain'd
    To see her executioners arraign'd.
    There's nothing permanent: those high great men,
    That rose from dust, to dust may fall again;
    And fate so orders things, that the same hour
    Sees the same man both in contempt and power;
    For the multitude, in whom the power doth lie,
    Do in one breath cry _Hail!_ and _Crucify!_

At this period, though deprived of a theatre, the taste for the drama
was, perhaps, the more lively among its lovers; for, besides the
performances already noticed, sometimes connived at, and sometimes
protected by bribery, in Oliver's time they stole into a practice of
privately acting at noblemen's houses, particularly at Holland-house, at
Kensington: and "Alexander Goff, _the woman-actor_, was the jackal, to
give notice of time and place to the lovers of the drama," according to
the writer of "Historica Histrionica." The players, urged by their
necessities, published several excellent manuscript plays, which they
had hoarded in their dramatic exchequers, as the sole property of their
respective companies. In one year appeared fifty of these new plays. Of
these dramas many have, no doubt, perished; for numerous titles are
recorded, but the plays are not known; yet some may still remain in
their manuscript state, in hands not capable of valuing them. All our
old plays were the property of the actors, who bought them for their own
companies. The immortal works of Shakspeare had not descended to us, had
Heminge and Condell felt no sympathy for the fame of their friend. They
had been scattered and lost, and, perhaps, had not been discriminated
among the numerous manuscript plays of that age. One more effort, during
this suspension of the drama, was made in 1655, to recal the public
attention to its productions. This was a very curious collection by John
Cotgrave, entitled "The English Treasury of Wit and Language, collected
out of the most, and best, of our English Dramatick Poems." It appears
by Cotgrave's preface, that "The Dramatick Poem," as he calls our
tragedies and comedies, "had been of late too much slighted." He tells
us how some, not wanting in wit themselves, but "through a stiff and
obstinate prejudice, have, in _this neglect_, lost the benefit of many
rich and useful observations; not duly considering, or believing, that
the _framers_ of them were the most fluent and redundant wits that this
age, or I think any other, ever knew." He enters further into this just
panegyric of our old dramatic writers, whose acquired knowledge in
ancient and modern languages, and whose luxuriant fancies, which they
derived from no other sources but their own native growth, are viewed to
great advantage in COTGRAVE'S commonplaces; and, perhaps, still more in
HAYWARD'S "British Muse," which collection was made under the
supervisal, and by the valuable aid, of OLDYS, an experienced caterer of
these relishing morsels.


The ancient Bacchus, as represented in gems and statues, was a youthful
and graceful divinity; he is so described by Ovid, and was so painted by
Barry. He has the epithet of _Psilas_, to express the light spirits
which give wings to the soul. His voluptuousness was joyous and tender;
and he was never viewed reeling with intoxication. According to Virgil:

    Et quocunque deus circum _caput_ egit _honestum_.
                                           _Georg_. ii. 392.

which Dryden, contemplating on the red-faced boorish boy astride on a
barrel on our sign-posts, tastelessly sinks into gross vulgarity:

    On whate'er side he turns his _honest_ face.

This Latinism of _honestum_ even the literal inelegance of Davidson had
spirit enough to translate, "Where'er the god hath moved around his
_graceful head_." The hideous figure of that ebriety, in its most
disgusting stage, the ancients exposed in the bestial Silenus and his
crew; and with these, rather than with the Ovidian and Virgilian deity,
our own convivial customs have assimilated.

We shall probably outlive that custom of hard-drinking which was so long
one of our national vices. The Frenchman, the Italian, and the Spaniard
only taste the luxury of the grape, but seem never to have indulged in
set convivial parties, or drinking-matches, as some of the northern
people. Of this folly of ours, which was, however, a borrowed one, and
which lasted for two centuries, the history is curious: the variety of
its modes and customs; its freaks and extravagances; the technical
language introduced to raise it into an art; and the inventions
contrived to animate the progress of the thirsty souls of its

Nations, like individuals, in their intercourse are great imitators; and
we have the authority of Camden, who lived at the time, for asserting
that "the English in their long wars in the Netherlands first learnt to
drown themselves with immoderate drinking, and by drinking others'
healths to impair their own. Of all the northern nations, they had been
before this most commended for their sobriety." And the historian adds,
"that the vice had so diffused itself over the nation, that in our days
it was first restrained by severe laws."[156]

Here we have the authority of a grave and judicious historian for
ascertaining the first period and even origin of this custom; and that
the nation had not, heretofore, disgraced itself by such prevalent
ebriety, is also confirmed by one of those curious contemporary
pamphlets of a popular writer, so invaluable to the philosophical
antiquary. Tom Nash, a town-wit of the reign of Elizabeth, long before
Camden wrote her history, in his "Pierce Pennilesse," had detected the
same origin.--"Superfluity in drink," says this spirited writer, "is a
sin that ever since we have mixed ourselves with the Low Countries is
counted honourable; but before we knew their lingering wars, was held in
that highest degree of hatred that might be. Then if we had seen a man
go wallowing in the streets, or lain sleeping under the board, we should
have spet at him, and warned all our friends out of his company."[157]

Such was the fit source of this vile custom, which is further confirmed
by the barbarous dialect it introduced into our language; all the terms
of drinking which once abounded with us are, without exception, of a
base northern origin.[158] But the best account I can find of all the
refinements of this new science of potation, when it seems to have
reached its height, is in our Tom Nash, who being himself one of these
deep experimental philosophers, is likely to disclose all the mysteries
of the craft.

He says--"Now, he is nobody that cannot drink _super-nagulum_;
_carouse_ the hunter's _hoope_; quaff _vpse freeze crosse_; with
_healths, gloves, mumpes, frolickes_, and a thousand such domineering

_Drinking super-nagulum_, that is, _on the nail_, is a device, which
Nash says is new come out of France: but it had probably a northern
origin, for far northward it still exists. This new device consisted in
this, that after a man, says Nash, hath turned up the bottom of the cup
to drop it on his nail, and make a pearl with what is left, which if it
shed, and cannot make it stand on, by reason there is too much, he must
drink again for his penance.

The custom is also alluded to by Bishop Hall in his satirical romance of
"_Mundus alter et idem_," "A Discovery of a New World," a work which
probably Swift read, and did not forget. The Duke of Tenter-belly in his
oration, when he drinks off his large goblet of twelve quarts, on his
election, exclaims, should he be false to their laws--"Let never this
goodly-formed goblet of wine go jovially through me; and then he set it
to his mouth, stole it off every drop, save _a little remainder_, which
he was by custom to _set upon his thumb's nail_, and lick it off as he

The phrase is in Fletcher:

    I am thine _ad unguem_--

that is, he would drink with his friend to the last. In a manuscript
letter of the times, I find an account of Columbo, the Spanish
ambassador, being at Oxford, and drinking healths to the Infanta. The
writer adds--"I shall not tell you how our doctors pledged healths to
the Infanta and the arch-duchess; and if any left _too big a snuff_,
Columbo would cry, _Supernaculum! supernaculum!_"[160]

This Bacchic freak seems still preserved: for a recent traveller, Sir
George Mackenzie, has noticed the custom in his Travels through Iceland.
"His host having filled a silver cup to the brim, and put on the cover,
then held it towards the person who sat next to him, and desired him to
take off the cover, and look into the cup, a ceremony intended to secure
fair play in filling it. He drank our health, desiring to be excused
from emptying the cup, on account of the indifferent state of his
health; but we were informed at the same time that if any one of us
should neglect any part of the ceremony, or _fail to invert the cup,
placing the edge on one of the thumbs_ as a proof that we had swallowed
every drop, the defaulter would be obliged by the laws of drinking to
fill the cup again, and drink it off a second time. In spite of their
utmost exertions, the penalty of a second draught was incurred by two of
the company; we were dreading the consequences of having swallowed so
much wine, and in terror lest the cup should be sent round again."

_Carouse the hunter's hoop._--"Carouse" has been already explained: _the
hunter's hoop_ alludes to the custom of hoops being marked on a
drinking-pot, by which every man was to measure his draught. Shakspeare
makes the Jacobin Jack Cade, among his furious reformations, promise his
friends that "there shall be in England seven halfpenny loaves sold for
a penny; _the three-hooped pot shall have ten hoops_, and I will make it
a felony to drink small beer." I have elsewhere observed that our modern
Bacchanalians, whose feats are recorded by the bottle, and who insist on
an equality in their rival combats, may discover some ingenuity in that
invention among our ancestors of their _peg-tankards_, of which a few
may yet occasionally be found in Derbyshire;[161] the invention of an
age less refined than the present, when we have heard of globular
glasses and bottles, which by their shape cannot stand, but roll about
the table; thus compelling the unfortunate Bacchanalian to drain the
last drop, or expose his recreant sobriety.

We must have recourse again to our old friend Tom Nash, who acquaints us
with some of "the general rules and inventions for drinking, as good as
printed precepts or statutes by act of parliament, that go from drunkard
to drunkard; as, still to _keep your first man_; not to leave any
_flocks_ in the bottom of the cup; _to knock the glass on your thumb_
when you have done; to have some _shoeing-horn_ to pull on your wine, as
a rasher on the coals or a red-herring."

_Shoeing-horns_, sometimes called _gloves_, are also described by Bishop
Hall in his "Mundus alter et idem." "Then, sir, comes me up _a service
of shoeing-horns_ of all sorts; salt cakes, red-herrings, anchovies, and
gammon of bacon, and abundance of _such pullers-on_."

That famous surfeit of Rhenish and pickled herrings, which banquet
proved so fatal to Robert Green, a congenial wit and associate of our
Nash, was occasioned by these _shoeing-horns_.

Massinger has given a curious list of "_a service of shoeing-horns_."

                                 ---- I usher
    Such an unexpected dainty bit for breakfast
    As never yet I cook'd; 'tis not Botargo,
    Fried frogs, potatoes marrow'd, cavear,
    Carps' tongues, the pith of an English chine of beef,
    _Nor our Italian delicate, oil'd mushrooms_,
    And yet _a drawer-on too_;[162] and if you show not
    An appetite, and a strong one, I'll not say
    To eat it, but devour it, without grace too,
    (For it will not stay a preface) I am shamed,
    And all my past provocatives will be jeer'd at,
                           MASSINGER, _The Guardian_, A. ii. S. 3.

To _knock the glass on the thumb_, was to show they had performed their
duty. Barnaby Rich describes this custom: after having drank, the
president "turned the bottom of the cup upward, and in ostentation of
his dexterity, gave it a fillip, to make it cry _ting_."

They had among these "domineering inventions" some which we may imagine
never took place, till they were told by "the hollow cask"

    How the waning night grew old.

Such were _flap-dragons_, which were small combustible bodies fired at
one end and floated in a glass of liquor, which an experienced toper
swallowed unharmed, while yet blazing. Such is Dr. Johnson's accurate
description, who seems to have witnessed what he so well describes.[163]
When Falstaff says of Poins's acts of dexterity to ingratiate himself
with the prince, that "he drinks off _candle-ends_ for flap-dragons," it
seems that this was likewise one of these "frolics," for Nash notices
that the liquor was "to be stirred about with a _candle's-end_, to make
it taste better, and not to hold your peace while the pot is stirring,"
no doubt to mark the intrepidity of the miserable "skinker." The most
illustrious feat of all is one, however, described by Bishop Hall. If
the drinker "could put his finger into the flame of the candle without
playing hit-I-miss-I! he is held a sober man, however otherwise drunk he
might be." This was considered as a trial of victory among these
"canary-birds," or bibbers of canary wine.[164]

We have a very common expression to describe a man in a state of
ebriety, that "he is as drunk as a beast," or that "he is beastly
drunk." This is a libel on the brutes, for the vice of ebriety is
perfectly human. I think the phrase is peculiar to ourselves: and I
imagine I have discovered its origin. When ebriety became first
prevalent in our nation, during the reign of Elizabeth, it was a
favourite notion among the writers of the time, and on which they have
exhausted their fancy, that a man in the different stages of ebriety
showed the most vicious quality of different animals; or that a company
of drunkards exhibited a collection of brutes, with their different

"All dronkardes are beasts," says George Gascoigne, in a curious
treatise on them,[165] and he proceeds in illustrating his proposition;
but the satirist Nash has classified eight kinds of "drunkards;" a
fanciful sketch from the hand of a master in humour, and which could
only have been composed by a close spectator of their manners and

"The first is _ape-drunk_, and he leaps and sings and hollows and
danceth for the heavens; the second is _lyon-drunk_, and he flings the
pots about the house, calls the hostess w--- e, breaks the glass-windows
with his dagger, and is apt to quarrel with any man that speaks to him;
the third is _swine-drunk_, heavy, lumpish, and sleepy, and cries for a
little more drink and a few more clothes; the fourth is _sheep-drunk_,
wise in his own conceit when he cannot bring forth a right word; the
fifth is _maudlen-drunk_, when a fellow will weep for kindness in the
midst of his drink, and kiss you, saying, 'By God! captain, I love thee;
go thy ways, thou dost not think so often of me as I do of thee: I would
(if it pleased God) I could not love thee so well as I do,' and then he
puts his finger in his eye and cries. The sixth is _martin-drunk_, when
a man is drunk, and drinks himself sober ere he stir; the seventh is
_goat-drunk_, when in his drunkenness he hath no mind but on lechery.
The eighth is _fox-drunk_, when he is crafty-drunk, as many of the
Dutchmen be, which will never bargain but when they are drunk. All
these _species_, and more, I have seen practised in _one company at one
sitting_; when I have been permitted to remain sober amongst them only
to note their several humours." These beast-drunkards are characterised
in a frontispiece to a curious tract on Drunkenness where the men are
represented with the heads of apes, swine, &c. &c.

A new era in this history of our drinking-parties occurred about the
time of the Restoration, when politics heated their wine, and
drunkenness and loyalty became more closely connected. As the puritanic
coldness wore off, the people were perpetually, in 1650, warmed in
drinking the king's health on their knees; and, among various kinds of
"ranting cavalierism," the cavaliers during Cromwell's usurpation
usually put a crumb of bread into their glass, and before they drank it
off, with cautious ambiguity exclaimed, "God send this _crum well_
down!" which by the way preserves the orthoëpy of that extraordinary
man's name, and may be added to the instances adduced in our present
volume "On the orthography of proper names." We have a curious account
of a drunken bout by some royalists, told by Whitelocke in his
Memorials. It bore some resemblance to the drinking-party of Catiline:
they mingled their own blood with their wine.[166] After the
Restoration, Burnet complains of the excess of convivial loyalty.
"Drinking the king's health was set up by too many as a distinguishing
mark of loyalty, and drew many into great excess after his majesty's


A writer of penetration sees connexions in literary anecdotes which are
not immediately perceived by others: in his hands anecdotes, even should
they be familiar to us, are susceptible of deductions and inferences,
which become novel and important truths. Facts of themselves are barren;
it is when these facts pass through reflections, and become interwoven
with our feelings, or our reasonings, that they are the finest
illustrations; that they assume the dignity of "philosophy teaching by
example;" that, in the moral world, they are what the wise system of
Bacon inculcated in the natural knowledge deduced from experiments; the
study of nature in her operations. "When examples are pointed out to
us," says Lord Bolingbroke, "there is a kind of appeal, with which, we
are flattered, made to our senses, as well as to our understandings. The
instruction comes then from our authority; we yield to fact, when we
resist speculation."

For this reason, writers and artists should, among their recreations, be
forming a constant acquaintance with the history of their departed
kindred. In literary biography a man of genius always finds something
which relates to himself. The studies of artists have a great
uniformity, and their habits of life are monotonous. They have all the
same difficulties to encounter, although they do not all meet with the
same glory. How many secrets may the man of genius learn from literary
anecdotes! important secrets, which his friends will not convey to him.
He traces the effects of similar studies; warned sometimes by failures,
and often animated by watching the incipient and shadowy attempts which
closed in a great work. From one he learns in what manner he planned and
corrected; from another he may overcome those obstacles which, perhaps,
at that very moment make him rise in despair from his own unfinished
labour. What perhaps he had in vain desired to know for half his life is
revealed to him by a literary anecdote; and thus the amusements of
indolent hours may impart the vigour of study; as we find sometimes in
the fruit we have taken for pleasure the medicine which restores our
health. How superficial is that cry of some impertinent pretended
geniuses of these times who affect to exclaim, "Give me no anecdotes of
an author, but give me his works!" I have often found the anecdotes more
interesting than the works.

Dr. Johnson devoted one of his periodical papers to a defence of
anecdotes, and expresses himself thus on certain collectors of
anecdotes: "They are not always so happy as to select the most
important. I know not well what advantage posterity can receive from the
only circumstance by which Tickell has distinguished _Addison_ from the
rest of mankind,--the _irregularity of his pulse_; nor can I think
myself overpaid for the time spent in reading the life of _Malherbe_, by
being enabled to relate, after the learned biographer, that Malherbe had
two predominant opinions; one, that the looseness of a single woman
might destroy all her boast of ancient descent; the other, that French
beggars made use, very improperly and barbarously, of the phrase _noble
gentlemen_, because either word included the sense of both."

These just observations may, perhaps, be further illustrated by the
following notices. Dr. J. Warton has informed the world that _many of
our poets have been handsome_. This, certainly, neither concerns the
world, nor the class of poets. It is trifling to tell us that Dr.
Johnson was accustomed "_to cut his nails to the quick_." I am not much
gratified by being informed, that Menage wore _a greater number of
stockings_ than any other person, excepting one, whose name I have
really forgotten. The biographer of Cujas, a celebrated lawyer, says
that _two things_ were _remarkable_ of this _scholar_. The _first_, that
he studied on the floor, lying prostrate on a carpet, with his books
about him; and, _secondly_, that his perspiration exhaled an agreeable
smell, which he used to inform his friends he had in common with
Alexander the Great! This admirable biographer should have told us
whether he frequently turned from his very uneasy attitude. Somebody
informs us, that Guy Patin resembled Cicero, whose statue is preserved
at Rome; on which he enters into a comparison of Patin with Cicero; but
a man may resemble a _statue_ of Cicero, and yet not be Cicero. Baillet
loads his life of Descartes with a thousand minutiæ, which less disgrace
the philosopher than the biographer. Was it worth informing the public,
that Descartes was very particular about his wigs; that he had them
manufactured at Paris; and that he always kept four? That he wore green
taffety in France: but that in Holland he quitted taffety for cloth; and
that he was fond of omelets of eggs?

It is an odd observation of Clarendon in his own life, that "Mr.
Chillingworth was of a stature little superior to Mr. Hales; and it _was
an age in which there were many great and wonderful men of_ THAT SIZE."
Lord Falkland, formerly Sir Lucius Carey, was of a low stature, and
smaller than most men; and of Sidney Godolphin, "There was never so
great a mind and spirit contained in so little room; so that Lord
Falkland used to say merrily, that he thought it was a great ingredient
in his friendship for Mr. Godolphin, that he was pleased to be found in
his company where he was the properer man." This irrelevant observation
of Lord Clarendon is an instance where a great mind will sometimes draw
inferences from accidental coincidences, and establish them into a
general principle; as if the small size of the men had even the remotest
connexion with their genius and their virtues. Perhaps, too, there was
in this a tincture of the superstitions of the times: whatever it was,
the fact ought not to have degraded the truth and dignity of historical
narrative. We have writers who cannot discover the particulars which
characterise THE MAN--their souls, like damp gunpowder, cannot ignite
with the spark when it falls on them.

Yet of anecdotes which appear trifling, something may be alleged in
their defence. It is certainly safer for _some_ writers to give us all
they know, than to try their discernment for rejection. Let us sometimes
recollect, that the page over which we toil will probably furnish
materials for authors of happier talents. I would rather have a Birch,
or a Hawkins, appear heavy, cold, and prolix, than that anything
material which concerns a Tillotson, or a Johnson, should be lost. It
must also be confessed, that an anecdote, or a circumstance, which may
appear inconsequential to a reader, may bear some remote or latent
connexion: a biographer who has long contemplated the character he
records, sees many connexions which escape an ordinary reader. Kippis,
in closing the life of the diligent Dr. Birch, has, from his own
experience, no doubt, formed an apology for that minute research, which
some have thought this writer carried to excess. "It may be alleged in
our author's favour, that a man who has a deep and extensive
acquaintance with a subject, often sees a connexion and importance in
some smaller circumstances, which may not immediately be discerned by
others; and, on that account, may have reasons for inserting them, that
will escape the notice of superficial minds."


I flatter myself that those readers who have taken any interest in my
volume have not conceived me to have been deficient in the elevated
feeling which, from early life, I have preserved for the great literary
character: if time weaken our enthusiasm, it is the coldness of age
which creeps on us, but the principle is unalterable which inspired the
sympathy. Who will not venerate those master-spirits "whose PUBLISHED
LABOURS advance the good of mankind," and those BOOKS which are "the
precious life-blood of a master-spirit, imbalmed and treasured up on
purpose to a life beyond life?" But it has happened that I have more
than once incurred the censure of the inconsiderate and the tasteless,
for attempting to separate those writers who exist in a state of
perpetual illusion; who live on querulously, which is an evil for
themselves, and to no purpose of life, which is an evil to others. I
have been blamed for exemplifying "the illusions of writers in
verse,"[168] by the remarkable case of Percival Stockdale,[169] who,
after a condemned silence of nearly half a century, like a vivacious
spectre throwing aside his shroud in gaiety, came forward, a venerable
man in his eightieth year, to assure us of the immortality of one of the
worst poets of his age; and for this wrote his own memoirs, which only
proved, that when authors are troubled with a literary hallucination,
and possess the unhappy talent of reasoning in their madness, a little
raillery, if it cannot cure, may serve at least as a salutary regimen.

I shall illustrate the case of condemned authors who will still be
pleading after their trials, by a foreign dramatic writer. Among those
incorrigible murmurers at public justice, not the least extraordinary
was a M. Peyraud de Beaussol, who, in 1775, had a tragedy, _Les
Arsacides_, in six acts, printed, "not as it was acted," as Fielding
says on the title-page of one of his comedies, but "as it was damned!"

In a preface, this _Sir Fretful_, more inimitable than that original,
with all the gravity of an historical narrative, details the public
conspiracy; and with all the pathetic touches of a shipwrecked mariner,
the agonies of his literary egotism.

He declares that it is absurd to condemn a piece which they can only
know by the title, for heard it had never been! And yet he observes,
with infinite _naïveté_, "My piece is as generally condemned as if the
world had it all by heart."

One of the great objections against this tragedy was its monstrous plan
of six acts; this innovation did not lean towards improvement in the
minds of those who had endured the long sufferings of tragedies of the
accepted size. But the author offers some solemn reasons to induce us to
believe that six acts were so far from being too many, that the piece
had been more perfect with a seventh! M. de Beaussol had, perhaps, been
happy to have known, that other dramatists have considered that the
usual restrictions are detrimental to a grand genius. Nat. Lee, when in
Bedlam, wrote a play in twenty-five acts.

Our philosophical dramatist, from the constituent principles of the
human mind, and the physical powers of man, and the French nation more
particularly, deduces the origin of the sublime, and the faculty of
attention. The plan of his tragedy is agreeable to these principles:
Monarchs, Queens, and Rivals, and every class of men; it is therefore
grand! and the acts can be listened to, and therefore it is not too
long! It was the high opinion that he had formed of human nature and the
French people, which at once terrified and excited him to finish a
tragedy, which, he modestly adds, "may not have the merit of any single
one; but which one day will be discovered to include the labour bestowed
on fifty!"

No great work was ever produced without a grand plan. "Some critics,"
says our author, "have ventured to assert that my six acts may easily be
reduced to the usual five, without injury to the conduct of the fable."
To reply to this required a complete analysis of the tragedy, which,
having been found more voluminous than the tragedy itself, he
considerately "published separately." It would be curious to ascertain
whether a single copy of the analysis of a condemned tragedy was ever
sold. And yet this critical analysis was such an admirable and
demonstrative criticism, that the author assures us that it proved the
absolute impossibility, "and the most absolute too," that his piece
could not suffer the slightest curtailment. It demonstrated more--that
the gradation and the development of interest required necessarily
_seven acts!_ but, from dread of carrying this innovation too far, the
author omitted _one act_, which passed behind the scenes![170] but which
ought to have come in between the fifth and sixth! Another point is
proved, that the attention of an audience, the physical powers of man,
can be kept up with interest much longer than has been calculated; that
his piece only takes up two hours and three quarters, or three hours at
most, if some of the most impassioned parts were but declaimed

Now we come to the history of all the disasters which happened at the
acting of this tragedy. "How can people complain that my piece is
tedious, when, after the first act, they would never listen ten minutes
to it? Why did they attend to the first scenes, and even applaud one?
Let me not be told, because these were sublime, and commanded the
respect of the cabal raised against it; because there are other scenes
far more sublime in the piece, which they perpetually interrupted. Will
it be believed, that they pitched upon the scene of the sacrifice of
Volgesie, as one of the most tedious?--the scene of Volgesie, which is
the finest in my piece; not a verse, not a word in it, can be
omitted![172] Everything tends towards the catastrophe; and it reads in
the closet as well as it would affect us on the stage. I was not,
however, astonished at this; what men hear, and do not understand, is
always tedious; and it was recited in so shocking a tone by the actress,
who, not having entirely recovered from a fit of illness, was flurried
by the tumult of the audience. She declaimed in a twanging tone like
psalm-singing; so that the audience could not hear, among the fatiguing
discordances (he means their own hissing), nor separate the thoughts and
words from the full chant which accompanied them. They objected
perpetually to the use of the word _Madame_ between two female rivals,
as too comic; one of the pit, when an actress said _Madame_, cried out
'Say _Princesse!_' This disconcerted the actress. They also objected to
the words _àpropos_ and _mal-àpropos_. Yet, after all, how are there too
many _Madames_ in the piece, since they do not amount to forty-six in
the course of forty-four scenes? Of these, however, I have erased half."

This historian of his own wrong-headedness proceeds, with all the
simplicity of this narrative, to describe the hubbub.

"Thus it was impossible to connect what they were hearing with what they
had heard. In the short intervals of silence, the actors, who, during
the tumult, forgot their characters, tried with difficulty to recover
their conception. The conspirators were prepared to a man; not only in
their head, but some with written notes had their watchwords, to set
their party a-going. They seemed to act with the most extraordinary
concert; they seemed to know the exact moment when they were to give the
word, and drown, in their hurly-burly, the voice of the actor, who had a
passionate part to declaim, and thus break the connexion between the
speakers. All this produced so complete an effect, that it seemed as if
the actors themselves had been of the conspiracy, so wilful and so
active was the execution of the plot. It was particularly during the
fifth and sixth acts that the cabal was most outrageous; they knew these
were the most beautiful, and deserved particular attention. Such a
humming arose, that the actors seemed to have had their heads turned;
some lost their voice, some declaimed at random, the prompter in vain
cried out, nothing was heard, and everything was said; the actor, who
could not hear the catch-word, remained disconcerted and silent; the
whole was broken, wrong and right; it was all Hebrew. Nor was this all;
the actors behind the scene were terrified, and they either came
forwards trembling, and only watching the signs of their brother actors,
or would not venture to show themselves. The machinist only, with his
scene-shifters, who felt so deep an interest in the fate of my piece,
was tranquil and attentive to his duty, to produce a fine effect. After
the hurly-burly was over, he left the actors mute with their arms
crossed. He opened the scenery! and not an actor could enter on it! The
pit, more clamorous than ever, would not suffer the denouement! Such was
the conduct, and such the intrepidity, of the army employed to besiege
the _Arsacides_! Such was the cause of that accusation of tediousness
made against a drama, which has most evidently the contrary defect!"

Such is the history of a damned dramatist, written by himself, with a
truth and simplicity worthy of a happier fate. It is admirable to see a
man, who was himself so deeply involved in the event, preserve the
observing calmness which could discover the minutest occurrence; and,
allowing for his particular conception of the cause, detailing them with
the most rigid veracity. This author was unquestionably a man of the
most honourable probity, and not destitute of intellectual ability; but
he must serve as an useful example of that wrong-headed nature in some
men, which has produced so many "Abbots of Unreason" in society, whom it
is in vain to convince by a reciprocation of arguments; who assuming
false principles, act rightly according to themselves; a sort of
rational lunacy, which, when it discovers itself in politics and
religion, and in the more common affairs of life, has produced the most
unhappy effects; but this fanaticism, when confined to poetry, only
amuses us with the ludicrous; and, in the persons of Monsieur de
Beaussol, and of Percival Stockdale, may offer some very fortunate
self-recollections in that "Calamity of Authors" which I have called
"The Illusions of Writers in Verse."


As a literary curiosity, and as a supplemental anecdote to the article
of PREFACES,[173] I cannot pass over the suppressed preface to the
"Acajou et Zirphile" of Du Clos, which of itself is almost a singular
instance of hardy ingenuity, in an address to the public.

This single volume is one of the most whimsical of fairy tales, and an
amusing satire originating in an odd circumstance. Count Tessin, the
Swedish Ambassador at the Court of France, had a number of grotesque
designs made by Boucher, the king's painter, and engraved by the first
artists. The last plate had just been finished when the Count was
recalled, and appointed Prime Minister and Governor to the Crown Prince,
a place he filled with great honour; and in emulation of Fenelon,
composed letters on the education of a Prince, which have been
translated. He left behind him in France all the plates in the hands of
Boucher, who, having shown them to Du Clos for their singular invention,
regretted that he had bestowed so much fancy on a fairy tale, which was
not to be had; Du Clos, to relieve his regrets, offered to invent a
tale to correspond with these grotesque subjects. This seemed not a
little difficult. In the first plate, the author appears in his
morning-gown, writing in his study, surrounded by apes, rats,
butterflies, and smoke. In another, a Prince is drest in the French
costume of 1740, strolling full of thought "in the shady walk of ideas."
In a third plate, the Prince is conversing with a fairy who rises out of
a gooseberry which he has plucked: two dwarfs, discovered in another
gooseberry, give a sharp fillip to the Prince, who seems much
embarrassed by their tiny maliciousness. In another walk he eats an
apricot, which opens with the most beautiful of faces, a little
melancholy, and leaning on one side. In another print, he finds the body
of his lovely face and the hands, and he adroitly joins them together.
Such was the set of these incomprehensible and capricious inventions,
which the lighter fancy and ingenuity of Du Clos converted into a fairy
story, full of pleasantry and satire.[174]

Among the novelties of this small volume, not the least remarkable is
the dedication of this fairy romance to the public, which excited great
attention, and charmed and provoked our author's fickle patron. Du Clos
here openly ridicules, and dares his protector and his judge. This
hazardous attack was successful, and the author soon acquired the
reputation which he afterwards maintained, of being a writer who little
respected the common prejudices of the world. Freron replied by a long
criticism, entitled "Réponse du Public à l'Auteur d'Acajou;" but its
severity was not discovered in its length; so that the public, who had
been so keenly ridiculed, and so hardily braved in the light and
sparkling page of the haughty Du Clos, preferred the caustic truths and
the pleasant insult.

In this "Epistle to the Public," the author informs us that, "excited by
example, and encouraged by the success he had often witnessed, he
designed to write a piece of nonsense. He was only embarrassed by the
choice of subject. Politics, Morals, and Literature, were equally the
same to me: but I found, strange to say, all these matters pre-occupied
by persons who seem to have laboured with the same view. I found silly
things in all kinds, and I saw myself under the necessity of adopting
the reasonable ones to become singular; so that I do not yet despair
that we may one day discover truth, when we shall have exhausted all
our errors.

"I first proposed to write down all erudition, to show the freedom and
independence of genius, whose fertility is such as not to require
borrowing anything from foreign sources; but I observed that this had
sunk into a mere commonplace, trite and trivial, invented by indolence,
adopted by ignorance, and which adds nothing to genius,

"Mathematics, which has succeeded to erudition, begins to be
unfashionable; we know at present indeed that one may be as great a
dizzard in resolving a problem as in restoring a reading. Everything is
compatible with genius, but nothing can give it.

"For the _bel esprit_, so much envied, so much sought after, it is
almost as ridiculous to pretend to it, as it is difficult to attain.
Thus the scholar is contemned, the mathematician tires, the man of wit
and genius is hissed. What is to be done?"

Having told the whimsical origin of this tale, Du Clos continues: "I do
not know, my dear Public, if you will approve of my design; however, it
appears to me ridiculous enough to deserve your favour; for, to speak to
you like a friend, you appear to unite all the stages of human life,
only to experience all their cross-accidents. You are a child to run
after trifles; a youth when driven by your passions; and, in mature age,
you conclude you are wise, because your follies are of a more solemn
nature, for you grow old only to dote; to talk at random, to act without
design, and to believe you judge, because you pronounce sentence.

"I respect you greatly; I esteem you but little; you are not worthy of
being loved. These are my sentiments respecting you; if you insist on
others from me, in that case,

                 "I am,
    "Your most humble and obedient servant."

The caustic pleasantry of this "Epistle Dedicatory" was considered by
some mawkish critics so offensive, that when the editor of the "Cabinet
de Fées," a vast collection of fairy tales, republished this little
playful satire and whimsical fancy-piece, he thought proper to cancel
the "Epistle:" concluding that it was entirely wanting in that respect
with which the public ought to be addressed! This editor, of course, was
a Frenchman: we view him in the ridiculous attitude of making his
profound bow, and expressing all this "high consideration" for this same
"Public," while, with his opera-hat in his hand, he is sweeping away the
most poignant and delectable page of Acajou and Zirphile.


The history of a race of singular mendicants, known by the name of _Tom
o' Bedlams_, connects itself with that of our poetry. Not only will they
live with our language, since Shakspeare has perpetuated their
existence, but they themselves appear to have been the occasion of
creating a species of wild fantastic poetry, peculiar to our nation.

Bethlehem Hospital formed, in its original institution, a contracted and
penurious charity;[175] its governors soon discovered that the
metropolis furnished them with more lunatics than they had calculated
on; they also required from the friends of the patients a weekly
stipend, besides clothing. It is a melancholy fact to record in the
history of human nature, that when one of their original regulations
prescribed that persons who put in patients should provide their
clothes, it was soon observed that the poor lunatics were frequently
perishing by the omission of this slight duty from those former friends;
so soon forgotten were they whom none found an interest to recollect.
They were obliged to open contributions to provide a wardrobe.[176]

In consequence of the limited resources of the Hospital, they relieved
the establishment by frequently discharging patients whose cure might be
very equivocal. Harmless lunatics thrown thus into the world, often
without a single friend, wandered about the country, chanting wild
ditties, and wearing a fantastical dress to attract the notice of the
charitable, on whose alms they lived. They had a kind of _costume_,
which I find described by Randle Holme in a curious and extraordinary

"The Bedlam has a long staff, and a cow or ox-horn by his side; his
clothing fantastic and ridiculous; for being a madman, he is madly
decked and dressed all over with rubins (ribands), feathers, cuttings of
cloth, and what not, to make him seem a madman, or one distracted, when
he is no other than a wandering and dissembling knave." This writer here
points out one of the grievances resulting from licensing even harmless
lunatics to roam about the country; for a set of pretended madmen,
called "Abram men," a cant term for certain sturdy rogues, concealed
themselves in their _costume_, covered the country, and pleaded the
privileged denomination when detected in their depredations.[178]

Sir Walter Scott first obligingly suggested to me that these roving
lunatics were out-door pensioners of Bedlam, sent about to live as well
as they could with the pittance granted by the hospital.

The fullest account that I have obtained of these singular persons is
drawn from a manuscript note transcribed from some of Aubrey's papers,
which I have not seen printed.

"Till the breaking out of the civil wars, _Tom o' Bedlams_ did travel
about the country; they had been poor distracted men, that had been put
into Bedlam, where recovering some soberness, they were licentiated to
go a begging; _i.e._, they had on their left arm an armilla, an iron
ring for the arm, about four inches long, as printed in some works.[179]
They could not get it off; they wore about their necks a great horn of
an ox in a string or bawdry, which, when they came to a house, they did
wind, and they put the drink given to them into this horn, whereto they
put a stopple. Since the wars I do not remember to have seen any one of
them." The civil wars, probably, cleared the country of all sorts of
vagabonds; but among the royalists or the parliamentarians, we did not
know that in their rank and file they had so many Tom o' Bedlams.

I have now to explain something in the character of Edgar in _Lear_, on
which the commentators seem to have ingeniously blundered, from an
imperfect knowledge of the character which Edgar personates.

Edgar, in wandering about the country, for a safe disguise assumes the
character of these _Tom o' Bedlams_; he thus closes one of his
distracted speeches--"Poor Tom, _Thy horn is dry_!" On this Johnson is
content to inform us, that "men that begged under pretence of lunacy
used formerly to carry a horn and blow it through the streets." This is
no explanation of Edgar's allusion to the _dryness_ of his horn.
Steevens adds a fanciful note, that Edgar alludes to a proverbial
expression, _Thy horn is dry_, designed to express that a man had said
all he could say; and, further, Steevens supposes that Edgar speaks
these words _aside_; as if he had been quite weary of _Tom o' Bedlam's
part_, and could not keep it up any longer. The reasons of all this
conjectural criticism are a curious illustration of perverse ingenuity.
Aubrey's manuscript note has shown us that the Bedlam's horn was also a
_drinking-horn_, and Edgar closes his speech in the perfection of the
assumed character, and not as one who had grown weary of it, by making
the mendicant lunatic desirous of departing from a heath, to march, as
he cries, "to wakes, and fairs, and market-towns--Poor Tom! thy horn is
dry!" as more likely places to solicit alms; and he is thinking of his
_drink-money_, when he cries that "_his horn is dry_."

An itinerant lunatic, chanting wild ditties, fancifully attired, gay
with the simplicity of childhood, yet often moaning with the sorrows of
a troubled man, a mixture of character at once grotesque and plaintive,
became an interesting object to poetical minds. It is probable that the
character of Edgar, in the _Lear_ of Shakspeare, first introduced the
hazardous conception into the poetical world. Poems composed in the
character of a Tom o' Bedlam appear to have formed a fashionable class
of poetry among the wits; they seem to have held together their poetical
contests, and some of these writers became celebrated for their
successful efforts, for old Izaak Walton mentions a "Mr. William Basse,
as one who has made the choice songs of 'The Hunter in his career,' and
of 'Tom o' Bedlam,' and many others of note." Bishop Percy, in his
"Reliques of Ancient English Poetry," has preserved six of what he calls
"Mad Songs," expressing his surprise that the English should have "more
songs and ballads on the subject of madness than any of their
neighbours," for such are not found in the collection of songs of the
French, Italian, &c., and nearly insinuates, for their cause, that we
are perhaps more liable to the calamity of madness than other nations.
This superfluous criticism had been spared had that elegant collector
been aware of the circumstance which had produced this class of poems,
and recollected the more ancient original in the Edgar of Shakspeare.
Some of the "Mad Songs" which the bishop has preserved are of too modern
a date to suit the title of his work; being written by Tom D'Urfey, for
his comedies of Don Quixote. I shall preserve one of more ancient date,
fraught with all the wild spirit of this peculiar character.[180]

This poem must not be read without a continued reference to the
personated character. Delirious and fantastic, strokes of sublime
imagination are mixed with familiar comic humour, and even degraded by
the cant language; for the gipsy habits of life of these "Tom o'
Bedlams" had confounded them with "the progging Abram men."[181] These
luckless beings are described by Decker as sometimes exceeding merry,
and could do nothing but sing songs fashioned out of their own brains;
now they danced, now they would do nothing but laugh and weep, or were
dogged and sullen both in look and speech. All they did, all they sung,
was alike unconnected; indicative of the desultory and rambling wits of
the chanter.


    From the hag and hungry goblin
      That into rags would rend ye,
        All the spirits that stand
        By the naked man,
      In the book of moons defend ye!
    That of your five sound senses
      You never be forsaken;
        Nor travel from
        Yourselves with Tom
      Abroad, to beg your bacon.


    Nor never sing any food and feeding,
      Money, drink, or clothing;
        Come dame or maid,
        Be not afraid,
    For Tom will injure nothing.

    Of thirty bare years have I
      Twice twenty been enraged;
        And of forty been
        Three times fifteen
      In durance soundly caged.
    In the lovely lofts of Bedlam,
      In stubble soft and dainty,
        Brave bracelets strong,
        Sweet whips ding, dong,
      And a wholesome hunger plenty.

    With a thought I took for Maudlin,
      And a cruse of cockle pottage,
        And a thing thus--tall,
        Sky bless you all,
      I fell into this dotage.
    I slept not till the Conquest;
      Till then I never waked;
        Till the roguish boy
        Of love where I lay,
      Me found, and stript me naked.

    When short I have shorn my sow's face,
      And swigg'd my horned barrel;
        In an oaken inn
        Do I pawn my skin,
      As a suit of gilt apparel.
    The morn's my constant mistress,
      And the lovely owl my morrow;
        The flaming drake,
        And the night-crow, make
      Me music, to my sorrow.

    The palsie plague these pounces,
      When I prig your pigs or pullen;
        Your culvers take
        Or mateless make
      Your chanticleer and sullen;
    When I want provant with _Humphrey_ I sup,
      And when benighted,
        To repose in Paul's,
        With waking souls
      I never am affrighted.

    I know more than Apollo;
      For, oft when he lies sleeping,
        I behold the stars
        At mortal wars,
      And the rounded welkin weeping.
    The moon embraces her shepherd,
      And the Queen of Love her warrior;
        While the first does horn
        The stars of the morn,
      And the next the heavenly farrier.

    With a heart of furious fancies,
      Whereof I am commander:
        With a burning spear,
        And a horse of air,
      To the wilderness I wander;
    With a knight of ghosts and shadows,
      I summoned am to Tourney:
        Ten leagues beyond
        The wide world's end;
      Methinks it is no journey!

The last stanza of this Bedlam song contains the seeds of exquisite
romance; a stanza worth many an admired poem.


It is said that the frozen Norwegians, on the first sight of roses,
dared not touch what they conceived were trees budding with fire: and
the natives of Virginia, the first time they seized on a quantity of
gunpowder, which belonged to the English colony, sowed it for grain,
expecting to reap a plentiful crop of combustion by the next harvest, to
blow away the whole colony.

In our own recollection, strange imaginations impeded the first period
of vaccination; when some families, terrified by the warning of a
physician, conceived their race would end in a species of Minotaurs--

    Semibovemque virum, semivirumque bovem.

We smile at the simplicity of the men of nature, for their mistaken
notions at the first introduction among them of exotic novelties; and
yet, even in civilised Europe, how long a time those whose profession or
whose reputation regulates public opinion are influenced by vulgar
prejudices, often disguised under the imposing form of science! and when
their ludicrous absurdities and obstinate prejudices enter into the
matters of history, it is then we discover that they were only imposing
on themselves and on others.

It is hardly credible that on the first introduction of the Chinese
leaf, which now affords our daily refreshment; or the American leaf,
whose sedative fumes made it so long an universal favourite; or the
Arabian berry, whose aroma exhilarates its European votaries; that the
use of these harmless novelties should have spread consternation among
the nations of Europe, and have been anathematised by the terrors and
the fictions of some of the learned. Yet this seems to have happened.
Patin, who wrote so furiously against the introduction of antimony,
spread the same alarm at the use of tea, which he calls "l'impertinente
nouveauté du siècle." In Germany, Hanneman considered tea-dealers as
immoral members of society, lying in wait for men's purses and lives;
and Dr. Duncan, in his Treatise on Hot Liquors, suspected that the
virtues attributed to tea were merely to encourage the importation.[182]

Many virulent pamphlets were published against the use of this shrub,
from various motives. In 1670, a Dutch writer says it was ridiculed in
Holland under the name of hay-water. "The progress of this famous
plant," says an ingenious writer, "has been something like the progress
of truth; suspected at first, though very palatable to those who had
courage to taste it; resisted as it encroached; abused as its popularity
seemed to spread; and establishing its triumph at last, in cheering the
whole land from the palace to the cottage, only by the slow and
resistless efforts of time and its own virtues."[183]

The history of the Tea-shrub, by Dr. Lettsom, usually referred to on
this subject, I consider little more than a plagiarism on Dr. Short's
learned and curious dissertation on Tea, 1730, 4to. Lettsom has
superadded the solemn trifling of his moral and medical advice.

These now common beverages are all of recent origin in Europe; neither
the ancients nor those of the middle ages tasted of this luxury. The
first accounts we find of the use of this shrub are the casual notices
of travellers, who seem to have tasted it, and sometimes not to have
liked it: a Russian ambassador, in 1639, who resided at the court of the
Mogul, declined accepting a large present of tea for the Czar, "as it
would only encumber him with a commodity for which he had no use." The
appearance of "a black water" and an acrid taste seems not to have
recommended it to the German Olearius in 1633. Dr. Short has recorded
an anecdote of a stratagem of the Dutch in their second voyage to China,
by which they at first obtained their tea without disbursing money; they
carried from home great store of dried sage, and bartered it with the
Chinese for tea, and received three or four pounds of tea for one of
sage: but at length the Dutch could not export sufficient quantities of
sage to supply their demand. This fact, however, proves how deeply the
imagination is concerned with our palate; for the Chinese, affected by
the exotic novelty, considered our sage to be more precious than their

The first introduction of tea into Europe is not ascertained; according
to the common accounts it came into England from Holland, in 1666, when
Lord Arlington and Lord Ossory brought over a small quantity: the custom
of drinking tea became fashionable, and a pound weight sold then for
sixty shillings. This account, however, is by no means satisfactory. I
have heard of Oliver Cromwell's tea-pot in the possession of a
collector, and this will derange the chronology of those writers who are
perpetually copying the researches of others, without confirming or
correcting them.[184]

Amidst the rival contests of the Dutch and the English East India
Companies, the honour of introducing its use into Europe may be claimed
by both. Dr. Short conjectures that tea might have been known in England
as far back as the reign of James the First, for the first fleet set out
in 1600; but had the use of the shrub been known, the novelty had been
chronicled among our dramatic writers, whose works are the annals of our
prevalent tastes and humours. It is rather extraordinary that our East
India Company should not have discovered the use of this shrub in their
early adventures; yet it certainly was not known in England so late as
in 1641, for in a scarce "Treatise of Warm Beer," where the title
indicates the author's design to recommend hot in preference to cold
drinks, he refers to tea only by quoting the Jesuit Maffei's account,
that "they of China do for the most part drink the strained liquor of an
herb called _Chia_ hot." The word _Cha_ is the Portuguese term for tea
retained to this day, which they borrowed from the Japanese; while our
intercourse with the Chinese made us no doubt adopt their term _Theh_,
now prevalent throughout Europe, with the exception of the Portuguese.
The Chinese origin is still preserved in the term _Bohea_, tea which
comes from the country of _Vouhi_; and that of _Hyson_ was the name of
the most considerable Chinese then concerned in the trade.

The best account of the early use, and the prices of tea in England,
appears in the handbill of one who may be called our first _Tea-maker_.
This curious handbill bears no date, but as Hanway ascertained that the
price was sixty shillings in 1660, his bill must have been dispersed
about that period.

Thomas Garway, in Exchange-alley, tobacconist and coffee-man, was the
first who sold and retailed tea, recommending it for the cure of all
disorders. The following shop-bill is more curious than any historical
account we have.

"Tea in England hath been sold in the leaf for six pounds, and sometimes
for ten pounds the pound weight, and in respect of its former scarceness
and dearness it has been only used as a regalia in high treatments and
entertainments, and presents made thereof to princes and grandees till
the year 1657. The said Garway did purchase a quantity thereof, and
first publicly sold the said tea in _leaf_ or _drink_, made according to
the directions of the most knowing merchants into those Eastern
countries. On the knowledge of the said Garway's continued care and
industry in obtaining the best tea, and making drink thereof, very many
noblemen, physicians, merchants, &c., have ever since sent to him for
the said leaf, and daily resort to his house to drink the drink thereof.
He sells tea from 16s. to 50s. a pound."

Probably, tea was not in general use domestically so late as in 1687;
for in the diary of Henry, Earl of Clarendon, he registers that "Père
Couplet supped with me, and after supper we had tea, which he said was
really as good as any he had drank in China." Had his lordship been in
the general habit of drinking tea, he had not probably made it a subject
for his diary.

While the honour of introducing tea may be disputed between the English
and the Dutch, that of coffee remains between the English and the
French. Yet an Italian intended to have occupied the place of honour:
that admirable traveller Pietro della Valle, writing from
Constantinople, 1615, to a Roman, his fellow-countryman, informing him
that he should teach Europe in what manner the Turks took what he calls
"_Cahué_," or as the word is written in an Arabic and English pamphlet,
printed at Oxford, in 1659, on "the nature of the drink _Kauhi_ or
Coffee." As this celebrated traveller lived to 1652, it may excite
surprise that the first cup of coffee was not drank at Rome; this
remains for the discovery of some member of the "Arcadian Society." Our
own Sandys, at the time that Valle wrote, was also "a traveller," and
well knew what was "_Coffa_," which "they drank as hot as they can
endure it; it is as black as soot, and tastes not much unlike it; good
they say for digestion and mirth."

It appears by Le Grand's "Vie privée des François," that the celebrated
Thevenot, in 1658, gave coffee after dinner; but it was considered as
the whim of a traveller; neither the thing itself, nor its appearance,
was inviting: it was probably attributed by the gay to the humour of a
vain philosophical traveller. But ten years afterwards a Turkish
ambassador at Paris made the beverage highly fashionable. The elegance
of the equipage recommended it to the eye, and charmed the women: the
brilliant porcelain cups in which it was poured; the napkins fringed
with gold, and the Turkish slaves on their knees presenting it to the
ladies, seated on the ground on cushions, turned the heads of the
Parisian dames. This elegant introduction made the exotic beverage a
subject of conversation, and in 1672, an Armenian at Paris at the
fair-time opened a coffee-house. But the custom still prevailed to sell
beer and wine, and to smoke and mix with indifferent company in their
first imperfect coffee-houses. A Florentine, one Procope, celebrated in
his day as the arbiter of taste in this department, instructed by the
error of the Armenian, invented a superior establishment, and introduced
ices; he embellished his apartment, and those who had avoided the
offensive coffee-houses repaired to Procope's; where literary men,
artists, and wits resorted, to inhale the fresh and fragrant steam. Le
Grand says that this establishment holds a distinguished place in the
literary history of the times. It was at the coffee-house of Du Laurent
that Saurin, La Motte, Danchet, Boindin, Rousseau, &c., met; but the
mild streams of the aromatic berry could not mollify the acerbity of so
many rivals, and the witty malignity of Rousseau gave birth to those
famous couplets on all the coffee drinkers, which occasioned his
misfortune and his banishment.

Such is the history of the first use of coffee and its houses at Paris.
We, however, had the use before even the time of Thevenot; for an
English Turkish merchant brought a Greek servant in 1652, who, knowing
how to roast and make it, opened a house to sell it publicly. I have
also discovered his hand-bill, in which he sets forth, "The vertue of
the coffee-drink, first publiquely made and sold in England, by Pasqua
Rosee, in St. Michael's Alley, Cornhill, at the sign of his own

For about twenty years after the introduction of coffee in this kingdom,
we find a continued series of invectives against its adoption, both for
medicinal and domestic purposes. The use of coffee, indeed, seems to
have excited more notice, and to have had a greater influence on the
manners of the people, than that of tea. It seems at first to have been
more universally used, as it still is on the Continent; and its use is
connected with a resort for the idle and the curious: the history of
coffee-houses, ere the invention of clubs, was that of the manners, the
morals, and the politics of a people. Even in its native country, the
government discovered that extraordinary fact, and the use of the
Arabian berry was more than once forbidden where it grows; for Ellis, in
his "History of Coffee," 1774, refers to an Arabian MS., in the King of
France's library, which shows that coffee-houses in Asia were sometimes
suppressed. The same fate happened on its introduction into England.

Among a number of poetical satires against the use of coffee, I find a
curious exhibition, according to the exaggerated notions of that day, in
"A Cup of Coffee, or Coffee in its Colours," 1663. The writer, like
others of his contemporaries, wonders at the odd taste which could make
Coffee a substitute for Canary.

    For men and Christians to turn Turks and think
    To excuse the crime, because 'tis in their drink!
    Pure English apes! ye may, for aught I know,
    Would it but mode--learn to eat spiders too.[186]
    Should any of your grandsires' ghosts appear
    In your wax-candle circles, and but hear
    The name of coffee so much called upon,
    Then see it drank like scalding Phlegethon;
    Would they not startle, think ye, all agreed
    'Twas conjuration both in word and deed?
    Or Catiline's conspirators, as they stood
    Sealing their oaths in draughts of blackest blood,
    The merriest ghost of all your sires would say,
    Your wine's much worse since his last yesterday.
    He'd wonder how the club had given a hop
    O'er tavern-bars into a farrier's shop,
    Where he'd suppose, both by the smoke and stench,
    Each man a horse, and each horse at his drench.--
    Sure you're no poets, nor their friends, for now,
    Should Jonson's strenuous spirit, or the rare
    Beaumont and Fletcher's, in your round appear,
    They would not find the air perfumed with one
    Castalian drop, nor dew of Helicon;
    When they but men would speak as the gods do,
    They drank pure nectar as the gods drink too,
    Sublim'd with rich Canary--say, shall then
    These less than coffee's self, these coffee-men;
    These sons of nothing, that can hardly make
    Their broth, for laughing how the jest does take,
    Yet grin, and give ye for the vine's pure blood
    A loathsome potion, not yet understood,
    Syrop of soot, or essence of old shoes,
    Dasht with diurnals and the books of news?

Other complaints arose from the mixture of the company in the first
coffee-houses. In "A Broadside against Coffee, or the Marriage of the
Turk," 1672, the writer indicates the growth of the fashion:--

    Confusion huddles all into one scene,
    Like Noah's ark, the clean and the unclean;
    For now, alas! the drench has credit got,
    And he's no gentleman who drinks it not.
    That such a dwarf should rise to such a stature!
    But custom is but a remove from nature.

In "The Women's Petition against Coffee," 1674, they complained that
"it made men as unfruitful as the deserts whence that unhappy berry is
said to be brought; that the offspring of our mighty ancestors would
dwindle into a succession of apes and pigmies; and on a domestic
message, a husband would stop by the way to drink a couple of cups of
coffee." It was now sold in convenient penny-worths; for in another poem
in praise of a coffee-house, for the variety of information obtained
there, it is called "a penny university."

Amidst these contests of popular prejudices, between the lovers of
forsaken Canary, and the terrors of our females at the barrenness of an
Arabian desert, which lasted for twenty years, at length the custom was
universally established; nor were there wanting some reflecting minds
desirous of introducing the use of this liquid among the labouring
classes of society, to wean them from strong liquors. Howell, in
noticing that curious philosophical traveller, Sir Henry Blount's
"Organon Salutis," 1659, observed that "this coffa-drink hath caused a
great sobriety among all nations: formerly apprentices, clerks, &c.,
used to take their morning draughts in ale, beer, or wine, which often
made them unfit for business. Now they play the good-fellows in this
wakeful and civil drink. The worthy gentleman, Sir James Muddiford, who
introduced the practice hereof first in London, deserves much respect of
the whole nation." Here it appears, what is most probable, that the use
of this berry was introduced by other Turkish merchants, besides Edwards
and his servant Pasqua. But the custom of drinking coffee among the
labouring classes does not appear to have lasted; and when it was
recently even the cheapest beverage, the popular prejudices prevailed
against it, and ran in favour of tea. The contrary practice prevails on
the continent, where beggars are viewed making their coffee in the
street. I remember seeing the large body of shipwrights at Helvoetsluys
summoned by a bell, to take their regular refreshment of coffee; and the
fleets of Holland were not then built by arms less robust than the
fleets of Britain.

The frequenting of coffee-houses is a custom which has declined within
our recollection, since institutions of a higher character, and society
itself, have so much improved within late years. These were, however,
the common assemblies of all classes of society. The mercantile man, the
man of letters, and the man of fashion, had their appropriate
coffee-houses. The Tatler dates from either to convey a character of
his subject. In the reign of Charles the Second, 1675, a proclamation
for some time shut them all up, having become the rendezvous of the
politicians of that day. Roger North has given, in his Examen, a full
account of this bold stroke: it was not done without some apparent
respect to the British constitution, the court affecting not to act
against law, for the judges were summoned to a consultation, when, it
seems, the five who met did not agree in opinion. But a decision was
contrived that "the retailing of coffee and tea might be an innocent
trade; but as it was said to nourish sedition, spread lies, and
scandalise great men, it might also be a common nuisance." A general
discontent, in consequence, as North acknowledges, took place, and
emboldened the merchants and retailers of coffee and tea to petition;
and permission was soon granted to open the houses to a certain period,
under a severe admonition, that the masters should prevent all
scandalous papers, books, and libels from being read in them; and hinder
every person from spreading scandalous reports against the government.
It must be confessed, all this must have frequently puzzled the
coffee-house master to decide what was scandalous, what book was fit to
be licensed to be read, and what political intelligence might be allowed
to be communicated. The object of the government was, probably, to
intimidate, rather than to persecute, at that moment.

Chocolate the Spaniards brought from Mexico, where it was denominated
_Chocolati_; it was a coarse mixture of ground cacao and Indian corn
with rocou; but the Spaniards, liking its nourishment, improved it into
a richer compound, with sugar, vanilla, and other aromatics. The
immoderate use of chocolate in the seventeenth century was considered as
so violent an inflamer of the passions, that Joan. Fran. Rauch published
a treatise against it, and enforced the necessity of forbidding the
_monks_ to drink it; and adds, that if such an interdiction had existed,
that scandal with which that holy order had been branded might have
proved more groundless. This _Disputatio medico-diætetica de aëre et
esculentis, necnon de potû_, Vienna, 1624, is a _rara avis_ among
collectors. This attack on the monks, as well as on chocolate, is said
to be the cause of its scarcity; for we are told that they were so
diligent in suppressing this treatise, that it is supposed not a dozen
copies exist. We had chocolate-houses in London long after
coffee-houses; they seemed to have associated something more elegant
and refined in their new term when the other had become common.[187]
Roger North thus inveighs against them: "The use of coffee-houses seems
much improved by a new invention, called chocolate-houses, for the
benefit of rooks and cullies of quality, where gaming is added to all
the rest, and the summons of W---- seldom fails; as if the devil had
erected a new university, and those were the colleges of its professors,
as well as his schools of discipline." Roger North, a high Tory, and
Attorney-General to James the Second, observed, however, these
rendezvous were often not entirely composed of those "factious gentry he
so much dreaded;" for he says "This way of passing time might have been
stopped at first, before people had possessed themselves of some
convenience from them of meeting for short despatches, and passing
evenings with small expenses." And old Aubrey, the small Boswell of his
day, attributes his general acquaintance to "the modern advantage of
coffee-houses in this great city, before which men knew not how to be
acquainted, but with their own relations, and societies;" a curious
statement, which proves the moral connexion with society of all
sedentary recreations which induce the herding spirit.


Herbert, the faithful attendant of Charles the First during the two last
years of the king's life, mentions "a diamond seal with the king's arms
engraved on it." The history of this "diamond seal" is remarkable; and
seems to have been recovered by the conjectural sagacity of Warburton,
who never exercised his favourite talent with greater felicity. The
curious passage I transcribe may be found in a manuscript letter to Dr.

"If you have read Herbert's account of the last days of Charles the
First's life, you must remember he tells a story of a diamond seal, with
the arms of England cut into it. This, King Charles ordered to be given,
I think, to the prince. I suppose you don't know what became of this
seal, but would be surprised to find it afterwards in the Court of
Persia. Yet there Tavernier certainly carried it, and offered it for
sale, as I certainly collect from these words of vol. i. p. 541.--'Me
souvenant de ce qui etoit arrivé au Chevalier de Reville,' &c. He tells
us he told the prime minister what was engraved on the diamond was the
arms of a prince of Europe, but, says he, I would not be more
particular, remembering the case of Reville. Reville's case was this: he
came to seek employment under the Sophy, who asked him 'where he had
served?' He said 'in England under Charles the First, and that he was a
captain in his guards.'--'Why did you leave his service?' 'He was
murdered by cruel rebels.'--'And how had you the impudence,' says the
Sophy, 'to survive him?' And so disgraced him. Now Tavernier was afraid,
if he had said the arms of England had been on the seal, that they would
have occasioned the inquiry into the old story. You will ask how
Tavernier got this seal? I suppose that the prince, in his necessities,
sold it to Tavernier, who was at Paris when the English court was there.
What made me recollect Herbert's account on reading this, was the
singularity of an impress cut on the diamond, which Tavernier represents
as a most extraordinary rarity. Charles the First was a great virtuoso,
and delighted particularly in sculpture and painting."

This is an instance of conjectural evidence, where an historical fact
seems established on no other authority than the ingenuity of a student,
exercised in his library, on a private and secret event, a century after
it had occurred. The diamond seal of Charles the First may yet be
discovered in the treasures of the Persian sovereign.

Warburton, who had ranged with keen delight through the age of Charles
the First, the noblest and the most humiliating in our own history, and
in that of the world, perpetually instructive, has justly observed the
king's passion for the fine arts. It was indeed such, that had the reign
of Charles the First proved prosperous, that sovereign about 1640 would
have anticipated those tastes, and even that enthusiasm, which are still
almost foreign to the nation.

The mind of Charles the First was moulded by the Graces. His favourite
Buckingham was probably a greater favourite for those congenial tastes,
and the frequent exhibition of those splendid masques and
entertainments, which combined all the picture of ballet dances with the
voice of music; the charms of the verse of Jonson, the scenic machinery
of Inigo Jones, and the variety of fanciful devices of Gerbier, the
duke's architect, the bosom friend of Rubens.[188] There was a costly
magnificence in the _fêtes_ at York House, the residence of Buckingham,
of which few but curious researchers are aware: they eclipsed the
splendour of the French Court; for Bassompiere, in one of his
despatches, declares he had never witnessed a similar magnificence. He
describes the vaulted apartments, the ballets at supper, which were
proceeding between the services with various representations, theatrical
changes, and those of the tables, and the music; the duke's own
contrivance, to prevent the inconvenience of pressure, by having a
turning door made like that of the monasteries, which admitted only one
person at a time. The following extract from a manuscript letter of the
time conveys a lively account of one of those _fêtes._

"Last Sunday, at night, the duke's grace entertained their majesties and
the French ambassador at York House with great feasting and show, where
all things came down in clouds; amongst which, one rare device was a
representation of the French king, and the two queens, with their
chiefest attendants, and so to the life, that the queen's majesty could
name them. It was four o'clock in the morning before they parted, and
then the king and queen, together with the French ambassador, lodged
there. Some estimate this entertainment at five or six thousand
pounds."[189] At another time, "the king and queen were entertained at
supper at Gerbier the duke's painter's house, which could not stand him
in less than a thousand pounds." Sir Symonds D'Ewes mentions banquets at
five hundred pounds. The fullest account I have found of one of these
entertainments, which at once show the curiosity of the scenical
machinery and the fancy of the poet, the richness Of the crimson habits
of the gentlemen, and the white dresses with white heron's plumes and
jewelled head-dresses and ropes of pearls of the ladies, was in a
manuscript letter of the times, with which I supplied the editor of
"Jonson", who has preserved the narrative in his memoirs of that poet.
"Such were the magnificent entertainments," says Mr. Gifford, "which,
though modern refinement may affect to despise them, modern splendour
never reached, even in thought." That the expenditure was costly, proves
that the greater encouragement was offered to artists; nor should
Buckingham be censured, as some will incline to, for this lavish
expense; it was not unusual for the great nobility then; for the
literary Duchess of Newcastle mentions that an entertainment of this
sort, which the Duke gave to Charles the First, cost her lord between
four and five thousand pounds. The ascetic puritan would indeed abhor
these scenes; but their magnificence was also designed to infuse into
the national character gentler feelings and more elegant tastes. They
charmed even the fiercer republican spirits in their tender youth:
Milton owes his Arcades and his delightful Comus to a masque at Ludlow
Castle; and Whitelocke, who, was himself an actor and manager, in "a
splendid royal masque of the four Inns of Courts joined together" to go
to court about the time that Prynne published his Histriomastix, "to
manifest the difference of their opinions from Mr. Prynne's new
learning,"--seems, even at a later day, when drawing up his "Memorials
of the English Affairs," and occupied by graver concerns, to have dwelt
with all the fondness of reminiscence on the stately shows and masques
of his more innocent age; and has devoted, in a chronicle, which
contracts many an important event into a single paragraph, six folio
columns to a minute and very curious description of "these dreams past,
and these vanished pomps."

Charles the First, indeed, not only possessed a critical tact, but
extensive knowledge in the fine arts, and the relics of antiquity. In
his flight in 1642, the king stopped at the abode of the religious
family of the Farrars at Gidding, who had there raised a singular
monastic institution among themselves. One of their favorite amusements
had been to form an illustrated Bible, the wonder and the talk of the
country. In turning it over, the king would tell his companion the
Palsgrave, whose curiosity in prints exceeded his knowledge, the various
masters, and the character of their inventions. When Panzani, a secret
agent of the Pope, was sent over to England to promote the Catholic
cause, the subtle and elegant Catholic Barberini, called the protector
of the English at Rome, introduced Panzani to the king's favour, by
making him appear an agent rather for procuring him fine pictures,
statues, and curiosities: and the earnest inquiries and orders given by
Charles the First prove his perfect knowledge of the most beautiful
existing remains of ancient art. "The statues go on prosperously," says
Cardinal Barberini, in a letter to a Mazarin, "nor shall I hesitate to
rob Rome of her most valuable ornaments, if in exchange we might be so
happy as to have the King of England's name among those princes who
submit to the Apostolic See." Charles the First was particularly urgent
to procure a statue of Adonis in the Villa Ludovisia: every effort was
made by the queen's confessor, Father Philips, and the vigilant cardinal
at Rome; but the inexorable Duchess of Fiano would not suffer it to be
separated from her rich collection of statues and paintings, even for
the chance conversion of a whole kingdom of heretics."[190]

This monarch, who possessed "four-and-twenty palaces, all of them
elegantly and completely furnished," had formed very considerable
collections. "The value of pictures had doubled in Europe, by the
emulation between our Charles and Philip the Fourth of Spain, who was
touched with the same elegant passion." When the rulers of fanaticism
began their reign, "all the king's furniture was put to sale; his
pictures, disposed of at very low prices, enriched all the collections
in Europe; the cartoons when complete were only appraised at £300,
though the whole collection of the king's curiosities were sold at above
£50,000.[191] Hume adds, "the very library and medals at St. James's
were intended by the generals to be brought to auction, in order to pay
the arrears of some regiments of cavalry; but Selden, apprehensive of
this loss, engaged his friend Whitelocke, then lord-keeper of the
Commonwealth, to apply for the office of librarian. This contrivance
saved that valuable collection." This account is only partly correct:
the love of books, which formed the passion of the two learned scholars
whom Hume notices, fortunately intervened to save the royal collection
from the intended scattering; but the pictures and medals were, perhaps,
objects too slight in the eyes of the book-learned; they wore resigned
to the singular fate of appraisement. After the Restoration very many
books were missing; but scarcely a third part of the medals remained: of
the strange manner in which these precious remains of ancient art and
history were valued and disposed of, the following account may not be
read without interest.

In March, 1648, the parliament ordered commissioners to be appointed, to
inventory the goods and personal estate of the late king, queen, and
prince, and appraise them for the use of the public. And in April, 1648,
an act, adds Whitelocke, was committed for inventorying the late king's
goods, &c.[192]

This very inventory I have examined. It forms a magnificent folio, of
near a thousand pages, of an extraordinary dimension, bound in crimson
velvet, and richly gilt, written in a fair large hand, but with little
knowledge of the objects which the inventory writer describes. It is
entitled "An Inventory of the Goods, Jewels, Plate, &c. belonging to
King Charles the First, sold by order of the Council of State, from the
year 1619 to 1652." So that from the decapitation of the king, a year
was allowed to draw up the inventory; and the sale proceeded during
three years.

From this manuscript catalogue[193] to give long extracts were useless;
it has afforded, however, some remarkable observations. Every article
was appraised, nothing was sold under the affixed price, but a slight
competition sometimes seems to have raised the sum; and when the Council
of State could not get the sum appraised, the gold and silver were sent
to the Mint; and assuredly many fine works of art were valued by the
ounce. The names of the purchasers appear; they are usually English, but
probably many were the agents for foreign courts. The coins or medals
were thrown promiscuously into drawers; one drawer having twenty-four
medals, was valued at £2 10_s_.; another of twenty, at £1; another of
twenty-four, at £1; and one drawer, containing forty-six silver coins
with the box, was sold for £5. On the whole the medals seem not to have
been valued at much more than a shilling a-piece. The appraiser was
certainly no antiquary.

The king's curiosities in the Tower Jewel-house generally fetched above
the price fixed; the toys of art could please the unlettered minds that
had no conception of its works.

The Temple of Jerusalem, made of ebony and amber, fetched £25.

A fountain of silver, for perfumed waters, artificially made to play of
itself, sold for £30.

A chess-board, said to be Queen Elizabeth's, inlaid with gold, silver,
and pearls, £23.

A conjuring drum from Lapland, with an almanac cut on a piece of wood.

Several sections in silver of a Turkish galley, a Venetian gondola, an
Indian canoe, and a first-rate man-of-war.

A Saxon king's mace used in war, with a ball full of spikes, and the
handle covered with gold plates, and enamelled, sold for £37 8_s_.

A gorget of massy gold, chased with the manner of a battle, weighing
thirty-one ounces, at £3 10_s_. per ounce, was sent to the Mint.

A Roman shield of buff leather, covered with a plate of gold, finely
chased with a Gorgon's head, set round the rim with rubies, emeralds,
turquoise stones, in number 137, £132 12_s_.

The pictures, taken from Whitehall, Windsor, Wimbledon, Greenwich,
Hampton-Court, &c., exhibit, in number, an unparalleled collection. By
what standard they were valued, it would perhaps be difficult to
conjecture; from £50 to £100 seems to have been the limits of the
appraiser's taste and imagination. Some whose price is whimsically low
may have been thus rated from a political feeling respecting the
portrait of the person; there are, however, in this singular appraised
catalogue two pictures, which were rated at, and sold for, the
remarkable sums of one and of two thousand pounds. The one was a
sleeping Venus by Correggio, and the other a Madonna by Raphael. There
was also a picture by Julio Romano, called "The great piece of the
Nativity," at £500. "The little Madonna and Christ," by Raphael, at
£800. "The great Venus and Parde," by Titian, at £600. These seem to
have been the only pictures, in this immense collection, which reached a
picture's prices. The inventory-writer had, probably, been instructed by
the public voice of their value; which, however, would, in the present
day, be considered much under a fourth. Rubens' "Woman taken in
Adultery," described as a large picture, sold for £20; and his "Peace
and Plenty, with many figures big as the life," for £100. Titian's
pictures seem generally valued at £100.[194] "Venus dressed by the
Graces," by Guido, reached to £200.

The Cartoons of Raphael, here called "The Acts of the Apostles,"
notwithstanding their subject was so congenial to the popular feelings,
and only appraised at £300, could find no purchaser![195]

The following full-lengths of celebrated personages were rated at these
whimsical prices:

Queen Elizabeth in her parliament robes, valued £1.

The Queen-mother in mourning habit, valued £3.

Buchanan's picture, valued £3 10s.

The King, when a youth in coats, valued £2.

The picture of the Queen when she was with child, sold for five

King Charles on horseback, by Sir Anthony Vandyke, was purchased by Sir
Balthazar Gerbier, at the appraised price of £200.[196]

The greatest sums were produced by the tapestry and arras hangings,
which were chiefly purchased for the service of the Protector. Their
amount exceeds £30,000. I note a few.

At Hampton-Court, ten pieces of arras hangings of Abraham, containing
826 yards at £10 a yard, £8260.

Ten pieces of Julius Cæsar, 717 ells at £7, £5019.[197]

One of the cloth of estates is thus described:

"One rich cloth of estate of purple velvet, embroidered with gold,
having the arms of England within a garter, with all the furniture
suitable thereunto. The state containing these stones following: two
cameos or agates, twelve chrysolites, twelve ballases or garnets, one
sapphire seated in chases of gold, one long pearl pendant, and many
large and small pearls, valued at £500 sold for £602 10s. to Mr. Oliver,
4 February, 1649."

Was plain Mr. Oliver, in 1649, who we see was one of the earlier
purchasers, shortly after "the Lord Protector?" All the "cloth of
estate" and "arras hangings" were afterwards purchased for the service
of the Protector; and one may venture to conjecture, that when Mr.
Oliver purchased this "rich cloth of estate," it was not without a
latent motive of its service to the new owner.[198]

There is one circumstance remarkable in the feeling of Charles the First
for the fine arts: it was a passion without ostentation or egotism; for
although this monarch was inclined himself to participate in the
pleasures of a creating artist, the king having handled the pencil and
composed a poem, yet he never suffered his private dispositions to
prevail over his more majestic duties. We do not discover in history
that Charles the First was a painter and a poet. Accident and secret
history only reveal this softening feature in his grave and king-like
character. Charles sought no glory from, but only indulged his love for,
art and the artists. There are three manuscripts on his art, by Leonardo
da Vinci, in the Ambrosian library, which bear an inscription that a
King of England, in 1639, offered one thousand guineas of gold for each.
Charles, too, suggested to the two great painters of his age the
subjects he considered worthy of their pencils; and had for his
"closet-companions" those native poets for which he was censured in
"evil times," and even by Milton!

In his imprisonment at Carisbrook Castle, the author of the "Eikon
Basilike" solaced his royal woes by composing a poem, entitled in the
very style of this memorable volume, "Majesty in Misery, or an
Imploration to the King of kings;" a _title_ probably not his own, but
like that volume, it contains stanzas fraught with the most tender and
solemn feeling; such a subject, in the hands of such an author, was sure
to produce poetry, although in the unpractised poet we may want the
versifier. A few stanzas will illustrate this conception of part of his

    The fiercest furies that do daily tread
    Upon my grief, my grey-discrowned head,
    Are those that own my bounty for their bread.

    With my own power my majesty they wound;
    In the king's name, the king himself uncrowned;
    So doth the dust destroy the diamond.

After a pathetic description of his queen "forced in pilgrimage to seek
a tomb," and "Great Britain's heir forced into France," where,

    Poor child, he weeps out his inheritance!

Charles continues:

    They promise to erect my royal stem;
    To make me great, to advance my diadem;
    If I will first fall down and worship them!

    But for refusal they devour my thrones,
    Distress my children, and destroy my bones;
    I fear they'll force me to make bread of stones.

And implores, with a martyr's piety, the Saviour's forgiveness for those
who were more misled than criminal:

    Such as thou know'st do not know what they do.[199]

As a poet and a painter, Charles is not popularly known; but this
article was due, to preserve the memory of the royal votary's ardour and
pure feelings for the love of the Fine Arts.[200]


The secret history of Charles the First, and his queen Henrietta of
France, opens a different scene from the one exhibited in the passionate
drama of our history.

The king is accused of the most spiritless uxoriousness; and the chaste
fondness of a husband is placed among his political errors. Even Hume
conceives that his queen "precipitated him into hasty and imprudent
counsels," and Bishop Kennet had alluded to "the influence of a stately
queen over an affectionate husband." The uxoriousness of Charles is
re-echoed by all the writers of a certain party. This is an odium which
the king's enemies first threw out to make him contemptible; while his
apologists imagined that, in perpetuating this accusation, they had
discovered, in a weakness which has at least something amiable, some
palliation for his own political misconduct. The factious, too, by this
aspersion, promoted the alarm they spread in the nation, of the king's
inclination to popery; yet, on the contrary, Charles was then making a
determined stand, and at length triumphed over a Catholic faction, which
was ruling his queen; and this at the risk and menace of a war with
France. Yet this firmness too has been denied him, even by his apologist
Hume: that historian, on his preconceived system, imagined that every
action of Charles originated in the Duke of Buckingham, and that the
duke pursued his personal quarrel with Richelieu, and taking advantage
of these domestic quarrels, had persuaded Charles to dismiss the French
attendants of the queen.[201]

There are, fortunately, two letters from Charles the First to
Buckingham, preserved in the State-papers of Lord Hardwicke, which set
this point at rest: these decisively prove that the whole matter
originated with the king himself, and that Buckingham had tried every
effort to persuade him to the contrary; for the king complains that he
had been too long overcome by his persuasions, but that he was now
"resolved it must be done, and that shortly!"[202]

It is remarkable, that the character of a queen, who is imagined to have
performed so active a part in our history, scarcely ever appears in it;
when abroad, and when she returned to England, in the midst of a winter
storm, bringing all the aid she could to her unfortunate consort, those
who witnessed this appearance of energy imagined that her character was
equally powerful in the cabinet. Yet Henrietta, after all, was nothing
more than a volatile woman; one who had never studied, never reflected,
and whom nature had formed to be charming and haughty, but whose
vivacity could not retain even a state-secret for an hour, and whose
talents were quite opposite to those of deep political intrigue.

Henrietta viewed even the characters of great men with all the
sensations of a woman. Describing the Earl of Strafford to a
confidential friend, and having observed that he was a great man, she
dwelt with far more interest on his person: "Though not handsome," said
she, "he was agreeable enough, and he had the finest hands of any man in
the world." Landing at Burlington-bay in Yorkshire, she lodged on the
quay; the parliament's admiral barbarously pointed his cannon at the
house; and several shots reaching it, her favourite, Jermyn, requested
her to fly: she safely reached a cavern in the fields, but, recollecting
that she had left a lap-dog asleep in its bed, she flew back, and amidst
the cannon-shot returned with this other favourite. The queen related
this incident of the lap-dog to her friend Madame Motteville; these
ladies considered it as a complete woman's victory. It is in these
memoirs we find, that when Charles went down to the house, to seize on
the five leading members of the opposition, the queen could not
restrain her lively temper, and impatiently babbled the plot; so that
one of the ladies in attendance despatched a hasty note to the parties,
who, as the king entered the house, had just time to leave it. Some have
dated the ruin of his cause to the failure of that impolitic step, which
alarmed every one zealous for that spirit of political freedom which had
now grown up in the Commons. Incidents like these mark the feminine
dispositions of Henrietta. But when at sea, in danger of being taken by
a parliamentarian, the queen commanded the captain not to strike, but to
prepare at the extremity to blow up the ship, resisting the shrieks of
her females and domestics. We perceive how, on every trying occasion,
Henrietta never forgot that she was the daughter of Henry the Fourth;
that glorious affinity was inherited by her with all the sexual pride;
and hence, at times, that energy in her actions which was so far above
her intellectual capacity.

And, indeed, when the awful events she had witnessed were one by one
registered in her melancholy mind, the sensibility of the woman subdued
the natural haughtiness of her character; but, true woman! the feeling
creature of circumstances, at the Restoration she resumed it, and when
the new court of Charles the Second would not endure her obsolete
haughtiness, the dowager-queen left it in all the full bitterness of her
spirit. An habitual gloom, and the meagreness of grief, during the
commonwealth, had changed a countenance once the most lively; and her
eyes, whose dark and dazzling lustre was ever celebrated, then only
shone in tears. When she told her physician, Sir Theodore Mayerne, that
she found her understanding was failing her, and seemed terrified lest
it was approaching to madness, the court physician, hardly courtly to
fallen majesty, replied, "Madam, fear not that; for you are already
mad." Henrietta had lived to contemplate the awful changes of her reign,
without comprehending them.

Waller, in the profusion of poetical decoration, makes Henrietta so
beautiful, that her beauty would affect every lover "more than his
private loves." She was "the whole world's mistress." A portrait in
crayons of Henrietta at Hampton-court sadly reduces all his poetry, for
the miraculous was only in the fancy of the court-poet. But there may be
some truth in what he says of the eyes of Henrietta:--

    Such eyes as yours, on Jove himself, had thrown
    As bright and fierce a lightning as his own.

And in another poem there is one characteristic line:--

    ---- such radiant eyes,
    Such lovely motion, and such sharp replies.

In a MS. letter of the times, the writer describes the queen as "nimble
and quick, black-eyed, brown-haired, and a brave lady."[203] In the MS.
journal of Sir Symonds D'Ewes, who saw the queen on her first arrival in
London, cold and puritanic as was that antiquary, he notices with some
warmth "the features of her face, which were much enlivened by her
radiant and sparkling black eye."[204] She appears to have possessed
French vivacity both in her manners and her conversation: in the history
of a queen, an accurate conception of her person enters for something.

Her talents were not of that order which could influence the revolutions
of a people. Her natural dispositions might have allowed her to become a
politician of the toilet, and she might have practised those slighter
artifices, which may be considered as so many political coquetries. But
Machiavelian principles, and involved intrigues, of which she has been
so freely accused, could never have entered into her character. At first
she tried all the fertile inventions of a woman to persuade the king
that she was his humblest creature, and the good people of England that
she was quite in love with them. Now that we know that no female was
ever more deeply tainted with Catholic bigotry, and that, haughty as she
was, this princess suffered the most insulting superstitions, inflicted
as penances by her priests, for this very marriage with a Protestant
prince, the following new facts relating to her first arrival in England
curiously contrast with the mortified feelings she must have endured by
the violent suppression of her real ones.

We must first bring forward a remarkable and unnoticed document in the
Embassies of Marshal Bassompierre.[205] It is nothing less than a most
solemn obligation contracted with the Pope and her brother the King of
France, to educate her children as Catholics, and only to choose
Catholics to attend them. Had this been known either to Charles or to
the English nation, Henrietta could never have been permitted to ascend
the English throne. The fate of both her sons shows how faithfully she
performed this treasonable contract. This piece of secret history opens
the concealed cause of those deep impressions of that faith which both
monarchs sucked in with their milk; that triumph of the cradle over the
grave which most men experience; Charles the Second died a Catholic,
James the Second lived as one.

When Henrietta was on her way to England, a legate from Rome arrested
her at Amiens, requiring the princess to undergo a penance, which was to
last sixteen days, for marrying Charles without the papal dispensation.
The queen stopped her journey, and wrote to inform the king of the
occasion. Charles, who was then waiting for her at Canterbury, replied,
that if Henrietta did not instantly proceed, he would return alone to
London. Henrietta doubtless sighed for the Pope and the penance, but she
set off the day she received the king's letter. The king, either by his
wisdom or his impatience, detected the aim of the Roman pontiff, who,
had he been permitted to arrest the progress of a Queen of England for
sixteen days in the face of all Europe, would thus have obtained a tacit
supremacy over a British monarch.

When the king arrived at Canterbury, although not at the moment prepared
to receive him, Henrietta flew to meet him, and with all her spontaneous
grace and native vivacity, kneeling at his feet, she kissed his hand,
while the king, bending over her, wrapped her in his arms, and kissed
her with many kisses. This royal and youthful pair, unusual with those
of their rank, met with the eagerness of lovers, and the first words of
Henrietta were those of devotion; _Sire! je suis venue en ce pays de
votre majesté pour être usée et commandée de vous._[206] It had been
rumoured that she was of a very short stature, but, reaching to the
king's shoulder, his eyes were cast down to her feet, seemingly
observing whether she used art to increase her height. Anticipating his
thoughts, and playfully showing her feet, she declared, that "she stood
upon her own feet, for thus high I am, and neither higher nor lower."
After an hour's conversation in privacy, Henrietta took her dinner
surrounded by the court; and the king, who had already dined, performing
the office of her carver, cut a pheasant and some venison. By the side
of the queen stood her ghostly confessor, solemnly reminding her that
this was the eve of John the Baptist, and was to be fasted, exhorting
her to be cautious that she set no scandalous example on her first
arrival. But Charles and his court were now to be gained over, as well
as John the Baptist. She affected to eat very heartily of the forbidden
meat, which gave great comfort, it seems, to several of her new
heretical subjects then present: but we may conceive the pangs of so
confirmed a devotee. She carried her dissimulation so far, that being
asked about this time whether she could abide a Huguenot? she replied,
"Why not? was not my father one?" Her ready smiles, the graceful wave of
her hand, the many "good signs of hope," as a contemporary in a
manuscript letter expresses it, induced many of the English to believe
that Henrietta might even become one of themselves! Sir Symonds D'Ewes,
as appears by his manuscript diary, was struck by "her deportment to her
women, and her looks to her servants, which were so sweet and
humble!"[207] However, this was in the first days of her arrival, and
these "sweet and humble looks" were not constant ones; for a courier at
Whitehall, writing to a friend, observes that "the queen, however little
of stature, yet is of a pleasing countenance, if she be pleased,
otherwise full of spirit and vigour, and seems of more than ordinary
resolution;" and he adds an incident of one of her "frowns." The room in
which the queen was at dinner, being somewhat over-heated with the fire
and company, "she drove us all out of the chamber. I suppose none but a
queen could have cast such a scowl."[208] We may already detect the fair
waxen mask melting away on the features it covered, even in one short

By the marriage-contract, Henrietta was to be allowed a household
establishment, composed of her own people; and this had been contrived
to be not less than a small French colony, exceeding three hundred
persons. It composed, in fact, a French faction, and looks like a covert
project of Richelieu's to further his intrigues here, by opening a
perpetual correspondence with the discontented Catholics of England. In
the instructions of Bassompierre, one of the alleged objects of the
marriage is the general good of the Catholic religion, by affording some
relief to those English who professed it. If, however, that great
statesman ever entertained this political design, the simplicity and
pride of the Roman priests here completely overturned it; for in their
blind zeal they dared to extend their domestic tyranny over majesty

The French party had not long resided here ere the mutual jealousies
between the two nations broke out. All the English who were not
Catholics were soon dismissed from their attendance on the queen, by
herself; while Charles was compelled, by the popular cry, to forbid any
English Catholics to serve the queen, or to be present at the
celebration of her mass. The king was even obliged to employ pursuivants
or king's messengers, to stand at the door of her chapel to seize on any
of the English who entered there, while on these occasions the French
would draw their swords to defend these concealed Catholics. "The queen
and hers" became an odious distinction in the nation. Such were the
indecent scenes exhibited in public; they were not less reserved in
private. The following anecdote of saying a grace before the king, at
his own table, in a most indecorous race run between the catholic priest
and the king's chaplain, is given in a manuscript letter of the times.

"The king and queen dining together in the presence,[209] Mr. Hacket
(chaplain to the Lord Keeper Williams)[210] being then to say grace, the
confessor would have prevented him, but that Hacket shoved him away;
whereupon the confessor went to the queen's side, and was about to say
grace again, but that the king pulling the dishes unto him, and the
carvers falling to their business, hindered. When dinner was done, the
confessor thought, standing by the queen, to have been before Mr.
Hacket, but Mr. Hacket again got the start. The confessor, nevertheless,
begins his grace as loud as Mr. Hacket, with such a confusion, that the
king in great passion instantly rose from the table, and, taking the
queen by the hand, retired into the bedchamber."[211] It is with
difficulty we conceive how such a scene of priestly indiscretion should
have been suffered at the table of an English sovereign.

Such are the domestic accounts I have gleaned from MS. letters of the
times; but particulars of a deeper nature may be discovered in the
answer of the king's council to Marshal Bassompierre, preserved in the
history of his embassy; this marshal had been hastily despatched as an
extraordinary ambassador when the French party were dismissed. This
state-document, rather a remonstrance than a reply, states that the
French household had formed a little republic within themselves,
combining with the French resident ambassador, and inciting the
opposition members in parliament; a practice usual with that intriguing
court, even from the days of Elizabeth, as the original letters of the
French ambassador of the time, which will be found in the third volume,
amply show; and those of La Boderie in James the First's time, who
raised a French party about Prince Henry; and the correspondence of
Barillon in Charles the Second's reign, so fully exposed in his entire
correspondence published by Fox. The French domestics of the queen were
engaged in lower intrigues; they lent their names to hire houses in the
suburbs of London, where, under their protection, the English Catholics
found a secure retreat to hold their illegal assemblies, and where the
youth of both sexes were educated and prepared to be sent abroad to
Catholic seminaries. But the queen's priests, by those well-known means
which the Catholic religion sanctions, were drawing from the queen the
minutest circumstances which passed in privacy between her and the king;
indisposed her mind towards her royal consort, impressed on her a
contempt of the English nation, and a disgust of our customs, and
particularly, as has been usual with the French, made her neglect the
English language, as if the queen of England held no common interest
with the nation. They had made her residence a place of security for the
persons and papers of the discontented. Yet all this was hardly more
offensive than the humiliating state to which they had reduced an
English queen by their monastic obedience: inflicting the most degrading
penances. One of the most flagrant is alluded to in our history. This
was a barefoot pilgrimage to Tyburn, where, one morning, under the
gallows on which so many Jesuits had been executed as traitors to
Elizabeth and James the First, she knelt and prayed to them as martyrs
and saints who had shed their blood in defence of the Catholic
cause.[212] A manuscript letter of the times mentions that "the priests
had also made her dabble in the dirt in a foul morning from
Somerset-house to St. James's, her Luciferian confessor riding along by
her in his coach! They have made her to go barefoot, to spin, to eat her
meat out of dishes, to wait at the table of servants, with many other
ridiculous and absurd penances. And if they dare thus insult (adds the
writer) over the daughter, sister, and wife of so great kings, what
slavery would they not make us, the people, to undergo!"[213]

One of the articles in the contract of marriage was, that the queen
should have a chapel at St. James's, to be built and consecrated by her
French bishop; the priests became very importunate, declaring that
without a chapel mass could not be performed with the state it ought
before a queen. The king's answer is not that of a man inclined to
popery. "If the queen's closet, where they now say mass, is not large
enough, let them have it in the great chamber; and, if the great chamber
is not wide enough, they might use the garden; and, if the garden would
not serve their turn, then was the park the fittest place."

The French priests and the whole party feeling themselves slighted, and
sometimes worse treated, were breeding perpetual quarrels among
themselves, grew weary of England, and wished themselves away: but many
having purchased their places with all their fortune, would have been
ruined by the breaking up of the establishment. Bassompierre alludes to
the broils and clamours of these French strangers, which exposed them to
the laughter of the English court; and we cannot but smile in observing,
in one of the despatches of this great mediator between two kings and a
queen, addressed to the minister, that one of the greatest obstacles
which he had found in this difficult negotiation arose from the
bedchamber women! The French king being desirous of having two
additional women to attend the English queen his sister, the ambassador
declares, that "it would be more expedient rather to diminish than to
increase the number; for they all live so ill together, with such
rancorous jealousies and enmities, that I have more trouble to make them
agree than I shall find to accommodate the differences between the two
kings. Their continual bickerings, and often their vituperative
language, occasion the English to entertain the most contemptible and
ridiculous opinions of our nation. I shall not, therefore, insist on
this point, unless it shall please his majesty to renew it."

The French bishop was under the age of thirty, and his authority was
imagined to have been but irreverently treated by two beautiful viragos
in that civil war of words which was raging; one of whom, Madame St.
George, was in high favour, and most intolerably hated by the English.
Yet such was English gallantry, that the king presented this lady on her
dismission with several thousand pounds and jewels. There was something
inconceivably ludicrous in the notions of the English, of a bishop
hardly of age, and the gravity of whose character was probably tarnished
by French gesture and vivacity. This French establishment was daily
growing in expense and number; a manuscript letter of the times states
that it cost the king £240 a day, and had increased from threescore
persons to four hundred and forty, besides children!

It was one evening that the king suddenly appeared, and, summoning the
French household, commanded them to take their instant departure--the
carriages were prepared for their removal. In doing this, Charles had to
resist the warmest entreaties, and even the vehement anger of the queen,
who is said in her rage to have broken several panes of the window of
the apartment to which the king dragged her, and confined her from

The scene which took place among the French people, at the sudden
announcement of the king's determination, was remarkably indecorous.
They instantly flew to take possession of all the queen's wardrobe and
jewels; they did not leave her, it appears, a change of linen, since it
was with difficulty she procured one as a favour, according to some
manuscript letters of the times. One of their extraordinary expedients
was that of inventing bills, for which they pretended they had engaged
themselves on account of the queen, to the amount of £10,000, which the
queen at first owned to, but afterwards acknowledged the debts were
fictitious ones. Among these items was one of £400 for necessaries for
her majesty; an apothecary's bill for drugs of £800; and another of
£150 for "the bishop's unholy water," as the writer expresses it. The
young French bishop attempted by all sorts of delays to avoid this
ignominious expulsion; till the king was forced to send his yeomen of
the guards to turn them out from Somerset-house, where the juvenile
French bishop, at once protesting against it, and mounting the steps of
the coach, took his departure "head and shoulders."[215] It appears that
to pay the debts and the pensions, besides sending the French troops
free home, cost £50,000.

In a long procession of nearly forty coaches, after four days' tedious
travelling, they reached Dover; but the spectacle of these impatient
foreigners so reluctantly quitting England, gesticulating their sorrows
or their quarrels, exposed them to the derision, and stirred up the
prejudices of the common people. As Madame George, whose vivacity is
always described as extravagantly French, was stepping into the boat,
one of the mob could not resist the satisfaction of flinging a stone at
her French cap; an English courtier, who was conducting her, instantly
quitted his charge, ran the fellow through the body, and quietly
returned to the boat. The man died on the spot; but no farther notice
appears to have been taken of the inconsiderate gallantry of this
English courtier.

But Charles did not show his kingly firmness only on this occasion: it
did not forsake him when the French Marshal Bassompierre was instantly
sent over to awe the king; Charles sternly offered the alternative of
war, rather than permit a French faction to trouble an English court.
Bassompierre makes a curious observation in a letter to the French
Bishop of Mende, he who had been just sent away from England; and which
serves as the most positive evidence of the firm refusal of Charles the
First. The French marshal, after stating the total failure of his
mission, exclaims, "See, sir, to what we are reduced! and imagine my
grief, that the Queen of Great Britain has the pain of viewing my
departure without being of any service to her; but if you consider that
I was sent here to _make a contract of marriage observed, and to
maintain the Catholic religion in a country from which they formerly
banished it to make a contract of marriage_, you will assist in excusing
me of this failure." The French marshal has also preserved the same
distinctive feature of the nation, as well as of the monarch, who,
surely to his honour as King of England, felt and acted on this occasion
as a true Briton. "I have found," says the Gaul, "humility among
Spaniards, civility and courtesy among the Swiss, in the embassies I had
the honour to perform for the king; but the English would not in the
least abate of their natural pride and arrogance. The king is so
resolute not to re-establish any French about the queen, his consort,
and was so stern (_rude_) in speaking to me, that it is impossible to
have been more so." In a word, the French marshal, with all his vaunts
and his threats, discovered that Charles the First was the true
representative of his subjects, and that the king had the same feelings
with the people: this indeed was not always the case! This transaction
took place in 1626, and when, four years afterwards, it was attempted
again to introduce certain French persons, a bishop and a physician,
about the queen, the king absolutely refused even a French physician,
who had come over with the intention of being chosen the queen's, under
the sanction of the queen mother. This little circumstance appears in a
manuscript letter from Lord Dorchester to M. de Vic, one of the king's
agents at Paris. After an account of the arrival of this French
physician, his lordship proceeds to notice the former determinations of
the king; "yet this man," he adds, "hath been addressed to the
ambassador to introduce him into the court, and the queen persuaded in
cleare and plaine terms to speak to the king to admit him as domestique.
His majesty expressed his dislike of this proceeding, but contented
himself to let the ambassador know that this doctor may return as he is
come, with intimation that he should do it speedily; the French
ambassador, willing to help the matter, spake to the king that the said
doctor might be admitted to kiss the queen's hand, and to carrie the
news into France of her safe delivery: which the king excused by a civil
answer, and has since commanded me to let the ambassador understand,
that he had heard him as Monsieur de Fontenay in this particular, but,
if he should persist and press him as ambassador, he should be forced to
say that which would displease him." Lord Dorchester adds, that he
informs M. de Vic of these particulars, that he should not want for the
information should the matter be revived by the French court, otherwise
he need not notice it.[216]

By this narrative of secret history, Charles the First does not appear
so weak a slave to his queen as our writers echo from each other; and
those who make Henrietta so important a personage in the cabinet, appear
to have been imperfectly acquainted with her real talents. Charles,
indeed, was deeply enamoured of the queen, for he was inclined to strong
personal attachments;[217] and "the temperance of his youth, by which he
had lived so free from personal vice," as May, the parliamentary
historian expresses it, even the gay levity of Buckingham seems never,
in approaching the king, to have violated. Charles admired in Henrietta
all those personal graces which he himself wanted; her vivacity in
conversation enlivened his own seriousness, and her gay volubility the
defective utterance of his own; while the versatility of her manners
relieved his own formal habits. Doubtless the queen exercised the same
power over this monarch which vivacious females are privileged by nature
to possess over their husbands; she was often listened to, and her
suggestions were sometimes approved; but the fixed and systematic
principles of the character and the government of this monarch must not
be imputed to the intrigues of a mere lively and volatile woman; we must
trace them to a higher source; to his own inherited conceptions of the
regal rights, if we would seek for truth, and read the history of human
nature in the history of Charles the First.

Long after this article was published, the subject has been more
critically developed in my "Commentaries on the Life and Reign of
Charles the First."


Richelieu was the greatest of statesmen, if he who maintains himself by
the greatest power is necessarily the greatest minister. He was called
"the King of the King." After having long tormented himself and France,
he left a great name and a great empire--both alike the victims of
splendid ambition! Neither this great minister nor this great nation
tasted of happiness under his mighty administration. He had, indeed, a
heartlessness in his conduct which obstructed by no relentings those
remorseless decisions which made him terrible. But, while he trode down
the princes of the blood and the nobles, and drove his patroness, the
queen-mother, into a miserable exile, and contrived that the king should
fear and hate his brother, and all the cardinal-duke chose, Richelieu
was grinding the face of the poor by exorbitant taxation, and converted
every town in France into a garrison; it was said of him, that he never
liked to be in any place where he was not the strongest. "The
commissioners of the exchequer and the commanders of the army believe
themselves called to a golden harvest; and in the interim the cardinal
is charged with the sins of all the world, and is even afraid of his
life." Thus Grotius speaks, in one of his letters, of the miserable
situation of this great minister, in his account of the court of France
in 1635, when he resided there as Swedish ambassador. Yet such is the
delusion of these great politicians, who consider what they term
_state-interests_ as paramount to all other duties, human or divine,
that while their whole life is a series of oppression, of troubles, of
deceit, and of cruelty, their _state-conscience_ finds nothing to
reproach itself with. Of any other conscience it seems absolutely
necessary that they should be divested. Richelieu, on his death-bed,
made a solemn protestation, appealing to the last judge of man, who was
about to pronounce his sentence, that he never proposed anything but for
the good of religion and the state; that is, the Catholic religion and
his own administration. When Louis the Thirteenth, who visited him in
his last moments, took from the hand of an attendant a plate with two
yolks of eggs, that the King of France might himself serve his expiring
minister, Richelieu died in all the self-delusion of a great minister.

The sinister means he practised, and the political deceptions he
contrived, do not yield in subtilty to the dark grandeur of his
ministerial character. It appears that, at a critical moment, when he
felt the king's favour was wavering, he secretly ordered a battle to be
lost by the French, to determine the king at once not to give up a
minister who, he knew, was the only man who could extricate him out of
this new difficulty. In our great civil war, this minister pretended to
Charles the First that he was attempting to win the parliament over to
him, while he was backing their most secret projects against Charles.
When a French ambassador addressed the parliament as an independent
power, after the king had broken with it, Charles, sensibly affected,
remonstrated with the French court; the minister disavowed the whole
proceeding, and instantly recalled the ambassador, while at the very
moment his secret agents were, to their best, embroiling the affairs of
both parties.[218] The object of Richelieu was to weaken the English
monarchy, so as to busy itself at home, and prevent its fleets and its
armies thwarting his projects on the Continent, lest England, jealous of
the greatness of France, should declare itself for Spain the moment it
had recovered its own tranquillity. This is a stratagem too ordinary
with great ministers, those plagues of the earth, who, with their
state-reasons, are for cutting as many throats as God pleases among
every other nation.[219]

A fragment of the secret history of this great minister may be gathered
from that of some of his confidential agents. One exposes an invention
of this minister's to shorten his cabinet labours, and to have at hand a
screen, when that useful contrivance was requisite; the other, the
terrific effects of an agent setting up to be a politician on his own
account, against that of his master.

Richelieu's confessor was one Father Joseph; but this man was designed
to be employed rather in state-affairs, than in those which concerned
his conscience. This minister, who was never a penitent, could have
none. Father Joseph had a turn for political negotiation, otherwise he
had not been the cardinal's confessor; but this turn was of that sort,
said the nuncio Spada, which was adapted to follow up to the utmost the
views and notions of the minister, rather than to draw the cardinal to
his, or to induce him to change a tittle of his designs. The truth is,
that Father Joseph preferred going about in his chariot on ministerial
missions, rather than walking solitarily to his convent, after listening
to the unmeaning confessions of Cardinal Richelieu. He made himself so
intimately acquainted with the plans and the will of this great
minister, that he could venture at a pinch to act without orders: and
foreign affairs were particularly consigned to his management. Grotius,
when Swedish ambassador, knew them both. Father Joseph, he tells us, was
employed by Cardinal Richelieu to open negotiations, and put them in a
way to succeed to his mind, and then the cardinal would step in, and
undertake the finishing himself. Joseph took businesses in hand when
they were green, and, after ripening them, he handed them over to the
cardinal. In a conference which Grotius held with the parties, Joseph
began the treaty, and bore the brunt of the first contest. After a warm
debate, the cardinal interposed as arbitrator: "A middle way will
reconcile you," said the minister, "and as you and Joseph can never
agree, I will now make you friends."[220]

That this was Richelieu's practice, appears from another similar
personage mentioned by Grotius, but one more careless and less cunning.
When the French ambassador, Leon Brulart, assisted by Joseph, concluded
at Ratisbon a treaty with the emperor's ambassador, on its arrival the
cardinal unexpectedly disapproved of it, declaring that the ambassador
had exceeded his instructions. But Brulart, who was an old statesman,
and Joseph, to whom the cardinal confided his most secret views, it was
not supposed could have committed such a gross error; and it was rather
believed that the cardinal changed his opinions with the state of
affairs, wishing for peace or war as they suited the French interests,
or as he conceived they tended to render his administration necessary to
the crown.[221] When Brulart, on his return from his embassy, found this
outcry raised against him, and not a murmur against Joseph, he explained
the mystery; the cardinal had raised this clamour against him merely to
cover the instructions which he had himself given, and which Brulart was
convinced he had received, through his organ, Father Joseph; a man, said
he, who has nothing of the Capuchin but the frock, and nothing of the
Christian but the name: a mind so practised in artifices, that he could
do nothing without deception: and during the whole of the Ratisbon
negotiation, Brulart discovered that Joseph would never communicate to
him any business till the whole was finally arranged: the sole object of
his pursuit was to find means to gratify the cardinal. Such free
sentiments nearly cost Brulart his head: for once in quitting the
cardinal in warmth, the minister following him to the door, and passing
his hand over the other's neck, observed, that "Brulart was a fine man,
and it would be a pity to divide the head from the body."

One more anecdote of this good father Joseph, the favourite instrument
of the most important and covert designs of this minister, has been
preserved in the _Memorie Recondite_ of Vittorio Siri,[222] an Italian
Abbé, the Procopius of France, but afterwards pensioned by Mazarin.
Richelieu had in vain tried to gain over Colonel Ornano, a man of
talents, the governor of Monsieur, the only brother of Louis XIII.; not
accustomed to have his offers refused, he resolved to ruin him. Joseph
was now employed to contract a particular friendship with Ornano, and to
suggest to him, that it was full time that his pupil should be admitted
into the council, to acquire some political knowledge. The advancement
of Ornano's royal pupil was his own; and as the king had no children,
the crown might descend to Monsieur. Ornano therefore took the first
opportunity to open himself to the king, on the propriety of initiating
his brother into affairs, either in council, or by a command in the
army. This the king, as usual, immediately communicated to the cardinal,
who was well prepared to give the request the most odious turn, and to
alarm his majesty with the character of Ornano, who, he said, was
inspiring the young prince with ambitious thoughts--that the next step
would be an attempt to share the crown itself with his majesty. The
cardinal foresaw how much Monsieur would be offended by the refusal and
would not fail to betray his impatience, and inflame the jealousy of the
king. Yet Richelieu bore still an open face and friendly voice for
Ornano, whom he was every day undermining in the king's favour, till all
terminated in a pretended conspiracy, and Ornano perished in the
Bastile, of a fever, at least caught there:--so much for the friendship
of Father Joseph! And by such men and such means the astute minister
secretly threw a seed of perpetual hatred between the royal brothers,
producing conspiracies often closing in blood, which only his own
haughty tyranny had provoked.

Father Joseph died regretted by Richelieu; he was an ingenious sort of a
_creature_, and kept his carriage to his last day, but his name is only
preserved in secret histories. The fate of Father Caussin, the author of
the "Cours Sainte," a popular book among the Catholics for its curious
religious stories, and whose name is better known than Father Joseph's,
shows how this minister could rid himself of father confessors who
persisted, according to their own notions, to be honest men, in spite of
the minister. This piece of secret history is drawn from a narrative
manuscript which Caussin left addressed to the general of the

Richelieu chose Father Caussin for the king's confessor, and he had
scarcely entered his office when the cardinal informed him of the king's
romantic friendship for Mademoiselle La Fayette, of whom the cardinal
was extremely jealous. Desirous of getting rid altogether of this sort
of tender connexion, he hinted to the new confessor that, however
innocent it might be, it was attended with perpetual danger, which the
lady herself acknowledged, and, warm with "all the motions of grace,"
had declared her intention to turn "Religieuse;" and that Caussin ought
to dispose the king's mind to see the wisdom of the resolution. It
happened, however, that Caussin considered that this lady, whose zeal
for the happiness of the people was well known, might prove more
serviceable at court than in a cloister, so that the good father was
very inactive in the business, and the minister began to suspect that he
had in hand an instrument not at all fitted to it like Father Joseph.

"The motions of grace" were, however, more active than the confessor,
and Mademoiselle retired to a monastery. Richelieu learned that the king
had paid her a visit of three hours, and he accused Caussin of
encouraging these secret interviews. This was not denied, but it was
adroitly insinuated that it was prudent not abruptly to oppose the
violence of the king's passion, which seemed reasonable to the minister.
The king continued these visits, and the lady, in concert with Caussin,
impressed on the king the most unfavourable sentiments of the minister,
the tyranny exercised over the exiled queen mother and the princes of
the blood;[224] the grinding taxes he levied on the people, his projects
of alliance with the Turk against the Christian sovereigns, &c. His
majesty sighed: he asked Caussin if he could name any one capable of
occupying the minister's place? Our simple politician had not taken such
a consideration in his mind. The king asked Caussin whether he would
meet Richelieu face to face? The Jesuit was again embarrassed, but
summoned up the resolution with equal courage and simplicity.

Caussin went for the purpose: he found the king closeted with the
minister; the conference was long, from which Caussin augured ill. He
himself tells us, that, weary of waiting in the ante-chamber, he
contrived to be admitted into the presence of the king, when he
performed his promise. But the case was altered! Caussin had lost his
cause before he pleaded it, and Richelieu had completely justified
himself to the king. The good father was told that the king would not
perform his devotions that day, and that he might return to Paris. The
next morning the whole affair was cleared up. An order from court
prohibited this voluble Jesuit either from speaking or writing to any
person; and farther, drove him away in an inclement winter, sick in body
and at heart, till he found himself an exile on the barren rocks of
Quimper in Brittany, where, among the savage inhabitants, he was
continually menaced by a prison or a gallows, which the terrific
minister lost no opportunity to place before his imagination; and
occasionally despatched a Paris Gazette, which distilled the venom of
Richelieu's heart, and which, like the eagle of Prometheus, could gnaw
at the heart of the insulated politician chained to his rock.[225]

Such were the contrasted fates of Father Joseph and Father Caussin! the
one, the ingenious _creature_, the other, the simple oppositionist of
this great minister.


"Had the Duke of Buckingham been blessed with a faithful friend,
qualified with wisdom and integrity, the duke would have committed as
few faults, and done as transcendent worthy actions as any man in that
age in Europe." Such was the opinion of Lord Clarendon in the prime of
life, when, yet untouched by party feeling, he had no cause to plead,
and no quarrel with truth.[226]

The portrait of Buckingham by Hume seems to me a character dove-tailed
into a system, adjusted to his plan of lightening the errors of Charles
the First by participating them among others. This character conceals
the more favourable parts of no ordinary man: the spirit which was
fitted to lead others by its own invincibility, and some qualities he
possessed of a better nature. All the fascination of his character is
lost in the general shade cast over it by the niggardly commendation,
that he possessed "_some_ accomplishments of a courtier." Some, indeed!
and the most pleasing; but not all truly, for dissimulation and
hypocrisy were arts unpractised by this courtier. "His sweet and
attractive manner, so favoured by the graces," has been described by Sir
Henry Wotton, who knew him well; while Clarendon, another living
witness, tells us that "he was the most rarely accomplished the court
had ever beheld; while some that found inconvenience in his nearness,
intending by some affront to discountenance him, perceived he had masked
under this gentleness a terrible courage, as could safely protect all
his sweetnesses."

The very errors and infirmities of Buckingham seem to have started from
qualities of a generous nature; too devoted a friend, and too
undisguised an enemy, carrying his loves and his hatreds on his open
forehead;[227] too careless of calumny,[228] too fearless of danger; he
was, in a word, a man of sensation, acting from impulse; scorning,
indeed, prudential views, but capable at all times of embracing grand
and original ones; compared by the jealousy of faction to the Spenser of
Edward the Second, and even the Sejanus of Tiberius, he was no enemy to
the people; often serious in the best designs, but volatile in the
midst; his great error sprung from a sanguine spirit. "He was ever,"
says Wotton, "greedy of honour and hot upon the public ends, and too
confident in the prosperity of beginnings." If Buckingham was a hero,
and yet neither general nor admiral; a minister, and yet no statesman;
if often the creature of popular admiration, he was at length hated by
the people; if long envied by his equals, and betrayed by his own
creatures,[229] "delighting too much in the press and affluence of
dependents and suitors, who are always the burrs, and sometimes the
briars of favourites," as Wotton well describes them; if one of his
great crimes in the eyes of the people was, that "his enterprises
succeeded not according to their impossible expectation;" and that it
was a still greater, that Buckingham had been the permanent favourite
of two monarchs, who had spoilt their child of fortune; then may the
future inquirer find something of his character which remains to be
opened; to instruct alike the sovereigns and the people, and "be worthy
to be registered among the great examples of time and fortune."

Contrast the fate of BUCKINGHAM with that of his great rival, RICHELIEU.
The one winning popularity and losing it; once in the Commons saluted as
"their redeemer," till, at length, they resolved that "Buckingham was
the cause of all the evils and dangers to the king and kingdom."
Magnificent, open, and merciful; so forbearing, even in his acts of
gentle oppression, that they were easily evaded; and riots and libels
were infecting the country, till, in the popular clamour, Buckingham was
made a political monster, and the dagger was planted in the heart of the
incautious minister. The other statesman, unrelenting in his power, and
grinding in his oppression, unblest with one brother-feeling, had his
dungeons filled and his scaffolds raised, and died in safety and
glory--a cautious tyrant!

There exists a manuscript memoir of Sir Balthazar Gerbier, who was one
of those ingenious men whom Buckingham delighted to assemble about him:
for this was one of his characteristics, that although the duke himself
was not learned, yet he never wanted for knowledge; too early in life a
practical man, he had not the leisure to become a contemplative one; he
supplied this deficiency by perpetually "sifting and questioning well"
the most eminent for their experience and knowledge; and Lord Bacon, and
the Lord Keeper Williams, as well as such as Gerbier, were admitted into
this sort of intimacy. We have a curious letter by Lord Bacon, of advice
to our minister, written at his own request: and I have seen a large
correspondence with that subtle politician, the Lord Keeper Williams,
who afterwards attempted to supplant him, to the same purpose. Gerbier
was the painter and architect, and at the same time one of the
confidential agents of Buckingham; the friend of Rubens the painter,
with whom he was concerned in this country to open a Spanish
negotiation, and became at length the master of the ceremonies to
Charles the Second, in his exile. He was an actor in many scenes.
Gerbier says of himself, that "he was a minister who had the honour of
public employment, and may therefore incur censure for declaring some
passages of state more overtly than becomes such an one; but secrets
are secrets but for a time; others may be wiser for themselves, but it
is their silence which makes me write."[230]

A mystery has always hung over that piece of knight-errantry, the
romantic journey to Madrid, where the prime minister and the heir
apparent, in disguise, confided their safety in the hands of our
national enemies; which excited such popular clamour, and indeed
anxiety, for the prince and the protestant cause. A new light is cast
over this extraordinary transaction, by a secret which the Duke imparted
to Gerbier. The project was Buckingham's; a bright original view, but
taken far out of the line of precedence. It was one of those bold
inventions which no common mind could have conceived, and none but the
spirit of Buckingham could have carried on with a splendour and mastery
over the persons and events, which turned out, however, as unfavourable
as possible.

The restoration of the imprudent Palatine, the son-in-law of James the
First, to the Palatinate which that prince had lost by his own
indiscretion, when he accepted the crown of Bohemia, although warned of
his own incompetency, as well as of the incapacity of those princes of
the empire, who might have assisted him against the power of Austria and
Spain, seemed, however, to a great part of our nation necessary to the
stability of the protestant interests. James the First was most bitterly
run down at home for his civil pacific measures, but the truth is, by
Gerbier's account, that James could not depend on one single ally, who
had all taken fright, although some of the Germans were willing enough
to be subsidised at £30,000 a month from England; this James had not to
give, and which he had been a fool had he given; for though this war for
the protestant interests was popular in England, it was by no means
general among the German Princes: the Prince Elector of Treves, and
another prince, had treated Gerbier coolly; and observed, that "God in
these days did not send prophets more to the protestants than to others,
to fight against nations, and to second pretences which public
incendiaries propose to princes, to engage them into unnecessary wars
with their neighbours." France would not go to war, and much less the
Danes, the Swedes, and the Hollanders. James was calumniated for his
timidity and cowardice; yet, says Gerbier, King James merited much of
his people, though ill-requited, choosing rather to suffer an eclipse of
his personal reputation, than to bring into such hazard the reputation
and force of his kingdoms in a war of no hopes.

As a father and a king, from private and from public motives, the
restoration of the Palatinate had a double tie on James, and it was
always the earnest object of his negotiations. But Spain sent him an
amusing and literary ambassador, who kept him in play, year after year,
with merry tales and _bon mots_.[231] These negotiations had languished
through all the tedium of diplomacy; the amusing promises of the courtly
Gondomar were sure, on return of the courier, to bring sudden
difficulties from the subtle Olivarez. Buckingham meditated by a single
blow to strike at the true secret, whether the Spanish court could be
induced to hasten this important object, gained over by the proffered
alliance with the English crown, from the lips of the prince himself.
The whole scene dazzled with politics, chivalry, and magnificence; it
was caught by the high spirit of the youthful prince, who, Clarendon
tells us, "loved adventures;" and it was indeed an incident which has
adorned more than one Spanish romance. The panic which seized the
English, fearful of the personal safety of the prince, did not prevail
with the duke, who told Gerbier that the prince ran no hazard from the
Spaniard, who well knew that while his sister, the fugitive Queen of
Bohemia, with a numerous issue, was residing in Holland, the protestant
succession to our crown was perfectly secured: and it was with this
conviction, says Gerbier, that when the Count-Duke Olivarez had been
persuaded that the Prince of Wales was meditating a flight from Spain,
Buckingham with his accustomed spirit told him, that "if love had made
the prince steal out of his own country, yet fear would never make him
run out of Spain, and that he should depart with an equipage as fitted a
Prince of Wales." This was no empty vaunt. An English fleet was then
waiting in a Spanish port, and the Spanish court, inviting our prince to
the grand Escurial, attended the departure of Charles, as Hume expresses
it, with "elaborate pomp."

This attempt of Buckingham, of which the origin has been so often
inquired into, and so oppositely viewed, entirely failed with the
Spaniard. The catholic league outweighed the protestant. At first, the
Spanish court had been as much taken by surprise as the rest of the
world. All parties seemed at their first interview highly gratified. "We
may rule the world together," said the Spanish to the English minister.
They were, however, not made by nature, or state interests, to agree at
a second interview. The Lord Keeper Williams, a wily courtier and subtle
politician, who, in the absence of his patron Buckingham, evidently
supplanted him in the favour of his royal master, when asked by James
"whether he thought this knight-errant pilgrimage would be likely to win
the Spanish lady," answered with much political foresight, and saw the
difficulty: "If my lord marquis will give honour to the Count-Duke
Olivarez, and remember he is the favourite of Spain; or, if Olivarez
will show honourable civility to my lord marquis, remembering he is the
favourite of England, the wooing may be prosperous: but if my lord
marquis should forget where he is, and not stoop to Olivarez; or, if
Olivarez, forgetting what guest he hath received with the prince, bear
himself like a Castilian grandee to my lord marquis, the provocation may
cross your majesty's good intentions."[232] What Olivarez once let out,
"though somewhat in hot blood, that in the councils of the king the
English match had never been taken into consideration, but from the time
of the Prince of Wales's arrival at Madrid," might have been true
enough. The seven years which had passed in apparent negotiation
resembled the scene of a _fata morgana_,--an earth painted in the air,
raised by the delusive arts of Gondomar and Olivarez. As they never
designed to realise it, it would of course never have been brought into
the councils of his Spanish majesty. Buckingham discovered, as he told
Gerbier, that the Infanta, by the will of her father, Philip the Third,
was designed for the emperor's son,--the catholic for the catholic, to
cement the venerable system. When Buckingham and Charles had now
ascertained that the Spanish cabinet could not adopt English and
protestant interests, and Olivarez had convinced himself that Charles
would never be a Catholic, all was broken up; and thus a treaty of
marriage, which had been slowly reared during a period of seven years,
when the flower seemed to take, only contained within itself the seeds
of war.[233]

Olivarez and Richelieu were thorough-paced statesmen, in every respect
the opposites of the elegant, the spirited, and the open Buckingham. The
English favourite checked the haughty Castilian, the favourite of Spain,
and the more than king-like cardinal, the favourite of France, with the
rival spirit of his island, proud of her equality with the continent.

There is a story that the war between England and France was occasioned
by the personal disrespect shown by the Cardinal-Duke Richelieu to the
English Duke, in the affronting mode of addressing his letters. Gerbier
says, the world are in a ridiculous mistake about this circumstance. The
fact of the letters is true, since Gerbier was himself the secretary on
this occasion. It terminated, however, differently than is known.
Richelieu, at least as haughty as Buckingham, addressed a letter, in a
moment of caprice, in which the word Monsieur was level with the first
line, avoiding the usual space of honour, to mark his disrespect.
Buckingham instantly turned on the cardinal his own invention. Gerbier,
who had written the letter, was also its bearer. The cardinal started at
the first sight, never having been addressed with such familiarity, and
was silent. On the following day, however, the cardinal received Gerbier
civilly, and, with many rhetorical expressions respecting the duke: "I
know," said he, "the power and greatness of a high admiral of England;
the _cannons_ of his great ships make way, and prescribe law more
forcibly than the _canons_ of the church, of which I am a member. I
acknowledge the power of the favourites of great kings, and I am content
to be a minister of state, and the duke's humble servant." This was an
apology made with all the _politesse_ of a Gaul, and by a great
statesman who had recovered his senses.

If ever minister of state was threatened by the prognostics of a fatal
termination to his life, it was Buckingham; but his own fearlessness
disdained to interpret them. The following circumstances, collected from
manuscript letters of the times, are of this nature. After the sudden
and unhappy dissolution of the parliament, popular terror showed itself
in all shapes; and those who did not join in the popular cry were
branded with the odious nickname of _the dukelings_.

A short time before the assassination of Buckingham, when the king,
after an obstinate resistance, had conceded his assent to the "Petition
of Right," the houses testified their satisfaction, perhaps their
triumph, by their shouts of acclamation. They were propagated by the
hearers on the outside, from one to the other, till they reached the
city. Some confused account arrived before the occasion of these
rejoicings was generally known. Suddenly the bells began to ring;
bonfires were kindled; and in an instant all was a scene of public
rejoicing. But ominous indeed were these rejoicings; for the greater
part was occasioned by a false rumour that the duke was to be sent to
the Tower. No one inquired about a news which every one wished to hear;
and so sudden was the joy, that a MS. letter says, "the old scaffold on
Tower-hill was pulled down and burned by certain unhappy boys, who said
they would have a new one built for the duke." This mistake so rapidly
prevailed as to reach even the country, which blazed with bonfires to
announce the fall of Buckingham.[234] The shouts on the acquittal of the
seven bishops, in 1688, did not speak in plainer language to the son's
ear, when, after the verdict was given, such prodigious acclamations of
joy "seemed to set the king's authority at defiance; it spread itself
not only into the city, but even to Hounslow Heath, where the soldiers,
upon the news of it, gave up a great shout, though the king was then
actually at dinner in the camp."[235] To the speculators of human
nature, who find its history written in their libraries, how many plain
lessons seem to have been lost on the mere politician, who is only such
in the heat of action!

About a month before the duke was assassinated, occurred the murder, by
the populace, of the man who was called "the duke's devil." This was a
Dr. Lambe, a man of infamous character, a dealer in magical arts, who
lived by showing apparitions, or selling the favours of the devil, and
whose chambers were a convenient rendezvous for the curious of both
sexes. This wretched man, who openly exulted in the infamous traffic by
which he lived, when he was sober, prophesied that he should fall one
day by the hands from which he received his death; and it was said he
was as positive about his patron's. At the age of eighty, he was torn to
pieces in the city; and the city was imprudently heavily fined
£6000[236] for not delivering up those who, in murdering this hoary
culprit, were heard to say, that they would handle his master worse, and
would have minced his flesh, and have had every one a bit of him. This
is one more instance of the political cannibalism of the mob. The fate
of Dr. Lambe served for a ballad; and the printer and singer were laid
in Newgate.[237] Buckingham, it seems, for a moment contemplated his own
fate in his wretched creature's, more particularly as another omen
obtruded itself on his attention; for, on the very day of Dr. Lambe's
murder, his own portrait in the council-chamber was seen to have fallen
out of its frame,--a circumstance as awful, in that age of omens, as the
portrait that walked from its frame in the "Castle of Otranto," but
perhaps more easily accounted for. On the eventful day of Dr. Lambe's
being torn to pieces by the mob, a circumstance occurred to Buckingham,
somewhat remarkable to show the spirit of the times. The king and the
duke were in the Spring Gardens, looking on the bowlers; the duke put
on his hat; one Wilson, a Scotchman, first kissing the duke's hands,
snatched it off, saying, "Off with your hat before the king."
Buckingham, not apt to restrain his quick feelings, kicked the
Scotchman; but the king interfering, said, "Let him alone, George; he is
either mad or a fool." "No, sir," replied the Scotchman, "I am a sober
man; and if your majesty would give me leave, I will tell you that of
this man which many know, and none dare speak." This was, as a
prognostic, an anticipation of the dagger of Felton!

About this time a libel was taken down from a post in Coleman-street by
a constable and carried to the lord-mayor, who ordered it to be
delivered to none but his majesty. Of this libel the manuscript letter
contains the following particulars:--

     /P Who rules the kingdom? The king. Who rules the king? The
     duke. Who rules the duke? The devil. P/

     Let the duke look to it; for they intend shortly to use him
     worse than they did the doctor; and if things be not shortly
     reformed they will work a reformation themselves.

The only advice the offended king suggested was to set a double watch
every night! A watch at a post to prevent a libel being affixed to it
was no prevention of libels being written, and the fact is, libels were
now bundled and sent to fairs, to be read by those who would venture to
read to those who would venture to listen; both parties were often sent
to prison.[238] It was about this time, after the sudden dissolution of
the parliament, that popular terror showed itself in various shapes,
and the spirit which then broke out in libels by night was assuredly the
same, which, if these political prognostics had been rightly construed
by Charles, might have saved the eventual scene of blood. But neither
the king nor his favourite had yet been taught to respect popular
feelings. Buckingham, after all, was guilty of no heavy political
crimes; but it was his misfortune to have been a prime minister, as
Clarendon says, "in a busy, querulous, froward time, when the people
were uneasy under pretensions of reformation, with some petulant
discourses of liberty, which their great impostors scattered among them
like glasses to multiply their fears." It was an age, which was
preparing for a great contest, where both parties committed great
faults. The favourite did not appear odious in the eyes of the king, who
knew his better dispositions more intimately than the popular party, who
were crying him down. And Charles attributed to individuals, and "the
great impostors," the clamours which had been raised.

But the plurality of offices showered on Buckingham rendered him still
more odious to the people:[239] had he not been created lord high
admiral and general, he had never risked his character amidst the
opposing elements, or before impregnable forts. But something more than
his own towering spirit, or the temerity of vanity, must be alleged for
his assumption of those opposite military characters.[240]

A peace of twenty years appears to have rusted the arms of our soldiers,
and their commanders were destitute of military skill. The war with
Spain was clamoured for; and an expedition to Cadiz, in which the duke
was reproached by the people for not taking the command, as they
supposed from deficient spirit, only ended in our undisciplined soldiers
under bad commanders getting drunk in the Spanish cellars, insomuch
that not all had the power to run away. On this expedition, some verses
were handed about, which probably are now first printed, from a
manuscript letter of the times; a political pasquinade which shows the
utter silliness of this "Ridiculus Mus."


    There was a crow sat on a stone,
    He flew away--and there was none!
    There was a man that run a race,
    When he ran fast--he ran apace!
    There was a maid that eat an apple,
    When she eat two--she eat a couple!
    There was an ape sat on a tree,
    When he fell down--then down fell he!
    There was a fleet that went to Spain,
    When it returned--it came again!

Another expedition to Rochelle, under the Earl of Denbigh, was indeed of
a more sober nature, for the earl declined to attack the enemy. The
national honour, among the other grievances of the people, had been long
degraded; not indeed by Buckingham himself, who personally had ever
maintained, by his high spirit, an equality, if not a superiority, with
France and Spain. It was to win back the public favour by a resolved and
public effort, that Buckingham a second time was willing to pledge his
fortune, his honour, and his life, into one daring cast, and on the dyke
of Rochelle to leave his body, or to vindicate his aspersed name. The
garrulous Gerbier shall tell his own story, which I transcribe from his
own hand-writing, of the mighty preparations, and the duke's perfect
devotion to the cause; for among other rumours, he was calumniated as
never having been faithful to his engagement with the protestants of

"The duke caused me to make certain works, according to the same model
as those wherewith the Prince of Parma blew up, before Antwerp, the main
dyke and estacado; they were so mighty strong, and of that quantity of
powder, and so closely masoned in barks, that they might have blown up
the half of a town. I employed therein of powder, stone-quarries, bombs,
fire-balls, chains, and iron-balls, a double proportion to that used by
the Duke of Parma, according to the description left thereof."[241]

"The duke's intention to succour the Rochellers was manifest, as was his
care to assure them of it. He commanded me to write and to convey to
them the secret advertisement thereof. The last advice I gave them from
him contained these words, 'Hold out but three weeks, and God willing I
will be with you, either to overcome or to die there.' The bearer of
this received from my hands a hundred Jacobuses to carry it with speed
and safety." The duke had disbursed threescore thousand pounds of his
money upon the fleet; and lost his life ere he could get aboard. Nothing
but death had hindered him or frustrated his design, of which I am
confident by another very remarkable passage. "The duke, a little before
his departure from York House, being alone with me in his garden, and
giving me his last commands for my journey towards Italy and Spain, one
Mr. Wigmore, a gentleman of his, coming to us, presented to his lordship
a paper, said to have come from the prophesying Lady _Davers_,[242]
foretelling that he should end his life that month; besides, he had
received a letter from a very considerable hand, persuading him to let
some other person be sent on that expedition to command in his place; on
which occasion the duke made this expression to me: 'Gerbier, if God
please, I will go, and be the first man who shall set his foot upon the
dyke before Rochel to die, or do the work, whereby the world shall see
the reality of our intentions for the relief of that place.' He had
before told me the same in his closet, after he had signed certain
despatches of my letters of credence to the Duke of Lorraine and Savoy,
to whom I was sent to know what diversion they could make in favour of
the king, in case the peace with Spain should not take. His majesty
spake to me, on my going towards my residency at Bruxelles--'Gerbier, I
do command thee to have a continual care, to press the Infanta and the
Spanish ministers there, for the restitution of the Palatinate; for I am
obliged in conscience, in honour, and in maxim of state, to stir all the
powers of the world, rather than to fail to try to the uttermost to
compass this business.'"

In the week of that expedition, the king took "George" with him in his
coach to view the ships at Deptford on their departure for Rochelle,
when he said to the duke, "George, there are some that wish both these
and thou mightest perish together; but care not for them; we will both
perish together, if thou doest!"

A few days before the duke went on his last expedition, he gave a
farewell masque and supper at York-house to their majesties. In the
masque the duke appeared followed by Envy, with many open-mouthed dogs,
which were to represent the barkings of the people, while next came Fame
and Truth; and the court allegory expressed the king's sentiment and the
duke's sanguine hope.

Thus resolutely engaged in the very cause the people had so much at
heart, the blood Buckingham would have sealed it with was shed by one of
the people themselves; the enterprise, designed to retrieve the national
honour, long tarnished, was prevented; and the Protestant cause suffered
by one who imagined himself to be, and was blest by nearly the whole
nation as, a patriot! Such are the effects of the exaggerations of
popular delusion.

I find the following epitaph on Buckingham in a manuscript letter of the
times. Its condensed bitterness of spirit gives the popular idea of his
unfortunate attempts.


    If idle trav'llers ask who lieth here,
    Let the duke's tomb this for inscription bear;
    Paint Cales and Rhé, make French and Spanish laugh;
    Mix England's shame--and there's his epitaph!

Before his last fatal expedition, among the many libels which abounded,
I have discovered a manuscript satire, entitled "Rhodomontados."[243]
The thoughtless minister is made to exult in his power over the
giddy-headed multitude. Buckingham speaks in his own person; and we have
here preserved those false rumours and those aggravated feelings then
floating among the people: a curious instance of those heaped up
calumnies which are often so heavily laid on the head of a prime
minister, no favourite with the people.

    'Tis not your threats shall take me from the king!--
    Nor questioning my counsels and commands,
    How with the honour of the state it stands;
    That I lost Rhé and with such loss of men,
    As scarcely time can e'er repair again;
    Shall aught affright me; or the care to see
    The narrow seas from Dunkirk clear and free;
    Or that you can enforce the king believe,
    I from the pirates a third share receive;
    Or that I correspond with foreign states
    (Whether the king's foes or confederates)
    To plot the ruin of the king and state,
    As erst you thought of the Palatinate;
    Or that five hundred thousand pounds doth lie
    In the Venice bank to help Spain's majesty;
    Or that three hundred thousand more doth rest
    In Dunkirk, for the arch-duchess to contest
    With England, whene'er occasion offers;
    Or that by rapine I fill up my coffers;
    Nor that an office in church, state, or court,
    Is freely given, but they must pay me for't.
    Nor shall you ever prove I had a hand
    In poisoning of the monarch of this land,
    Or the like hand by poisoning to intox
    Southampton, Oxford, Hamilton, Lennox.
    Nor shall you ever prove by magic charms,
    I wrought the king's affection or his harms.
    Nor fear I if ten Vitrys now were here,
    Since I have thrice ten Ravilliacs as near.
    My power shall be unbounded in each thing,
    If once I use these words, "I and the king."
      Seem wise, and cease then to perturb the realm,
    Or strive with him that sits and guides the helm.
    I know your reading will inform you soon,
    What creatures they were, that barkt against the moon.
    I'll give you better counsel as a friend:
    Cobblers their latchets ought not to transcend;
    Meddle with common matters, common wrongs;
    To the House of Commons common things belongs.
    Leave him the oar that best knows how to row,
    And state to him that best the state doth know.
    If I by industry, deep reach, or grace,
    Am now arriv'd at this or that great place,
    Must I, to please your inconsiderate rage,
    Throw down mine honours? Will nought else assuage
    Your furious wisdoms? True shall the verse be yet--
    There's no less wit required to keep, than get.
    Though Lambe be dead, I'll stand, and you shall see
    I'll smile at them that can but bark at me.

After Buckingham's death, Charles the First cherished his memory as
warmly as his life, advanced his friends, and designed to raise a
magnificent monument to his memory;[244] and if any one accused the
duke, the king always imputed the fault to himself. The king said, "Let
not the duke's enemies seek to catch at any of his offices, for they
will find themselves deceived." Charles called Buckingham "his martyr!"
and often said the world was much mistaken in the duke's character; for
it was commonly thought the duke ruled his majesty; but it was much the
contrary, having been his most faithful and obedient servant in all
things, as the king said he would make sensibly appear to the world.
Indeed, after the death of Buckingham, Charles showed himself extremely
active in business. Lord Dorchester wrote--"The death of Buckingham
causes no changes; the king holds in his own hands the total direction,
leaving the executory part to every man within the compass of his
charge."[245] This is one proof, among many, that Charles the First was
not the puppet-king of Buckingham, as modern historians have imagined.


Felton, the assassin of the Duke of Buckingham, by the growing
republican party was hailed as a Brutus, rising, in the style of a
patriotic bard,

    Refulgent from the stroke.--AKENSIDE.

Gibbon has thrown a shade of suspicion even over Brutus's "god-like
stroke," as Pope has exalted it. In Felton, a man acting from mixed and
confused motives, the political martyr is entirely lost in the contrite
penitent; he was, however, considered in his own day as a being almost
beyond humanity. Mrs. Macaulay has called him a "lunatic," because the
duke had not been assassinated on the right principle. His motives
appeared even inconceivable to his contemporaries; for Sir Henry
Wotton, who has written a Life of the Duke of Buckingham, observes, that
"what may have been the immediate or greatest motive of that felonious
conception (the duke's assassination) is even yet in the clouds." After
ascertaining that it was not private revenge, he seems to conclude that
it was Dr. Eglisham's furious "libel," and the "remonstrance" of the
parliament, which, having made the duke "one of the foulest monsters on
earth," worked on the dark imagination of Felton.

From Felton's memorable example, and some similar ones, one observation
occurs worth the notice of every minister of state who dares the popular
odium he has raised. Such a minister will always be in present danger of
a violent termination to his career; for however he may be convinced
that there is not political virtue enough in a whole people to afford
"the god-like stroke," he will always have to dread the arm of some
melancholy enthusiast, whose mind, secretly agitated by the public
indignation, directs itself solely on him. It was some time after having
written this reflection, that I discovered the following notice of the
Duke of Buckingham in the unpublished Life of Sir Symonds D'Ewes. "Some
of his friends had advised him how generally he was hated in England,
and how needful it would be for his greater safety to wear some coat of
mail, or some other secret defensive armour, which the duke slighting,
said, 'It needs not; there are no Roman spirits left.'"[246]

An account of the contemporary feelings which sympathised with Felton,
and almost sanctioned the assassin's deed, I gather from the MS. letters
of the times. The public mind, through a long state of discontent, had
been prepared for, and not without an obscure expectation of, the mortal
end of Buckingham. It is certain the duke received many warnings which
he despised. The assassination kindled a tumult of joy throughout the
nation, and a state-libel was written in strong characters in the faces
of the people.[247] The passage of Felton to London, after the
assassination, seemed a triumph. Now pitied, and now blessed, mothers
held up their children to behold the saviour of the country; and an old
woman exclaimed, as Felton passed her, with a scriptural allusion to his
short stature, and the mightiness of Buckingham, "God bless thee, little
David!" Felton was nearly sainted before he reached the metropolis. His
health was the reigning toast among the republicans. A character,
somewhat remarkable, Alexander Gill (usher under his father, Dr. Gill,
master of St. Paul's school), who was the tutor of Milton, and his dear
friend afterwards, and perhaps from whose impressions in early life
Milton derived his vehement hatred of Charles, was committed by the
Star-chamber, heavily fined, and sentenced to lose his ears,[248] on
three charges, one of which arose from drinking a health to Felton. At
Trinity College Gill said that the king was fitter to stand in a
Cheapside shop, with an apron before him, and say, _What lack ye?_ than
to govern a kingdom; that the duke was gone down to hell to see king
James; and drinking a health to Felton, added he was sorry Felton had
deprived him of the honour of doing that brave act.[249] In the taste of
that day, they contrived a political anagram of his name, to express the
immovable self-devotion he showed after the assassination, never
attempting to escape; and John Felton, for the nonce, was made to read,

    _Noh! flie not!_

But while Felton's name was echoing through the kingdom, our new Brutus
was at this moment exhibiting a piteous spectacle of remorse; so
different often is the real person himself from the ideal personage of
the public. The assassination, with him, was a sort of theoretical one,
depending, as we shall show, on four propositions; so that when the
king's attorney, as the attorney-general was then called, had furnished
the unhappy criminal with an unexpected argument, which appeared to him
to have overturned his, he declared that he had been in a mistake; and
lamenting that he had not been aware of it before, from that instant his
conscientious spirit sunk into despair. In the open court he stretched
out his arm, offering it as the offending instrument to be first cut
off; he requested the king's leave to wear sackcloth about his loins,
to sprinkle ashes on his head, to carry a halter about his neck, in
testimony of repentance; and that he might sink to the lowest point of
contrition, he insisted on asking pardon not only of the duchess, the
duke's mother, but even of the duke's scullion-boy; and a man naturally
brave was seen always shedding tears, so that no one could have imagined
that Felton had been "a stout soldier." These particulars were given by
one of the divines who attended him, to the writer of the MS.

The character of Felton must not, however, be conceived from this
agonising scene of contrition. Of melancholy and retired habits, and one
of those thousand officers who had incurred disappointments, both in
promotion and in arrears of pay, from the careless duke, he felt,
perhaps, although he denied it, a degree of personal animosity towards
him. A solitary man who conceives himself injured broods over his
revenge. Felton once cut off a piece of his own finger, inclosing it in
a challenge, to convince the person whom he addressed that he valued not
endangering his whole body, provided it afforded him an opportunity of
vengeance.[251] Yet with all this, such was his love of truth and rigid
honour, that Felton obtained the nickname of "honest Jack," one which,
after the assassination, became extremely popular through the nation.
The religious enthusiasm of the times had also deeply possessed his
mind, and that enthusiasm, as is well known, was of a nature that might
easily occasion its votary to be mistaken for a republican.

Clarendon mentions that in his hat he had sewed a paper, in which were
written a few lines of that remonstrance of the Commons, which appeared
to him to sanction the act. I have seen a letter from Sir D. Carleton to
the queen, detailing the particulars; his lordship was one of those who
saved Felton from the swords of the military around him, who in their
vexation for the loss of their general the duke, which they considered
to be the end of the war, and their ruin, would have avenged
themselves. But though Felton, in conversation with Sir D. Carleton,
confessed that by reading the remonstrance of the parliament it came
into his head, that in committing the act of killing the duke he should
do his country a great good service; yet the paper sewed in his hat,
thinking he might have fallen a victim in the attempt, was different
from that described by Clarendon, and is thus preserved in this letter
to the queen by Sir D. Carleton. "If I be slain, let no man condemn me,
but rather condemn himself. Our hearts are hardened, and become
senseless, or else he had not gone so long unpunished.[252] He is
unworthy the name of a gentleman or soldier, in my opinion, that is
afraid to sacrifice his life for the honour of God, his king, and
country. JOHN FELTON".[253]

Felton's mind had however previously passed through a more evangelical
process: four theological propositions struck the knife into the heart
of the minister. The conscientious assassin, however, accompanied the
fatal blow with a prayer to Heaven, to have mercy on the soul of the
victim; and never was a man murdered with more gospel than the duke. The
following curious document I have discovered in the MS. letter.

Propositions found in Felton's trunk, at the time he slew the duke.

"1. There is no alliance nearer to any one than his country.

"Except his God and his own soul, said the divines.

"2. The safety of the people is the chiefest law.

"Next to the law of God, said these divines.

"3. No law is more sacred than the safety and welfare of the

"Only God's law is more sacred, said the divines.

"4. God himself hath enacted this law, that all things that are for the
good profit and benefit of the commonwealth should be lawful.

"The divines said, We must not do evil that good may come thereon."

The gradual rise in these extraordinary propositions, with the last
sweeping one, which includes everything lawless as lawful for the common
weal, was at least but feebly parried by the temperate divines, who,
while they were so reasonably referring everything to God, wanted the
vulgar curiosity to inquire, or the philosophical discernment to
discover, that Felton's imagination was driving everything at the duke.
Could they imagine that these were but subtle cobwebs, spun by a closet
speculation on human affairs? In those troubled times did they not give
a thought to the real object of these inquiries? or did they not care
what befel a minion of the state?

There is one bright passage in the history of this unhappy man, who,
when broken down in spirits, firmly asserted the rights of a Briton; and
even the name of John Felton may fill a date in the annals of our
constitutional freedom.

Felton was menaced with torture. Rushworth has noticed the fact, and
given some imperfect notes of his speech, when threatened to be racked;
but the following is not only more ample, but more important in its
essential particulars. When Lord Dorset told him (says the MS. letter)
"Mr. Felton, it is the king's pleasure that you should be put to the
torture, to make you confess your accomplices, and therefore prepare
yourself for the rack:"--Felton answered, "My lord, I do not believe
that it is the king's pleasure, for he is a just and a gracious prince,
and will not have his subjects _tortured against law_. I do affirm upon
my salvation that my purpose was not known to any man living; but if it
be his majesty's pleasure, I am ready to suffer whatever his majesty
will have inflicted upon me. Yet this I must tell you, by the way, that
if I be put upon the rack, I will accuse you, my lord of Dorset, and
none but yourself."[254] This firm and sensible speech silenced them. A
council was held; the judges were consulted; and on this occasion they
came to a very unexpected decision, that "Felton ought not to be
tortured by the rack, for no such punishment is known or allowed by our
law." Thus the judges condemned what the government had constantly
practised. Blackstone yields a fraternal eulogium to the honour of the
judges on this occasion; but Hume more philosophically discovers the
cause of this sudden tenderness. "So much more exact reasoners, with
regard to law, had they become from _the jealous scruples of the House
of Commons_." An argument which may be strengthened from cases which are
unknown to the writers of our history. Not two years before the present
one, a Captain Brodeman, one who had distinguished himself among the
"bold speakers" concerning the king and the duke, had been sent to the
Tower, and was reported to have expired on the rack; the death seems
doubtful, but the fact of his having been racked is repeated in the MS.
letters of the times. The rack has been more frequently used as a state
engine than has reached the knowledge of our historians: secret have
been the deadly embraces of the Duke of Exeter's daughter.[255] It was
only by an original journal of the transactions in the Tower that Burnet
discovered the racking of Anne Askew, a narrative of horror! James the
First incidentally mentions in his account of the powder-plot that this
rack was _shown_ to Guy Fawkes during his examination; and yet under
this prince, mild as his temper was, it had been used in a terrific
manner.[256] Elizabeth but too frequently employed this engine of
arbitrary power; once she had all the servants of the Duke of Norfolk
tortured. I have seen in a MS. of the times heads of charges made
against some members of the House of Commons in Elizabeth's reign, among
which is one for having written against torturing! Yet Coke, the most
eminent of our lawyers, extols the mercy of Elizabeth in the trials of
Essex and Southampton, because she had not used torture against their
accomplices or witnesses. Was it for the head of law itself, as Coke
was, to extol the _mercy_ of the sovereign for not violating the laws,
for not punishing the subject by an illegal act? The truth is, lawyers
are rarely philosophers; the history of the heart, read only in statutes
and law cases, presents the worst side of human nature: they are apt to
consider men as wild beasts; and they have never spoken with any great
abhorrence of what they so erroneously considered a means of obtaining
confession. Long after these times, Sir George Mackenzie, a great lawyer
in the reign of James the Second, used torture in Scotland. We have seen
how the manly spirit of Felton, and the scruples of the Commons,
wrenched the hidden law from judges who had hitherto been too silent;
and produced that unexpected avowal, which condemned all their former
practices. But it was reserved for better times, when philosophy
combining with law, enabled the genius of Blackstone to quote with
admiration the exquisite ridicule of torture by Beccaria.

On a rumour that Felton was condemned to suffer torture, an effusion of
poetry, the ardent breathings of a pure and youthful spirit, was
addressed to the supposed political martyr, by Zouch Townley,[257] of
the ancient family of the Townleys in Lancashire, to whose last
descendant the nation owes the first public collection of ancient

The poem I transcribe from a MS. copy of the time; it appears only to
have circulated in that secret form, for the writer being summoned to
the Star-chamber, and not willing to have any such poem addressed to
himself, escaped to the Hague.


    Enjoy thy bondage, make thy prison know
    Thou hast a liberty, thou canst not owe
    To those base punishments; keep't entire, since
    Nothing but guilt shackles the conscience.
    I dare not tempt thy valiant blood to whey,
    Enfeebling it to pity; nor dare pray
    Thy act may mercy finde, least thy great story
    Lose somewhat of its miracle and glory.
    I wish thy merit, laboured cruelty;
    Stout vengeance best befits thy memory.
    For I would have posterity to hear,
    He that can bravely do, can bravely bear.
    Tortures may seem great in a coward's eye;
    It's no great thing to suffer, less to die.
    Should all the clouds fall out, and in that strife,
    Lightning and thunder send to take my life,
    I would applaud the wisdom of my fate,
    Which knew to value me at such a rate,
    As at my fall to trouble all the sky,
    Emptying upon me Jove's full armoury.
    Serve in your sharpest mischiefs; use your rack,
    Enlarge each joint, and make each sinew crack;
    Thy soul before was straitened; thank thy doom,
    To show her virtue she hath larger room.
    Yet sure if every artery were broke,
    Thou wouldst find strength for such another stroke.
    And now I leave thee unto Death and Fame,
    Which lives to shake Ambition with thy name;
    And if it were not sin, the court by it
    Should hourly swear before the favourite.
    Farewell! for thy brave sake we shall not send
    Henceforth commanders, enemies to defend;
    Nor will it ever our just monarch please,
    To keep an admiral to lose our seas.
    Farewell! undaunted stand, and joy to be
    Of public service the epitome.
    Let the duke's name solace and crown thy thrall;
    All we by him did suffer, thou for all!
    And I dare boldly write, as thou dar'st die,
    Stout Felton, England's ransom, here doth lie![259]

This is to be a great poet. Felton, who was celebrated in such elevated
strains, was, at that moment, not the patriot but the penitent. In
political history it frequently occurs that the man who accidentally has
effectuated the purpose of a party, is immediately invested by them with
all their favourite virtues; but in reality having acted from motives
originally insignificant and obscure, his character may be quite the
reverse they have made him; and such was that of our "honest Jack." Had
Townley had a more intimate acquaintance with his Brutus, we might have
lost a noble poem on a noble subject.


I shall preserve a literary curiosity, which perhaps is the only one of
its kind. It is an original memorandum of Dr. Johnson's, of hints for
the Life of Pope, written down, as they were suggested to his mind, in
the course of his researches. The lines in Italics Johnson had scratched
with red ink, probably after having made use of them. These notes should
be compared with the Life itself. The youthful student will find some
use, and the curious be gratified, in discovering the gradual labours of
research and observation, and that art of seizing on those general
conceptions which afterwards are developed by meditation and illustrated
by genius. I once thought of accompanying these _hints_ by the amplified
and finished passages derived from them; but this is an amusement which
the reader can contrive for himself. I have extracted the most material

This fragment is a companion-piece to the engraved fac-simile of a page
of Pope's Homer, in this volume.

That fac-simile, a minutely perfect copy of the manuscript, was not
given to show the autograph of Pope,--a practice which has since so
generally prevailed,--but to exhibit to the eye of the student the
fervour and the diligence required in every work of genius. This could
only be done by showing the state of the manuscript itself, with all its
erasures, and even its half-formed lines; nor could this effect be
produced by giving only some of the corrections, which Johnson had
already, in printed characters. My notion has been approved of, because
it was comprehended by writers of genius: yet this fac-simile has been
considered as nothing more than an autograph by those literary
blockheads, who, without taste and imagination, intruding into the
province of literature, find themselves as awkward as a once popular
divine, in his "Christian Life," assures us certain sinners would in
paradise,--like "pigs in a drawing-room."


     Nothing occasional. No haste. No rivals. No compulsion.
     Practised only one form of verse. Facility from use. Emulated
     former pieces. Cooper's-hill. Dryden's ode. Affected to disdain
     flattery. _Not happy in his selection of patrons_. _Cobham,
     Bolingbroke_.[260] _Cibber's abuse will be better to him than
     a dose of hartshorn_. Poems long delayed. Satire and praise
     late, alluding to something past. He had always some poetical
     plan in his head.[261] Echo to the sense. Would not constrain
     himself too much. Felicities of language. Watts.[262] Luxury of
     language. _Motives to study; want of health, want of money;
     helps to study; some small patrimony_. _Prudent and frugal_;
     pint of wine.


     Amiable disposition--but he gives his own character.
     _Elaborate. Think what to say--say what one thinks. Letter on
     sickness to Steele_. _On Solitude. Ostentatious benevolence.
     Professions of sincerity_. _Neglect of fame. Indifference about
     everything_. _Sometimes gay and airy, sometimes sober and
     grave_. _Too proud of living among the great_. Probably forward
     to make acquaintance. _No literary man ever talked so much of
     his fortune. Grotto. Importance. Post-office, letters open_.
     _Cant of despising the world_. _Affectation of despising
     poetry_. _His easiness about the critics._. _Something of
     foppery_. _His letters to the ladies--pretty_. _Abuse of
     Scripture--not all early_. Thoughts in his letters that are


     _Ramsay missed the fall of man_. _Others the immortality of the
     soul. Address to our Saviour_. _Excluded by Berkeley_.
     _Bolingbroke's notions not understood_. Scale of Being _turn it
     in prose_. Part and not the whole always said. _Conversation
     with Bol_. R. 220.[263] _Bol. meant ill. Pope well_. _Crousaz.
     Resnel. Warburton_. _Good sense. Luxurious--felicities of
     language. Wall_. _Loved labour--always poetry in his head_.
     _Extreme sensibility. Ill-health, headaches_. _He never
     laughed_. _No conversation_. _No writings against Swift_.
     Parasitical epithets. Six lines of Iliad.[264] _He used to set
     down what occurred of thoughts--a line--a couplet._ The
     humorous lines end sinner. Prunello.[265] First line made for
     the sound, or v. versa. Foul lines in Jervas. _More notices of
     books early than late_.


     The line on Phillips borrowed from another poem. Pope did not
     increase the difficulties of writing. _Poetæpulorum_.


A new edition of Bayle in France is an event in literary history which
could not have been easily predicted. Every work which creates an epoch
in literature is one of the great monuments of the human mind; and Bayle
may be considered as the father of literary curiosity, and of modern
literature. Much has been alleged against our author: yet let us be
careful to preserve what is precious. Bayle is the inventor of a work
which dignified a collection of facts constituting his text, by the
argumentative powers and the copious illustrations which charm us in his
diversified commentary. Conducting the humble pursuits of an Aulus
Gellius and an Athenæus with a high spirit, he showed us the _philosophy
of Books_, and communicated to such limited researches a value which
they had otherwise not possessed.

This was introducing a study perfectly distinct from what is
pre-eminently distinguished as "classical learning," and the subjects
which had usually entered into philological pursuits. Ancient
literature, from century to century, had constituted the sole labours of
the learned; and "variæ lectiones" were long their pride and their
reward. Latin was the literary language of Europe. The vernacular idiom
in Italy was held in such contempt that their youths were not suffered
to read Italian books, their native productions. Varchi tells a curious
anecdote of his father sending him to prison, where he was kept on bread
and water, as a penance for his inveterate passion for reading Italian
books! Dante was reproached by the Italians for composing in his
mother-tongue, still expressed by the degrading designation of _il
volgare_, which the "resolute" John Florio renders "to make common;" and
to translate was contemptuously called _volgarizzare_. Petrarch rested
his fame on his Latin poetry, and called his Italian _nugellas
vulgares_! With us Roger Ascham was the first who boldly avowed "_To
speak as the common people_, to think as wise men;" yet, so late as the
time of Bacon, this great man did not consider his "Moral Essays" as
likely to last in the moveable sands of a modern language, for he has
anxiously had them sculptured in the marble of ancient Rome. Yet what
had the great ancients themselves done, but trusted to their own
_volgare_? The Greeks, the finest and most original writers of the
ancients, observes Adam Ferguson, "were unacquainted with every language
but their own; and if they became learned, it was only by studying what
they themselves had produced."

During fourteen centuries, whatever lay out of the pale of classical
learning was condemned as barbarism; in the meanwhile, however, amidst
this barbarism, another literature was insensibly creating itself in
Europe. Every people, in the gradual accessions of their vernacular
genius, discovered a new sort of knowledge, one which more deeply
interested their feelings and the times, reflecting the image, not of
the Greeks and the Latins, but of themselves! A spirit of inquiry,
originating in events which had never reached the ancient world, and the
same refined taste in the arts of composition caught from the models of
antiquity, at length raised up rivals, who competed with the great
ancients themselves; and modern literature now occupies a space which
appears as immensity, compared with the narrow and the imperfect limits
of the ancient. A complete collection of classical works, all the bees
of antiquity, may be hived in a glass-case; but those we should find
only the milk and honey of our youth; to obtain the substantial
nourishment of European knowledge, a library of ten thousand volumes
will not avail nor satisfy our inquiries, nor supply our researches
even on a single topic!

Let not, however, the votaries of ancient literature dread its neglect,
nor be over-jealous of their younger and Gothic sister. The existence of
their favourite study is secured, as well by its own imperishable
claims, as by the stationary institutions of Europe. But one of those
silent revolutions in the intellectual history of mankind, which are not
so obvious as those in their political state, seems now fully
accomplished. The very term "classical," so long limited to the ancient
authors, is now equally applicable to the most elegant writers of every
literary people; and although Latin and Greek were long characterised as
"the learned languages," yet we cannot in truth any longer concede that
those are the most learned who are "inter Græcos Græcissimi, inter
Latinos Latinissimi," any more than we can reject from the class of "the
learned," those great writers, whose scholarship in the ancient classics
may he very indifferent. The modern languages now have also become
learned ones, when he who writes in them is imbued with their respective
learning. He is a "learned" writer who has embraced most knowledge on
the particular subject of his investigation, as he is a "classical" one
who composes with the greatest elegance. Sir David Dalrymple dedicates
his "Memorials relating to the History of Britain" to the Earl of
Hardwicke, whom he styles, with equal happiness and propriety, "Learned
in British History." "Scholarship" has hitherto been a term reserved for
the adept in ancient literature, whatever may be the mediocrity of his
intellect; but the honourable distinction must be extended to all great
writers in modern literature, if we would not confound the natural sense
and propriety of things.

Modern literature may, perhaps, still be discriminated from the ancient,
by a term it began to be called by at the Reformation, that of "the New
Learning." Without supplanting the ancient, the modern must grow up with
it; the farther we advance in society, it will more deeply occupy our
interests; and it has already proved what Bacon, casting his
philosophical views retrospectively and prospectively, has observed,
"that Time is the greatest of innovators."

When Bayle projected his "Critical Dictionary," he probably had no idea
that he was about effecting a revolution in our libraries, and founding
a new province in the dominion of human knowledge; creative genius
often is itself the creature of its own age: it is but that reaction of
public opinion, which is generally the forerunner of some critical
change, or which calls forth some want which sooner or later will be
supplied. The predisposition for the various but neglected literature,
and the curious but the scattered knowledge of the moderns, which had
long been increasing, with the speculative turn of inquiry, prevailed in
Europe when Bayle took his pen to give the thing itself a name and an
existence. But the great authors of modern Europe were not consecrated
beings, like the ancients, and their volumes were not read from the
chairs of universities; yet the new interests which had arisen in
society, the new modes of human life, the new spread of knowledge, the
curiosity after even the little things which concern us, the revelations
of secret history, and the state-papers which have sometimes escaped
from national archives, the philosophical spirit which was hastening its
steps and raising up new systems of thinking; all alike required
research and criticism, inquiry and discussion. Bayle had first studied
his own age before he gave the public his great work.

"If Bayle," says Gibbon, "wrote his Dictionary to empty the various
collections he had made, without any particular design, he could not
have chosen a better plan. It permitted him everything, and obliged him
to nothing. By the double freedom of a dictionary and of notes, he could
pitch on what articles he pleased, and say what he pleased in those

"_Jacta est alea!_" exclaimed Bayle, on the publication of his
Dictionary, as yet dubious of the extraordinary enterprise; perhaps,
while going on with the work, he knew not at times whither he was
directing his course; but we must think that in his own mind he counted
on something which might have been difficult even for Bayle himself to
have developed. The author of the "Critical Dictionary" had produced a
voluminous labour, which, to all appearance, could only rank him among
compilers and reviewers, for his work is formed of such materials as
they might use. He had never studied any science; he confessed that he
could never demonstrate the first problem in Euclid, and to his last day
ridiculed that sort of evidence called mathematical demonstration. He
had but little taste for classical learning, for he quotes the Latin
writers curiously, not elegantly; and there is reason to suspect that
he had entirely neglected the Greek. Even the erudition of antiquity
usually reached him by the ready medium of some German commentator. His
multifarious reading was chiefly confined to the writers of the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. With such deficiencies in his
literary character, Bayle could not reasonably expect to obtain
pre-eminence in any single pursuit. Hitherto his writings had not
extricated him from the secondary ranks of literature, where he found a
rival at every step; and without his great work, the name of Bayle at
this moment had been buried among his controversialists, the rabid
Jurieu, the cloudy Jacquelot, and the envious Le Clerc; to these,
indeed, he sacrificed too many of his valuable days, and was still
answering them at the hour of his death. Such was the cloudy horizon of
that bright fame which was to rise over Europe! Bayle, intent on
escaping from all beaten tracks, while the very materials he used
promised no novelty, for all his knowledge was drawn from old books,
opened an eccentric route, where at least he could encounter no
parallel; Bayle felt that if he could not stand alone, he would only
have been an equal by the side of another. Experience had more than once
taught this mortifying lesson; but he was blest with the genius which
could stamp an inimitable originality on a folio.

This originality seems to have been obtained in this manner. The
exhausted topics of classical literature he resigned as a province not
adapted to an ambitious genius; sciences he rarely touched on, and
hardly ever without betraying superficial knowledge, and involving
himself in absurdity: but in the history of men, in penetrating the
motives of their conduct, in clearing up obscure circumstances, in
detecting the strong and the weak parts of him whom he was trying, and
in the cross-examination of the numerous witnesses he summoned, he
assumed at once the judge and the advocate! Books are for him pictures
of men's inventions, and the histories of their thoughts; any book,
whatever be its quality, must be considered as an experiment of the
human mind.

In controversies, in which he was so ambidextrous--in the progress of
the human mind, in which he was so philosophical--furnished, too, by his
hoarding curiosity with an immense accumulation, of details,--skilful in
the art of detecting falsehoods amidst truths, and weighing probability
against uncertainty--holding together the chain of argument from its
first principles to its remotest consequence--Bayle stands among those
masters of the human intellect who taught us to think, and also to
unthink! All, indeed, is a collection of researches and of reasonings:
he had the art of melting down his curious quotations with his own
subtile ideas. He collects everything; if truths, they enter into his
history; if fictions, into discussions; he places the secret by the side
of the public story; opinion is balanced against opinion: if his
arguments grow tedious, a lucky anecdote or an enlivening tale relieves
the folio page; and knowing the infirmity of our nature, he picks up
trivial things to amuse us, while he is grasping the most abstract and
ponderous. Human nature in her shifting scenery, and the human mind in
its eccentric directions, open on his view; so that an unknown person,
or a worthless book, are equally objects for his speculation with the
most eminent--they alike curiously instruct. Such were the materials,
and such the genius of the man, whose folios, which seem destined for
the retired few, lie open on our parlour tables. The men of genius of
his age studied them for instruction, the men of the world for their
amusement. Amidst the mass of facts which he has collected, and the
enlarged views of human nature which his philosophical spirit has
combined with his researches, Bayle may be called the Shakspeare of
dictionary makers; a sort of chimerical being, whose existence was not
imagined to be possible before the time of Bayle.

But his errors are voluminous as his genius! and what do apologies
avail? Apologies only account for the evil which they cannot alter!

Bayle is reproached for carrying his speculations too far into the wilds
of scepticism--he wrote in distempered times; he was witnessing the
_dragonades_ and the _révocations_ of the Romish church; and he lived
amidst the Reformed, or the French prophets, as we called them when they
came over to us, and in whom Sir Isaac Newton more than half believed.
These testify that they had heard angels singing in the air, while our
philosopher was convinced that he was living among men for whom no angel
would sing! Bayle had left persecutors to fly to fanatics, both equally
appealing to the Gospel, but alike untouched by its blessedness! His
impurities were a taste inherited from his favourite old writers, whose
_naïveté_ seemed to sport with the grossness which it touched, and
neither in France nor at home had the age then attained to our moral
delicacy: Bayle himself was a man without passions! His trivial matters
were an author's compliance with his bookseller's taste, which is always
that of the public. His scepticism is said to have thrown everything
into disorder. Is it a more positive evil to doubt than to dogmatise?
Even Aristotle often pauses with a qualified _perhaps_, and the egotist
Cicero with a modest _it seems to me_. Bayle's scepticism has been
useful in history, and has often shown how facts universally believed
are doubtful, and sometimes must be false. Bayle, it is said, is
perpetually contradicting himself; but a sceptic must doubt his doubts;
he places the antidote close to the poison, and lays the sheath by the
sword. Bayle has himself described one of those self-tormenting and
many-headed sceptics by a very noble figure, "He was a hydra who was
perpetually tearing himself."

The time has now come when Bayle may instruct without danger. We have
passed the ordeals he had to go through; we must now consider him as the
historian of our thoughts as well as of our actions; he dispenses the
literary stores of the moderns, in that vast repository of their wisdom
and their follies, which, by its originality of design, has made him an
author common to all Europe. Nowhere shall we find a rival for Bayle!
and hardly even an imitator! He compared himself, for his power of
raising up, or dispelling objections and doubts, to "the
cloud-compelling Jove." The great Leibnitz, who was himself a lover of
his _varia eruditio_, applied a line of Virgil to Bayle, characterising
his luminous and elevated genius:--

    Sub pedibusque videt nubes et sidera Daphnis.
    Beneath his feet he views the clouds and stars!


To know Bayle as a man, we must not study him in the folio Life of Des
Maizeaux, whose laborious pencil, without colour and without expression,
loses, in its indistinctness, the individualising strokes of the
portrait. Look for Bayle in his "Letters," those true chronicles of a
literary man, when they record his own pursuits.

The personal character of Bayle was unblemished even by calumny; his
executor, Basnage, never could mention him without tears! With
simplicity which approached to an infantine nature, but with the
fortitude of a stoic, our literary philosopher, from his earliest days,
dedicated himself to literature; the great sacrifice consisted of those
two main objects of human pursuits, fortune and a family. Many an
ascetic, who has headed an order, has not so religiously abstained from
all worldly interests; yet let us not imagine that there was a
sullenness in his stoicism,--an icy misanthropy, which shuts up the
heart from its ebb and flow. His domestic affections through life were
fervid. When his mother desired to receive his portrait, he opened for
her a picture of his heart! Early in life the mind of Bayle was
strengthening itself by a philosophical resignation to all human events!

"I am indeed of a disposition neither to fear bad fortune nor to have
very ardent desires for good. Yet I lose this steadiness and
indifference when I reflect that your love to me makes you feel for
everything that happens to me. It is therefore from the consideration
that my misfortunes would be a torment to you, that I wish to be happy;
and when I think that my happiness would be all your joy, I should
lament that my bad fortune should continue to persecute me; though, as
to my own particular interest, I dare promise to myself that I shall
never be very much affected by it."

An instance occurred of those social affections in which a stoic is
sometimes supposed to be deficient, which might have afforded a
beautiful illustration to one of our most elegant poets. The remembrance
of the happy moments which Bayle spent when young on the borders of the
river Auriège, a short distance from his native town of Carlat, where he
had been sent to recover from a fever occasioned by an excessive
indulgence in reading, induced him many years afterwards to devote an
article to it in his "Critical Dictionary," for the sake of quoting the
poet who had celebrated this obscure river. It was a "Pleasure of
Memory!" a tender association of domestic feeling!

The first step which Bayle took in life is remarkable. He changed his
religion and became a catholic. A year afterwards he returned to the
creed of his fathers. Posterity might not have known the story, had it
not been recorded in his Diary. The circumstance is thus curiously

                                 BAYLE'S DIARY.

     Years of the             Years
      Christian               of my
         Æra                   age.

        1669. Tues., Mar. 19.  22. I changed my religion--next day I resumed
                                    the study of logic.
        1670.        Aug. 20.  23. I returned to the reformed religion, and
                                   made a private abjuration of the Romish
                                   religion, in the hands of four ministers.

His brother was one of these ministers; while a catholic, Bayle had
attempted to convert him, by a letter long enough to evince his
sincerity; but without his subscription we should not have ascribed it
to Bayle.

For this vacillation in his religion has Bayle endured bitter censure.
Gibbon, who himself changed his about the same "year of his age," and
for as short a period, sarcastically observes of the first entry, that
"Bayle should have finished his logic before he changed his religion."
It may be retorted, that when he had learnt to reason, he renounced
Catholicism. The true fact is, that when Bayle had only studied a few
months at college, some books of controversial divinity by the catholics
offered many a specious argument against the reformed doctrines. A young
student was easily entangled in the nets of the Jesuits. But their
passive obedience, and their transubstantiation, and other stuff woven
in their looms, soon enabled such a man as Bayle to recover his senses.
The promises and the caresses of the wily Jesuits were rejected; and the
gush of tears of the brothers, on his return to the religion of his
fathers, is one of the most pathetic incidents of domestic life.

Bayle was willing to become an expatriated man; to study, from the love
of study, in poverty and honour! It happens sometimes that great men are
criminated for their noblest deeds by both parties.

When his great work appeared, the adversaries of Bayle reproached him
with haste, while the author expressed his astonishment at his slowness.
At first, "The Critical Dictionary," consisting only of two folios, was
finished in little more than four years; but in the life of Bayle this
was equivalent to a treble amount with men of ordinary application.
Bayle even calculated the time of his headaches: "My megrims would have
left me had it been in my power to have lived without study; by them I
lose many days in every month." The fact is, that Bayle had entirely
given up every sort of recreation except that delicious inebriation of
his faculties, as we may term it for those who know what it is, which he
drew from his books. We have his avowal: "Public amusements, games,
country jaunts, morning visits, and other recreations necessary to many
students, as they tell us, were none of my business. I wasted no time on
them, nor in any domestic cares,--never soliciting for preferment, nor
busied in any other way. I have been happily delivered from many
occupations which were not suitable to my humour; and I have enjoyed the
greatest and the most charming leisure that a man of letters could
desire. By such means an author makes a great progress in a few years."

Bayle, at Rotterdam, was appointed to a professorship of philosophy and
history; the salary was a competence to his frugal life, and enabled him
to publish his celebrated Review, which he dedicates "to the glory of
the city," for _illa nobis hæc otia fecit_.

After this grateful acknowledgment, he was unexpectedly deprived of the
professorship. The secret history is curious. After a tedious war, some
one amused the world by a chimerical "Project of Peace," which was much
against the wishes and the designs of our William the Third. Jurieu, the
head of the Reformed party in Holland, a man of heated fancies,
persuaded William's party that this book was a part of a secret cabal in
Europe, raised by Louis the Fourteenth against William the Third; and
accused Bayle as the author and promoter of this political confederacy.
The magistrates, who were the creatures of William, dismissed Bayle
without alleging any reason. To an ordinary philosopher it would have
seemed hard to lose his salary because his antagonist was one

    Whose sword is sharper than his pen.

Bayle only rejoiced at this emancipation, and quietly returned to his
Dictionary. His feelings on this occasion he has himself perpetuated.

"The sweetness and repose I find in the studies in which I have engaged
myself, and which are my delight, will induce me to remain in this city,
if I am allowed to continue in it, at least till the printing of my
Dictionary is finished; for my presence is absolutely necessary in the
place where it is printed. I am no lover of money, nor of honours, and
would not accept of any invitation should it be made to me; nor am I
fond of the disputes, and cabals, and professorial snarlings which reign
in all our academies: _Canam mihi et Musis_." He was indeed so charmed
by quiet and independence, that he was continually refusing the most
magnificent offers of patronage, from Count Guiscard, the French
ambassador; but particularly from our English nobility. The Earls of
Shaftesbury, of Albemarle, and of Huntingdon tried every solicitation to
win him over to reside with them as their friend; and too nice a sense
of honour induced Bayle to refuse the Duke of Shrewsbury's gift of two
hundred guineas for the dedication of his Dictionary. "I have so often
ridiculed dedications that I must not risk any," was the reply of our

The only complaint which escaped from Bayle was the want of books; an
evil particularly felt during his writing the "Critical Dictionary;" a
work which should have been composed not distant from the shelves of a
public library. Men of classical attainments, who are studying about
twenty authors, and chiefly for their style, can form no conception of
the state of famine to which an "helluo librorum" is too often reduced
in the new sort of study which Bayle founded. Taste when once obtained
may be said to be no acquiring faculty, and must remain stationary; but
knowledge is of perpetual growth, and has infinite demands. Taste, like
an artificial canal, winds through a beautiful country; but its borders
are confined, and its term is limited. Knowledge navigates the ocean,
and is perpetually on voyages of discovery. Bayle often grieves over the
scarcity, or the want of books, by which he was compelled to leave many
things uncertain, or to take them at second-hand; but he lived to
discover that trusting to the reports of others was too often suffering
the blind to lead the blind. It was this circumstance which induced
Bayle to declare, that some works cannot be written in the country, and
that the metropolis only can supply the wants of the literary man.
Plutarch has made a similar confession; and the elder Pliny, who had not
so many volumes to turn over as a modern, was sensible to the want of
books, for he acknowledges that there was no book so bad by which we
might not profit.

Bayle's peculiar vein of research and skill in discussion first
appeared in his "Pensées sur la Comète." In December, 1680, a comet had
appeared, and the public yet trembled at a portentous meteor, which they
still imagined was connected with some forthcoming and terrible event!
Persons as curious as they were terrified teased Bayle by their
inquiries, but resisted all his arguments. They found many things more
than arguments in his amusing volumes: "I am not one of the authors by
profession," says Bayle, in giving an account of the method he meant to
pursue, "who follow a series of views; who first project their subject,
then divide it into books and chapters, and who only choose to work on
the ideas they have planned. I for my part give up all claims to
authorship, and shall chain myself to no such servitude. I cannot
meditate with much regularity on one subject; I am too fond of change. I
often wander from the subject, and jump into places of which it might be
difficult to guess the way out; so that I shall make a learned doctor
who looks for method quite impatient with me." The work is indeed full
of curiosities and anecdotes, with many critical ones concerning
history. At first it found an easy entrance into France, as a simple
account of comets; but when it was discovered that Bayle's comet had a
number of fiery tales concerning the French and the Austrians, it soon
became as terrific as the comet itself, and was prohibited!

Bayle's "Critique générale de l'Histoire du Calvinisme par le Père
Maimbourg," had more pleasantry than bitterness, except to the palate of
the vindictive Father, who was of too hot a constitution to relish the
delicacy of our author's wit. Maimbourg stirred up all the intrigues he
could rouse to get the Critique burnt by the hangman at Paris. The
lieutenant of the police, De la Reynie, who was among the many who did
not dislike to see the Father corrected by Bayle, delayed this execution
from time to time, till there came a final order. This lieutenant of the
police was a shrewd fellow, and wishing to put an odium on the bigoted
Maimbourg, allowed the irascible Father to write the proclamation
himself with all the violence of an enraged author. It is a curious
specimen of one who evidently wished to burn his brother with his book.
In this curious proclamation, which has been preserved as a literary
curiosity, Bayle's "Critique" is declared to be defamatory and
calumnious, abounding with seditious forgeries, pernicious to all good
subjects, and therefore is condemned to be torn to pieces, and burnt at
the _Place de Grêve_. All printers and booksellers are forbidden to
print, or to sell, or disperse the said abominable book, under _pain of
death_; and all other persons, of what quality or condition soever, are
to undergo the penalty of exemplary punishment. De la Reynie must have
smiled on submissively receiving this effusion from our enraged author;
and to punish Maimbourg in the only way he could contrive, and to do at
the same time the greatest kindness to Bayle, whom he admired, he
dispersed three thousand copies of this proclamation to be posted up
through Paris; the alarm and the curiosity were simultaneous; but the
latter prevailed. Every book collector hastened to procure a copy so
terrifically denounced, and at the same time so amusing. The author of
the "Livres condamnés au Feu" might have inserted this anecdote in his
collection. It may be worth adding, that Maimbourg always affected to
say that he had never read Bayle's work, but he afterwards confessed to
Menage, that he could not help valuing a book of such curiosity. Jurieu
was so jealous of its success, that Beauval attributes his personal
hatred of Bayle to our young philosopher overshadowing that veteran.

The taste for literary history we owe to Bayle; and the great interest
he communicated to these researches spread in the national tastes of
Europe. France has been always the richest in these stores, but our
acquisitions have been rapid; and Johnson, who delighted in them,
elevated their means and their end, by the ethical philosophy and the
spirit of criticism which he awoke. With Bayle, indeed, his minor works
were the seed-plots; but his great Dictionary opened the forest.

It is curious, however, to detect the difficulties of early attempts,
and the indifferent success which sometimes attends them in their first
state. Bayle, to lighten the fatigue of correcting the second edition of
his Dictionary, wrote the first volume of "Réponses aux Questions d'un
Provincial," a supposititious correspondence with a country gentleman.
It was a work of mere literary curiosity, and of a better description of
miscellaneous writing than that of the prevalent fashion of giving
thoughts and maxims, and fanciful characters, and idle stories, which
had satiated the public taste: however, the book was not well received.
He attributes the public caprice to his prodigality of literary
anecdotes, and other _minutiæ literariæ_, and his frequent quotations!
but he defends himself with skill: "It is against the nature of things
to pretend that in a work to prove and clear up facts, an author should
only make use of his own thoughts, or that he ought to quote very
seldom. Those who say that the work does not sufficiently interest the
public, are doubtless in the right; but an author cannot interest the
public except he discusses moral or political subjects. All others with
which men of letters fill their books are useless to the public; and we
ought to consider them as only a kind of frothy nourishment in
themselves; but which, however, gratify the curiosity of many readers,
according to the diversity of their tastes. What is there, for example,
less interesting to the public than the _Bibliothèque Choisie_ of
Colomiés (a small bibliographical work); yet is that work looked on as
excellent in its kind. I could mention other works which are read,
though containing nothing which interests the public." Two years after,
when he resumed these letters, he changed his plan; he became more
argumentative, and more sparing of literary and historical articles. We
have now certainly obtained more decided notions of the nature of this
species of composition, and treat such investigations with more skill;
still they are "caviare to the general." An accumulation of dry facts,
without any exertion of taste or discussion, forms but the barren and
obscure diligence of title-hunters. All things which come to the reader
without having first passed through the mind, as well as the pen of the
writer, will be still open to the fatal objection of insane industry
raging with a depraved appetite for trash and cinders; and this is the
line of demarcation which will for ever separate a Bayle from a Prosper
Marchand, and a Warton from a Ritson; the one must be satisfied to be
useful, but the other will not fail to delight. Yet something must be
alleged in favour of those who may sometimes indulge researches too
minutely; perhaps there is a point beyond which nothing remains but
useless curiosity; yet this too may be relative. The pleasure of these
pursuits is only tasted by those who are accustomed to them, and whose
employments are thus converted into amusements. A man of fine genius,
Addison relates, trained up in all the polite studies of antiquity, upon
being obliged to search into several rolls and records, at first found
this a very dry and irksome employment; yet he assured me, that at last
he took an incredible pleasure in it, and preferred it even to the
reading of Virgil and Cicero.

As for our Bayle, he exhibits a perfect model of the real literary
character. He, with the secret alchymy of human happiness, extracted his
tranquillity out of the baser metals, at the cost of his ambition and
his fortune. Throughout a voluminous work, he experienced the enjoyment
of perpetual acquisition and delight; he obtained glory, and he endured
persecution. He died as he had lived, in the same uninterrupted habits
of composition; for with his dying hand, and nearly speechless, he sent
a fresh proof to the printer!


Fuseli, in the introduction to the second part of his Lectures, has
touched on the character of Cicero, respecting his knowledge and feeling
of Art, in a manner which excites our curiosity. "Though Cicero seems to
have had as little _native taste_ for painting and sculpture, and even
less than he had taste for poetry, he had a conception of Nature, and
with his usual acumen frequently scattered useful hints and pertinent
observations. For many of these he might probably be indebted to
Hortensius, with whom, though his rival in eloquence, he lived on terms
of familiarity, and who was a man of declared taste, and one of the
first collectors of the time." We may trace the progress of _Cicero's
taste for the works of art_. It was probably a late, though an ardent
pursuit; and their actual enjoyment seems with this celebrated man
rather to have been connected with some future plan of life.

Cicero, when about forty-three years of age, seems to have projected the
formation of a library and a collection of antiquities, with the remote
intention of secession, and one day stealing away from the noisy honours
of the republic. Although that great man remained too long a victim to
his political ambition, yet at all times his natural dispositions would
break out, and amidst his public avocations he often anticipated a time
when life would be unvalued without uninterrupted repose; but repose,
destitute of the ample furniture, and even of the luxuries of a mind
occupying itself in literature and art, would only for him have opened
the repose of a desert! It was rather his provident wisdom than their
actual enjoyment, which induced him, at a busied period of his life, to
accumulate from all parts books, and statues, and curiosities without
number; in a word, to become, according to the term, too often
misapplied and misconceived among us, for it is not always understood
in an honourable sense, a COLLECTOR!

Like other late collectors, Cicero often appears ardent to possess what
he was not able to command; sometimes he entreats, or circuitously
negotiates, or is planning the future means to secure the acquisitions
which he thirsted after. He is repeatedly soliciting his literary friend
Atticus to keep his books for him, and not to dispose of his collections
on any terms, however earnestly the bidders may crowd; and, to keep his
patience in good hope (for Atticus imagined his collection would exceed
the price which Cicero could afford), he desires Atticus not to despair
of his being able to make them his, for that he was saving all his rents
to purchase these books for the relief of his old age.

This projected library and collection of antiquities it was the
intention of Cicero to have placed in his favourite villa in the
neighbourhood of Rome, whose name, consecrated by time, now proverbially
describes the retirement of a man of elegant taste. To adorn his villa
at Tusculum formed the day-dreams of this man of genius; and his passion
broke out in all the enthusiasm and impatience which so frequently
characterise the modern collector. Not only Atticus, on whose fine taste
he could depend, but every one likely to increase his acquisitions was
Cicero persecuting with entreaties on entreaties, with the seduction of
large prices, and with the expectation, that if the orator and consul
would submit to accept any bribe, it would hardly be refused in the
shape of a manuscript or a statue. "In the name of our friendship," says
Cicero, addressing Atticus, "suffer nothing to escape you of whatever
you find curious or rare." When Atticus informed him that he should send
him a fine statue, in which the heads of Mercury and Minerva were united
together, Cicero, with the enthusiasm of a maniacal lover of the present
day, finds every object which is uncommon the very thing for which he
has a proper place. "Your discovery is admirable, and the statue you
mention seems to have been made purposely for my cabinet." Then follows
an explanation of the mystery of this allegorical statue, which
expressed the happy union of exercise and study. "Continue," he adds,
"to collect for me as you have promised, _in as great a quantity as
possible_, morsels of this kind." Cicero, like other collectors, may be
suspected not to have been very difficult in his choice, and for him the
curious was not less valued than the beautiful. The mind and temper of
Cicero were of a robust and philosophical cast, not too subject to the
tortures of those whose morbid imagination and delicacy of taste touch
on infirmity. It is, however, amusing to observe this great man,
actuated by all the fervour and joy of collecting. "I have paid your
agent, as you ordered, for the Megaric statues; send me as _many_ of
them as you can, _and as soon as possible_, with any others which you
think proper for the place, and to my taste, and good enough to please
yours. You cannot imagine how greatly my _passion increases_ for this
sort of things; it is such that it may appear _ridiculous_ in the eyes
of many; but you are my friend, and will only think of satisfying my
wishes." Again--"Purchase for me, without thinking farther, all that you
discover of rarity. My friend, do not spare my purse." And, indeed, in
another place he loves Atticus both for his promptitude and cheap
purchases: _Te multum amamus, quod ea abs te diligenter, parvoque curata

Our collectors may not be displeased to discover at their head so
venerable a personage as Cicero; nor to sanction their own feverish
thirst and panting impatience with all the raptures on the day of
possession, and the "saving of rents" to afford commanding prices--by
the authority of the greatest philosopher of antiquity.

A fact is noticed in this article which requires elucidation. In the
life of a true collector, the selling of his books is a singular
incident. The truth is, that the elegant friend of Cicero, residing in
the literary city of Athens, appears to have enjoyed but a moderate
income, and may be said to have traded not only in books, but in
gladiators, whom he let out, and also charged interest for the use of
his money; circumstances which Cornelius Nepos, who gives an account of
his landed property, has omitted, as, perhaps, not well adapted to
heighten the interesting picture which he gives of Atticus, but which
the Abbé Mongault has detected in his curious notes on Cicero's letters
to Atticus. It is certain that he employed his slaves, who, "to the
foot-boy," as Middleton expresses himself, were all literary and skilful
scribes, in copying the works of the best authors for his own use: but
the duplicates were sold, to the common profit of the master and the
slave. The state of literature among the ancients may be paralleled with
that of the age of our first restorers of learning, when printing was
not yet established; then Boccaccio and Petrarch, and such men, were
collectors, and zealously occupied in the manual labour of
transcription; immeasurable was the delight of that avariciousness of
manuscript, by which, in a certain given time, the possessor, with an
unwearied pen, could enrich himself by his copy: and this copy an estate
would not always purchase! Besides that a manuscript selected by
Atticus, or copied by the hand of Boccaccio and Petrarch, must have
risen in value, associating it with the known taste and judgment of the


The congenial histories of literature and of art are accompanied by the
same periodical revolutions; and none is more interesting than that one
which occurs in the decline and corruption of arts, when a single mind
returning to right principles, amidst the degenerated race who had
forsaken them, seems to create a new epoch, and teaches a servile race
once more how to invent! These epochs are few, but are easily
distinguished. The human mind is never stationary; it advances or it
retrogrades: having reached its meridian point, when the hour of
perfection has gone by, it must verge to its decline. In all Art,
perfection lapses into that weakened state too often dignified as
classical imitation; but it sinks into mannerism, and wantons into
affectation, till it shoots out into fantastic novelties. When all
languishes in a state of mediocrity, or is deformed by false tastes,
then is reserved for a fortunate genius the glory of restoring another
golden age of invention. The history of the Caracci family serves as an
admirable illustration of such an epoch, while the personal characters
of the three Caracci throw an additional interest over this curious
incident in the history of the works of genius.

The establishment of the famous _accademia_, or school of painting, at
Bologna, which restored the art in the last stage of degeneracy,
originated in the profound meditations of Lodovico. There was a happy
boldness in the idea; but its great singularity was that of discovering
those men of genius, who alone could realise his ideal conception,
amidst his own family circle; and yet these were men whose opposite
dispositions and acquirements could hardly have given any hope of mutual
assistance; and much, less of melting together their minds and their
work in such an unity of conception and execution, that even to our days
they leave the critics undetermined which of the Caracci to prefer; each
excelling the other in some pictorial quality. Often combining together
in the same picture, the mingled labour of three painters seemed to
proceed from one palette, as their works exhibit which adorn the
churches of Bologna. They still dispute about a picture, to ascertain
which of the Caracci painted it; and still one prefers Lodovico for his
_grandiosità_, another Agostino for his invention, and another Annibale
for his vigour or his grace.[266]

What has been told of others, happened to Lodovico Caracci in his youth;
he struggled with a mind tardy in its conceptions, so that he gave no
indications of talent; and was apparently so inept as to have been
advised by two masters to be satisfied to grind the colours he ought not
otherwise to meddle with. Tintoretto, from friendship, exhorted him to
change his trade. "This sluggishness of intellect did not proceed,"
observes the sagacious Lanzi, "from any deficiency, but from the depth
of his penetrating mind: early in life he dreaded the ideal as a rock on
which so many of his contemporaries had been shipwrecked." His hand was
not blest with precocious facility, because his mind was unsettled about
truth itself; he was still seeking for nature, which he could not
discover in those wretched mannerists, who, boasting of their freedom
and expedition in their bewildering tastes, which they called the ideal,
relied on the diplomas and honours obtained by intrigue or purchase,
which sanctioned their follies in the eyes of the multitude. "Lodovico,"
says Lanzi, "would first satisfy his own mind on every line; he would
not paint till painting well became a habit, and till habit produced

Lodovico then sought in other cities for what he could not find at
Bologna. Ho travelled to inspect the works of the elder masters; he
meditated on all their details; he penetrated to the very thoughts of
the great artists, and grew intimate with their modes of conception and
execution. The true principles of art were collected together in his own
mind,--the rich fruits of his own studies,--and these first prompted him
to invent a new school of painting.[267]

Returning to Bologna, he found his degraded brothers in art still
quarrelling about the merits of the old and the new school, and still
exulting in their vague conceptions and expeditious methods. Lodovico,
who had observed all, had summed up his principle in one grand
maxim,--that of combining a close observation of nature with the
imitation of the great masters, modifying both, however, by the
disposition of the artist himself. Such was the simple idea and the
happy project of Lodovico! Every perfection seemed to have been
obtained: the _Raffaeleschi_ excelled in the ideal; the
_Michelagnuoleschi_ in the anatomical; the Venetian and the Lombard
schools in brilliant vivacity or philosophic gravity. All seemed
preoccupied; but the secret of breaking the bonds of servile imitation
was a new art: of mingling into one school the charms of every school,
adapting them with freedom; and having been taught by all, to remain a
model for all; or, as Lanzi expresses it, _dopo avere appresso da tutte
insegnò a tutte_. To restore Art in its decline, Lodovico pressed all
the sweets from all the flowers; or, melting together all his rich
materials, formed one Corinthian brass. This school is described by Du
Fresnoy in the character of Annibale,

             ---- Quos sedulus Hannibal omnes
    In PROPRIAM MENTEM atque morem mirâ arte COEGIT.

Paraphrased by Mason,

    From all their charms combined, with happy toil,
    Did Annibal compose his wondrous style;
    O'er the fair fraud so close a veil is thrown,
    That every borrow'd grace becomes his own.[268]

Lodovico perceived that he could not stand alone in the breach, and
single-handed encounter an impetuous multitude. He thought of raising up
a party among those youthful aspirants who had not yet been habitually
depraved. He had a brother whose talent could never rise beyond a poor
copyist's, and him he had the judgment, unswayed by undue partiality, to
account as a cipher; but he found two of his cousins men capable of
becoming as extraordinary as himself.

These brothers, Agostiuo and Annibale, first by nature, and then by
their manners and habits, were of the most opposite dispositions. Born
amidst humble occupations, their father was a tailor, and Annibale was
still working on the paternal board, while Agostino was occupied by the
elegant works of the goldsmith, whence he acquired the fine art of
engraving, in which he became the Marc Antonio of his time. Their
manners, perhaps, resulted from their trades. Agostino was a man of
science and literature: a philosopher and poet of the most polished
elegance, the most enchanting conversation, far removed from the vulgar,
he became the companion of the learned and the noble. Annibale could
scarcely write and read; an inborn ruggedness made him sullen, taciturn,
or, if he spoke, sarcastic; scorn and ridicule were his bitter delight.
Nature had strangely made these brothers little less than enemies.
Annibale despised his brother for having entered into the higher
circles; he ridiculed his refined manners, and even the neat elegance of
his dress. To mortify Agostino, one day he sent him a portrait of their
father threading a needle, and their mother cutting out the cloth, to
remind him, as he once whispered in Agostino's ear, when he met him
walking with a nobleman, "not to forget that they were sons of a poor
tailor!"[269] The same contrast existed in the habits of their mind.
Agostino was slow to resolve, difficult to satisfy himself; he was for
polishing and maturing everything: Annibale was too rapid to suffer any
delay, and, often evading the difficulties of the art, loved to do much
in a short time. Lodovico soon perceived their equal and natural
aptitude for art; and placing Agostino under a master who was celebrated
for his facility of execution, he fixed Annibale in his own study,
where his cousin might be taught by observation the _Festina lente_; how
the best works are formed by a leisurely haste. Lodovico seems to have
adopted the artifice of Isocrates in his management of two pupils, of
whom he said that the one was to be pricked on by the spur, and the
other kept in by the rein.

But a new difficulty arose in the attempt to combine together such
incongruous natures; the thoughtful Lodovico, intent on the great
project of the reformation of the art, by his prudence long balanced
their unequal tempers, and with that penetration which so strongly
characterises his genius, directed their distinct talents to his one
great purpose. From the literary Agostino he obtained the philosophy of
critical lectures and scientific principles; invention and designing
solely occupied Annibale; while the softness of contours, lightness and
grace, were his own acquisition. But though Annibale presumptuously
contemned the rare and elevated talents of Agostino, and scarcely
submitted to copy the works of Lodovico, whom he preferred to rival,
yet, according to a traditional rumour which Lanzi records, it was
Annibale's decision of character which enabled him, as it were
unperceived, to become the master over his cousin and his brother;
Lodovico and Agostino long hesitated to oppose the predominant style, in
their first Essays; Annibale hardly decided to persevere in opening
their new career by opposing "works to voices;" and to the enervate
labours of their wretched rivals, their own works, warm in vigour and
freshness, conducted on the principles of nature and art.

The Caracci not only resolved to paint justly, but to preserve the art
itself, by perpetuating the perfect taste of the true style among their
successors. In their own house they opened an _Accademia_, calling it
_degli Incaminati_, "the opening a new way," or "the beginners." The
academy was furnished with casts, drawings, prints, a school for
anatomy, and for the living figure; receiving all comers with kindness;
teaching gratuitously, and, as it is said, without jealousy; but too
many facts are recorded to allow us to credit the banishment of this
infectious passion from the academy of the Caracci, who, like other
congregated artists, could not live together and escape their own
endemial fever.

It was here, however, that Agostino found his eminence as the director
of their studies; delivering lectures on architecture and perspective,
and pointing out from his stores of history and fable subjects for the
designs of their pupils, who, on certain days exhibited their works to
the most skilful judges, adjusting the merits by their decisions. "To
the crowned sufficient is the prize of the glory," says Lanzi; and while
the poets chanted their praises, the lyre of Agostino himself gratefully
celebrated the progress of his pupils. A curious sonnet has been
transmitted to us, where Agostino, like the ancient legislators,
compresses his new laws into a few verses, easily to be remembered. The
sonnet is now well known, since Fuseli and Barry have preserved it in
their lectures. This singular production has, however, had the hard fate
of being unjustly depreciated: Lanzi calls it _pittoresco veramente più
che poetico_; Fuseli sarcastically compares it to "a medical
prescription." It delighted Barry, who calls it "a beautiful poem.
Considered as a didactic and descriptive poem, no lover of art who has
ever read it, will cease to repeat it till he has got it by heart. In
this academy every one was free to indulge his own taste, provided he
did not violate the essential principles of art; for though the critics
have usually described the character of this new school to have been an
imitation of the preceding ones, it was their first principle to be
guided by nature, and their own disposition; and if their painter was
deficient in originality, it was not the fault of this academy so much
as of the academician. In difficult doubts they had recourse to
Lodovico, whom Lanzi describes in his school like Homer among the
Greeks, _fons ingeniorum_, profound in every part of painting. Even the
recreations of the pupils were contrived to keep their mind and hand in
exercise; in their walks sketching landscapes from nature, or amusing
themselves with what the Italians call _Caricatura_, a term of large
signification; for it includes many sorts of grotesque inventions,
whimsical incongruities, such as those arabesques found at Herculaneum,
where Anchises, Æneas, and Ascanius are burlesqued by heads of apes and
pigs, or Arion, with a grotesque motion, is straddling a great trout; or
like that ludicrous parody which came from the hand of Titian in a
playful hour, when he sketched the Laocoon whose three figures consist
of apes. Annibale had a peculiar facility in these incongruous
inventions, and even the severe Leonardo da Vinci considered them as
useful exercises.

Such was the academy founded by the Caracci; and Lodovico lived to
realise his project in the reformation of art, and witnessed the school
of Bologna flourishing afresh when all the others had fallen. The great
masters of this last epoch of Italian painting were their pupils. Such
were Domenichino, who, according to the expression of Bellori, _delinea
gli animi, colorisce la vita_; he drew the soul and coloured life;[270]
Albano, whose grace distinguishes him as the Anacreon of painting;
Guido, whose touch was all beauty and delicacy, and, as Passeri
delightfully expresses it, "whose faces came from Paradise;"[271] a
scholar of whom his masters became jealous, while Annibale, to depress
Guido, patronised Domenichino, and even the wise Lodovico could not
dissimulate the fear of a new competitor in a pupil, and to mortify
Guido preferred Guercino, who trod in another path. Lanfranco closes
this glorious list, whose freedom and grandeur for their full display
required the ample field of some vast history.

The secret history of this _Academia_ forms an illustration for that
chapter on "Literary Jealousy" which I have written in "The Literary
Character." We have seen even the gentle Lodovico infected by it; but it
raged in the breast of Annibale. Careless of fortune as they were
through life, and free from the bonds of matrimony, that they might
wholly devote themselves to all the enthusiasm of their art, they lived
together in the perpetual intercourse of their thoughts; and even at
their meals laid on their table their crayons and their papers, so that
any motion or gesture which occurred, as worthy of picturing, was
instantly sketched. Annibale catching something of the critical taste of
Agostino, learnt to work more slowly, and to finish with more
perfection, while his inventions were enriched by the elevated thoughts
and erudition of Agostino. Yet a circumstance which happened in the
academy betrays the mordacity and envy of Annibalo at the superior
accomplishments of his more learned brother. While Agostino was
describing with great eloquence the beauties of the Laocoon, Annibale
approached the wall, and snatching up the crayons, drew the marvellous
figure with such perfection, that the spectators gazed on it in
astonishment. Alluding to his brother's lecture, the proud artist
disdainfully observed, "Poets paint with words, but painters only with
their pencils."[272]

The brothers could neither live together nor endure absence. Many years
their life was one continued struggle and mortification; and Agostino
often sacrificed his genius to pacify the jealousy of Annibale, by
relinquishing his palette to resume those exquisite engravings, in which
he corrected the faulty outlines of the masters whom he copied, so that
his engravings are more perfect than their originals. To this unhappy
circumstance, observes Lanzi, we must attribute the loss of so many
noble compositions which otherwise Agostino, equal in genius to the
other Caracci, had left us. The jealousy of Annibale at length for ever
tore them asunder. Lodovico happened not to be with them when they were
engaged in painting together the Farnesian gallery at Rome. A rumour
spread that in their present combined labour the engraver had excelled
the painter. This Annibale could not forgive; he raved at the bite of
the serpent: words could not mollify, nor kindness any longer appease,
that perturbed spirit; neither the humiliating forbearance of Agostino,
the counsels of the wise, nor the mediation of the great. They separated
for ever! a separation in which they both languished, till Agostino,
broken-hearted, sunk into an early grave, and Annibale, now brotherless,
lost half his genius; his great invention no longer accompanied him--for
Agostino was not by his side![273] After suffering many vexations, and
preyed on by his evil temper, Annibale was deprived of his senses.


We have Royal Societies for philosophers, for antiquaries, and for
artists--none for men of letters! The lovers of philological studies
have regretted the want of an asylum since the days of Anne, when the
establishment of an English Academy of Literature was designed; but
political changes occurred which threw out a literary administration.
France and Italy have gloried in great national academies, and even in
provincial ones. With us, the curious history and the fate of the
societies at Spalding, Stamford, and Peterborough, whom their zealous
founder lived to see sink into country clubs, is that of most of our
_rural_ attempts at literary academies! The Manchester society has but
an ambiguous existence; and that of Exeter expired in its birth. Yet
that a great purpose may be obtained by an inconsiderable number, the
history of "The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures,"
&c., may prove; for that originally consisted only of twelve persons,
brought together with great difficulty, and neither distinguished for
their ability nor their rank.

The opponents to the establishment of an academy in this country may
urge, and find Bruyère on their side, that no corporate body generates a
single man of genius. No Milton, no Hume, no Adam Smith, will spring out
of an academical community, however they may partake of one common
labour. Of the fame, too, shared among the many, the individual feels
his portion too contracted, besides that he will often suffer by
comparison. Literature, with us, exists independent of patronage or
association. We have done well without an academy; our dictionary and
our style have been polished by individuals, and not by a society.

The advocates for such a literary institution may reply, that in what
has been advanced against it we may perhaps find more glory than profit.
Had an academy been established in this country, we should have
possessed all our present advantages, with the peculiar ones of such an
institution. A series of volumes composed by the learned of England had
rivalled the precious "Memoirs of the French Academy," probably more
philosophical, and more congenial to our modes of thinking! The
congregating spirit creates by its sympathy; an intercourse exists
between its members which had not otherwise occurred; in this attrition
of minds, the torpid awakens, the timid is emboldened, and the secluded
is called forth; to contradict, and to be contradicted, is the privilege
and the source of knowledge. Those original ideas, hints, and
suggestions, which some literary men sometimes throw out once or twice
during their whole lives, might here be preserved; and if endowed with
sufficient funds, there are important labours, which surpass the means
and industry of the individual, which would be more advantageously
performed by such literary unions.

An academy of literature can only succeed by the same means in which
originated all such academies--among individuals themselves. It will not
be "by the favour of the MANY, but by the wisdom and energy of the FEW."
It is not even in the power of royalty to create at a word what can only
be formed by the co-operation of the workmen themselves, and of the
great taskmaster, Time!

Such institutions have sprung from the same principle, and have followed
the same march. It was from a private meeting that "The French Academy"
derived its origin; and the true beginners of that celebrated
institution assuredly had no foresight of the object to which their
conferences tended. Several literary friends at Paris, finding the
extent of the city occasioned much loss of time in their visits, agreed
to meet on a fixed day every week, and chose Conrart's residence as
centrical. They met for the purposes of general conversation, or to walk
together, or, what was not least social, to partake in some refreshing
_collation_. All being literary men, those who were authors submitted
their new works to this friendly society, who, without jealousy or
malice, freely communicated their strictures; the works were improved,
the authors were delighted, and the critics were honest! Such was the
happy life of the members of this private society during three or four
years. Pelisson, the earliest historian of the French Academy, has
delightfully described it: "It was such that, now when they speak of
these first days of the Academy, they call it the golden age, during
which, with all the innocence and freedom of that fortunate period,
without pomp and noise, and without any other laws than those of
friendship, they enjoyed together all which a society of minds, and a
rational life, can yield of whatever softens and charms."

They were happy, and they resolved to be silent; nor was this bond and
compact of friendship violated till one of them, Malleville, secretary
of Marshal Bassompierre, being anxious that his friend Faret, who had
just printed his _L'Honnête Homme_, which he had drawn from the famous
"Il Cortigiano" of Castiglione, should profit by all their opinions,
procured his admission to one of their conferences; Faret presented them
with his book, heard a great deal concerning the nature of his work, was
charmed by their literary communications, and returned home ready to
burst with the secret. Could the society hope that others would be more
faithful than they had been to themselves? Faret happened to be one of
those light-hearted men who are communicative in the degree in which
they are grateful, and he whispered the secret to Des Marets and to
Boisrobert. The first, as soon as he heard of such a literary senate,
used every effort to appear before them and read the first volume of his
"Ariane." Boisrobert, a man of distinction, and a common friend to them
all, could not be refused an admission; he admired the frankness of
their mutual criticisms. The society, besides, was a new object; and his
daily business was to furnish an amusing story to his patron, Richelieu.
The cardinal-minister was very literary, and apt to be so hipped in his
hours of retirement, that the physician declared, that "all his drugs
were of no avail, unless his patient mixed with them a drachm of
Boisrobert." In one of those fortunate moments, when the cardinal was
"in the vein," Boisrobert painted, with the warmest hues, this region of
literary felicity, of a small, happy society formed of critics and
authors! The minister, who was ever considering things in that
particular aspect which might tend to his own glory, instantly asked
Boisrobert, whether this private meeting would not like to be
constituted a public body, and establish itself by letters patent,
offering them his protection. The flatterer of the minister was
overjoyed, and executed the important mission; but not one of the
members shared in the rapture, while some regretted an honour which
would only disturb the sweetness and familiarity of their intercourse.
Malleville, whose master was a prisoner in the Bastile, and Serisay, the
_intendant_ of the Duke of Rochefoucault, who was in disgrace at court,
louldly protested, in the style of an opposition party, against the
protection of the minister; but Chapelain, who was known to have no
party-interests, argued so clearly, that he left them to infer that
Richelieu's _offer_ was a _command_; that the cardinal was a minister
who willed not things by halves; and was one of those very great men who
avenge any contempt shown to them even on such little men as themselves!
In a word, the dogs bowed their necks to the golden collar. However, the
appearance, if not the reality, of freedom was left to them; and the
minister allowed them to frame their own constitution, and elect their
own magistrates and citizens in this infant and illustrious republic of
literature. The history of the farther establishment of the French
Academy is elegantly narrated by Pelisson. The usual difficulty occurred
of fixing on a title; and they appear to have changed it so often, that
the Academy was at first addressed by more than one title; Académie _des
beaux Esprits_; Académie _de l'Eloquence_; Académie _Eminente_, in
allusion to the quality of the cardinal, its protector. Desirous of
avoiding the extravagant and mystifying titles of the Italian
academies,[275] they fixed on the most unaffected, "_L'Académie
Française_; but though the national genius may disguise itself for a
moment, it cannot be entirely got rid of, and they assumed a vaunting
device of a laurel wreath, including their epigraph, "_\xC3
l'Immortalité_." The Academy of Petersburgh has chosen a more
enlightened inscription, _Paulatim_ ("little by little"), so expressive
of the great labours of man--even of the inventions of genius!

Such was the origin of L'ACADEMIE FRANCAISE; it was long a private
meeting before it became a public institution. Yet, like the Royal
Society, its origin has been attributed to political motives, with a
view to divert the attention from popular discontents; but when we look
into the real origin of the French Academy, and our Royal Society, it
must be granted, that if the government either in France or England ever
entertained this project, it came to them so accidentally, that at least
we cannot allow them the merit of profound invention. Statesmen are
often considered by speculative men in their closets to be mightier
wonder-workers than they often prove to be.

Were the origin of the Royal Society inquired into, it might be justly
dated a century before its existence; the real founder was Lord Bacon,
who planned the _ideal institution_ in his philosophical romance of the
New Atlantis! This notion is not fanciful, and it was that of its first
founders, as not only appears by the expression of old Aubrey, when,
alluding to the commencement of the society, he adds _secundum mentem
Domini Baconi_; but by a rare print designed by Evelyn, probably for a
frontispiece to Bishop Sprat's history, although we seldom find the
print in the volume. The design is precious to a Grangerite, exhibiting
three fine portraits. On one side is represented a library, and on the
table lie the statutes, the journals, and the mace of the Royal Society;
on its opposite side are suspended numerous philosophical instruments;
in the centre of the print is a column on which is placed the bust of
Charles the Second, the patron; on each side whole lengths of Lord
Brouncker, the first president, and Lord Bacon, as the founder,
inscribed _Artium Instaurator_. The graver of Hollar has preserved this
happy intention of Evelyn's, which exemplifies what may be called the
continuity and genealogy of genius, as its spirit is perpetuated by its

When the fury of the civil wars had exhausted all parties, and a
breathing time from the passions and madness of the age allowed
ingenious men to return once more to their forsaken studies, Bacon's
vision of a philosophical society appears to have occupied their
reveries. It charmed the fancy of Cowley and Milton; but the politics
and religion of the times were still possessed by the same frenzy, and
divinity and politics were unanimously agreed to be utterly proscribed
from their inquiries. On the subject of religion they were more
particularly alarmed, not only at the time of the foundation of the
society, but at a much later period, when under the direction of Newton
himself. Even Bishop Sprat, their first historian, observed, that "they
have freely admitted men of different religions, countries, and
professions of life, not to lay the foundation of an English, Scotch,
Irish, popish, or protestant philosophy, but a philosophy of mankind." A
curious protest of the most illustrious of philosophers may be found:
when "the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge were desirous of
holding their meetings at the house of the Royal Society, Newton drew up
a number of arguments against their admission. One of them is, that "It
is a fundamental rule of the society not to meddle with religion; and
the reason is, that we may give no occasion to religious bodies to
meddle with us." Newton would not even comply with their wishes, lest by
this compliance the Royal Society might "dissatisfy those of other
religions." The wisdom of the protest by Newton is as admirable as it is
remarkable,--the preservation of the Royal Society from the passions of
the age.

It was in the lodgings of Dr. Wilkins in Wadham College that a small
philosophical club met together, which proved to be, as Aubrey expresses
it, the _incunabula_ of the Royal Society. When the members were
dispersed about London, they renewed their meetings first at a tavern,
then at a private house; and when the society became too great to be
called a club, they assembled in "the parlour" of Gresham College, which
itself had been raised by the munificence of a citizen, who endowed it
liberally, and presented a noble example to the individuals now
assembled under its roof. The society afterwards derived its title from
a sort of accident. The warm loyalty of Evelyn in the first hopeful days
of the Restoration, in his dedicatory epistle of Naudé's treatise on
libraries, called that philosophical meeting THE ROYAL SOCIETY. These
learned men immediately voted their thanks to Evelyn for the happy
designation, which was so grateful to Charles the Second, who was
himself a virtuoso of the day, that the charter was soon granted: the
king, declaring himself their founder, "sent them a mace of silver-gilt,
of the same fashion and bigness as those carried before his majesty, to
be borne before the president on meeting days." To the zeal of Evelyn
the Royal Society owes no inferior acquisition to its title and its
mace:[277] the noble Arundelian library, the rare literary accumulation
of the noble Howards; the last possessor of which had so little
inclination for books, that the treasures which his ancestors had
collected lay open at the mercy of any purloiner. This degenerate heir
to the literature and the name of Howard seemed perfectly relieved when
Evelyn sent his marbles, which were perishing in his gardens, to Oxford,
and his books, which were diminishing daily, to the Royal Society!

The SOCIETY of ANTIQUARIES might create a deeper interest, could we
penetrate to its secret history: it was interrupted, and suffered to
expire by some obscure cause of political jealousy. It long ceased to
exist, and was only reinstated almost in our own days. The revival of
learning under Edward the Sixth suffered a severe check from the
papistical government of Mary; but under Elizabeth a happier era opened
to our literary pursuits. At this period several students of the Inns of
Court, many of whose names are illustrious for their rank or their
genius, formed a weekly society, which they called "the Antiquaries'
College." From very opposite quarters we are furnished with many curious
particulars of their literary intercourse: it is delightful to discover
Rawleigh borrowing manuscripts from the library of Sir Robert Cotton,
and Selden deriving his studies from the collections of Rawleigh. Their
mode of proceeding has even been preserved. At every meeting they
proposed a question or two respecting the history or the antiquities of
the English nation, on which each member was expected, at the subsequent
meeting, to deliver a dissertation or an opinion. They also "supped
together." From the days of Athenæus to those of Dr. Johnson, the
pleasures of the table have enlivened those of literature. A copy of
each question and a summons for the place of conference were sent to the
absent members. The opinions were carefully registered by the secretary,
and the dissertations deposited in their archives. One of these
summonses to Stowe, the antiquary, with his memoranda on the back,
exists in the Ashmolean Museum. I shall preserve it with all its verbal

                       "SOCIETY OF ANTIQUARIES.

          "To MR. STOWE.
       "The place appointed for a conference upon the question
     followinge ys att Mr. Garter's house, on Frydaye the 2nd. of
     this November, being Al Soule's daye, at 2 of the clocke in
     the afternoone, where your oppinioun in wrytinge or otherwise
     is expected.

                          "The question is,

     "Of the antiquitie, etimologie, and priviledges of parishes
     in Englande.

     "Yt ys desyred that you give not notice hereof to any, but
     such as haue the like somons."

Such is the summons; the memoranda in the handwriting of Stowe are

[630. Honorius Romanus, Archbyshope of Canterbury, devided his province
into _parishes_; he ordeyned clerks and prechars, comaunding them that
they should instruct the people, as well by good lyfe, as by doctryne.

760. Cuthbert, Archbyshope of Canterbury, procured of the Pope, that in
cities and townes there should be appoynted church yards for buriall of
the dead, whose bodies were used to be buried abrode, & cet.]

Their meetings had hitherto been private; but to give stability to them,
they petitioned for a charter of incorporation, under the title of the
_Academy for the Study of Antiquity and History, founded by Queen
Elizabeth_. And to preserve all the memorials of history which the
dissolution of the monasteries had scattered about the kingdom, they
proposed to erect a library, to be called "The Library of Queen
Elizabeth." The death of the queen overturned this honourable project.
The society was somewhat interrupted by the usual casualties of human
life; the members were dispersed or died, and it ceased for twenty
years. Spelman, Camden, and others, desirous of renovating the society,
met for this purpose at the Herald's-office; they settled their
regulations, among which, one was "for avoiding offence, they should
neither meddle with matters of state nor religion." "But before our next
meeting," says Spelman, "we had notice that his majesty took _a little
mislike of our society_, not being informed that we had resolved to
decline all matters of state. Yet hereupon we forbore to meet again, and
so all our labour's lost!" Unquestionably much was lost, for much could
have been produced; and Spelman's work on law terms, where I find this
information, was one of the first projected. James the First has
incurred the censure of those who have written more boldly than Spelman
on the suppression of this society; but whether James was misinformed by
"taking a little mislike," or whether the antiquaries failed in exerting
themselves to open their plan more clearly to that "timid pedant," as
Gough and others designate this monarch, may yet be doubtful; assuredly
James was not a man to contemn their erudition!

The king at this time was busied by furthering a similar project, which
was to found "King James's College at Chelsea;" a project originating
with Dean Sutcliff; and zealously approved by Prince Henry, to raise a
nursery for young polemics in scholastical divinity, for the purpose of
defending the Protestant cause from the attacks of catholics and
sectaries; a college which was afterwards called by Laud "Controversy
College." In this society were appointed historians and antiquaries, for
Camden and Haywood filled these offices.

The Society of Antiquaries, however, though suppressed, was perhaps
never extinct; it survived in some shape under Charles the Second, for
Ashmole in his Diary notices "the Antiquaries' Feast," as well as "the
Astrologers'," and another of "the Freemasons'."[278] The present
society was only incorporated in 1751. There are two sets of their
Memoirs; for besides the modern _Archæologia_, we have two volumes of
"Curious Discourses," written by the Fathers of the Antiquarian Society
in the age of Elizabeth, collected from their dispersed manuscripts,
which Camden preserved with a parental hand.

The philosophical spirit of the age, it might have been expected, would
have reached our modern antiquaries; but neither profound views, nor
eloquent disquisitions, have imparted that value to their confined
researches and languid efforts, which the character of the times, and
the excellence of our French rivals in their "Academie," so peremptorily
required. It is, however, hopeful to hear Mr. Hallam declare, "I think
our last volumes improve a little, and but a little! A comparison with
the Academy of Inscriptions in its better days must still inspire us
with shame."

Among the statutes of the Society of Antiquaries there is one which
expels any member "who shall, by speaking, writing, or printing,
publicly defame the society." Some things may be too antique and
obsolete even for the Society of Antiquaries! and such is this vile
restriction! It compromises the freedom of the republic of letters.


It is generally supposed that where there is no QUOTATION, there will be
found most originality. Our writers usually furnish their pages rapidly
with the productions of their own soil: they run up a quickset hedge, or
plant a poplar, and get trees and hedges of this fashion much faster
than the former landlords procured their timber. The greater part of our
writers, in consequence, have become so original, that no one cares to
imitate them; and those who never quote, in return are seldom quoted!

This is one of the results of that adventurous spirit which is now
stalking forth and raging for its own innovations. We have not only
rejected AUTHORITY, but have also cast away EXPERIENCE; and often the
unburthened vessel is driving to all parts of the compass, and the
passengers no longer know whither they are going. The wisdom of the
wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by QUOTATION.

It seems, however, agreed, that no one would quote if he could think;
and it is not imagined that the well-read may quote from the delicacy of
their taste, and the fulness of their knowledge. Whatever is
felicitously expressed risks being worse expressed: it is a wretched
taste to be gratified with mediocrity when the excellent lies before us.
We quote to save proving what has been demonstrated, referring to where
the proofs may be found. We quote to screen ourselves from the odium of
doubtful opinions, which the world would not willingly accept from
ourselves; and we may quote from the curiosity which only a quotation
itself can give, when in our own words it would be divested of that tint
of ancient phrase, that detail of narrative, and that _naïveté_ which we
have for ever lost, and which we like to recollect once had an

The ancients, who in these matters were not, perhaps, such blockheads as
some may conceive, considered poetical quotation as one of the requisite
ornaments of oratory. Cicero, even in his philosophical works, is as
little sparing of quotations as Plutarch. Old Montaigne is so stuffed
with them, that he owns, if they were taken out of him little of himself
would remain; and yet this never injured that original turn which the
old Gascon has given to his thoughts. I suspect that Addison hardly ever
composed a Spectator which was not founded on some quotation, noted in
those three folio manuscript volumes which he previously collected; and
Addison lasts, while Steele, who always wrote from first impressions and
to the times, with perhaps no inferior genius, has passed away, insomuch
that Dr. Beattie once considered that he was obliging the world by
collecting Addison's papers, and carefully omitting Steele's.

Quotation, like much better things, has its abuses. One may quote till
one compiles. The ancient lawyers used to quote at the bar till they had
stagnated their own cause. "Retournons à nos moutons," was the cry of
the client. But these vagrant prowlers must be consigned to the beadles
of criticism. Such do not always understand the authors whose names
adorn their barren pages, and which are taken, too, from the third or
the thirtieth hand. Those who trust to such false quoters will often
learn how contrary this transmission is to the sense and the application
of the original. Every transplantation has altered the fruit of the
tree; every new channel the quality of the stream in its remove from the
spring-head. Bayle, when writing on "Comets," discovered this; for
having collected many things applicable to his work, as they stood
quoted in some modern writers, when he came to compare them with their
originals, he was surprised to find that they were nothing for his
purpose! the originals conveyed a quite contrary sense to that of the
pretended quoters, who often, from innocent blundering, and sometimes
from purposed deception, had falsified their quotations. This is an
useful story for second-hand authorities!

Selden had formed some notions on this subject of quotations in his
"Table-talk," art. "_Books and Authors_;" but, as Le Clerc justly
observes, proud of his immense reading, he has too often violated his
own precept. "In quoting of books," says Selden, "quote such authors as
are usually read; others read for your own satisfaction, but not name
them." Now it happens that no writer names more authors, except
Prynne,[279] than the learned Selden. La Mothe le Vayer's curious works
consist of fifteen volumes; he is among the greatest quoters. Whoever
turns them over will perceive that he is an original thinker, and a
great wit; his style, indeed, is meagre, which, as much as his
quotations, may have proved fatal to him. But in both these cases it is
evident that even quoters who have abused the privilege of quotation are
not necessarily writers of a mean genius.

The Quoters who deserve the title, and it ought to be an honorary one,
are those who trust to no one but themselves. In borrowing a passage,
they carefully observe its connexion; they collect authorities to
reconcile any disparity in them before they furnish the one which they
adopt; they advance no fact without a witness, and they are not loose
and general in their references, as I have been told is our historian
Henry so frequently, that it is suspected he deals much in second-hand
ware. Bayle lets us into a mystery of author-craft. "Suppose an able man
is to prove that an ancient author entertained certain particular
opinions, which are only insinuated here and there through his works, I
am sure it will take him up more days to collect the passages which he
will have occasion for, than to _argue at random_ on those passages.
Having once found out his authorities and his quotations, which perhaps
will not fill six pages, and may have cost him a month's labour, he may
finish in two mornings' work twenty pages of arguments, objections, and
answers to objections; and consequently, _what proceeds from our own
genius sometimes costs much less time than what is requisite for
collecting_. Corneille would have required more time to defend a tragedy
by a great collection of authorities, than to write it; and I am
supposing the same number of pages in the tragedy and in the defence.
Heinsius perhaps bestowed more time in defending his _Herodes
infanticida_ against Balzac, than a Spanish (or a Scotch) metaphysician
bestows on a large volume of controversy, where he takes all from his
own stock." I am somewhat concerned in the truth of this principle.
There are articles in the present work occupying but a few pages, which
could never have been produced had not more time been allotted to the
researches which they contain than some would allow to a small volume,
which might excel in genius, and yet be likely not to be long
remembered! All this is labour which never meets the eye. It is quicker
work, with special pleading and poignant periods, to fill sheets with
generalising principles; those bird's-eye views of philosophy for the
_nonce_ seem as if things were seen clearer when at a distance and _en
masse_, and require little knowledge of the individual parts. Such _an
art of writing_ may resemble the famous Lullian method, by which the
_doctor illuminatus_ enabled any one to invent arguments by a machine!
Two tables, one of _attributes_, and the other of _subjects_, worked
about circularly in a frame, and placed correlatively to one another
produced certain combinations; the number of _questions_ multiplied as
they were worked! So that here was a mechanical invention by which they
might dispute without end, and write on without any particular knowledge
of their subject!

But the painstaking gentry, when heaven sends them genius enough, are
the most instructive sort, and they are those to whom we shall appeal
while time and truth can meet together. A well-read writer, with good
taste, is one who has the command of the wit of other men;[280] he
searches where knowledge is to be found; and though he may not himself
excel in invention, his ingenuity may compose one of those agreeable
books, the _deliciæ_ of literature, that will outlast the fading meteors
of his day. Epicurus is said to have borrowed from no writer in his
three hundred inspired volumes, while Plutarch, Seneca, and the elder
Pliny made such free use of their libraries; and it has happened that
Epicurus, with his unsubstantial nothingness, has "melted into thin
air," while the solid treasures have buoyed themselves up amidst the
wrecks of nations.

On this subject of quotation, literary politics,--for the commonwealth
has its policy and its cabinet-secrets,--are more concerned than the
reader suspects. Authorities in matters of fact are often called for; in
matters of opinion, indeed, which perhaps are of more importance, no one
requires any authority. But too open and generous a revelation of the
chapter and the page of the original quoted has often proved detrimental
to the legitimate honours of the quoter. They are unfairly appropriated
by the next comer; the quoter is never quoted, but the authority he has
afforded is produced by his successor with the air of an original
research. I have seen MSS. thus confidently referred to, which could
never have met the eye of the writer. A learned historian declared to me
of a contemporary, that the latter had appropriated his researches; he
might, indeed, and he had a right to refer to the same originals; but if
his predecessor had opened the sources for him, gratitude is not a
silent virtue. Gilbert Stuart thus lived on Robertson: and as Professor
Dugald Stewart observes, "his curiosity has seldom led him into any path
where the genius and industry of his predecessor had not previously
cleared the way." It is for this reason some authors, who do not care to
trust to the equity and gratitude of their successors, will not furnish
the means of supplanting themselves; for, by not yielding up their
authorities, they themselves become one. Some authors, who are pleased
at seeing their names occur in the margins of other books than their
own, have practised this political management; such as Alexander ab
Alexandro, and other compilers of that stamp, to whose labours of small
value we are often obliged to refer, from the circumstance that they
themselves have not pointed out their authorities.

One word more on this long chapter of QUOTATION. To make a happy one is
a thing not easily to be done.[281] Cardinal du Perron used to say, that
the happy application of a verse from Virgil was worth a talent; and
Bayle, perhaps too much prepossessed in their favour, has insinuated,
that there is not less invention in a just and happy application of a
thought found in a book, than in being the first author of that thought.
The art of quotation requires more delicacy in the practice than those
conceive who can see nothing more in a quotation than an extract.
Whenever the mind of a writer is saturated with the full inspiration of
a great author, a quotation gives completeness to the whole; it seals
his feelings with undisputed authority. Whenever we would prepare the
mind by a forcible appeal, an opening quotation is a symphony preluding
on the chords whose tones we are about to harmonise. Perhaps no writers
of our times have discovered more of this delicacy of quotation than the
author of the "Pursuits of Literature;" and Mr. Southey, in some of his
beautiful periodical investigations, where we have often acknowledged
the solemn and striking effect of a quotation from our elder writers.


Nearly six centuries have elapsed since the appearance of the great work
of Dante, and the literary historians of Italy are even now disputing
respecting the origin of this poem, singular in its nature and in its
excellence. In ascertaining a point so long inquired after, and so
keenly disputed, it will rather increase our admiration than detract
from the genius of this great poet; and it will illustrate the useful
principle, that every great genius is influenced by the objects and the
feelings which occupy his own times, only differing from the race of his
brothers by the magical force of his developments: the light he sends
forth over the world he often catches from the faint and unobserved
spark which would die away and turn to nothing in another hand.

The _Divina Commedia_ of Dante is a visionary journey through the three
realms of the after-life existence; and though, in the classical ardour
of our poetical pilgrim, he allows his conductor to be a Pagan, the
scenes are those of monkish imagination. The invention of a VISION was
the usual vehicle for religious instruction in his age; it was adapted
to the genius of the sleeping Homer of a monastery, and to the
comprehension, and even to the faith of the populace, whose minds were
then awake to these awful themes.

The mode of writing visions has been imperfectly detected by several
modern inquirers. It got into the Fabliaux of the Jongleurs, or
Provençal bards, before the days of Dante; they had these visions or
pilgrimages to Hell; the adventures were no doubt solemn to them--but it
seemed absurd to attribute the origin of a sublime poem to such
inferior, and to us even ludicrous, inventions. Every one, therefore,
found out some other origin of Dante's Inferno--since they were resolved
to have one--in other works more congenial to its nature; the
description of a second life, the melancholy or the glorified scenes of
punishment or bliss, with the animated shades of men who were no more,
had been opened to the Italian bard by his favourite Virgil, and might
have been suggested, according to Warton, by the _Somnium Scipionis_ of

But the entire work of Dante is Gothic; it is a picture of his times, of
his own ideas, of the people about him; nothing of classical antiquity
resembles it; and although the name of Virgil is introduced into a
Christian Hades, it is assuredly not the Roman, for Dante's Virgil
speaks and acts as the Latin poet could never have done. It is one of
the absurdities of Dante, who, like our Shakspeare, or like Gothic
architecture itself, has many things which "lead to nothing" amidst
their massive greatness.

Had the Italian and the French commentators who have troubled themselves
on this occasion known the art which we have happily practised in this
country, of illustrating a great national bard by endeavouring to
recover the contemporary writings and circumstances which were connected
with his studies and his times, they had long ere this discovered the
real framework of the Inferno.

Within the last twenty years it had been rumoured that Dante had
borrowed or stolen his _Inferno_ from "The Vision of Alberico," which
was written two centuries before his time. The literary antiquary,
Bottari, had discovered a manuscript of this Vision of Alberico, and, in
haste, made extracts of a startling nature. They were well adapted to
inflame the curiosity of those who are eager after anything new about
something old; it throws an air of erudition over the small talker, who
otherwise would care little about the original! This was not the first
time that the whole edifice of genius had been threatened by the motion
of a remote earthquake; but in these cases it usually happens that those
early discoverers who can judge of a little part, are in total blindness
when they would decide on a whole. A poisonous mildew seemed to have
settled on the laurels of Dante; nor were we relieved from our constant
inquiries, till il Sigr. Abbate Cancellieri at Rome published, in 1814,
this much talked-of manuscript, and has now enabled us to see and to
decide, and even to add the present little article as an useful

True it is that Dante must have read with equal attention and delight
this authentic _vision_ of Alberico; for it is given, so we are assured
by the whole monastery, as it happened to their ancient brother when a
boy; many a striking, and many a positive resemblance in the "Divina
Commedia" has been pointed out; and Mr. Gary, in his English version of
Dante, so English, that he makes Dante speak in blank verse very much
like Dante in stanzas, has observed, that "The reader will, in these
marked resemblances, see enough to convince him that Dante _had read
this singular work_." The truth is, that the "Vision of Alberico" must
not be considered as a _singular_ work--but, on the contrary, as the
prevalent mode of composition in the monastic ages. It has been
ascertained that Alberico was written in the twelfth century, judging of
the age of a manuscript by the writing. I shall now preserve a vision
which a French antiquary had long ago given, merely with the design to
show how the monks abused the simplicity of our Gothic ancestors, and
with an utter want of taste for such inventions, he deems the present
one to be "monstrous." He has not told us the age in which it was
written. This vision, however, exhibits such complete scenes of the
_Inferno_ of the great poet, that the writer must have read Dante, or
Dante must have read this writer. The manuscript, with another of the
same kind, is in the King's library at Paris, and some future researcher
may ascertain the age of these Gothic compositions; doubtless they will
be found to belong to the age of Alberico, for they are alike stamped by
the same dark and awful imagination, the same depth of feeling, the
solitary genius of the monastery!

It may, however, be necessary to observe, that these "Visions" were
merely a vehicle for popular instruction; nor must we depend on the age
of their composition by the names of the supposititious visionaries
affixed to them: they were the satires of the times. The following
elaborate views of some scenes in the _Inferno_ were composed by an
honest monk who was dissatisfied with the bishops, and took this covert
means of pointing out how the neglect of their episcopal duties was
punished in the after-life; he had an equal quarrel with the feudal
nobility for their oppressions: and he even boldly ascended to the

"The Vision of Charles the Bald, of the places of punishment, and the
happiness of the Just.[282]

"I, Charles, by the gratuitous gift of God, king of the Germans, Roman
patrician, and likewise emperor of the Franks;

"On the holy night of Sunday, having performed the divine offices of
matins, returning to my bed to sleep, a voice most terrible came to my
ear; 'Charles! thy spirit shall now issue from thy body; thou shalt go
and behold the judgments of God; they shall serve thee only as presages,
and thy spirit shall again return shortly afterwards.' Instantly was my
spirit rapt, and he who bore me away was a being of the most splendid
whiteness. He put into my hand a ball of thread, which shed a blaze of
light, such as the comet darts when it is apparent. He divided it, and
said to me, 'Take thou this thread, and bind it strongly on the thumb of
thy right hand, and by this I will lead thee through the infernal
labyrinth of punishments.'

"Then going before me with velocity, but always unwinding this luminous
thread, he conducted me into deep valleys filled with fires, and wells
inflamed, blazing with all sorts of unctuous matter. There I observed
the prelates who had served my father and my ancestors. Although I
trembled, I still, however, inquired of them to learn the cause of their
torments. They answered, 'We are the bishops of your father and your
ancestors; instead of uniting them and their people in peace and
concord, we sowed among them discord, and were the kindlers of evil: for
this are we burning in these Tartarean punishments; we, and other
men-slayers and devourers of rapine. Here also shall come your bishops,
and that crowd of satellites who surround you, and who imitate the evil
we have done.'

"And while I listened to them tremblingly, I beheld the blackest demons
flying with hooks of burning iron, who would have caught the ball of
thread which I held in my hand, and have drawn it towards them, but it
darted such a reverberating light, that they could not lay hold of the
thread. These demons, when at my back, hustled to precipitate me into
those sulphureous pits; but my conductor, who carried the ball, wound
about my shoulder a double thread, drawing me to him with such force,
that we ascended high mountains of flame, from whence issued lakes and
burning streams, melting all kinds of metals. There I found the souls of
lords who had served my father and my brothers; some plunged in up to
the hair of their heads, others to their chins, others with half their
bodies immersed. These yelling, cried to me, 'It is for inflaming
discontents with your father, and your brothers, and yourself, to make
war and spread murder and rapine, eager for earthly spoils, that we now
suffer these torments in these rivers of boiling metal.' While I was
timidly bending over their suffering, I heard at my back the clamours of
voices, _potentes potenter tormenta patiuntur_! 'The powerful suffer
torments powerfully;' and I looked up, and beheld on the shores boiling
streams and ardent furnaces, blazing with pitch and sulphur, full of
great dragons, large scorpions, and serpents of a strange species; where
also I saw some of my ancestors, princes, and my brothers also, who
said to me, 'Alas, Charles! behold our heavy punishment for evil, and
for proud malignant counsels, which, in our realms and in thine, we
yielded to from the lust of dominion.' As I was grieving with their
groans, dragons hurried on, who sought to devour me with throats open,
belching flame and sulphur. But my leader trebled the thread over me, at
whose resplendent light these were overcome. Leading me then securely,
we descended into a great valley, which on one side was dark, except
where lighted by ardent furnaces, while the amenity of the other was so
pleasant and splendid, that I cannot describe it. I turned, however, to
the obscure and flaming side; I beheld some kings of my race agonised in
great and strange punishments, and I thought how in an instant the huge
black giants who in turmoil were working to set this whole valley into
flames, would have hurled me into these gulfs; I still trembled, when
the luminous thread cheered my eyes, and on the other side of the valley
a light for a little while whitened, gradually breaking: I observed two
fountains; one, whose waters had extreme heat, the other more temperate
and clear; and two large vessels filled with these waters. The luminous
thread rested on one of the fervid waters, where I saw my father Louis
covered to his thighs, and though labouring in the anguish of bodily
pain, he spoke to me. 'My son Charles, fear nothing! I know that thy
spirit shall return unto thy body; and God has permitted thee to come
here that thou mayest witness, because of the sins I have committed, the
punishments I endure. One day I am placed in the boiling bath of this
large vessel, and on another changed into that of more tempered waters:
this I owe to the prayers of Saint Peter, Saint Denis, Saint Remy, who
are the patrons of our royal house; but if by prayers and masses,
offerings and alms, psalmody and vigils, my faithful bishops, and
abbots, and even all the ecclesiastical order, assist me, it will not be
long before I am delivered from these boiling waters. Look on your
left!' I looked and beheld two tuns of boiling waters. 'These are
prepared for thee,' he said, 'if thou wilt not be thy own corrector, and
do penance for thy crimes!' Then I began to sink with horror; but my
guide perceiving the panic of my spirit, said to me, 'Follow me to the
right of the valley, bright in the glorious light of Paradise.' I had
not long proceeded, when, amidst the most illustrious kings, I beheld
my uncle Lotharius seated on a topaz, of marvellous magnitude, covered
with a most precious diadem; and beside him was his son Louis, like him
crowned, and seeing me, he spake with a blandishment of air, and a
sweetness of voice, 'Charles, my successor, now the third in the Roman
empire, approach! I know that thou hast come to view these places of
punishment, where thy father and my brother groans to his destined hour:
but still to end by the intercession of the three saints, the patrons of
the kings and the people of France. Know that it will not be long ere
thou shalt be dethroned, and shortly after thou shalt die!' Then Louis
turning towards me: 'Thy Roman empire shall pass into the hands of
Louis, the son of my daughter; give him the sovereign authority, and
trust to his hands that ball of thread thou holdest.' Directly I
loosened it from the finger of my right hand to give the empire to his
son. This invested him with empire, and he became brilliant with all
light; and at the same instant, admirable to see, my spirit, greatly
wearied and broken, returned gliding into my body. Hence let all know
whatever happen, that Louis the Young possesses the Roman empire
destined by God. And so the Lord who reigneth over the living and the
dead, and whose kingdom endureth for ever and for aye, will perform when
he shall call me away to another life."

The French literary antiquaries judged of these "Visions" with the mere
nationality of their taste. Everything Gothic with them is barbarous,
and they see nothing in the redeeming spirit of genius, nor the secret
purpose of these curious documents of the age.

The Vision of Charles the Bald may be found in the ancient chronicles of
Saint Denis, which were written under the eye of the Abbé Suger, the
learned and able minister of Louis the Young, and which were certainly
composed before the thirteenth century. The learned writer of the fourth
volume of the _Mélanges tirés d'une grande Bibliothèque_, who had as
little taste for these mysterious visions as the other French critic,
apologises for the venerable Abbé Suger's admission of such visions:
"Assuredly," he says, "the Abbé Suger was too wise and too enlightened
to believe in similar visions; but if he suffered its insertion, or if
he inserted it himself in the chronicle of Saint Denis, it is because he
felt that such a fable offered an excellent lesson to kings, to
ministers and bishops, and it had been well if they had not had worse
tales told them." The latter part is as philosophical as the former is
the reverse.

In these extraordinary productions of a Gothic age we may assuredly
discover Dante; but what are they more than the framework of his
unimitated picture! It is only this mechanical part of his sublime
conceptions that we can pretend to have discovered; other poets might
have adopted these "Visions;" but we should have had no "Divina
Commedia." Mr. Gary has finely observed of these pretended origins of
Dante's genius, although Mr. Gary knew only the Vision of Alberico, "It
is the scale of magnificence on which this conception was framed, and
the wonderful development of it in all its parts, that may justly
entitle our poet to rank among the few minds to whom the power of a
great creative faculty can be ascribed." Milton might originally have
sought the seminal hint of his great work from a sort of Italian
mystery. In the words of Dante himself,

    Poca favilla gran fiamma seconda.
                                  _Il Paradiso_, Can. i.

    ----From a small spark
    Great flame hath risen.

After all, Dante has said in a letter, "I found the ORIGINAL of MY HELL
in THE WORLD which we inhabit;" and he said a greater truth than some
literary antiquaries can always comprehend![283]


Such a title might serve for a work of not incurious nor unphilosophical
speculation, which might enlarge our general views of human affairs, and
assist our comprehension of those events which are enrolled on the
registers of history. The scheme of Providence is carrying oil sublunary
events, by means inscrutable to us,

    A mighty maze, but not without a plan!

Some mortals have recently written history, and "Lectures on History,"
who presume to explain the great scene of human affairs, affecting the
same familiarity with the designs of Providence as with the events which
they compile from human authorities. Every party discovers in the events
which at first were adverse to their own cause but finally terminate in
their favour, that Providence had used a peculiar and particular
interference; this is a source of human error and intolerant prejudice.
The Jesuit Mariana, exulting over the destruction of the kingdom and
nation of the Goths in Spain, observes, that "It was by a particular
providence that out of their ashes might rise _a new and holy Spain, to
be the bulwark of the catholic religion_;" and unquestionably he would
have adduced as proofs of this "holy Spain" the establishment of the
Inquisition, and the dark idolatrous bigotry of that hoodwinked people.
But a protestant will not sympathise with the feelings of the Jesuit;
yet the protestants, too, will discover particular providences, and
magnify human events into supernatural ones. This custom has long
prevailed among fanatics: we have had books published by individuals, of
"particular providences," which, as they imagined, had fallen to their
lot. They are called "passages of providence;" and one I recollect by a
crack-brained puritan, whose experience never went beyond his own
neighbourhood, but who having a very bad temper, and many whom he
considered his enemies, wrote down all the misfortunes which happened to
them as acts of "particular providences," and valued his blessedness on
the efficacy of his curses!

Without venturing to penetrate into the mysteries of the present order
of human affairs, and the great scheme of fatality or of accident, it
may he sufficiently evident to us, that often on a single event revolve
the fortunes of men and of nations.

An eminent writer has speculated on the defeat of Charles the Second at
Worcester, as "one of those events which most strikingly exemplify how
much better events are disposed of by Providence, than they would be if
the direction were left to the choice even of the best and the wisest
men." He proceeds to show, that a royal victory must have been succeeded
by other severe struggles, and by different parties. A civil war would
have contained within itself another civil war. One of the blessings of
his defeat at Worcester was, that it left the commonwealth's men masters
of the three kingdoms, and afforded them "full leisure to complete and
perfect their own structure of government. The experiment was fairly
tried; there was nothing from without to disturb the process; it went on
duly from change to change." The close of this history is well known.
Had the royalists obtained the victory at Worcester, the commonwealth
party might have obstinately persisted, that had their republic not been
overthrown, "their free and liberal government" would have diffused its
universal happiness through the three kingdoms. This idea is ingenious;
and might have been pursued in my proposed "History of Events which have
not happened," under the title of "The Battle of Worcester won by
Charles the Second." The chapter, however, would have had a brighter
close, if the sovereign and the royalists had proved themselves better
men than the knaves and fanatics of the commonwealth. It is not for us
to scrutinise into "the ways" of Providence; but if Providence conducted
Charles the Second to the throne, it appears to have deserted him when

Historians, for a particular purpose, have sometimes amused themselves
with a detail of an event which did not happen. A history of this kind
we find in the ninth book of Livy; and it forms a digression, where,
with his delightful copiousness, he reasons on the probable consequences
which would have ensued had Alexander the Great invaded Italy. Some
Greek writers, to raise the Parthians to an equality with the Romans,
had insinuated that the great name of this military monarch, who is said
never to have lost a battle, would have intimidated the Romans, and
would have checked their passion for universal dominion. The patriotic
Livy, disdaining that the glory of his nation, which had never ceased
from war for nearly eight hundred years, should be put in competition
with the career of a young conqueror, which had scarcely lasted ten,
enters into a parallel of "man with man, general with general, and
victory with victory." In the full charm of his imagination he brings
Alexander down into Italy, he invests him with all his virtues, and
"dusks their lustre" with all his defects. He arranges the Macedonian
army, while he exultingly shows five Roman armies at that moment
pursuing their conquests; and he cautiously counts the numerous allies
who would have combined their forces; he even descends to compare the
weapons and the modes of warfare of the Macedonians with those of the
Romans. Livy, as if he had caught a momentary panic at the first success
which had probably attended Alexander in his descent into Italy, brings
forward the great commanders he would have had to encounter; he compares
Alexander with each, and at length terminates his fears, and claims his
triumph, by discovering that the Macedonians had but one Alexander,
while the Romans had several. This beautiful digression in Livy is a
model for the narrative of an event which never happened.

The Saracens from Asia had spread into Africa, and at length possessed
themselves of Spain. Eude, a discontented Duke of Guienne in France, had
been vanquished by Charles Martel, who derived that humble but glorious
surname from the event we are now to record. Charles had left Eude the
enjoyment of his dukedom, provided that he held it as a fief from the
crown; but blind with ambition and avarice, Eude adopted a scheme which
threw Christianity itself, as well as Europe, into a crisis of peril
which has never since occurred. By marrying a daughter with a Mahometan
emir, he rashly began an intercourse with the Ishmaelites, one of whose
favourite projects was to plant a formidable colony of their faith in
France. An army of four hundred thousand combatants, as the chroniclers
of the time affirm, were seen descending into Guienne, possessing
themselves in one day of his domains; and Eude soon discovered what sort
of workmen he had called, to do that of which he himself was so
incapable. Charles, with equal courage and prudence, beheld this heavy
tempest bursting over his whole country; and to remove the first cause
of this national evil, he reconciled the discontented Eude, and detached
the duke from his fatal alliance. But the Saracens were fast advancing
through Touraine, and had reached Tours by the river Loire: Abderam,
the chief of the Saracens, anticipated a triumph in the multitude of his
infantry, his cavalry, and his camels, exhibiting a military warfare
unknown in France; he spread out his mighty army to surround the French,
and to take them, as it were in a net. The appearance terrified, and the
magnificence astonished. Charles, collecting his far inferior forces,
assured them that they had no other France than the spot they covered.
He had ordered that the city of Tours should be closed on every
Frenchman, unless he entered it victorious; and he took care that every
fugitive should be treated as an enemy by bodies of _gens d'armes_, whom
he placed to watch at the wings of his army. The combat was furious. The
astonished Mahometan beheld his battalions defeated as he urged them on
singly to the French, who on that day had resolved to offer their lives
as an immolation to their mother-country. Eude on that day, ardent to
clear himself from the odium which he had incurred, with desperate
valour, taking a wide compass, attacked his new allies in the rear. The
camp of the Mahometan was forced: the shrieks of his women and children
reached him from amidst the massacre; terrified he saw his multitude
shaken. Charles, who beheld the light breaking through this dark cloud
of men, exclaimed to his countrymen, "My friends, God has raised his
banner, and the unbelievers perish!" The mass of the Saracens, though
broken, could not fly; their own multitude pressed themselves together,
and the Christian sword mowed down the Mahometans. Abderam was found
dead in a vast heap, unwounded, stifled by his own multitude. Historians
record that three hundred and sixty thousand Saracens perished on _la
journée de Tours_; but their fears and their joy probably magnified
their enemies. Thus Charles saved his own country, and, at that moment,
all the rest of Europe, from this deluge of people, which had poured
down from Asia and Africa. Every Christian people returned a solemn
thanksgiving, and saluted their deliverer as "the Hammer" of France. But
the Saracens were not conquered; Charles did not even venture on their
pursuit; and a second invasion proved almost as terrifying; army still
poured down on army, and it was long, and after many dubious results,
that the Saracens were rooted out of France. Such is the history of one
of the most important events which has passed; but that of an event
which did not happen, would be the result of this famous conflict, had
the Mahometan power triumphed! The Mahometan dominion had predominated
through Europe! The imagination is startled when it discovers how much
depended on this invasion, at a time when there existed no political
state in Europe, no balance of power in one common tie of confederation!
A single battle, and a single treason, had before made the Mahometans
sovereigns of Spain. We see that the same events had nearly been
repeated in France: and had the Crescent towered above the Cross, as
every appearance promised to the Saracenic hosts, the least of our evils
had now been, that we should have worn turbans, combed our beards
instead of shaving them, have beheld a more magnificent architecture
than the Grecian, while the public mind had been bounded by the arts and
literature of the Moorish university of Cordova!

One of the great revolutions of Modern Europe perhaps had not occurred,
had the personal feelings of Luther been respected, and had his personal
interest been consulted. Guicciardini, whose veracity we cannot suspect,
has preserved a fact which proves how very nearly some important events
which have taken place, might not have happened! I transcribe the
passage from his thirteenth book: "Cæsar (the Emperor Charles the
Fifth), after he had given an hearing in the Diet of Worms to Martin
Luther, and caused his opinions to be examined by a number of divines,
who reported that his doctrine was erroneous and pernicious to the
Christian religion, had, to gratify the pontiff, put him under the ban
of the empire, which so terrified Martin, that, if the injurious and
threatening words which were given him by Cardinal _San Sisto_, the
apostolical legate, had not thrown him into the utmost despair, it is
believed it would have been easy, by giving him some preferment, or
providing for him some honourable way of living, to make him renounce
his errors." By this we may infer that one of the true authors of the
reformation was this very apostolical legate; they had succeeded in
terrifying Luther; but they were not satisfied till they had insulted
him; and with such a temper as Luther's, the sense of personal insult
would remove even that of terror; it would unquestionably survive
it.[284] A similar proceeding with Franklin, from our ministers, is
said to have produced the same effect with that political sage. What
Guicciardini has told of Luther preserves the sentiment of the times.
Charles the Fifth was so fully persuaded that he could have put down the
Reformation, had he rid himself at once of the chief, that having
granted Luther a safeguard to appear at the Council of Worms, in his
last moments he repented, as of a sin, that having had Luther in his
hands he suffered him to escape; for to have violated his faith with a
heretic he held to be no crime.

In the history of religion, human instruments have been permitted to be
the great movers of its chief revolutions; and the most important events
concerning national religions appear to have depended on the passions of
individuals, and the circumstances of the time. Impure means have often
produced the most glorious results; and this, perhaps, may be among the
dispensations of Providence.

A similar transaction occurred in Europe and in Asia. The motives and
conduct of Constantine the Great, in the alliance of the Christian faith
with his government, are far more obvious than any one of those
qualities with which the panegyric of Eusebius so vainly cloaks over the
crimes and unchristian life of this polytheistical Christian. In
adopting a new faith as a _coup-d'état,_ and by investing the church
with temporal power, at which Dante so indignantly exclaims, he founded
the religion of Jesus, but corrupted its guardians. The same occurrence
took place in France under Clovis. The fabulous religion of Paganism was
fast on its decline; Clovis had resolved to unite the four different
principalities which divided Gaul into one empire. In the midst of an
important battle, as fortune hung doubtful between the parties, the
pagan monarch invoked the God of his fair Christian queen, and obtained
the victory! St. Remi found no difficulty in persuading Clovis, after
the fortunate event, to adopt the Christian creed. Political reasons for
some time suspended the king's open conversion. At length the Franks
followed their sovereign to the baptismal fonts. According to Pasquier,
Naudé, and other political writers, these recorded miracles,[285] like
those of Constantine, were but inventions to authorise the change of
religion. Clovis used the new creed as a lever by whose machinery he
would be enabled to crush the petty princes his neighbours; and, like
Constantine, Clovis, sullied by crimes of as dark a dye, obtained the
title of "The Great." Had not the most capricious "Defender of the
Faith" been influenced by the most violent of passions, the Reformation,
so feebly and so imperfectly begun and continued, had possibly never
freed England from the papal thraldom;

    For Gospel light first beamed from Bullen's eyes.

It is, however, a curious fact, that when the fall of Anne Bullen was
decided on, Rome eagerly prepared a reunion with the papacy, on terms
too flattering for Henry to have resisted. It was only prevented taking
place by an incident that no human foresight could have predicted. The
day succeeding the decapitation of Anne Bullen witnessed the nuptials of
Henry with the protestant Jane Seymour. This changed the whole policy.
The despatch from Rome came a day too late! From such a near disaster
the English Reformation escaped! The catholic Ward, in his singular
Hudibrastic poem of "England's Reformation," in some odd rhymes, has
characterised it by a _naïveté_, which we are much too delicate to
repeat. The catholic writers censure Philip for recalling the Duke of
Alva from the Netherlands. According to these humane politicians, the
unsparing sword, and the penal fires of this resolute captain, had
certainly accomplished the fate of the heretics; for angry lions,
however numerous, would find their numerical force diminished by gibbets
and pit-holes. We have lately been informed by a curious writer, that
protestantism once existed in Spain, and was actually extirpated at the
moment by the crushing arm of the Inquisition.[286] According to these
catholic politicians, a great event in catholic history did not
occur--the spirit of catholicism, predominant in a land of
protestants--from the Spanish monarch failing to support Alva in
finishing what he had begun! Had the armada of Spain safely landed with
the benedictions of Rome, in England, at a moment when our own fleet was
short of gunpowder, and at a time when the English catholics formed a
powerful party in the nation, we might now be going to mass.

After his immense conquests, had Gustavus Adolphus not perished in the
battle of Lutzen, where his genius obtained a glorious victory,
unquestionably a wonderful change had operated on the affairs of Europe;
the protestant cause had balanced, if not preponderated over, the
catholic interest; and Austria, which appeared a sort of universal
monarchy, had seen her eagle's wings clipped. But "the Antichrist," as
Gustavus was called by the priests of Spain and Italy, the saviour of
protestantism, as he is called by England and Sweden, whose death
occasioned so many bonfires among the catholics, that the Spanish court
interfered lest fuel should become too scarce at the approaching
winter--Gustavus fell--the fit hero for one of those great events which
have never happened!

On the first publication of the "Icon Basiliké," of Charles the First,
the instantaneous effect produced on the nation was such, fifty
editions, it is said, appearing in one year, that Mr. Malcolm Laing
observes, that "had this book," a sacred volume to those who considered
that sovereign as a martyr, "appeared a _week sooner_, it might have
preserved the king," and possibly have produced a reaction of popular
feeling! The chivalrous Dundee made an offer to James the Second, which,
had it been acted on, Mr. Laing acknowledges, might have produced
another change! What then had become of our "glorious Revolution," which
from its earliest step, throughout the reign of William, was still
vacillating amidst the unstable opinions and contending interests of so
many of its first movers?

The great political error of Cromwell is acknowledged by all parties to
have been the adoption of the French interest in preference to the
Spanish; a strict alliance with Spain had preserved the balance of
Europe, enriched the commercial industry of England, and, above all, had
checked the overgrowing power of the French government. Before Cromwell
had contributed to the predominance of the French power, the French
Huguenots were of consequence enough to secure an indulgent treatment.
The parliament, as Elizabeth herself had formerly done, considered so
powerful a party in France as useful allies; and anxious to extend the
principles of the Reformation, and to further the suppression of popery,
the parliament had once listened to, and had even commenced a treaty
with, deputies from Bordeaux, the purport of which was the assistance of
the French Huguenots in their scheme of forming themselves into a
republic, or independent state; but Cromwell, on his usurpation, not
only overthrew the design, but is believed to have betrayed it to
Mazarin. What a change in the affairs of Europe had Cromwell adopted the
Spanish interest, and assisted the French Huguenots in becoming an
independent state! The revocation of the edict of Nantes, and the
increase of the French dominion, which so long afterwards disturbed the
peace of Europe, were the consequence of this fatal error of Cromwell's.
The independent state of the French Huguenots, and the reduction of
ambitious France, perhaps to a secondary European power, had saved
Europe from the scourge of the French revolution!

The elegant pen of Mr. Roscoe has lately afforded me another curious
sketch of a _history of events which have not happened_.

M. de Sismondi imagines, against the opinion of every historian, that
the death of Lorenzo de' Medici was a matter of indifference to the
prosperity of Italy; as "he could not have prevented the different
projects which had been matured in the French cabinet for the invasion
and conquest of Italy; and therefore he concludes that all historians
are mistaken who bestow on Lorenzo the honour of having preserved the
peace of Italy, because the great invasion that overthrew it did not
take place till two years after his death." Mr. Roscoe has
philosophically vindicated the honour which his hero has justly
received, by employing the principle which in this article has been
developed. "Though Lorenzo de' Medici could not perhaps have prevented
the important events that took place in other nations of Europe, it by
no means follows that the life or death of Lorenzo was equally
indifferent to the affairs of Italy, or that circumstances would have
been the same in case he had lived, as in the event of his death." Mr.
Roscoe then proceeds to show how Lorenzo's "prudent measures and proper
representations might probably have prevented the French expedition,
which Charles the Eighth was frequently on the point of abandoning.
Lorenzo would not certainly have taken the precipitate measures of his
son Piero, in surrendering the Florentine fortresses. His family would
not in consequence have been expelled the city; a powerful mind might
have influenced the discordant politics of the Italian princes in one
common defence; a slight opposition to the fugitive army of France, at
the pass of Faro, might have given the French sovereigns a wholesome
lesson, and prevented those bloody contests that were soon afterwards
renewed in Italy. _As a single remove at chess varies the whole game_,
so the death of an individual of such importance in the affairs of
Europe as Lorenzo de' Medici could not fail of producing such a change
in its political relations as must have varied them in an incalculable
degree." Pignotti also describes the state of Italy at this time. Had
Lorenzo lived to have seen his son elevated to the papacy, this
historian, adopting our present principle, exclaims, "A happy era for
Italy and Tuscany HAD THEN OCCURRED! On this head we can, indeed, be
only allowed to conjecture; but the fancy, guided by reason, may
expatiate at will in this _imaginary state_, and contemplate Italy
re-united by a stronger bond, flourishing under its own institutions and
arts, and delivered from all those lamented struggles which occurred
within so short a period of time."

Whitaker, in his "Vindication of Mary Queen of Scots," has a speculation
in the true spirit of this article. When such dependence was made upon
Elizabeth's dying without issue, the Countess of Shrewsbury had her son
purposely residing in London, with two good and able horses continually
ready to give the earliest intelligence of the sick Elizabeth's death to
the imprisoned Mary. On this the historian observes, "And had this _not
improbable event actually taken place, what a different complexion would
our history have assumed from what it wears at present!_ Mary would have
been carried from a prison to a throne. Her wise conduct in prison would
have been applauded by all. From Tutbury, from Sheffield, and from
Chatsworth, she would have been said to have touched with a gentle and
masterly hand the springs that actuated all the nation, against the
death of her tyrannical cousin," &c. So ductile is history in the hands
of man! and so peculiarly does it bend to the force of success, and warp
with the warmth of prosperity!

Thus important events have been nearly occurring, which, however, did
not take place; and others have happened which may be traced to
accident, and to the character of an individual. We shall enlarge our
conception of the nature of human events, and gather some useful
instruction in our historical reading by pausing at intervals;
contemplating, for a moment, _on certain events which have not


"A false report, if believed during three days, may be of great service
to a government." This political maxim has been ascribed to Catharine
de' Medici, an adept in _coups d'état_, the _arcana imperii_! Between
solid lying and disguised truth there is a difference known to writers
skilled in "the art of governing mankind by deceiving them;" as
politics, ill-understood, have been defined, and as, indeed, all
party-politics are. These forgers prefer to use the truth disguised to
the gross fiction. When the real truth can no longer be concealed, then
they can confidently refer to it; for they can still explain and
obscure, while they secure on their side the party whose cause they have
advocated. A curious reader of history may discover the temporary and
sometimes the lasting advantages of spreading rumours designed to
disguise, or to counteract the real state of things. Such reports, set a
going, serve to break down the sharp and fatal point of a panic, which
might instantly occur; in this way the public is saved from the horrors
of consternation, and the stupefaction of despair. These rumours give a
breathing time to prepare for the disaster, which is doled out
cautiously; and, as might be shown, in some cases these first reports
have left an event in so ambiguous a state, that a doubt may still arise
whether these reports were really destitute of truth! Such reports, once
printed, enter into history, and sadly perplex the honest historian. Of
a battle fought in a remote situation, both parties for a long time, at
home, may dispute the victory after the event, and the pen may prolong
what the sword had long decided. This has been no unusual circumstance;
of several of the most important battles on which the fate of Europe has
hung, were we to rely on some reports of the time, we might still doubt
of the manner of the transaction. A skirmish has been often raised into
an _arranged_ battle, and a defeat concealed in an account of the
killed and wounded, while victory has been claimed by both parties!
Villeroy, in all his encounters with Marlborough, always sent home
despatches by which no one could suspect that he was discomfited.
Pompey, after his fatal battle with Cæsar, sent letters to all the
provinces and cities of the Romans, describing with greater courage than
he had fought, so that a report generally prevailed that Caesar had lost
the battle: Plutarch informs us, that three hundred writers had
described the battle of Marathon. Many doubtless had copied their
predecessors; but it would perhaps have surprised us to have observed
how materially some differed in their narratives.

In looking over a collection of manuscript letters of the times of James
the First, I was struck by the contradictory reports of the result of
the famous battle of Lutzen, so glorious and so fatal to Gustavus
Adolphus; the victory was sometimes reported to have been obtained by
the Swedes; but a general uncertainty, a sort of mystery, agitated the
majority of the nation, who were staunch to the protestant cause. This
state of anxious suspense lasted a considerable time. The fatal truth
gradually came _out in reports changing in their progress_; if the
victory was allowed, the death of the Protestant Hero closed all hope!
The historian of Gustavus Adolphus observes on this occasion, that "Few
couriers were better received than those who conveyed the accounts of
the king's death to declared enemies or concealed ill-wishers; nor did
the report greatly displease the court of Whitehall, where the ministry,
as it usually happens in cases of timidity, had its degree of
apprehensions for fear the event should not be true; and, as I have
learnt from good authority, imposed silence on the news-writers, and
intimated the same to the pulpit in case any funeral encomium might
proceed from that quarter." Although the motive assigned by the writer,
that of the secret indisposition of the cabinet of James the First
towards the fortunes of Gustavus, is to me by no means certain,
unquestionably the knowledge of this disastrous event was long kept back
by "a timid ministry," and the fluctuating reports probably regulated by
their designs.

The same circumstance occurred on another important event in modern
history, where we may observe the artifice of party writers in
disguising or suppressing the real fact. This was the famous battle of
the Boyne. The French catholic party long reported that Count Lauzun had
won the battle, and that William the Third was killed. Bussy Rabutin in
some memoirs, in which he appears to have registered public events
without scrutinising their truth, says, "I chronicled this account
according as the first reports gave out; when at length the real fact
reached them, the party did not like to lose their pretended victory."
Père Londel, who published a register of the times, which is favourably
noticed in the "Nouvelles de la République des Lettres," for 1699, has
recorded the event in this deceptive manner: "The Battle of the Boyne in
Ireland; Schomberg is killed there at the head of the English." This is
"an equivocator!" The writer resolved to conceal the defeat of James's
party, and cautiously suppresses any mention of a victory, but very
carefully gives a real fact, by which his readers would hardly doubt of
the defeat of the English! We are so accustomed to this traffic of false
reports, that we are scarcely aware that many important events recorded
in history were in their day strangely disguised by such mystifying
accounts. This we can only discover by reading private letters written
at the moment. Bayle has collected several remarkable absurdities of
this kind, which were spread abroad to answer a temporary purpose, but
which had never been known to us had these contemporary letters not been
published. A report was prevalent in Holland in 1580, that the kings of
France and Spain and the Duke of Alva were dead; a felicity which for a
time sustained the exhausted spirits of the revolutionists. At the
invasion of the Spanish Armada, Burleigh spread reports of the
thumb-screws, and other instruments of torture, which the Spaniards had
brought with them, and thus inflamed the hatred of the nation. The
horrid story of the bloody Colonel Kirk is considered as one of those
political forgeries to serve the purpose of blackening a zealous

False reports are sometimes stratagems of war. When the chiefs of the
League had lost the battle at Ivry, with an army broken and discomfited
they still kept possession of Paris merely by imposing on the
inhabitants all sorts of false reports, such as the death of the king of
Navarre at the fortunate moment when victory, undetermined on which side
to incline, turned for the Leaguers; and they gave out false reports of
a number of victories they had elsewhere obtained. Such tales,
distributed in pamphlets and ballads among a people agitated by doubts
and fears, are gladly believed; flattering their wishes or soothing
their alarms, they contribute to their ease, and are too agreeable to
allow time for reflection.

The history of a report creating a panic may be traced in the Irish
insurrection, in the curious memoirs of James the Second. A forged
proclamation of the Prince of Orange was set forth by one Speke, and a
rumour spread that the Irish troops were killing and burning in all
parts of the kingdom! A magic-like panic instantly ran through the
people, so that in one quarter of the town of Drogheda they imagined
that the other was filled with blood and ruin. During this panic
pregnant women miscarried, aged persons died with terror, while the
truth was, that the Irish themselves were disarmed and dispersed, in
utter want of a meal or a lodging!

In the unhappy times of our civil wars under Charles the First, the
newspapers and the private letters afford specimens of this political
contrivance of false reports of every species. No extravagance of
invention to spread a terror against a party was too gross, and the city
of London was one day alarmed that the royalists were occupied by a plan
of blowing up the river Thames, by an immense quantity of powder
warehoused at the river-side; and that there existed an organised though
invisible brotherhood of many thousands with _consecrated knives_; and
those who hesitated to give credit to such rumours were branded as
malignants, who took not the danger of the parliament to heart. Forged
conspiracies and reports of great but distant victories were inventions
to keep up the spirit of a party, but oftener prognosticated some
intended change in the government. When they were desirous of augmenting
the army, or introducing new garrisons, or using an extreme measure with
the city, or the royalists, there was always a new conspiracy set
afloat; or when any great affair was to be carried in parliament,
letters of great victories were published to dishearten the opposition,
and infuse additional boldness in their own party. If the report lasted
only a few days, it obtained its purpose, and verified the observation
of Catharine de' Medici. Those politicians who raise such false reports
obtain their end: like the architect who, in building an arch, supports
it with circular props and pieces of timber, or any temporary rubbish,
till he closes the arch; and when it can support itself, he throws away
the props! There is no class of political lying which can want for
illustration if we consult the records of our civil wars; there we may
trace the whole art in all the nice management of its shades, its
qualities, and its more complicated parts, from invective to puff, and
from inuendo to prevarication! we may admire the scrupulous correction
of a lie which they had told, by another which they are telling! and
triple lying to overreach their opponents. Royalists and
Parliamentarians were alike; for, to tell one great truth, "the father
of lies" is of no party![287]

As "nothing is new under the sun," so this art of deceiving the public
was unquestionably practised among the ancients. Syphax sent Scipio word
that he could not unite with the Romans, but, on the contrary, had
declared for the Carthaginians. The Roman army were then anxiously
waiting for his expected succours: Scipio was careful to show the utmost
civility to these ambassadors, and ostentatiously treated them with
presents, that his soldiers might believe they were only returning to
hasten the army of Syphax to join the Romans. Livy censures the Roman
consul, who, after the defeat at Cannæ, told the deputies of the allies
the whole loss they had sustained: "This consul," says Livy, "by giving
too faithful and open an account of his defeat, made both himself and
his army appear still more contemptible." The result of the simplicity
of the consul was, that the allies, despairing that the Romans would
ever recover their losses, deemed it prudent to make terms with
Hannibal. Plutarch tells an amusing story, in his way, of the natural
progress of a report which was contrary to the wishes of the government;
the unhappy reporter suffered punishment as long as the rumour
prevailed, though at last it proved true. A stranger landing from
Sicily, at a barber's shop, delivered all the particulars of the defeat
of the Athenians; of which, however, the people were yet uninformed. The
barber leaves untrimmed the reporter's beard, and flies away to vent the
news in the city, where he told the Archons what he had heard. The whole
city was thrown into a ferment. The Archons called an assembly of the
people, and produced the luckless barber, who in confusion could not
give any satisfactory account of the first reporter. He was condemned as
a spreader of false news, and a disturber of the public quiet; for the
Athenians could not imagine but that they were invincible! The barber
was dragged to the wheel and tortured, till the disaster was more than
confirmed. Bayle, referring to this story, observes, that had the barber
reported a victory, though it had proved to be false, he would not have
been punished; a shrewd observation, which occurred to him from his
recollection of the fate of Stratocles. This person persuaded the
Athenians to perform a public sacrifice and thanksgiving for a victory
obtained at sea, though he well knew at the time that the Athenian fleet
had been totally defeated. When the calamity could no longer be
concealed, the people charged him with being an impostor: but Stratocles
saved his life and mollified their anger by the pleasant turn he gave
the whole affair. "Have I done you any injury?" said he. "Is it not
owing to me that you have spent three days in the pleasures of victory?"
I think that this spreader of good, but fictitious news, should have
occupied the wheel of the luckless barber, who had spread bad but true
news; for the barber had no intention of deception, but Stratocles had;
and the question here to be tried, was not the truth or the falsity of
the reports, but whether the reporters intended to deceive their
fellow-citizens? The "Chronicle" and the "Post" must be challenged on
such a jury, and all the race of news-scribes, whom Patin characterises
as _hominum genus audacissimum mendacissimum avidissimum_. Latin
superlatives are too rich to suffer a translation. But what Patin says
in his Letter 356 may be applied: "These writers insert in their papers
things they do not know, and ought not to write. It is the same trick
that is playing which was formerly played; it is the very same farce,
only it is exhibited by new actors. The worst circumstance, I think, in
this is, that this trick will continue playing a long course of years,
and that the public suffer a great deal too much by it."


Manuscripts are suppressed or destroyed from motives which require to be
noticed. Plagiarists, at least, have the merit of preservation: they may
blush at their artifices, and deserve the pillory, but their practices
do not incur the capital crime of felony. Serassi, the writer of the
curious Life of Tasso, was guilty of an extraordinary suppression in his
zeal for the poet's memory. The story remains to be told, for it is but
little known.

Galileo, in early life, was a lecturer at the university of Pisa:
delighting in poetical studies, he was then more of a critic than a
philosopher, and had Ariosto by heart. This great man caught the
literary mania which broke out about his time, when the Cruscans so
absurdly began their "Controversie Tassesche," and raised up two
poetical factions, which infected the Italians with a national fever.
Tasso and Ariosto were perpetually weighed and outweighed against each
other; Galileo wrote annotations on Tasso, stanza after stanza, and
without reserve, treating the majestic bard with a severity which must
have thrown the Tassoists into an agony. Our critic lent his manuscript
to Jacopo Mazzoni, who, probably being a disguised Tassoist, by some
accountable means contrived that the manuscript should be absolutely
lost!--to the deep regret of the author and all the Ariostoists. The
philosopher descended to his grave--not without occasional groans--nor
without exulting reminiscences of the blows he had in his youth
inflicted on the great rival of Ariosto--and the rumour of such a work
long floated on tradition! Two centuries had nearly elapsed, when
Serassi, employed on his elaborate Life of Tasso, among his
uninterrupted researches in the public libraries of Rome, discovered a
miscellaneous volume, in which, on a cursory examination, he found
deposited the lost manuscript of Galileo! It was a shock from which,
perhaps, the zealous biographer of Tasso never fairly recovered; the
awful name of Galileo sanctioned the asperity of critical decision, and
more particularly the severe remarks on the language, a subject on which
the Italians are so morbidly delicate, and so trivially grave. Serassi's
conduct on this occasion was at once political, timorous, and cunning.
Gladly would he have annihilated the original, but this was impossible!
It was some consolation that the manuscript was totally unknown--for
having got mixed with others, it had accidentally been passed over, and
not entered into the catalogue; his own diligent eye only had detected
its existence. "_Nessuno fin ora sa, fuori di me, se vi sia, nè dove
sia, e cosi non potrà darsi alia luce_," &c. But in the true spirit of a
collector, avaricious of all things connected with his pursuits, Serassi
cautiously, but completely, transcribed the precious manuscript, with an
intention, according to his memorandum, to unravel all its sophistry.
However, although the Abbate never wanted leisure, he persevered in his
silence; yet he often trembled lest some future explorer of manuscripts
might be found as sharpsighted as himself. He was so cautious as not
even to venture to note down the library where the manuscript was to be
found, and to this day no one appears to have fallen on the volume! On
the death of Serassi, his papers came to the hands of the Duke of Ceri,
a lover of literature; the transcript of the yet undiscovered original
was then revealed! and this secret history of the manuscript was drawn
from a note on the title-page written by Serassi himself. To satisfy the
urgent curiosity of the literati, these annotations on Tasso by Galileo
were published in 1793. Here is a work, which, from its earliest stage,
much pains had been taken to suppress; but Serassi's collecting passion
inducing him to preserve what he himself so much wished should never
appear, finally occasioned its publication! It adds one evidence to the
many which prove that such sinister practices have been frequently used
by the historians of a party, poetic or politic.

Unquestionably this entire suppression of manuscripts has been too
frequently practised. It is suspected that our historical antiquary,
Speed, owed many obligations to the learned Hugh Broughton, for he
possessed a vast number of his MSS. which he burnt. Why did he burn? If
persons place themselves in suspicions situations, they must not
complain if they be suspected. We have had historians who, whenever they
met with information which has not suited their historical system, or
their inveterate prejudices, have employed interpolations, castrations,
and forgeries, and in some cases have annihilated the entire document.
Leland's invaluable manuscripts were left at his death in the confused
state in which the mind of the writer had sunk, overcome by his
incessant labours, when this royal antiquary was employed by Henry the
Eighth to write our national antiquities. His scattered manuscripts were
long a common prey to many who never acknowledged their fountain head;
among these suppressors and dilapidators pre-eminently stands the crafty
Italian Polydore Vergil, who not only drew largely from this source,
but, to cover the robbery, did not omit to depreciate the father of our
antiquities--an act of a piece with the character of the man, who is
said to have collected and burnt a greater number of historical MSS.
than would have loaded a wagon, to prevent the detection of the numerous
fabrications in his history of England, which was composed to gratify
Mary and the Catholic cause.

The Harleian manuscript, 7379, is a collection of state-letters. This
MS. has four leaves entirely torn out, and is accompanied by this
extraordinary memorandum, signed by the principal librarian.

    "Upon examination of this book, Nov. 12, 1764, these
    four last leaves were torn out.
                                            "C. MORTON.
              "Mem. Nov. 12, sent down to Mrs. Macaulay."

As no memorandum of the name of any student to whom a manuscript is
delivered for his researches was ever made, before or since, or in the
nature of things will ever be, this memorandum must involve our female
historian in the obloquy of this dilapidation.[288] Such dishonest
practices of party feeling, indeed, are not peculiar to any party. In
Roscoe's "Illustrations" of his Life of Lorenzo de' Medici, we discover
that Fabroni, whose character scarcely admits of suspicion, appears to
have known of the existence of an unpublished letter of Sixtus IV.,
which involves that pontiff deeply in the assassination projected by the
Pazzi; but he carefully suppressed its notice: yet, in his conscience,
he could not avoid alluding to such documents, which he concealed by his
silence. Roscoe has apologised for Fabroni overlooking this decisive
evidence of the guilt of the hypocritical pontiff in the mass of
manuscripts; a circumstance not likely to have occurred, however, to
this laborious historical inquirer. All party feeling is the same active
spirit with an opposite direction. We have a remarkable case, where a
most interesting historical production has been silently annihilated by
the consent of _both parties_. There once existed an important diary of
a very extraordinary character, Sir George Saville, afterwards Marquis
of Halifax. This master-spirit, for such I am inclined to consider the
author of the little book of "Maxims and Reflections," with a
philosophical indifference, appears to have held in equal contempt all
the factions of his times, and consequently has often incurred their
severe censures. Among other things, the Marquis of Halifax had noted
down the conversation he had had with Charles the Second, and the great
and busy characters of the age. Of this curious secret history there
existed two copies, and the noble writer imagined that by this means he
had carefully secured their existence; yet both copies were destroyed
from opposite motives; the one at the instigation of Pope, who was
alarmed at finding some of the catholic intrigues of the court
developed; and the other at the suggestion of a noble friend, who was
equally shocked at discovering that his party, the Revolutionists, had
sometimes practised mean and dishonourable deceptions. It is in these
legacies of honourable men, of whatever party they may be, that we
expect to find truth and sincerity; but thus it happens that the last
hope of posterity is frustrated by the artifices, or the malignity, of
these party-passions. Pulteney, afterwards the Earl of Bath, had also
prepared memoirs of his times, which he proposed to confide to Dr.
Douglas, bishop of Salisbury, to be composed by the bishop; but his
lordship's heir, the General, insisted on destroying these authentic
documents, of the value of which we have a notion by one of those
conversations which the earl was in the habit of indulging with Hooke,
whom he at that time appears to have intended for his historian. The
Earl of Anglesea's MS. History of the Troubles of Ireland, and also a
Diary of his own Times, have been suppressed; a busy observer of his
contemporaries, his tale would materially have assisted a later

The same hostility to manuscripts, as may be easily imagined, has
occurred, perhaps more frequently, on the continent. I shall furnish one
considerable fact. A French canon, Claude Joly, a bold and learned
writer, had finished an ample life of Erasmus, which included a history
of the restoration of literature at the close of the fifteenth and the
beginning of the sixteenth century. Colomiés tells us, that the author
had read over the works of Erasmus seven times; we have positive
evidence that the MS. was finished for the press: the Cardinal do
Noailles would examine the work himself; this important history was not
only suppressed, but the hope entertained, of finding it among the
cardinal's papers, was never realised.

These are instances of the annihilation of history; but there is a
partial suppression, or castration of passages, equally fatal to the
cause of truth; a practice too prevalent among the first editors of
memoirs. By such deprivations of the text we have lost important truths,
while, in some cases, by interpolations, we have been loaded with the
fictions of a party. Original memoirs, when published, should now be
deposited at that great institution, consecrated to our national
history--the British Museum, to be verified at all times. In Lord
Herbert's history of Henry the Eighth, I find, by a manuscript note,
that several things were not permitted to be printed, and that the
original MS. was supposed to be in Mr. Sheldon's custody, in 1687.
Camden told Sir Robert Filmore that he was not suffered to print all his
annals of Elizabeth; but he providently sent these expurgated passages
to De Thou, who printed them faithfully; and it is remarkable that De
Thou himself used the same precaution in the continuation of his own
history. We like remote truths, but truths too near us never fail to
alarm ourselves, our connexions, and our party. Milton, in composing his
History of England, introduced, in the third book, a very remarkable
digression, on the characters of the Long Parliament; a most animated
description of a class of political adventurers with whom modern history
has presented many parallels. From tenderness to a party then imagined
to be subdued, it was struck out by command, nor do I find it restituted
in Kennett's Collection of English Histories. This admirable and
exquisite delineation has been preserved in a pamphlet printed in 1681,
which has fortunately exhibited one of the warmest pictures in design
and colouring by a master's hand. One of our most important volumes of
secret history, "Whitelocke's Memorials," was published by Arthur, Earl
of Anglesea, in 1682, who took considerable liberties with the
manuscript; another edition appeared in 1732, which restored the many
important passages through which the earl appears to have struck his
castrating pen. The restitution of the castrated passages has not much
increased the magnitude of this folio volume; for the omissions usually
consisted of a characteristic stroke, or short critical opinion, which
did not harmonise with the private feelings of the Earl of Anglesea. In
consequence of the volume not being much enlarged to the eye, and being
unaccompanied by a single line of preface to inform us of the value of
this more complete edition, the booksellers imagine that there can be no
material difference between the two editions, and wonder at the
bibliopolical mystery that they can afford to sell the edition of 1682
at ten shillings, and have five guineas for the edition of 1732! Hume
who, I have been told, wrote his history usually on a sofa, with the
epicurean indolence of his fine genius, always refers to the old
truncated and faithless edition of Whitelocke--so little in his day did
the critical history of books enter into the studies of authors, or such
was the carelessness of our historian! There is more philosophy in
_editions_ than some philosophers are aware of. Perhaps most "Memoirs"
have been unfaithfully published, "curtailed of their fair proportions;"
and not a few might be noticed which subsequent editors have restored to
their original state, by uniting their dislocated limbs. Unquestionably
Passion has sometimes annihilated manuscripts, and tamely revenged
itself on the papers of hated writers! Louis the Fourteenth, with his
own hands, after the death of Fénélon, burnt all the manuscripts which
the Duke of Burgundy had preserved of his preceptor.

As an example of the suppressors and dilapidators of manuscripts, I
shall give an extraordinary fact concerning Louis the Fourteenth, more
in his favour. His character appears, like some other historical
personages, equally disguised by adulation and calumny. That monarch was
not the Nero which his revocation of the edict of Nantes made him seem
to the French protestants. He was far from approving of the violent
measures of his catholic clergy. This opinion of that sovereign was,
however, carefully suppressed, when his "Instructions to the Dauphin"
were first published. It is now ascertained that Louis the Fourteenth
was for many years equally zealous and industrious; and, among other
useful attempts, composed an elaborate "Discours" for the dauphin for
his future conduct. The king gave his manuscript to Pelisson to revise;
but after the revision our royal writer frequently inserted additional
paragraphs. The work first appeared in an anonymous "Récueil d'Opuscules
Littéraires, Amsterdam, 1767," which Barbier, in his "Anonymes," tells
us was "rédigé par Pelisson; le tout publié par l'Abbé Olivet." When at
length the printed work was collated with the manuscript original,
several suppressions of the royal sentiments appeared; and the editors,
too catholic, had, with more particular caution, thrown aside what
clearly showed Louis the Fourteenth was far from approving of the
violences used against the protestants. The following passage was
entirely omitted: "It seems to me, my son, that those who employ extreme
and violent remedies do not know the nature of the evil, occasioned in
part by heated minds, which, left to themselves, would insensibly be
extinguished, rather than rekindle them afresh by the force of
contradiction; above all, when the corruption is not confined to a small
number, but diffused through all parts of the state; besides, the
Reformers said many true things! The best method to have reduced little
by little the Huguenots of my kingdom, was not to have pursued them by
any direct severity pointed at them."

Lady Mary Wortley Montague is a remarkable instance of an author nearly
lost to the nation; she is only known to posterity by a chance
publication; for such were her famous Turkish letters, the manuscript of
which her family once purchased with an intention to suppress, but they
were frustrated by a transcript. The more recent letters were
reluctantly extracted out of the family trunks, and surrendered in
exchange for certain family documents, which had fallen into the hands
of a bookseller. Had it depended on her relatives, the name of Lady Mary
had only reached us in the satires of Pope. The greater part of her
epistolary correspondence was destroyed by her mother; and what that
good and Gothic lady spared, was suppressed by the hereditary austerity
of rank, of which her family was too susceptible. The entire
correspondence of this admirable writer and studious woman (for once, in
perusing some unpublished letters of Lady Mary's, I discovered that "she
had been in the habit of reading seven hours a day for many years")
would undoubtedly have exhibited a fine statue, instead of the torso we
now possess; and we might have lived with her ladyship, as we do with
Madame de Sévigné. This I have mentioned elsewhere; but I have since
discovered that a considerable correspondence of Lady Mary's, for more
than twenty years, with the widow of Colonel Forrester, who had retired
to Rome, has been stifled in the birth. These letters, with other MSS.
of Lady Mary's, were given by Mrs. Forrester to Philip Thicknesse, with
a discretionary power to publish. They were held as a great acquisition
by Thicknesse, and his bookseller; but when they had printed off the
first thousand sheets, there were parts which they considered might give
pain to some of the family. Thicknesse says, "Lady Mary had in many
places been uncommonly severe upon her husband, for all her letters were
loaded with a scrap or two of poetry at him."[289] A negotiation took
place with an agent of Lord Bute's; after some time Miss Forrester put
in her claims for the MSS.; and the whole terminated, as Thicknesse
tells us, in her obtaining a pension, and Lord Bute all the MSS.

The late Duke of Bridgewater, I am informed, burnt many of the numerous
family papers, and bricked up a quantity, which, when opened after his
death, were found to have perished. It is said he declared that he did
not choose that his ancestors should be traced back to a person of a
mean trade, which it seems might possibly have been the case. The loss
now cannot be appreciated; but unquestionably stores of history, and
perhaps of literature, were sacrificed. Milton's manuscript of Comus was
published from the Bridgewater collection, for it had escaped the
bricking up!

Manuscripts of great interest are frequently suppressed from the
shameful indifference of the possessors.

Mr. Mathias, in his Essay on Gray, tells us, that "in addition to the
valuable manuscripts of Mr. Gray, there is reason to think that there
were some other papers, _folia Sibyllæ_, in the possession of Mr. Mason;
but though a very diligent and anxious inquiry has been made after them,
they cannot be discovered since his death. There was, however, one
fragment, by Mr. Mason's own description of it, of very great value,
namely, "The Plan of an intended Speech in Latin on his appointment as
Professor of Modern History in the University of Cambridge." Mr. Mason
says, "Immediately on his appointment, Mr. Gray sketched out an
admirable plan for his inauguration speech; in which, after enumerating
the preparatory and auxiliary studies requisite, such as ancient
history, geography, chronology, &c., he descended to the authentic
sources of the science, such as public treaties, state records, private
correspondence of ambassadors, &c. He also wrote the exordium of this
thesis, not, indeed, so correct as to be given by way of fragment, but
so spirited in point of sentiment, as leaves it much to be regretted
that he did not proceed to its conclusion." This fragment cannot now be
found; and after so very interesting a description of its value and of
its importance, it is difficult to conceive how Mr. Mason could prevail
upon himself to withhold it. If there be a subject on which more,
perhaps, than on any other, it would have been peculiarly desirable to
know and to follow the train of the ideas of Gray, it is that of modern
history, in which no man was more intimately, more accurately, or more
extensively conversant than our poet. A sketch or plan from his hand, on
the subjects of history, and on those which belonged to it, might have
taught succeeding ages how to conduct these important researches with
national advantage; and, like some wand of divination, it might have

    Pointed to beds where sovereign gold doth grow.[290]

I suspect that I could point out the place in which these precious
"folia Sibyllæ" of Gray's lie interred; they would no doubt be found
among other Sibylline leaves of Mason, in two large boxes, which he left
to the care of his executors. These gentlemen, as I am informed, are so
extremely careful of them, as to have intrepidly resisted the
importunity of some lovers of literature, whose curiosity has been
aroused by the secreted treasures. It is a misfortune which has
frequently attended this sort of bequests of literary men, that they
have left their manuscripts, like their household furniture; and in
several cases we find that many legatees conceive that all manuscripts
are either to be burnt, like obsolete receipts, or to be nailed down in
a box, that they may not stir a lawsuit!

In a manuscript note of the times, I find that Sir Richard Baker, the
author of a chronicle, formerly the most popular one, died in the Fleet;
and that his son-in-law, who had all his papers, burnt them for
waste-paper; and he said that "he thought Sir Richard's life was among
them!" An autobiography of those days which we should now highly prize.

Among these mutilators of manuscripts we cannot too strongly
remonstrate with those who have the care of the works of others, and
convert them into a vehicle for their own particular purposes, even when
they run directly counter to the knowledge and opinions of the original
writer. Hard was the fate of honest Anthony Wood, when Dr. Fell
undertook to have his history of Oxford translated into Latin; the
translator, a sullen, dogged fellow, when he observed that Wood was
enraged at seeing the perpetual alterations of his copy made to please
Dr. Fell, delighted to alter it the more; while the greater executioner
supervising the printed sheets, by "correcting, altering, or dashing out
what he pleased," compelled the writer publicly to disavow his own work!
Such I have heard was the case of Bryan Edwards, who composed the first
accounts of Mungo Park. Bryan Edwards, whose personal interests were
opposed to the abolishment of the slave-trade, would not suffer any
passage to stand in which the African traveller had expressed his
conviction of its inhumanity. Park, among confidential friends,
frequently complained that his work did not only not contain his
opinions, but was even interpolated with many which he utterly

Suppressed books become as rare as manuscripts. In some researches
relating to the history of the Mar-prelate faction, that ardent
conspiracy against the established hierarchy, and of which the very name
is but imperfectly to be traced in our history, I discovered that the
books and manuscripts of the Mar-prelates have been too cautiously
suppressed, or too completely destroyed; while those on the other side
have been as carefully preserved. In our national collection, the
British Museum, we find a great deal against Mar-prelate, but not
Mar-prelate himself.

I have written the history of this conspiracy in the third, volume of
"Quarrels of Authors."


A Lady of _bas bleu_ celebrity (the term is getting odious, particularly
to our _sçavantes_) had two friends, whom she equally admired--an
elegant poet and his parodist. She had contrived to prevent their
meeting as long as her stratagems lasted, till at length she apologised
to the serious bard for inviting him when his mock _umbra_ was to be
present. Astonished, she perceived that both men of genius felt a mutual
esteem for each other's opposite talent; the ridiculed had perceived no
malignity in the playfulness of the parody, and even seemed to consider
it as a compliment, aware that parodists do not waste their talent on
obscure productions; while the ridiculer himself was very sensible that
he was the inferior poet. The lady-critic had imagined that PARODY must
necessarily be malicious; and in some cases it is said those on whom the
parody has been performed have been of the same opinion.

Parody strongly resembles mimicry, a principle in human nature not so
artificial as it appears: Man may be well defined a mimetic animal. The
African boy, who amused the whole kafle he journeyed with, by mimicking
the gestures and the voice of the auctioneer who had sold him at the
slave-market a few days before, could have had no sense of scorn, of
superiority, or of malignity; the boy experienced merely the pleasure of
repeating attitudes and intonations which had so forcibly excited his
interest. The numerous parodies of Hamlet's soliloquy were never made in
derision of that solemn monologue, any more than the travesties of
Virgil by Scarron and Cotton; their authors were never so gaily mad as
that. We have parodies on the Psalms by Luther; Dodsley parodied the
book of Chronicles, and the scripture style was parodied by Franklin in
his beautiful story of Abraham; a story he found in Jeremy Taylor, and
which Taylor borrowed from the East, for it is preserved in the Persian
Sadi. Not one of these writers, however, proposed to ridicule their
originals; some ingenuity in the application was all they intended. The
lady-critic alluded to had suffered by a panic, in imagining that a
parody was necessarily a corrosive satire. Had she indeed proceeded one
step farther, and asserted that parodies might be classed among the most
malicious inventions in literature, when they are such as Colman and
Lloyd made on Gray, in their odes to "Oblivion and Obscurity," her
reading possibly might have supplied the materials of the present

Parodies were frequently practised by the ancients, and with them, like
ourselves, consisted of a work grafted on another work, but which turned
on a different subject by a slight change of the expressions. It might
be a sport of fancy, the innocent child of mirth; or a satirical arrow
drawn from the quiver of caustic criticism; or it was that malignant
art which only studies to make the original of the parody, however
beautiful, contemptible and ridiculous. Human nature thus enters into
the composition of parodies, and their variable character originates in
the purpose of their application.

There is in "the million" a natural taste for farce after tragedy, and
they gladly relieve themselves by mitigating the solemn seriousness of
the tragic drama; for they find, that it is but "a step from the sublime
to the ridiculous." The taste for parody will, I fear, always prevail:
for whatever tends to ridicule a work of genius, is usually very
agreeable to a great number of contemporaries. In the history of
parodies, some of the learned have noticed a supposititious
circumstance, which, however, may have happened, for it is a very
natural one. When the rhapsodists, who strolled from town to town to
chant different fragments of the poems of Homer, had recited, they were
immediately followed by another set of strollers--buffoons, who made the
same audience merry by the burlesque turn which they gave to the solemn
strains which had just so deeply engaged their attention. It is supposed
that we have one of these travestiers of the Iliad in one Sotades, who
succeeded by only changing the measure of the verses without altering
the words, which entirely disguised the Homeric character; fragments of
which, scattered in Dionysius Halicarnassensis, I leave to the curiosity
of the learned Grecian.[291] Homer's Battle of the Frogs and Mice, a
learned critic, the elder Heinsius, asserts, was not written by the
poet, but is a parody on the poem. It is evidently as good-humoured an
one as any in the "Rejected Addresses." And it was because Homer was the
most popular poet that he was most susceptible of the playful honours of
the parodist; unless the prototype is familiar to us a parody is
nothing! Of these parodists of Homer we may regret the loss of one,
Timon of Philius, whose parodies were termed Silli, from Silenus being
their chief personage; he levelled them at the sophistical philosophers
of his age; his invocation is grafted on the opening of the Iliad, to
recount the evil-doings of those babblers, whom he compares to the bags
in which Æolus deposited all his winds; balloons inflated with empty
ideas! We should like to have appropriated some of these _silli_, or
parodies of Timon the Sillograph, which, however, seem to have been at
times calumnious.[292] Shenstone's "School Mistress," and some few other
ludicrous poems, derive much of their merit from parody.

This taste for parodies was very prevalent with the Grecians, and is a
species of humour which perhaps has been too rarely practised by the
moderns: Cervantes has some passages of this nature in his parodies of
the old chivalric romances; Fielding, in some parts of his "Tom Jones"
and "Joseph Andrews," in his burlesque poetical descriptions; and Swift,
in his "Battle of Books," and "Tale of a Tub;" but few writers have
equalled the delicacy and felicity of Pope's parodies in the "Rape of
the Lock." Such parodies give refinement to burlesque.

The ancients made a liberal use of it in their satirical comedy, and
sometimes carried it on through an entire work, as in the Menippean
satire, Seneca's mock _Eloge_ of Claudius, and Lucian in his Dialogues.
There are parodies even in Plato; and an anecdotical one, recorded of
this philosopher, shows them in their most simple state. Dissatisfied
with his own poetical essays, he threw them into the flames; that is,
the sage resolved to sacrifice his verses to the god of fire; and in
repeating that line in Homer where Thetis addresses Vulcan to implore
his aid, the application became a parody, although it required no other
change than the insertion of the philosopher's name instead of the

    Vulcan, arise! 'tis _Plato_ claims thy aid!

Boileau affords a happy instance of this simple parody. Corneille, in
his Cid, makes one of his personages remark,

    Pour grands que soient les rois ils sont ce que nous sommes,
    Ils peuvent se tromper comme les autres hommes.

A slight alteration became a fine parody in Boileau's Chapelain

    Pour grands que soient les rois ils sont ce que nous sommes,
    Us fee trompent _en vers_ comme les autres hommes.

We find in Athenæus the name of the inventor of a species of parody
which more immediately engages our notice--DRAMATIC PARODIES. It appears
this inventor was a satirist, so that the lady-critic, whose opinion we
had the honour of noticing, would be warranted by appealing to its
origin to determine the nature of the thing. A dramatic parody, which
produced the greatest effect, was "the Gigantomachia," as appears by the
only circumstance known of it. Never laughed the Athenians so heartily
as at its representation, for the fatal news of the deplorable state to
which the affairs of the republic were reduced in Sicily arrived at its
first representation--and the Athenians continued laughing to the end!
as the modern Athenians, the volatile Parisians, might in their national
concern of an OPERA COMIQUE. It was the business of the dramatic parody
to turn the solemn tragedy, which the audience had just seen exhibited,
into a farcical comedy; the same actors who had appeared in magnificent
dresses, now returned on the stage in grotesque habiliments, with odd
postures and gestures, while the story, though the same, was incongruous
and ludicrous. The Cyclops of Euripides is probably the only remaining
specimen; for this may be considered as a parody on the ninth book of
the Odyssey--the adventures of Ulysses in the cave of Polyphemus, where
Silenus and a chorus of satyrs are farcically introduced, to contrast
with the grave narrative of Homer, of the shifts and escape of the
cunning man "from the one-eyed ogre." The jokes are too coarse for the
French taste of Brumoy, who, in his translation, goes on with a critical
growl and foolish apology for Euripides having written a farce; Brumoy,
like Pistol, is forced to eat his onion, but with a worse grace,
swallowing and execrating to the end.

In dramatic composition, Aristophanes is perpetually hooking in parodies
of Euripides, whom of all poets he hated, as well as of Æschylus,
Sophocles, and other tragic bards. Since, at length, that Grecian wit
has found a translator saturated with his genius, and an interpreter as
philosophical, the subject of Grecian parody will probably be reflected
in a clearer light from his researches.

Dramatic parodies in modern literature were introduced by our vivacious
neighbours, and may be said to constitute a class of literary satires
peculiar to the French nation. What had occurred in Greece a similar
gaiety of national genius unconsciously reproduced. The dramatic
parodies in our own literature, as in _The Rehearsal_, _Tom Thumb_,[294]
and _The Critic_, however exquisite, are confined to particular
passages, and are not grafted on a whole original; we have neither
naturalised the dramatic parody into a species, nor dedicated to it the
honours of a separate theatre.

This peculiar dramatic satire, a burlesque of an entire tragedy, the
volatile genius of the Parisians accomplished. Whenever a new tragedy,
which still continues the favourite species of drama with the French,
attracted the notice of the town, shortly after uprose its parody at the
Italian theatre, so that both pieces may have been performed in
immediate succession in the same evening. A French tragedy is most
susceptible of this sort of ridicule, by applying its declamatory style,
its exaggerated sentiments, and its romantic out-of-the-way nature to
the commonplace incidents and persons of domestic life; out of the stuff
of which they made their emperors, their heroes, and their princesses,
they cut out a pompous country justice, a hectoring tailor, or an
impudent mantua-maker; but it was not merely this travesty of great
personages, nor the lofty effusions of one in a lowly station, which
terminated the object of parody. It was designed for a higher object,
that of more obviously exposing the original for any absurdity in its
scenes, or in its catastrophe, and dissecting its faulty characters; in
a word, weighing in the critical scales the nonsense of the poet. Parody
sometimes became a refined instructor for the public, whose discernment
is often blinded by party or prejudice. But it was, too, a severe
touchstone for genius: Racine, some say, smiled, others say he did not,
when he witnessed Harlequin, in the language of Titus to Berenice,
declaiming on some ludicrous affair to Columbine; La Motte was very
sore, and Voltaire, and others, shrunk away with a cry--from a parody!
Voltaire was angry when he witnessed his _Mariamne_ parodied by _Le
mauvais Menage_; or "Bad Housekeeping." The aged, jealous Herod was
turned into an old cross country justice; Varus, bewitched by Mariamne,
strutted a dragoon; and the whole establishment showed it was under very
bad management. Fuzelier collected some of these parodies,[295] and not
unskilfully defends their nature and their object against the protest of
La Motte, whose tragedies had severely suffered from these burlesques.
His celebrated domestic tragedy of _Inez de Castro_, the fable of which
turns on a concealed and clandestine marriage, produced one of the
happiest parodies in _Agnes de Chaillot_. In the parody, the cause of
the mysterious obstinacy of Pierrot the son, in persisting to refuse the
hand of the daughter of his mother-in-law, Madame _la Baillive_, is thus
discovered by her to Monsieur _le Baillif_:--

    Mon mari, pour le coup j'ai découvert l'affaire,
    Ne vous étonnez plus qu'à nos désirs contraire,
    Pour ma fille Pierrot ne montre que mépris:
    Voilà l'unique objet dont son coeur est épris.
                   [_Pointing to Agnes de Chaillot_.

The Baillif exclaims,

    Ma servante!

This single word was the most lively and fatal criticism of the tragic
action of Inez de Castro, which, according to the conventional decorum
and fastidious code of French criticism, grossly violated the majesty of
Melpomene, by giving a motive and an object so totally undignified to
the tragic tale. In the parody there was something ludicrous when the
secret came out which explained poor Pierrot's long-concealed
perplexities, in the maid-servant bringing forward a whole legitimate
family of her own! La Motte was also galled by a projected parody of his
"Machabees"--where the hasty marriage of the young Machabeus, and the
sudden conversion of the amorous Antigone, who, for her first
penitential act, persuades a youth to marry her, without first deigning
to consult her respectable mother, would have produced an excellent
scene for the parody. But La Motte prefixed an angry preface to his
_Inez de Castro_; he inveighs against all parodies, which he asserts to
be merely a French fashion (we have seen, however, that it was once
Grecian), the offspring of a dangerous spirit of ridicule, and the
malicious amusement of superficial minds.--"Were this true," retorts
Fuzelier, "we ought to detest parodies; but we maintain, that far from
converting virtue into a paradox, and degrading truth by ridicule,
PARODY will only strike at what is chimerical and false; it is not a
piece of buffoonery so much as a critical exposition. What do we parody
but the absurdities of dramatic writers, who frequently make their
heroes act against nature, common sense, and truth? After all," he
ingeniously adds, "it is the public, not we, who are the authors of
these? PARODIES; for they are usually but the echoes of the pit, and we
parodists have only to give a dramatic form to the opinions and
observations we hear. Many tragedies," Fuzelier, with admirable truth,
observes, "disguise vices into virtues, and PARODIES unmask them." We
have had tragedies recently which very much required parodies to expose
them, and to shame our inconsiderate audiences, who patronised these
monsters of false passions. The rants and bombast of some of these might
have produced, with little or no alteration of the inflated originals,
_A Modern Rehearsal_, or a new _Tragedy for Warm Weather_.[296]

Of PARODIES, we may safely approve the legitimate use, and even indulge
their agreeable maliciousness; while we must still dread that
extraordinary facility to which the public, or rather human nature, is
so prone, as sometimes to laugh at what at another time they would shed

Tragedy is rendered comic or burlesque by altering the _station_ and
_manners_ of the _persons_; and the reverse may occur, of raising what
is comic or burlesque into tragedy. On so little depends the sublime or
the ridiculous! Beattie says, "In most human characters there are
blemishes, moral, intellectual, or corporeal; by exaggerating which, to
a certain degree, you may form a comic character; as by raising the
virtues, abilities, or external advantages of individuals, you form
epic or tragic characters;[297] a subject humorously touched on by
Lloyd, in the prologue to _The Jealous Wife_.

    Quarrels, upbraidings, jealousies, and spleen,
    Grow too familiar in the comic scene;
    Tinge but the language with heroic chime,
    'Tis passion, pathos, character sublime.
    What big round words had swell'd the pompous scene,
    A king the husband, and the wife a queen.


Will a mind of great capacity be reduced to mediocrity by the ill choice
of a profession?

Parents are interested in the metaphysical discussion, whether there
really exists an inherent quality in the human intellect which imparts
to the individual an aptitude for one pursuit more than for another.
What Lord Shaftesbury calls not innate, but connatural qualities of the
human character, were, during the latter part of the last century,
entirely rejected; but of late there appears a tendency to return to the
notion which is consecrated by antiquity. Experience will often correct
modern hypothesis. The term "predisposition" may be objectionable, as
are all terms which pretend to describe the occult operations of
Nature--and at present we have no other.

Our children pass through the same public education, while they are
receiving little or none for their individual dispositions, should they
have sufficient strength of character to indicate any. The great secret
of education is to develope the faculties of the individual; for it may
happen that his real talent may lie hidden and buried under his
education. A profession is usually adventitious, made by chance views,
or by family arrangements. Should a choice be submitted to the youth
himself, he will often mistake slight and transient tastes for permanent
dispositions. A decided character, however, we may often observe, is
repugnant to a particular pursuit, delighting in another; talents,
languid and vacillating in one profession, we might find vigorous and
settled in another; an indifferent lawyer might become an admirable
architect! At present all our human bullion is sent to be melted down
in an university, to come out, as if thrown into a burning mould, a
bright physician, a bright lawyer, a bright divine--in other words, to
adapt themselves for a profession preconcerted by their parents. By this
means we may secure a titular profession for our son, but the true
genius of the avocation in the _bent of the mind_, as a man of great
original powers called it, is too often absent! Instead of finding fit
offices for fit men, we are perpetually discovering, on the stage of
society, actors out of character! Our most popular writer has happily
described this error.

"A laughing philosopher, the Democritus of our day, once compared human
life to a table pierced with a number of holes, each of which has a pin
made exactly to fit it, but which pins being stuck in hastily, and
without selection, chance leads inevitably to the most awkward mistakes.
For how often do we see," the orator pathetically concluded,--"how
often, I say, do we see the round man stuck into the three-cornered

In looking over a manuscript life of Tobie Matthews, Archbishop of York
in James the First's reign, I found a curious anecdote of his grace's
disappointment in the dispositions of his sons. The cause, indeed, is
not uncommon, as was confirmed by another great man, to whom the
archbishop confessed it. The old Lord Thomas Fairfax one day finding the
archbishop very melancholy, inquired the reason of his grace's
pensiveness: "My lord," said the archbishop, "I have great reason of
sorrow with respect of my sons; one of whom has wit and no grace,
another grace but no wit, and the third neither grace nor wit." "Your
case," replied Lord Fairfax, "is not singular. I am also sadly
disappointed in my sons: one I sent into the Netherlands to train him up
a soldier, and he makes a tolerable country justice, but a mere coward
at fighting; my next I sent to Cambridge, and he proves a good lawyer,
but a mere dunce at divinity; and my youngest I sent to the inns of
court, and he is good at divinity, but nobody at the law." The relater
of this anecdote adds, "This I have often heard from the descendant of
that honourable family, who yet seems to mince the matter, because so
immediately related." The eldest son was the Lord Ferdinando
Fairfax--and the gunsmith to Thomas Lord Fairfax, the son of this Lord
Ferdinando, heard the old Lord Thomas call aloud to his grandson, "Tom!
Tom! mind thou the battle! Thy father's a good man, but a mere coward!
All the good I expect is from thee!" It is evident that the old Lord
Thomas Fairfax was a military character, and in his earnest desire of
continuing a line of heroes, had preconcerted to make his eldest son a
military man, who we discover turned out to be admirably fitted for a
worshipful justice of the quorum. This is a lesson for the parent who
consults his own inclinations and not those of natural disposition. In
the present case the same lord, though disappointed, appears still to
have persisted in the same wish of having a great military character in
his family: having missed one in his elder son, and settled his other
sons in different avocations, the grandfather persevered, and fixed his
hopes, and bestowed his encouragements, on his grandson, Sir Thomas
Fairfax, who makes so distinguished a figure in the civil wars.

The difficulty of discerning the aptitude of a youth for any particular
destination in life will, perhaps, even for the most skilful parent, be
always hazardous. Many will be inclined, in despair of anything better,
to throw dice with fortune; or adopt the determination of the father who
settled his sons by a whimsical analogy which he appears to have formed
of their dispositions or aptness for different pursuits. The boys were
standing under a hedge in the rain, and a neighbour reported to the
father the conversation he had overheard. John wished it would rain
books, for he wished to be a preacher; Bezaleel, wool, to be a clothier
like his father; Samuel, money, to be a merchant; and Edmund plums, to
be a grocer. The father took these wishes as a hint, and we are told in
the life of John Angier, the elder son, a puritan minister, that he
chose for them these different callings, in which it appears that they
settled successfully. "Whatever a young man at first applies himself to
is commonly his delight afterwards." This is an important principle
discovered by Hartley, but it will not supply the parent with any
determinate regulation how to distinguish a transient from a permanent
disposition; or how to get at what we may call the connatural qualities
of the mind. A particular opportunity afforded me some close observation
on the characters and habits of two youths, brothers in blood and
affection, and partners in all things, who even to their very dress
shared alike; who were never separated from each other; who were taught
by the same masters, lived under the same roof, and were accustomed to
the same uninterrupted habits; yet had nature created them totally
distinct in the qualities of their minds; and similar as their lives
had been, their abilities were adapted for very opposite pursuits;
either of them could not have been the other. And I observed how the
"predisposition" of the parties was distinctly marked from childhood:
the one slow, penetrating, and correct; the other quick, irritable, and
fanciful: the one persevering in examination; the other rapid in
results: the one exhausted by labour; the other impatient of whatever
did not relate to his own pursuit: the one logical, historical, and
critical; the other, having acquired nothing, decided on all things by
his own sensations. We would confidently consult in the one a great
legal character, and in the other an artist of genius. If nature had not
secretly placed a bias in their distinct minds, how could two similar
beings have been so dissimilar?

A story recorded of Cecco d'Ascoli and of Dante, on the subject of
natural and acquired genius, may illustrate the present topic. Cecco
maintained that nature was more potent than art, while Dante asserted
the contrary. To prove his principle, the great Italian bard referred to
his cat, which, by repeated practice, he had taught to hold a candle in
its paw while he supped or read. Cecco desired to witness the
experiment, and came not unprepared for his purpose; when Dante's cat
was performing its part, Cecco, lifting up the lid of a pot which he had
filled with mice, the creature of art instantly showed the weakness of a
talent merely acquired, and dropping the candle, flew on the mice with
all its instinctive propensity. Dante was himself disconcerted; and it
was adjudged that the advocate for the occult principle of native
faculties had gained his cause.

To tell stories, however, is not to lay down principles, yet principles
may sometimes be concealed in stories.[298]


A stroke of personal ridicule is levelled at Dryden, when Bayes informs
us of his preparations for a course of study by a course of medicine!
"When I have a grand design," says he, "I ever take physic and let
blood; for when you would have pure swiftness of thought, and fiery
flights of fancy, you must have a care of the pensive part; in fine,
you must purge the belly!"