By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Curiosities of Literature, Vol. 3
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. 3" ***

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



  A New Edition,








  LOCAL DESCRIPTIONS                                               1

  MASQUES                                                          4

    MANUSCRIPTS                                                   13

  HISTORY OF NEW WORDS                                            23

  THE PHILOSOPHY OF PROVERBS                                      32

  CONFUSION OF WORDS                                              65

  POLITICAL NICKNAMES                                             80



  SECRET HISTORY OF SIR WALTER RAWLEIGH                          111

    RAWLEIGH                                                     124

  LITERARY UNIONS                                                131

  OF A BIOGRAPHY PAINTED                                         136

  CAUSE AND PRETEXT                                              141

  POLITICAL FORGERIES AND FICTIONS                               144

  EXPRESSION OF SUPPRESSED OPINION                               150

  AUTOGRAPHS                                                     168

  THE HISTORY OF WRITING-MASTERS                                 167

  THE ITALIAN HISTORIANS                                         177

  OF PALACES BUILT BY MINISTERS                                  186

  "TAXATION NO TYRANNY"                                          193

  THE BOOK OF DEATH                                              200

  HISTORY OF THE SKELETON OF DEATH                               206

  THE RIVAL BIOGRAPHERS OF HEYLIN                                215

  OF LENGLET DU FRESNOY                                          221

  THE DICTIONARY OF TREVOUX                                      229

  QUADRIO'S ACCOUNT OF ENGLISH POETRY                            233

  "POLITICAL RELIGIONISM"                                        238

  TOLERATION                                                     245

  APOLOGY FOR THE PARISIAN MASSACRE                              255

  PREDICTION                                                     260

  DREAMS AT THE DAWN OF PHILOSOPHY                               280

  ON PUCK THE COMMENTATOR                                        296

  LITERARY FORGERIES                                             303

  OF LITERARY FILCHERS                                           316

  OF LORD BACON AT HOME                                          320


  JAMES THE FIRST AS A FATHER AND A HUSBAND                      333

  THE MAN OF ONE BOOK                                            337

  A BIBLIOGNOSTE                                                 340

  SECRET HISTORY OF AN ELECTIVE MONARCHY                         346


  ROYAL PROCLAMATIONS                                            371

  TRUE SOURCES OF SECRET HISTORY                                 380

  LITERARY RESIDENCES                                            394

  WHETHER ALLOWABLE TO RUIN ONESELF?                             400

  DISCOVERIES OF SECLUDED MEN                                    408

  SENTIMENTAL BIOGRAPHY                                          414

  LITERARY PARALLELS                                             425

  THE PEARL BIBLES, AND SIX THOUSAND ERRATA                      427

     CIVIL WARS                                                  423




  THE RUMP                                                       482

    MANUSCRIPTS                                                  493

  INDEX                                                          513



Nothing is more idle, and, what is less to be forgiven in a writer, more
tedious, than minute and lengthened descriptions of localities; where it
is very doubtful whether the writers themselves had formed any tolerable
notion of the place they describe,--it is certain their readers never
can! These descriptive passages, in which writers of imagination so
frequently indulge, are usually a glittering confusion of unconnected
things; circumstances recollected from others, or observed by themselves
at different times; the finest are thrust in together. If a scene from
nature, it is possible that all the seasons of the year may be jumbled
together; or if a castle or an apartment, its magnitude or its
minuteness may equally bewilder. Yet we find, even in works of
celebrity, whole pages of these general or these particular descriptive
sketches, which leave nothing behind but noun substantives propped up by
random epithets. The old writers were quite delighted to fill up their
voluminous pages with what was a great saving of sense and thinking. In
the _Alaric_ of Scudery sixteen pages, containing nearly five hundred
verses, describe a palace, commencing at the _façade_, and at length
finishing with the garden; but his description, we may say, was much
better described by Boileau, whose good taste felt the absurdity of this
"abondance stérile," in overloading a work with useless details,

  Un auteur, quelquefois, trop plein de son objet,
  Jamais sans l'épuiser n'abandonne un sujet.
  S'il rencontre un palais il m'en dépeint la face,
  Il me promène après de terrasae en terrasse.
  Ici s'offre un perron, là règne un corridor;
  Là ce balcon s'enferme en un balustre d'or;
  Il compte les plafonds, les ronds, et les ovales--
  Je saute vingt feuillets pour en trouver la fin;
  Et je me sauve à peine au travers du jardin!

And then he adds so excellent a canon of criticism, that we must not
neglect it:--

  Tout ce qu'on dit de trop est fade et rébutant;
  L'esprit rassasié le rejette à l'instant,
  Qui ne sait se borner, ne sut jamais écrire.

We have a memorable instance of the inefficiency of local descriptions
in a very remarkable one by a writer of fine genius, composing with an
extreme fondness of his subject, and curiously anxious to send down to
posterity the most elaborate display of his own villa--this was the
_Laurentinum_ of Pliny. We cannot read his letter to Gallus, which the
English reader may in Melmoth's elegant version,[1] without somewhat
participating in the delight of the writer in many of its details; but
we cannot with the writer form the slightest conception of his villa,
while he is leading us over from apartment to apartment, and pointing to
us the opposite wing, with a "beyond this," and a "not far from thence,"
and "to this apartment another of the same sort," &c. Yet, still, as we
were in great want of a correct knowledge of a Roman villa, and as this
must be the most so possible, architects have frequently studied, and
the learned translated with extraordinary care, Pliny's _Description of
his Laurentinum_. It became so favourite an object, that eminent
architects have attempted to raise up this edifice once more, by giving
its plan and elevation; and this extraordinary fact is the result--that
not one of them but has given a representation different from the other!
Montfaucon, a more faithful antiquary, in his close translation of the
description of this villa, in comparing it with Felibien's plan of the
villa itself, observes, "that the architect accommodated his edifice to
his translation, but that their notions are not the same;
unquestionably," he adds, "if ten skilful translators were to perform
their task separately, there would not be one who agreed with another!"

If, then, on this subject of local descriptions, we find that it is
impossible to convey exact notions of a real existing scene, what must
we think of those which, in truth, describe scenes which have no other
existence than the confused makings-up of an author's invention; where
the more he details the more he confuses; and where the more particular
he wishes to be, the more indistinct the whole appears?

Local descriptions, after a few striking circumstances have been
selected, admit of no further detail. It is not their length, but their
happiness, which enters into our comprehension; the imagination can only
take in and keep together a very few parts of a picture. The pen must
not intrude on the province of the pencil, any more than the pencil must
attempt to perform what cannot in any shape be submitted to the eye,
though fully to the mind.

The great art, perhaps, of local description, is rather a general than a
particular view; the details must be left to the imagination; it is
suggestion rather than description. There is an old Italian sonnet of
this kind which I have often read with delight; and though I may not
communicate the same pleasure to the reader, yet the story of the writer
is most interesting, and the lady (for such she was) has the highest
claim to be ranked, like the lady of Evelyn, among _literary wives_.

_Francesca Turina Bufalini di Citta di Castello_, of noble extraction,
and devoted to literature, had a collection of her poems published in
1628. She frequently interspersed little domestic incidents of her
female friend, her husband, her son, her grandchildren; and in one of
these sonnets she has delineated _her palace of San Giustino_, whose
localities she appears to have enjoyed with intense delight in the
company of "her lord," whom she tenderly associates with the scene.
There is a freshness and simplicity in the description, which will
perhaps convey a clearer notion of the spot than even Pliny could do in
the voluminous description of his _villa_. She tells us what she found
when brought to the house of her husband:--

  Ampie salle, ampie loggie, ampio cortile
    E stanze ornate con gentil pitture,
    Trovai giungendo, e nobili sculture
    Di marmo fatte, da scalpel non vile.
  Nobil giardin con un perpetuo Aprile
    Di varij fior, di frutti, e di verdure,
    Ombre soavi, acque a temprar l'arsure
    E strade di beltà non dissimile;
  E non men forte estel, che per fortezza
    Ha il ponte, e i fianchi, e lo circonda intorno
    Fosso profundo e di real larghezza.
  Qui fei col mio Signore dolce soggiorno
    Con santo amor, con somma contentezza
    Onde ne benedico il mese e il giorno!

  Wide halls, wide galleries, and an ample court,
  Chambers adorn'd by pictures' soothing charm,
  I found together blended; noble sculpture
  In marble, polish'd by no chisel vile;
  A noble garden, where a lasting April
  All-various flowers and fruits and verdure showers;
  Soft shades, and waters tempering the hot air;
  And undulating paths in equal beauty!
  Nor less the castled glory stands in force,
  And bridged and flanked. And round its circuit winds
  The deepened moat, showing a regal size.
  Here with my lord I cast my sweet sojourn,
  With holy love, and with supreme content;
  And hence I bless the month, and bless the day!


  [1] Book ii. lett. 17.


It sometimes happens, in the history of national amusements, that a name
survives while the thing itself is forgotten. This has been remarkably
the case with our court Masques, respecting which our most eminent
writers long ventured on so many false opinions, with a perfect
ignorance of the nature of these compositions, which combined all that
was exquisite in the imitative arts of poetry, painting, music, song,
dancing, and machinery, at a period when our public theatre was in its
rude infancy. Convinced of the miserable state of our represented drama,
and not then possessing that more curious knowledge of their domestic
history which we delight to explore, they were led into erroneous
notions of one of the most gorgeous, the most fascinating, and the most
poetical of dramatic amusements. Our present theatrical exhibitions are,
indeed, on a scale to which the twopenny audiences of the barn
playhouses of Shakspeare could never have strained their sight; and our
picturesque and learned _costume_, with the brilliant changes of our
scenery, would have maddened the "property-men" and the "tire-women" of
the Globe or the Red Bull.[2] Shakspeare himself never beheld the true
magical illusions of his own dramas, with "Enter the Red Coat," and
"Exit Hat and Cloak," helped out with "painted cloths;" or, as a bard of
Charles the Second's time chants--

                      Look back and see
  The strange vicissitudes of poetrie;
  Your aged fathers came to plays for wit,
  And sat knee-deep in nut-shells in the pit.

But while the public theatre continued long in this contracted state,
without scenes, without dresses, without an orchestra, the court
displayed scenical and dramatic exhibitions with such costly
magnificence, such inventive fancy, and such miraculous art, that we may
doubt if the combined genius of Ben Jonson, Inigo Jones, and Lawes, or
Ferobosco, at an era most favourable to the arts of imagination, has
been equalled by the modern _spectacle_ of the Opera.

But this circumstance had entirely escaped the knowledge of our critics.
The critic of a Masque must not only have read it, but he must also have
heard and have viewed it. The only witnesses in this case are those
letter-writers of the day, who were then accustomed to communicate such
domestic intelligence to their absent friends: from such ample
correspondence I have often drawn some curious and sometimes important
information. It is amusing to notice the opinions of some great critics,
how from an original mis-statement they have drawn an illegitimate
opinion, and how one inherits from the other the error which he
propagates. Warburton said on Masques, that "Shakspeare was an enemy to
these _fooleries_, as appears by his writing none." This opinion was
among the many which that singular critic threw out as they arose at the
moment; for Warburton forgot that Shakspeare characteristically
introduces one in the _Tempest's_ most fanciful scene.[3] Granger, who
had not much time to study the manners of the age whose personages he
was so well acquainted with, in a note on Milton's Masque, said that
"these compositions were trifling and perplexed allegories, the persons
of which are fantastical to the last degree. Ben Jonson, in his 'Masque
of Christmas,' has introduced 'Minced Pie,' and 'Baby Cake,' who act
their parts in the drama.[4] But the most _wretched performances_ of
this kind could please by the help of music, machinery, and dancing."
Granger blunders, describing by two farcical characters a species of
composition of which farce was not the characteristic. Such personages
as he notices would enter into the Anti-masque, which was a humorous
parody of the more solemn Masque, and sometimes relieved it. Malone,
whose fancy was not vivid, condemns Masques and the age of Masques, in
which, he says, echoing Granger's epithet, "the _wretched taste_ of the
times found amusement." And lastly comes Mr. Todd, whom the splendid
fragment of the "Arcades," and the entire Masque, which we have by
heart, could not warm; while his neutralising criticism fixes him at the
freezing point of the thermometer. "This dramatic entertainment,
performed not without prodigious expense in machinery and decoration, to
_which humour_ we certainly owe the entertainment of 'Arcades,' and the
inimitable Mask of 'Comus.'" _Comus_, however, is only a fine dramatic
poem, retaining scarcely any features of the Masque. The only modern
critic who had written with some research on this departed elegance of
the English drama was Warton, whose fancy responded to the fascination
of the fairy-like magnificence and lyrical spirit of the Masque. Warton
had the taste to give a specimen from "The Inner Temple Mask by William
Browne," the pastoral poet, whose Address to Sleep, he observed,
"reminds us of some favourite touches in Milton's _Comus_, to which it
perhaps gave birth." Yet even Warton was deficient in that sort of
research which only can discover the true nature of these singular

Such was the state in which, some years ago, I found all our knowledge
of this once favourite amusement of our court, our nobility, and our
learned bodies of the four inns of court. Some extensive researches,
pursued among contemporary manuscripts, cast a new light over this
obscure child of fancy and magnificence. I could not think lightly of
what Ben Jonson has called "The Eloquence of Masques;" entertainments on
which from three to five thousand pounds were expended, and on more
public occasions ten and twenty thousand. To the aid of the poetry,
composed by the finest poets, came the most skilful musicians and the
most elaborate machinists; Ben Jonson, and Inigo Jones,[5] and Lawes
blended into one piece their respective genius; and Lord Bacon, and
Whitelocke, and Selden, who sat in committees for the last grand Masque
presented to Charles the First, invented the devices; composed the
procession of the Masquers and the Anti-Masquers; while one took the
care of the dancing or the brawlers, and Whitelocke the music--the sage
Whitelocke! who has chronicled his self-complacency on this occasion, by
claiming the invention of a _Coranto_, which for thirty years afterwards
was the delight of the nation, and was blessed by the name of
"Whitelocke's Coranto," and which was always called for, two or three
times over, whenever that great statesman "came to see a play!"[6] So
much personal honour was considered to be involved in the conduct of a
Masque, that even this committee of illustrious men was on the point of
being broken up by too serious a discussion concerning precedence; and
the Masque had nearly not taken place, till they hit on the expedient of
throwing dice to decide on their rank in the procession! On this
jealousy of honour in the composition of a Masque, I discovered, what
hitherto had escaped the knowledge, although not the curiosity, of
literary inquirers--the occasion of the memorable enmity between Ben
Jonson and Inigo Jones, who had hitherto acted together with brotherly
affection; "a circumstance," says Gifford, to whom I communicated it,
"not a little important in the history of our calumniated poet." The
trivial cause, but not so in its consequences, was the poet prefixing
his own name before that of the architect on the title-page of a Masque,
which hitherto had only been annexed;[7] so jealous was the great
architect of his _part_ of the Masque, and so predominant his power and
name at court, that he considered his rights invaded by the _inferior_
claims of the poet! Jonson has poured out the whole bitterness of his
soul in two short satires: still more unfortunately for the subject of
these satires, they provoked Inigo to sharpen his pen on rhyme; but it
is edgeless, and the blunt composition still lies in its manuscript

While these researches had engaged my attention, appeared Gifford's
Memoirs of Ben Jonson. The characteristics of Masques are there, for the
first time, elaborately opened with the clear and penetrating spirit of
that ablest of our dramatic critics. I feel it like presumption to add
to what has received the finishing hand of a master; but his jewel is
locked up in a chest, which I fear is too rarely opened, and he will
allow me to borrow something from its splendour. "The Masque, as it
attained its highest degree of excellence, admitted of dialogue,
singing, and dancing; these were not independent of one another, but
combined, by the introduction of some ingenious fable, into an
harmonious whole. When the plan was formed, the aid of the sister-arts
was called in; for the essence of the Masque was pomp and glory.
Moveable scenery of the most costly and splendid kind was lavished on
the Masque; the most celebrated masters were employed on the songs and
dances; and all that the kingdom afforded of vocal and instrumental
excellence was employed to embellish the exhibition.[8] Thus
magnificently constructed, the Masque was not committed to ordinary
performers. It was composed, as Lord Bacon says, for princes, and by
princes it was played.[9] Of these Masques, the skill with which their
ornaments were designed, and the inexpressible grace with which they
were executed, appear to have left a vivid impression on the mind of
Jonson. His genius awakes at once, and all his faculties attune to
sprightliness and pleasure. He makes his appearance, like his own
Delight, 'accompanied with Grace, Love, Harmony, Revel, Sport, and

  "In curious knot and mazes so
  The Spring at first was taught to go;
  And Zephyr, when he came to woo
  His Flora, had his _motions_[10] too;
  And thus did Venus learn to lead
  The Idalian brawls, and so to tread,
  As if the wind, not she, did walk,
  Nor press'd a flower, nor bow'd a stalk.

"But in what," says Gifford, "was the taste of the times _wretched_? In
poetry, painting, architecture, they have not since been equalled; and
it ill becomes us to arraign the taste of a period which possessed a
cluster of writers of whom the meanest would now be esteemed a prodigy."
Malone did not live to read this denouncement of his objection to these
Masques, as "bungling shows;" and which Warburton treats as "fooleries;"
Granger as "wretched performances;" while Mr. Todd regards them merely
as "the humour of the times!"

Masques were often the private theatricals of the families of our
nobility, performed by the ladies and gentlemen at their seats; and were
splendidly got up on certain occasions: such as the celebration of a
nuptial, or in compliment to some great visitor. The Masque of Comus was
composed by Milton to celebrate the creation of Charles the First as
Prince of Wales; a scene in this Masque presented both the castle and
the town of Ludlow, which proves, that although our small public
theatres had not yet displayed any of the scenical illusions which long
afterwards Davenant introduced, these scenical effects existed in great
perfection in the Masques. The minute descriptions introduced by Thomas
Campion, in his "Memorable Masque," as it is called, will convince us
that the scenery must have been exquisite and fanciful, and that the
poet was always a watchful and anxious partner with the machinist, with
whom sometimes, however, he had a quarrel.

The subject of this very rare Masque was "The Night and the Hours." It
would be tedious to describe the first scene with the fondness with
which the poet has dwelt on it. It was a double valley; one side, with
dark clouds hanging before it; on the other, a green vale, with trees,
and nine golden ones of fifteen feet high; from which grove, towards
"the State," or the seat of the king, was a broad descent to the
dancing-place: the bower of Flora was on the right, the house of Night
on the left; between them a hill, hanging like a cliff over the grove.
The bower of Flora was spacious, garnished with flowers and flowery
branches, with lights among them; the house of Night ample and stately,
with black columns studded with golden stars; within, nothing but clouds
and twinkling stars; while about it were placed, on wire, artificial
bats and owls, continually moving. As soon as the king entered the great
hall, the hautboys, out of the wood on the top of the hill, entertained
the time, till Flora and Zephyr were seen busily gathering flowers from
the bower, throwing them into baskets which two silvans held, attired in
changeable taffeta. The song is light as their fingers, but the burden
is charming:--

  Now hath Flora robb'd her bowers
  To befriend this place with flowers;
    Strow about! strow about!
  Divers, divers flowers affect
  For some private dear respect;
    Strow about! strow about!
  But he's none of Flora's friend
  That will not the rose commend;
    Strow about! strow about!

I cannot quit this Masque, of which, collectors know the rarity, without
preserving one of those Doric delicacies, of which, perhaps, we have
outlived the taste! It is a playful dialogue between a Silvan and an
Hour, while Night appears in her house, with her long black hair
spangled with gold, amidst her Hours; their faces black, and each
bearing a lighted black torch.

  SILVAN. Tell me, gentle Hour of Night,
                   Wherein dost thou most delight?

  HOUR.   Not in sleep!

  SILVAN.                Wherein then?

  HOUR.    In the frolic view of men!

  SILVAN.  Lov'st thou music?

  HOUR.                    Oh! 'tis sweet!

  SILVAN.  What's dancing?

  HOUR.                   E'en the mirth of feet.

  SILVAN.  Joy you in fairies and in elves?

  HOUR.    We are of that sort ourselves!
           But, Silvan! say, why do you love
           Only to frequent the grove?

  SILVAN.  Life is fullest of content
           When delight is innocent.

  HOUR.    Pleasure must vary, not be long!
           Come then, let's close, and end the song!

That the moveable scenery of these Masques formed as perfect a scenical
illusion as any that our own age, with all its perfection of decoration,
has attained to, will not be denied by those who have read the few
Masques which have been printed. They usually contrived a double
division of the scene; one part was for some time concealed from the
spectator, which produced surprise and variety. Thus in the Lord's
Masque, at the marriage of the Palatine, the scene was divided into two
parts, from the roof to the floor; the lower part being first
discovered, there appeared a wood in perspective, the innermost part
being of "releeve or whole round," the rest painted. On the left a cave,
and on the right a thicket, from which issued Orpheus. At the back part
of the scene, at the sudden fall of a curtain, the upper part broke on
the spectators, a heaven of clouds of all hues; the stars suddenly
vanished, the clouds dispersed; an element of artificial fire played
about the house of Prometheus--a bright and transparent cloud, reaching
from the heavens to the earth, whence the eight masquers descending with
the music of a full song; and at the end of their descent the cloud
broke in twain, and one part of it, as with a wind, was blown athwart
the scene. While this cloud was vanishing, the wood, being the under
part of the scene, was insensibly changing; a perspective view opened,
with porticoes on each side, and female statues of silver, accompanied
with ornaments of architecture, filling the end of the house of
Prometheus, and seemed all of goldsmiths' work. The women of Prometheus
descended from their niches, till the anger of Jupiter turned them again
into statues. It is evident, too, that the size of the proscenium, or
stage, accorded with the magnificence of the scene; for I find choruses
described, "and changeable conveyances of the song," in manner of an
echo, performed by more than forty different voices and instruments in
various parts of the scene. The architectural decorations were the pride
of Inigo Jones; such could not be trivial.

"I suppose," says the writer of this Masque, "few have ever seen more
neat artifice than Master Inigo Jones showed in contriving their motion;
who, as all the rest of the workmanship which belonged to the whole
invention, showed extraordinary industry and skill, which if it be not
as lively expressed in writing as it appeared in view, rob not him of
his due, but lay the blame on my want of right apprehending his
instructions, for the _adoring_ of his art." Whether this strong
expression should be only _adorning_ does not appear in any errata; but
the feeling of admiration was fervent among the spectators of that day,
who were at least as much astonished as they were delighted. Ben
Jonson's prose descriptions of scenes in his own exquisite Masques, as
Gifford observes, "are singularly bold and beautiful." In a letter which
I discovered, the writer of which had been present at one of these
Masques, and which Gifford has preserved,[11] the reader may see the
great poet anxiously united with Inigo Jones in working the machinery.
Jonson, before "a sacrifice could be performed, turned the globe of the
earth, standing behind the altar." In this globe "the sea was expressed
heightened with silver waves, which stood, or rather hung (for no axle
was seen to support it), and _turning softly_, discovered the first
Masque,"[12] &c. This "turning softly" producing a very magical effect,
the great poet would trust to no other hand but his own!

It seems, however, that as no Masque-writer equalled Jonson, so no
machinist rivalled Inigo Jones. I have sometimes caught a groan from
some unfortunate poet, whose beautiful fancies were spoilt by the
bungling machinist. One says, "The _order of this scene_ was carefully
and ingeniously disposed, and as happily put in act (for the _motions_)
by the king's master carpenter;" but he adds, "the _painters_, I must
needs say (not to belie them), lent small colour to any, to attribute
much of the spirit of these things to their pencil." Campion, in one of
his Masques, describing where the trees were gently to sink, &c., by an
engine placed under the stage, and in sinking were to open, and the
masquers appear out at their tops, &c., adds this vindictive marginal
note: "Either by the _simplicity_, _negligence_, or _conspiracy_ of the
_painter_, the passing away of the trees was somewhat hazarded, though
the same day they had been shown with much admiration, and were left
together to the same night;" that is, they were worked right at the
rehearsal, and failed in the representation, which must have perplexed
the nine masquers on the tops of these nine trees. But such accidents
were only vexations crossing the fancies of the poet: they did not
essentially injure the magnificence, the pomp, and the fairy world
opened to the spectators. So little was the character of these Masques
known, that all our critics seemed to have fallen into repeated
blunders, and used the Masques as Campion suspected his painters to have
done, "either by simplicity, negligence, or conspiracy." Hurd, a cold
systematic critic, thought he might safely prefer the Masque in the
_Tempest_, as "putting to shame all the Masques of Jonson, not only in
its _construction_, but in the _splendour_ of its show;"--"which," adds
Gifford, "was danced and sung by the ordinary performers to a couple of
fiddles, perhaps in the balcony of the stage." Such is the fate of
criticism without knowledge! And now, to close our Masques, let me apply
the forcible style of Ben Jonson himself: "The glory of all these
solemnities had perished like a blaze, and gone out in the beholder's
eyes; so short-lived are the bodies of all things in comparison of their


  [2] Sir Philip Sidney, in his "Defence of Poesy," 1595, alludes to
    the custom of writing the supposed locality of each scene over the
    stage, and asks, "What child is there that coming to a play, and
    seeing _Thebes_ written in great letters on an old door, doth
    believe that it is Thebes." As late as the production of Davenant's
    _Siege of Rhodes_ (_circa_ 1656), this custom was continued, and is
    thus described in the printed edition of the play:--"In the middle
    of the frieze was a compartment wherein was written _Rhodes_." In
    many instances the spectator was left to infer the locality of the
    scene from the dialogue.--"Now," says Sidney, "you shall have three
    ladies walke to gather flowers, and then we must believe the stage
    to be a garden. By and by we heare newes of shipwracke in the same
    place; then we are to blame if we accept it not for a rock." In
    Middleton's _Chaste Maid_, 1630, when the scene changes to a
    bed-room, "a bed is thrust out upon the stage, Alwit's wife in it;"
    which simple process was effected by pushing it through the curtains
    that hung across the entrance to the stage, which at that time
    projected into the pit.

  [3] The play of _Pyramus and Thisbe_, performed by the clowns in
    Shakspeare's _Midsummer Night's Dream_, is certainly constructed in
    burlesque of characters in court Masques, which sometimes were as
    difficult to be made comprehensible to an audience as "the clowns of
    Athens" found _Wall_ and _Moonshine_ to be.

  [4] It is due to a great poet like Ben Jonson, that, without
    troubling the reader to turn to his works, we should give his own
    description of these characters, to show that they were not the
    "perplexed allegories" they are asserted to be by Granger; nor
    inappropriate to the _Masque of Christmas_, for which they were
    designed. MINCED-PIE was habited "like a fine cook's wife, drest
    neat, her man carrying a pie, dish, and spoon." BABY-CAKE was "drest
    like a boy, in a fine long coat, biggin-bib, muckender (or
    handkerchief), and a little dagger; his usher bearing a great cake,
    with a bean and a pease;" the latter being indicative of those
    generally inserted in a Christmas cake, which, when cut into slices
    and distributed, indicated by the presence of the bean the person
    who should be king; the slice with the pea doing the same for the
    queen. Neither of these characters speak, but make part of the show
    to be described by Father Christmas. Jonson's inventive talent was
    never more conspicuous than in the concoction of court Masques.

  [5] The first employment of these two great men was upon _The Masque
    of Blackness_, performed at Whitehall on Twelfth-Night, 1603; and
    which cost nearly 10,000_l._, of our present money.

  [6] The music of Whitelocke's _Coranto_ is preserved in Hawkins's
    "History of Music." Might it be restored for the ladies as a waltz?

  [7] This was _Chloridia_, a Masque performed by the queen and her
    ladies at court, on Shrovetide, 1630; upon the title-page of which
    is printed "the inventors--Ben Jonson, Inigo Jones." Jonson was, by
    reason of the influence of Inigo, deprived of employ at court ever
    after, supplanted by other poets named by the architect, and among
    them Heywood, Shirley, and Davenant.

  [8] George Chapman's _Memorable Maske_, performed at Whitehall,
    1630, by the gentlemen of the Middle Temple and Lincoln's Inn, cost
    the latter society nearly 2000_l._ for their share of the expenses.

  [9] Ben Jonson records the names of the noble ladies and gentlemen
    who enacted his inventions at court.

  [10] The figures and actions of dancers in Masques were called motions.

  [11] Memoirs of Jonson, p. 88.

  [12] See Gifford's Jonson, vol. vii. p. 78. This performance was in
    the _Masque of Hymen_, enacted at court in 1605, on the occasion of
    the marriage of the Earl of Essex to the daughter of the Earl of

  [13] Splendour ultimately ruined these works; they ended in gaudy
    dresses and expensive machinery, but poetry was not associated with
    them. The youthful days of Louis XIV. raised them to a height of
    costly luxuriance to sink them ever after in oblivion.


Des Maizeaux was an active literary man of his day, whose connexions
with Bayle, St. Evremond, Locke, and Toland, and his name being set off
by an F.R.S., have occasioned the dictionary-biographers to place him
prominently among their "hommes illustres." Of his private history
nothing seems known. Having something important to communicate
respecting one of his friends, a far greater character, with whose fate
he stands connected, even Des Maizeaux becomes an object of our inquiry.

He was one of those French refugees whom political madness or despair of
intolerance had driven to our shores. The proscription of Louis XIV.,
which supplied us with our skilful workers in silk, also produced a race
of the unemployed, who proved not to be as exquisite in the handicraft
of book-making; such were _Motteux_, _La Coste_, _Ozell_, _Durand_, and
others. Our author had come over in that tender state of youth, just in
time to become half an Englishman: and he was so ambidextrous in the
languages of the two great literary nations of Europe, that whenever he
took up his pen, it is evident by his manuscripts, which I have
examined, that it was mere accident which determined him to write in
French or in English. Composing without genius, or even taste, without
vivacity or force, the simplicity and fluency of his style were
sufficient for the purposes of a ready dealer in all the _minutiæ
literariæ_; literary anecdotes, curious quotations, notices of obscure
books, and all that _supellex_ which must enter into the history of
literature, without forming a history. These little things, which did so
well of themselves, without any connexion with anything else, became
trivial when they assumed the form of voluminous minuteness; and Des
Maizeaux at length imagined that nothing but anecdotes were necessary to
compose the lives of men of genius! With this sort of talent he produced
a copious life of Bayle, in which he told everything he possibly could;
and nothing can be more tedious, and more curious: for though it be a
grievous fault to omit nothing, and marks the writer to be deficient in
the development of character, and that sympathy which throws inspiration
over the vivifying page of biography, yet, to admit everything, has this
merit--that we are sure to find what we want! Warburton poignantly
describes our Des Maizeaux, in one of those letters to Dr. Birch which
he wrote in the fervid age of study, and with the impatient vivacity of
his genius, "Almost all the life-writers we have had before Toland and
Des Maizeaux are indeed strange, insipid creatures; and yet I had rather
read the worst of them, than be obliged to go through with this of
Milton's, or the other's life of Boileau; where there is such a dull,
heavy succession of long quotations of uninteresting passages, that it
makes their method quite nauseous. But the verbose, tasteless Frenchman
seems to lay it down as a principle, that every life must be a
book,--and, what is worse, it seems a book without a life; for what do
we know of Boileau after all his tedious stuff?"

Des Maizeaux was much in the employ of the Dutch booksellers, then the
great monopolisers in the literary mart of Europe. He supplied their
"nouvelles littéraires" from England; but the work-sheet price was very
mean in those days. I have seen annual accounts of Des Maizeaux settled
to a line for four or five pounds; and yet he sent the "Novelties" as
fresh as the post could carry them! He held a confidential
correspondence with these great Dutch booksellers, who consulted him in
their distresses; and he seems rather to have relieved them than
himself. But if he got only a few florins at Rotterdam, the same
"nouvelles littéraires" sometimes secured him valuable friends at
London; for in those days, which perhaps are returning on us, an English
author would often appeal to a foreign journal for the commendation he
might fail in obtaining at home; and I have discovered, in more cases
than one, that, like other smuggled commodities, the foreign article was
often of home manufactory!

I give one of these curious bibliopolical distresses. Sauzet, a
bookseller at Rotterdam, who judged too critically for the repose of his
authors, seems to have been always fond of projecting a new "Journal;"
tormented by the ideal excellence which he had conceived of such a work,
it vexed him that he could never find the workmen! Once disappointed of
the assistance he expected from a writer of talents, he was fain to put
up with one he was ashamed of; but warily stipulated on very singular
terms. He confided this precious literary secret to Des Maizeaux. I
translate from his manuscript letter.

"I send you, my dear Sir, four sheets of the continuation of my journal,
and I hope this second part will turn out better than the former. The
author thinks himself a very able person; but I must tell you frankly,
that he is a man without erudition, and without any critical
discrimination; he writes pretty well, and turns passably what he says;
but that is all! Monsieur Van Effen having failed in his promises to
realise my hopes on this occasion, necessity compelled me to have
recourse to him; but for _six months only_, and on condition that he
should not, on any account whatever, _allow any one to know that he is
the author of the journal_; for his _name_ alone would be sufficient to
make even a passable book discreditable. As you are among my friends, I
will confide to you in secrecy the name of this author; it is Mons. _De
Limiers_.[14] You see how much my interest is concerned that the author
should not be known!" This anecdote is gratuitously presented to the
editors of certain reviews, as a serviceable hint to enter into the same
engagement with some of their own writers: for it is usually the _De
Limiers_ who expend their last puff in blowing their own name about the

In England, Des Maizeaux, as a literary man, made himself very useful to
other men of letters, and particularly to persons of rank: and he found
patronage and a pension,--like his talents, very moderate! A friend to
literary men, he lived amongst them, from "Orator" Henley, up to
Addison, Lord Halifax, and Anthony Collins. I find a curious character
of our Des Maizeaux in the handwriting of Edward, Earl of Oxford, to
whose father (Pope's Earl of Oxford) and himself the nation owes the
Harleian treasures. His lordship is a critic with high Tory principles,
and high-church notions. "This Des Maizeaux is a great man with those
who are pleased to be called _Freethinkers_, particularly with Mr.
Anthony Collins, collects passages out of books for their writings. His
Life of Chillingworth is wrote to please that set of men." The secret
history I am to unfold relates to Anthony Collins and Des Maizeaux. Some
curious book-lovers will be interested in the personal history of an
author they are well acquainted with, yet which has hitherto remained
unknown. He tells his own story in a sort of epistolary petition he
addressed to a noble friend, characteristic of an author, who cannot be
deemed unpatronised, yet whose name, after all his painful labours,
might be inserted in my "Calamities of Authors."

In this letter he announces his intention of publishing a Dictionary
like Bayle; having written the life of Bayle, the next step was to
become himself a Bayle; so short is the passage of literary delusion! He
had published, as a specimen, the lives of Hales and Chillingworth. He
complains that his circumstances have not allowed him to forward that
work, nor digest the materials he had collected.

   A work of that nature requires a steady application, free from the
   cares and avocations incident to all persons obliged to seek for
   their maintenance. I have had the misfortune to be in the case of
   those persons, and am now reduced to a pension on the Irish
   establishment, which, deducting the tax of four shillings in the
   pound, and other charges, brings me in about 40_l._ a year of our
   English money.[15] This pension was granted to me in 1710, and I owe
   it chiefly to the friendship of Mr. Addison, who was then secretary
   to the Earl of Wharton, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. In 1711, 12, and
   14, I was appointed one of the Commissioners of the Lottery by the
   interest of Lord Halifax.

   And this is all I ever received from the Government, though I had
   some claim to the royal favour; for in 1710, when the enemies to our
   constitution were contriving its ruin, I wrote a pamphlet entitled
   "Lethe," which was published in Holland, and afterwards translated
   into English, and twice printed in London; and being reprinted in
   Dublin, proved so offensive to the ministry in Ireland, that it was
   burnt by the hands of the hangman. But so it is, that after having
   showed on all occasions my zeal for the royal family, and endeavoured
   to make myself serviceable to the public by several books published;
   after forty years' stay in England, and in an advanced age, I find
   myself and family destitute of a sufficient livelihood, and suffering
   from complaints in the head and impaired sight by constant
   application to my studies.

   I am confident, my lord, he adds, that if the queen, to whom I was
   made known on occasion of Thuanus's French translation, were
   acquainted with my present distress, she would be pleased to afford
   me some relief.[16]

Among the confidential literary friends of Des Maizeaux, he had the
honour of ranking Anthony Collins, a great lover of literature, and a
man of fine genius, and who, in a continued correspondence with our Des
Maizeaux, treated him as his friend, and employed him as his agent in
his literary concerns. These, in the formation of an extensive library,
were in a state of perpetual activity, and Collins was such a true lover
of his books, that he drew up the catalogue with his own pen.[17]
Anthony Collins wrote several well-known works without prefixing his
name; but having pushed too far his curious inquiries on some obscure
and polemical points, he incurred the odium of a _freethinker_,--a term
which then began to be in vogue, and which the French adopted by
translating it, in their way, _a strong thinker_, or _esprit fort_.
Whatever tendency to "liberalise" the mind from _dogmas_ and _creeds_
prevails in these works, the talents and learning of Collins were of the
first class. His morals were immaculate, and his personal character
independent; but the _odium theologicum_ of those days contrived every
means to stab in the dark, till the taste became hereditary with some. I
shall mention a fact of this cruel bigotry, which occurred within my own
observation, on one of the most polished men of the age. The late Mr.
Cumberland, in the romance entitled his "Life," gave this extraordinary
fact, that Dr. Bentley, who so ably replied by his "Remarks," under the
name of Phileleutherus Lipsiensis, to Collins's "Discourse on
Free-thinking," when, many years after, he discovered him fallen into
great distress, conceiving that by having ruined Collins's character as
a writer for ever, he had been the occasion of his personal misery, he
liberally contributed to his maintenance. In vain I mentioned to that
elegant writer, who was not curious about facts, that this person could
never have been _Anthony_ Collins, who had always a plentiful fortune;
and when it was suggested to him that this "A. Collins," as he printed
it, must have been _Arthur_ Collins, the historical compiler, who was
often in pecuniary difficulties, still he persisted in sending the lie
down to posterity, _totidem verbis_, without alteration in his second
edition, observing to a friend of mine, that "the story, while it told
well, might serve as a striking instance of his great relative's
generosity; and that _it should stand_, because it could do no harm to
any but to _Anthony_ Collins, whom he considered as little short of an
atheist." So much for this pious fraud! but be it recollected that this
Anthony Collins was the confidential friend of Locke, of whom Locke
said, on his dying bed, that "Collins was a man whom he valued in the
first rank of those that he left behind him." And the last words of
Collins on his own death-bed were, that "he was persuaded he was going
to that place which God had designed for them that love him." The cause
of true religion will never be assisted by using such leaky vessels as
_Cumberland's_ wilful calumnies, which in the end must run out, and be
found, like the present, mere empty fictions!

An extraordinary circumstance occurred on the death of Anthony Collins.
He left behind him a considerable number of his own manuscripts, there
was one collection formed into eight octavo volumes; and that they might
be secured from the common fate of manuscripts, he bequeathed them all,
and confided them to the care of our Des Maizeaux. The choice of Collins
reflects honour on the character of Des Maizeaux, yet he proved unworthy
of it! He suffered himself to betray his trust, practised on by the
earnest desire of the widow, and perhaps by the arts of a Mr. Tomlinson,
who appears to have been introduced into the family by the
recommendation of Dean Sykes, whom at length he supplanted, and whom the
widow, to save her reputation, was afterwards obliged to discard.[18] In
an unguarded moment he relinquished this precious _legacy of the
manuscripts_, and accepted _fifty guineas as a present_. But if Des
Maizeaux lost his honour in this transaction, he was at heart an honest
man, who had swerved for a single moment; his conscience was soon
awakened, and he experienced the most violent compunctions. It was in a
paroxysm of this nature that he addressed the following letter to a
mutual friend of the late Anthony Collins and himself.

   SIR,                                       _January 6, 1730._

   I am very glad to hear you are come to town, and as you are my best
   friend, now I have lost Mr. Collins, give me leave to open my heart
   to you, and to beg your assistance in an affair which highly concerns
   both Mr. Collins's (your friend) and my own honour and reputation.
   The case, in few words, stands thus:--Mr. Collins by his last will
   and testament left me his manuscripts. Mr. Tomlinson, who first
   acquainted me with it, told me that Mrs. Collins should be glad to
   have them, and I made them over to her; whereupon she was pleased to
   present me with fifty guineas. I desired her at the same time to take
   care they should be kept safe and unhurt, which she promised to do.
   This was done the 25th of last month. Mr. Tomlinson, who managed all
   this affair, was present.

   Now, having further considered that matter, I find that I have done a
   most wicked thing. I am persuaded that I have betrayed the trust of a
   person who, for twenty-six years, had given me continual instances of
   his friendship and confidence. I am convinced that I have acted
   contrary to the will and intention of my dear deceased friend; showed
   a disregard to the particular mark of esteem he gave me on that
   occasion; in short, that I have forfeited what is dearer to me than
   my own life--honour and reputation.

   These melancholy thoughts have made so great an impression upon me,
   that I protest to you I can enjoy no rest; they haunt me everywhere,
   day and night. I earnestly beseech you, sir, to represent my unhappy
   case to Mrs. Collins. I acted with all the simplicity and uprightness
   of my heart; I considered that the MSS. would be as safe in Mrs.
   Collins's hands as in mine; that she was no less obliged to preserve
   them than myself; and that, as the library was left to her, they
   might naturally go along with it. Besides, I thought I could not too
   much comply with the desire of a lady to whom I have so many
   obligations. But I see now clearly that this is not fulfilling Mr.
   Collins's will, and that the duties of our conscience are superior to
   all other regards. But it is in her power to forgive and mend what I
   have done imprudently, but with a good intention. Her high sense of
   virtue and generosity will not, I am sure, let her take any advantage
   of my weakness; and the tender regard she has for the memory of the
   best of men, and the tenderest of husbands, will not suffer that his
   intentions should be frustrated, and that she should be the
   instrument of violating what is most sacred. If our late friend had
   designed that his MSS. should remain in her hands, he would certainly
   have left them to her by his last will and testament; his acting
   otherwise is an evident proof that it was not his intention.

   All this I proposed to represent to her in the most respectful
   manner; but you will do it infinitely better than I can in this
   present distraction of mind; and I flatter myself that the mutual
   esteem and friendship which has continued so many years between Mr.
   Collins and you, will make you readily embrace whatever tends to
   honour his memory.

   I send you the fifty guineas I received, which I do now look upon as
   the wages of iniquity; and I desire you to return them to Mrs.
   Collins, who, as I hope it of her justice, equity, and regard to Mr.
   Collins's intentions, will be pleased to cancel my paper.

     I am, &c.,


The manuscripts were never returned to Des Maizeaux; for seven years
afterwards Mrs. Collins, who appears to have been a very spirited lady,
addressed to him the following letter on the subject of a report, that
she had permitted transcripts of these very manuscripts to get abroad.
This occasioned an animated correspondence from both sides.

   SIR,                                       _March 10, 1736-37_.

   I have thus long waited in expectation that you would ere this have
   called on Dean Sykes, as Sir B. Lucy said you intended, that I might
   have had some satisfaction in relation to a very unjust
   reproach--viz., that I, or somebody that I had trusted, had
   _betrayed_ some of the transcripts, or MSS., of Mr. Collins into the
   Bishop of London's hands. I cannot, therefore, since you have not
   been with the dean as was desired, but call on you in this manner, to
   know what authority you had for such a reflection; or on what grounds
   you went for saying that these transcripts are in the Bishop of
   London's hands. I am determined to trace out the grounds of such a
   report; and you can be no friend of mine, no friend of Mr. Collins,
   no friend to common justice, if you refuse to acquaint me, what
   foundation you had for such a charge. I desire a very speedy answer
   to this, who am, Sir,

     Your servant,


   _To Mr. Des Maizeaux, at his lodgings next door to the Quakers'
   burying-ground, Hanover-street, out of Long-Acre._


                                              _March 14, 1737._

   I had the honour of your letter of the 10th inst., and as I find that
   something has been misapprehended, I beg leave to set this matter

   Being lately with some honourable persons, I told them it had been
   reported that some of Mr. C.'s MSS. were fallen into the hands of
   strangers, and that I should be glad to receive from you such
   information as might enable me to disprove that report. What
   occasioned this surmise, or what particular MSS. were meant, I was
   not able to discover; so I was left to my own conjectures, which,
   upon a serious consideration, induced me to believe that it might
   relate to the MSS. in eight volumes in 8vo, of which there is a
   transcript. But as the original and the transcript are in your
   possession, if you please, madam, to compare them together, you may
   easily see whether they be both entire and perfect, or whether there
   be anything wanting in either of them. By this means you will assure
   yourself, and satisfy your friends, that several important pieces are
   safe in your hands, and that the report is false and groundless. All
   this I take the liberty to offer out of the singular respect I always
   professed for you, and for the memory of Mr. Collins, to whom I have
   endeavoured to do justice on all occasions, and particularly in the
   memoirs that have been made use of in the General Dictionary; and I
   hope my tender concern for his reputation will further appear when I
   publish his life.

   SIR,                                       _April 6, 1737_.

   My ill state of health has hindered me from acknowledging sooner the
   receipt of yours, from which I hoped for some satisfaction in
   relation to your charge, in which I cannot but think myself very
   deeply concerned. You tell me now, that you was left to your own
   conjectures what particular MSS. were reported to have fallen into
   the hands of strangers, and that upon a serious consideration you was
   induced to believe that it might relate to the MSS. in eight vols.
   8vo, of which there was a transcript.

   I must beg of you to satisfy me very explicitly who were the persons
   that reported this to you, and from whom did you receive this
   information? You know that Mr. Collins left several MSS. behind him;
   what grounds had you for your conjecture that it related to the MSS.
   in eight vols., rather than to any other MSS. of which there was a
   transcript? I beg that you will be very plain, and tell me what
   strangers were named to you; and why you said the Bishop of London,
   if your informer said stranger to you. I am so much concerned in
   this, that I must repeat it, if you have the singular respect for Mr.
   Collins which you profess, that you would help me to trace out this
   reproach, which is so abusive to, Sir,

     Your servant,

        ELIZ. COLLINS.


   I flattered myself that my last letter would have satisfied you, but
   I have the mortification to see that my hopes were vain. Therefore I
   beg leave once more to set this matter right. When I told you what
   had been reported, I acted, as I thought, the part of a true friend,
   by acquainting you that some of your MSS. had been purloined, in
   order that you might examine a fact which to me appeared of the last
   consequence; and I verily believe that everybody in my case would
   have expected thanks for such a friendly information. But instead of
   that I find myself represented as an enemy, and challenged to produce
   proofs and witnesses of a thing dropt in conversation, a hearsay, as
   if in those cases people kept a register of what they hear, and
   entered the names of the persons who spoke, the time, place, &c., and
   had with them persons ready to witness the whole, &c. I did own I
   never thought of such a thing, and whenever I happened to hear that
   some of my friends had some loss, I thought it my duty to acquaint
   them with such report, that they might inquire into the matter, and
   see whether there was any ground for it. But I never troubled myself
   with the names of the persons who spoke, as being a thing entirely
   needless and unprofitable.

   Give me leave further to observe, that you are in no ways _concerned_
   in the matter, as you seem to be apprehensive you are. Suppose some
   MSS. have been taken out of your library, who will say you ought to
   bear the guilt of it? What man in his senses, who has the honour to
   know you, will say you gave your consent to such thing--that you was
   privy to it? How can you then take upon yourself an action to which
   you was neither privy and consenting? Do not such things happen every
   day, and do the losers think themselves injured or _abused_ when they
   are talked of? Is it impossible to be betrayed by a person we
   confided in?

   You call what I told you was a report, a surmise; you call it, I say,
   an _information_, and speak of _informers_ as if there was a plot
   laid wherein I received the information: I thought I had the honour
   to be better known to you. Mr. Collins loved me and esteemed me for
   my integrity and sincerity, of which he had several proofs; how I
   have been drawn in to injure him, to forfeit the good opinion he had
   of me, and which, were he now alive, would deservedly expose me to
   his utmost contempt, is a grief which I shall carry to the grave. It
   would be a sort of comfort to me, if those who have consented I
   should be drawn in were in some measure sensible of the guilt towards
   so good, kind, and generous a man.

Thus we find that, _seven years_ after Des Maizeaux had inconsiderately
betrayed his sacred trust, his remorse was still awake; and the
sincerity of his grief is attested by the affecting style which
describes it: the spirit of his departed friend seemed to be hovering
about him, and, in his imagination, would haunt him to the grave.

The nature of these manuscripts; the cause of the earnest desire of
retaining them by the widow; the evident unfriendliness of her conduct
to Des Maizeaux; and whether these manuscripts, consisting of eight
octavo volumes with their transcripts, were destroyed, or are still
existing, are all circumstances which my researches have hitherto not


  [14] _Van Effen_ was a Dutch writer of some merit, and one of a
    literary knot of ingenious men, consisting of Sallengre, St.
    Hyacinthe, Prosper Marchand, &c., who carried on a smart review for
    those days, published at the Hague under the title of "Journal
    Littéraire." They all composed in French; and Van Effen gave the
    first translations of our "Guardian," "Robinson Crusoe," and the
    "Tale of a Tub," &c. He did something more, but not better; he
    attempted to imitate the "Spectator," in his "Le Misanthrope," 1726,
    which exhibits a picture of the uninteresting manners of a nation
    whom he could not make very lively.

    _De Limiers_ has had his name slipped into our biographical
    dictionaries. An author cannot escape the fatality of the alphabet;
    his numerous misdeeds are registered. It is said, that if he had not
    been so hungry, he would have given proofs of possessing some

  [15] I find that the nominal pension was 3_s._ 6_d._ per diem on the
    Irish civil list, which amounts to above 63_l._ per annum. If a
    pension be granted for reward, it seems a mockery that the income
    should be so grievously reduced, which cruel custom still prevails.

  [16] This letter, or petition, was written in 1732. In 1743 he
    procured his pension to be placed on his wife's life, and he died in

    He was sworn in as gentleman of his majesty's privy chamber in
    1722--_Sloane MSS._ 4289.

  [17] There is a printed catalogue of his library.

  [18] This information is from a note found among Des Maizeaux's
    papers; but its truth I have no means to ascertain.


Neology, or the novelty of words and phrases, is an innovation, which,
with the opulence of our present language, the English philologer is
most jealous to allow; but we have puritans or precisians of English,
superstitiously nice! The fantastic coinage of affectation or caprice
will cease to circulate from its own alloy; but shall we reject the ore
of fine workmanship and solid weight? There is no government mint of
words, and it is no statutable offence to invent a felicitous or daring
expression unauthorised by Mr. Todd! When a man of genius, in the heat
of his pursuits or his feelings, has thrown out a peculiar word, it
probably conveyed more precision or energy than any other established
word, otherwise he is but an ignorant pretender!

Julius Cæsar, who, unlike other great captains, is authority on words as
well as about blows, wrote a large treatise on "Analogy," in which that
fine genius counselled to "avoid every unusual word as a rock!"[19] The
cautious Quintilian, as might be expected, opposes all innovation in
language. "If the new word is well received, small is the glory; if
rejected, it raises laughter."[20] This only marks the penury of his
feelings in this species of adventure. The great legislator of words,
who lived when his own language was at its acmé, seems undecided, yet
pleaded for this liberty. "Shall that which the Romans allowed to
Cæcilius and to Plautus be refused to Virgil and Varius?" The answer to
the question might not be favourable to the inquirer. While a language
is forming, writers are applauded for extending its limits; when
established, for restricting themselves to them. But this is to imagine
that a perfect language can exist! The good sense and observation of
Horace perceived that there may be occasions where necessity must become
the mother of invented words:--

               ----Si forte necesse est
  Indiciis monstrare recentibus abdita rerum.

  If you write of things abstruse or new,
  Some of your own inventing may be used,
  So it be seldom and discreetly done.


But Horace's canon for deciding on the legality of the new invention, or
the standard by which it is to be tried, will not serve to assist the
inventor of words:--

                ----licuit, semperque licebit,
  Signatum præsente nota procudere nummum.[21]

This _præsens nota_, or public stamp, can never be affixed to any new
coinage of words: for many received at a season have perished with
it.[22] The privilege of stamping words is reserved for their greatest
enemy--Time itself! and the inventor of a new word must never flatter
himself that he has secured the public adoption, for he must lie in his
grave before he can enter the dictionary.

In Willes' address to the reader, prefixed to the collection of Voyages
published in 1577, he finds fault with Eden's translation from Peter
Martyr, for using words that "smelt too much of the Latine." We should
scarcely have expected to find among them _ponderouse_, _portentouse_,
_despicable_, _obsequious_, _homicide_, _imbibed_, _destructive_,
_prodigious_. The only words he quotes, not thoroughly naturalised, are
_dominators_, _ditionaries_, (subjects), _solicitute_ (careful).

The Tatler, No. 230, introduces several polysyllables introduced by
military narrations, "which (he says), if they attack us too frequently,
we shall certainly put them to flight, and cut off the rear;" every one
of them still keep their ground.

Half the French words used affectedly by Melantha, in Dryden's _Marriage
à-la-Mode_, as innovations in our language, are now in common use,
_naïveté_, _foible_, _chagrin_, _grimace_, _embarras_, _double
entendre_, _equivoque_, _eclaircissement_, _ridicule_, all these words,
which she learns by heart to use occasionally, are now in common use. A
Dr. Russel called Psalm-singers _Ballad-singers_, having found the Song
of Solomon in an old translation, the _Ballad of Ballads_, for which he
is reproached by his antagonist for not knowing that the signification
of words alters with time; should I call him _knave_, he ought not to be
concerned at it, for the Apostle Paul is also called a _knave of Jesus

Unquestionably, NEOLOGY opens a wide door to innovation; scarcely has a
century passed since our language was patched up with Gallic idioms, as
in the preceding century it was piebald with Spanish, and with Italian,
and even with Dutch. The political intercourse of islanders with their
neighbours has ever influenced their language. In Elizabeth's reign
Italian phrases[24] and Netherland words were imported; in James and
Charles the Spanish framed the style of courtesy; in Charles the Second
the nation and the language were equally Frenchified. Yet such are the
sources from whence we have often derived some of the wealth of our

There are three foul corruptors of a language: caprice, affectation, and
ignorance! Such fashionable cant terms as "theatricals," and "musicals,"
invented by the flippant Topham, still survive among his confraternity
of frivolity. A lady eminent for the elegance of her taste, and of whom
one of the best judges, the celebrated Miss Edgeworth, observed to me,
that she spoke the purest and most idiomatic English she had ever heard,
threw out an observation which might be extended to a great deal of our
present fashionable vocabulary. She is now old enough, she said, to have
lived to hear the vulgarisms of her youth adopted in drawing-room
circles.[25] To _lunch_, now so familiar from the fairest lips, in her
youth was only known in the servants' hall. An expression very rife of
late among our young ladies, _a nice man_, whatever it may mean, whether
that the man resemble a pudding or something more nice, conveys the
offensive notion that they are ready to eat him up! When I was a boy, it
was an age of _bon ton_; this _good tone_ mysteriously conveyed a
sublime idea of fashion; the term, imported late in the eighteenth
century, closed with it. _Twaddle_ for a while succeeded _bore_; but
_bore_ has recovered the supremacy. We want another Swift to give a new
edition of his "Polite Conversation." A dictionary of barbarisms too
might be collected from some wretched neologists, whose pens are now at
work! Lord Chesterfield, in his exhortations to conform to Johnson's
Dictionary, was desirous, however, that the great lexicographer should
add as an appendix, "_A neological dictionary_, containing those polite,
though perhaps not strictly grammatical, words and phrases commonly
used, and sometimes understood by the _beau-monde_."[26] This last
phrase was doubtless a contribution! Such a dictionary had already
appeared in the French language, drawn up by two caustic critics, who in
the _Dictionnaire néologique à l'usage des beaux Esprits du Siècle_
collected together the numerous unlucky inventions of affectation, with
their modern authorities! A collection of the fine words and phrases,
culled from some very modern poetry, might show the real amount of the
favours bestowed on us.

The attempts of neologists are, however, not necessarily to be
condemned; and we may join with the commentators of Aulus Gellius, who
have lamented the loss of a chapter of which the title only has
descended to us. That chapter would have demonstrated what happens to
all languages, that some neologisms, which at first are considered
forced or inelegant, become sanctioned by use, and in time are quoted as
authority in the very language which, in their early stage, they were
imagined to have debased.

The true history of men's minds is found in their actions; their wants
are indicated by their contrivances; and certain it is that in highly
cultivated ages we discover the most refined intellects attempting
NEOLOGISMS.[27] It would be a subject of great curiosity to trace the
origin of many happy expressions, when, and by whom created. Plato
substituted the term _Providence_ for _fate_; and a new system of human
affairs arose from a single word. Cicero invented several; to this
philosopher we owe the term of _moral_ philosophy, which before his time
was called the philosophy of _manners_. But on this subject we are
perhaps more interested by the modern than by the ancient languages.
Richardson, the painter of the human heart, has coined some expressions
to indicate its little secret movements, which are admirable: that great
genius merited a higher education and more literary leisure than the
life of a printer could afford. Montaigne created some bold expressions,
many of which have not survived him; his _incuriosité_, so opposite to
curiosity, well describes that state of negligence where we will not
learn that of which we are ignorant. With us the word _incurious_ was
described by Heylin, 1656, as an unusual word; it has been appropriately
adopted by our best writers, although we still want _incuriosity_.
Charron invented _étrangeté_ unsuccessfully, but which, says a French
critic, would be the true substantive of the word _étrange_; our Locke
is the solitary instance produced for "foreignness" for "remoteness or
want of relation to something." Malherbe borrowed from the Latin,
_insidieux_, _sécurité_, which have been received; but a bolder word,
_dévouloir_, by which he proposed to express _cesser de vouloir_, has
not. A term, however, expressive and precise. Corneille happily
introduced _invaincu_ in a verse in the Cid,

  Vous êtes _invaincu_, mais non pas _invincible_.

Yet this created word by their great poet has not sanctioned this fine
distinction among the French, for we are told that it is almost a
solitary instance. Balzac was a great inventor of neologisms. _Urbanité_
and _féliciter_ were struck in his mint. "Si le mot _féliciter_ n'est
pas française, il le sera l'année qui vient;" so confidently proud was
the neologist, and it prospered as well as _urbanité_, of which he says,
"Quand l'usage aura muri parmi nous un mot de si mauvais gout, et
corrigé _l'amertume de la nouveauté_ qui s'y peut trouver, nous nous y
accoutumerons comme aux autres que nous avons emprunté de la même
langue." Balzac was, however, too sanguine in some other words; for his
_délecter_, his _sériosité_, &c. still retain their "bitterness of

Menage invented a term of which an equivalent is wanting in our
language; "J'ai fait _prosateur_ à l'imitation de l'italien _prosatore_,
pour dire un homme qui écrit en prose." To distinguish a prose from a
verse writer, we _once_ had "a proser." Drayton uses it; but this useful
distinction has unluckily degenerated, and the current sense is so daily
urgent, that the purer sense is irrecoverable.

When D'Albancourt was translating Lucian, he invented in French the
words _indolence_ and _indolent_, to describe a momentary languor,
rather than that habitual indolence in which sense they are now
accepted; and in translating Tacitus, he created the word
_turbulemment_; but it did not prosper any more than that of
_temporisement_. Segrais invented the word _impardonnable_, which, after
having been rejected, was revived, and is equivalent to our expressive
_unpardonable_. Molière ridiculed some neologisms of the _Précieuses_ of
his day; but we are too apt to ridicule that which is new, and which we
often adopt when it becomes old. Molière laughed at the term
_s'encanailler_, to describe one who assumed the manners of a
blackguard; the expressive word has remained in the language. The
meaning is disputed as well as the origin is lost of some novel terms.
This has happened to a word in daily use--_Fudge_! It is a cant term not
in Grose, and only traced by Todd not higher than to Goldsmith. It is,
however, no invention of his. In a pamphlet, entitled "Remarks upon the
Navy," 1700, the term is declared to have been the name of a certain
nautical personage who had lived in the lifetime of the writer. "There
was, sir, in our time, one _Captain Fudge_, commander of a merchantman,
who upon his return from a voyage, how ill-fraught soever his ship was,
always brought home his owners a good cargo of lies; so much that now,
aboard ship, the sailors, when they hear a great lie told, cry out, 'You
_fudge_ it!'" It is singular that such an obscure byword among sailors
should have become one of the most popular in our familiar style; and
not less, that recently at the bar, in a court of law, its precise
meaning perplexed plaintiff and defendant and their counsel. I think it
does not signify mere lies, but bouncing lies, or rhodomontades.

There are two remarkable French words created by the Abbé de Saint
Pierre, who passed his meritorious life in the contemplation of
political morality and universal benevolence--_bienfaisance_ and
_gloriole_. He invented _gloriole_ as a contemptuous diminutive of
_glorie_; to describe that vanity of some egotists, so proud of the
small talents which they may have received from nature or from accident.
_Bienfaisance_ first appeared in this sentence: "L'Esprit de la vraie
religion et le principal but de l'evangile c'est _la bienfaisance_,
c'est-à-dire la pratique de la charité envers le prochain." This word
was so new, that in the moment of its creation this good man explained
its necessity and origin. Complaining that "the word 'charity' is abused
by all sorts of Christians in the persecution of their enemies, and even
heretics affirm that they are practising Christian charity in
persecuting other heretics, I have sought for a term which might convey
to us a precise idea of doing good to our neighbours, and I can form
none more proper to make myself understood than the term of
_bienfaisance_, good-doing. Let those who like, use it; I would only be
understood, and it is not equivocal." The happy word was at first
criticised, but at length every kind heart found it responded to its own
feeling. Some verses from Voltaire, alluding to the political reveries
of the good abbé, notice the critical opposition; yet the new word
answered to the great rule of Horace.

  Certain législateur, dont la plume féconde
  Fit tant de vains projets pour le bien du monde,
  Et qui depuis trente ans écrit pour des ingrats,
  Vient de créer un mot qui manque à Vaugelas:
  Ce mot est BIENFAISANCE; il me plaît, il rassemble
  Si le coeur en est cru, bien des vertus ensemble.
  Petits grammairiens, grands précepteurs de sots,
  Qui pesez la parole et mesurez les mots,
  Pareille expression vous semble hazardée,
  Mais l'univers entier doit en cherir l'idée!

The French revolutionists, in their rage for innovation, almost
barbarised the pure French of the Augustan age of their literature, as
they did many things which never before occurred; and sometimes
experienced feelings as transitory as they were strange. Their
nomenclature was copious; but the revolutionary jargon often shows the
danger and the necessity of neologisms. They form an appendix to the
Academy Dictionary. Our plain English has served to enrich this odd
mixture of philology and politics: _Club_, _clubiste_, _comité_, _jure_,
_juge de paix_, blend with their _terrorisme_, _lanterner_, a verb
active, _lévee en masse_, _noyades_, and the other verb active,
_septembriser_, &c. The barbarous term _demoralisation_ is said to have
been the invention of the horrid capuchin Chabot; and the remarkable
expression of _arrière pensée_ belonged exclusively in its birth to the
jesuitic astuteness of the Abbé Sieyes, that political actor, who, in
changing sides, never required prompting in his new part!

A new word, the result of much consideration with its author, or a term
which, though unknown to the language, conveys a collective assemblage
of ideas by a fortunate designation, is a precious contribution of
genius; new words should convey new ideas. Swift, living amidst a civil
war of pamphlets, when certain writers were regularly employed by one
party to draw up replies to the other, created a term not to be found in
our dictionaries, but which, by a single stroke, characterises these
hirelings; he called them _answer-jobbers_. We have not dropped the
fortunate expression from any want of its use, but of perception in our
lexicographers. The celebrated Marquis of Lansdowne introduced a useful
word, which has of late been warmly adopted in France as well as in
England--_to liberalise_; the noun has been drawn out of the verb--for
in the marquis's time that was only an abstract conception which is now
a sect; and to _liberalise_ was theoretically introduced before the
_liberals_ arose.[28] It is curious to observe that as an adjective it
had formerly in our language a very opposite meaning to its recent one.
It was synonymous with "libertine or licentious;" we have "a _liberal_
villain" and "a most profane and _liberal_ counsellor;" we find one
declaring "I have spoken _too liberally_." This is unlucky for the
_liberals_, who will not--

  Give allowance to our _liberal_ jests
  Upon their persons--


Dr. Priestley employed a forcible, but not an elegant term, to mark the
general information which had begun in his day; this he frequently calls
"the _spread_ of knowledge." Burke attempted to brand with a new name
that set of pert, petulant, sophistical sciolists, whose philosophy the
French, since their revolutionary period, have distinguished as
_philosophism_, and the philosophers themselves as _philosophistes_. He
would have designated them as _literators_, but few exotic words will
circulate; new words must be the coinage of our own language to blend
with the vernacular idiom. Many new words are still wanted. We have no
word by which we could translate the _otium_ of the Latins, the
_dillettante_ of the Italians, the _alembiqué_ of the French, as an
epithet to describe that sublimated ingenuity which exhausts the mind,
till, like the fusion of the diamond, the intellect itself disappears. A
philosopher, in an extensive view of a subject in all its bearings, may
convey to us the result of his last considerations by the coinage of a
novel and significant expression, as this of Professor Dugald
Stewart--_political religionism_. Let me claim the honour of one pure
neologism. I ventured to introduce the term of FATHER-LAND to describe
our _natale solum_; I have lived to see it adopted by Lord Byron and by
Mr. Southey, and the word is now common. A lady has even composed both
the words and the air of a song on "Father-land." This energetic
expression may therefore be considered as authenticated; and patriotism
may stamp it with its glory and its affection. FATHER-LAND is congenial
with the language in which we find that other fine expression
MOTHER-TONGUE. The patriotic neologism originated with me in Holland,
when, in early life, it was my daily pursuit to turn over the glorious
history of its independence under the title of _Vaderlandsche
Historie_--the history of FATHER-LAND!

If we acknowledge that the creation of some neologisms may sometimes
produce the beautiful, the revival of the dead is the more authentic
miracle; for a new word must long remain doubtful, but an ancient word
happily recovered rests on a basis of permanent strength; it has both
novelty and authority. A collection of _picturesque words_, found among
our ancient writers, would constitute a precious supplement to the
history of our language. Far more expressive than our term of
_executioner_ is their solemn one of the _deathsman_; than our
_vagabond_, their _scatterling_; than our _idiot_ or _lunatic_, their
_moonling_,--a word which, Mr. Gifford observes, should not have been
suffered to grow obsolete. Herrick finely describes by the term
_pittering_ the peculiar shrill and short cry of the grasshopper: the
cry of the grasshopper is pit! pit! pit! quickly repeated. Envy
"_dusking_ the lustre" of genius is a verb lost for us, but which gives
a more precise expression to the feeling than any other words which we
could use.

The late Dr. Boucher, in the prospectus of his proposed Dictionary, did
me the honour, then a young writer, to quote an opinion I had formed
early in life of the purest source of neology, which is in the _revival
of old words_.

  Words that wise Bacon or brave Rawleigh spake!

We have lost many exquisite and picturesque expressions through the
dulness of our lexicographers, or by the deficiency in that profounder
study of our writers which their labours require far more than they
themselves know. The natural graces of our language have been
impoverished. The genius that throws its prophetic eye over the
language, and the taste that must come from Heaven, no lexicographer
imagines are required to accompany him amidst a library of old books!


  [19] Aulus Gellius, lib. i. c. 10.

  [20] Instit. lib. i. c. 5.

  [21] This verse was corrected by Bentley _procudere nummum_, instead
    of _producere nomen_, which the critics agree is one of his happy

  [22] Henry Cockeram's curious little "English Dictionarie, or an
    Interpretation of hard English words", 12mo, 1631, professes to give
    in its first book "the choicest words themselves now in use,
    wherewith our language is inriched and become so copious." Many have
    not survived, such as the following:--

      Acyrologicall    An improper speech.
      Adacted          Driven in by force.
      Blandiloquy      Flattering speech.
      Compaginate      To set together that which is broken.
      Concessation     Loytering.
      Delitigate       To scold, or chide vehemently.
      Depalmate        To give one a box on the ear.
      Esuriate         To hunger.
      Strenuitie       Activity.

    Curiously enough, this author notes some words as those "now out of
    use, and onely used of some ancient writers," but which we now
    commonly use. Such are the following:--

      Abandon          To forsake or cast off.
      Abate            To make lesse, diminish, or take from.

  [23] A most striking instance of the change of meaning in a word is
    in the old law-term _let_--"without _let_ or hindrance;" meaning
    void of all opposition. Hence, "I will _let_ you," meant "I will
    hinder you;" and not as we should now think, "I will give you free

  [24] Shakspeare makes "Ancient Pistol" use a new-coined Italian
    word, when he speaks of being "better accommodated;" to the great
    delight of Justice Shallow, who exclaims, "It comes from
    _accommodo_--a good phrase!" And Ben Jonson, in his "Tale of a Tub,"
    ridicules Inigo Jones's love of two words he often used:--

                   ----If it _conduce_
      To the design, whate'er is _feasible_,
      I can express.

  [25] The term _pluck_, once only known to the prize-ring, has now
    got into use in general conversation, and also into literature, as a
    term indicative of ready courage.

  [26] Such terms as "_patent_ to the public"--"_normal_
    condition"--"_crass_ behaviour," are the inventions of the last few

  [27] Shakspeare has a powerfully-composed line in the speech of the
    Duke of Burgundy, (_Henry V._ Act v. Sc. 2), when, describing the
    fields overgrown with weeds, he exclaims--

                         ----The coulter rusts,
      That should _deracinate_ such _savagery_.

  [28] The "Quarterly Review" recently marked the word _liberalise_ in
    italics as a strange word, undoubtedly not aware of its origin. It
    has been lately used by Mr. Dugald Stewart, "to _liberalise_ the
    views."--Dissert. 2nd part, p. 138.


In antique furniture we sometimes discover a convenience which long
disuse had made us unacquainted with, and are surprised by the aptness
which we did not suspect was concealed in its solid forms. We have found
the labour of the workmen to have been as admirable as the material
itself, which is still resisting the mouldering touch of time among
those modern inventions, elegant and unsubstantial, which, often put
together with unseasoned wood, are apt to warp and fly into pieces when
brought into use. We have found how strength consists in the selection
of materials, and that, whenever the substitute is not better than the
original, we are losing something in that test of experience, which all
things derive from duration.

Be this as it may! I shall not unreasonably await for the artists of our
novelties to retrograde into massive greatness, although I cannot avoid
reminding them how often they revive the forgotten things of past times!
It is well known that many of our novelties were in use by our
ancestors! In the history of the human mind there is, indeed, a sort of
antique furniture which I collect, not merely for their antiquity, but
for the sound condition in which I still find them, and the compactness
which they still show. Centuries have not worm-eaten their solidity! and
the utility and delightfulness which they still afford make them look as
fresh and as ingenious as any of our patent inventions.

By the title of the present article the reader has anticipated the
nature of the old furniture to which I allude. I propose to give what,
in the style of our times, may be called the Philosophy of Proverbs--a
topic which seems virgin. The art of reading proverbs has not, indeed,
always been acquired even by some of their admirers; but my
observations, like their subject, must be versatile and unconnected; and
I must bespeak indulgence for an attempt to illustrate a very curious
branch of literature, rather not understood than quite forgotten.

Proverbs have long been in disuse. "A man of fashion," observes Lord
Chesterfield, "never has recourse to proverbs and vulgar aphorisms;"
and, since the time his lordship so solemnly interdicted their use, they
appear to have withered away under the ban of his anathema. His lordship
was little conversant with the history of proverbs, and would
unquestionably have smiled on those "men of fashion" of another stamp,
who, in the days of Elizabeth, James, and Charles, were great collectors
of them; would appeal to them in their conversations, and enforce them
in their learned or their statesmanlike correspondence. Few, perhaps,
even now, suspect that these neglected fragments of wisdom, which exist
among all nations, still offer many interesting objects for the studies
of the philosopher and the historian; and for men of the world still
open an extensive school of human life and manners.

The home-spun adages, and the rusty "sayed-saws," which remain in the
mouths of the people, are adapted to their capacities and their humours.
Easily remembered, and readily applied, these are the philosophy of the
vulgar, and often more sound than that of their masters! whoever would
learn what the people think, and how they feel, must not reject even
these as insignificant. The proverbs of the street and of the market,
true to nature, and lasting only because they are true, are records that
the populace at Athens and at Rome were the same people as at Paris and
at London, and as they had before been in the city of Jerusalem!

Proverbs existed before books. The Spaniards date the origin of their
_refranes que dicen las viejas tras el fuego_, "sayings of old wives by
their firesides," before the existence of any writings in their
language, from the circumstance that these are in the old romance or
rudest vulgar idiom. The most ancient poem in the Edda, "the sublime
speech of Odin," abounds with ancient proverbs, strikingly descriptive
of the ancient Scandinavians. Undoubtedly proverbs in the earliest ages
long served as the unwritten language of morality, and even of the
useful arts; like the oral traditions of the Jews, they floated down
from age to age on the lips of successive generations. The name of the
first sage who sanctioned the saying would in time be forgotten, while
the opinion, the metaphor, or the expression, remained, consecrated into
a proverb! Such was the origin of those memorable sentences by which men
learnt to think and to speak appositely; they were precepts which no man
could contradict, at a time when authority was valued more than opinion,
and experience preferred to novelty. The proverbs of a father became the
inheritance of a son; the mistress of a family perpetuated hers through
her household; the workman condensed some traditional secret of his
craft into a proverbial expression. When countries are not yet populous,
and property has not yet produced great inequalities in its ranks, every
day will show them how "the drunkard and the glutton come to poverty,
and drowsiness clothes a man with rags." At such a period he who gave
counsel gave wealth.

It might therefore have been decided, _à priori_, that the most homely
proverbs would abound in the most ancient writers--and such we find in
Hesiod; a poet whose learning was not drawn from books. It could only
have been in the agricultural state that this venerable bard could have
indicated a state of repose by this rustic proverb:--

  [Greek: Pêdalion men uper kapnou katadeio]
  Hang your plough-beam o'er the hearth!

The envy of rival workmen is as justly described by a reference to the
humble manufacturers of earthenware as by the elevated jealousies of the
literati and the artists of a more polished age. The famous proverbial
verse in Hesiod's Works and Days--

  [Greek: Kai kerameus keramei koteei],

is literally, "The potter is hostile to the potter!"

The admonition of the poet to his brother, to prefer a friendly
accommodation to a litigious lawsuit, has fixed a paradoxical proverb
often applied,--

  [Greek: Pleon êmisu pantos],
  The half is better than the whole!

In the progress of time, the stock of popular proverbs received
accessions from the highest sources of human intelligence; as the
philosophers of antiquity formed their collections, they increased in
"weight and number." Erasmus has pointed out some of these sources, in
the responses of oracles; the allegorical symbols of Pythagoras; the
verses of the poets; allusions to historical incidents; mythology and
apologue; and other recondite origins. Such dissimilar matters, coming
from all quarters, were melted down into this vast body of aphoristic
knowledge. Those "WORDS OF THE WISE and their DARK SAYINGS," as they are
distinguished in that large collection which bears the name of the great
Hebrew monarch, at length seem to have required commentaries; for what
else can we infer of the enigmatic wisdom of the sages, when the royal
paroemiographer classes among their studies, that of "_understanding a
proverb and the interpretation_?" This elevated notion of "the dark
sayings of the wise" accords with the bold conjecture of their origin
which the Stagyrite has thrown out, who considered them as the wrecks of
an ancient philosophy which had been lost to mankind by the fatal
revolutions of all human things, and that those had been saved from the
general ruin by their pithy elegance and their diminutive form; like
those marine shells found on the tops of mountains, the relics of the
Deluge! Even at a later period, the sage of Cheronea prized them among
the most solemn mysteries; and Plutarch has described them in a manner
which proverbs may even still merit: "Under the veil of these curious
sentences are hid those germs of morals which the masters of philosophy
have afterwards developed into so many volumes."

At the highest period of Grecian genius, the tragic and the comic poets
introduced into their dramas the proverbial style. St. Paul quotes a
line which still remains among the first exercises of our school-pens:--

  Evil communications corrupt good manners.

It is a verse found in a fragment of Menander the comic poet:

  [Greek: Phtheirousin hêthê chrêsth' homiliai kakai].

As this verse is a proverb, and the apostle, and indeed the highest
authority, Jesus himself, consecrates the use of proverbs by their
occasional application, it is uncertain whether St. Paul quotes the
Grecian poet, or only repeats some popular adage. Proverbs were bright
shafts in the Greek and Latin quivers; and when Bentley, by a league of
superficial wits, was accused of pedantry for his use of some ancient
proverbs, the sturdy critic vindicated his taste by showing that Cicero
constantly introduced Greek proverbs into his writings,--that Scaliger
and Erasmus loved them, and had formed collections drawn from the stores
of antiquity.

Some difficulty has occurred in the definition. Proverbs must be
distinguished from proverbial phrases, and from sententious maxims; but
as proverbs have many faces, from their miscellaneous nature, the class
itself scarcely admits of any definition. When Johnson defined a proverb
to be "a short sentence frequently repeated by the people," this
definition would not include the most curious ones, which have not
always circulated among the populace, nor even belong to them; nor does
it designate the vital qualities of a proverb. The pithy quaintness of
old Howell has admirably described the ingredients of an exquisite
proverb to be _sense, shortness, and salt_. A proverb is distinguished
from a maxim or an apophthegm by that brevity which condenses a thought
or a metaphor, where one thing is said and another is to be applied.
This often produces wit, and that quick pungency which excites surprise,
but strikes with conviction; this gives it an epigrammatic turn. George
Herbert entitled the small collection which he formed "Jacula
Prudentium," Darts or Javelins! something hurled and striking deeply; a
characteristic of a proverb which possibly Herbert may have borrowed
from a remarkable passage in Plato's dialogue of "Protagoras or the

The influence of proverbs over the minds and conversations of a whole
people is strikingly illustrated by this philosopher's explanation of
the term _to laconise_,--the mode of speech peculiar to the
Lacedæmonians. This people affected to appear _unlearned_, and seemed
only emulous to excel the rest of the Greeks in fortitude and in
military skill. According to Plato's notion, this was really a political
artifice, with a view to conceal their pre-eminent wisdom. With the
jealousy of a petty state, they attempted to confine their renowned
sagacity within themselves, and under their military to hide their
contemplative character! The philosopher assures those who in other
cities imagined they _laconised_, merely by imitating the severe
exercises and the other warlike manners of the Lacedæmonians, that they
were grossly deceived; and thus curiously describes the sort of wisdom
which this singular people practised.

"If any one wish to converse with the meanest of the Lacedæmonians, he
will at first find him, for the most part, apparently despicable in
conversation; but afterwards, when a proper opportunity presents itself,
this same mean person, like a _skilful jaculator, will hurl a sentence_,
worthy of attention, _short and contorted_; so that he who converses
with him will appear to be in no respect superior to a boy! That _to
laconise_, therefore, consists much more in philosophising than in the
love of exercise, is understood by some of the present age, and was
known to the ancients, they being persuaded that the ability of
_uttering such sentences_ as these is the province of a man perfectly
learned. The seven sages were emulators, lovers, and disciples of the
_Lacedæmonian erudition_. Their wisdom was a thing of this kind, viz.
_short sentences uttered by each, and worthy to be remembered_. These
men, assembling together, consecrated to Apollo the first fruits of
their wisdom; writing in the Temple of Apollo, at Delphi, those
sentences which are celebrated by all men, viz. _Know thyself!_ and
_Nothing too much!_ But on what account do I mention these things? To
show that _the mode of philosophy among the ancients was a certain
laconic diction_."[29]

The "laconisms" of the Lacedæmonians evidently partook of the proverbial
style: they were, no doubt, often proverbs themselves. The very
instances which Plato supplies of this "laconising" are two most
venerable proverbs.

All this elevates the science of PROVERBS, and indicates that these
abridgments of knowledge convey great results, with a parsimony of words
prodigal of sense. They have, therefore, preserved many "a short
sentence, NOT repeated by the people."

It is evident, however, that the earliest writings of every people are
marked by their most homely, or domestic proverbs; for these were more
directly addressed to their wants. Franklin, who may be considered as
the founder of a people who were suddenly placed in a stage of civil
society which as yet could afford no literature, discovered the
philosophical cast of his genius, when he filled his almanacs with
proverbs, by the ingenious contrivance of framing them into a connected
discourse, delivered by an old man attending an auction. "These
proverbs," he tells us, "which contained the wisdom of many ages and
nations, when their scattered counsels were brought together, made a
great impression. They were reprinted in Britain, in a large sheet of
paper, and stuck up in houses: and were twice translated in France, and
distributed among their poor parishioners." The same occurrence had
happened with us ere we became a reading people. Sir Thomas Elyot, in
the reign of Henry the Eighth, describing the ornaments of a nobleman's
house, among his hangings, and plate, and pictures, notices the
engraving of proverbs "on his plate and vessels, which served the guests
with a most opportune counsel and comments." Later even than the reign
of Elizabeth our ancestors had proverbs always before them, on
everything that had room for a piece of advice on it; they had them
painted in their tapestries, stamped on the most ordinary utensils, on
the blades of their knives,[30] the borders of their plates,[31] and
"conned them out of goldsmiths' rings."[32] The usurer, in Robert
Greene's "Groat's worth of Wit," compressed all his philosophy into the
circle of his ring, having learned sufficient Latin to understand the
proverbial motto of "Tu tibi cura!" The husband was reminded of his
lordly authority when he only looked into his trencher, one of its
learned aphorisms having descended to us,--

  The calmest husbands make the stormiest wives.

The English proverbs of the populace, most of which are still in
circulation, were collected by old John Heywood.[33] They are arranged by
Tusser for "the parlour--the guest's chamber--the hall--table-lessons,"
&c. Not a small portion of our ancient proverbs were adapted to rural
life, when our ancestors lived more than ourselves amidst the works of
God, and less among those of men.[34] At this time, one of our old
statesmen, in commending the art of compressing a tedious discourse into
a few significant phrases, suggested the use of proverbs in diplomatic
intercourse, convinced of the great benefit which would result to the
negotiators themselves, as well as to others! I give a literary curiosity
of this kind. A member of the House of Commons, in the reign of
Elizabeth, made a speech entirely composed of the most homely proverbs.
The subject was a bill against double payments of book-debts. Knavish
tradesmen were then in the habit of swelling out their book-debts with
those who took credit, particularly to their younger customers. One of
the members who began to speak "for very fear shook," and stood silent.
The nervous orator was followed by a blunt and true representative of the
famed governor of Barataria, delivering himself thus--"It is now my
chance to speak something, and that without humming or hawing. I think
this law is a good law. Even reckoning makes long friends. As far goes
the penny as the penny's master. _Vigilantibus non dormientibus jura
subveniunt._ Pay the reckoning overnight and ye shall not be troubled in
the morning. If ready money be _mensura publica_, let every one cut his
coat according to his cloth. When his old suit is in the wane, let him
stay till that his money bring a new suit in the increase."[35]

Another instance of the use of proverbs among our statesmen occurs in a
manuscript letter of Sir Dudley Carlton, written in 1632, on the
impeachment of Lord Middlesex, who, he says, is "this day to plead his
own cause in the Exchequer-chamber, about an account of four-score
thousand pounds laid to his charge. How his lordship sped I know not,
but do remember well the French proverb, _Qui mange de l'oy du Roy
chiera une plume quarante ans après_. 'Who eats of the king's goose,
will void a feather forty years after!'"

This was the era of proverbs with us; for then they were _spoken_ by all
ranks of society. The free use of trivial proverbs got them into
disrepute; and as the abuse of a thing raises a just opposition to its
practice, a slender wit affecting "a cross humour," published a little
volume of "Crossing of Proverbs, Cross-answers, and Cross-humours." He
pretends to contradict the most popular ones; but he has not always the
genius to strike at amusing paradoxes.[36]

Proverbs were long the favourites of our neighbours; in the splendid and
refined court of Louis the Fourteenth they gave rise to an odd
invention. They plotted comedies and even fantastical ballets from their
subjects. In these Curiosities of Literature I cannot pass by such
eccentric inventions unnoticed.

A COMEDY _of proverbs_ is described by the Duke de la Vallière, which
was performed in 1634 with prodigious success. He considers that this
comedy ought to be ranked among farces; but it is gay, well-written, and
curious for containing the best proverbs, which are happily introduced
in the dialogue.

A more extraordinary attempt was a BALLET _of proverbs_. Before the
opera was established in France, the ancient ballets formed the chief
amusement of the court, and Louis the Fourteenth himself joined with the
performers. The singular attempt of forming a pantomimical dance out of
proverbs is quite French; we have a "ballet des proverbes, dansé par le
Roi, in 1654." At every proverb the scene changed, and adapted itself to
the subject. I shall give two or three of the _entrées_ that we may form
some notion of these _capriccios_.

The proverb was---

  _Tel menace qui a grand peur._
  He threatens who is afraid.

The scene was composed of swaggering scaramouches and some honest cits,
who at length beat them off.

At another _entrée_ the proverb was--

  _L'occasion fait le larron._
  Opportunity makes the thief.

Opportunity was acted by le Sieur Beaubrun, but it is difficult to
conceive how the real could personify the abstract personage. The
thieves were the Duke d'Amville and Monsieur de la Chesnaye.

Another _entrée_ was the proverb of--

  _Ce qui vient de la flute s'en va au tambour._
  What comes by the pipe goes by the tabor.

A loose dissipated officer was performed by le Sieur l'Anglois; the
_Pipe_ by St. Aignan, and the _Tabor_ by le Sieur le Comte! In this
manner every proverb was _spoken in action_, the whole connected by
dialogue. More must have depended on the actors than the poet.[37]

The French long retained this fondness for proverbs; for they still have
dramatic compositions entitled _proverbes_, on a more refined plan.
Their invention is so recent, that the term is not in their great
dictionary of Trevoux. These _proverbes_ are dramas of a single act,
invented by Carmontel, who possessed a peculiar vein of humour, but who
designed them only for private theatricals. Each _proverb_ furnished a
subject for a few scenes, and created a situation powerfully comic: it
is a dramatic amusement which does not appear to have reached us, but
one which the celebrated Catherine of Russia delighted to compose for
her own society.

Among the middle classes of society to this day, we may observe that
certain family proverbs are traditionally preserved: the favourite
saying of a father is repeated by the sons; and frequently the conduct
of a whole generation has been influenced by such domestic proverbs.
This may be perceived in many of the mottos of our old nobility, which
seem to have originated in some habitual proverb of the founder of the
family. In ages when proverbs were most prevalent, such pithy sentences
would admirably serve in the ordinary business of life, and lead on to
decision, even in its greater exigencies. Orators, by some lucky
proverb, without wearying their auditors, would bring conviction home to
their bosoms: and great characters would appeal to a proverb, or deliver
that which in time by its aptitude became one. When Nero was reproached
for the ardour with which he gave himself up to the study of music, he
replied to his censurers by the Greek proverb, "An artist lives
everywhere." The emperor answered in the spirit of Rousseau's system,
that every child should be taught some trade. When Cæsar, after anxious
deliberation, decided on the passage of the Rubicon (which very event
has given rise to a proverb), rousing himself with a start of courage,
he committed himself to Fortune, with that proverbial expression on his
lips, used by gamesters in desperate play: having passed the Rubicon, he
exclaimed, "The die is cast!" The answer of Paulus Æmilius to the
relations of his wife, who had remonstrated with him on his
determination to separate himself from her against whom no fault could
be alleged, has become one of our most familiar proverbs. This hero
acknowledged the excellences of his lady; but, requesting them to look
on his shoe, which appeared to be well made, he observed, "None of you
know where the shoe pinches!" He either used a proverbial phrase, or by
its aptness it has become one of the most popular.

There are, indeed, proverbs connected with the characters of eminent
men. They were either their favourite ones, or have originated with
themselves. Such a collection would form a historical curiosity. To the
celebrated Bayard are the French indebted for a military proverb, which
some of them still repeat, "_Ce que le gantelet gagne le gorgerin le
mange_"--"What the gauntlet gets, the gorget consumes." That reflecting
soldier well calculated the profits of a military life, which consumes,
in the pomp and waste which are necessary for its maintenance, the
slender pay it receives, and even what its rapacity sometimes acquires.
The favourite proverb of Erasmus was _Festina lente_!--"Hasten
slowly!"[38] He wished it be inscribed wherever it could meet our eyes,
on public buildings, and on our rings and seals. One of our own
statesmen used a favourite sentence, which has enlarged our stock of
national proverbs. Sir Amias Pawlet, when he perceived too much hurry in
any business, was accustomed to say, "Stay awhile, to make an end the
sooner." Oliver Cromwell's coarse but descriptive proverb conveys the
contempt he felt for some of his mean and troublesome coadjutors: "Nits
will be lice!" The Italians have a proverb, which has been occasionally
applied to certain political personages:--

  _Egli e quello che Dio vuole;
  E sarà quello che Dio vorrà!_

  He is what God pleases;
  He shall be what God wills!

Ere this was a proverb, it had served as an embroidered motto on the
mystical mantle of Castruccio Castracani. That military genius, who
sought to revolutionise Italy, and aspired to its sovereignty, lived
long enough to repent the wild romantic ambition which provoked all
Italy to confederate against him; the mysterious motto he assumed
entered into the proverbs of his country! The Border proverb of the
Douglases, "It were better to hear the lark sing than the mouse cheep,"
was adopted by every Border chief, to express, as Sir Walter Scott
observes, what the great Bruce had pointed out, that the woods and hills
of their country were their safest bulwarks, instead of the fortified
places which the English surpassed their neighbours in the arts of
assaulting or defending. These illustrations indicate one of the sources
of proverbs; they have often resulted from the spontaneous emotions or
the profound reflections of some extraordinary individual, whose
energetic expression was caught by a faithful ear, never to perish!

The poets have been very busy with proverbs in all the languages of
Europe: some appear to have been the favourite lines of some ancient
poem: even in more refined times, many of the pointed verses of Boileau
and Pope have become proverbial. Many trivial and laconic proverbs bear
the jingle of alliteration or rhyme, which assisted their circulation,
and were probably struck off extempore; a manner which Swift practised,
who was a ready coiner of such rhyming and ludicrous proverbs:
delighting to startle a collector by his facetious or sarcastic humour,
in the shape of an "old saying and true." Some of these rhyming
proverbs are, however, terse and elegant: we have

  Little strokes
  Fell great oaks.

The Italian--

  _Chi duo lepri caccia
  Uno perde, e l'altro lascia._

  Who hunts two hares, loses one and leaves the other.

The haughty Spaniard--

  _El dar es honor,
  Y el pedir dolor._

  To give is honour, to ask is grief.

And the French--

  _Ami de table
  Est variable._

  The friend of the table
  Is very variable.

The composers of these short proverbs were a numerous race of poets,
who, probably, among the dreams of their immortality never suspected
that they were to descend to posterity, themselves and their works
unknown, while their extempore thoughts would be repeated by their own

Proverbs were at length consigned to the people, when books were
addressed to scholars; but the people did not find themselves so
destitute of practical wisdom, by preserving their national proverbs, as
some of those closet students who had ceased to repeat them. The various
humours of mankind, in the mutability of human affairs, had given birth
to every species; and men were wise, or merry, or satirical, and mourned
or rejoiced in proverbs. Nations held an universal intercourse of
proverbs, from the eastern to the western world; for we discover among
those which appear strictly national, many which are common to them all.
Of our own familiar ones several may be tracked among the snows of the
Latins and the Greeks, and have sometimes been drawn from "The Mines of
the East:" like decayed families which remain in obscurity, they may
boast of a high lineal descent whenever they recover their lost
title-deeds. The vulgar proverb, "To carry coals to Newcastle," local
and idiomatic as it appears, however, has been borrowed and applied by
ourselves; it may be found among the Persians: in the "Bustan" of Sadi
we have _Infers piper in Hindostan_; "To carry pepper to Hindostan;"
among the Hebrews, "To carry oil to the City of Olives;" a similar
proverb occurs in Greek; and in Galland's "Maxims of the East" we may
discover how many of the most common proverbs among us, as well as some
of Joe Miller's jests, are of oriental origin.

The resemblance of certain proverbs in different nations, must, however,
be often ascribed to the identity of human nature; similar situations
and similar objects have unquestionably made men think and act and
express themselves alike. All nations are parallels of each other! Hence
all paroemiographers, or collectors of proverbs, complain of the
difficulty of separating their own national proverbs from those which
have crept into the language from others, particularly when nations have
held much intercourse together. We have a copious collection of Scottish
proverbs by Kelly, but this learned man was mortified at discovering
that many which he had long believed to have been genuine Scottish, were
not only English, but French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, and Greek ones;
many of his Scottish proverbs are almost literally expressed among the
fragments of remote antiquity. It would have surprised him further had
he been aware that his Greek originals were themselves but copies, and
might have been found in D'Herbelot, Erpenius, and Golius, and in many
Asiatic works, which have been more recently introduced to the enlarged
knowledge of the European student, who formerly found his most extended
researches limited by Hellenistic lore.

Perhaps it was owing to an accidental circumstance that the proverbs of
the European nations have been preserved in the permanent form of
volumes. Erasmus is usually considered as the first modern collector,
but he appears to have been preceded by Polydore Vergil, who bitterly
reproaches Erasmus with envy and plagiarism, for passing by his
collection without even a poor compliment for the inventor! Polydore was
a vain, superficial writer, who prided himself in leading the way on
more topics than the present. Erasmus, with his usual pleasantry,
provokingly excuses himself, by acknowledging that he had forgotten his
friend's book! Few sympathise with the quarrels of authors; and since
Erasmus has written a far better book than Polydore Vergil's, the
original "_Adagia_" is left only to be commemorated in literary history
as one of its curiosities.[39]

The "Adagia" of Erasmus contains a collection of about five thousand
proverbs, gradually gathered from a constant study of the ancients.
Erasmus, blest with the genius which could enliven a folio, delighted
himself and all Europe by the continued accessions he made to a volume
which even now may be the companion of literary men for a winter day's
fireside. The successful example of Erasmus commanded the imitation of
the learned in Europe, and drew their attention to their own national
proverbs. Some of the most learned men, and some not sufficiently so,
were now occupied in this new study.

In Spain, Fernandez Nunes, a Greek professor, and the Marquis of
Santellana, a grandee, published collections of their _Refranes_, or
Proverbs, a term derived A REFERENDO, because it is often repeated. The
"Refranes o Proverbios Castellanos," par Cæsar Oudin, 1624, translated
into French, is a valuable compilation. In Cervantes and Quevedo, the
best practical illustrators, they are sown with no sparing hand. There is
an ample collection of Italian proverbs, by Florio, who was an
Englishman, of Italian origin, and who published "Il Giardino di
Ricreatione" at London, so early as in 1591, exceeding six thousand
proverbs; but they are unexplained, and are often obscure. Another
Italian in England, Torriano, in 1649, published an interesting
collection in the diminutive form of a twenty-fours. It was subsequent to
these publications in England, that in Italy, Angelus Monozini, in 1604,
published his collection; and Julius Varini, in 1642, produced his
_Scuola del Vulgo_. In France, Oudin, after others had preceded him,
published a collection of French proverbs, under the title of _Curiosités
Françoises_. Fleury de Bellingen's _Explication de Proverbes François_,
on comparing it with _Les Illustres Proverbes Historiques_, a subsequent
publication, I discovered to be the same work. It is the first attempt to
render the study of proverbs somewhat amusing. The plan consists of a
dialogue between a philosopher and a Sancho Pança, who blurts out his
proverbs with more delight than understanding. The philosopher takes
that opportunity of explaining them by the events in which they
originated, which, however, are not always to be depended on. A work of
high merit on French proverbs is the unfinished one of the Abbé Tuet,
sensible and learned. A collection of Danish proverbs, accompanied by a
French translation, was printed at Copenhagen, in a quarto volume, 1761.
England may boast of no inferior paroemiographers. The grave and
judicious Camden, the religious Herbert, the entertaining Howell, the
facetious Fuller, and the laborious Ray, with others, have preserved our
national sayings. The Scottish have been largely collected and explained
by the learned Kelly. An excellent anonymous collection, not uncommon, in
various languages, 1707; the collector and translator was Dr. J.
Mapletoft. It must be acknowledged, that although no nation exceeds our
own in sterling sense, we rarely rival the delicacy, the wit, and the
felicity of expression of the Spanish and the Italian, and the poignancy
of some of the French proverbs.

The interest we may derive from the study of proverbs is not confined to
their universal truths, nor to their poignant pleasantry; a
philosophical mind will discover in proverbs a great variety of the most
curious knowledge. The manners of a people are painted after life in
their domestic proverbs; and it would not be advancing too much to
assert, that the genius of the age might be often detected in its
prevalent ones. The learned Selden tells us, that the proverbs of
several nations were much studied by Bishop Andrews: the reason assigned
was, because "by them he knew the minds of several nations, which," said
he, "is a brave thing, as we count him wise who knows the minds and the
insides of men, which is done by knowing what is habitual to them." Lord
Bacon condensed a wide circuit of philosophical thought, when he
observed that "the genius, wit, and spirit of a nation are discovered by
their proverbs."

Proverbs peculiarly national, while they convey to us the modes of
thinking, will consequently indicate the modes of acting among a people.
The Romans had a proverbial expression for their last stake in play,
_Rem ad triarios venisse_, "the reserve are engaged!" a proverbial
expression, from which the military habits of the people might be
inferred; the _triarii_ being their reserve. A proverb has preserved a
curious custom of ancient coxcombry, which originally came from the
Greeks. To men of effeminate manners in their dress, they applied the
proverb of _Unico digitulo scalpit caput_. Scratching the head with a
single finger was, it seems, done by the critically nice youths in Rome,
that they might not discompose the economy of their hair. The Arab,
whose unsettled existence makes him miserable and interested, says,
"Vinegar given is better than honey bought." Everything of high esteem
with him who is so often parched in the desert is described as
_milk_--"How large his flow of milk!" is a proverbial expression with
the Arab to distinguish the most copious eloquence. To express a state
of perfect repose, the Arabian proverb is, "I throw the rein over my
back;" an allusion to the loosening of the cords of the camels, which
are thrown over their backs when they are sent to pasture. We discover
the rustic manners of our ancient Britons in the Cambrian proverbs; many
relate to the _hedge_. "The cleanly Briton is seen in the _hedge_: the
horse looks not on the _hedge_ but the corn: the bad husband's _hedge_
is full of gaps." The state of an agricultural people appears in such
proverbs as "You must not count your yearlings till May-day:" and their
proverbial sentence for old age is, "An old man's end is to keep sheep?"
Turn from the vagrant Arab and the agricultural Briton to a nation
existing in a high state of artificial civilization: the Chinese
proverbs frequently allude to magnificent buildings. Affecting a more
solemn exterior than all other nations, a favourite proverb with them
is, "A grave and majestic outside is, as it were, the _palace_ of the
soul." Their notion of a government is quite architectural. They say, "A
sovereign may be compared to a _hall_; his officers to the steps that
lead to it; the people to the ground on which they stand." What should
we think of a people who had a proverb, that "He who gives blows is a
master, he who gives none is a dog?" We should instantly decide on the
mean and servile spirit of those who could repeat it; and such we find
to have been that of the Bengalese, to whom the degrading proverb
belongs, derived from the treatment they were used to receive from their
Mogul rulers, who answered the claims of their creditors by a vigorous
application of the whip! In some of the Hebrew proverbs we are struck by
the frequent allusions of that fugitive people to their own history. The
cruel oppression exercised by the ruling power, and the confidence in
their hope of change in the day of retribution, was delivered in this
Hebrew proverb--"When the tale of bricks is doubled, Moses comes!" The
fond idolatry of their devotion to their ceremonial law, and to
everything connected with their sublime Theocracy, in their magnificent
Temple, is finely expressed by this proverb--"None ever took a stone out
of the Temple, but the dust did fly into his eyes." The Hebrew proverb
that "A fast for a dream, is as fire for stubble," which it kindles,
could only have been invented by a people whose superstitions attached a
holy mystery to fasts and dreams. They imagined that a religious fast
was propitious to a religious dream; or to obtain the interpretation of
one which had troubled their imagination. Peyssonel, who long resided
among the Turks, observes that their proverbs are full of sense,
ingenuity, and elegance, the surest test of the intellectual abilities
of any nation. He said this to correct the volatile opinion of De Tott,
who, to convey an idea of their stupid pride, quotes one of their
favourite adages, of which the truth and candour are admirable; "Riches
in the Indies, wit in Europe, and pomp among the Ottomans."

The Spaniards may appeal to their proverbs to show that they were a
high-minded and independent race. A Whiggish jealousy of the monarchical
power stamped itself on this ancient one, _Va el rey hasta do peude, y
no hasta do quiere_: "The king goes as far as he is able, not as far as
he desires." It must have been at a later period, when the national
genius became more subdued, and every Spaniard dreaded to find under his
own roof a spy or an informer, that another proverb arose, _Con el rey y
la inquisicion, chiton!_ "With the king and the Inquisition, hush!" The
gravity and taciturnity of the nation have been ascribed to the effects
of this proverb. Their popular but suppressed feelings on taxation, and
on a variety of dues exacted by their clergy, were murmured in
proverbs--_Lo que no lleva Christo lleva el fisco!_ "What Christ takes
not, the exchequer carries away!" They have a number of sarcastic
proverbs on the tenacious gripe of the "abad avariento," the avaricious
priest, who, "having eaten the olio offered, claims the dish!" A
striking mixture of chivalric habits, domestic decency, and epicurean
comfort, appears in the Spanish proverb, _La muger y la salsa a la mano
de la lança_: "The wife and the sauce by the hand of the lance;" to
honour the dame, and to have the sauce near.

The Italian proverbs have taken a tinge from their deep and politic
genius, and their wisdom seems wholly concentrated in their personal
interests. I think every tenth proverb, in an Italian collection, is
some cynical or some selfish maxim: a book of the world for worldlings!
The Venetian proverb, _Pria Veneziana, poi Christiane_: "First Venetian,
and then Christian!" condenses the whole spirit of their ancient
Republic into the smallest space possible. Their political proverbs no
doubt arose from the extraordinary state of a people sometimes
distracted among republics, and sometimes servile in petty courts. The
Italian says, _I popoli s'ammazzano, ed i principi s'abbracciano_: "The
people murder one another, and princes embrace one another." _Chi
prattica co' grandi, l'ultimo a tavola, e'l primo a strapazzi_: "Who
dangles after the great is the last at table, and the first at blows."
_Chi non sa adulare, non sa regnare_: "Who knows not to flatter, knows
not to reign." _Chi serve in corte muore sul' pagliato_: "Who serves at
court, dies on straw." Wary cunning in domestic life is perpetually
impressed. An Italian proverb, which is immortalised in our language,
for it enters into the history of Milton, was that by which the elegant
Wotton counselled the young poetic traveller to have--_Il viso sciolto,
ed i pensieri stretti_, "An open countenance, but close thoughts." In
the same spirit, _Chi parla semina, chi tace raccoglie_: "The talker
sows, the silent reaps;" as well as, _Fatti di miele, e ti mangieran le
mosche_: "Make yourself all honey, and the flies will devour you." There
are some which display a deep knowledge of human nature: _A Lucca ti
vidi, à Pisa ti connobbi!_ "I saw you at Lucca, I knew you at Pisa!"
_Guardati d'aceto di vin dolce_: "Beware of vinegar made of sweet wine;"
provoke not the rage of a patient man!

Among a people who had often witnessed their fine country devastated by
petty warfare, their notion of the military character was not usually
heroic. _Il soldato per far male è ben pagato_: "The soldier is well
paid for doing mischief." _Soldato, acqua, e fuoco, presto si fan
luoco_: "A soldier, fire, and water soon make room for themselves." But
in a poetical people, endowed with great sensibility, their proverbs
would sometimes be tender and fanciful. They paint the activity of
friendship, _Chi ha l'amor nel petto, ha lo sprone à i fianchi_: "Who
feels love in the breast, feels a spur in his limbs:" or its generous
passion, _Gli amici legono la borsa con un filo di ragnatelo_: "Friends
tie their purse with a cobweb's thread." They characterised the
universal lover by an elegant proverb--_Appicare il Maio ad ogn' uscio_:
"To hang every door with May;" alluding to the bough which in the
nights of May the country people are accustomed to plant before the door
of their mistress. If we turn to the French, we discover that the
military genius of France dictated the proverb _Maille à maille se fait
le haubergeon_: "Link by link is made the coat of mail;" and, _Tel coup
de langue est pire qu'un coup de lance_; "The tongue strikes deeper than
the lance;" and _Ce qui vient du tambour s'en retourne à la flute_;
"What comes by the tabor goes back with the pipe." _Point d'argent point
de Suisse_ has become proverbial, observes an Edinburgh Reviewer; a
striking expression, which, while French or Austrian gold predominated,
was justly used to characterise the illiberal and selfish policy of the
cantonal and federal governments of Switzerland, when it began to
degenerate from its moral patriotism. The ancient, perhaps the extinct,
spirit of Englishmen was once expressed by our proverb, "Better be the
head of a dog than the tail of a lion;" _i.e._, the first of the
yeomanry rather than the last of the gentry. A foreign philosopher might
have discovered our own ancient skill in archery among our proverbs; for
none but true toxophilites could have had such a proverb as, "I will
either make a shaft or a bolt of it!" signifying, says the author of
_Ivanhoe_, a determination to make one use or other of the thing spoken
of: the bolt was the arrow peculiarly fitted to the cross-bow, as that
of the long-bow was called a shaft. These instances sufficiently
demonstrate that the characteristic circumstances and feelings of a
people are discovered in their popular notions, and stamped on their
familiar proverbs.

It is also evident that the peculiar, and often idiomatic, humour of a
people is best preserved in their proverbs. There is a shrewdness,
although deficient in delicacy, in the Scottish proverbs; they are
idiomatic, facetious, and strike home. Kelly, who has collected three
thousand, informs us, that, in 1725, the Scotch were a great proverbial
nation; for that few among the better sort will converse any
considerable time, but will confirm every assertion and observation with
a Scottish proverb. The speculative Scotch of our own times have
probably degenerated in prudential lore, and deem themselves much wiser
than their proverbs. They may reply by a Scotch proverb on proverbs,
made by a great man in Scotland, who, having given a splendid
entertainment, was harshly told, that "Fools make feasts, and wise men
eat them;" but he readily answered, "Wise men make proverbs, and fools
repeat them!"

National humour, frequently local and idiomatical, depends on the
artificial habits of mankind, so opposite to each other; but there is a
natural vein, which the populace, always true to nature, preserve, even
among the gravest people. The Arabian proverb, "The barber learns his
art on the orphan's face;" the Chinese, "In a field of melons do not
pull up your shoe; under a plum-tree do not adjust your cap;"--to
impress caution in our conduct under circumstances of suspicion;--and
the Hebrew one, "He that hath had one of his family hanged may not say
to his neighbour, _hang_ up this fish!" are all instances of this sort
of humour. The Spaniards are a grave people, but no nation has equalled
them in their peculiar humour. The genius of Cervantes partook largely
of that of his country; that mantle of gravity, which almost conceals
its latent facetiousness, and with which he has imbued his style and
manner with such untranslatable idiomatic raciness, may be traced to the
proverbial erudition of his nation. "To steal a sheep, and give away the
trotters for God's sake!" is Cervantic nature! To one who is seeking an
opportunity to quarrel with another, their proverb runs, _Si quieres dar
palos a sur muger pidele al sol a bever_, "Hast thou a mind to quarrel
with thy wife, bid her bring water to thee in the sunshine!"--a very
fair quarrel may be picked up about the motes in the clearest water! On
the judges in Gallicia, who, like our former justices of peace, "for
half a dozen chickens would dispense with a dozen of penal statutes," _A
juezes Gallicianos, con los pies en las manos_: "To the judges of
Gallicia go with feet in hand;" a droll allusion to a present of
poultry, usually held by the legs. To describe persons who live high
without visible means, _Los que cabritos venden, y cabras no tienen, de
donde los vienen?_ "They that sell kids, and have no goats, how came
they by them?" _El vino no trae bragas_, "Wine wears no breeches;" for
men in wine expose their most secret thoughts. _Vino di un oreja_, "Wine
of one ear!" is good wine; for at bad, shaking our heads, both our ears
are visible; but at good the Spaniard, by a natural gesticulation
lowering on one side, shows a single ear.

Proverbs abounding in sarcastic humour, and found among every people,
are those which are pointed at rival countries. Among ourselves, hardly
has a county escaped from some popular quip; even neighbouring towns
have their sarcasms, usually pickled in some unlucky rhyme. The egotism
of man eagerly seizes on whatever serves to depreciate or to ridicule
his neighbour: nations proverb each other; counties flout counties;
obscure towns sharpen their wits on towns as obscure as themselves--the
same evil principle lurking in poor human nature, if it cannot always
assume predominance, will meanly gratify itself by insult or contempt.
They expose some prevalent folly, or allude to some disgrace which the
natives have incurred. In France, the Burgundians have a proverb, _Mieux
vaut bon repas que bel habit_; "Better a good dinner than a fine coat."
These good people are great gormandizers, but shabby dressers; they are
commonly said to have "bowels of silk and velvet;" this is, all their
silk and velvet goes for their bowels! Thus Picardy is famous for "hot
heads;" and the Norman for _son dit et son dédit_, "his saying and his
unsaying!" In Italy the numerous rival cities pelt one another with
proverbs: _Chi ha a fare con Tosco non convien esser losco_, "He who
deals with a Tuscan must not have his eyes shut." _A Venetia chi vi
nasce mal vi si pasce_, "Whom Venice breeds, she poorly feeds."

There is another source of national characteristics, frequently
producing strange or whimsical combinations; a people, from a very
natural circumstance, have drawn their proverbs from local objects, or
from allusions to peculiar customs. The influence of manners and customs
over the ideas and language of a people would form a subject of
extensive and curious research. There is a Japanese proverb, that "A fog
cannot be dispelled with a fan!" Had we not known the origin of this
proverb, it would be evident that it could only have occurred to a
people who had constantly before them fogs and fans; and the fact
appears that fogs are frequent on the coast of Japan, and that from the
age of five years both sexes of the Japanese carry fans. The Spaniards
have an odd proverb to describe those who tease and vex a person before
they do him the very benefit which they are about to confer--acting
kindly, but speaking roughly; _Mostrar primero la horca que le lugar_,
"To show the gallows before they show the town;" a circumstance alluding
to their small towns, which have a gallows placed on an eminence, so
that the gallows breaks on the eye of the traveller before he gets a
view of the town itself.

The Cheshire proverb on marriage, "Better wed over the mixon than over
the moor," that is, at home or in its vicinity; mixon alludes to the
dung, &c., in the farm-yard, while the road from Chester to London is
over the moorland in Staffordshire: this local proverb is a curious
instance of provincial pride, perhaps of wisdom, to induce the gentry of
that county to form intermarriages; to prolong their own ancient
families, and perpetuate ancient friendships between them.

In the Isle of Man a proverbial expression forcibly indicates the object
constantly occupying the minds of the inhabitants. The two Deemsters or
judges, when appointed to the chair of judgment, declare they will
render justice between man and man "as equally as the herring bone lies
between the two sides:" an image which could not have occurred to any
people unaccustomed to the herring-fishery. There is a Cornish proverb,
"Those who will not be ruled by the rudder must be ruled by the
rock"--the strands of Cornwall, so often covered with wrecks, could not
fail to impress on the imaginations of its inhabitants the two objects
from whence they drew this salutary proverb against obstinate

When Scotland, in the last century, felt its allegiance to England
doubtful, and when the French sent an expedition to the Land of Cakes, a
local proverb was revived, to show the identity of interests which
affected both nations:

  If Skiddaw hath a cap,
  Scruffel wots full well of that.

These are two high hills, one in Scotland and one in England; so near,
that what happens to the one will not be long ere it reach the other. If
a fog lodges on the one, it is sure to rain on the other; the mutual
sympathies of the two countries were hence deduced in a copious
dissertation, by Oswald Dyke, on what was called "The Union-proverb,"
which _local proverbs_ of our country Fuller has interspersed in his
"Worthies," and Ray and Grose have collected separately.

I was amused lately by a curious financial revelation which I found in
an opposition paper, where it appears that "Ministers pretend to make
their load of taxes more portable, by shifting the burden, or altering
the pressure, without, however, diminishing the weight; according to the
Italian proverb, _Accommodare le bisaccie nella strada_, 'To fit the
load on the journey:'" it is taken from a custom of the mule-drivers,
who, placing their packages at first but awkwardly on the backs of their
poor beasts, and seeing them ready to sink, cry out, "Never mind! we
must fit them better on the road!" I was gratified to discover, by the
present and some other modern instances, that the taste for proverbs was
reviving, and that we were returning to those sober times, when the
aptitude of a simple proverb would be preferred to the verbosity of
politicians, Tories, Whigs, or Radicals!

There are domestic proverbs which originate in incidents known only to
the natives of their province. Italian literature is particularly rich
in these stores. The lively proverbial taste of that vivacious people
was transferred to their own authors; and when these allusions were
obscured by time, learned Italians, in their zeal for their national
literature, and in their national love of story-telling, have written
grave commentaries even on ludicrous, but popular tales, in which the
proverbs are said to have originated. They resemble the old facetious
_contes_, whose simplicity and humour still live in the pages of
Boccaccio, and are not forgotten in those of the Queen of Navarre.

The Italians apply a proverb to a person who while he is beaten, takes
the blows quietly:--

  _Per beato ch' elle non furon pesche!_
  Luckily they were not peaches!

And to threaten to give a man--

  _Una pesca in un occhio._
  A peach in the eye,

means to give him a thrashing. This proverb, it is said, originated in
the close of a certain droll adventure. The community of the Castle
Poggibonsi, probably from some jocular tenure observed on St. Bernard's
day, pay a tribute of peaches to the court of Tuscany, which are usually
shared among the ladies in waiting, and the pages of the court. It
happened one season, in a great scarcity of peaches, that the good
people of Poggibonsi, finding them rather dear, sent, instead of the
customary tribute, a quantity of fine juicy figs, which was so much
disapproved of by the pages, that as soon as they got hold of them, they
began in rage to empty the baskets on the heads of the ambassadors of
the Poggibonsi, who, in attempting to fly as well as they could from the
pulpy shower, half-blinded, and recollecting that peaches would have
had stones in them, cried out--

  _Per beato ch' elle non furon pesche!_
  Luckily they were not peaches!

_Fare le scalée di Sant' Ambrogio_; "To mount the stairs of Saint
Ambrose," a proverb allusive to the business of the school of scandal.
Varchi explains it by a circumstance so common in provincial cities. On
summer evenings, for fresh air and gossip, the loungers met on the steps
and landing-places of the church of St. Ambrose: whoever left the party,
"they read in his book," as our commentator expresses it; and not a leaf
was passed over! All liked to join a party so well informed of one
another's concerns, and every one tried to be the very last to quit
it,--not "to leave his character behind!" It became a proverbial phrase
with those who left a company, and were too tender of their backs, to
request they would not "mount the stairs of St. Ambrose." Jonson has
well described such a company:

  You are so truly fear'd, but not beloved
  One of another, as no one dares break
  Company from the rest, lest they should fall
  Upon him absent.

There are legends and histories which belong to proverbs; and some of
the most ancient refer to incidents which have not always been
commemorated. Two Greek proverbs have accidentally been explained by
Pausanias: "He is a man of Tenedos!" to describe a person of
unquestionable veracity; and "To cut with the Tenedian axe;" to express
an absolute and irrevocable refusal. The first originated in a king of
Tenedos, who decreed that there should always stand behind the judge a
man holding an axe, ready to execute justice on any one convicted of
falsehood. The other arose from the same king, whose father having
reached his island, to supplicate the son's forgiveness for the injury
inflicted on him by the arts of a step-mother, was preparing to land;
already the ship was fastened by its cable to a rock; when the son came
down, and sternly cutting the cable with an axe, sent the ship adrift to
the mercy of the waves: hence, "to cut with the Tenedian axe," became
proverbial to express an absolute refusal. "Business to-morrow!" is
another Greek proverb, applied to a person ruined by his own neglect.
The fate of an eminent person perpetuated the expression which he
casually employed on the occasion. One of the Theban polemarchs, in the
midst of a convivial party, received despatches relating to a
conspiracy: flushed with wine, although pressed by the courier to open
them immediately, he smiled, and in gaiety laying the letter under the
pillow of his couch, observed, "Business to-morrow!" Plutarch records
that he fell a victim to the twenty-four hours he had lost, and became
the author of a proverb which was still circulated among the Greeks.

The philosophical antiquary may often discover how many a proverb
commemorates an event which has escaped from the more solemn monuments
of history, and is often the solitary authority of its existence. A
national event in Spanish history is preserved by a proverb. _Y vengar
quiniento sueldos_; "And revenge five hundred pounds!" An odd expression
to denote a person being a gentleman! but the proverb is historical. The
Spaniards of Old Castile were compelled to pay an annual tribute of five
hundred maidens to their masters, the Moors; after several battles, the
Spaniards succeeded in compromising the shameful tribute, by as many
pieces of coin: at length the day arrived when they entirely emancipated
themselves from this odious imposition. The heroic action was performed
by men of distinction, and the event perpetuated in the recollections of
the Spaniards by this singular expression, which alludes to the
dishonourable tribute, was applied to characterise all men of high
honour, and devoted lovers of their country.

Pasquier, in his _Récherches sur la France_, reviewing the periodical
changes of ancient families in feudal times, observes, that a proverb
among the common people conveys the result of all his inquiries; for
those noble houses, which in a single age declined from nobility and
wealth to poverty and meanness, gave rise to the proverb, _Cent ans
bannières et cent ans civières!_ "One hundred years a banner and one
hundred years a barrow!" The Italian proverb, _Con l'Evangilio si
diventa heretico_, "With the gospel we become heretics,"--reflects the
policy of the court of Rome; and must be dated at the time of the
Reformation, when a translation of the Scriptures into the vulgar tongue
encountered such an invincible opposition. The Scotch proverb, _He that
invented the maiden first hanselled it_; that is, got the first of it!
The maiden is that well-known beheading engine, revived by the French
surgeon Guillotine. This proverb may be applied to one who falls a
victim to his own ingenuity; the artificer of his own destruction! The
inventor was James, Earl of Morton, who for some years governed
Scotland, and afterwards, it is said, very unjustly suffered by his own
invention. It is a striking coincidence, that the same fate was shared
by the French reviver; both alike sad examples of disturbed times! Among
our own proverbs a remarkable incident has been commemorated; _Hand over
head, as the men took the Covenant!_ This preserves the manner in which
the Scotch covenant, so famous in our history, was violently taken by
above sixty thousand persons about Edinburgh, in 1638; a circumstance at
that time novel in our own revolutionary history, and afterwards
paralleled by the French in voting by "acclamation." An ancient English
proverb preserves a curious fact concerning our coinage. _Testers are
gone to Oxford, to study at Brazennose._ When Henry the Eighth debased
the silver coin, called _testers_, from their having a head stamped on
one side; the brass, breaking out in red pimples on their silver faces,
provoked the ill-humour of the people to vent itself in this punning
proverb, which has preserved for the historical antiquary the popular
feeling which lasted about fifty years, till Elizabeth reformed the
state of the coinage. A northern proverb among us has preserved the
remarkable idea which seems to have once been prevalent, that the
metropolis of England was to be the city of York; _Lincoln was, London
is, York shall be!_ Whether at the time of the union of the crowns,
under James the First, when England and Scotland became Great Britain,
this city, from its centrical situation, was considered as the best
adapted for the seat of government, or for some other cause which I have
not discovered, this notion must have been prevalent to have entered
into a proverb. The chief magistrate of York is the only provincial one
who is allowed the title of Lord Mayor; a circumstance which seems
connected with this proverb.

The Italian history of its own small principalities, whose well-being so
much depended on their prudence and sagacity, affords many instances of
the timely use of a proverb. Many an intricate negotiation has been
contracted through a good-humoured proverb,--many a sarcastic one has
silenced an adversary; and sometimes they have been applied on more
solemn, and even tragical occasions. When Rinaldo degli Albizzi was
banished by the vigorous conduct of Cosmo de' Medici, Machiavel tells us
the expelled man sent Cosmo a menace, in a proverb, _La gallina covava!_
"The hen is brooding!" said of one meditating vengeance. The undaunted
Cosmo replied by another, that "There was no brooding out of the nest!"

I give an example of peculiar interest; for it is perpetuated by Dante,
and is connected with the character of Milton.

When the families of the Amadei and the Uberti felt their honour wounded
in the affront the younger Buondelmonte had put upon them, in breaking
off his match with a young lady of their family, by marrying another, a
council was held, and the death of the young cavalier was proposed as
the sole atonement for their injured honour. But the consequences which
they anticipated, and which afterwards proved so fatal to the
Florentines, long suspended their decision. At length Moscha Lamberti
suddenly rising, exclaimed, in two proverbs, "That those who considered
everything would never conclude on anything!" closing with an ancient
proverbial saying--_cosa fatta capo ha!_ "a deed done has an end!" The
proverb sealed the fatal determination, and was long held in mournful
remembrance by the Tuscans; for, according to Villani, it was the cause
and beginning of the accursed factions of the Guelphs and the
Ghibellines. Dante has thus immortalised the energetic expression in a
scene of the "Inferno."

  Ed un, ch' avea l'una e l'altra man mozza,
  Levando i moncherin per l'aura fosca,
  Si che 'l sangue facea la faccia sozza,
  Gridò:--"Ricorderati anche del Mosca,
  Che dissi, lasso: _Capo ha cosa fatta_,
  Che fu 'l mal seme della gente Tosca."

                          ----Then one
  Maim'd of each hand, uplifted in the gloom
  The bleeding stumps, that they with gory spots
  Sullied his face, and cried--"Remember thee
  Of Mosca too--I who, alas! exclaim'd
  'The deed once done, there is an end'--that proved
  A seed of sorrow to the Tuscan race."

     CARY'S _Dante_.

This Italian proverb was adopted by Milton; for when deeply engaged in
writing "The Defence of the People," and warned that it might terminate
in his blindness, he resolvedly concluded his work, exclaiming with
great magnanimity, although the fatal prognostication had been
accomplished, _cosa fatta capo ha!_ Did this proverb also influence his
awful decision on that great national event, when the most
honest-minded fluctuated between doubts and fears?

Of a person treacherously used, the Italian proverb says that he has
eaten of

  _Le frutte di fratre Alberigo._
  The fruit of brother Alberigo.

Landino, on the following passage of Dante, preserves the tragic

  ------Io son fratre Alberigo,
  Io son quel dalle frutta del mal orto
  Che qui reprendo, &c.

     Canto xxxiii.

  "The friar Alberigo," answered he,
  "Am I, who from the evil garden pluck'd
  Its fruitage, and am here repaid the date
  More luscious for my fig."

     CARY'S _Dante_.

This was Manfred, the Lord of Fuenza, who, after many cruelties, turned
friar. Reconciling himself to those whom he had so often opposed, to
celebrate the renewal of their friendship he invited them to a
magnificent entertainment. At the end of the dinner the horn blew to
announce the dessert--but it was the signal of this dissimulating
conspirator!--and the fruits which that day were served to his guests
were armed men, who, rushing in, immolated their victims.

Among these historical proverbs none are more entertaining than those
which perpetuate national events, connected with those of another
people. When a Frenchman would let us understand that he has settled
with his creditors, the proverb is _J'ai payé tous mes Anglois_: "I have
paid all my English." This proverb originated when John, the French
king, was taken prisoner by our Black Prince. Levies of money were made
for the king's ransom, and for many French lords; and the French people
have thus perpetuated the military glory of our nation, and their own
idea of it, by making the _English_ and their _creditors_ synonymous
terms. Another relates to the same event--_Le Pape est devenu François,
et Jesus Christ Anglais_: "Now the Pope is become French and Jesus
Christ English;" a proverb which arose when the Pope, exiled from Rome,
held his court at Avignon in France; and the English prospered so well,
that they possessed more than half the kingdom. The Spanish proverb
concerning England is well known--

  _Con todo el mondo guerra,
  Y paz con Inglaterra!_

  War with the world,
  And peace with England!

Whether this proverb was one of the results of their memorable armada,
and was only coined after their conviction of the splendid folly which
they had committed, I cannot ascertain. England must always have been a
desirable ally to Spain against her potent rival and neighbour. The
Italians have a proverb, which formerly, at least, was strongly
indicative of the travelled Englishmen in their country, _Inglese
Italianato è un diavolo incarnato_; "The Italianised Englishman is a
devil incarnate." Formerly there existed a closer intercourse between
our country and Italy than with France. Before and during the reigns of
Elizabeth and James the First that land of the elegant arts modelled our
taste and manners: and more Italians travelled into England, and were
more constant residents, from commercial concerns, than afterwards when
France assumed a higher rank in Europe by her political superiority.
This cause will sufficiently account for the number of Italian proverbs
relating to England, which show an intimacy with our manners that could
not else have occurred. It was probably some sarcastic Italian, and,
perhaps, horologer, who, to describe the disagreement of persons,
proverbed our nation--"They agree like the clocks of London!" We were
once better famed for merry Christmases and their pies; and it must have
been the Italians who had been domiciliated with us who gave currency to
the proverb--_Ha piu da fare che i forni di natale in Inghilterra_: "He
has more business than English ovens at Christmas." Our pie-loving
gentry were notorious, and Shakspeare's folio was usually laid open in
the great halls of our nobility to entertain their attendants, who
devoured at once Shakspeare and their pasty. Some of those volumes have
come down to us, not only with the stains, but inclosing even the
identical piecrusts of the Elizabethan age.

I have thus attempted to develope THE ART OF READING PROVERBS; but have
done little more than indicate the theory, and must leave the skilful
student to the delicacy of the practice. I am anxious to rescue from
prevailing prejudices these neglected stores of curious amusement, and
of deep insight into the ways of man, and to point out the bold and
concealed truths which are scattered in these collections. There seems
to be no occurrence in human affairs to which some proverb may not be
applied. All knowledge was long aphoristical and traditional, pithily
contracting the discoveries which were to be instantly comprehended and
easily retained. Whatever be the revolutionary state of man, similar
principles and like occurrences are returning on us; and antiquity,
whenever it is justly applicable to our times, loses its denomination,
and becomes the truth of our own age. A proverb will often cut the knot
which others in vain are attempting to untie. Johnson, palled with the
redundant elegancies of modern composition, once said, "I fancy mankind
may come in time to write all aphoristically, except in narrative; grow
weary of preparation, and connexion, and illustration, and all those
arts by which a big book is made." Many a volume indeed has often been
written to demonstrate what a lover of proverbs could show had long been
ascertained by a single one in his favourite collections.

An insurmountable difficulty, which every paræmiographer has
encountered, is that of forming an apt, a ready, and a systematic
classification: the moral Linnæus of such a "systema naturæ" has not yet
appeared. Each discovered his predecessor's mode imperfect, but each was
doomed to meet the same fate.[40] The arrangement of proverbs has
baffled the ingenuity of every one of their collectors. Our Ray, after
long premeditation, has chosen a system with the appearance of an
alphabetical order; but, as it turns out, his system is no system, and
his alphabet is no alphabet. After ten years' labour, the good man could
only arrange his proverbs by commonplaces--by complete sentences--by
phrases or forms of speech--by proverbial similes--and so on. All these
are pursued in alphabetical order, "by the first letter of the most
'material word,' or if there be more words '_equally material_,' by that
which usually stands foremost." The most patient examiner will usually
find that he wants the sagacity of the collector to discover that word
which is "the most material," or, "the words equally material." We have
to search through all that multiplicity of divisions, or conjuring
boxes, in which this juggler of proverbs pretends to hide the ball.[41]

A still more formidable objection against a collection of proverbs, for
the impatient reader, is their unreadableness. Taking in succession a
multitude of insulated proverbs, their slippery nature resists all hope
of retaining one in a hundred; the study of proverbs must be a frequent
recurrence to a gradual collection of favourite ones, which we ourselves
must form. The experience of life will throw a perpetual freshness over
these short and simple texts; every day may furnish a new commentary;
and we may grow old, and find novelty in proverbs by their perpetual

There are, perhaps, about twenty thousand proverbs among the nations of
Europe: many of these have spread in their common intercourse; many are
borrowed from the ancients, chiefly the Greeks, who themselves largely
took them from the eastern nations. Our own proverbs are too often
deficient in that elegance and ingenuity which are often found in the
Spanish and the Italian. Proverbs frequently enliven conversation, or
enter into the business of life in those countries, without any feeling
of vulgarity being associated with them: they are too numerous, too
witty, and too wise to cease to please by their poignancy and their
aptitude. I have heard them fall from the lips of men of letters and of
statesmen. When recently the disorderly state of the manufacturers of
Manchester menaced an insurrection, a profound Italian politician
observed to me, that it was not of a nature to alarm a great nation; for
that the remedy was at hand, in the proverb of the Lazzaroni of Naples,
_Metà consiglio, metà esempio, metà denaro!_ "Half advice, half example,
half money!" The result confirmed the truth of the proverb, which, had
it been known at the time, might have quieted the honest fears of a
great part of the nation.

Proverbs have ceased to be studied or employed in conversation since
the time we have derived our knowledge from books; but in a
philosophical age they appear to offer infinite subjects for speculative
curiosity. Originating in various eras, these memorials of manners, of
events, and of modes of thinking, for historical as well as for moral
purposes, still retain a strong hold on our attention. The collected
knowledge of successive ages, and of different people, must always enter
into some part of our own! Truth and nature can never be obsolete.

Proverbs embrace the wide sphere of human existence, they take all the
colours of life, they are often exquisite strokes of genius, they
delight by their airy sarcasm or their caustic satire, the luxuriance of
their humour, the playfulness of their turn, and even by the elegance of
their imagery, and the tenderness of their sentiment. They give a deep
insight into domestic life, and open for us the heart of man, in all the
various states which he may occupy--a frequent review of proverbs should
enter into our readings; and although they are no longer the ornaments
of conversation, they have not ceased to be the treasuries of Thought!


  [29] Taylor's Translation of Plato's works, vol v. p. 36.

  [30] Shakspeare satirically alludes to the quality of such rhymes in
    his _Merchant of Venice_, Act v. Sc. 1. Speaking of one

                  "------ whose poesy was
      For all the world like cutler's poetry
      Upon a knife, _Love me, and leave me not_."

  [31] One of the _fruit trenchers_, for such these roundels are
    called in the _Gent. Mag._ for 1798, p. 398, is engraved there, and
    the inscriptions of an entire set given.--See also the Supplement to
    that volume, p. 1187. The author of the "Art of English Poesie,"
    1589, tells us they never contained above one verse, or two at the
    most, but the shorter the better. Two specimens may suffice the
    reader. One, under the symbol of a skull, thus morally discourses:--

      "Content thyself with thine estate,
      And send no poor wight from thy gate;
      For why, this counsel I you give,
      To learne to die, and die to live."

    On another, decorated with pictures of fruit, are these satirical

      "Feed and be fat: hear's pears and plums,
      Will never hurt your teeth or spoil your gums.
      And I wish those girls that painted are,
      No other food than such fine painted fare."

  [32] This constant custom of engraving "posies," as they were
    termed, on rings, is noted by many authors of the Elizabethan era.
    Lilly, in his "Euphues," addresses the ladies for a favourable
    judgment on his work, hoping it will be recorded "as you do the
    posies in your rings, which are always next to the finger not to be
    seene of him that holdeth you by the hand, and yet knowne by you
    that weare them on your hands." They were always engraved withinside
    of the ring. A MS. of the time of Charles I. furnishes us with a
    single posy, of one line, to this effect--"This hath alloy; my love
    is pure." From the same source we have the two following rhyming, or
    "double posies"--

      "Constancy and heaven are round,
      And in this the emblem's found."
      "Weare me out, love shall not waste;
      Love beyond tyme still is placed."

  [33] Heywood's "Dialogue, conteyninge the Number in Effecte of all
    the Proverbes in the English Tunge, 1561." There are more editions
    of this little volume than Warton has noticed. There is some humour
    in his narrative, but his metre and his ribaldry are heavy taxes on
    our curiosity.

  [34] The whole of Tusser's "Five Hundred Pointes of Good Husbandrie,"
    1580, was composed in quaint couplets, long remembered by the
    peasantry for their homely worldly wisdom. One, constructed for the
    bakehouse, runs thus:--

      "New bread is a drivell (waste);
      Much crust is as evil."

    Another for the dairymaid assures her--

      "Good dairie doth pleasure;
      Ill dairie spends treasure."

    Another might rival any lesson of thrift:--

      "Where nothing will last,
      Spare such as thou hast."

  [35] Townshend's Historical Collections, p. 283.

  [36] It was published in 1616: the writer only catches at some
    verbal expressions--as, for instance:--

      The vulgar proverb runs, "The more the merrier."

      The cross,--"Not so! one hand is enough in a purse."

      The proverb, "It is a great way to the bottom of the sea."

      The cross,--"Not so! it is but a stone's cast."

      The proverb, "The pride of the rich makes the labours of the poor."

      The cross,--"Not so! the labours of the poor make the pride of the

      The proverb, "He runs far who never turns."

      The cross,--"Not so! he may break his neck in a short course."

  [37] It has been suggested that this whimsical amusement has been
    lately revived, to a certain degree, in the _acting of charades_
    among juvenile parties.

  [38] Now the punning motto of a noble family.

  [39] At the ROYAL INSTITUTION there is a fine copy of Polydore
    Vergil's "Adagia," with his other work, curious in its day, _De
    Inventoribus Rerum_, printed by Frobenius, in 1521. The _wood-cuts_
    of this edition seem to me to be executed with inimitable delicacy,
    resembling a pencilling which Raphael might have envied.

  [40] Since the appearance of the present article, several collections
    of PROVERBS have been attempted. A little unpretending volume,
    entitled "Select Proverbs of all Nations, with _Notes_ and
    _Comments_, by Thomas Fielding, 1824," is not ill arranged; an
    excellent book for popular reading. The editor of a recent
    miscellaneous compilation, "The Treasury of Knowledge," has
    whimsically bordered the four sides of the pages of a Dictionary
    with as many proverbs. The plan was ingenious, but the proverbs are
    not. Triteness and triviality are fatal to a proverb.

  [41] A new edition of Ray's book, with large additions, was
    published by Bohn, in 1855, under the title of "A Handbook of
    Proverbs." It is a vast collection of "wise saws" of all ages and


"There is nothing more common," says the lively Voltaire, "than to read
and to converse to no purpose. In history, in morals, in law, in physic,
and in divinity, be careful of equivocal terms." One of the ancients
wrote a book to prove that there was no word which did not convey an
ambiguous and uncertain meaning. If we possessed this lost book, our
ingenious dictionaries of "synonyms" would not probably prove its
uselessness. Whenever _the same word_ is associated by the parties with
_different ideas_, they may converse, or controverse, till "the crack of
doom!" This with a little obstinacy and some agility in shifting his
ground, makes the fortune of an opponent. While one party is worried in
disentangling a meaning, and the other is winding and unwinding about
him with another, a word of the kind we have mentioned, carelessly or
perversely slipped into an argument, may prolong it for a century or
two--as it has happened! Vaugelas, who passed his whole life in the
study of words, would not allow that the _sense_ was to determine the
meaning of _words_; for, says he, it is the business of _words_ to
explain the _sense_. Kant for a long while discovered in this way a
facility of arguing without end, as at this moment do our political
economists. "I beseech you," exclaims a poetical critic, in the agony of
a confusion of words, on the Pope controversy, "not to ask whether I
mean _this_ or _that_!" Our critic, positive that he has made himself
understood, has shown how a few vague terms may admit of volumes of
vindication. Throw out a word, capable of fifty senses, and you raise
fifty parties! Should some friend of peace enable the fifty to repose on
one sense, that innocent word, no longer ringing the _tocsin_ of a
party, would lie in forgetfulness in the Dictionary. Still more
provoking when an identity of meaning is only disguised by different
modes of expression, and when the term has been closely sifted, to their
mutual astonishment both parties discover the same thing lying under the
bran and chaff after this heated operation. Plato and Aristotle probably
agreed much better than the opposite parties they raised up imagined;
their difference was in the manner of expression, rather than in the
points discussed. The Nominalists and the Realists, who once filled the
world with their brawls, and who from irregular words came to regular
blows, could never comprehend their alternate nonsense; "whether in
employing general terms we use _words_ or _names_ only, or whether there
is _in nature anything_ corresponding to what we mean by a _general
idea_?" The Nominalists only denied what no one in his senses would
affirm; and the Realists only contended for what no one in his senses
would deny; a hair's breadth might have joined what the spirit of party
had sundered!

Do we flatter ourselves that the Logomachies of the Nominalists and the
Realists terminated with these scolding schoolmen? Modern nonsense,
weighed against the obsolete, may make the scales tremble for awhile,
but it will lose its agreeable quality of freshness, and subside into an
equipoise. We find their spirit still lurking among our own
metaphysicians! "Lo! the Nominalists and the Realists again!" exclaimed
my learned friend, Sharon Turner, alluding to our modern doctrines on
_abstract ideas_, on which there is still a doubt whether they are
anything more than _generalising terms_.[42] Leibnitz confused his
philosophy by the term _sufficient reason_: for every existence, for
every event, and for every truth there must be a _sufficient reason_.
This vagueness of language produced a perpetual misconception, and
Leibnitz was proud of his equivocal triumphs in always affording a new
interpretation! It is conjectured that he only employed his term of
_sufficient reason_ for the plain simple word of _cause_. Even Locke,
who has himself so admirably noticed the "abuse of words," has been
charged with using vague and indefinite ones; he has sometimes employed
the words _reflection_, _mind_, and _spirit_ in so indefinite a way,
that they have confused his philosophy: thus by some ambiguous
expressions, our great metaphysician has been made to establish
doctrines fatal to the immutability of moral distinctions. Even the
eagle-eye of the intellectual Newton grew dim in the obscurity of the
language of Locke. We are astonished to discover that two such
intellects should not comprehend the same ideas; for Newton wrote to
Locke, "I beg your pardon for representing that you struck at the root
of morality in a principle laid down in your book of Ideas--and that I
took you for a Hobbist!"[43] The difference of opinion between Locke and
Reid is in consequence of an ambiguity in the word _principle_, as
employed by Reid. The removal of a solitary word may cast a luminous ray
over a whole body of philosophy: "If we had called the _infinite_ the
_indefinite_," says Condillac, in his _Traité des Sensations_, "by this
small change of a word we should have avoided the error of imagining
that we have a positive idea of _infinity_, from whence so many false
reasonings have been carried on, not only by metaphysicians, but even by
geometricians." The word _reason_ has been used with different meanings
by different writers; _reasoning_ and _reason_ have been often
confounded; a man may have an endless capacity for _reasoning_, without
being much influenced by _reason_, and to be _reasonable_, perhaps
differs from both! So Moliere tells us,

  Raisonner est l'emploi de toute ma maison;
  Et le raisonnement en bannit la raison!

In this research on "confusion of words," might enter the voluminous
history of the founders of sects, who have usually employed terms which
had no meaning attached to them, or were so ambiguous that their real
notions have never been comprehended; hence the most chimerical opinions
have been imputed to founders of sects. We may instance that of the
_Antinomians_, whose remarkable denomination explains their doctrine,
expressing that they were "against law!" Their founder was John
Agricola, a follower of Luther, who, while he lived, had kept Agricola's
follies from exploding, which they did when he asserted that there was
no such thing as sin, our salvation depending on faith, and not on
works; and when he declaimed against the _Law of God_. To what length
some of his sect pushed this verbal doctrine is known; but the real
notions of this Agricola probably never will be! Bayle considered him as
a harmless dreamer in theology, who had confused his head by Paul's
controversies with the Jews; but Mosheim, who bestows on this early
reformer the epithets of _ventosus_ and _versipellis_, windy and crafty!
or, as his translator has it, charges him with "vanity, presumption, and
artifice," tells us by the term "law," Agricola only meant the ten
commandments of Moses, which he considered were abrogated by the Gospel,
being designed for the Jews and not for the Christians. Agricola then,
by the words the "Law of God," and "that there was no such thing as
sin," must have said one thing and meant another! This appears to have
been the case with most of the divines of the sixteenth century; for
even Mosheim complains of "their want of precision and consistency in
expressing _their sentiments_, hence their real sentiments have been
misunderstood." There evidently prevailed a great "confusion of words"
among them! The _grace suffisante_ and the _grace efficace_ of the
Jansenists and the Jesuits show the shifts and stratagems by which
nonsense may be dignified. "Whether all men received from God
_sufficient grace_ for their conversion!" was an inquiry some unhappy
metaphysical theologist set afloat: the Jesuits, according to their
worldly system of making men's consciences easy, affirmed it; but the
Jansenists insisted, that this _sufficient grace_ would never be
_efficacious_, unless accompanied by _special grace_. "Then the
_sufficient grace_, which is not _efficacious_, is a contradiction in
terms, and worse, a heresy!" triumphantly cried the Jesuits, exulting
over their adversaries. This "confusion of words" thickened, till the
Jesuits introduced in this logomachy with the Jansenists papal bulls,
royal edicts, and a regiment of dragoons! The Jansenists, in despair,
appealed to miracles and prodigies, which they got up for public
representation; but, above all, to their Pascal, whose immortal satire
the Jesuits really felt was at once "sufficient and efficacious,"
though the dragoons, in settling a "confusion of words," did not boast
of inferior success to Pascal's. Former ages had, indeed, witnessed even
a more melancholy logomachy, in the _Homoousion_ and the _Homoiousion_!
An event which Boileau has immortalised by some fine verses, which, in
his famous satire on _L'Equivoque_, for reasons best known to the
Sorbonne, were struck out of the text.

  D'une _syllabe_ impie un saint _mot_ augmenté
  Remplit tous les esprits d'aigreurs si meurtrières--
  Tu fis, dans une guerre et si triste et si longue,
  Périr tant de Chrétiens, _martyrs d'une diphthongue_!

Whether the Son was similar to the substance of the Father, or of the
same substance, depended on the diphthong _oi_, which was alternately
rejected and received. Had they earlier discovered, what at length they
agreed on, that the words denoted what was incomprehensible, it would
have saved thousands, as a witness describes, "from tearing one another
to pieces." The great controversy between Abelard and St. Bernard, when
the saint accused the scholastic of maintaining heretical notions of the
Trinity, long agitated the world; yet, now that these confusers of words
can no longer inflame our passions, we wonder how these parties could
themselves differ about words to which we can attach no meaning
whatever. There have been few councils or synods where the omission or
addition of a word or a phrase might not have terminated an interminable
logomachy! At the council of Basle, for the convenience of the
disputants, John de Secubia drew up a treatise of _undeclined words_,
chiefly to determine the signification of the particles _from_, _by_,
_but_, and _except_, which it seems were perpetually occasioning fresh
disputes among the Hussites and the Bohemians. Had Jerome of Prague
known, like our Shakspeare, the virtue of an IF, or agreed with Hobbes,
that he should not have been so positive in the use of the verb IS, he
might have been spared from the flames. The philosopher of Malmsbury has
declared that "Perhaps _Judgment_ was nothing else but the composition
or joining of _two names of things, or modes_, by the verb IS." In
modern times the popes have more skilfully freed the church from this
"confusion of words." His holiness, on one occasion, standing in equal
terror of the court of France, who protected the Jesuits, and of the
court of Spain, who maintained the cause of the Dominicans, contrived a
phrase, where a comma or a full stop, placed at the beginning or the
end, purported that his holiness tolerated the opinions which he
condemned; and when the rival parties despatched deputations to the
court of Rome to plead for the period, or advocate the comma, his
holiness, in this "confusion of words," flung an unpunctuated copy to
the parties; nor was it his fault, but that of the spirit of party, if
the rage of the one could not subside into a comma, nor that of the
other close by a full period!

In jurisprudence much confusion has occurred in the uses of the term
_rights_; yet the social union and human happiness are involved in the
precision of the expression. When Montesquieu laid down, as the active
principle of a republic, _virtue_, it seemed to infer that a republic
was the best of governments. In the defence of his great work he was
obliged to define the term; and it seems that by _virtue_ he only meant
_political virtue_, the love of the country.

In politics, what evils have resulted from abstract terms to which no
ideas are affixed,--such as, "The Equality of Man--the Sovereignty or
the Majesty of the People--Loyalty--Reform--even Liberty
herself!--Public Opinion--Public Interest;" and other abstract notions,
which have excited the hatred or the ridicule of the vulgar. Abstract
ideas, as _sounds_, have been used as watchwords. The combatants will
usually be found willing to fight for words to which, perhaps, not one
of them has attached any settled signification. This is admirably
touched on by Locke, in his chapter of "Abuse of Words." "Wisdom, Glory,
Grace, &c., are words frequent enough in every man's mouth; but if a
great many of those who use them should be asked what they mean by them,
they would be at a stand, and know not what to answer--a plain proof
that though they have learned those _sounds_, and have them ready at
their tongue's end, yet there are no determined _ideas_ laid up in their
minds which are to be expressed to others by them."

When the American exclaimed that he was not represented in the House of
Commons, because he was not an elector, he was told that a very small
part of the people of England were electors. As they could not call this
an _actual representation_, they invented a new name for it, and called
it a _virtual one_. It imposed on the English nation, who could not
object that others should be taxed rather than themselves; but with the
Americans it was a sophism! and this _virtual_ representation, instead
of an _actual_ one, terminated in our separation; "which," says Mr.
Flood, "at the time appeared to have swept away most of our glory and
our territory; forty thousand lives, and one hundred millions of

That fatal expression which Rousseau had introduced, _l'Egalité des
Hommes_, which finally involved the happiness of a whole people, had he
lived he had probably shown how ill his country had understood. He could
only have referred in his mind to _political equality_, but not an
equality of possessions, of property, of authority, destructive of
social order and of moral duties, which must exist among every people.
"Liberty," "Equality," and "Reform" (innocent words!) sadly ferment the
brains of those who cannot affix any definite notions to them; they are
like those chimerical fictions in law, which declare the "sovereign
immortal, proclaim his ubiquity in various places," and irritate the
feelings of the populace, by assuming that "the king can never do
wrong!" In the time of James the Second "it is curious," says Lord
Russell, "to read the conference between the Houses on the meaning of
the words 'deserted' and 'abdicated,' and the debates in the Lords
whether or no there is an original contract between king and people."
The people would necessarily decide that "kings derived their power from
them;" but kings were once maintained by a "right divine," a "confusion
of words," derived from two opposite theories, and both only relatively
true. When we listen so frequently to such abstract terms as "the
majesty of the people," "the sovereignty of the people," whence the
inference that "all power is derived from the people," we can form no
definite notions: it is "a confusion of words," contradicting all the
political experience which our studies or our observations furnish; for
sovereignty is established to rule, to conduct, and to settle the
vacillations and quick passions of the multitude. _Public opinion_
expresses too often the ideas of one party in place; and _public
interest_ those of another party out! Political axioms, from the
circumstance of having the notions attached to them unsettled, are
applied to the most opposite ends! "In the time of the French
Directory," observes an Italian philosopher of profound views, "in the
revolution of Naples, the democratic faction pronounced that 'Every act
of a tyrannical government is in its origin illegal;' a proposition
which at first sight seems self-evident, but which went to render all
existing laws impracticable." The doctrine of the illegality of the acts
of a tyrant was proclaimed by Brutus and Cicero, in the name of the
senate, _against the populace_, who had favoured Cæsar's perpetual
dictatorship; and the populace of Paris availed themselves of it,
_against the National Assembly_.

This "confusion of words," in time-serving politics, has too often
confounded right and wrong; and artful men, driven into a corner, and
intent only on its possession, have found no difficulty in solving
doubts, and reconciling contradictions. Our own history in revolutionary
times abounds with dangerous examples from all parties; of specious
hypotheses for compliance with the government of the day or the passions
of parliament. Here is an instance in which the subtle confuser of words
pretended to substitute two consciences, by utterly depriving a man of
any! When the unhappy Charles the First pleaded that to pass the bill of
attainder against the Earl of Strafford was against his conscience, that
remarkable character of "boldness and impiety," as Clarendon
characterizes Williams, Archbishop of York, on this argument of
_conscience_ (a simple word enough), demonstrated "that there were _two
sorts of conscience_, public and private; that his public conscience as
a king might dispense with his private conscience as a man!" Such was
the ignominious argument which decided the fate of that great victim of
State! It was an impudent "confusion of words" when Prynne (in order to
quiet the consciences of those who were uneasy at warring with the king)
observed that the statute of twenty-fifth Edward the Third ran in the
singular number--"If a man shall levy war against _the king_, and
therefore could not be extended to _the houses_, who are many and public
_persons_." Later, we find Sherlock blest with the spirit of Williams,
the Archbishop of York, whom we have just left. When some did not know
how to charge and to discharge themselves of the oaths to James the
Second and to William the Third, this confounder of words discovered
that there were _two rights_, as the other had that there were _two
consciences_; one was a providential right, and the other a legal right;
one person might very righteously claim and take a thing, and another as
righteously hold and keep it; but that _whoever got the better_ had the
_providential_ right by possession; and since all authority comes from
God, the people were obliged to transfer their allegiance to him as a
king of God's making; so that he who had the providential right
necessarily had the legal one! a very simple discovery, which must,
however, have cost him some pains; for this confounder of words was
himself confounded by twelve answers by non-jurors! A French politician
of this stamp recently was suspended from his lectureship for asserting
that _the possession of the soil_ was a right; by which principle, _any
king_ reigning over a country, whether by treachery, crime, and
usurpation, was a _legitimate sovereign_. For this convenient principle
the lecturer was tried, and declared not guilty--by persons who have
lately found their advantage in a confusion of words. In treaties
between nations, a "confusion of words" has been more particularly
studied; and that negotiator has conceived himself most dexterous who,
by this abuse of words, has retained an _arrière-pensée_ which may
fasten or loosen the ambiguous expression he had so cautiously and so
finely inlaid in his mosaic of treachery. A scene of this nature I draw
out of "Mesnager's Negociation with the Court of England." When that
secret agent of Louis the Fourteenth was negotiating a peace, an
insuperable difficulty arose respecting the acknowledgment of the
Hanoverian succession. It was absolutely necessary, on this delicate
point, to quiet the anxiety of the English public and our allies; but
though the French king was willing to recognise Anne's title to the
throne, yet the settlement in the house of Hanover was incompatible with
French interests and French honour. Mesnager told Lord Bolingbroke that
"the king, his master, would consent to any such article, _looking the
other way, as might disengage him from the obligation of that
agreement_, as the occasion should present." This ambiguous language was
probably understood by Lord Bolingbroke: at the next conference his
lordship informed the secret agent "that the queen could not admit of
any _explanations, whatever her intentions might be_; that the
_succession_ was settled by act of parliament; that as to the private
sentiments of the queen, or of any about her, he could say nothing."
"All this was said with such an air, as to let me understand that he
gave a _secret assent_ to what I had proposed, &c.; but he desired me to
drop the discourse." Thus two great negotiators, both equally urgent to
conclude the treaty, found an insuperable obstacle occur, which neither
could control. Two honest men would have parted; but the "skilful
confounder of words," the French diplomatist, hit on an expedient; he
wrote the words which afterwards appeared in the preliminaries, "That
Louis the Fourteenth will acknowledge the Queen of Great Britain in that
quality, as also _the succession of the crown according to the_ PRESENT
SETTLEMENT." "The English agent," adds the Frenchman, "would have had me
add--_on the house of Hanover_, but this I entreated him not to desire
of me." The term PRESENT SETTLEMENT, then, was that article which was
LOOKING THE OTHER WAY, _to disengage his master from the obligation of
that agreement_, as occasion should present! that is, that Louis the
Fourteenth chose to understand by the PRESENT SETTLEMENT the _old one_,
by which the British crown was to be restored to the Pretender! Anne and
the English nation were to understand it in their own sense--as the _new
one_, which transferred it to the house of Hanover!

When politicians cannot rely upon each other's interpretation of _one of
the commonest words_ in our language, how can they possibly act
together? The Bishop of Winchester has proved this observation, by the
remarkable anecdote of the Duke of Portland and Mr. Pitt, who, with a
view to unite parties, were to hold a conference _on_ FAIR _and_ EQUAL
_terms_. His grace did not object to the word FAIR, but the word EQUAL
was more specific and limited; and for a necessary preliminary, he
requested Mr. Pitt to inform him what he _understood_ by the word EQUAL?
Whether Pitt was puzzled by the question, or would not deliver up an
_arrière-pensée_, he put off the explanation to the conference. But the
duke would not meet Mr. Pitt till the _word_ was explained; and this
important negotiation was broken off by not explaining a simple word
which appeared to require no explanation.

There is nothing more fatal in language than to wander from the popular
acceptation of words; and yet this popular sense cannot always accord
with precision of ideas, for it is itself subject to great changes.

Another source, therefore, of the abuse of words, is that mutability to
which, in the course of time, the verbal edifice, as well as more
substantial ones, is doomed. A familiar instance presents itself in the
titles of _tyrant_, _parasite_, and _sophist_, originally honourable
distinctions. The abuses of dominion made the appropriate title of kings
odious; the title of a magistrate, who had the care of the public
granaries of corn, at length was applied to a wretched flatterer for a
dinner; and absurd philosophers occasioned a mere denomination to become
a by-name. To employ such terms in their primitive sense would now
confuse all ideas; yet there is an affectation of erudition which has
frequently revived terms sanctioned by antiquity. Bishop Watson entitled
his vindication of the Bible "an _apology_:" this word, in its primitive
sense, had long been lost for the multitude, whom he particularly
addressed in this work, and who could only understand it in the sense
they are accustomed to. Unquestionably, many of its readers have
imagined that the bishop was offering an _excuse_ for a belief in the
Bible, instead of a _vindication_ of its truth. The word _impertinent_,
by the ancient jurisconsults, or law-counsellors, who gave their opinion
on cases, was used merely in opposition to _pertinent_--_ratio
pertinens_ is a pertinent reason, that is, a reason _pertaining_ to the
cause in question, and a _ratio impertinens_, an impertinent reason, is
an argument _not pertaining_ to the subject.[44] _Impertinent_ then
originally meant neither absurdity nor rude intrusion, as it does in our
present popular sense. The learned Arnauld having characterised a reply
of one of his adversaries by the epithet _impertinent_, when blamed for
the freedom of his language, explained his meaning by giving this
history of the word, which applies to our own language. Thus also with
us the word _indifferent_ has entirely changed: an historian, whose work
was _indifferently_ written, would formerly have claimed our attention.
In the Liturgy it is prayed that "magistrates may _indifferently_
minister justice." _Indifferently_ originally meant _impartially_. The
word _extravagant_, in its primitive signification, only signified to
digress from the subject. The Decretals, or those letters from the popes
deciding on points of ecclesiastical discipline, were at length
incorporated with the canon law, and were called _extravagant_ by
_wandering out_ of the body of the canon law, being confusedly dispersed
through that collection. When Luther had the Decretals publicly burnt at
Wittemberg, the insult was designed for the pope, rather than as a
condemnation of the canon law itself. Suppose, in the present case, two
persons of opposite opinions. The catholic, who had said that the
decretals were _extravagant_, might not have intended to depreciate
them, or make any concession to the Lutheran. What confusion of words
has the _common sense_ of the Scotch metaphysicians introduced into
philosophy! There are no words, perhaps, in the language which may be so
differently interpreted; and Professor Dugald Stewart has collected, in
a curious note in the second volume of his "Philosophy of the Human
Mind," a singular variety of its opposite significations. The Latin
phrase, _sensus communis_, may, in various passages of Cicero, be
translated by our phrase _common sense_; but, on other occasions, it
means something different; the _sensus communis_ of the schoolmen is
quite another thing, and is synonymous with _conception_, and referred
to the seat of intellect; with Sir John Davies, in his curious
metaphysical poem, _common sense_ is used as _imagination_. It created a
controversy with Beattie and Reid; and Reid, who introduced this vague
ambiguous phrase in philosophical language, often understood the term in
its ordinary acceptation. This change of the meaning of words, which is
constantly recurring in metaphysical disputes, has made that curious but
obscure science liable to this objection of Hobbes, "with many words
making nothing understood!"

Controversies have been keenly agitated about the principles of morals,
which resolve entirely into _verbal disputes_, or at most into questions
of arrangement and classification, of little comparative moment to the
points at issue. This observation of Mr. Dugald Stewart's might be
illustrated by the fate of the numerous inventors of systems of thinking
or morals, who have only employed very different and even opposite terms
in appearance to express the same thing. Some, by their mode of
philosophising, have strangely unsettled the words _self-interest_ and
_self-love_; and their misconceptions have sadly misled the votaries of
these systems of morals; as others also by such vague terms as "utility,
fitness," &c.

When Epicurus asserted that the sovereign good consisted in _pleasure_,
opposing the unfeeling austerity of the Stoics by the softness of
pleasurable emotions, his principle was soon disregarded; while his
_word_, perhaps chosen in the spirit of paradox, was warmly adopted by
the sensualist. Epicurus, of whom Seneca has drawn so beautiful a
domestic scene, in whose garden a loaf, a Cytheridean cheese, and a
draught which did not inflame thirst,[45] was the sole banquet, would
have started indignantly at

  The fattest hog in Epicurus' sty!

Such are the facts which illustrate that principle in "the abuse of
words," which Locke calls "an affected obscurity arising from applying
_old words to new, or unusual significations_."

It was the same "confusion of words" which gave rise to the famous sect
of the Sadducees. The master of its founder Sadoc, in his moral purity,
was desirous of a disinterested worship of the Deity; he would not have
men like slaves, obedient from the hope of reward or the fear of
punishment. Sadoc drew a quite contrary inference from the intention of
his master, concluding that there were neither rewards nor punishments
in a future state. The result is a parallel to the fate of Epicurus. The
morality of the master of Sadoc was of the most pure and elevated kind,
but in the "confusion of words," the libertines adopted them for their
own purposes--and having once assumed that neither rewards nor
punishments existed in the after-state, they proceeded to the erroneous
consequence that man perished with his own dust!

The plainest words, by accidental associations, may suggest the most
erroneous conceptions, and have been productive of the grossest errors.
In the famous Bangorian controversy, one of the writers excites a smile
by a complaint, arising from his views of the signification of a plain
word, whose meaning he thinks had been changed by the contending
parties. He says, "the word _country_, like a great many others, such as
_church_ and kingdom, is, by the Bishop of Bangor's leave, become to
signify a _collection of ideas_ very different from its _original
meaning_; with some it implies _party_, with others _private opinion_,
and with most _interest_, and perhaps, in time, may signify _some other
country_. When this good innocent word has been tossed backwards and
forwards a little longer, some new reformer of language may arise to
reduce it to its primitive signification--_the real interest of Great
Britain!_" The antagonist of this controversialist probably retorted on
him his own term of _the real interest_, which might be a very opposite
one, according to their notions! It has been said, with what truth I
know not, that it was by a mere confusion of words that Burke was
enabled to alarm the great Whig families, by showing them their fate in
that of the French _noblesse_; they were misled by the _similitude of
names_. The French _noblesse_ had as little resemblance to our nobility
as they have to the Mandarins of China. However it may be in this case,
certain it is that the same terms misapplied have often raised those
delusive notions termed false analogies. It was long imagined in this
country, that the _parliaments_ of France were somewhat akin to our own;
but these assemblies were very differently constituted, consisting only
of lawyers in courts of law. A misnomer confuses all argument. There is
a trick which consists in bestowing good names on bad things. Vices,
thus veiled, are introduced to us as virtues, according to an old poet,

  As drunkenness, good-fellowship we call?


Or the reverse, when loyalty may be ridiculed, as

  The right divine of kings--to govern wrong!

The most innocent recreations, such as the drama, dancing, dress, have
been anathematised by puritans, while philosophers have written
elaborate treatises in their defence--the enigma is solved, when we
discover that these words suggested a set of opposite notions to each.

But the nominalists and the realists, and the _doctores fundatissimi_,
_resolutissimi_, _refulgentes_, _profundi_, and _extatici_, have left
this heirloom of logomachy to a race as subtle and irrefragable! An
extraordinary scene has recently been performed by a new company of
actors, in the modern comedy of Political Economy; and the whole
dialogue has been carried on in an inimitable "confusion of words!" This
reasoning and unreasoning fraternity never use a term as a term, but for
an explanation, and which employed by them all, signifies opposite
things, but never the plainest! Is it not, therefore, strange that they
cannot yet tell us what are _riches_? what is _rent_? what is _value_?
Monsieur Say, the most sparkling of them all, assures us that the
English writers are obscure, by their confounding, like Smith, the
denomination of _labour_. The vivacious Gaul cries out to the grave
Briton, Mr. Malthus, "If I consent to employ your word _labour_, you
must understand me," so and so! Mr. Malthus says, "Commodities are not
exchanged for commodities only; they are also exchanged for _labour_;"
and when the hypochondriac Englishman, with dismay, foresees "the glut
of markets," and concludes that we may produce more than we can consume,
the paradoxical Monsieur Say discovers that "commodities" is a _wrong
word_, for it gives a wrong idea; it should be "productions;" for his
axiom is, that "productions can only be purchased with productions."
Money, it seems, according to dictionary ideas, has no existence in his
vocabulary; for Monsieur Say has formed a sort of Berkleian conception
of wealth being immaterial, while we confine our views to its
materiality. Hence ensues from this "confusion of words," this most
brilliant paradox,--that "a glutted market is not a proof that we
produce _too much_ but that we produce _too little_! for in that case
there is not enough produced to exchange with what is produced!" As
Frenchmen excel in politeness and impudence, Monsieur Say adds, "I
revere Adam Smith; he is my master; but this first of political
economists did not understand all the phenomena of production and
consumption." We, who remain uninitiated in this mystery of explaining
the operations of trade by metaphysical ideas, and raising up theories
to conduct those who never theorise, can only start at the "confusion of
words," and leave this blessed inheritance to our sons, if ever the
science survive the logomachy.

Caramuel, a famous Spanish bishop, was a grand architect of words.
Ingenious in theory, his errors were confined to his practice: he said a
great deal and meant nothing; and by an exact dimension of his
intellect, taken at the time, it appeared that "he had genius in the
eighth degree, eloquence in the fifth, but judgment only in the second!"
This great man would not read the ancients; for he had a notion that the
moderns must have acquired all they possessed, with a good deal of their
own "into the bargain." Two hundred and sixty-two works, differing in
breadth and length, besides his manuscripts, attest, that if the world
would read his writings, they could need no other; for which purpose his
last work always referred to the preceding ones, and could never be
comprehended till his readers possessed those which were to follow. As
he had the good sense to perceive that metaphysicians abound in obscure
and equivocal terms, to avoid this "confusion of words," he invented a
jargon of his own; and to make "confusion worse confounded," projected
grammars and vocabularies by which we were to learn it; but it is
supposed that he was the only man who understood himself. He put every
author in despair by the works which he announced. This famous architect
of words, however, built more labyrinths than he could always get out
of, notwithstanding his "_cabalistical_ grammar," and his "_audacious_
grammar."[46] Yet this great Caramuel, the critics have agreed, was
nothing but a puffy giant, with legs too weak for his bulk, and only to
be accounted as a hero amidst a "confusion of words."

Let us dread the fate of Caramuel! and before we enter into discussion
with the metaphysician, first settle what he means by the nature of
_ideas_; with the politician, his notion of _liberty_ and _equality_;
with the divine, what he deems _orthodox_; with the political economist,
what he considers to be _value_ and _rent_! By this means we may avoid,
what is perpetually recurring, that extreme laxity or vagueness of
words, which makes every writer, or speaker, complain of his
predecessor, and attempt sometimes, not in the best temper, to define
and to settle the signification of what the witty South calls "those
rabble-charming words, which carry so much wildfire wrapt up in them."


  [42] Turner's "History of England," i. 514

  [43] We owe this curious unpublished letter to the zeal and care of
    Professor Dugald Stewart, in his excellent "Dissertations."

  [44] It is still a Chancery word. An answer in Chancery, &c., is
    referred for _impertinence_, reported _impertinent_--and the
    _impertinence_ ordered to be struck out, meaning only what is
    immaterial or superfluous, tending to unnecessary expense. I am
    indebted for this explanation to my friend, Mr. Merivale; and to
    another learned friend, formerly in that court, who describes its
    meaning as "an excess of words or matter in the pleadings," and who
    has received many an official fee for "expunging impertinence,"
    leaving, however, he acknowledges, a sufficient quantity to make the
    lawyers ashamed of their verbosity.

  [45] Sen. Epist. 21.

  [46] Baillet gives the dates and plans of these grammars. The
    _cabalistic_ was published in Bruxelles, 1642, in 12mo. The
    _audacious_ was in folio, printed at Frankfort, 1654.--Jugemens des
    Savans. Tome ii. 3me partie.


Political calumny is said to have been reduced into an art, like that of
logic, by the Jesuits. This itself may be a political calumny! A
powerful body, who themselves had practised the artifices of
calumniators, may, in their turn, often have been calumniated. The
passage in question was drawn out of one of the classical authors used
in their colleges. Busembaum, a German Jesuit, had composed, in
duodecimo, a "Medulla Theologiæ moralis," where, among other casuistical
propositions, there was found lurking in this old Jesuit's "marrow" one
which favoured regicide and assassination! Fifty editions of the book
had passed unnoticed; till a new one appearing at the critical moment of
Damien's attempt, the duodecimo of the old scholastic Jesuit, which had
now been amplified by its commentators into two folios, was considered
not merely ridiculous, but dangerous. It was burnt at Toulouse, in
1757, by order of the parliament, and condemned at Paris. An Italian
Jesuit published an "apology" for this theory of assassination, and the
same flames devoured it! Whether Busembaum deserved the honour bestowed
on his ingenuity, the reader may judge by the passage itself.

"Whoever would ruin a person, or a government, must begin this operation
by spreading calumnies, to defame the person or the government; for
unquestionably the calumniator will always find a great number of
persons inclined to believe him, or to side with him; it therefore
follows, that whenever the object of such calumnies is once lowered in
credit by such means, he will soon lose the reputation and power founded
on that credit, and sink under the permanent and vindictive attacks of
the calumniator." This is the politics of Satan--the evil principle
which regulates so many things in this world. The enemies of the Jesuits
have formed a list of great names who had become the victims of such
atrocious Machiavelism.[47]

This has been one of the arts practised by all political parties. Their
first weak invention is to attach to a new faction a contemptible or an
opprobrious nickname. In the history of the revolutions of Europe,
whenever a new party has at length established its independence, the
original denomination which had been fixed on them, marked by the
passions of the party which bestowed it, strangely contrasts with the
state of the party finally established!

The first revolutionists of Holland incurred the contemptuous name of
"Les Gueux," or the Beggars. The Duchess of Parma inquiring about them,
the Count of Barlamont scornfully described them to be of this class;
and it was flattery of the great which gave the name currency. The
Hollanders accepted the name as much in defiance as with indignation,
and acted up to it. Instead of brooches in their hats, they wore little
wooden platters, such as beggars used, and foxes' tails instead of
feathers. On the targets of some of these _Gueux_ they inscribed "Rather
Turkish than Popish!" and had the print of a cock crowing, out of whose
mouth was a label, _Vive les Gueux par tout le monde!_ which was
everywhere set up, and was the favourite sign of their inns. The
Protestants in France, after a variety of nicknames to render them
contemptible--such as _Christodins_, because they would only talk about
Christ, similar to our Puritans; and _Parpaillots_, or _Parpirolles_, a
small base coin, which was odiously applied to them--at length settled
in the well-known term of _Huguenots_, which probably was derived, as
the Dictionnaire de Trévoux suggests, from their hiding themselves in
secret places, and appearing at night, like King Hugon, the great
hobgoblin of France. It appears that the term has been preserved by an
earthen vessel without feet, used in cookery, which served the
_Huguenots_ on meagre days to dress their meat, and to avoid
observation; a curious instance, where a thing still in use proves the
obscure circumstance of its origin.

The atrocious insurrection, called _La Jacquerie_, was a term which
originated in cruel derision. When John of France was a prisoner in
England, his kingdom appears to have been desolated by its wretched
nobles, who, in the indulgence of their passions, set no limits to their
luxury and their extortion. They despoiled their peasantry without
mercy, and when these complained, and even reproached this tyrannical
nobility with having forsaken their sovereign, they were told that
_Jacque bon homme_ must pay for all. But _Jack good-man_ came forward in
person--a leader appeared under this fatal name, and the peasants
revolting in madness, and being joined by all the cut-throats and
thieves of Paris, at once pronounced condemnation on every gentleman in
France! Froissart has the horrid narrative; twelve thousand of these
_Jacques bon hommes_ expiated their crimes; but the _Jacquerie_, who had
received their first appellation in derision, assumed it as their _nom
de guerre_.

In the spirited Memoirs of the Duke of Guise, written by himself, of his
enterprise against the kingdom of Naples, we find a curious account of
this political art of marking people by odious nicknames. "Gennaro and
Vicenzo," says the duke, "cherished underhand that aversion the
rascality had for the better sort of citizens and civiller people, who,
by the insolencies they suffered from these, not unjustly hated them.
The better class inhabiting the suburbs of the Virgin were called _black
cloaks_, and the ordinary sort of people took the name of _lazars_, both
in French and English an old word for leprous beggar, and hence the
_lazaroni_ of Naples." We can easily conceive the evil eye of a _lazar_
when he encountered a _black cloak_! The Duke adds--"Just as, at the
beginning of the revolution, the revolters in Flanders formerly took
that of _beggars_; those of Guienne, that of _eaters_; those of
Normandy that of _bare-feet_; and of Beausse and Soulogne, of
_wooden-pattens_." In the late French revolution, we observed the
extremes indulged by both parties chiefly concerned in revolution--the
wealthy and the poor! The rich, who, in derision, called their humble
fellow-citizens by the contemptuous term of _sans-culottes_, provoked a
reacting injustice from the populace, who, as a dreadful return for only
a slight, rendered the innocent term of _aristocrate_ a signal for
plunder or slaughter!

It is a curious fact that the French verb _fronder_, as well the noun
_frondeur_, are used to describe those who condemn the measures of
government; and more extensively, designates any hyperbolical and
malignant criticism, or any sort of condemnation. These words have only
been introduced into the language since the intrigues of Cardinal de
Retz succeeded in raising a faction against Cardinal Mazarin, known in
French history by the nickname of the _Frondeurs_, or the Slingers. It
originated in pleasantry, although it became the password for
insurrection in France, and the odious name of a faction. A wit
observed, that the parliament were like those school-boys, who fling
their stones in the pits of Paris, and as soon as they see the
_Lieutenant Civil_, run away; but are sure to collect again directly he
disappears. The comparison was lively, and formed the burthen of songs;
and afterwards, when affairs were settled between the king and the
parliament, it was more particularly applied to the faction of Cardinal
de Retz, who still held out. "We encouraged the application," says de
Retz; "for we observed that the distinction of a name heated the minds
of people; and one evening we resolved to wear hat-strings in the form
of slings. A hatter, who might be trusted with the secret, made a great
number as a new fashion, and which were worn by many who did not
understand the joke; we ourselves were the last to adopt them, that the
invention might not appear to have come from us. The effect of this
trifle was immense; every fashionable article was now to assume the
shape of a sling; bread, hats, gloves, handkerchiefs, fans, &c.; and we
ourselves became more in fashion by this folly, than by what was
essential." This revolutionary term was never forgotten by the French, a
circumstance which might have been considered as prognostic of that
after-revolution, which de Retz had the imagination to project, but not
the daring to establish. We see, however, this great politician,
confessing the advantages his party derived by encouraging the
application of a by-name, which served "to heat the minds of people."

It is a curious circumstance that I should have to recount in this
chapter on "Political Nicknames" a familiar term with all lovers of art,
that of _Silhouette_! This is well understood as a _black profile_; but
it is more extraordinary that a term so universally adopted should not
be found in any dictionary, either in that of _L'Académie_, or in
Todd's, and has not even been preserved, where it is quite
indispensable, in Millin's _Dictionnaire des Beaux-Arts_! It is little
suspected that this innocent term originated in a political nickname!
_Silhouette_ was a minister of state in France in 1759; that period was
a critical one; the treasury was in an exhausted condition, and
Silhouette, a very honest man, who would hold no intercourse with
financiers or loan-mongers, could contrive no other expedient to prevent
a national bankruptcy, than excessive economy and interminable reform!
Paris was not the metropolis, any more than London, where a Plato or a
Zeno could long be minister of state without incurring all the ridicule
of the wretched wits! At first they pretended to take his advice, merely
to laugh at him:--they cut their coats shorter, and wore them without
sleeves; they turned their gold snuff-boxes into rough wooden ones; and
the new-fashioned portraits were now only profiles of a face, traced by
a black pencil on the shadow cast by a candle on white paper! All the
fashions assumed an air of niggardly economy, till poor Silhouette was
driven into retirement, with all his projects of savings and reforms;
but he left his name to describe the most economical sort of portrait,
and one as melancholy as his own fate!

This political artifice of appropriating cant terms, or odious
nicknames, could not fail to flourish among a people so perpetually
divided by contending interests as ourselves; every party with us have
had their watchword, which has served either to congregate themselves,
or to set on the ban-dogs of one faction to worry and tear those of
another. We practised it early, and we find it still prospering! The
_Puritan_ of Elizabeth's reign survives to this hour; the trying
difficulties which that wise sovereign had to overcome in settling the
national religion, found no sympathy in either of the great divisions of
her people; she retained as much of the catholic rites as might be
decorous in the new religion, and sought to unite, and not to separate,
her children. John Knox, in the spirit of charity, declared, that "she
was neither gude protestant, nor yet resolute papist; let the world
judge quilk is the third."

A jealous party arose, who were for reforming the reformation. In their
attempt at more than human purity, they obtained the nickname of
_Puritans_; and from their fastidiousness about very small matters,
_Precisians_; these Drayton characterises as persons that for a painted
glass window would pull down the whole church. At that early period
these nicknames were soon used in an odious sense; for Warner, a poet in
the reign of Elizabeth, says,--

  If hypocrites why _puritaines_ we term be asked, in breese,
  'Tis but an _ironised terme_; good-fellow so spels theese!

Honest Fuller, who knew that many good men were among these _Puritans_,
wished to decline the term altogether, under the less offensive one of
_Non-conformists_. But the fierce and the fiery of this party, in
Charles the First's time had been too obtrusive not to fully merit the
ironical appellative; and the peaceful expedient of our moderator
dropped away with the page in which it was written. The people have
frequently expressed their own notions of different parliaments by some
apt nickname. In Richard the Second's time, to express their dislike of
the extraordinary and irregular proceedings of the lords against the
sovereign, as well as their sanguinary measures, they called it "The
_wonder-working_ and the _unmerciful_ parliament." In Edward the Third's
reign, when the Black Prince was yet living, the parliament, for having
pursued with severity the party of the Duke of Lancaster, was so
popular, that the people distinguished it as the _good_ parliament. In
Henry the Third's time, the parliament opposing the king, was called
"_Parliamentum insanum_," the mad parliament, because the lords came
armed to insist on the confirmation of the great charter. A Scottish
parliament, from its perpetual shiftings from place to place was
ludicrously nicknamed the _running_ parliament; in the same spirit we
had our _long_ parliament. The nickname of _Pensioner_ parliament stuck
to the House of Commons which sate nearly eighteen years without
dissolution, under Charles the Second; and others have borne satirical
or laudatory epithets. So true it is, as old Holingshed observed, "The
common people will manie times give such _bie names_ as seemeth _best
liking to themselves_." It would be a curious speculation to discover
the sources of the popular feeling; influenced by delusion, or impelled
by good sense!

The exterminating political nickname of _malignant_ darkened the nation
through the civil wars: it was a proscription--and a list of _good_ and
_bad_ lords was read by the leaders of the first tumults. Of all these
inventions, this diabolical one was most adapted to exasperate the
animosities of the people, so often duped by names. I have never
detected the active man of faction who first hit on this odious brand
for persons, but the period when the word changed its ordinary meaning
was early; Charles, in 1642, retorts on the parliamentarians the
opprobrious distinction, as "The _true malignant party_ which has
contrived and countenanced those barbarous tumults." And the royalists
pleaded for themselves, that the hateful designation was ill applied to
them: "for by _malignity_ you denote," said they, "activity in doing
evil, whereas we have always been on the suffering side in our persons,
credits, and estates;" but the parliamentarians, "grinning a ghastly
smile," would reply, that "the royalists would have been _malignant_ had
they proved successful." The truth is, that _malignancy_ meant with both
parties any opposition of opinion. At the same period the offensive
distinctions of _roundheads_ and _cavaliers_ supplied the people with
party names, who were already provided with so many religious as well as
civil causes of quarrel; the cropt heads of the sullen sectaries and the
people, were the origin of the derisory nickname; the splendid elegance
and the romantic spirit of the royalists long awed the rabble, who in
their mockery could brand them by no other appellation than one in which
their bearers gloried. In the distracted times of early revolution, any
nickname, however vague, will fully answer a purpose, although neither
those who are blackened by the odium, nor those who cast it, can define
the hateful appellative. When the term of _delinquents_ came into vogue,
it expressed a degree and species of guilt, says Hume, not exactly known
or ascertained. It served, however, the end of those revolutionists who
had coined it, by involving any person in, or colouring any action by,
_delinquency_; and many of the nobility and gentry were, without any
questions being asked, suddenly discovered to have committed the crime
of _delinquency_! Whether honest Fuller be facetious or grave on this
period of nicknaming parties I will not decide; but, when he tells us
that there was another word which was introduced into our nation at this
time, I think at least that the whole passage is an admirable commentary
on this party vocabulary. "Contemporary with _malignants_ is the word
_plunder_, which some make of Latin original, from _planum dare_, to
_level_, to _plane_ all to nothing! Others of Dutch extraction, as if it
were to _plume_, or pluck the feathers of a bird to the bare skin.[48]
Sure I am we first heard of it in the Swedish wars; and if the name and
thing be sent back from whence it came few English eyes would weep
thereat." All England had wept at the introduction of the word. The
_rump_ was the filthy nickname of an odious faction--the history of this
famous appellation, which was at first one of horror, till it afterwards
became one of derision and contempt, must be referred to another place.
The _rump_ became a perpetual whetstone for the loyal wits,[49] till at
length its former admirers, the rabble themselves, in town and country,
vied with each other in "_burning rumps_" of beef, which were hung by
chains on a gallows with a bonfire underneath, and proved how the
people, like children, come at length to make a plaything of that which
was once their bugbear.

Charles the Second, during the short holiday of the restoration--all
holidays seem short!--and when he and the people were in good humour,
granted anything to every one,--the mode of "Petitions" got at length
very inconvenient, and the king in council declared that this
petitioning was "A method set on foot by ill men to promote discontents
among the people," and enjoined his loving subjects not to subscribe
them. The petitioners, however, persisted--when a new party rose to
express their abhorrence of petitioning; both parties nicknamed each
other the _petitioners_ and the _abhorrers_! Their day was short, but
fierce; the _petitioners_, however weak in their cognomen, were far the
bolder of the two, for the commons were with them, and the _abhorrers_
had expressed by their term rather the strength of their inclinations
than of their numbers. Charles the Second said to a _petitioner_ from
Taunton, "How _dare_ you deliver me such a paper?" "Sir," replied the
petitioner from Taunton, "my name is DARE!" A saucy reply, for which he
was tried, fined, and imprisoned; when lo! the commons petitioned again
to release the _petitioner_! "The very name," says Hume, "by which each
party denominated its antagonists discovers the virulence and rancour
which prevailed; for besides _petitioner_ and _abhorrer_, this year is
remarkable for being the epoch of the well-known epithets of _whig_ and
_tory_." These silly terms of reproach, whig and tory, are still
preserved among us, as if the palladium of British liberty was guarded
by these exotic names, for they are not English, which the parties so
invidiously bestow on each other. They are ludicrous enough in their
origin. The friends of the court and the advocates of lineal succession
were, by the republican party, branded with the title of _tories_, which
was the name of certain Irish robbers;[50] while the court party in
return could find no other revenge than by appropriating to the
covenanters and the republicans of that class the name of the Scotch
beverage of sour milk, whose virtue they considered so expressive of
their dispositions, and which is called _whigg_. So ridiculous in their
origin were these pernicious nicknames, which long excited feuds and
quarrels in domestic life, and may still be said to divide into two
great parties this land of political freedom. But nothing becomes
obsolete in political factions, and the meaner and more scandalous the
name affixed by one party to another the more it becomes not only their
rallying cry or their password, but even constitutes their glory. Thus
the Hollanders long prided themselves on the humiliating nickname of
"Les Gueux:" the protestants of France on the scornful one of the
_Huguenots_; the non-conformists in England on the mockery of the
_puritan_; and all parties have perpetuated their anger by their
inglorious names. Swift was well aware of this truth in political
history: "each party," says that sagacious observer, "grows proud of
that appellation which their adversaries at first intended as a
reproach; of this sort were the _Guelphs_ and the _Ghibellines_,
_Huguenots_ and _Cavaliers_."

Nor has it been only by nicknaming each other by derisory or opprobrious
terms that parties have been marked, but they have also worn a livery,
and practised distinctive manners. What sufferings did not Italy endure
for a long series of years under those fatal party-names of the
_Guelphs_ and the _Ghibellines_; alternately the victors and the
vanquished, the beautiful land of Italy drank the blood of her children.
Italy, like Greece, opens a moving picture of the hatreds and jealousies
of small republics; her _Bianchi_ and her _Neri_, her _Guelphs_ and her
_Ghibellines_! In Bologna, two great families once shook that city with
their divisions; the _Pepoli_ adopted the French interests; the
_Maluezzi_ the Spanish. It was incurring some danger to walk the streets
of Bologna, for the _Pepoli_ wore their feathers on the right side of
their caps, and the _Maluezzi_ on the left. Such was the party-hatred of
the two great Italian factions, that they carried their rancour even
into their domestic habits; at table the _Guelphs_ placed their knives
and spoons longwise, and the _Ghibellines_ across; the one cut their
bread across, the other longwise. Even in cutting an orange they could
not agree; for the _Guelph_ cut his orange horizontally, and the
_Ghibelline_ downwards. Children were taught these artifices of
faction--their hatreds became traditional, and thus the Italians
perpetuated the full benefits of their party-spirit from generation to

Men in private life go down to their graves with some unlucky name, not
received in baptism, but more descriptive and picturesque; and even
ministers of state have winced at a political christening. Malagrida the
Jesuit and Jemmy Twitcher were nicknames which made one of our ministers
odious, and another contemptible.[52] The Earl of Godolphin caught such
fire at that of Volpone, that it drove him into the opposite party, for
the vindictive purpose of obtaining the impolitical prosecution of
Sacheverell, who, in his famous sermon, had first applied it to the
earl, and unluckily it had stuck to him.

"Faction," says Lord Orford, "is as capricious as fortune; wrongs,
oppression, the zeal of real patriots, or the genius of false ones, may
sometimes be employed for years in kindling substantial opposition to
authority; in other seasons the impulse of a moment, a _ballad_, a
_nickname_, a _fashion_ can throw a city into a tumult, and shake the
foundations of a state."

Such is a slight history of the human passions in politics! We might
despair in thus discovering that wisdom and patriotism so frequently
originate in this turbid source of party; but we are consoled when we
reflect that the most important political principles are immutable: and
that they are those which even the spirit of party must learn to


  [47] See Recueil Chronologique et Analytique de tout ce qui a fait en
    Portugal la Société de Jesus. Vol. ii. sect. 406.

  [48] _Plunder_, observed Mr. Douce, is pure Dutch or
    Flemish--_Plunderen_, from _Plunder_, which means _property_ of any
    kind. May tells us it was brought by those officers who had returned
    from the wars of the Netherlands.

  [49] One of the best collections of political songs written during
    the great Civil War, is entitled "The Rump," and has a curious
    frontispiece representing the mob burning rumps as described above.

  [50] The "History of the Tories and Rapparees" was a popular Irish
    chapbook a few years ago, and devoted to the daring acts of these

  [51] These curious particulars I found in a manuscript.

  [52] Lord Shelburne was named "Malagrida," and Lord Sandwich was
    "Jemmy Twitcher;" a name derived from the chief of Macheath's gang
    in the _Beggar's Opera_.


The dogmatism of Johnson, and the fastidiousness of Gray, the critic who
passed his days amidst "the busy hum of men," and the poet who mused in
cloistered solitude, have fatally injured a fine natural genius in
Shenstone. Mr. Campbell, with a brother's feeling, has (since the
present article was composed) sympathised with the endowments and the
pursuits of this poet; but the facts I had collected seemed to me to
open a more important view. I am aware how lightly the poetical
character of Shenstone is held by some great contemporaries--although
this very poet has left us at least one poem of unrivalled originality.
Mr. Campbell has regretted that Shenstone not only "affected that
arcadianism" which "gives a certain air of masquerade in his pastoral
character," adopted by our earlier poets, but also has "rather
incongruously blended together the rural swain with the disciple of
virtù." All this requires some explanation. It is not only as a poet,
possessing the characteristics of poetry, but as a creator in another
way, for which I claim the attention of the reader. I have formed a
picture of the domestic life of a poet, and the pursuits of a votary of
taste, both equally contracted in their endeavours, from the habits, the
emotions, and the events which occurred to Shenstone.

Four material circumstances influenced his character, and were
productive of all his unhappiness. The neglect he incurred in those
poetical studies to which he had devoted his hopes; his secret sorrows
in not having formed a domestic union, from prudential motives, with one
whom he loved; the ruinous state of his domestic affairs, arising from a
seducing passion for creating a new taste in landscape gardening and an
ornamented farm; and finally, his disappointment of that promised
patronage, which might have induced him to have become a political
writer; for which his inclinations, and, it is said, his talents in
early life, were alike adapted: with these points in view, we may trace
the different states of his mind, show what he did, and what he was
earnestly intent to have done.

Why have the "Elegies" of Shenstone, which forty years ago formed for
many of us the favourite poems of our youth, ceased to delight us in
mature life? It is perhaps that these Elegies, planned with peculiar
felicity, have little in their execution. They form a series of poetical
truths, devoid of poetical expression; truths,--for notwithstanding the
pastoral romance in which the poet has enveloped himself, the subjects
are real, and the feelings could not, therefore, be fictitious.

In a Preface, remarkable for its graceful simplicity, our poet tells us,
that "He entered on his subjects occasionally, as particular _incidents
in life_ suggested, or _dispositions of mind_ recommended them to his
choice." He shows that "He drew his pictures from the spot, and, he felt
very sensibly the affections he communicates." He avers that all those
attendants on rural scenery, and all those allusions to rural life, were
not the counterfeited scenes of a town poet, any more than the
sentiments, which were inspired by Nature. Shenstone's friend Graves,
who knew him in early life, and to his last days, informs us that these
Elegies were written when he had taken the Leasowes into his own
hands;[53] and though his _ferme ornée_ engaged his thoughts, he
occasionally wrote them, "partly," said Shenstone, "to divert my present
impatience, and partly, as it will be a picture of most that passes in
my own mind; a portrait which friends may value." This, then, is the
secret charm which acts so forcibly on the first emotions of our youth,
at a moment when, not too difficult to be pleased, the reflected
delineations of the habits and the affections, the hopes and the
delights, with all the domestic associations of this poet, always true
to Nature, reflect back that picture of ourselves which we instantly
recognise. It is only as we advance in life that we lose the relish of
our early simplicity, and that we discover that Shenstone was not
endowed with high imagination.

These Elegies, with some other poems, may be read with a new interest
when we discover them to form the true Memoirs of Shenstone. Records of
querulous but delightful feelings! whose subjects spontaneously offered
themselves from passing incidents; they still perpetuate emotions which
will interest the young poet and the young lover of taste.

Elegy IV., the first which Shenstone composed, is entitled "Ophelia's
Urn," and it was no unreal one! It was erected by Graves in Mickleton
Church, to the memory of an extraordinary young woman, Utrecia Smith,
the literary daughter of a learned but poor clergyman. Utrecia had
formed so fine a taste for literature, and composed with such elegance
in verse and prose, that an excellent judge declared that "he did not
like to form his opinion of any author till he previously knew hers."
Graves had been long attached to her, but from motives of prudence broke
off an intercourse with this interesting woman, who sunk under this
severe disappointment. When her prudent lover, Graves, inscribed the
urn, her friend Shenstone, perhaps more feelingly, commemorated her
virtues and her tastes. Such, indeed, was the friendly intercourse
between Shenstone and Utrecia, that in Elegy XVIII., written long after
her death, she still lingered in his reminiscences. Composing this Elegy
on the calamitous close of Somerville's life, a brother bard, and victim
to narrow circumstances, and which he probably contemplated as an image
of his own, Shenstone tenderly recollects that he used to read
Somerville's poems to Utrecia:--

  Oh, lost Ophelia; smoothly flow'd the day
    To feel his music with my flames agree;
  To taste the beauties of his melting lay,
    To taste, and fancy it was dear to thee!

How true is the feeling! how mean the poetical expression!

The Seventh Elegy describes a vision, where the shadow of Wolsey breaks
upon the author:

  A graceful form appear'd,
  White were his locks, with awful scarlet crown'd.

Even this fanciful subject was not chosen capriciously, but sprung from
an incident. Once, on his way to Cheltenham, Shenstone missed his road,
and wandered till late at night among the Cotswold Hills on this
occasion he appears to have made a moral reflection, which we find in
his "Essays." "How melancholy is it to travel late upon any ambitious
project on a winter's night, and observe the light of cottages, where
all the unambitious people are warm and happy, or at rest in their
beds." While the benighted poet, lost among the lonely hills, was
meditating on "ambitious projects," the character of Wolsey arose before
him; the visionary cardinal crossed his path, and busied his
imagination. "Thou," exclaims the poet,

                      Like a meteor's fire,
  Shot'st blazing forth, disdaining dull degrees.

     _Elegy_ vii.

And the bard, after discovering all the miseries of unhappy grandeur,
and murmuring at this delay to the house of his friend, exclaims--

  Oh if these ills the price of power advance,
  Check not my speed where social joys invite!

The silent departure of the poetical spectre is fine:

  The troubled vision cast a mournful glance,
  And sighing, vanish'd in the shades of night.

And to prove that the subject of this elegy thus arose to the poet's
fancy, he has himself commemorated the incident that gave occasion to
it, in the opening:--

  On distant heaths, beneath autumnal skies,
    Pensive I saw the circling shades descend;
  Weary and faint, I heard the storm arise,
    While the sun vanish'd like a faithless friend.

     _Elegy_ vii.

The Fifteenth Elegy, composed "in memory of a private family in
Worcestershire," is on the extinction of the ancient family of the Penns
in the male line.[54] Shenstone's mother was a Penn; and the poet was
now the inhabitant of their ancient mansion, an old timber-built house
of the age of Elizabeth. The local description was a real scene--"the
shaded pool"--"the group of ancient elms"--"the flocking rooks," and the
picture of the simple manners of his own ancestors, were realities; the
emotions they excited were therefore genuine, and not one of those
"mockeries" of amplification from the crowd of verse-writers.

The Tenth Elegy, "To Fortune, suggesting his Motive for repining at her
Dispensations," with his celebrated "Pastoral Ballad, in four parts."
were alike produced by what one of the great minstrels of our own times
has so finely indicated when he sung--

  The secret woes the world has never known;
    While on the weary night dawn'd wearier day,
  And bitterer was the grief devour'd alone.

In this Elegy Shenstone repines at the dispensations of Fortune, not for
having denied him her higher gifts, nor that she compels him to

  Check the fond LOVE OF ART that fired my veins;

nor that some "dull dotard with boundless wealth" finds his "grating
reed" preferred to the bard's, but that the "tawdry shepherdess" of this
dull dotard, by her "pride," makes "the rural thane" despise the poet's

  Must Delia's softness, elegance, and ease,
    Submit to Marian's dress? to Marian's gold?
  Must Marian's robe from distant India please?
    The simple fleece my Delia's limbs infold!

  Ah! what is native worth esteemed of clowns?
    'Tis thy false glare, O Fortune! thine they see;
  Tis for my Delia's sake I dread thy frowns,
    And my last gasp shall curses breathe on thee!

The Delia of our poet was not an "Iris en air." Shenstone was early in
life captivated by a young lady, whom Graves describes with all those
mild and serene graces of pensive melancholy, touched by plaintive
love-songs and elegies of woe, adapted not only to be the muse but the
mistress of a poet. The sensibility of this passion took entire
possession of his heart for some years, and it was in parting from her
that he first sketched his exquisite "Pastoral Ballad." As he retreated
more and more into solitude, his passion felt no diminution. Dr. Nash
informs us that Shenstone acknowledged that it was his own fault that he
did not accept the hand of the lady whom he so tenderly loved; but his
spirit could not endure to be a perpetual witness of her degradation in
the rank of society, by an inconsiderate union with poetry and poverty.
That such was his motive, we may infer from a passage in one of his
letters. "Love, as it regularly tends to matrimony, requires certain
favours from fortune and circumstances to render it proper to be
indulged in." There are perpetual allusions to these "secret woes" in
his correspondence; for, although he had the fortitude to refuse
marriage, he had not the stoicism to contract his own heart in cold and
sullen celibacy. He thus alludes to this subject, which so often excited
far other emotions than those of humour:--"It is long since I have
considered myself as _undone_. The world will not, perhaps, consider me
in that light entirely till I have married my maid!"

It is probable that our poet had an intention of marrying his maid. I
discovered a pleasing anecdote among the late Mr. Bindley's collections,
which I transcribed from the original. On the back of a picture of
Shenstone himself, of which Dodsley published a print in 1780, the
following energetic inscription was written by the poet on his
new-year's gift:--

"This picture belongs to Mary Cutler, given her by her master, William
Shenstone, January 1st, 1754, in acknowledgment of her native genius,
her magnanimity, her tenderness, and her fidelity.

     "W. S."

"The Progress of Taste; or the Fate of Delicacy," is a poem on the
temper and studies of the author; and "Economy; a Rhapsody addressed to
Young Poets," abounds with self-touches. If Shenstone created little
from the imagination, he was at least perpetually under the influence of
real emotions. This is the reason why his truths so strongly operate on
the juvenile mind, not yet matured: and thus we have sufficiently
ascertained the fact, as the poet himself has expressed it, "that he
drew his pictures from the spot, and he felt very sensibly the
affections he communicates."

All the anxieties of a poetical life were early experienced by
Shenstone. He first published some juvenile productions, under a very
odd title, indicative of modesty, perhaps too of pride.[55] And his
motto of _Contentus paucis lectoribus_, even Horace himself might have
smiled at, for it only conceals the desire of every poet who pants to
deserve many! But when he tried at a more elaborate poetical labour,
"The Judgment of Hercules," it failed to attract notice. He hastened to
town, and he beat about literary coffee-houses; and returned to the
country from the chase of Fame, wearied without having started it.

  A breath revived him--but a breath o'erthrew.

Even "The Judgment of Hercules" between Indolence and Industry, or
Pleasure and Virtue, was a picture of his own feelings; an argument
drawn from his own reasonings; indicating the uncertainty of the poet's
dubious disposition; who finally by siding with Indolence, lost that
triumph which his hero obtained by a directly opposite course.

In the following year begins that melancholy strain in his
correspondence which marks the disappointment of the man who had staked
too great a quantity of his happiness on the poetical die. This is the
critical moment of life when our character is formed by habit, and our
fate is decided by choice. Was Shenstone to become an active or
contemplative being? He yielded to nature![56]

It was now that he entered into another species of poetry, working with
too costly materials, in the magical composition of plants, water, and
earth; with these he created those emotions which his more strictly
poetical ones failed to excite. He planned a paradise amidst his
solitude. When we consider that Shenstone, in developing his fine
pastoral ideas in the Leasowes, educated the nation into that taste for
landscape-gardening, which has become the model of all Europe, this
itself constitutes a claim on the gratitude of posterity.[57] Thus the
private pleasures of a man of genius may become at length those of a
whole people. The creator of this new taste appears to have received far
less notice than he merited. The name of Shenstone does not appear in
the Essay on Gardening by Lord Orford: even the supercilious Gray only
bestowed a ludicrous image on these pastoral scenes, which, however, his
friend Mason has celebrated; and the genius of Johnson, incapacitated by
nature to touch on objects of rural fancy, after describing some of the
offices of the landscape designer, adds, that "he will not inquire
whether they demand any great powers of mind." Johnson, however, conveys
to us his own feelings, when he immediately expresses them under the
character of a "sullen and surly speculator." The anxious life of
Shenstone would, indeed, have been remunerated, could he have read the
enchanting eulogium of Wheatley on the Leasowes; which, said he, "is a
perfect picture of his mind--simple, elegant, and amiable; and will
always suggest a doubt whether the spot inspired his verse, or whether
in the scenes which he formed, he only realized the pastoral images
which abound in his songs." Yes! Shenstone would have been delighted,
could he have heard that Montesquieu, on his return home, adorned his
"Château gothique, mais orné de bois charmans, dont j'ai pris l'idée en
Angleterre;" and Shenstone, even with his modest and timid nature, had
been proud to have witnessed a noble foreigner, amidst memorials
dedicated to Theocritus and Virgil, to Thomson and Gesner, raising in
his grounds an inscription, in bad English, but in pure taste, to
Shenstone himself for having displayed in his writings "a mind natural,"
and in his Leasowes "laid Arcadian greens rural." Recently Pindemonte
has traced the taste of English gardening to Shenstone. A man of genius
sometimes receives from foreigners, who are placed out of the prejudices
of his compatriots, the tribute of posterity!

Amidst these rural elegancies which Shenstone was raising about him, his
muse has pathetically sung his melancholy feelings--

  But did the Muses haunt his cell,
  Or in his dome did Venus dwell?--
  When all the structures shone complete,
  Ah, me! 'twas Damon's own confession,
  Came Poverty, and took possession.

  _The Progress of Taste._

The poet observes, that the wants of philosophy are contracted,
satisfied with "cheap contentment," but

                 Taste alone requires
  Entire profusion! days and nights, and hours
  Thy voice, hydropic Fancy! calls aloud
  For costly draughts.----


An original image illustrates that fatal want of economy which conceals
itself amidst the beautiful appearances of taste:--

              Some graceless mark,
  Some symptom ill-conceal'd, shall soon or late
  Burst like a pimple from the vicious tide
  Of acid blood, proclaiming want's disease
  Amidst the bloom of show.


He paints himself:--

              Observe Florelio's mien;
  Why treads my friend with melancholy step
  That beauteous lawn? Why pensive strays his eye
  O'er statues, grottos, urns, by critic art
  Proportion'd fair? or from his lofty dome
  Returns his eye unpleased, disconsolate?

The cause is, "criminal expense," and he exclaims--

                Sweet interchange
  Of river, valley, mountain, woods, and plains,
  How gladsome once he ranged your native turf,
  Your simple scenes how raptured! ere EXPENSE
  Had lavish'd thousand ornaments, and taught
  Convenience to perplex him, Art to pall,
  Pomp to deject, and Beauty to displease.


While Shenstone was rearing hazels and hawthorns, opening vistas, and
winding waters;

  And having shown them where to stray,
  Threw little pebbles in their way;

while he was pulling down hovels and cowhouses, to compose mottos and
inscriptions for garden-seats and urns; while he had so finely obscured
with a tender gloom the grove of Virgil, and thrown over, "in the midst
of a plantation of yew, a bridge of one arch, built of a dusty-coloured
stone, and simple even to rudeness,"[58] and invoked Oberon in some
Arcadian scene,

  Where in cool grot and mossy cell
  The tripping fauns and fairies dwell;

the solitary magician, who had raised all these wonders, was, in
reality, an unfortunate poet, the tenant of a dilapidated farm-house,
where the winds passed through, and the rains lodged, often taking
refuge in his own kitchen--

  Far from all resort of mirth,
  Save the cricket on the hearth!

In a letter[59] of the disconsolate founder of landscape gardening, our
author paints his situation with all its misery--lamenting that his
house is not fit to receive "polite friends, were they so disposed;" and
resolved to banish all others, he proceeds:

"But I make it a certain rule, 'arcere profanum vulgus.' Persons who
will despise you for the want of a good set of chairs, or an uncouth
fire-shovel, at the same time that they can't taste any excellence in a
mind that overlooks those things; with whom it is in vain that your mind
is furnished, if the walls are naked; indeed one loses much of one's
acquisitions in virtue by an hour's converse with such as judge of merit
by money--yet I am now and then impelled by the social passion to sit
half an hour in my kitchen."

But the solicitude of friends and the fate of Somerville, a neighbour
and a poet, often compelled Shenstone to start amidst his reveries; and
thus he has preserved his feelings and his irresolutions. Reflecting on
the death of Somerville, he writes--

"To be forced to drink himself into pains of the body, in order to get
rid of the pains of the mind, is a misery which I can well conceive,
because I may, without vanity, esteem myself his equal in point of
economy, and consequently ought to have an eye on his misfortunes--(as
you kindly hinted to me about twelve o'clock, at the Feathers.)--I
should retrench--I will--but you shall not see me--I will not let you
know that I took it in good part--I will do it at solitary times as I

Such were the calamities of "great taste" with "little fortune;" but in
the case of Shenstone, these were combined with the other calamity of
"mediocrity of genius."

Here, then, at the Leasowes, with occasional trips to town in pursuit of
fame, which perpetually eluded his grasp; in the correspondence of a few
delicate minds, whose admiration was substituted for more genuine
celebrity; composing diatribes against economy and taste, while his
income was diminishing every year; our neglected author grew daily more
indolent and sedentary, and withdrawing himself entirely into his own
hermitage, moaned and despaired in an Arcadian solitude.[60] The cries
and the "secret sorrows" of Shenstone have come down to us--those of his
brothers have not always! And shall dull men, because they have minds
cold and obscure, like a Lapland year which has no summer, be permitted
to exult over this class of men of sensibility and taste, but of
moderate genius and without fortune? The passions and emotions of the
heart are facts and dates only to those who possess them.

To what a melancholy state was our author reduced, when he thus
addressed his friend:--

"I suppose you have been informed that my fever was in a great measure
hypochondriacal, and left my nerves so extremely sensible, that even on
no very interesting subjects, I could readily _think myself into a
vertigo_; I had almost said an _epilepsy_; for surely I was oftentimes
near it."

The features of this sad portrait are more particularly made out in
another place.

"Now I am come home 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 which I
foresee I shall lead. I am angry and envious, and dejected and frantic,
and disregard all present things, just 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.' My soul is no more fitted to the figure I make,
than a cable rope to a cambric needle; I cannot bear to see the
advantages alienated, which I think I could deserve and relish so much
more than those that have them."

There are other testimonies in his entire correspondence. Whenever
forsaken by his company he describes the horrors around him, delivered
up "to winter, silence, and reflection;" ever foreseeing himself
"returning to the same series of melancholy hours." His frame shattered
by the whole train of hypochondriacal symptoms, there was nothing to
cheer the querulous author, who with half the consciousness of genius,
lived neglected and unpatronised. His elegant mind had not the force, by
his productions, to draw the celebrity he sighed after, to his

Shenstone was so anxious for his literary character, that he
contemplated on the posthumous fame which he might derive from the
publication of his letters: see Letter lxxix., _On hearing his letters
to Mr. Whistler were destroyed_; the act of a merchant, his brother, who
being a _very sensible_ man, as Graves describes, yet with the
_stupidity_ of a Goth, destroyed _the whole correspondence of Shenstone,
for "its sentimental intercourse_."--Shenstone bitterly regrets the
loss, and says, "I would have given more money for the letters than it
is allowable for me to mention with decency. I look upon my letters as
some of my _chefs-d'oeuvre_--they are the history of my mind for these
twenty years past." This, with the loss of Cowley's correspondence,
should have been preserved in the article, "of Suppressors and
Dilapidators of Manuscripts."

Towards the close of life, when his spirits were exhausted, and "the
silly clue of hopes and expectations," as he termed them, was undone,
the notice of some persons of rank began to reach him. Shenstone,
however, deeply colours the variable state of his own mind--"Recovering
from a nervous fever, as I have since discovered by many concurrent
symptoms, I seem to anticipate a little of that 'vernal delight' which
Milton mentions and thinks

  ----able to chase
  All sadness but despair--

at least I begin to resume my silly clue of hopes and expectations."

In a former letter he had, however, given them up: "I begin to wean
myself from all hopes and expectations whatever. I feed my wild-ducks,
and I water my carnations. Happy enough if I could extinguish my
ambition quite, to indulge the desire of being something more beneficial
in my sphere.--Perhaps some few other circumstances would want also to
be adjusted."

What were these "hopes and expectations," from which sometimes he weans
himself, and which are perpetually revived, and are attributed to "an
ambition he cannot extinguish"? This article has been written in vain,
if the reader has not already perceived, that they had haunted him in
early life; sickening his spirit after the possession of a poetical
celebrity, unattainable by his genius; some expectations too he might
have cherished from the talent he possessed for political studies, in
which Graves confidently says, that "he would have made no
inconsiderable figure, if he had had a sufficient motive for applying
his mind to them." Shenstone has left several proofs of this talent.[61]
But his master-passion for literary fame had produced little more than
anxieties and disappointments; and when he indulged his pastoral fancy
in a beautiful creation on his grounds, it consumed the estate which it
adorned. Johnson forcibly expressed his situation: "His death was
probably hastened by his anxieties. He was a lamp that spent its oil in
blazing. It is said, that if he had lived a little longer, he would have
been assisted by a pension."


  [53] This once-celebrated abode of the poet is situated at Hales-Owen,

  [54] This we learn from Dr. Nash's History of Worcestershire.

  [55] While at college he printed, without his name, a small volume
    of verses, with this title, "Poems upon various Occasions, written
    for the Entertainment of the Author, and printed for the Amusement
    of a few Friends, prejudiced in his Favour." Oxford, 1737.
    12mo.--Nash's "History of Worcestershire," vol. i. p. 528.

    I find this notice of it in W. Lowndes's Catalogue; 4433 Shenstone
    (W.) Poems, 3_l._ 13_s._ 6_d._--(Shenstone took uncommon pains to
    suppress this book, by collecting and destroying copies wherever he
    met with them.)--In, Longman's Bibliotheca Anglo-Poetica, it is
    valued at 15_l. Oxf_. 1737. Mr. Harris informs me, that about the
    year 1770, Fletcher, the bookseller, at Oxford, had many copies of
    this first edition, which he sold at _Eighteen pence_ each. These
    prices are amusing! The prices of books are connected with their

  [56] On this subject Graves makes a very useful observation. "In
    this decision the happiness of Mr. Shenstone was materially
    concerned. Whether he determined wisely or not, people of taste and
    people of worldly prudence will probably be of very different
    opinions. I somewhat suspect, that 'people of worldly prudence' are
    not half the fools that 'people of taste' insist they are."

  [57] Shenstone's farm was surrounded by winding walks, decorated
    with vases and statues, varied by wood and water, and occasionally
    embracing fine views over Frankley and Clent Hills, and the country
    about Cradley, Dudley, Rawley, and the intermediate places. Some of
    his vases were inscribed to the memory of relatives and friends. One
    had a Latin inscription to his cousin Maria, another was dedicated
    to Somerville his poet-friend. In different parts of his domain he
    constructed buildings at once useful and ornamental, destined to
    serve farm-purposes, but to be also grateful to the eye. A Chinese
    bridge led to a temple beside a lake, and near was a seat inscribed
    with the popular Shropshire toast to "all friends round the Wrekin,"
    the spot commanding a distant view of the hill so named. A wild path
    through a small wood led to an ingeniously constructed root-house,
    beside which a rivulet ran which helped to form the lake already
    mentioned; on its banks was a dedicatory urn to the _Genio Loci_.
    The general effect of the whole place was highly praised in the
    poet's time. It was neglected at his death; and its description is
    now but a record of the past.

  [58] Wheatley, on "Modern Gardening," p. 172. Edition 5th.

  [59] In "Hull's Collection," vol. ii. letter ii.

  [60] Graves was supposed to have glanced at his friend Shenstone in
    his novel of "_Columella_; or, the Distressed Anchoret." The aim of
    this work is to convey all the moral instruction I could wish to
    offer here to youthful genius. It is written to show the consequence
    of a person of education and talents retiring to solitude and
    indolence in the vigour of youth. Nichols's "Literary Anecdotes,"
    vol. iii. p. 134. Nash's "History of Worcestershire," vol. i. p.

  [61] See his "Letters" xl. and xli., and more particularly xlii. and
    xliii., with a new theory of political principles.


The secret history of this national edifice derives importance from its
nature, and the remarkable characters involved in the unparalleled
transaction. The great architect, when obstructed in the progress of his
work by the irregular payments of the workmen, appears to have
practised one of his own comic plots to put the debts on the hero
himself; while the duke, who had it much at heart to inhabit the palace
of his fame, but tutored into wariness under the vigilant and fierce eye
of Atossa,[62] would neither approve nor disapprove, silently looked on
in hope and in grief, from year to year, as the work proceeded, or as it
was left at a stand. At length we find this _comédie larmoyante_ wound
up by the duchess herself, in an attempt utterly to ruin the enraged and
insulted architect![63]

Perhaps this was the first time that it had ever been resolved in
parliament to raise a public monument of glory and gratitude--to an
individual! The novelty of the attempt may serve as the only excuse for
the loose arrangements which followed after parliament had approved of
the design, without voting any specific supply for the purpose! The
queen always issued the orders at her own expense, and commanded
expedition; and while Anne lived, the expenses of the building were
included in her majesty's debts, as belonging to the civil list
sanctioned by parliament.[64]

When George the First came to the throne, the parliament declared the
debt to be the debt of the queen, and the king granted a privy seal as
for other debts. The crown and the parliament had hitherto proceeded in
perfect union respecting this national edifice. However, I find that the
workmen were greatly in arrears; for when George the First ascended the
throne, they gladly accepted a _third_ part of their several debts!

The great architect found himself amidst inextricable difficulties. With
the fertile invention which amuses in his comedies, he contrived an
extraordinary scheme, by which he proposed to make the duke himself
responsible for the building of Blenheim!

However much the duke longed to see the magnificent edifice concluded,
he showed the same calm intrepidity in the building of Blenheim as he
had in its field of action. Aware that if he himself gave any order, or
suggested any alteration, he might be involved in the expense of the
building, he was never to be circumvented--never to be surprised into a
spontaneous emotion of pleasure or disapprobation; on no occasion, he
declares, had he even entered into conversation with the architect
(though his friend) or with any one acting under his orders, about
Blenheim House! Such impenetrable prudence on all sides had often
blunted the subdolous ingenuity of the architect and plotter of

In the absence of the duke, when abroad in 1705, Sir John contrived to
obtain from Lord Godolphin, the friend and relative of the Duke of
Marlborough, and probably his agent in some of his concerns, a warrant,
constituting Vanbrugh _surveyor, with power of contracting on the behalf
of the Duke of Marlborough_. How he prevailed on Lord Godolphin to get
this appointment does not appear--his lordship probably conceived it was
useful, and might assist in expediting the great work, the favourite
object of the hero. This warrant, however, Vanbrugh kept entirely to
himself; he never mentioned to the duke that he was in possession of any
such power; nor, on his return, did he claim to have it renewed.

The building proceeded with the same delays, and the payments with the
same irregularity; the veteran now foresaw what happened, that he should
never be the inhabitant of his own house! The public money issued from
the Treasury was never to be depended on; and after 1712, the duke took
the building upon himself, for the purpose of accommodating the workmen.
They had hitherto received what was called "crown pay," which was high
wages and uncertain payment--and they now gladly abated a third of their
prices. But though the duke had undertaken to pay the workmen, this
could make no alteration in the claims on the Treasury. Blenheim was to
be built _for_ Marlborough, not _by_ him; it was a monument raised by
the nation to their hero, not a palace to be built by their mutual

Whether Marlborough found that his own million might be slowly injured
while the Treasury remained still obdurate, or that the architect was
still more and more involved, I cannot tell; but in 1715, the workmen
appear to have struck, and the old delays and stand-still again renewed.
It was then Sir John, for the first time, produced the warrant he had
extracted from Lord Godolphin, to lay before the Treasury; adding,
however, a memorandum, to prevent any misconception, that the duke was
to be considered as the paymaster, the debts incurred devolving on the
crown. This part of our secret history requires more development than I
am enabled to afford: as my information is drawn from "the Case" of the
Duke of Marlborough in reply to Sir John's depositions, it is possible
Vanbrugh may suffer more than he ought in this narration; which,
however, incidentally notices his own statements.

A new scene opens! Vanbrugh not obtaining his claims from the Treasury,
and the workmen becoming more clamorous, the architect suddenly turns
round on the duke, at once to charge him with the whole debt.

The pitiable history of this magnificent monument of public gratitude,
from its beginnings, is given by Vanbrugh in his deposition. The great
architect represents himself as being comptroller of her majesty's
works; and as such was appointed to prepare a model, which model of
Blenheim House her majesty kept in her palace, and gave her commands to
issue money according to the direction of Mr. Travers, the queen's
surveyor-general; that the lord treasurer appointed her majesty's own
officers to supervise these works; that it was upon defect of money from
the Treasury that the workmen grew uneasy; that the work was stopped,
till further orders of money from the Treasury; that the queen then
ordered enough to secure it from winter weather; that afterwards she
ordered more for payment of the workmen; that they were paid in part;
and upon Sir John's telling them the queen's resolution to grant them a
further supply (_after a stop put to it by the duchess's order_), they
went on and incurred the present debt; that this was afterwards brought
into the House of Commons as the debt of the crown, not owing from the
queen to the Duke of Marlborough, but to the workmen, and this by the
queen's officers.

During the uncertain progress of the building, and while the workmen
were often in deep arrears, it would seem that the architect often
designed to involve the Marlboroughs in its fate and his own; he
probably thought that some of their round million might bear to be
chipped, to finish his great work, with which, too, their glory was so
intimately connected. The famous duchess had evidently put the duke on
the defensive; but once, perhaps, was the duke on the point of indulging
some generous architectural fancy, when lo! Atossa stepped forwards and
"put a stop to the building."

When Vanbrugh at length produced the warrant of Lord Godolphin,
empowering him to contract for the duke, this instrument was utterly
disclaimed by Marlborough; the duke declares it existed without his
knowledge; and that if such an instrument for a moment was to be held
valid, no man would be safe, but might be ruined by the act of another!

Vanbrugh seems to have involved the intricacy of his plot, till it fell
into some contradictions. The queen he had not found difficult to
manage; but after her death, when the Treasury failed in its golden
source, he seems to have sat down to contrive how to make the duke the
great debtor. Vanbrugh swears that "He himself looked upon the crown, as
engaged to the Duke of Marlborough for the expense; but that he believes
the workmen always looked upon the duke as their paymaster." He advances
so far, as to swear that he made a contract with particular workmen,
which contract was not unknown to the duke. This was not denied; but the
duke in his reply observes, that "he knew not that the workmen were
employed for _his_ account, or by _his_ own agent:"--never having heard
till Sir John produced the warrant from Lord Godolphin, that Sir John
was "his surveyor!" which he disclaims.

Our architect, however opposite his depositions appear, contrived to
become a witness to such facts as tended to conclude the duke to be the
debtor for the building; and "in his depositions has taken as much care
to have the guilt of perjury without the punishment of it, as any man
could do." He so managed, though he has not sworn to contradictions,
that the natural tendency of one part of his evidence presses one way,
and the natural tendency of another part presses the direct contrary
way. In his former memorial, the main design was to disengage the duke
from the debt; in his depositions, the main design was to charge the
duke with the debt. Vanbrugh, it must be confessed, exerted not less of
his dramatic than his architectural genius in the building of Blenheim!

"The Case" concludes with an eloquent reflection, where Vanbrugh is
distinguished as the man of genius, though not, in this predicament, the
man of honour. "If at last the charge run into by order of the crown
must be upon the duke, yet the infamy of it must go upon another, who
was perhaps the only architect in the world capable of building such a
house; and the only friend in the world capable of contriving to lay the
debt upon one to whom he was so highly obliged."

There is a curious fact in the depositions of Vanbrugh, by which we
might infer that the idea of Blenheim House might have originated with
the duke himself; he swears that "in 1704, the duke met him, and told
him _he_ designed to build a house, and must consult him about a model,
&c.; but it was the queen who ordered the present house to be built with
all expedition."

The whole conduct of this national edifice was unworthy of the nation,
if in truth the nation ever entered heartily into it. No specific sum
had been voted in parliament for so great an undertaking; which
afterwards was the occasion of involving all the parties concerned in
trouble and litigation; threatened the ruin of the architect; and I
think we shall see, by Vanbrugh's letters, was finished at the sole
charge, and even under the superintendence, of the duchess herself! It
may be a question, whether this magnificent monument of glory did not
rather originate in the spirit of party, in the urgent desire of the
queen to allay the pride and jealousies of the Marlboroughs. From the
circumstance to which Vanbrugh has sworn, that the duke had designed to
have a house built by Vanbrugh, before Blenheim had been resolved on, we
may suppose that this intention of the duke's afforded the queen a
suggestion of a national edifice.

Archdeacon Coxe, in his Life of Marlborough, has obscurely alluded to
the circumstances attending the building of Blenheim. "The illness of
the duke, and the tedious litigation which ensued, caused such delays,
that little progress was made in the work at the time of his decease. In
the interim a serious misunderstanding arose between the duchess and the
architect, which forms the subject of a voluminous correspondence.
Vanbrugh was in consequence removed, and the direction of the building
confided to other hands, under her own immediate superintendence."

This "voluminous correspondence" would probably afford "words that burn"
of the lofty insolence of Atossa, and "thoughts that breathe" of the
comic wit; it might too relate, in many curious points, to the
stupendous fabric itself. If her grace condescended to criticise its
parts with the frank roughness she is known to have done to the
architect himself, his own defence and explanations might serve to let
us into the bewildering fancies of his magical architecture. Of that
self-creation for which he was so much abused in his own day as to have
lost his real avocation as an architect, and stands condemned for
posterity in the volatile bitterness of Lord Orford, nothing is left for
us but our own convictions--to behold, and to be for ever
astonished!--But "this voluminous correspondence?" Alas! the historian
of war and politics overlooks with contempt the little secret histories
of art and of human nature!--and "a voluminous correspondence" which
indicates so much, and on which not a solitary idea is bestowed, has
only served to petrify our curiosity!

Of this quarrel between the famous duchess and Vanbrugh I have only
recovered several vivacious extracts from confidential letters of
Vanbrugh's to Jacob Tonson. There was an equality of the genius of
_invention_, as well as rancour, in her grace and the wit: whether
Atossa, like Vanbrugh, could have had the patience to have composed a
comedy of five acts I will not determine; but unquestionably she could
have dictated many scenes with equal spirit. We have seen Vanbrugh
attempting to turn the debts incurred by the building of Blenheim on the
duke; we now learn, for the first time, that the duchess, with equal
aptitude, contrived a counterplot to turn the debts on Vanbrugh!

"I have the misfortune of losing, for I now see little hopes of ever
getting it, near 2000_l._ due to me for many years' service, plague, and
trouble, at Blenheim, which that wicked woman of 'Marlborough' is so far
from paying me, that the duke being sued by some of the workmen for work
done there, she has tried to turn the debt due to them upon me, for
which I think she ought to be hanged."

In 1722, on occasion of the duke's death, Vanbrugh gives an account to
Tonson of the great wealth of the Marlboroughs, with a caustic touch at
his illustrious victims.

"The Duke of Marlborough's treasure exceeds the most extravagant guess.
The grand settlement, which it was suspected her grace had broken to
pieces, stands good, and hands an immense wealth to Lord Godolphin and
his successors. A round million has been moving about in loans on the
land-tax, &c. This the Treasury knew before he died, and this was
exclusive of his 'land;' his 5000_l._ a year upon the post-office; his
mortgages upon a distressed estate; his South-Sea stock; his annuities,
and which were not subscribed in, and besides what is in foreign banks;
and yet this man could neither pay his workmen their bills, nor his
architect his salary.

"He has given his widow (may a Scottish ensign get her!) 10,000_l._ a
year _to spoil Blenheim her own way_; 12,000_l._ a year to keep herself
clean and go to law; 2000_l._ a year to Lord Rialton for present
maintenance; and Lord Godolphin only 5000_l._ a year jointure, if he
outlives my lady: this last is a wretched article. The rest of the heap,
for these are but snippings, goes to Lord Godolphin, and so on. She will
have 40,000_l._ a year in present."

Atossa, as the quarrel heated and the plot thickened, with the
maliciousness of Puck, and the haughtiness of an empress of Blenheim,
invented the most cruel insult that ever architect endured!--one
perfectly characteristic of that extraordinary woman. Vanbrugh went to
Blenheim with his lady, in a company from Castle Howard, another
magnificent monument of his singular genius.

"We staid two nights in Woodstock; but there was an order to the
servants, _under her grace's own hand, not to let me enter Blenheim_!
and lest that should not mortify me enough, she having somehow learned
that my _wife_ was of the company, _sent an express the night before we
came there_, with orders that if _she_ came with the Castle Howard
ladies, the servants should not suffer her to see either house, gardens,
or even to enter the park: so she was forced to sit all day long and
keep me company at the inn!"

This was a _coup-de-théâtre_ in this joint comedy of Atossa and
Vanbrugh! The architect of Blenheim, lifting his eyes towards his own
massive grandeur, exiled to a dull inn, and imprisoned with one who
required rather to be consoled, than capable of consoling the enraged

In 1725, Atossa still pursuing her hunted prey, had driven it to a spot
which she flattered herself would enclose it with the security of a
preserve. This produced the following explosion!

"I have been forced into chancery by that B. B. B. the Duchess of
Marlborough, where she has got an injunction upon me by her friend the
late good chancellor (Earl of Macclesfield), who declared that I was
never employed by the duke, and therefore had no demand upon his estate
for my services at Blenheim. Since my hands were thus tied up from
trying by law to recover my arrear, I have prevailed with Sir Robert
Walpole _to help me in a scheme which I proposed to him, by which I got
my money in spite of the hussy's teeth. My carrying this point enrages
her much_, and the more because it is of considerable weight in my small
fortune, which she has heartily endeavoured so to destroy as to throw me
into an English Bastile, there to finish my days, as _I began them, in a
French one_."

Plot for plot! and the superior claims of one of practised invention are
vindicated! The writer, long accustomed to comedy-writing, has excelled
the self-taught genius of Atossa. The "scheme" by which Vanbrugh's
fertile invention, aided by Sir Robert Walpole, finally circumvented the
avaricious, the haughty, and the capricious Atossa, remains untold,
unless it is alluded to by the passage in Lord Orford's "Anecdotes of
Painting," where he informs us that the "duchess quarrelled with Sir
John, and went to law with him; but though he _proved to be in the
right_, or rather _because_ he proved to be in the right, she employed
Sir Christopher Wren to build the house in St. James's Park."

I have to add a curious discovery respecting Vanbrugh himself, which
explains a circumstance in his life not hitherto understood.

In all the biographies of Vanbrugh, from the time of Cibber's Lives of
the Poets, the early part of the life of this man of genius remains
unknown. It is said he descended from an ancient family in _Cheshire_,
which came originally from _France_, though by the name, which properly
written would be _Van Brugh_, he would appear to be of _Dutch_
extraction. A tale is universally repeated that Sir John once visiting
France in the prosecution of his architectural studies, while taking a
survey of some fortifications, excited alarm, and was carried to the
Bastile: where, to deepen the interest of the story, he sketched a
variety of comedies, which he must have communicated to the governor,
who, whispering it doubtless as an affair of state to several of the
noblesse, these admirers of "sketches of comedies"--English ones no
doubt--procured the release of this English Molière. This tale is
further confirmed by a very odd circumstance. Sir John built at
Greenwich, on a spot still called "Van Brugh's Fields," two whimsical
houses; one on the side of Greenwich Park is still called "the
Bastile-House," built on its model, to commemorate this imprisonment.

Not a word of this detailed story is probably true! that the _Bastile_
was an object which sometimes occupied the imagination of our architect,
is probable; for by the letter we have just quoted, we discover from
himself the singular incident of Vanbrugh's having been _born in the

Desirous, probably, of concealing his alien origin, this circumstance
cast his early days into obscurity. He felt that he was a Briton in all
respects but that of his singular birth. The father of Vanbrugh married
Sir Dudley Carleton's daughter. We are told he had "political
connexions;" and one of his "political" tours had probably occasioned
his confinement in that state-dungeon, where his lady was delivered of
her burden of love. This odd fancy of building a "Bastile-House" at
Greenwich, a fortified prison! suggested to his first life-writer the
fine romance; which must now be thrown aside among those literary
fictions the French distinguish by the softening and yet impudent term
of "_Anecdotes hasardées!_" with which formerly Varillas and his
imitators furnished their pages; lies which looked like facts!


  [62] The name by which Pope ruthlessly satirized Sarah Duchess of

  [63] I draw the materials of this secret history from an unpublished
    "Case of the Duke of Marlborough and Sir John Vanbrugh," as also
    from some confidential correspondence of Vanbrugh with Jacob Tonson,
    his friend and publisher.

  [64] Parliament voted 500,000_l._ for the building, which was
    insufficient. The queen added thereto the honour of Woodstock, an
    appanage of the crown, on the simple condition of rendering at
    Windsor Castle every year on the anniversary of the victory of
    Blenheim, a flag adorned with three fleur-de-lys, "as acquittance
    for all manner of rents, suits and services due to the crown."

  [65] Cunningham, in his "Lives of the British Architects," does not
    incline to the conclusions above drawn. He says, "I suspect that
    Vanbrugh, in saying he began his days in the Bastile, meant only
    that he was its tenant in early life--at the commencement of his
    manhood." The same author tells us that Vanbrugh's grandfather fled
    from Ghent, his native city, to avoid the persecutions of the Duke
    of Alva, and established himself as a merchant in Walbrook, where
    his son lived after him, and where John Vanbrugh (afterwards the
    great architect) was born in the year 1666. His father was at this
    time Comptroller of the Treasury Chamber. Cunningham thinks the
    Cheshire part of the genealogy "unlikely to be true."


Rawleigh exercised in perfection incompatible talents, and his character
connects the opposite extremes of our nature! His "Book of Life," with
its incidents of prosperity and adversity, of glory and humiliation, was
as chequered as the novelist would desire for a tale of fiction. Yet in
this mighty genius there lies an unsuspected disposition, which requires
to be demonstrated, before it is possible to conceive its reality. From
his earliest days, probably by his early reading of the romantic
incidents of the first Spanish adventurers in the New World, he himself
betrayed the genius of an _adventurer_, which prevailed in his character
to the latest; and it often involved him in the practice of mean
artifices and petty deceptions; which appear like folly in the wisdom of
a sage; like ineptitude in the profound views of a politician; like
cowardice in the magnanimity of a hero; and degrade by their littleness
the grandeur of a character which was closed by a splendid death, worthy
the life of the wisest and the greatest of mankind!

The sunshine of his days was in the reign of Elizabeth. From a boy,
always dreaming of romantic conquests (for he was born in an age of
heroism), and formed by nature for the chivalric gallantry of the court
of a maiden queen, from the moment he with such infinite art cast his
rich mantle over the miry spot, his life was a progress of glory. All
about Rawleigh was as splendid as the dress he wore: his female
sovereign, whose eyes loved to dwell on men who might have been fit
subjects for "the Faerie Queene" of Spenser, penurious of reward, only
recompensed her favourites by suffering them to make their own fortunes
on sea and land; and Elizabeth listened to the glowing projects of her
hero, indulging that spirit which could have conquered the world, to
have laid the toy at the feet of the sovereign!

This man, this extraordinary being, who was prodigal of his life and
fortune on the Spanish Main, in the idleness of peace could equally
direct his invention to supply the domestic wants of every-day life, in
his project of "an office for address." Nothing was too high for his
ambition, nor too humble for his genius. Pre-eminent as a military and a
naval commander, as a statesman and a student, Rawleigh was as intent on
forming the character of Prince Henry, as that prince was studious of
moulding his own aspiring qualities by the genius of the friend whom he
contemplated. Yet the active life of Rawleigh is not more remarkable
than his contemplative one. He may well rank among the founders of our
literature; for composing on a subject exciting little interest, his
fine genius has sealed his unfinished volume with immortality. For
magnificence of eloquence, and massiveness of thought, we must still
dwell on his pages.[67] Such was the man who was the adored patron of
Spenser; whom Ben Jonson, proud of calling other favourites "his sons,"
honoured by the title of "his father;" and who left political
instructions which Milton deigned to edit.

But how has it happened that, of so elevated a character, Gibbon has
pronounced that it was "ambiguous," while it is described by Hume as "a
great but ill-regulated mind!"

There was a peculiarity in the character of this eminent man; he
practised the cunning of an _adventurer_--a cunning most humiliating in
the narrative! The great difficulty to overcome in this discovery is,
how to account for a sage and a hero acting folly and cowardice, and
attempting to obtain by circuitous deception what it may be supposed so
magnanimous a spirit would only deign to possess himself of by direct
and open methods.

Since the present article was written, a letter, hitherto unpublished,
appears in the recent edition of Shakspeare which curiously and minutely
records one of those artifices of the kind which I am about to narrate
at length. When, under Elizabeth, Rawleigh was once in confinement, it
appears that seeing the queen passing by, he was suddenly seized with a
strange resolution of combating with the governor and his people,
declaring that the mere _sight_ of the queen had made him desperate, as
a confined lover would feel at the sight of his mistress. The letter
gives a minute narrative of Sir Walter's astonishing conduct, and
carefully repeats the warm romantic style in which he talked of his
royal mistress, and his formal resolution to die rather than exist out
of her presence.[68] This extravagant scene, with all its cunning, has
been most elaborately penned by the ingenious letter-writer, with a hint
to the person whom he addresses, to suffer it to meet the eye of their
royal mistress, who could not fail of admiring our new "Orlando
Furioso," and soon after released this tender prisoner! To me it is
evident that the whole scene was got up and concerted for the occasion,
and was the invention of Rawleigh himself; the romantic incident he well
knew was perfectly adapted to the queen's taste. Another similar
incident, in which I have been anticipated in the disclosure of the
fact, though not of its nature, was what Sir Toby Matthews obscurely
alludes to in his letters, of "the guilty blow he gave himself in the
Tower;" a passage which had long excited my attention, till I discovered
the curious incident in some manuscript letters of Lord Cecil. Rawleigh
was then confined in the Tower for the Cobham conspiracy; a plot so
absurd and obscure that one historian has called it a "state-riddle,"
but for which, so many years after, Rawleigh so cruelly lost his life.

Lord Cecil gives an account of the examination of the prisoners involved
in this conspiracy. "One afternoon, whilst divers of us were in the
Tower examining some of these prisoners, Sir Walter _attempted to murder
himself_; whereof, when we were advertised, we came to him, and found
him in some agony to be unable to endure his misfortunes, and protesting
innocency, with carelessness of life; and in that humour _he had wounded
himself under the right pap, but no way mortally, being in truth rather
a_ CUT _than a_ STAB, and now very well cured both in body and
mind."[69] This feeble attempt at suicide, this "cut rather than stab,"
I must place among those scenes in the life of Rawleigh so
incomprehensible with the genius of the man. If it were nothing but one
of those

  Fears of the Brave!

we must now open another of the

  Follies of the Wise!

Rawleigh returned from the wild and desperate voyage of Guiana, with
misery in every shape about him.[70] His son had perished; his devoted
Keymis would not survive his reproach; and Rawleigh, without fortune and
without hope, in sickness and in sorrow, brooded over the sad thought,
that in the hatred of the Spaniard, and in the political pusillanimity
of James, he was arriving only to meet inevitable death. With this
presentiment, he had even wished to give up his ship to the crew, had
they consented to land him in France; but he was probably irresolute in
this decision at sea, as he was afterwards at land, where he wished to
escape, and refused to fly: the clearest intellect was darkened, and
magnanimity itself became humiliated, floating between the sense of
honour and of life.

Rawleigh landed in his native county of Devon: his arrival was the
common topic of conversation, and he was the object of censure or of
commiseration: but his person was not molested, till the fears of James
became more urgent than his pity.

The Cervantic Gondomar, whose "quips and quiddities" had concealed the
cares of state, one day rushed into the presence of James, breathlessly
calling out for "audience!" and compressing his "ear-piercing" message
into the laconic abruptness of "piratas! piratas! piratas!" There was
agony as well as politics in this cry of Gondomar, whose brother, the
Spanish governor, had been massacred in this predatory expedition.[71]
The timid monarch, terrified at this tragical appearance of his
facetious friend, saw at once the demands of the whole Spanish cabinet,
and vented his palliative in a gentle proclamation. Rawleigh having
settled his affairs in the west, set off for London to appear before
the king, in consequence of the proclamation. A few miles from Plymouth
he was met by Sir Lewis Stucley, vice-admiral of Devon, a kinsman and a
friend, who, in communication with government, had accepted a sort of
_surveillance_ over Sir Walter. It is said (and will be credited, when
we hear the story of Stucley), that he had set his heart on the _ship_,
as a probable good purchase; and on the _person_, against whom, to
colour his natural treachery, he professed an old hatred. He first
seized on Rawleigh more like the kinsman than the vice-admiral, and
proposed travelling together to London, and baiting at the houses of the
friends of Rawleigh. The warrant which Stucley in the meanwhile had
desired was instantly despatched, and the bearer was one Manoury, a
French empiric, who was evidently sent to act the part he did--a part
played at all times, and the last title, in French politics, that so
often had recourse to this instrument of state, is a _Mouton_!

Rawleigh still, however, was not placed under any harsh restraint: his
confidential associate, Captain King, accompanied him; and it is
probable, that if Rawleigh had effectuated his escape, he would have
conferred a great favour on the government.

They could not save him at London. It is certain that he might have
escaped; for Captain King had hired a vessel, and Rawleigh had stolen
out by night, and might have reached it, but irresolutely returned home;
another night, the same vessel was ready, but Rawleigh never came! The
loss of his honour appeared the greater calamity.

As he advanced in this eventful journey, everything assumed a more
formidable aspect. His friends communicated fearful advices; a
pursuivant, or king's messenger, gave a more menacing appearance; and
suggestions arose in his own mind, that he was reserved to become a
victim of state. When letters of commission from the Privy Council were
brought to Sir Lewis Stucley, Rawleigh was observed to change
countenance, exclaiming with an oath, "Is it possible my fortune should
return upon me thus again?" He lamented, before Captain King, that he
had neglected the opportunity of escape; and which, every day he
advanced inland, removed him the more from any chance.

Rawleigh at first suspected that Manoury was one of those instruments of
state who are sometimes employed when open measures are not to be
pursued, or when the cabinet have not yet determined on the fate of a
person implicated in a state crime; in a word, Rawleigh thought that
Manoury was a spy over him, and probably over Stucley too. The first
impression in these matters is usually the right one; but when Rawleigh
found himself caught in the toils, he imagined that such corrupt agents
were to be corrupted. The French empiric was sounded, and found very
compliant; Rawleigh was desirous by his aid to counterfeit sickness, and
for this purpose invented a series of the most humiliating stratagems.
He imagined that a constant appearance of sickness might produce delay,
and procrastination, in the chapter of accidents, might end in pardon.
He procured vomits from the Frenchman, and, whenever he chose, produced
every appearance of sickness; with dimness of sight, dizziness in his
head, he reeled about, and once struck himself with such violence
against a pillar in the gallery, that there was no doubt of his malady.
Rawleigh's servant one morning entering Stucley's chamber, declared that
his master was out of his senses, for that he had just left him in his
shirt upon all fours, gnawing the rushes upon the floor. On Stucley's
entrance, Rawleigh was raving, and reeling in strong convulsions.
Stucley ordered him to be chafed and fomented, and Rawleigh afterwards
laughed at this scene with Manoury, observing that he had made Stucley a
perfect physician.

But Rawleigh found it required some more visible and alarming disease
than such ridiculous scenes had exhibited. The vomits worked so slowly,
that Manoury was fearful to repeat the doses. Rawleigh inquired whether
the empiric knew of any preparation which could make him look ghastly,
without injuring his health. The Frenchman offered a harmless ointment
to act on the surface of the skin, which would give him the appearance
of a leper. "That will do!" said Rawleigh, "for the lords will be afraid
to approach me, and besides it will move their pity." Applying the
ointment to his brows, his arms, and his breast, the blisters rose, the
skin inflamed, and was covered with purple spots. Stucley concluded that
Rawleigh had the plague. Physicians were now to be called in; Rawleigh
took the black silk ribbon from his poniard, and Manoury tightened it
strongly about his arm, to disorder his pulse; but his pulse beat too
strong and regular. He appeared to take no food, while Manoury secretly
provided him. To perplex the learned doctors still more, Rawleigh had
the urinal coloured by a drug of a strong scent. The physicians
pronounced the disease mortal, and that the patient could not be removed
into the air without immediate danger. Awhile after, being in his
bed-chamber undressed, and no one present but Manoury, Sir Walter held a
looking-glass in his hand to admire his spotted face,[72] and observed
in merriment to his new confidant, "how they should one day laugh for
having thus cozened the king, council, physicians, Spaniards, and all."
The excuse Rawleigh offered for this course of poor stratagems, so
unworthy of his genius, was to obtain time and seclusion for writing his
Apology, or Vindication of his Voyage, which has come down to us in his
"Remains." "The prophet David did make himself a fool, and suffered
spittle to fall upon his beard, to escape from the hands of his
enemies," said Rawleigh in his last speech. Brutus, too, was another
example. But his discernment often prevailed over this mockery of his
spirit. The king licensed him to reside at his own house on his arrival
in London; on which Manoury observed that the king showed by this
indulgence that his majesty was favourably inclined towards him; but
Rawleigh replied, "They used all these kinds of flatteries to the Duke
of Biron, to draw him fairly into prison, and then they cut off his
head. I know they have concluded among them that it is expedient that a
man should die, to re-assure the traffick which I have broke with
Spain." And Manoury adds, from whose narrative we have all these
particulars, that Sir Walter broke out into this rant: "If he could but
save himself for this time, he would plot such plots as should make the
king think himself happy to send for him again, and restore him to his
estate, and would force the King of Spain to write into England in his

Rawleigh at length proposed a flight to France with Manoury, who
declares it was then he revealed to Stucley what he had hitherto
concealed, that Stucley might double his vigilance. Rawleigh now
perceived that he had two rogues to bribe instead of one, and that they
were playing into one another's hands. Proposals are now made to Stucley
through Manoury, who is as compliant as his brother-knave. Rawleigh
presented Stucley with a "jewel made in the fashion of hail powdered
with diamonds, with a ruby in the midst." But Stucley observing to his
kinsman and friend, that he must lose his office of vice-admiral, which
had cost him six hundred pounds, in case he suffered Rawleigh to escape;
Rawleigh solemnly assured him that he should be no loser, and that his
lady should give him one thousand pounds when they got into France or
Holland. About this time the French quack took his leave: the part he
had to act was performed: the juggle was complete: and two wretches had
triumphed over the sagacity and magnanimity of a sage and a hero, whom
misfortune had levelled to folly; and who, in violating the dignity of
his own character, had only equalled himself with vulgar knaves; men who
exulted that the circumventer was circumvented; or, as they expressed
it, "the great cozener was cozened." But our story does not here
conclude, for the treacheries of Stucley were more intricate. This
perfect villain had obtained a warrant of indemnity to authorise his
compliance with any offer to assist Rawleigh in his escape; this wretch
was the confidant and the executioner of Rawleigh; he carried about him
a license to betray him, and was making his profit of the victim before
he delivered him to the sacrifice. Rawleigh was still plotting his
escape; at Salisbury he had despatched his confidential friend Captain
King to London, to secure a boat at Tilbury; he had also a secret
interview with the French agent. Rawleigh's servant mentioned to Captain
King, that his boatswain had a ketch[73] of his own, and was ready at
his service for "thirty pieces of silver;" the boatswain and Rawleigh's
servant acted Judas, and betrayed the plot to Mr. William Herbert,
cousin to Stucley, and thus the treachery was kept among themselves as a
family concern. The night for flight was now fixed, but he could not
part without his friend Stucley, who had promised never to quit him; and
who indeed, informed by his cousin Herbert, had suddenly surprised
Rawleigh putting on a false beard. The party met at the appointed place;
Sir Lewis Stucley with his son, and Rawleigh disguised. Stucley, in
saluting King, asked whether he had not shown himself an honest man?
King hoped he would continue so. They had not rowed twenty strokes,
before the watermen observed, that Mr. Herbert had lately taken boat,
and made towards the bridge, but had returned down the river after them.
Rawleigh instantly expressed his apprehensions, and wished to return
home; he consulted King--the watermen took fright--Stucley acted his
part well; damning his ill-fortune to have a friend whom he would save,
so full of doubts and fears, and threatening to pistol the watermen if
they did not proceed. Even King was overcome by the earnest conduct of
Stucley, and a new spirit was infused into the rowers. As they drew near
Greenwich a wherry crossed them. Rawleigh declared it came to discover
them. King tried to allay his fears, and assured him that if once they
reached Gravesend, he would hazard his life to get to Tilbury. But in
these delays and discussions, the tide was failing; the watermen
declared they could not reach Gravesend before morning; Rawleigh would
have landed at Purfleet, and the boatswain encouraged him; for there it
was thought he could procure horses for Tilbury. Sir Lewis Stucley too
was zealous; and declared he was content to carry the cloak-bag on his
own shoulders, for half-a-mile, but King declared that it was useless,
they could not at that hour get horses to go by land.

They rowed a mile beyond Woolwich, approaching two or three ketches,
when the boatswain doubted whether any of these were the one he had
provided to furnish them. "We are betrayed!" cried Rawleigh, and ordered
the watermen to row back: he strictly examined the boatswain; alas! his
ingenuity was baffled by a shuffling villain, whose real answer appeared
when a wherry hailed the boat: Rawleigh observed that it contained
Herbert's crew. He saw that all was now discovered. He took Stucley
aside; his ingenious mind still suggesting projects for himself to
return home in safety, or how Stucley might plead that he had only
pretended to go with Rawleigh, to seize on his private papers. They
whispered together, and Rawleigh took some things from his pocket, and
handed them to Stucley; probably more "rubies powdered with
diamonds."--Some effect was instantaneously produced; for the tender
heart of his friend Stucley relented, and he not only repeatedly
embraced him with extraordinary warmth of affection, but was voluble in
effusions of friendship and fidelity. Stucley persuaded Rawleigh to land
at Gravesend, the strange wherry which had dogged them landing at the
same time; these were people belonging to Mr. Herbert and Sir William
St. John, who, it seems, had formerly shared in the spoils of this
unhappy hero. On Greenwich bridge, Stucley advised Captain King that it
would be advantageous to Sir Walter, that King should confess that he
had joined with Stucley to betray his master; and Rawleigh lent himself
to the suggestion of Stucley, of whose treachery he might still be
uncertain; but King, a rough and honest seaman, declared that he would
not share in the odium. At the moment he refused, Stucley arrested the
captain in the king's name, committing him to the charge of Herbert's
men. They then proceeded to a tavern, but Rawleigh, who now viewed the
monster in his true shape, observed, "Sir Lewis, these actions will not
turn out to your credit;" and on the following day, when they passed
through the Tower-gate, Rawleigh, turning to King, observed, "Stucley
and my servant Cotterell have betrayed me. You need be in no fear of
danger, but as for me, it is I who am the mark that is shot at." Thus
concludes the narrative of Captain King. The fate of Rawleigh soon
verified the prediction.

This long narrative of treachery will not, however, be complete, unless
we wind it up with the fate of the infamous Stucley. Fiction gives
perfection to its narratives, by the privilege it enjoys of disposing of
its criminals in the most exemplary manner; but the labours of the
historian are not always refreshed by this moral pleasure. Retribution
is not always discovered in the present stage of human existence, yet
history is perhaps equally delightful as fiction, whenever its perfect
catastrophes resemble those of romantic invention. The present is a
splendid example.

I have discovered the secret history of Sir Lewis Stucley, in several
manuscript letters of the times.

Rawleigh, in his admirable address from the scaffold, where he seemed to
be rather one of the spectators than the sufferer, declared he forgave
Sir Lewis, for he had forgiven all men; but he was bound in charity to
caution all men against him, and such as he is! Rawleigh's last and
solemn notice of the treachery of his "kinsman and friend" was
irrevocably fatal to this wretch. The hearts of the people were open to
the deepest impressions of sympathy, melting into tears at the pathetic
address of the magnanimous spirit who had touched them; in one moment
Sir Lewis Stucley became an object of execration throughout the nation;
he soon obtained a new title, that of "Sir Judas," and was shunned by
every man. To remove the Cain-like mark, which God and men had fixed on
him, he published an apology for his conduct; a performance which, at
least for its ability, might raise him in our consideration; but I have
since discovered, in one of the manuscript letter-writers, that it was
written by Dr. Sharpe, who had been a chaplain to Henry Prince of Wales.
The writer pleads in Stucley's justification, that he was a state-agent;
that it was lawful to lie for the discovery of treason; that he had a
personal hatred towards Rawleigh, for having abridged his father of his
share of some prize-money; and then enters more into Rawleigh's
character, who "being desperate of any fortune here, agreeable to the
height of his mind, would have made up his fortune elsewhere, upon any
terms against his sovereign and his country. Is it not marvel,"
continues the personifier of Stucley, "that he was angry with me at his
death for bringing him back? Besides, being a man of so great a wit, it
was no small grief that a man of mean wit as I should be thought to go
beyond him. No? _Sic ars deluditur arte. Neque enim lex justior ulla est
quam necis artifices arte perire suâ._ [This apt latinity betrays Dr.
Sharpe.] But why did you not execute your commission bravely
[openly]?--Why? My commission was to the contrary, to discover his
pretensions, and to seize his secret papers," &c.[74]

But the doctor, though no unskilful writer, here wrote in vain; for what
ingenuity can veil the turpitude of long and practised treachery? To
keep up appearances, Sir Judas resorted more than usually to court;
where, however, he was perpetually enduring rebuffs, or avoided, as one
infected with the plague of treachery. He offered the king, in his own
justification, to take the sacrament, that whatever he had laid to
Rawleigh's charge was true, and would produce two unexceptionable
witnesses to do the like. "Why, then," replied his majesty, "the more
malicious was Sir Walter to utter these speeches at his death." Sir
Thomas Badger, who stood by, observed, "Let the king take off Stucley's
head, as Stucley has done Sir Walter's, and let him at his death take
the sacrament and his oath upon it, and I'll believe him; but till
Stucley loses his head, I shall credit Sir Walter Rawleigh's bare
affirmative before a thousand of Stucley's oaths." When Stucley, on
pretence of giving an account of his office, placed himself in the
audience chamber of the lord admiral, and his lordship passed him
without any notice, Sir Judas attempted to address the earl; but with a
bitter look his lordship exclaimed--"Base fellow! darest thou, who art
the scorn and contempt of men, offer thyself in my presence? Were it not
in my own house, I would cudgel thee with my staff for presuming on this
sauciness." This annihilating affront Stucley hastened to convey to the
king; his majesty answered him--"What wouldst thou have me do? Wouldst
thou have me hang him? Of my soul, if I should hang all that speak ill
of thee, all the trees of the country would not suffice, so great is the

One of the frequent crimes of that age, ere the forgery of bank-notes
existed, was the clipping of gold; and this was one of the private
amusements suitable to the character of our Sir Judas. Treachery and
forgery are the same crime in a different form. Stucley received out of
the exchequer five hundred pounds, as the reward of his _espionnage_ and
perfidy. It was the price of blood, and was hardly in his hands ere it
was turned into the fraudulent coin of "the cheater!" He was seized on
in the palace of Whitehall, for diminishing the gold coin. "The manner
of the discovery," says the manuscript-writer, "was strange, if my
occasions would suffer me to relate the particulars." On his examination
he attempted to shift the crime to his own son, who had fled; and on his
man, who, being taken, in the words of the letter-writer, was "willing
to set the saddle upon the right horse, and accused his master."
Manoury, too, the French empiric, was arrested at Plymouth for the same
crime, and accused his worthy friend. But such was the interest of
Stucley with government, bought, probably, with his last shilling, and,
as one says, with his last shirt, that he obtained his own and his son's
pardon, for a crime that ought to have finally concluded the history of
this blessed family.[75] A more solemn and tragical catastrophe was
reserved for the perfidious Stucley. He was deprived of his place of
vice-admiral, and left destitute in the world. Abandoned by all human
beings, and most probably by the son whom he had tutored in the arts of
villany, he appears to have wandered about, an infamous and distracted
beggar. It is possible that even so seared a conscience may have
retained some remaining touch of sensibility.

                All are men,
    Condemned alike to groan;
  The tender for another's pain,

And Camden has recorded, among his historical notes on James the First,
that in August, 1620, "Lewis Stucley, who betrayed Sir Walter Rawleigh,
died in a manner mad." Such is the catastrophe of one of the most
perfect domestic tales; an historical example, not easily paralleled, of
moral retribution.

The secret practices of the "Sir Judas" of the court of James the First,
which I have discovered, throw light on an old tradition which still
exists in the neighbourhood of Affeton, once the residence of this
wretched man. The country people have long entertained a notion that a
hidden treasure lies at the bottom of a well in his grounds, guarded by
some supernatural power: a tradition no doubt originating in this man's
history, and an obscure allusion to the gold which Stucley received for
his bribe, or the other gold which he clipped, and might have there
concealed. This is a striking instance of the many historical facts
which, though entirely unknown or forgotten, may be often discovered to
lie hid, or disguised, in popular traditions.


  [66] Rawleigh, as was much practised to a much later period, wrote
    his name various ways. I have discovered at least how it was
    pronounced in his time--thus, _Rawly_. This may be additionally
    confirmed by the Scottish poet Drummond, who spells it (in his
    conversations with Ben Jonson) _Raughley_. The translation of
    Ortelius' "Epitome of the Worlde," 1603, is dedicated to Sir Walter
    _Rawleigh_. See vol. ii. p. 261, art. "Orthography of Proper Names."
    It was also written _Rawly_ by his contemporaries. He sometimes
    wrote it _Ralegh_, the last syllable probably pronounced _ly_, or
    _lay_. _Ralegh_ appears on his official seal.

  [67] I shall give in the article "Literary Unions" a curious account
    how "Rawleigh's History of the World" was composed, which has
    hitherto escaped discovery.

  [68] It is narrated in a letter to Sir Robert Cecil from Mr.
    (afterwards Sir) Arthur Gorges, and runs as follows:--"Upon a report
    of her majesty's being at Sir George Carew's, Sir W. Ralegh having
    gazed and sighed a long time at his study window, from whence he
    might discern the barges and boats about the Blackfriars stairs,
    suddenly brake out into a great distemper, and sware that his
    enemies had on purpose brought her majesty thither to break his gall
    in sunder with Tantalus's torments, that when she went away he might
    see death before his eyes; with many such like conceits. And, as a
    man transported with passion, he sware to Sir George Carew that he
    would disguise himself, and get into a pair of oars to ease his mind
    but with a sight of the queen, or else he protested his heart would
    break." This of course the gaoler refused, and so they fell to
    fighting, "scrambling and brawling like madmen," until parted by
    Gorges. Sir Walter followed up his absurdity by another letter to
    Cecil, couched in the language of romance, in which he declares
    that, while the queen "was yet near at hand, that I might hear of
    her once in two or three days my sorrows were the less, but now my
    heart is cast into the depth of all misery."

  [69] These letters were written by Lord Cecil to Sir Thomas Parry,
    our ambassador in France, and were transcribed from the copy-book of
    Sir Thomas Parry's correspondence which is preserved in the Pepysian
    library at Cambridge.

  [70] He had undertaken the expedition immediately upon his release
    from the Tower in 1617. The king had never pardoned him, and his
    release was effected by bribing powerful court favourites, who
    worked upon the avarice of James I. by leading him to hope for the
    possession of Guiana, which, though discovered by the Spaniards, had
    never been conquered by them; and which Rawleigh promised to

  [71] This occurred during the attack on the town of St. Thomas; a
    settlement of the Spaniards near the gold mines. It ended
    disastrously to Rawleigh: his ships mutinied; and he never recovered
    his ill-fortune; but sailed to Newfoundland, and thence, after a
    second mutiny, returned to Plymouth.

  [72] A friend informs me, that he saw recently at a print-dealer's a
    _painted portrait of Sir Walter Rawleigh, with the face thus
    spotted_. It is extraordinary that any artist should have chosen
    such a subject for his pencil; but should this be a portrait of the
    times, it shows that this strange stratagem had excited public

  [73] A small coasting-vessel, made round at stem and stern like the
    Dutch boats. The word is still used in some English counties to
    denote a _tub_.

  [74] Stucley's Humble Petition, touching the bringing up Sir W.
    Rawleigh, 4to. 1618; republished in Somers' Tracts, vol. iii. 751.

  [75] The anecdotes respecting Stucley I have derived from manuscript
    letters, and they were considered to be of so dangerous a nature,
    that the writer recommends secrecy, and requests, after reading,
    that "they may be burnt." With such injunctions I have generally
    found that the letters were the more carefully preserved.


The close of the life of Sir Walter Rawleigh was as extraordinary as
many parts of his varied history; the promptitude and sprightliness of
his genius, his carelessness of life, and the equanimity of this great
spirit in quitting the world, can only be paralleled by a few other
heroes and sages. Rawleigh was both! But it is not simply his dignified
yet active conduct on the scaffold, nor his admirable speech on that
occasion, circumstances by which many great men are judged, when their
energies are excited for a moment to act so great a part, before the
eyes of the world assembled at their feet; it is not these only which
claim our notice.

We may pause with admiration on the real grandeur of Rawleigh's
character, not from a single circumstance, however great, but from a
tissue of continued little incidents, which occurred from the moment of
his condemnation till he laid his head on the block. Rawleigh was a man
of such mark, that he deeply engaged the attention of his
contemporaries; and to this we owe the preservation of several
interesting particulars of what he did and what he said, which have
entered into his life; but all has not been told in the published
narratives. Contemporary writers in their letters have set down every
fresh incident, and eagerly caught up his sense, his wit, and, what is
more delightful, those marks of the natural cheerfulness of his
invariable presence of mind: nor could these have arisen from any
affectation or parade, for we shall see that they served him even in his
last tender farewell to his lady, and on many unpremeditated occasions.

I have drawn together into a short compass all the facts which my
researches have furnished, not omitting those which are known,
concerning the feelings and conduct of Rawleigh at these solemn moments
of his life; to have preserved only the new would have been to mutilate
the statue, and to injure the whole by an imperfect view.

Rawleigh one morning was taken out of his bed, in a fit of fever, and
unexpectedly hurried, not to his trial, but to a sentence of death. The
story is well known.--Yet pleading with "a voice grown weak by sickness
and an ague he had at that instant on him," he used every means to avert
his fate: he did, therefore, value the life he could so easily part
with. His judges, there, at least, respected their state criminal, and
they addressed him in a tone far different from that which he had
fifteen years before listened to from Coke. Yelverton, the
attorney-general, said--"Sir Walter Rawleigh hath been as a star at
which the world have gazed; but stars may fall, nay, they must fall,
when they trouble the sphere where they abide." And the lord
chief-justice noticed Rawleigh's great work:--"I know that you have been
valiant and wise, and I doubt not but you retain both these virtues, for
now you shall have occasion to use them. Your book is an admirable work;
I would give you counsel, but I know you can apply unto yourself far
better than I am able to give you." But the judge ended with saying,
"execution is granted." It was stifling Rawleigh with roses! the heroic
sage felt as if listening to fame from the voice of death.

He declared that now being old, sickly, and in disgrace, and "certain
were he allowed to live, to go to it again, life was wearisome to him,
and all he entreated was to have leave to speak freely at his farewell,
to satisfy the world that he was ever loyal to the king, and a true
lover of the commonwealth; for this he would seal with his blood."

Rawleigh, on his return to his prison, while some were deploring his
fate, observed that "the world itself is but a larger prison, out of
which some are daily selected for execution."

That last night of his existence was occupied by writing what the
letter-writer calls "a remembrancer to be left with his lady, to
acquaint the world with his sentiments, should he be denied their
delivery from the scaffold, as he had been at the bar of the King's
Bench." His lady visited him that night, and amidst her tears acquainted
him that she had obtained the favour of disposing of his body; to which
he answered smiling, "It is well, Bess, that thou mayst dispose of that,
dead, thou hadst not always the disposing of when it was alive." At
midnight he entreated her to leave him. It must have been then, that,
with unshaken fortitude, Rawleigh sat down to compose those verses on
his death, which being short, the most appropriate may be repeated.

  Even such is Time, that takes on trust
    Our youth, our joys, our all we have,
  And pays us but with age and dust;
    Who in the dark and silent grave,
  When we have wandered all our ways,
  Shuts up the story of our days!

He has added two other lines expressive of his trust in his
resurrection. Their authenticity is confirmed by the writer of the
present letter, as well as another writer, enclosing "half a dozen
verses, which Sir Walter made the night before his death, to take his
farewell of poetry, wherein he had been a scribbler even from his
youth." The enclosure is not now with the letter. Chamberlain, the
writer, was an intelligent man of the world, but not imbued with any
deep tincture of literature. On the same night Rawleigh wrote this
distich on the candle burning dimly:--

  Cowards fear to die; but courage stout,
  Rather than live in snuff, will be put out.

At this solemn moment, before he lay down to rest, and at the instant of
parting from his lady, with all his domestic affections still warm, to
express his feelings in verse was with him a natural effusion, and one
to which he had long been used. It is peculiar in the fate of Rawleigh,
that having before suffered a long imprisonment with an expectation of a
public death, his mind had been accustomed to its contemplation, and had
often dwelt on the event which was now passing. The soul, in its sudden
departure, and its future state, is often the subject of his few poems;
that most original one of "The Farewell,"

  Go, soul! the body's guest,
  Upon a thankless errand, &c.

is attributed to Rawleigh, though on uncertain evidence. But another,
entitled "The Pilgrimage," has this beautiful passage:--

  Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
    My staff of truth to walk upon,
  My scrip of joy immortal diet;
    My bottle of salvation;
  My gown of glory, Hope's true gage,
  And thus I'll take my pilgrimage--

  Whilst my soul, like a quiet palmer,
    Travelleth towards the land of Heaven--

Rawleigh's cheerfulness was so remarkable, and his fearlessness of death
so marked, that the Dean of Westminster, who attended him, at first
wondering at the hero, reprehended the lightness of his manner, but
Rawleigh gave God thanks that he had never feared death, for it was but
an opinion and an imagination; and as for the manner of death, he would
rather die so than of a burning fever; and that some might have made
shows outwardly, but he felt the joy within. The dean says, that he made
no more of his death than if he had been to take a journey: "Not," said
he, "but that I am a great sinner, for I have been a soldier, a seaman,
and a courtier." The writer of a manuscript letter tells us, that the
dean declared he died not only religiously, but he found him to be a man
as ready and as able to give as to take instruction.

On the morning of his death he smoked, as usual, his favourite tobacco,
and when they brought him a cup of excellent sack, being asked how he
liked it, Rawleigh answered--"As the fellow, that, drinking of St.
Giles's bowl, as he went to Tyburn, said, 'that was good drink if a man
might tarry by it.'"[76] The day before, in passing from Westminster
Hall to the Gate-house, his eye had caught Sir Hugh Beeston in the
throng, and calling on him, Rawleigh requested that he would see him die
to-morrow. Sir Hugh, to secure himself a seat on the scaffold, had
provided himself with a letter to the sheriff, which was not read at the
time, and Sir Walter found his friend thrust by, lamenting that he could
not get there. "Farewell!" exclaimed Rawleigh, "I know not what shift
you will make, but I am sure to have a place." In going from the prison
to the scaffold, among others who were pressing hard to see him, one old
man, whose head was bald, came very forward, insomuch that Rawleigh
noticed him, and asked "whether he would have aught of him?" The old man
answered--"Nothing but to see him, and to pray God for him." Rawleigh
replied--"I thank thee, good friend, and I am sorry I have no better
thing to return thee for thy good will." Observing his bald head, he
continued, "but take this night-cap (which was a very rich wrought one
that he wore), for thou hast more need of it now than I."

His dress, as was usual with him, was elegant, if not rich.[77] Oldys
describes it, but mentions, that "he had a wrought nightcap under his
hat;" this we have otherwise disposed of; he wore a ruff-band, a black
wrought velvet night-gown over a hare-coloured satin doublet, and a
black wrought waistcoat; black cut taffety breeches, and ash-coloured
silk stockings.

He ascended the scaffold with the same cheerfulness as he had passed to
it; and observing the lords seated at a distance, some at windows, he
requested they would approach him, as he wished that they should all
witness what he had to say. The request was complied with by several.
His speech is well known; but some copies contain matters not in others.
When he finished, he requested Lord Arundel that the king would not
suffer any libels to defame him after death.--"And now I have a long
journey to go, and must take my leave." "He embraced all the lords and
other friends with such courtly compliments, as if he had met them at
some feast," says a letter-writer. Having taken off his gown, he called
to the headsman to show him the axe, which not being instantly done, he
repeated, "I prithee let me see it, dost thou think that I am afraid of
it?" He passed the edge lightly over his finger, and smiling, observed
to the sheriff, "This is a sharp medicine, but a sound cure for all
diseases," and kissing it laid it down. Another writer has, "This is
that that will cure all sorrows." After this he went to three several
corners of the scaffold, and kneeling down, desired all the people to
pray for him, and recited a long prayer to himself. When he began to fit
himself for the block, he first laid himself down to try how the block
fitted him; after rising up, the executioner kneeled down to ask his
forgiveness, which Rawleigh with an embrace gave, but entreated him not
to strike till he gave a token by lifting up his hand, "_and then, fear
not, but strike home!_" When he laid his head down to receive the
stroke, the executioner desired him to lay his face towards the east.
"It was no great matter which way a man's head stood, so that the heart
lay right," said Rawleigh; but these were not his last words. He was
once more to speak in this world with the same intrepidity he had lived
in it--for, having lain some minutes on the block in prayer, he gave the
signal; but the executioner, either unmindful, or in fear, failed to
strike, and Rawleigh, after once or twice putting forth his hands, was
compelled to ask him, "Why dost thou not strike? Strike! man!" In two
blows he was beheaded; but from the first his body never shrunk from the
spot by any discomposure of his posture, which, like his mind, was

"In all the time he was upon the scaffold, and before," says one of the
manuscript letter-writers, "there appeared not the least alteration in
him, either in his voice or countenance; but he seemed as free from all
manner of apprehension as if he had been come thither rather to be a
spectator than a sufferer; nay, the beholders seemed much more sensible
than did he, so that he hath purchased here in the opinion of men such
honour and reputation, as it is thought his greatest enemies are they
that are most sorrowful for his death, which they see is like to turn so
much to his advantage."

The people were deeply affected at the sight, and so much, that one said
that "we had not such another head to cut off;" and another "wished the
head and brains to be upon Secretary Naunton's shoulders." The observer
suffered for this; he was a wealthy citizen, and great newsmonger, and
one who haunted Paul's Walk. Complaint was made, and the citizen was
summoned to the Privy Council. He pleaded that he intended no disrespect
to Mr. Secretary, but only spoke in reference to the old proverb, that
"two heads were better than one!" His excuse was allowed at the moment;
but when afterwards called on for a contribution to St. Paul's
Cathedral, and having subscribed a hundred pounds, the Secretary
observed to him, that "two are better than one, Mr. Wiemark!" Either
from fear or charity, the witty citizen doubled his subscription.[78]

Thus died this glorious and gallant cavalier, of whom Osborne says, "His
death was managed by him with so high and religious a resolution, as if
a Roman had acted a Christian, or rather a Christian a Roman."[79]

After having read the preceding article, we are astonished at the
greatness, and the variable nature of this extraordinary man and this
happy genius. With Gibbon, who once meditated to write his life, we may
pause, and pronounce "his character ambiguous;" but we shall not
hesitate to decide that Rawleigh knew better how to die than to live.
"His glorious hours," says a contemporary, "were his arraignment and
execution;" but never will be forgotten the intermediate years of his
lettered imprisonment; the imprisonment of the learned may sometimes be
their happiest leisure.


  [76] In the old time, when prisoners were conveyed from Newgate to
    Tyburn, they stopped about midway at the "Old Hospital," at St.
    Giles's-in-the-fields, "and," says Stow, "were presented with a
    great bowl of ale, thereof to drink at their pleasure, as to be
    their last refreshment in this life."

  [77] Rawleigh's love of dress is conspicuous in the early portraits
    of him we possess, and particularly so in the one engraved by Lodge.

  [78] The general impression was so much in disfavour of this
    judicial murder, that James thought it politic to publish an 8vo
    pamphlet, in 1618, entitled, "A Declaration of the Demeanor and
    Cariage of Sir Walter Raleigh, Knight, as well in his Voyage, as in
    and sithence his Returne: and of the true motives and inducements
    which occasioned his Maiestie to proceed in doing justice upon him,
    as hath beene done." It takes the whole question apologetically of
    the licence given him to Guiana, "as his Majestie's honour was in a
    manner engaged, not to deny unto his people the adventure and hope
    of such great riches" as the mines of that island might yield. It
    afterwards details his proceedings there, which are declared
    criminal, dangerous to his Majesty's allies, and an abuse of his
    commission. It ends by defending his execution, "because he could
    not by law be judicially called in question, for that his former
    attainder of treason is the highest and last worke of the law
    (whereby hee was _civiliter mortuus_) his Maiestie was enforced
    (except attainders should become priviledges for all subsequent
    offences) to resolve to have him executed upon his former

  [79] The chief particulars in this narrative are drawn from two
    manuscript letters of the day, in the Sloane Collection, under their
    respective dates, Nov. 3, 1618, Larkin to Sir Thos. Pickering; Oct.
    13, 1618, Chamberlain's letters.



A union of talents, differing in their qualities, might carry some
important works to a more extended perfection. In a work of great
enterprise, the aid of a friendly hand may be absolutely necessary to
complete the labours of the projector, who may have neither the courage,
the leisure, nor all necessary acquisitions for performing the favourite
task which he has otherwise matured. Many great works, commenced by a
master-genius, have remained unfinished, or have been deficient for want
of this friendly succour. The public would have been grateful to
Johnson, had he united in his dictionary the labours of some learned
etymologist. Speed's Chronicle owes most of its value, as it does its
ornaments, to the hand of Sir Robert Cotton, and other curious
researchers, who contributed entire portions. Goguet's esteemed work of
the "Origin of the Arts and Sciences" was greatly indebted to the
fraternal zeal of a devoted friend. The still valued books of the Port
Royal Society were all formed by this happy union. The secret history of
many eminent works would show the advantages which may be derived from
that combination of talents, differing in their nature. Cumberland's
masterly versions of the fragments of the Greek dramatic poets would
never have been given to the poetical world, had he not accidentally
possessed the manuscript notes of his relative, the learned Bentley.
This treasure supplied that research in the most obscure works, which
the volatile studies of Cumberland could never have explored; a
circumstance which he concealed from the world, proud of the Greek
erudition which he thus cheaply possessed. Yet by this literary union,
Bentley's vast erudition made those researches which Cumberland could
not; and Cumberland gave the nation a copy of the domestic drama of
Greece, of which Bentley was incapable.

There is a large work, which is still celebrated, of which the
composition has excited the astonishment even of the philosophic Hume,
but whose secret history remains yet to be disclosed. This extraordinary
volume is "The History of the World by Rawleigh." I shall transcribe
Hume's observations, that the reader may observe the literary
phenomenon. "They were struck with the extensive genius of the man, who
being educated amidst naval and military enterprises, _had surpassed in
the pursuits of literature, even those of the most recluse and sedentary
lives_; and they admired his unbroken magnanimity, which at his age, and
under his circumstances, could engage him to undertake and execute so
great a work, as his History of the World." Now when the truth is known,
the wonderful in this literary mystery will disappear, except in the
eloquent, the grand, and the pathetic passages interspersed in that
venerable volume. We may, indeed, pardon the astonishment of our calm
philosopher, when we consider the recondite matter contained in this
work, and recollect the little time which this adventurous spirit, whose
life was passed in fabricating his own fortune, and in perpetual
enterprise, could allow to such erudite pursuits. Where could Rawleigh
obtain that familiar acquaintance with the rabbins, of whose language he
was probably entirely ignorant? His numerous publications, the effusions
of a most active mind, though excellent in their kind, were evidently
composed by one who was not abstracted in curious and remote inquiries,
but full of the daily business and the wisdom of human life. His
confinement in the Tower, which lasted several years, was indeed
sufficient for the composition of this folio volume, and of a second
which appears to have occupied him. But in that imprisonment it
singularly happened that he lived among literary characters with most
intimate friendship. There he joined the Earl of Northumberland, the
patron of the philosophers of his age, and with whom Rawleigh pursued
his chemical studies; and Serjeant Hoskins, a poet and a wit, and the
poetical "father" of Ben Jonson, who acknowledged that "It was Hoskins
who had polished him;" and that Rawleigh often consulted Hoskins on his
literary works, I learn from a manuscript. But however literary the
atmosphere of the Tower proved to Rawleigh, no particle of Hebrew, and
perhaps little of Grecian lore, floated from a chemist and a poet. The
truth is, that the collection of the materials of this history was the
labour of several persons, who have not all been discovered. It has been
ascertained that Ben Jonson was a considerable contributor; and there
was an English philosopher from whom Descartes, it is said even by his
own countrymen, borrowed largely--Thomas Hariot, whom Anthony Wood
charges with infusing into Rawleigh's volume philosophical notions,
while Rawleigh was composing his History of the World. But if
Rawleigh's _pursuits surpassed even those of the most recluse and
sedentary lives_, as Hume observes, we must attribute this to a "Dr.
Robert Burrel, Rector of Northwald, in the county of Norfolk, who was a
great favourite of Sir Walter Rawleigh, and had been his chaplain. All,
or the greatest part of the drudgery of Sir Walter's History for
criticisms, chronology, and reading Greek and Hebrew authors, was
performed by him for Sir Walter."[80] Thus a simple fact, when
discovered, clears up the whole mystery; and we learn how that knowledge
was acquired, which, as Hume sagaciously detected, required "a recluse
and sedentary life," such as the studies and the habits of a country
clergyman would have been in a learned age.

The secret history of another work, still more celebrated than the
History of the World, by Sir Walter Rawleigh, will doubtless surprise
its numerous admirers.

Without the aid of a friendly hand, we should probably have been
deprived of the delightful History of Artists by Vasari: although a mere
painter and goldsmith, and not a literary man, Vasari was blessed with
the nice discernment of one deeply conversant with art, and saw rightly
what was to be done, when the idea of the work was suggested by the
celebrated Paulus Jovius as a supplement to his own work of the
"Eulogiums of Illustrious Men." Vasari approved of the project; but on
that occasion judiciously observed, not blinded by the celebrity of the
literary man who projected it, that "It would require the assistance of
an artist to collect the materials, and arrange them in their proper
order; for although Jovius displayed great knowledge in his
observations, yet he had not been equally accurate in the arrangement of
his facts in his book of Eulogiums." Afterwards, when Vasari began to
collect his information, and consulted Paulus Jovius on the plan,
although that author highly approved of what he saw, he alleged his own
want of leisure and ability to complete such an enterprise; and this was
fortunate: we should otherwise have had, instead of the rambling spirit
which charms us in the volumes of Vasari, the verbose babble of a
declaimer. Vasari, however, looked round for the assistance he wanted; a
circumstance which Tiraboschi has not noticed: like Hogarth, he required
a literary man for his scribe. I have discovered the name of the chief
writer of the Lives of the Painters, who wrote under the direction of
Vasari, and probably often used his own natural style, and conveyed to
us those reflections which surely come from their source. I shall give
the passage, as a curious instance where the secret history of books is
often detected in the most obscure corners of research. Who could have
imagined that in a collection of the lives _de' Santi e Beati dell'
Ordine de' Predicatori_, we are to look for the writer of Vasari's
lives? Don Serafini Razzi, the author of this ecclesiastical biography,
has this reference: "Who would see more of this may turn to the Lives of
the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, _written for the greater part
by Don Silvano Razzi_, my brother, for the Signor Cavaliere M. Giorgio
Vasari, his great friend."[81]

The discovery that Vasari's volumes were not entirely written by
himself, though probably under his dictation, and unquestionably, with
his communications, as we know that Dr. Morell wrote the "Analysis of
Beauty" for Hogarth, will perhaps serve to clear up some unaccountable
mistakes or omissions which appear in that series of volumes, written
at long intervals, and by different hands. Mr. Fuseli has alluded to
them in utter astonishment; and cannot account for Vasari's "incredible
dereliction of reminiscence, which prompted him to transfer what he had
rightly ascribed to Giorgione in one edition to the elder Parma in the
subsequent ones." Again: "Vasari's memory was either so treacherous, or
his rapidity in writing so inconsiderate, that his account of the
Capella Sistina, and the stanze of Raffaello, is a mere heap of errors
and unpardonable confusion." Even Bottari, his learned editor, is at a
loss how to account for his mistakes. Mr. Fuseli finely observes--"He
has been called the Herodotus of our art; and if the main simplicity of
his narrative, and the desire of heaping anecdote on anecdote, entitle
him in some degree to that appellation, we ought not to forget that the
information of every day adds something to the authenticity of the Greek
historian, whilst every day furnishes matter to question the credibility
of the Tuscan." All this strongly confirms the suspicion that Vasari
employed different hands at different times to write out his work. Such
mistakes would occur to a new writer, not always conversant with the
subject he was composing on, and the disjointed materials of which were
often found in a disordered state. It is, however, strange that neither
Bottari nor Tiraboschi appears to have been aware that Vasari employed
others to write for him; we see that from the first suggestion of the
work he had originally proposed that Paulus Jovius should hold the pen
for him.

The principle illustrated in this article might be pursued; but the
secret history of two great works so well known is as sufficient as
twenty others of writings less celebrated. The literary phenomenon which
had puzzled the calm inquiring Hume to cry out "a miracle!" has been
solved by the discovery of a little fact on Literary Unions, which
derives importance from this circumstance.[82]


  [80] I draw my information from a very singular manuscript in the
    Lansdowne collection, which I think has been mistaken for a boy's
    ciphering book, of which it has much the appearance, No. 741, fo.
    57, as it stands in the auctioneer's catalogue. It appears to be a
    collection closely written, extracted out of Anthony Wood's papers;
    and as I have discovered in the manuscript numerous notices not
    elsewhere preserved, I am inclined to think that the transcriber
    copied them from that mass of Anthony Wood's papers, of which more
    than one sackful was burnt at his desire before him when dying. If
    it be so, this MS. is the only register of many curious facts.

    Ben Jonson has been too freely censured for his own free censures,
    and particularly for one he made on Sir Walter Rawleigh, who, he
    told Drummond, "esteemed more fame than conscience. _The best wits
    in England were employed in making his History_; Ben himself had
    written a piece to him of the Punic War, which he altered and set in
    his book." Jonson's powerful advocate, Mr. Gifford, has not alleged
    a word in the defence of our great bard's free conversational
    strictures; the secret history of Rawleigh's great work had never
    been discovered; on this occasion, however, Jonson only spoke what
    he knew to be true--and there may have been other truths, in those
    conversations which were set down at random by Drummond, who may
    have chiefly recollected the satirical touches.

  [81] I find this quotation in a sort of polemical work of natural
    philosophy, entitled "Saggio di Storia Litteraria Fiorentina del
    Secolo XVII. da Giovanne Clemente Nelli," Lucca, 1759, p. 58. Nelli
    also refers to what he had said on this subject in his _Piante ad
    alzati di S.M. del Fiore_, p. vi. e vii.; a work on architecture.
    See Brunet; and Haym, _Bib. Ital. de Libri rari_.

  [82] MR. PATRICK FRASER TYTLER, in his recent biography of Sir
    Walter Rawleigh, a work of vigorous research and elegant
    composition, has dedicated to me a supernumerary article in his
    Appendix, entitled _Mr. D'Israeli's Errors_!

    He has inferred from the present article, that I denied that
    Rawleigh was the writer of his own great work!--because I have shown
    how great works may be advantageously pursued by the aid of
    "Literary Union." It is a monstrous inference! The chimera which
    plays before his eyes is his own contrivance; he starts at his own
    phantasmagoria, and leaves me, after all, to fight with his shadow.

    Mr. Tytler _has not contradicted a single statement of mine_. I have
    carefully read his article and my own, and I have made no

    I may be allowed to add that there is much redundant matter in the
    article of Mr. Tytler; and, to use the legal style, there is much
    "impertinence," which, with a little candour and more philosophy, he
    would strike his pen through, as sound lawyers do on these


There are objects connected with literary curiosity, whose very history,
though they may never gratify our sight, is literary; and the
originality of their invention, should they excite imitation, may serve
to constitute a class. I notice a book-curiosity of this nature.

This extraordinary volume may be said to have contained the travels and
adventures of Charles Magius, a noble Venetian; and this volume, so
precious, consisted only of eighteen pages, composed of a series of
highly-finished miniature paintings on vellum, some executed by the hand
of Paul Veronese. Each page, however, may be said to contain many
chapters; for, generally, it is composed of a large centre-piece,
surrounded by ten small ones, with many apt inscriptions, allegories,
and allusions; the whole exhibiting romantic incidents in the life of
this Venetian nobleman. But it is not merely as a beautiful production
of art that we are to consider it; it becomes associated with a more
elevated feeling in the occasion which produced it. The author, who is
himself the hero, after having been long calumniated, resolved to set
before the eyes of his accusers the sufferings and adventures he could
perhaps have but indifferently described: and instead of composing a
tedious volume for his justification, invented this new species of
pictorial biography. The author minutely described the remarkable
situations in which fortune had placed him; and the artists, in
embellishing the facts he furnished them with to record, emulated each
other in giving life to their truth, and putting into action, before the
spectator, incidents which the pen had less impressively exhibited. This
unique production may be considered as a model to represent the actions
of those who may succeed more fortunately by this new mode of
perpetuating their history; discovering, by the aid of the pencil,
rather than by their pen, the forms and colours of an extraordinary

It was when the Ottomans (about 1571) attacked the Isle of Cyprus, that
this Venetian nobleman was charged by his republic to review and repair
the fortifications. He was afterwards sent to the pope to negociate an
alliance: he returned to the senate to give an account of his
commission. Invested with the chief command, at the head of his troops,
Magius threw himself into the island of Cyprus, and after a skilful
defence, which could not prevent its fall, at Famagusta he was taken
prisoner by the Turks, and made a slave. His age and infirmities induced
his master, at length, to sell him to some Christian merchants; and
after an absence of several years from his beloved Venice, he suddenly
appeared, to the astonishment and mortification of a party who had never
ceased to calumniate him; while his own noble family were compelled to
preserve an indignant silence, having had no communications with their
lost and enslaved relative. Magius now returned to vindicate his honour,
to reinstate himself in the favour of the senate, and to be restored to
a venerable parent amidst his family; to whom he introduced a fresh
branch, in a youth of seven years old, the child of his misfortunes,
who, born in trouble, and a stranger to domestic endearments, was at one
moment united to a beloved circle of relations.

I shall give a rapid view of some of the pictures of this Venetian
nobleman's life. The whole series has been elaborately drawn up by the
Duke de la Vallière, the celebrated book-collector, who dwells on the
detail with the curiosity of an amateur.[83]

In a rich frontispiece, a Christ is expiring on the cross; Religion,
leaning on a column, contemplates the Divinity, and Hope is not distant
from her. The genealogical tree of the house of Magius, with an
allegorical representation of Venice, its nobility, power, and riches:
the arms of Magius, in which is inserted a view of the Holy Sepulchre of
Jerusalem, of which he was made a knight; his portrait, with a Latin
inscription: "I have passed through arms and the enemy, amidst fire and
water, and the Lord conducted me to a safe asylum, in the year of grace
1571." The portrait of his son, aged seven years, finished with the
greatest beauty, and supposed to have come from the hand of Paul
Veronese; it bears this inscription: "Overcome by violence and artifice,
almost dead before his birth, his mother was at length delivered of him,
full of life, with all the loveliness of infancy; under the divine
protection, his birth was happy, and his life with greater happiness
shall be closed with good fortune."

A plan of the Isle of Cyprus, where Magius commanded, and his first
misfortune happened, his slavery by the Turks.--The painter has
expressed this by an emblem of a tree shaken by the winds and scathed by
the lightning; but from the trunk issues a beautiful green branch
shining in a brilliant sun, with this device--"From this fallen trunk
springs a branch full of vigour."

The missions of Magius to raise troops in the province of La Puglia.--In
one of these Magius is seen returning to Venice; his final departure,--a
thunderbolt is viewed falling on his vessel--his passage by Corfu and
Zante, and his arrival at Candia.

His travels to Egypt.--The centre figure represents this province
raising its right hand extended towards a palm-tree, and the left
leaning on a pyramid, inscribed "Celebrated throughout the world for her
wonders." The smaller pictures are the entrance of Magius into the port
of Alexandria; Rosetta, with a caravan of Turks and different nations;
the city of Grand Cairo, exterior and interior, with views of other
places; and finally, his return to Venice.

His journey to Rome.--The centre figure an armed Pallas seated on
trophies, the Tyber beneath her feet, a globe in her hands, inscribed
_Quod rerum victrix ac domina_,--"Because she is the Conqueress and
Mistress of the World." The ten small pictures are views of the cities
in the pope's dominion. His first audience at the conclave forms a
pleasing and fine composition.

His travels into Syria.--The principal figure is a female, emblematical
of that fine country; she is seated in the midst of a gay orchard, and
embraces a bundle of roses, inscribed _Mundi deliciæ_--"The delight of
the universe." The small compartments are views of towns and ports, and
the spot where Magius collected his fleet.

His pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he was made a knight of the Holy
Sepulchre.--The principal figure represents Devotion, inscribed
_Ducit_--"It is she who conducts me." The compartments exhibit a variety
of objects, with a correctness of drawing which is described as
belonging to the class, and partaking of the charms of the pencil of
Claude Lorraine. His vessel is first viewed in the roadstead at Venice
beat by a storm; arrives at Zante to refresh; enters the port of Simiso;
there having landed, he and his companions are proceeding to the town on
asses, for Christians were not permitted to travel in Turkey on horses.
In the church at Jerusalem the bishop, in his pontifical habit, receives
him as a knight of the Holy Sepulchre, arraying him in the armour of
Godfrey of Bouillon, and placing his sword in the hands of Magius. His
arrival at Bethlehem, to see the cradle of the Lord--and his return by
Jaffa with his companions, in the dress of pilgrims; the groups are
finely contrasted with the Turks mingling amongst them.

The taking of the city of Famagusta, and his slavery.--The middle
figure, with a dog at its feet, represents Fidelity, the character of
Magius, who ever preferred it to his life or his freedom, inscribed
_Captivat_--"She has reduced me to slavery." Six smaller pictures
exhibit the different points of the island of Cyprus where the Turks
effected their descents. Magius retreating to Famagusta, which he long
defended, and where his cousin, a skilful engineer, was killed. The
Turks compelled to raise the siege, but return with greater forces--the
sacking of the town and the palace, where Magius was taken.--One picture
exhibits him brought before a bashaw, who has him stripped, to judge of
his strength and fix his price, when, after examination, he is sent
among other slaves. He is seen bound and tied up among his companions in
misfortune--again he is forced to labour, and carries a cask of water on
his shoulders.--In another picture, his master, finding him weak of
body, conducts him to a slave-merchant to sell him. In another we see
him leading an ass loaded with packages; his new master, finding him
loitering on his way, showers his blows on him, while a soldier is seen
purloining one of the packages from the ass. Another exhibits Magius
sinking with fatigue on the sands, while his master would raise him up
by an unsparing use of the bastinado. The varied details of these little
paintings are pleasingly executed.

The close of his slavery.--The middle figure kneeling to Heaven, and a
light breaking from it, inscribed, "He breaks my chains," to express
the confidence of Magius. The Turks are seen landing with their pillage
and their slaves.--In one of the pictures are seen two ships on fire; a
young lady of Cyprus preferring death to the loss of her honour and the
miseries of slavery, determined to set fire to the vessel in which she
was carried; she succeeded, and the flames communicated to another.

His return to Venice.--The painter for his principal figure has chosen a
Pallas, with a helmet on her head, the ægis on one arm, and her lance in
the other, to describe the courage with which Magius had supported his
misfortunes, inscribed _Reducit_--"She brings me back." In the last of
the compartments he is seen at the custom-house at Venice; he enters the
house of his father; the old man hastens to meet him, and embraces him.

One page is filled by a single picture, which represents the senate of
Venice, with the Doge on his throne; Magius presents an account of his
different employments, and holds in his hand a scroll, on which is
written, _Quod commisisti perfeci; quod restat agendum, pare fide
complectar_--"I have done what you committed to my care; and I will
perform with the same fidelity what remains to be done." He is received
by the senate with the most distinguished honours, and is not only
justified, but praised and honoured.

The most magnificent of these paintings is the one attributed to Paul
Veronese. It is described by the Duke de la Vallière as almost
unparalleled for its richness, its elegance, and its brilliancy. It is
inscribed _Pater meus et fratres mei dereliquerunt me; Dominus autem
assumpsit me!_--"My father and my brothers abandoned me; but the Lord
took me under his protection." This is an allusion to the accusation
raised against him in the open senate when the Turks took the Isle of
Cyprus, and his family wanted either the confidence or the courage to
defend Magius. In the front of this large picture, Magius leading his
son by the hand, conducts him to be reconciled with his brothers and
sisters-in-law, who are on the opposite side; his hand holds this
scroll, _Vos cogitastis de me malum; sed Deus convertit illud in
bonum_--"You thought ill of me; but the Lord has turned it to good." In
this he alludes to the satisfaction he had given the senate, and to the
honours they had decreed him. Another scene is introduced, where Magius
appears in a magnificent hall at a table in the midst of all his family,
with whom a general reconciliation has taken place: on his left hand
are gardens opening with an enchanting effect, and magnificently
ornamented, with the villa of his father, on which flowers and wreaths
seem dropping on the roof, as if from heaven. In the perspective, the
landscape probably represents the rural neighbourhood of Magius's early

Such are the most interesting incidents which I have selected from the
copious description of the Duke de la Vallière. The idea of this
production is new: an autobiography in a series of remarkable scenes,
painted under the eye of the describer of them, in which, too, he has
preserved all the fulness of his feelings and his minutest
recollections; but the novelty becomes interesting from the character of
the noble Magius, and the romantic fancy which inspired this elaborate
and costly curiosity. It was not, indeed, without some trouble that I
have drawn up this little account; but while thus employed, I seemed to
be composing a very uncommon romance.


  [83] The Duke's description is not to be found, as might be
    expected, in his own valued catalogue, but was a contribution to
    Gaignat's, ii. 16, where it occupies fourteen pages. This singular
    work sold at Gaignat's sale for 902 livres. It was then the golden
    age of literary curiosity, when the rarest things were not ruinous;
    and that price was even then considered extraordinary, though the
    work was an unique. It must consist of about 180 subjects, by
    Italian artists.


It is an important principle in morals and in politics, not to mistake
the cause for the pretext, nor the pretext for the cause, and by this
means to distinguish between the concealed and the ostensible motive. On
this principle, history might be recomposed in a new manner; it would
not often describe _circumstances_ and _characters_ as they usually
appear. When we mistake the characters of men, we mistake the nature of
their actions; and we shall find in the study of secret history, that
some of the most important events in modern history were produced from
very different motives than their ostensible ones. Polybius, the most
philosophical writer of the ancients, has marked out this useful
distinction of _cause_ and _pretext_, and aptly illustrates the
observation by the facts which he explains. Amilcar, for instance, was
the first author and contriver of the second Punic war, though he died
ten years before the commencement of it. "A statesman," says the wise
and grave historian, "who knows not how to trace the origin of events,
and discern the different sources from whence they take their rise, may
be compared to a physician who neglects to inform himself of the causes
of those distempers which he is called in to cure. Our pains can never
be better employed than in searching out the causes of events; for the
most trifling incidents give birth to matters of the greatest moment and
importance." The latter part of this remark of Polybius points out
another principle which has been often verified by history, and which
furnished the materials of the little book of "Grands Evénemens par les
petites Causes."

Our present inquiry concerns "cause and pretext."

Leo X. projected an alliance of the sovereigns of Christendom against
the Turks. The avowed object was to oppose the progress of the Ottomans
against the Mamelukes of Egypt, who were more friendly to the
Christians; but the concealed motive with his holiness was to enrich
himself and his family with the spoils of Christendom, and to aggrandise
the papal throne by war; and such, indeed, the policy of these pontiffs
had always been in those mad crusades which they excited against the

The Reformation, excellent as its results have proved in the cause of
genuine freedom, originated in no purer source than human passions and
selfish motives: it was the progeny of avarice in Germany, of novelty in
France, and of love in England. The latter is elegantly alluded to by

  And gospel-light first beam'd from Bullen's eyes.

The Reformation is considered by the Duke of Nevers, in a work printed
in 1590, as it had been by Francis I., in his Apology in 1537, as a
_coup-d'état_ of Charles V. towards universal monarchy. The duke says,
that the emperor silently permitted Luther to establish his principles
in Germany, that they might split the confederacy of the elective
princes, and by this division facilitate their more easy conquest, and
play them off one against another, and by these means to secure the
imperial crown hereditary in the house of Austria. Had Charles V. not
been the mere creature of his politics, and had he felt any zeal for the
Catholic cause, which he pretended to fight for, never would he have
allowed the new doctrines to spread for more than twenty years without
the least opposition.

The famous League in France was raised for "religion and the relief of
public grievances;" such was the pretext! After the princes and the
people had alike become its victims, this "league" was discovered to
have been formed by the pride and the ambition of the Guises, aided by
the machinations of the Jesuits against the attempts of the Prince of
Condé to dislodge them from their "seat of power." While the Huguenots
pillaged, burnt, and massacred, declaring in their manifestoes that they
were only fighting to _release the king_, whom they asserted was a
prisoner of the Guises, the Catholics repaid them with the same
persecution and the same manifestoes, declaring that they only wished
_to liberate the Prince of Condé_, who was the prisoner of the
Huguenots. The people were led on by the cry of "religion;" but this
civil war was not in reality so much Catholic against Huguenot, as Guise
against Condé. A parallel event occurred between our Charles I. and the
Scotch Covenanters; and the king expressly declared, in "a large
declaration, concerning the late tumults in Scotland," that "religion is
only _pretended_, and used by them as a cloak to palliate their
_intended rebellion_," which he demonstrated by the facts he alleged.
There was a revolutionary party in France, which, taking the name of
_Frondeurs_, shook that kingdom under the administration of Cardinal
Mazarin, and held out for their pretext the public freedom. But that
faction, composed of some of the discontented French princes and the
mob, was entirely organized by Cardinal de Retz, who held them in hand,
to check or to spur them as the occasion required, from a mere personal
pique against Mazarin, who had not treated that vivacious genius with
all the deference he exacted. This appears from his own Memoirs.

We have smiled at James I. threatening the States-general by the English
ambassador, about Vorstius, a Dutch professor, who had espoused the
doctrines of Arminius against those of the contra-remonstrants, or
Calvinists; the ostensible subject was religious, or rather
metaphysical-religious doctrines, but the concealed one was a struggle
for predominance between the Pensionary Barnevelt, assisted by the
French interest, and the Prince of Orange, supported by the English.
"These were the real sources," says Lord Hardwicke, a statesman and a
man of letters, deeply conversant with secret and public history, and a
far more able judge than Diodati the Swiss divine, and Brandt the
ecclesiastical historian, who in the synod of Dort could see nothing but
what appeared in it, and gravely narrated the idle squabbles on phrases
concerning predestination or grace. Hales, of Eaton, who was secretary
to the English ambassador at this synod, perfectly accords with the
account of Lord Hardwicke. "Our synod," writes that judicious observer,
"goes on like a watch; the main wheels upon which the whole business
turns are least in sight; for all things of moment are acted in private
sessions; _what is done in public is only for show and entertainment_."

The _cause_ of the persecution of the Jansenists was the jealousy of the
Jesuits; the _pretext_ was _la grace suffisante_. The learned La Croze
observes, that the same circumstance occurred in the affair of Nestorius
and the church of Alexandria; the pretext was orthodoxy, the cause was
the jealousy of the church of Alexandria, or rather the fiery and
turbulent Cyril, who personally hated Nestorius. The opinions of
Nestorius, and the council which condemned them, were the same in
effect. I only produce this remote fact to prove that ancient times do
not alter the truth of our principle.

When James II. was so strenuous an advocate for _toleration_ and
_liberty of conscience_ in removing the Test Act, this enlightened
principle of government was only a _pretext_ with that monk-ridden
monarch; it is well known that the _cause_ was to introduce and make the
Catholics predominant in his councils and government. The result, which
that eager and blind politician hurried on too fast, and which therefore
did not take place, would have been that "liberty of conscience" would
soon have become an "overt act of treason" before an inquisition of his

In all political affairs drop the _pretexts_ and strike at the _causes_;
we may thus understand what the heads of parties may choose to conceal.


A writer, whose learning gives value to his eloquence, in his Bampton
Lectures has censured, with that liberal spirit so friendly to the cause
of truth, the calumnies and rumours of parties, which are still
industriously retailed, though they have been often confuted. Forged
documents are still referred to, or tales unsupported by evidence are
confidently quoted. Mr. Heber's subject confined his inquiries to
theological history; he has told us that "Augustin is not ashamed, in
his dispute with Faustus, to take advantage of the popular slanders
against the followers of Manes, though his own experience (for he had
himself been of that sect) was sufficient to detect this falsehood."
The Romanists, in spite of satisfactory answers, have continued to urge
against the English protestant the romance of Parker's consecration;[84]
while the protestant persists in falsely imputing to the catholic public
formularies the systematic omission of the second commandment. "The
calumnies of Rimius and Stinstra against the Moravian brethren are cases
in point," continues Mr. Heber. "No one now believes them, yet they once
could deceive even Warburton!" We may also add the obsolete calumny of
Jews crucifying boys--of which a monument raised to Hugh of Lincoln
perpetuates the memory, and which a modern historian records without any
scruple of doubt; several authorities, which are cited on this occasion,
amount only to the single one of Matthew Paris, who gives it as a
popular rumour. Such accusations usually happened when the Jews were too
rich and the king was too poor![85]

The falsehoods and forgeries raised by parties are overwhelming! It
startles a philosopher, in the calm of his study, when he discovers how
writers, who, we may presume, are searchers after truth, should, in
fact, turn out to be searchers after the grossest fictions. This alters
the habits of the literary man: it is an unnatural depravity of his
pursuits--and it proves that the personal is too apt to predominate over
the literary character.

I have already touched on the main point of the present article in the
one on "Political Nicknames." I have there shown how political calumny
appears to have been reduced into an art; one of its branches would be
that of converting forgeries and fictions into historical authorities.

When one nation is at war with another, there is no doubt that the two
governments connive at, and often encourage, the most atrocious libels
on each other, to madden the people to preserve their independence, and
contribute cheerfully to the expenses of the war. France and England
formerly complained of Holland--the Athenians employed the same policy
against the Macedonians and Persians. Such is the origin of a vast
number of supposititious papers and volumes, which sometimes, at a
remote date, confound the labours of the honest historian, and too often
serve the purposes of the dishonest, with whom they become authorities.
The crude and suspicious libels which were drawn out of their obscurity
in Cromwell's time against James the First have overloaded the character
of that monarch, yet are now eagerly referred to by party writers,
though in their own days they were obsolete and doubtful. During the
civil wars of Charles the First such spurious documents exist in the
forms of speeches which were never spoken; of letters never written by
the names subscribed; printed declarations never declared; battles never
fought, and victories never obtained! Such is the language of Rushworth,
who complains of this evil spirit of party forgeries, while he is
himself suspected of having rescinded or suppressed whatever was not
agreeable to his patron Cromwell. A curious, and perhaps a necessary
list might be drawn up of political forgeries of our own, which have
been sometimes referred to as genuine, but which are the inventions of
wits and satirists! Bayle ingeniously observes, that at the close of
every century such productions should be branded by a skilful
discriminator, to save the future inquirer from errors he can hardly
avoid. "How many are still kept in error by the satires of the sixteenth
century! Those of the present age will be no less active in future ages,
for they will still be preserved in public libraries."

The art and skill with which some have fabricated a forged narrative
render its detection almost hopeless. When young Maitland, the brother
to the secretary, in order to palliate the crime of the assassination of
the Regent Murray, was employed to draw up a pretended conference
between him, Knox, and others, to stigmatise them by the odium of
advising to dethrone the young monarch, and to substitute the regent for
their sovereign, Maitland produced so dramatic a performance, by giving
to each person his peculiar mode of expression, that this circumstance
long baffled the incredulity of those who could not in consequence deny
the truth of a narrative apparently so correct in its particulars! "The
fiction of the warming-pan enclosing the young Pretender brought more
adherents to the cause of the Whigs than the Bill of Rights," observes
Lord John Russell.

Among such party narratives, the horrid tale of the bloody Colonel Kirk
has been worked up by Hume with all his eloquence and pathos; and, from
its interest, no suspicion has arisen of its truth. Yet, so far as it
concerns Kirk, or the reign of James the Second, or even English
history, it is, as Ritson too honestly expresses it, "an impudent and a
bare-faced lie!" The simple fact is told by Kennet in a few words: he
probably was aware of the nature of this political fiction. Hume was
not, indeed, himself the fabricator of the tale; but he had not any
historical authority. The origin of this fable was probably a pious
fraud of the Whig party, to whom Kirk had rendered himself odious; at
that moment stories still more terrifying were greedily swallowed, and
which, Ritson insinuates, have become a part of the history of England.
The original story, related more circumstantially, though not more
affectingly, nor perhaps more truly, may be found in Wanley's "Wonders
of the Little World,"[86] which I give, relieving it from the
tediousness of old Wanley.

A governor of Zealand, under the bold Duke of Burgundy, had in vain
sought to seduce the affections of the beautiful wife of a citizen. The
governor imprisons the husband on an accusation of treason; and when the
wife appeared as the suppliant, the governor, after no brief eloquence,
succeeded as a lover, on the plea that her husband's life could only be
spared by her compliance. The woman, in tears and in aversion, and not
without a hope of vengeance only delayed, lost her honour! Pointing to
the prison, the governor told her, "If you seek your husband, enter
there, and take him along with you!" The wife, in the bitterness of her
thoughts, yet not without the consolation that she had snatched her
husband from the grave, passed into the prison; there in a cell, to her
astonishment and horror, she beheld the corpse of her husband laid out
in a coffin, ready for burial! Mourning over it, she at length returned
to the governor, fiercely exclaiming, "You have kept your word! you have
restored to me my husband! and be assured the favour shall be repaid!"
The inhuman villain, terrified in the presence of his intrepid victim,
attempted to appease her vengeance, and more, to win her to his wishes.
Returning home, she assembled her friends, revealed her whole story,
and under their protection she appealed to Charles the Bold, a strict
lover of justice, and who now awarded a singular but an exemplary
catastrophe. The duke first commanded that the criminal governor should
instantly marry the woman whom he had made a widow, and at the same time
sign his will, with a clause importing that should he die before his
lady he constituted her his heiress. All this was concealed from both
sides, rather to satisfy the duke than the parties themselves. This
done, the unhappy woman was dismissed alone! The governor was conducted
to the prison to suffer the same death he had inflicted on the husband
of his wife; and when this lady was desired once more to enter the
prison, she beheld her second husband headless in his coffin as she had
her first! Such extraordinary incidents in so short a period overpowered
the feeble frame of the sufferer; she died--leaving a son, who inherited
the rich accession of fortune so fatally obtained by his injured and
suffering mother.

Such is the tale of which the party story of Kirk appeared to Ritson to
have been a _rifacimento_; but it is rather the foundation than the
superstructure. This critic was right in the general, but not in the
particular. It was not necessary to point out the present source, when
so many others of a parallel nature exist. This tale, universally told,
Mr. Douce considers as the origin of _Measure for Measure_, and was
probably some traditional event; for it appears sometimes with a change
of names and places, without any of incident. It always turns on a
soldier, a brother or a husband, executed; and a wife, a sister, a
deceived victim, to save them from death. It was, therefore, easily
transferred to Kirk, and Pomfret's poem of "Cruelty and Lust" long made
the story popular. It could only have been in this form that it reached
the historian, who, it must be observed, introduces it as a "story
_commonly told_ of him;" but popular tragic romances should not enter
into the dusty documents of a history of England, and much less be
particularly specified in the index! Belleforest, in his old version of
the tale, has even the circumstance of the "captain, who having seduced
the wife under the promise to save her husband's life, exhibited him
soon afterwards _through the window of her apartment suspended on a
gibbet_." This forms the horrid incident in the history of "the bloody
Colonel," and served the purpose of a party, who wished to bury him in
odium. Kirk was a soldier of fortune, and a loose liver, and a great
blusterer, who would sometimes threaten to decimate his own regiment,
but is said to have forgotten the menace the next day. Hateful as such
military men will always be, in the present instance Colonel Kirk has
been shamefully calumniated by poets and historians, who suffer
themselves to be duped by the forgeries of political parties![87]

While we are detecting a source of error into which the party feelings of
modern historians may lead them, let us confess that they are far more
valuable than the ancient; for to us at least the ancients have written
history without producing authorities! Modern historians must furnish
their readers with the truest means to become their critics, by providing
them with their authorities; and it is only by judiciously appreciating
these that we may confidently accept their discoveries. Unquestionably
the ancients have often introduced into their histories many tales
similar to the story of Kirk--popular or party forgeries! The mellifluous
copiousness of Livy conceals many a tale of wonder; the graver of Tacitus
etches many a fatal stroke; and the secret history of Suetonius too often
raises a suspicion of those whispers, _Quid rex in aurem reginæ dixerit,
quid Juno fabulata sit cum Jove_. It is certain that Plutarch has often
told, and varied too in the telling, the same story, which he has applied
to different persons. A critic in the Ritsonian style has said of the
grave Plutarch, _Mendax ille Plutarchus qui vitas oratorum, dolis et
erroribus consutas, olim conscribillavit_.[88] "That lying Plutarch, who
formerly scribbled the lives of the orators, made up of falsities and
blunders!" There is in Italian a scarce book, of a better design than
execution, of the Abbate Lancellotti, _Farfalloni degli Antichi
Historici_.--"Flim-flams of the Ancients." Modern historians have to
dispute their passage to immortality step by step; and however fervid be
their eloquence, their real test as to value must be brought to the
humble references in their margin. Yet these must not terminate our
inquiries; for in tracing a story to its original source we shall find
that fictions have been sometimes grafted on truths or hearsays, and to
separate them as they appeared in their first stage is the pride and
glory of learned criticism.


  [84] Absurdly reported to have taken place at a meeting in the
    Nag's-head Tavern, Cheapside.

  [85] M. Michel published in Paris, in 1834, a collection of poems
    and ballads concerning Hugh of Lincoln, which were all very popular
    at home and abroad in the Middle Ages. One of these, preserved in an
    Anglo-Norman MS. in the Bibliothèque Royale at Paris, was evidently
    constructed to be sung by the people soon after the event, which is
    stated to have happened in the reign of our Henry III.; but there
    are many ballads comparatively modern which show how carefully the
    story was kept before the populace; and may be seen in the
    collections of Bishop Percy, Jameson, Motherwell, &c.

  [86] Book iii. ch. 29, sec. 18.

  [87] A story still more absurd was connected with the name of
    Colonel Lunsford, a soldier who consistently defended Charles I.,
    and was killed in 1643. It is related by Echard as reported of him,
    that he would kill and eat the children of the opposite party. This
    horridly grotesque imputation has been preserved in the political
    ballads and poetry of the day. Cleveland ridicules it in one of his
    poems, where he makes a Roundhead declare--

      "He swore he saw, when Lunsford fell,
      A child's arm in his pocket."

  [88] Taylor, Annot. ad Lysiam.


A people denied the freedom of speech or of writing have usually left
some memorials of their feelings in that silent language which addresses
itself to the eye. Many ingenious inventions have been contrived to give
vent to their suppressed indignation. The voluminous grievance which
they could not trust to the voice or the pen they have carved in wood,
or sculptured on stone; and have sometimes even facetiously concealed
their satire among the playful ornaments designed to amuse those of whom
they so fruitlessly complained! Such monuments of the suppressed
feelings of the multitude are not often inspected by the
historian--their minuteness escapes all eyes but those of the
philosophical antiquary; nor are these satirical appearances always
considered as grave authorities, which unquestionably they will be found
to be by a close observer of human nature. An entertaining history of
the modes of thinking, or the discontents of a people, drawn from such
dispersed efforts in every æra, would cast a new light of secret history
over many dark intervals.

Did we possess a secret history of the Saturnalia, it would doubtless
have afforded some materials for the present article. In those revels of
venerable radicalism, when the senate was closed, and the _Pileus_, or
cap of liberty, was triumphantly worn, all things assumed an appearance
contrary to what they were; and human nature, as well as human laws,
might be said to have been _parodied_. Among so many whimsical
regulations in favour of the licentious rabble, there was one which
forbad the circulation of money; if any one offered the coin of the
state, it was to be condemned as an act of madness, and the man was
brought to his senses by a penitential fast for that day. An ingenious
French antiquary seems to have discovered a class of wretched medals,
cast in lead or copper, which formed the circulating medium of these mob
lords, who, to ridicule the idea of _money_, used the basest metals,
stamping them with grotesque figures, or odd devices--such as a sow; a
chimerical bird; an imperator in his car, with a monkey behind him; or
an old woman's head, _Acca Laurentia_, either the traditional old nurse
of Romulus, or an old courtesan of the same name, who bequeathed the
fruits of her labours to the Roman people! As all things were done in
mockery, this base metal is stamped with S. C., to ridicule the _Senatûs
consulto_, which our antiquary happily explains,[89] in the true spirit
of this government of mockery, _Saturnalium consulto_, agreeing with the
legend of the reverse, inscribed in the midst of four _tali_, or bones,
which they used as dice, _Qui ludit arram det, quod satis sit_--"Let
them who play give a pledge, which will be sufficient." This mock-money
served not only as an expression of the native irony of the radical
gentry of Rome during their festival, but, had they spoken their mind
out, meant a ridicule of money itself; for these citizens of equality
have always imagined that society might proceed without this contrivance
of a medium which served to represent property in which they themselves
must so little participate.

A period so glorious for exhibiting the suppressed sentiments of the
populace as were these _Saturnalia_, had been nearly lost for us, had
not some notions been preserved by Lucian; for we glean but sparingly
from the solemn pages of the historian, except in the remarkable
instance which Suetonius has preserved of the arch-mime who followed the
body of the Emperor Vespasian at his funeral. This officer, as well as a
similar one who accompanied the general to whom they granted a triumph,
and who was allowed the unrestrained licentiousness of his tongue, were
both the organs of popular feeling, and studied to gratify the rabble,
who were their real masters. On this occasion the arch-mime,
representing both the exterior personage and the character of Vespasian,
according to custom, inquired the expense of the funeral? He was
answered, "ten millions of sesterces!" In allusion to the love of money
which characterised the emperor, his mock representative exclaimed,
"Give me the money, and, if you will, throw my body into the Tiber!"

All these mock offices and festivals among the ancients I consider as
organs of the suppressed opinions and feelings of the populace, who were
allowed no other, and had not the means of the printing ages to leave
any permanent records. At a later period, before the discovery of the
art which multiplies with such facility libels or panegyrics, when the
people could not speak freely against those rapacious clergy who sheared
the fleece and cared not for the sheep, many a secret of popular
indignation was confided not to books (for they could not read), but to
pictures and sculptures, which are books which the people can always
read. The sculptors and illuminators of those times no doubt shared in
common the popular feelings, and boldly trusted to the paintings or the
carvings which met the eyes of their luxurious and indolent masters
their satirical inventions. As far back as in 1300, we find in
Wolfius[90] the description of a picture of this kind, in a MS. of
Æsop's Fables found in the Abbey of Fulda, among other emblems of the
corrupt lives of the churchmen. The present was a wolf, large as life,
wearing a monkish cowl, with a shaven crown, preaching to a flock of
sheep, with these words of the apostle in a label from his mouth--"God
is my witness how I long for you all in my bowels!" And underneath was
inscribed--"This hooded wolf is the hypocrite of whom is said in the
Gospel, 'Beware of false prophets!'" Such exhibitions were often
introduced into articles of furniture. A cushion was found in an old
abbey, in which was worked a fox preaching to geese, each goose holding
in his bill his praying beads! In the stone wall, and on the columns of
the great church at Strasburg, was once viewed a number of wolves,
bears, foxes, and other mischievous animals, carrying holy water,
crucifixes, and tapers; and others more indelicate. These, probably as
old as the year 1300, were engraven in 1617 by a protestant; and were
not destroyed till 1685, by the pious rage of the catholics, who seemed
at length to have rightly construed these silent lampoons; and in their
turn broke to pieces the protestant images, as the others had done the
papistical dolls. The carved seats and stalls in our own cathedrals
exhibit subjects not only strange and satirical, but even indecent.[91]
At the time they built churches they satirised the ministers; a curious
instance how the feelings of the people struggle to find a vent. It is
conjectured that rival orders satirised each other, and that some of the
carvings are caricatures of certain monks. The margins of illuminated
manuscripts frequently contain ingenious caricatures, or satirical
allegories. In a magnificent chronicle of Froissart I observed several.
A wolf, as usual, in a monk's frock and cowl, stretching his paw to
bless a cock, bending its head submissively to the wolf: or a fox with a
crosier, dropping beads, which a cock is picking up; to satirise the
blind devotion of the bigots; perhaps the figure of the cock alluded to
our Gallic neighbours. A cat in the habit of a nun, holding a platter in
its paws to a mouse approaching to lick it; alluding to the allurements
of the abbesses to draw young women into their convents; while sometimes
I have seen a sow in an abbess's veil, mounted on stilts: the sex marked
by the sow's dugs. A pope sometimes appears to be thrust by devils into
a cauldron; and cardinals are seen roasting on spits! These _ornaments_
must have been generally executed by the monks themselves; but these
more ingenious members of the ecclesiastical order appear to have
sympathised with the people, like the curates in our church, and envied
the pampered abbot and the purple bishop. Churchmen were the usual
objects of the suppressed indignation of the people in those days; but
the knights and feudal lords have not always escaped from the "curses
not loud, but deep," of their satirical pencils.

As the Reformation, or rather the Revolution, was hastening, this custom
became so general, that in one of the dialogues of Erasmus, where two
Franciscans are entertained by their host, it appears that such
satirical exhibitions were hung up as common furniture in the apartments
of inns. The facetious genius of Erasmus either invents or describes one
which he had seen of an ape in the habit of a Franciscan sitting by a
sick man's bed, dispensing ghostly counsel, holding up a crucifix in one
hand, while with the other he is filching a purse out of the sick man's
pocket. Such are "the straws" by which we may always observe from what
corner the wind rises! Mr. Dibdin has recently informed us, that Geyler,
whom he calls "the herald of the Reformation," preceding Luther by
twelve years, had a stone chair or pulpit in the cathedral at Strasburg,
from which he delivered his lectures, or rather rolled the thunders of
his anathemas against the monks. This stone pulpit was constructed under
his own superintendence, and is covered with very indecent figures of
monks and nuns, expressly designed by him to expose their profligate
manners. We see Geyler doing what for centuries had been done!

In the curious folios of Sauval, the Stowe of France, there is a copious
chapter, entitled "_Hérétiques, leurs attentats_." In this enumeration
of their attempts to give vent to their suppressed indignation, it is
very remarkable that, _preceding the time of Luther_, the minds of many
were perfectly _Lutheran_ respecting the idolatrous worship of the Roman
Church; and what I now notice would have rightly entered into that
significant _Historia Reformationis ante Reformationem_, which was
formerly projected by continental writers.

Luther did not consign the pope's decretals to the flames till
1520--this was the first open act of reformation and insurrection, for
hitherto he had submitted to the court of Rome. Yet in 1490, thirty
years preceding this great event, I find a priest burnt for having
snatched the host in derision from the hands of another celebrating
mass. Twelve years afterwards, 1502, a student repeated the same deed,
trampling on it; and in 1523, the resolute death of Anne de Bourg, a
counsellor in the parliament of Paris, to use the expression of Sauval,
"corrupted the world." It is evident that the Huguenots were fast on the
increase. From that period I find continued accounts which prove that
the Huguenots of France, like the Puritans of England, were most
resolute iconoclasts. They struck off the heads of Virgins and little
Jesuses, or blunted their daggers by chipping the wooden saints, which
were then fixed at the corners of streets. Every morning discovered the
scandalous treatment they had undergone in the night. Then their images
were painted on the walls, but these were heretically scratched and
disfigured: and, since the saints could not defend themselves, a royal
edict was published in their favour, commanding that all holy paintings
in the streets should not be allowed short of ten feet from the ground!
They entered churches at night, tearing up or breaking down the
_prians_, the _bénitoires_, the crucifixes, the colossal _ecce-homos_,
which they did not always succeed in dislodging for want of time or
tools. Amidst these battles with wooden adversaries, we may smile at
the frequent solemn processions instituted to ward off the vengeance of
the parish saint; the wooden was expiated by a silver image, secured by
iron bars and attended by the king and the nobility, carrying the new
saint, with prayers that he would protect himself from the heretics!

In an early period of the Reformation, an instance occurs of the art of
concealing what we wish only the few should comprehend, at the same time
that we are addressing the public. Curious collectors are acquainted
with "The Olivetan Bible;" this was the first translation published by
the protestants, and there seems no doubt that Calvin was the chief, if
not the only translator; but at that moment not choosing to become
responsible for this new version, he made use of the name of an obscure
relative, Robert Pierre Olivetan. Calvin, however, prefixed a Latin
preface, remarkable for delivering positions very opposite to those
tremendous doctrines of absolute predestination which, in his
theological despotism, he afterwards assumed. De Bure describes this
first protestant Bible not only as rare, but, when found, as usually
imperfect, much soiled and dog-eared, as the well-read first edition of
Shakspeare, by the perpetual use of the multitude. But a curious fact
has escaped the detection both of De Bure and Beloe; at the end of the
volume are found _ten verses_, which, in a concealed manner,
authenticate the translation; and which no one, unless initiated into
the secret, could possibly suspect. The verses are not poetical, but I
give the first sentence:--

  Lecteur entends, si vérité adresse
  Viens donc ouyr instament sa promesse
  Et vif parler----&c.

_The first letters of every word_ of these _ten verses_ form a perfect
distich, containing information important to those to whom the Olivetan
Bible was addressed.

  Les Vaudois, peuple évangélique,
  Ont mis ce thrésor en publique.

An anagram would have been too inartificial a contrivance to have
answered the purpose of concealing from the world at large this secret.
There is an adroitness in the invention of the initial letters of all
the words through these ten verses. They contained a communication
necessary to authenticate the version, but which, at the same time,
could not be suspected by any person not intrusted with the secret.

When the art of medal-engraving was revived in Europe, the spirit we are
now noticing took possession of those less perishable and more
circulating vehicles. Satiric medals were almost unknown to the ancient
mint, notwithstanding those of the Saturnalia, and a few which bear
miserable puns on the unlucky names of some consuls. Medals illustrate
history, and history reflects light on medals; but we should not place
such unreserved confidence on medals as their advocates, who are warm in
their favourite study. It has been asserted that medals are more
authentic memorials than history itself; but a medal is not less
susceptible of the bad passions than a pamphlet or an epigram. Ambition
has its vanity, and engraves a dubious victory; and Flattery will
practise its art, and deceive us in gold! A calumny or a fiction on
metal may be more durable than on a fugitive page; and a libel has a
better chance of being preserved when the artist is skilful, than simple
truths when miserably executed. Medals of this class are numerous, and
were the precursors of those political satires exhibited in caricature
prints.[92] There is a large collection of wooden cuts about the time of
Calvin, where the Romish religion is represented by the most grotesque
forms which the ridicule of the early Reformers could invent. More than
a thousand figures attest the exuberant satire of the designers. This
work is equally rare and costly.[93]

Satires of this species commenced in the freedom of the Reformation; for
we find a medal of Luther in a monk's habit, satirically bearing for its
reverse Catherine de Bora, the nun whom this monk married; the first
step of his personal reformation! Nor can we be certain that Catherine
was not more concerned in that great revolution than appears in the
voluminous Lives we have of the great reformer. However, the reformers
were as great sticklers for medals as the "papelins." Of Pope John
VIII., an effeminate voluptuary, we have a medal with his portrait,
inscribed _Pope Joan!_ and another of Innocent X., dressed as a woman
holding a spindle; the reverse, his famous mistress, Donna Olympia,
dressed as a Pope, with the tiara on her head, and the keys of St.
Peter in her hands![94]

When, in the reign of Mary, England was groaning under Spanish
influence, and no remonstrance could reach the throne, the queen's
person and government were made ridiculous to the people's eyes by
prints or pictures "representing her majesty naked, meagre, withered,
and wrinkled, with every aggravated circumstance of deformity that could
disgrace a female figure, seated in a regal chair; a crown on her head,
surrounded with M. R. and A. in capitals, accompanied by small letters;
_Maria Regina Angliæ!_ a number of Spaniards were sucking her to skin
and bone, and a specification was added of the money, rings, jewels, and
other presents with which she had secretly gratified her husband
Philip."[95] It is said that the queen suspected some of her own council
of this invention, who alone were privy to these transactions. It is,
however, in this manner that the voice which is suppressed by authority
comes at length in another shape to the eye.

The age of Elizabeth, when the Roman pontiff and all his adherents were
odious to the people, produced a remarkable caricature, and ingenious
invention--a gorgon's head! A church bell forms the helmet; the
ornaments, instead of the feathers, are a wolf's head in a mitre
devouring a lamb, an ass's head with spectacles reading, a goose holding
a rosary: the face is made out with a fish for the nose, a chalice and
water for the eye, and other priestly ornaments for the shoulder and
breast, on which rolls of parchment pardons hang.[96]

A famous bishop of Munster, Bernard de Galen, who, in his charitable
violence for converting protestants, got himself into such celebrity
that he appears to have served as an excellent _sign-post_ to the inns
in Germany, was the true church militant: and his figure was exhibited
according to the popular fancy. His head was half mitre and half helmet;
a crosier in one hand and a sabre in the other; half a rochet and half a
cuirass: he was made performing mass as a dragoon on horseback, and
giving out the charge when he ought the _Ite, missa est!_ He was called
the _converter!_ and the "Bishop of Munster" became popular as a
sign-post in German towns; for the people like fighting men, though they
should even fight against themselves.

It is rather curious to observe of this new species of satire, so easily
distributed among the people, and so directly addressed to their
understandings, that it was made the vehicle of national feeling.
Ministers of state condescended to invent the devices. Lord Orford says
that _caricatures on cards_ were the invention of George Townshend in
the affair of Byng, which was soon followed by a pack. I am informed of
an ancient pack of cards which has caricatures of all the
Parliamentarian Generals, which might be not unusefully shuffled by a
writer of secret history.[97] We may be surprised to find the grave
Sully practising this artifice on several occasions. In the civil wars
of France the Duke of Savoy had taken by surprise Saluces, and struck a
medal; on the reverse a centaur appears shooting with a bow and arrow,
with the legend _Opportune!_ But when Henry the Fourth had reconquered
the town, he published another, on which Hercules appears killing the
centaur, with the word _Opportunius_. The great minister was the author
of this retort![98] A medal of the Dutch ambassador at the court of
France, Van Beuninghen, whom the French represent as a haughty
burgomaster, but who had the vivacity of a Frenchman and the haughtiness
of a Spaniard, as Voltaire characterises him, is said to have been the
occasion of the Dutch war in 1672; but wars will be hardly made for an
idle medal. Medals may, however, indicate a preparatory war. Louis the
Fourteenth was so often compared to the sun at its meridian, that some
of his creatures may have imagined that, like the sun, he could dart
into any part of Europe as he willed, and be as cheerfully received.[99]
The Dutch minister, whose Christian name was _Joshua_, however, had a
medal struck of Joshua stopping the sun in his course, inferring that
this miracle was operated by his little republic. The medal itself is
engraven in Van Loon's voluminous _Histoire Médallique du Pays Bas_, and
in Marchand's _Dictionnaire Historique_, who labours to prove against
twenty authors that the Dutch ambassador was not the inventor; it was
not, however, unworthy of him, and it conveyed to the world the high
feeling of her power which Holland had then assumed. Two years after the
noise about this medal the republic paid dear for the device; but thirty
years afterwards this very burgomaster concluded a glorious peace, and
France and Spain were compelled to receive the mediation of the Dutch
Joshua with the French Sun.[100] In these vehicles of national satire,
it is odd that the phlegmatic Dutch, more than any other nation, and
from the earliest period of their republic, should have indulged freely,
if not licentiously. It was a republican humour. Their taste was usually
gross. We owe to them, even in the reign of Elizabeth, a severe medal on
Leicester, who, having retired in disgust from the government of their
provinces, struck a medal with his bust, reverse a dog and sheep,

  _Non gregem, sed ingratos invitus desero_;

on which the angry juvenile states struck another, representing an ape
and young ones; reverse, Leicester near a fire,

  _Fugiens fumum, incidit in ignem._

Another medal, with an excellent portrait of Cromwell, was struck by the
Dutch. The Protector, crowned with laurels, is on his knees, laying his
head in the lap of the commonwealth, but loosely exhibiting himself to
the French and Spanish ambassadors with gross indecency: the Frenchman,
covered with _fleur de lis_, is pushing aside the grave Don, and
disputes with him the precedence--_Retire-toy; l'honneur appartient
au roy mon maitre, Louis le Grand_. Van Loon is very right in denouncing
this same medal, so grossly flattering to the English, as most
detestable and indelicate! But why does Van Loon envy us this lumpish
invention? why does the Dutchman quarrel with his own cheese? The honour
of the medal we claim, but the invention belongs to his country. The
Dutch went on commenting in this manner on English affairs from reign to
reign. Charles the Second declared war against them in 1672 for a
malicious medal, though the States-General offered to break the die, by
purchasing it of the workman for one thousand ducats; but it served for
a pretext for a Dutch war, which Charles cared more about than the _mala
bestia_ of his exergue. Charles also complained of a scandalous picture
which the brothers de Witt had in their house, representing a naval
battle with the English. Charles the Second seems to have been more
sensible to this sort of national satire than we might have expected in
a professed wit; a race, however, who are not the most patient in having
their own sauce returned to their lips. The king employed Evelyn to
write a history of the Dutch war, and "enjoined him _to make it a little
keen_, for the Hollanders had very unhandsomely abused him in their
pictures, books, and libels." The Dutch continued their career of
conveying their national feeling on English affairs more triumphantly
when their Stadtholder ascended an English throne. The birth of the
Pretender is represented by the chest which Minerva gave to the
daughters of Cecrops to keep, and which, opened, discovered an infant
with a serpent's tail: _Infantemque vident apporrectumque draconem_; the
chest perhaps alluding to the removes of the warming-pan; and, in
another, James and a Jesuit flying in terror, the king throwing away a
crown and sceptre, and the Jesuit carrying a child; _Ite missa est_, the
words applied from the mass.[101] But in these contests of national
feeling, while the grandeur of Louis the Fourteenth did not allow of
these ludicrous and satirical exhibitions, and while the political
idolatry which his forty Academicians paid to him exhausted itself in
the splendid fictions of a series of famous medals, amounting to nearly
four hundred, it appears that we were not without our reprisals; for I
find Prosper Marchand, who writes as a Hollander, censuring his own
country for having at length adulated the grand monarque by a
complimentary medal. He says--"The English cannot be reproached with a
similar _debonaireté_." After the famous victories of Marlborough, they
indeed inserted in a medal the head of the French monarch and the
English queen, with this inscription, _Ludovicus Magnus, Anna Major_.
Long ere this one of our queens had been exhibited by ourselves with
considerable energy. On the defeat of the Armada, Elizabeth, Pinkerton
tells us, struck a medal representing the English and Spanish fleets,
_Hesperidum regem devicit virgo_. Philip had medals dispersed in England
of the same impression, with this addition, _Negatur. Est meretrix
vulgi._ These the queen suppressed, but published another medal, with
this legend:--

  Hesperidum regem devicit virgo; negatur,
  Est meretrix vulgi; res eo deterior.

An age fertile in satirical prints was the eventful æra of Charles the
First: they were showered from all parties, and a large collection of
them would admit of a critical historical commentary, which might become
a vehicle of the most curious secret history. Most of them are in a bad
style, for they are allegorical; yet that these satirical exhibitions
influenced the eyes and minds of the people is evident from an
extraordinary circumstance. Two grave collections of historical
documents adopted them. We are surprised to find prefixed to Rushworth's
and Nalson's historical collections two such political prints! Nalson's
was an act of retributive justice; but he seems to have been aware that
satire in the shape of pictures is a language very attractive to the
multitude, for he has introduced a caricature print in the solemn folio
of the Trial of Charles the First.[102] Of the happiest of these
political prints is one by Taylor the Water-poet, not included in his
folio, but prefixed to his "Mad Fashions, Odd Fashions, or the Emblems
of these Distracted Times." It is the figure of a man whose eyes have
left their sockets, and whose legs have usurped the place of his arms; a
horse on his hind legs is drawing a cart; a church is inverted; fish
fly in the air; a candle burns with the flame downwards; and the mouse
and rabbit are pursuing the cat and the fox!

The animosities of national hatred have been a fertile source of these
vehicles of popular feeling--which discover themselves in severe or
grotesque caricatures. The French and the Spaniards mutually exhibit one
another under the most extravagant figures. The political caricatures of
the French in the seventeenth century are numerous. The _badauds_ of
Paris amused themselves for their losses by giving an emetic to a
Spaniard, to make him render up all the towns his victories had
obtained: seven or eight Spaniards are seen seated around a large
turnip, with their frizzled mustachios, their hats _en pot-à-beurre_;
their long rapiers, with their pummels down to their feet, and their
points up to their shoulders; their ruffs stiffened by many rows, and
pieces of garlick stuck in their girdles. The Dutch were exhibited in as
great variety as the uniformity of frogs would allow. We have largely
participated in the vindictive spirit which these grotesque emblems keep
up among the people; they mark the secret feelings of national pride.
The Greeks despised foreigners, and considered them only as fit to be
slaves;[103] the ancient Jews, inflated with a false idea of their small
territory, would be masters of the world: the Italians placed a line of
demarcation for genius and taste, and marked it by their mountains. The
Spaniards once imagined that the conferences of God with Moses on Mount
Sinai were in the Spanish language. If a Japanese become the friend of a
foreigner, he is considered as committing treason to his emperor, and
rejected as a false brother in a country which, we are told, is
figuratively called _Tenka_, or the Kingdom under the Heavens. John
Bullism is not peculiar to Englishmen; and patriotism is a noble virtue
when it secures our independence without depriving us of our humanity.

The civil wars of the League in France, and those in England under
Charles the First, bear the most striking resemblance; and in examining
the revolutionary scenes exhibited by the graver in the famous _Satire
Ménippée_, we discover the foreign artist revelling in the _caricature_
of his ludicrous and severe exhibition; and in that other revolutionary
period of _La Fronde_, there was a mania for _political songs_; the
curious have formed them into collections; and we not only have "the
Rump Songs" of Charles the First's times, but have repeated this kind of
evidence of the public feeling at many subsequent periods.[104]
_Caricatures_ and _political songs_ might with us furnish a new sort of
history; and perhaps would preserve some truths, and describe some
particular events not to be found in more grave authorities.


  [89] Baudelot de Dairval, _de l'Utilité des Voyages_, ii. 645. There
    is a work, by Ficoroni, on these lead _coins_ or _tickets_. They are
    found in the cabinets of the curious medallist. Pinkerton, in
    referring to this entertaining work, regrets that "such curious
    remains have almost escaped the notice of medallists, and have not
    yet been arranged in one class, or named. A special work on them
    would be highly acceptable." The time has perhaps arrived when
    antiquaries may begin to be philosophers, and philosophers
    antiquaries! The unhappy separation of erudition from philosophy,
    and of philosophy from erudition, has hitherto thrown impediments in
    the progress of the human mind and the history of man.

  [90] Lect. Mem. i. ad. an. 1300.

  [91] Many specimens may be seen in Carter's curious volumes on
    "Ancient Architecture and Painting."

  [92] The series published during the wars in the Low Countries are
    the most remarkable, and may be seen in the volumes by Van Loon.

  [93] Mr. Douce possessed a portion of this very curious collection:
    for a complete one De Bure asked about twenty pounds.

  [94] The Roman satirists also invented a tale to ridicule what they
    dared not openly condemn, in which it was asserted that a play
    called _The Marriage of the Pope_ was enacted before Cromwell, in
    which the Donna having obtained the key of Paradise from Innocent,
    insists on that of Purgatory also, that she may not be sent there
    when he is wearied of her. "The wedding" is then kept by a ball of
    monks and nuns, delighted to think they may one day marry also. Such
    was the means the Romans took to notify their sense of the
    degradation of the pope.

  [95] Warton's "Life of Sir Thomas Pope," p. 58.

  [96] This ancient caricature, so descriptive of the popular feelings,
    is tolerably given in Malcolm's history of "Caricaturing," plate ii.
    fig. 1.

  [97] This pack was probably executed in Holland in the time of
    Charles the Second. There are other sets of political cards of the
    same reign, particularly one connected with the so-called "popish
    plots," and the murder of Sir Edmundbury Godfrey. The South-Sea
    Bubble was made the subject of a similar pack, after it had

  [98] The royal house of Navarre was fancifully derived by the old
    heraldic writers from Hispalus, the son of Hercules; and the pageant
    provided by the citizens of Avignon to greet his entrance there in
    1600, was entirely composed in reference thereto, and Henry
    indicated in its title, _L'Hercule Gaulois Triumphant_.

  [99] He took for a device and motto on his shield on the occasion of
    tilting-matches and court festivities, a representation of the sun
    in splendour, and the words, _Nec Pluribus Impar_.

  [100] The history of this medal is useful in more than one respect;
    and may be found in Prosper Marchand.

  [101] Another represents the young prince holding the symbol of the
    Romish faith in his right hand, and crowning himself with the left;
    Truth opens a door below and discovers Father Petre, as the guiding
    influence of all.

  [102] It represents Cromwell as an armed monster, carrying the three
    kingdoms captive at his feet in a triumphal car driven by the devil
    over the body of liberty, and the decapitated Charles I. The state
    of the people is emblematized by a bird flying from its cage to be
    devoured by a hawk; and sheep breaking from the fold to be set on by
    ravening wolves.

  [103] A passage may be found in Aristotle's Politics, vol. i. c.
    3-7; where Aristotle advises Alexander to govern the Greeks like his
    _subjects_, and the barbarians like _slaves_; for that the one he
    was to consider as companions, and the other as creatures of an
    inferior race.

  [104] The following may be mentioned as the most important of these

    "Rome rhymed to Death." 1683.

    "A Collection of the newest and most ingenious Poems, Songs,
    Catches, &c, against Popery." 1689.

    "Poems on Affairs of State." 1703-7.

    "Whig and Tory; or, Wit on both sides." 1712.

    "Political Merriment; or, Truths told to some Tune." 1714.


The art of judging of the characters of persons by their handwriting can
only have any reality when the pen, acting without restraint, becomes an
instrument guided by, and indicative of, the natural dispositions. But
regulated as the pen is now too often by a mechanical process, which the
present race of writing-masters seem to have contrived for their own
convenience, a whole school exhibits a similar handwriting; the pupils
are forced in their automatic motions, as if acted on by the pressure of
a steam-engine; a bevy of beauties will now write such fac-similes of
each other, that in a heap of letters presented to the most
sharp-sighted lover to select that of his mistress--though, like
Bassanio among the caskets, his happiness should be risked on the
choice--he would despair of fixing on the right one, all appearing to
have come from the same rolling-press. Even brothers of different
tempers have been taught by the same master to give the same form to
their letters, the same regularity to their line, and have made our
handwritings as monotonous as are our characters in the present habits
of society. The true physiognomy of writing will be lost among our
rising generation: it is no longer a face that we are looking on, but a
beautiful mask of a single pattern; and the fashionable handwriting of
our young ladies is like the former tight-lacing of their mothers'
youthful days, when every one alike had what was supposed to be a fine

Assuredly nature would prompt every individual to have a distinct sort
of writing, as she has given a peculiar countenance--a voice--and a
manner. The flexibility of the muscles differs with every individual,
and the hand will follow the direction of the thoughts and the emotions
and the habits of the writers. The phlegmatic will portray his words,
while the playful haste of the volatile will scarcely sketch them; the
slovenly will blot and efface and scrawl, while the neat and
orderly-minded will view themselves in the paper before their eyes. The
merchant's clerk will not write like the lawyer or the poet. Even
nations are distinguished by their writing; the vivacity and
variableness of the Frenchman, and the delicacy and suppleness of the
Italian, are perceptibly distinct from the slowness and strength of pen
discoverable in the phlegmatic German, Dane, and Swede. When we are in
grief, we do not write as we should in joy. The elegant and correct
mind, which has acquired the fortunate habit of a fixity of attention,
will write with scarcely an erasure on the page, as Fenelon, and Gray,
and Gibbon; while we find in Pope's manuscripts the perpetual struggles
of correction, and the eager and rapid interlineations struck off in
heat. Lavater's notion of handwriting is by no means chimerical; nor was
General Paoli fanciful, when he told Mr. Northcote that he had decided
on the character and dispositions of a man from his letters, and the

Long before the days of Lavater, Shenstone in one of his letters said,
"I want to see Mrs. Jago's handwriting, that I may judge of her temper."
One great truth must however be conceded to the opponents of _the
physiognomy of writing_; general rules only can be laid down. Yet the
vital principle must be true that the handwriting bears an analogy to
the character of the writer, as all voluntary actions are characteristic
of the individual. But many causes operate to counteract or obstruct
this result. I am intimately acquainted with the handwritings of five
of our great poets. The first in early life acquired among Scottish
advocates a handwriting which cannot be distinguished from that of his
ordinary brothers; the second, educated in public schools, where writing
is shamefully neglected, composes his sublime or sportive verses in a
school-boy's ragged scrawl, as if he had never finished his tasks with
the writing-master; the third writes his highly-wrought poetry in the
common hand of a merchant's clerk, from early commercial avocations; the
fourth has all that finished neatness which polishes his verses; while
the fifth is a specimen of a full mind, not in the habit of correction
or alteration; so that he appears to be printing down his thoughts,
without a solitary erasure. The handwriting of the _first_ and _third_
poets, not indicative of their character, we have accounted for; the
others are admirable specimens of characteristic autographs.[106]

Oldys, in one of his curious notes, was struck by the distinctness of
character in the handwritings of several of our kings. He observed
nothing further than the mere fact, and did not extend his idea to the
art of judging of the natural character by the writing. Oldys has
described these handwritings with the utmost correctness, as I have
often verified. I shall add a few comments.

"Henry the Eighth wrote a strong hand, but as if he had seldom a good
pen."--The vehemence of his character conveyed itself into his writing;
bold, hasty, and commanding, I have no doubt the assertor of the Pope's
supremacy and its triumphant destroyer split many a good quill.

"Edward the Sixth wrote a fair legible hand."--We have this promising
young prince's diary, written by his own hand; in all respects he was an
assiduous pupil, and he had scarcely learnt to write and to reign when
we lost him.

"Queen Elizabeth writ an upright hand, like the bastard Italian." She
was indeed a most elegant caligrapher, whom Roger Ascham[107] had taught
all the elegancies of the pen. The French editor of the little
autographical work I have noticed has given the autograph of her name,
which she usually wrote in a very large tall character, and painfully
elaborate. He accompanies it with one of the Scottish Mary, who at
times wrote elegantly, though usually in uneven lines; when in haste and
distress of mind, in several letters during her imprisonment which I
have read, much the contrary. The French editor makes this observation:
"Who could believe that these writings are of the same epoch? The first
denotes asperity and ostentation; the second indicates simplicity,
softness, and nobleness. The one is that of Elizabeth, queen of England;
the other that of her cousin, Mary Stuart. The difference of these two
handwritings answers most evidently to that of their characters."

"James the First writ a poor ungainly character, all awry, and not in a
straight line." James certainly wrote a slovenly scrawl, strongly
indicative of that personal negligence which he carried into all the
little things of life; and Buchanan, who had made him an excellent
scholar, may receive the disgrace of his pupil's ugly scribble, which
sprawls about his careless and inelegant letters.

"Charles the First wrote a fair open Italian hand, and more correctly
perhaps than any prince we ever had." Charles was the first of our
monarchs who intended to have domiciliated taste in the kingdom, and it
might have been conjectured from this unfortunate prince, who so finely
discriminated the manners of the different painters, which are in fact
their handwritings, that he would not have been insensible to the
elegancies of the pen.

"Charles the Second wrote a little fair running hand, as if wrote in
haste, or uneasy till he had done." Such was the writing to have been
expected from this illustrious vagabond, who had much to write, often in
odd situations, and could never get rid of his natural restlessness and

"James the Second writ a large fair hand." It is characterised by his
phlegmatic temper, as an exact detailer of occurrences, and the
matter-of-business genius of the writer.

"Queen Anne wrote a fair round hand;" that is the writing she had been
taught by her master, probably without any alteration of manner
naturally suggested by herself; the copying hand of a common

The subject of autographs associates itself with what has been
dignified by its professors as caligraphy, or the art of beautiful
writing. As I have something curious to communicate on that subject
considered professionally, it shall form our following article.


  [105] A small volume which I met with at Paris, entitled "L'Art de
    juger du Caractère des Hommes sur leurs Ecritures," is curious for
    its illustrations, consisting of _twenty-four plates, exhibiting
    fac-similes of the writing of eminent and other persons_, correctly
    taken from the original autographs. Since this period both France
    and Germany have produced many books devoted to the use of the
    curious in autographs. In our own country J.T. Smith published a
    curious collection of fac-similes of letters, chiefly from literary

  [106] It will be of interest to the reader to note the names of
    these poets in the consecutive order they are alluded to. They are
    Scott, Byron, Rogers, Moore, and Campbell.

  [107] He was also the tutor of Lady Jane Grey, and the author of one
    of our earliest and best works on education.

  [108] Since this article was written, Nichols has published a
    cleverly-executed series of autographs of royal, noble, and
    illustrious persons of Great Britain, in which the reader may study
    the accuracy of the criticism above given.


There is a very apt letter from James the First to Prince Henry when
very young, on the neatness and fairness of his handwriting. The royal
father suspecting that the prince's tutor, Mr., afterwards Sir Adam,
Newton, had helped out the young prince in the composition, and that in
this specimen of caligraphy he had relied also on the pains of Mr. Peter
Bales, the great writing-master, for touching up his letters, his
majesty shows a laudable anxiety that the prince should be impressed
with the higher importance of the one over the other. James shall
himself speak. "I confess I long to receive a letter from you that may
be wholly yours, as well matter as form; as well formed by your mind as
drawn by your fingers; for ye may remember, that in my book to you I
warn you to beware with (of) that kind of wit that may fly out at the
end of your fingers; not that I commend not a fair handwriting; _sed hoc
facito, illud non omittito_: and the other is _multo magis præcipuum_."
Prince Henry, indeed, wrote with that elegance which he borrowed from
his own mind; and in an age when such minute elegance was not universal
among the crowned heads of Europe. Henry IV., on receiving a letter from
Prince Henry, immediately opened it, a custom not usual with him, and
comparing the writing with the signature, to decide whether it were of
one hand, Sir George Carew, observing the French King's hesitation,
called Mr. Douglas to testify to the fact; on which Henry the Great,
admiring an art in which he had little skill, and looking on the neat
elegance of the writing before him, politely observed, "I see that in
writing fair, as in other things, the elder must yield to the younger."

Had this anecdote of neat writing reached the professors of caligraphy,
who in this country have put forth such painful panegyrics on the art,
these royal names had unquestionably blazoned their pages. Not indeed
that these penmen require any fresh inflation; for never has there been
a race of professors in any art who have exceeded in solemnity and
pretensions the practitioners in this simple and mechanical craft. I
must leave to more ingenious investigators of human nature to reveal the
occult cause which has operated such powerful delusions on these "Vive
la Plume!" men, who have been generally observed to possess least
intellectual ability in proportion to the excellence they have obtained
in their own art. I suspect this maniacal vanity is peculiar to the
writing-masters of England; and I can only attribute the immense
importance which they have conceived of their art to the perfection to
which they have carried the art of short-hand writing; an art which was
always better understood, and more skilfully practised, in England than
in any other country. It will surprise some when they learn that the
artists in verse and colours, poets and painters, have not raised
loftier pretensions to the admiration of mankind. Writing-masters, or
caligraphers, have had their engraved "effigies," with a Fame in
flourishes, a pen in one hand and a trumpet in the other; and fine
verses inscribed, and their very lives written! They have compared

  The nimbly-turning of their silver quill

to the beautiful in art and the sublime in invention; nor is this
wonderful, since they discover the art of writing, like the invention of
language, in a divine original; and from the tablets of stone which the
Deity himself delivered, they trace their German broad text, or their
fine running-hand. One, for "the bold striking of those words, _Vive la
Plume_," was so sensible of the reputation that this last piece of
command of hand would give the book which he thus adorned, and which his
biographer acknowledges was the product of about a minute,--(but then
how many years of flourishing had that single minute cost him!)--that he
claims the glory of an artist; observing,--

                              We seldom find
  The _man of business_ with the _artist_ join'd.

Another was flattered that his _writing_ could impart immortality to the
most wretched compositions!--

  And any lines prove pleasing, when you write.

Sometimes the caligrapher is a sort of hero:--

  To you, you rare commander of the quill,
  Whose wit and worth, deep learning, and high skill,
  Speak you the honour of Great Tower Hill!

The last line became traditionally adopted by those who were so lucky as
to live in the neighbourhood of this Parnassus. But the reader must form
some notion of that charm of caligraphy which has so bewitched its
professors, when,

  Soft, bold, and free, your manuscripts still please.

  How justly bold in SNELL'S improving hand
  The pen at once joins freedom with command!
  With softness strong, with ornaments not vain,
  Loose with proportion, and with neatness plain;
  Not swell'd, not full, complete in every part,
  And artful most, when not affecting art.

And these describe those pencilled knots and flourishes, "the angels,
the men, the birds, and the beasts," which, as one of them observed, he

  Even by the _gentle motion of his hand_,

all the _speciosa miracula_ of caligraphy;

  Thy _tender strokes_, inimitably fine,
  Crown with perfection every _flowing line_;
  And to each _grand performance_ add a grace,
  As _curling hair_ adorns a beauteous face:
  In every page _new fancies_ give delight,
  And _sporting round the margin_ charm the sight.

One Massey, a writing-master, published in 1763, "The Origin and
Progress of Letters." The great singularity of this volume is "a new
species of biography never attempted before in English." This consists
of the lives of "English Penmen," otherwise writing-masters! If some
have foolishly enough imagined that the sedentary lives of authors are
void of interest from deficient incident and interesting catastrophe,
what must they think of the barren labours of those who, in the degree
they become eminent, to use their own style, in the art of "dish, dash,
long-tail fly," the less they become interesting to the public; for what
can the most skilful writing-master do but wear away his life in leaning
over his pupil's copy, or sometimes snatch a pen to decorate the margin,
though he cannot compose the page? Montaigne has a very original notion
on writing-masters: he says that some of those caligraphers who had
obtained promotion by their excellence in the art, afterwards _affected
to write carelessly, lest their promotion should be suspected to have
been owing to such an ordinary acquisition_!

Massey is an enthusiast, fortunately for his subject. He considers that
there are _schools of writing_, as well as of painting or sculpture; and
expatiates with the eye of fraternal feeling on "a natural genius, a
tender stroke, a grand performance, a bold striking freedom, and a
liveliness in the sprigged letters, and pencilled knots and flourishes;"
while this Vasari of writing-masters relates the controversies and the
libels of many a rival pen-nibber. "George Shelley, one of the most
celebrated worthies who have made a shining figure in the commonwealth
of English caligraphy, born I suppose of obscure parents, because
brought up in Christ's Hospital, yet under the humble blue-coat he laid
the foundation of his caligraphic excellence and lasting fame, for he
was elected writing-master to the hospital." Shelley published his
"Natural Writing;" but, alas! Snell, another blue-coat, transcended the
other. He was a genius who would "bear no brother near the throne."--"I
have been informed that there were jealous heart-burnings, if not
bickerings, between him and Col. Ayres, another of our _great reformers_
in the writing commonweal, both eminent men, yet, _like_ our most
celebrated poets _Pope and Addison_, or, to carry the comparison still
higher, like _Cæsar and Pompey_, one could bear no superior, and the
other no equal." Indeed, the great Snell practised a little stratagem
against Mr. Shelley, for which, if writing-masters held courts-martial,
this hero ought to have appeared before his brothers. In one of his
works he procured a number of friends to write letters, in which Massey
confesses "are some satyrical strokes upon Shelley," as if he had
arrogated too much to himself in his book of "Natural Writing." They
find great fault with pencilled knots and sprigged letters. Shelley, who
was an advocate for ornaments in fine penmanship, which Snell utterly
rejected, had parodied a well-known line of Herbert's in favour of his
favourite decorations:--

  A _Knot_ may take him who from _letters_ flies,
  And turn _delight_ into an _exercise_.

These reflections created ill-blood, and even an open difference amongst
several of the _superior artists in writing_. The commanding genius of
Snell had a more terrific contest when he published his "Standard
Rules," pretending to have _demonstrated_ them as Euclid would. "This
proved a bone of contention, and occasioned a terrific quarrel between
Mr. Snell and Mr. Clark. This quarrel about 'Standard Rules' ran so
high between them, that they could scarce forbear _scurrilous language_
therein, and a treatment of each other unbecoming _gentlemen_! Both
sides in this dispute had their abettors; and to say which had the most
truth and reason, _non nostrum est tantas componere lites_; perhaps
_both parties might be too fond of their own schemes_. They should have
left them to people to choose which they liked best." A candid
politician is our Massey, and a philosophical historian too; for he
winds up the whole story of this civil war by describing its result,
which happened as all such great controversies have ever closed. "Who
now-a-days takes those _Standard Rules_, either one or the other, for
their _guide_ in writing?" This is the finest lesson ever offered to the
furious heads of parties, and to all their men; let them meditate on the
nothingness of their "Standard Rules," by the fate of Mr. Snell.

It was to be expected, when once these writing-masters imagined that
they were artists, that they would be infected with those plague-spots
of genius--envy, detraction, and all the _jalousie du métier_. And such
to this hour we find them! An extraordinary scene of this nature has
long been exhibited in my neighbourhood, where two doughty champions of
the quill have been posting up libels in their windows respecting the
inventor of _a new art of writing_, the Carstairian, or the Lewisian?
When the great German philosopher asserted that he had discovered the
method of fluxions before Sir Isaac, and when the dispute grew so
violent that even the calm Newton sent a formal defiance in set terms,
and got even George the Second to try to arbitrate (who would rather
have undertaken a campaign), the method of fluxions was no more cleared
up than the present affair between our two heroes of the quill.

A recent instance of one of these egregious caligraphers may be told of
the late Tomkins. This vainest of writing-masters dreamed through life
that penmanship was one of the fine arts, and that a writing-master
should be seated with his peers in the Academy! He bequeathed to the
British Museum his _opus magnum_--a copy of Macklin's Bible, profusely
embellished with the most beautiful and varied decorations of his pen;
and as he conceived that both the workman and the work would alike be
darling objects with posterity, he left something immortal with the
legacy, his fine bust, by Chantrey, unaccompanied by which they were
not to receive the unparalleled gift! When Tomkins applied to have his
bust, our great sculptor abated the usual price, and, courteously kind
to the feelings of the man, said that he considered Tomkins as an
artist! It was the proudest day of the life of our writing-master!

But an eminent artist and wit now living, once looking on this fine bust
of Tomkins, declared, that "this man had died for want of a dinner!"--a
fate, however, not so lamentable as it appeared! Our penman had long
felt that he stood degraded in the scale of genius by not being received
at the Academy, at least among the class of _engravers_; the next
approach to academic honour he conceived would be that of appearing as a
_guest_ at their annual dinner. These invitations are as limited as they
are select, and all the Academy persisted in considering Tomkins _as a
writing-master_! Many a year passed, every intrigue was practised, every
remonstrance was urged, every stratagem of courtesy was tried; but never
ceasing to deplore the failure of his hopes, it preyed on his spirits,
and the luckless caligrapher went down to his grave--without dining at
the Academy! This authentic anecdote has been considered as "satire
improperly directed"--by some friend of Mr. Tomkins--but the criticism
is much too grave! The foible of Mr. Tomkins as a writing-master
presents a striking illustration of the class of men here delineated. I
am a mere historian--and am only responsible for the veracity of this
fact. That "Mr. Tomkins lived in familiar intercourse with the Royal
Academicians of his day, and was a frequent guest at their private
tables," and moreover was a most worthy man, I believe--but is it less
true that he was ridiculously mortified by being never invited to the
Academic dinner, on account of his caligraphy? He had some reason to
consider that his art was of the exalted class to which he aspired to
raise it, when this friend concludes his eulogy of this writing-master
thus--"Mr. Tomkins, as an artist, stood foremost in his own profession,
and his name will be handed down to posterity with the _Heroes_ and
_Statesmen_, whose excellences his _penmanship_ has contributed to
illustrate and to commemorate." I always give the _Pour_ and the

Such men about such things have produced public contests, _combats a
l'outrance_, where much ink was spilled by the knights in a joust of
goose-quills; these solemn trials have often occurred in the history of
writing-masters, which is enlivened by public defiances, proclamations,
and judicial trials by umpires! The prize was usually a golden pen of
some value. One as late as in the reign of Anne took place between Mr.
German and Mr. More. German having courteously insisted that Mr. More
should set the copy, he thus set it, ingeniously quaint!

  As more, and MORE, our understanding clears,
  So more and more our ignorance appears.

The result of this pen-combat was really lamentable; they displayed such
an equality of excellence that the umpires refused to decide, till one
of them espied that Mr. German had omitted the tittle of an i! But Mr.
More was evidently a man of genius, not only by his couplet, but in his
"Essay on the Invention of Writing," where occurs this noble passage:
"Art with me is of no party. A noble emulation I would cherish, while it
proceeded neither from, nor to malevolence. Bales had his Johnson,
Norman his Mason, Ayres his Matlock and his Shelley; yet Art the while
was no sufferer. The busybody who officiously employs himself in
creating misunderstandings between artists, may be compared to a
turn-stile, which stands in every man's way, yet hinders nobody; and he
is the slanderer who gives ear to the slander."[109]

Among these knights of the "Plume volante," whose chivalric exploits
astounded the beholders, must be distinguished Peter Bales in his joust
with David Johnson. In this tilting-match the guerdon of caligraphy was
won by the greatest of caligraphers; its _arms_ were assumed by the
victor, _azure, a pen or_; while the "golden pen," carried away in
triumph, was painted with a hand over the door of the caligrapher. The
history of this renowned encounter was only traditionally known, till
with my own eyes I pondered on this whole trial of skill in the precious
manuscript of the champion himself; who, like Cæsar, not only knew how
to win victories, but also to record them. Peter Bales was a hero of
such transcendent eminence, that his name has entered into our history.
Holinshed chronicles one of his curiosities of microscopic writing at a
time when the taste prevailed for admiring writing which no eye could
read! In the compass of a silver penny this caligrapher put more things
than would fill several of these pages. He presented Queen Elizabeth
with the manuscript set in a ring of gold covered with a crystal; he had
also contrived a magnifying glass of such power, that, to her delight
and wonder, her majesty read the whole volume, which she held on her
thumb-nail, and "commended the same to the lords of the council and the
ambassadors;" and frequently, as Peter often heard, did her majesty
vouchsafe to wear this caligraphic ring.[110]

"Some will think I labour on a cobweb"--modestly exclaimed Bales in his
narrative, and his present historian much fears for himself! The
reader's gratitude will not be proportioned to my pains, in condensing
such copious pages into the size of a "silver penny," but without its

For a whole year had David Johnson affixed a challenge "To any one who
should take exceptions to this my writing and teaching." He was a young
friend of Bales, daring and longing for an encounter; yet Bales was
magnanimously silent, till he discovered that he was "doing much less in
writing and teaching" since this public challenge was proclaimed! He
then set up his counter-challenge, and in one hour afterwards Johnson
arrogantly accepted it, "in a most despiteful and disgraceful manner."
Bales's challenge was delivered "in good terms." "To all Englishmen and
strangers." It was to write for a gold pen of twenty pounds value in all
kinds of hands, "best, straightest, and fastest," and most kind of ways;
"a full, a mean, a small, with line, and without line; in a slow set
hand, a mean facile hand, and a fast running hand;" and further, "to
write truest and speediest, most secretary and clerk-like, from a man's
mouth, reading or pronouncing, either English or Latin."

Young Johnson had the hardihood now of turning the tables on his great
antagonist, accusing the veteran Bales of arrogance. Such an absolute
challenge, says he, was never witnessed by man, "without exception of
any in the world!" And a few days after meeting Bales, "of set purpose
to affront and disgrace him what he could, showed Bales a piece of
writing of secretary's hand, which he had very much laboured in fine
abortive parchment,"[111] uttering to the challenger these words: "Mr.
Bales, give me one shilling out of your purse, and if within six months
you better, or equal this piece of writing, I will give you forty pounds
for it." This legal deposit of the shilling was made, and the
challenger, or appellant, was thereby bound by law to the performance.

The day before the trial a printed declaration was affixed throughout
the city, taunting Bales's "proud poverty," and his pecuniary motives,
as "a thing ungentle, base, and mercenary, and not answerable to the
dignity of the golden pen!" Johnson declares he would maintain his
challenge for a thousand pounds more, but for the respondent's inability
to perform a thousand groats. Bales retorts on the libel; declares it as
a sign of his rival's weakness, "yet who so bold as blind Bayard, that
hath not a word of Latin to cast at a dog, or say Bo! to a goose!"

On Michaelmas day, 1595, the trial opened before five judges: the
appellant and the respondent appeared at the appointed place, and an
ancient gentleman was intrusted with "the golden pen." In the first
trial, for the manner of teaching scholars, after Johnson had taught his
pupil a fortnight, he would not bring him forward! This was awarded in
favour of Bales.

The second, for secretary and clerk-like writing, dictating to them both
in English and in Latin, Bales performed best, being first done; written
straightest without line, with true orthography: the challenger himself
confessing that he wanted the Latin tongue, and was no clerk!

The third and last trial for fair writing in sundry kinds of hands, the
challenger prevailed for the beauty and most "authentic proportion," and
for the superior variety of the Roman hand. In the court hand the
respondent exceeded the appellant, and likewise in the set text; and in
bastard secretary was also somewhat perfecter.

At length Bales, perhaps perceiving an equilibrium in the judicial
decision, to overwhelm his antagonist presented what he distinguishes as
his "masterpiece," composed of secretary and Roman hand four ways
varied, and offering the defendant to let pass all his previous
advantages if he could better this specimen of caligraphy! The
challenger was silent! At this moment some of the judges perceiving that
the decision must go in favour of Bales, in consideration of the youth
of the challenger, lest he might be disgraced to the world, requested
the other judges not to pass judgment in public. Bales assures us, that
he in vain remonstrated; for by these means the winning of the golden
pen might not be so famously spread as otherwise it would have been. To
Bales the prize was awarded. But our history has a more interesting
close; the subtle Machiavelism of the first challenger!

When the great trial had closed, and Bales, carrying off the golden pen,
exultingly had it painted and set up for his sign, the baffled
challenger went about reporting that _he_ had _won_ the golden pen, but
that the defendant had obtained the same by "plots and shifts, and other
base and cunning practices." Bales vindicated his claim, and offered to
show the world his "masterpiece" which had acquired it. Johnson issued
an "Appeal to all Impartial Penmen," which he spread in great numbers
through the city for ten days, a libel against the judges and the
victorious defendant! He declared that there had been a subtle
combination with one of the judges concerning the place of trial; which
he expected to have been "before penmen," but not before a multitude
like a stage-play, and shouts and tumults, with which the challenger had
hitherto been unacquainted. The judges were intended to be twelve; but
of the five, four were the challenger's friends, honest gentlemen, but
unskilled in judging of most hands; and he offered again forty pounds to
be allowed in six months to equal Bales's masterpiece. And he closes his
"appeal" by declaring that Bales had lost in several parts of the trial,
neither did the judges deny that Bales possessed himself of the golden
pen by a trick! Before judgment was awarded, alleging the sickness of
his wife to be extreme, he desired she might have _a sight of the golden
pen to comfort her_! The ancient gentleman who was the holder, taking
the defendant's word, allowed the golden pen to be carried to the sick
wife; and Bales immediately pawned it, and afterwards, to make sure
work, sold it at a great loss, so that when the judges met for their
definite sentence, nor pen nor pennyworth was to be had! The judges
being ashamed of their own conduct, were compelled to give such a
verdict as suited the occasion.

Bales rejoins: he publishes to the universe the day and the hour when
the judges brought the golden pen to his house, and while he checks the
insolence of this Bobadil, to show himself no recreant, assumes the
golden pen for his sign.

Such is the shortest history I could contrive of this chivalry of the
pen; something mysteriously clouds over the fate of the defendant;
Bales's history, like Cæsar's, is but an _ex-parte_ evidence. Who can
tell whether he has not slurred over his defeats, and only dwelt on his

There is a strange phrase connected with the art of the caligrapher,
which I think may be found in most, if not in all modern languages, _to
write like an angel_! Ladies have been frequently compared with angels;
they are _beautiful_ as angels, and _sing_ and _dance_ like angels; but,
however intelligible these are, we do not so easily connect penmanship
with the other celestial accomplishments. This fanciful phrase, however,
has a very human origin. Among those learned Greeks who emigrated to
Italy, and afterwards into France, in the reign of Francis I., was one
Angelo _Vergecio_, whose beautiful caligraphy excited the admiration of
the learned. The French monarch had a Greek fount cast, modelled by his
writing. The learned Henry Stephens, who, like our Porson for
correctness and delicacy, was one of the most elegant writers of Greek,
had learnt the practice from our _Angelo_. His name became synonymous
for beautiful writing, and gave birth to the vulgar proverb or familiar
phrase _to write like an angel_!


  [109] I have not met with More's book, and am obliged to transcribe
    this from the Biog. Brit.

  [110] Howes, in his Chronicle under date 1576, has thus narrated the
    story:--"A strange piece of work, and almost incredible, was brought
    to pass by an Englishman from within the city of London, and a clerk
    of the Chancery, named Peter Bales, who by his industry and practice
    of his pen contrived and writ, within the compass of a penny, the
    Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, a prayer to God, a
    prayer for the queen, his posy, his name, the day of the month, the
    year of our Lord, and the reign of the queen: and at Hampton Court
    he presented the same to the queen's majesty."

  [111] This was written in the reign of Elizabeth. Holyoke notices
    "virgin-perchment made of an _abortive skin; membrana virgo_."
    Peacham, on "Drawing," calls parchment simply _an abortive_.


It is remarkable that the country which has long lost its political
independence may be considered as the true parent of modern history. The
greater part of their historians have abstained from the applause of
their contemporaries, while they have not the less elaborately composed
their posthumous folios, consecrated solely to truth and posterity! The
true principles of national glory are opened by the grandeur of the
minds of these assertors of political freedom. It was their indignant
spirit, seeking to console its injuries by confiding them to their
secret manuscripts, which raised up this singular phenomenon in the
literary world.

Of the various causes which produced such a lofty race of patriots, one
is prominent. The proud recollections of their Roman fathers often
troubled the dreams of the sons. The petty rival republics, and the
petty despotic principalities, which had started up from some great
families, who at first came forward as the protectors of the people from
their exterior enemies or their interior factions, at length settled
into a corruption of power; a power which had been conferred on them to
preserve liberty itself! These factions often shook, by their
jealousies, their fears, and their hatreds, that divided land, which
groaned whenever they witnessed the "Ultramontanes" descending from
their Alps and their Apennines. Petrarch, in a noble invective, warmed
by Livy and ancient Rome, impatiently beheld the French and the Germans
passing the mounts. "Enemies," he cries, "so often conquered prepare to
strike with swords which formerly served us to raise our trophies: shall
the mistress of the world bear chains forged by hands which she has so
often bound to their backs?" Machiavel, in his "Exhortations to Free
Italy from the Barbarians," rouses his country against their changeable
masters, the Germans, the French, and the Spaniards; closing with the
verse of Petrarch, that short shall be the battle for which virtue arms
to show the world--

                che l' antico valore
  Ne gl' Italici cuor non è ancor morto.

Nor has this sublime patriotism declined even in more recent times; I
cannot resist from preserving in this place a sonnet by Filicaja, which
I could never read without participating in the agitation of the writer
for the ancient glory of his degenerated country! The energetic
personification of the close perhaps surpasses even his more celebrated
sonnet, preserved in Lord Byron's notes to the fourth canto of "Childe

  Dov' è ITALIA, il tuo braccio? e a che ti servi
    Tu dell' altrui? non è s' io scorgo il vero,
    Di chi t' offende il defensor men fero:
    Ambe nemici sono, ambo fur servi.
  Così dunque l' onor, così conservi
    Gli avanzi tu del glorioso Impero?
    Cosi al valor, cosi al valor primiero
    Che a te fede giurò, la fede osservi?
  Or va; repudia il valor prisco, e sposa
    L' ozio, e fra il sangue, i gemiti, e le strida
    Nel periglio maggior dormi e riposa!
  Dormi, Adultera vil! fin che omicida
    Spada ultrice ti svegli, e sonnacchiosa,
    E nuda in braccio al tuo fedel t'uccida!

  Oh, Italy! where is thine arm? What purpose serves
  So to be helped by others? Deem I right,
  Among offenders thy defender stands?
  Both _are_ thy enemies--both _were_ thy servants!
  Thus dost thou honour--thus dost thou preserve
  The mighty boundaries of the glorious empire?
  And thus to Valour, to thy pristine Valour
  That swore its faith to thee, thy faith thou keep'st?
  Go! and divorce thyself from thy old Valiance,
  And marry Idleness: and midst the blood,
  The heavy groans and cries of agony,
  In thy last danger sleep, and seek repose!
  Sleep, vile Adulteress! the homicidal sword
  Vengeful shall waken thee! and lull'd to slumber,
  While naked in thy minion's arms, shall strike!

Among the domestic contests of Italy the true principles of political
freedom were developed; and in that country we may find the origin of
that PHILOSOPHICAL HISTORY which includes so many important views and so
many new results unknown to the ancients.

Machiavel seems to have been the first writer who discovered the secret
of what may be called _comparative history_. He it was who first sought
in ancient history for the materials which were to illustrate the events
of his own times, by fixing on analogous facts, similar personages, and
parallel periods. This was enlarging the field of history, and opening a
new combination for philosophical speculation. His profound genius
advanced still further; he not only explained modern by ancient history,
but he deduced those results or principles founded on this new sort of
evidence which guided him in forming his opinions. History had hitherto
been, if we except Tacitus, but a story well told; and by writers of
limited capacity, the detail and number of facts had too often been
considered as the only valuable portion of history. An erudition of
facts is not the philosophy of history; an historian unskilful in the
art of applying his facts amasses impure ore, which he cannot strike
into coin. The chancellor D'Aguesseau, in his instructions to his son on
the study of history, has admirably touched on this distinction. "Minds
which are purely historical mistake a fact for an argument; they are so
accustomed to satisfy themselves by repeating a great number of facts
and enriching their memory, that they become incapable of reasoning on
principles. It often happens that the result of their knowledge breeds
confusion and universal indecision; for their facts, often
contradictory, only raise up doubts. The superfluous and the frivolous
occupy the place of what is essential and solid, or at least so overload
and darken it that we must sail with them in a sea of trifles to get to
firm land. Those who only value the philosophical part of history fall
into an opposite extreme; they judge of what has been done by that which
should be done; while the others always decide on what should be done by
that which has been: the first are the dupes of their reasoning, the
second of the facts which they mistake for reasoning. We should not
separate two things which ought always to go in concert, and mutually
lend an aid, _reason and example_! Avoid equally the contempt of some
philosophers for the science of facts, and the distaste or the
incapacity which those who confine themselves to facts often contract
for whatever depends on pure reasoning. True and solid philosophy should
direct us in the study of history, and the study of history should give
perfection to philosophy." Such was the enlightened opinion, as far back
as at the beginning of the seventeenth century, of the studious
chancellor of France, before the more recent designation of
_Philosophical History_ was so generally received, and so familiar on
our title-pages.

From the moment that the Florentine secretary conceived the idea that
the history of the Roman people, opening such varied spectacles of human
nature, served as a point of comparison to which he might perpetually
recur to try the analogous facts of other nations and the events passing
under his own eye, a new light broke out and ran through the vast
extents of history. The maturity of experience seemed to have been
obtained by the historian in his solitary meditation. Livy in the
grandeur of Rome, and Tacitus in its fated decline, exhibited for
Machiavel a moving picture of his own republics--the march of destiny in
all human governments! The text of Livy and Tacitus revealed to him many
an imperfect secret--the fuller truth he drew from the depth of his own
observations on his own times. In Machiavel's "Discourses on Livy" we
may discover the foundations of our _Philosophical History_.

The example of Machiavel, like that of all creative genius, influenced
the character of his age, and his history of Florence produced an
emulative spirit among a new dynasty of historians.

The Italian historians have proved themselves to be an extraordinary
race, for they devoted their days to the composition of historical
works which they were certain could not see the light during their
lives! They nobly determined that their works should be posthumous,
rather than be compelled to mutilate them for the press. These
historians were rather the saints than the martyrs of history; they did
not always personally suffer for truth, but during their protracted
labour they sustained their spirit by anticipating their glorified

Among these Italian historians must be placed the illustrious
Guicciardini, the friend of Machiavel. No perfect edition of this
historian existed till recent times. The history itself was posthumous;
nor did his nephew venture to publish it till twenty years after the
historian's death. He only gave the first sixteen books, and these
castrated. The obnoxious passages consisted of some statements relating
to the papal court, then so important in the affairs of Europe; some
account of the origin and progress of the papal power; some eloquent
pictures of the abuses and disorders of that corrupt court; and some
free caricatures on the government of Florence. The precious fragments
were fortunately preserved in manuscript, and the Protestants procured
transcripts which they published separately, but which were long very
rare.[112] All the Italian editions continued to be reprinted in the
same truncated condition, and appear only to have been reinstated in the
immortal history so late as in 1775! Thus, it required two centuries
before an editor could venture to give the world the pure and complete
text of the manuscript of the lieutenant-general of the papal army, who
had been so close and so indignant an observer of the Roman cabinet.

Adriani, whom his son entitles _gentiluomo Fiorentino_, the writer of
the pleasing dissertation "on the Ancient Painters noticed by Pliny,"
prefixed to his friend Vasari's biographies, wrote as a continuation of
Guicciardini, a history of his own times in twenty-two books, of which
Denina gives the highest character for its moderate spirit, and from
which De Thou has largely drawn, and commends for its authenticity. Our
author, however, did not venture to publish his history during his
lifetime: it was after his death that his son became the editor.

Nardi, of a noble family and high in office, famed for a translation of
Livy which rivals its original in the pleasure it affords, in his
retirement from public affairs wrote a history of Florence, which closes
with the loss of the liberty of his country in 1531. It was not
published till fifty years after his death; even then the editors
suppressed many passages which are found in manuscript in the libraries
of Florence and Venice, with other historical documents of this noble
and patriotic historian.

About the same time the senator Philip Nerli was writing his
"_Commentarj de' fatti civili_," which had occurred in Florence. He gave
them with his dying hand to his nephew, who presented the MSS. to the
Grand Duke; yet, although this work is rather an apology than a
crimination of the Medici family for their ambitious views and their
overgrown power, probably some state-reason interfered to prevent the
publication, which did not take place till 150 years after the death of
the historian!

Bernardo Segni composed a history of Florence still more valuable, which
shared the same fate as that of Nerli. It was only after his death that
his relatives accidentally discovered this history of Florence, which
the author had carefully concealed during his lifetime. He had abstained
from communicating to any one the existence of such a work while he
lived, that he might not be induced to check the freedom of his pen, nor
compromise the cause and the interests of truth. His heirs presented it
to one of the Medici family, who threw it aside. Another copy had been
more carefully preserved, from which it was printed in 1713, about 150
years after it had been written. It appears to have excited great
curiosity, for Lenglet du Fresnoy observes that the scarcity of this
history is owing to the circumstance "of the Grand Duke having bought up
the copies." Du Fresnoy, indeed, has noticed more than once this sort of
address of the Grand Duke; for he observes on the Florentine history of
Bruto that the work was not common, the Grand Duke having bought up the
copies to suppress them. The author was even obliged to fly from Italy
for having delivered his opinions too freely on the house of the Medici.
This honest historian thus expresses himself at the close of his
work:--"My design has but one end--that our posterity may learn by these
notices the root and the causes of so many troubles which we have
suffered, while they expose the malignity of those men who have raised
them up or prolonged them, as well as the goodness of those who did all
which they could to turn them away."

It was the same motive, the fear of offending the great personages or
their families, of whom these historians had so freely written, which
deterred Benedetto Varchi from publishing his well-known "Storie
Fiorentine," which was not given to the world till 1721, a period which
appears to have roused the slumbers of the literary men of Italy to
recur to their native historians. Varchi, who wrote with so much zeal
the history of his fatherland, is noticed by Nardi as one who never took
an active part in the events he records; never having combined with any
party, and living merely as a spectator. This historian closes the
narrative of a horrid crime of Peter Lewis Farnese with this admirable
reflection: "I know well this story, with many others which I have
freely exposed, may hereafter prevent the reading of my history; but
also I know, that besides what Tacitus has said on this subject, the
great duty of an historian is not to be more careful of the reputation
of persons than is suitable with truth, which is to be preferred to all
things, however detrimental it may be to the writer."[113]

Such was that free manner of thinking and of writing which prevailed in
these Italian historians, who, often living in the midst of the ruins of
popular freedom, poured forth their injured feelings in their secret
pages; without the hope, and perhaps without the wish, of seeing them
published in their lifetime: a glorious example of self-denial and lofty

Had it been inquired of these writers why they did not publish their
histories, they might have answered, in nearly the words of an ancient
sage, "Because I am not permitted to write as I would; and I would not
write as I am permitted." We cannot imagine that these great men were in
the least insensible to the applause they denied themselves; they were
not of tempers to be turned aside; and it was the highest motive which
can inspire an historian, a stern devotion to truth, which reduced them
to silence, but not to inactivity! These Florentine and Venetian
historians, ardent with truth, and profound in political sagacity, were
writing these legacies of history solely for their countrymen, hopeless
of their gratitude! If a Frenchman[114] wrote the English history, that
labour was the aliment of his own glory; if Hume and Robertson devoted
their pens to history, the motive of the task was less glorious than
their work; but here we discover a race of historians, whose patriotism
alone instigated their secret labour, and who substituted for fame and
fortune that mightier spirit, which, amidst their conflicting passions,
has developed the truest principles, and even the errors, of Political

None of these historians, we have seen, published their works in their
lifetime. I have called them the saints of history, rather than the
martyrs. One, however, had the intrepidity to risk this awful
responsibility, and he stands forth among the most illustrious and
ill-fated examples of HISTORICAL MARTYRDOM!

This great historian is Giannone, whose civil history of the kingdom of
Naples is remarkable for its profound inquiries concerning the civil and
ecclesiastical constitution, the laws and customs of that kingdom. With
some interruptions from his professional avocations at the bar, twenty
years were consumed in writing this history. Researches on
ecclesiastical usurpations, and severe strictures on the clergy, are the
chief subjects of his bold and unreserved pen. These passages, curious,
grave, and indignant, were afterwards extracted from the history by
Vernet, and published in a small volume, under the title of "Anecdotes
Ecclésiastiques," 1738. When Giannone consulted with a friend on the
propriety of publishing his history, his critic, in admiring the work,
predicted the fate of the author. "You have," said he, "placed on your
head a crown of thorns, and of very sharp ones." The historian set at
nought his own personal repose, and in 1723 this elaborate history saw
the light. From that moment the historian never enjoyed a day of quiet!
Rome attempted at first to extinguish the author with his work; all the
books were seized on; and copies of the first edition are of extreme
rarity. To escape the fangs of inquisitorial power, the historian of
Naples flew from Naples on the publication of his immortal work. The
fugitive and excommunicated author sought an asylum at Vienna, where,
though he found no friend in the emperor, Prince Eugene and other nobles
became his patrons. Forced to quit Vienna, he retired to Venice, when a
new persecution arose from the jealousy of the state-inquisitors, who
one night landed him on the borders of the pope's dominions. Escaping
unexpectedly with his life to Geneva, he was preparing a supplemental
volume to his celebrated history, when, enticed by a treacherous friend
to a catholic village, Giannone was arrested by an order of the King of
Sardinia; his manuscripts were sent to Rome, and the historian
imprisoned in a fort. It is curious that the imprisoned Giannone wrote a
vindication of the rights of the King of Sardinia, against the claims of
the court of Rome. This powerful appeal to the feelings of this
sovereign was at first favourably received; but, under the secret
influence of Rome, the Sardinian monarch, on the extraordinary plea that
he kept Giannone as a prisoner of state that he might preserve him from
the papal power, ordered that the vindicator of his rights should be
more closely confined than before; and, for this purpose, transferred
his state-prisoner to the citadel of Turin, where, after twelve years of
persecution and of agitation, our great historian closed his life!

Such was the fate of this historical martyr, whose work the catholic
Haym describes as _opera scritta con molto fuoco e troppa libertà_. He
hints that this history is only paralleled by De Thou's great work. This
Italian history will ever be ranked among the most philosophical. But,
profound as was the masculine genius of Giannone, such was his love of
fame, that he wanted the intrepidity requisite to deny himself the
delight of giving his history to the world, though some of his great
predecessors had set him a noble and dignified example.

One more observation on these Italian historians. All of them represent
man in his darkest colours; their drama is terrific; the actors are
monsters of perfidy, of inhumanity, and inventors of crimes which seem
to want a name! They were all "princes of darkness;" and the age seemed
to afford a triumph of Manicheism! The worst passions were called into
play by all parties. But if something is to be ascribed to the manners
of the times, much more may be traced to that science of politics, which
sought for mastery in an undefinable struggle of ungovernable political
power; in the remorseless ambition of the despots, and the hatreds and
jealousies of the republics. These Italian historians have formed a
perpetual satire on the contemptible simulation and dissimulation, and
the inexpiable crimes of that system of politics, which has derived a
name from one of themselves--the great, may we add, the calumniated,


  [112] They were printed at Basle in 1569--at London in 1595--in
    Amsterdam, 1663. How many attempts to echo the voice of suppressed
    truth--_Haym's Bib. Ital._ 1803.

  [113] My friend, Mr. Merivale, whose critical research is only
    equalled by the elegance of his taste, has supplied me with a note
    which proves but too well that even writers who compose uninfluenced
    by party feelings, may not, however, be sufficiently scrupulous in
    weighing the evidence of the facts which they collect. Mr. Merivale
    observes, "The strange and improbable narrative with which Varchi
    has the misfortune of closing his history, should not have been even
    hinted at without adding, that it is denounced by other writers as a
    most impudent forgery, invented years after the occurrence is
    supposed to have happened, by the 'Apostate' bishop Petrus Paulus
    Vergerius." See its refutation in Amiani, "Hist. di Fano," ii. 149,
    et seq. 160.

    "Varchi's character as an historian cannot but suffer greatly from
    his having given it insertion on such authority. The responsibility
    of an author for the truth of what he relates should render us very
    cautious of giving credit to the writers of memoirs not intended to
    see the light till a distant period. The credibility of Vergerius,
    as an acknowledged libeller of Pope Paul III. and his family,
    appears still more conclusively from his article in Bayle, note K."
    It must be added, that the calumny of Vergerius may be found in
    Wolfius's Lect. Mem. ii. 691, in a tract _de Idolo Lauretano_,
    published 1556. Varchi is more particular in his details of this
    monstrous tale. Vergerius's libels, universally read at the time
    though they were collected afterwards, are now not to be met with,
    even in public libraries. Whether there was any truth in the story
    of Peter Lewis Farnese I know not; but crimes of as monstrous a dye
    occur in the authentic Guicciardini. The story is not yet forgotten,
    since in the last edition of Haym's _Biblioteca Italiana_, the best
    edition is marked as that which at p. 639 contains "_la sceleratezza
    di Pier Lewis Farnese_." I am of opinion that Varchi believed the
    story, by the solemnity of his proposition. Whatever be its truth,
    the historian's feeling was elevated and intrepid.

  [114] Rapin.


Our ministers and court favourites, as well as those on the Continent,
practised a very impolitical custom, and one likely to be repeated,
although it has never failed to cast a popular odium on their names,
exciting even the envy of their equals--in the erection of palaces for
themselves, which outvied those of their sovereign; and which, to the
eyes of the populace, appeared as a perpetual and insolent exhibition of
what they deemed the ill-earned wages of peculation, oppression, and
court-favour. We discover the seduction of this passion for ostentation,
this haughty sense of their power, and this self-idolatry, even among
the most prudent and the wisest of our ministers; and not one but lived
to lament over this vain act of imprudence. To these ministers the noble
simplicity of Pitt will ever form an admirable contrast; while his
personal character, as a statesman, descends to posterity unstained by

The houses of Cardinal Wolsey appear to have exceeded the palaces of the
sovereign in magnificence; and potent as he was in all the pride of
pomp, the "great cardinal" found rabid envy pursuing him so close at his
heels, that he relinquished one palace after the other, and gave up as
gifts to the monarch what, in all his overgrown greatness, he trembled
to retain for himself. The state satire of that day was often pointed at
this very circumstance, as appears in Skelton's "Why come ye not to
Court?" and Roy's "Rede me, and be not wrothe."[115] Skelton's railing
rhymes leave their bitter teeth in his purple pride; and the style of
both these satirists, if we use our own orthography, shows how little
the language of the common people has varied during three centuries.

  Set up a wretch on high
  In a throne triumphantly;
  Make him a great state
  And he will play check-mate
  With royal majesty----
  The King's Court
  Should have the excellence,
  But Hampton Court
  Hath the pre-eminence;
  And Yorke Place[116]
  With my Lord's grace,
  To whose magnificence
  Is all the confluence,
  Suits, and supplications;
  Embassies of all nations.

Roy, in contemplating the palace, is maliciously reminded of the
butcher's lad, and only gives plain sense in plain words.

  Hath the Cardinal any gay mansion?
  Great palaces without comparison,
    Most glorious of outward sight,
  And within decked point-device,[117]
  More like unto a paradise
    Than an earthly habitation.
  He cometh then of some noble stock?
  His father could match a bullock,
    A butcher by his occupation.

Whatever we may now think of the structure, and the low apartments of
Wolsey's PALACE, it is described not only in his own times, but much
later, as of unparalleled magnificence; and indeed Cavendish's narrative
of the Cardinal's entertainment of the French ambassadors gives an idea
of the ministerial prelate's imperial establishment very puzzling to the
comprehension of a modern inspector. Six hundred persons, I think, were
banqueted and slept in an abode which appears to us so mean, but which
Stowe calls "so stately a palace." To avoid the odium of living in this
splendid edifice, Wolsey presented it to the king, who, in recompense,
suffered the Cardinal occasionally to inhabit this wonder of England, in
the character of keeper of the king's palace;[118] so that Wolsey only
dared to live in his own palace by a subterfuge! This perhaps was a
tribute which ministerial haughtiness paid to popular feeling, or to the
jealousy of a royal master.

I have elsewhere shown the extraordinary elegance and prodigality of
expenditure of Buckingham's residences; they were such as to have
extorted the wonder even of Bassompierre, and unquestionably excited the
indignation of those who lived in a poor court, while our gay and
thoughtless minister alone could indulge in the wanton profusion.

But Wolsey and Buckingham were ambitious and adventurous; they rose and
shone the comets of the political horizon of Europe. The Roman tiara
still haunted the imagination of the Cardinal: and the egotistic pride
of having out-rivalled Richelieu and Olivarez, the nominal ministers
but the real sovereigns of Europe, kindled the buoyant spirits of the
gay, the gallant, and the splendid Villiers. But what "folly of the
wise" must account for the conduct of the profound Clarendon, and the
sensible Sir Robert Walpole, who, like the other two ministers, equally
became the victims of this imprudent passion for the ostentatious pomp
of a palace. This magnificence looked like the vaunt of insolence in the
eyes of the people, and covered the ministers with a popular odium.

Clarendon House is now only to be viewed in a print; but its story
remains to be told. It was built on the site of Grafton-street; and when
afterwards purchased by Monk, the Duke of Albemarle, he left his title
to that well-known street. It was an edifice of considerable extent and
grandeur. Clarendon reproaches himself in his Life for "his weakness and
vanity" in the vast expense incurred in this building, which he
acknowledges had "more contributed to that gust of envy that had so
violently shaken him, than any misdemeanour that he was thought to have
been guilty of." It ruined his estate; but he had been encouraged to it
by the royal grant of the land, by that passion for building to which he
owns "he was naturally too much inclined," and perhaps by other
circumstances, among which was the opportunity of purchasing the stones
which had been designed for the rebuilding of St. Paul's; but the envy
it drew on him, and the excess of the architect's proposed expense, had
made his life "very uneasy, and near insupportable." The truth is, that
when this palace was finished, it was imputed to him as a state-crime;
all the evils in the nation, which were then numerous, pestilence,
conflagration, war, and defeats, were discovered to be in some way
connected with Clarendon House, or, as it was popularly called, either
Dunkirk House, or Tangier Hall, from a notion that it had been erected
with the golden bribery which the chancellor had received for the sale
of Dunkirk and Tangiers.[119] He was reproached with having profaned the
sacred stones dedicated to the use of the church. The great but
unfortunate master of this palace, who, from a private lawyer, had
raised himself by alliance even to royalty, the father-in-law of the
Duke of York, it was maliciously suggested, had persuaded Charles the
Second to marry the Infanta of Portugal, knowing (but how Clarendon
obtained the knowledge his enemies have not revealed) that the
Portuguese princess was not likely to raise any obstacle to the
inheritance of his own daughter to the throne. At the Restoration, among
other enemies, Clarendon found that the royalists were none of the least
active; he was reproached by them for preferring those who had been the
cause of their late troubles. The same reproach was incurred on the
restoration of the Bourbons. It is perhaps more political to maintain
active men, who have obtained power, than to reinstate inferior talents,
who at least have not their popularity. This is one of the parallel
cases which so frequently strike us in exploring political history; and
the _ultras_ of Louis the Eighteenth were only the _royalists_ of
Charles the Second. There was a strong popular delusion carried on by
the wits and the _Misses_ who formed the court of Charles the Second,
that the government was as much shared by the Hydes as the Stuarts. We
have in the state-poems, an unsparing lampoon, entitled "Clarendon's
House-warming;" but a satire yielding nothing to it in severity I have
discovered in manuscript; and it is also remarkable for turning chiefly
on a pun of the family name of the Earl of Clarendon. The witty and
malicious rhymer, after making Charles the Second demand the Great Seal,
and resolve to be his own chancellor, proceeds, reflecting on the great
political victim:

  Lo! his whole ambition already divides
  The sceptre between the Stuarts and the Hydes.
  Behold in the depth of our plague and wars,
  He built him a palace out-braves the stars;
  Which house (we Dunkirk, he Clarendon, names)
  Looks down with shame upon St. James;
  But 'tis not his golden globe that will save him,
  Being less than the custom-house farmers gave him;
  His chapel for consecration calls,
  Whose sacrilege plundered the stones from Paul's.
  When Queen Dido landed she bought as much ground
  As the _Hyde_ of a lusty fat bull would surround;
  But when the said _Hyde_ was cut into thongs,
  A city and kingdom to _Hyde_ belongs;
  So here in court, church, and country, far and wide,
  Here's nought to be seen but _Hyde! Hyde! Hyde!_
  Of old, and where law the kingdom divides,
  'Twas our Hydes of land, 'tis now land of Hydes!

Clarendon House was a palace, which had been raised with at least as
much fondness as pride; and Evelyn tells us that the garden was planned
by himself and his lordship; but the cost, as usual, trebled the
calculation, and the noble master grieved in silence amidst this
splendid pile of architecture.[120] Even when in his exile the sale was
proposed to pay his debts, and secure some provision for his younger
children, he honestly tells us that "he remained so infatuated with the
delight he had enjoyed, that though he was deprived of it, he hearkened
very unwillingly to the advice." In 1683 Clarendon House met its fate,
and was abandoned to the brokers, who had purchased it for its
materials. An affecting circumstance is recorded by Evelyn on this
occasion. In returning to town with the Earl of Clarendon, the son of
the great earl, "in passing by the glorious palace his father built but
a few years before, which they were now demolishing, being sold to
certain undertakers,[121] I turned my head the contrary way till the
coach was gone past by, lest I might minister occasion of speaking of
it, which must needs have grieved him, that in so short a time this pomp
was fallen." A feeling of infinite delicacy, so perfectly characteristic
of Evelyn!

And now to bring down this subject to times still nearer. We find that
Sir Robert Walpole had placed himself exactly in the situation of the
great minister we have noticed; we have his confession to his brother
Lord Walpole, and to his friend Sir John Hynde Cotton. The historian of
this minister observes, that his magnificent building at Houghton drew
on him great obloquy. On seeing his brother's house at Wolterton, Sir
Robert expressed his wishes that he had contented himself with a similar
structure. In the reign of Anne, Sir Robert, sitting by Sir John Hynde
Cotton, alluding to a sumptuous house which was then building by Harley,
observed, that to construct a great house was a high act of imprudence
in any minister! It was a long time after, when he had become prime
minister, that he forgot the whole result of the present article, and
pulled down his family mansion at Houghton to build its magnificent
edifice; it was then Sir John Hynde Cotton reminded him of the
reflection which he had made some years ago: the reply of Sir Robert is
remarkable--"Your recollection is too late; I wish you had reminded me
of it before I began building, for then it might have been of service to

The statesman and politician then are susceptible of all the seduction
of ostentation and the pride of pomp! Who would have credited it? But
bewildered with power, in the magnificence and magnitude of the edifices
which their colossal greatness inhabits, they seem to contemplate on its

Sir Francis Walsingham died and left nothing to pay his debts, as
appears by a curious fact noticed in the anonymous life of Sir Philip
Sidney prefixed to the _Arcadia_, and evidently written by one
acquainted with the family history of his friend and hero. The chivalric
Sidney, though sought after by court beauties, solicited the hand of the
daughter of Walsingham, although, as it appears, she could have had no
other portion than her own virtues and her father's name. "And herein,"
observes our anonymous biographer, "he was exemplary to all gentlemen
not to carry their love in their purses." On this he notices this secret
history of Walsingham:

"This is that Sir Francis who impoverished himself to enrich the state,
and indeed made England his heir; and was so far from building up of
fortune by the benefit of his place, that he demolished that fine estate
left him by his ancestors to purchase dear intelligence from all parts
of Christendom. He had a key to unlock the pope's cabinet; and, as if
master of some invisible whispering-place, all the secrets of Christian
princes met at his closet. Wonder not then if he bequeathed no great
wealth to his daughter, being _privately interred_ in the choir of
Paul's, as _much indebted to his creditors_ though not so much as our
nation is indebted to his memory."

Some curious inquirer may afford us a catalogue of great ministers of
state who have voluntarily declined the augmentation of their private
fortune, while they devoted their days to the noble pursuits of
patriotic glory! The labour of this research will be great, and the
volume small!


  [115] Skelton's satire is accessible to the reader in the Rev.
    Alexander Dyce's edition of the poet's works. Roy's poem was printed
    abroad about 1525, and is of extreme rarity, as the cardinal spared
    no labour and expense to purchase and destroy all the copies. A
    second edition was printed at Wesel in 1546. Its author, who had
    been a friar, was ultimately burned in Portugal for heresy.

  [116] The palace of Wolsey, as Archbishop of York, which he had
    furnished in the most sumptuous manner; after his disgrace it became
    a royal residence under the name of Whitehall.--Note in Dyce's ed.
    of Skelton's Works.

  [117] _Point-device_, a term explained by Mr. Douce. He thinks that
    it is borrowed from the labours of the needle, as we have
    _point-lace_, so _point-device_, i.e., _point_, a stitch, and
    _devise_, devised or invented; applied to describe anything
    uncommonly exact, or worked with the nicety and precision of
    _stitches made or devised by the needle_.--_Illustrations of
    Shakspeare_, i. 93. But Mr. Gifford has since observed that the
    origin of the expression is, perhaps, yet to be sought for: he
    derives it from a mathematical phrase, _à point devisé_, or _a given
    point_, and hence exact, correct, &c.--_Ben Jonson_, vol. iv. 170.
    See, for various examples, Mr. Nares's Glossary, art.

  [118] Lyson's "Environs," v. 58

  [119] Burnet says, "Others called it _Holland House_, because he was
    believed to be no friend to the war: so it was given out that he had
    money from the Dutch."

  [120] At the gateway of the Three Kings Inn, near Dover-street, in
    Piccadilly, are two pilasters with Corinthian capitals, which
    belonged to Clarendon House, and are perhaps the only remains of
    that edifice.

  [121] An old term for _contractors_. Evelyn tells us they were
    "certain rich bankers and mechanics, who gave for it, and the ground
    about it, 35,000_l_." They built streets and houses on the site to
    their great profit, the ground comprising twenty-four acres of land.


Such was the title of a famous political tract, which was issued at a
moment when a people, in a state of insurrection, put forth a
declaration that taxation was tyranny! It was not against an
insignificant tax they protested, but against taxation itself! and in
the temper of the moment this abstract proposition appeared an insolent
paradox. It was instantly run down by that everlasting party which, so
far back as in the laws of our Henry the First, are designated by the
odd descriptive term of _acephali, a people without heads!_[122] the
strange equality of levellers!

These political monsters in all times have had an association of ideas
of _taxation_ and _tyranny_, and with them one name instantly suggests
the other! This happened to one Gigli of Sienna, who published the first
part of a dictionary of the Tuscan language,[123] of which only 312
leaves amused the Florentines; these having had the honour of being
consigned to the flames by the hands of the hangman for certain popular
errors; such as, for instance, under the word _Gran Duca_ we find _Vedi
Gabelli!_ (see Taxes!) and the word _Gabella_ was explained by a
reference to _Gran Duca_! _Grand-duke_ and _taxes_ were synonymes,
according to this mordacious lexicographer! Such grievances, and the
modes of expressing them, are equally ancient. A Roman consul, by
levying a tax on _salt_ during the Punic war, was nicknamed _Salinator_,
and condemned by "the majesty" of the people! He had formerly done his
duty to the country, but the _salter_ was now his reward! He retired
from Rome, let his beard grow, and by his sordid dress and melancholy
air evinced his acute sensibility. The Romans at length wanted the
_salter_ to command the army--as an injured man, he refused--but he was
told that he should bear the caprice of the Roman people with the
tenderness of a son for the humours of a parent! He had lost his
reputation by a productive tax on salt, though this tax had provided an
army and obtained a victory!

Certain it is that Gigli and his numerous adherents are wrong: for were
they freed from all restraints as much as if they slept in forests and
not in houses; were they inhabitants of wilds and not of cities, so that
every man should be his own lawgiver, with a perpetual immunity from all
taxation, we could not necessarily infer their political happiness.
There are nations where taxation is hardly known, for the people exist
in such utter wretchedness, that they are too poor to be taxed; of which
the Chinese, among others, exhibit remarkable instances. When Nero would
have abolished all taxes, in his excessive passion for popularity, the
senate thanked him for his good will to the people, but assured him that
this was a certain means not of repairing, but of ruining the
commonwealth. Bodin, in his curious work "The Republic," has noticed a
class of politicians who are in too great favour with the people. "Many
seditious citizens, and desirous of innovations, did of late years
promise immunity of taxes and subsidies to our people; but neither could
they do it, or if they could have done it, they would not; or if it were
done, should we have any commonweal, being the ground and foundation of

The undisguised and naked term of "taxation" is, however, so odious to
the people, that it may be curious to observe the arts practised by
governments, and even by the people themselves, to veil it under some
mitigating term. In the first breaking out of the American troubles,
they probably would have yielded to the mother-country _the right of_
_taxation_, modified by the term _regulation_ (of their trade); this I
infer from a letter of Dr. Robertson, who observes, that "the
distinction between _taxation_ and _regulation_ is mere folly!" Even
despotic governments have condescended to disguise the contributions
forcibly levied, by some appellative which should partly conceal its
real nature. Terms have often influenced circumstances, as names do
things; and conquest or oppression, which we may allow to be synonymes,
apes benevolence whenever it claims as a gift what it exacts as a

A sort of philosophical history of taxation appears in the narrative of
Wood, in his "Inquiry on Homer." He tells us that "the presents (a term
of extensive signification in the East) which are distributed annually
by the bashaw of Damascus to the several Arab princes through whose
territory he conducts the caravan of pilgrims to Mecca, are, at
Constantinople, called a free gift, and considered as an act of the
sultan's generosity towards his indigent subjects; while, on the other
hand, the Arab Sheikhs deny even a right of passage through the
districts of their command, and exact those sums as a tax due for the
permission of going through their country. In the frequent bloody
contests which the adjustment of these fees produces, the Turks complain
of robbery, and the Arabs of invasion."[125]

Here we trace _taxation_ through all its shifting forms, accommodating
itself to the feelings of the different people; the same principle
regulated the alternate terms proposed by the buccaneers, when they
_asked_ what the weaker party was sure to _give_, or when they _levied_
what the others paid only as a common _toll_.

When Louis the Eleventh of France beheld his country exhausted by the
predatory wars of England, he bought a peace of our Edward the Fourth by
an annual sum of fifty thousand crowns, to be paid at London, and
likewise granted _pensions_ to the English ministers. Holinshed and all
our historians call this a yearly _tribute_; but Comines, the French
memoir-writer, with a national spirit, denies that these _gifts_ were
either _pensions_ or _tributes_. "Yet," says Bodin, a Frenchman also,
but affecting a more philosophical indifference, "it must be either the
one or the other; though I confess, that those who receive a pension to
obtain peace, commonly boast of it _as if it were a tribute_!"[126]
Such are the shades of our feelings in this history of taxation and
tribute. But there is another artifice of applying soft names to hard
things, by veiling a tyrannical act by a term which presents no
disagreeable idea to the imagination. When it was formerly thought
desirable, in the relaxation of morals which prevailed in Venice, to
institute the office of _censor_, three magistrates were elected bearing
this title; but it seemed so harsh and austere in that dissipated city,
that these reformers of manners were compelled to change their title;
when they were no longer called _censors_, but _I signori sopra il bon
vivere della città_, all agreed on the propriety of the office under the
softened term. Father Joseph, the secret agent of Cardinal Richelieu,
was the inventor of _lettres de cachet_, disguising that instrument of
despotism by the amusing term of _a sealed letter_. Expatriation would
have been merciful compared with the result of that _billet-doux_, a
sealed letter from his majesty!

Burke reflects with profound truth--"Abstract liberty, like other mere
abstractions, is not to be found. Liberty inheres in some sensible
object; and every nation has formed to itself some favourite point,
which, by way of eminence, becomes the criterion of their happiness. It
happened that the great contests for freedom in this country were from
the earliest times chiefly upon the question of _taxing_. Most of the
contests in the ancient commonwealths turned primarily on the right of
election of magistrates, or on the balance among the several orders of
the state. The question of _money_ was not with them so immediate. But
in England it was otherwise. On this point of taxes the ablest pens and
most eloquent tongues have been exercised; the greatest spirits have
acted and suffered."[127]

One party clamorously asserts that taxation is their grievance, while
another demonstrates that the annihilation of taxes would be their ruin!
The interests of a great nation, among themselves, are often contrary to
each other, and each seems alternately to predominate and to decline.
"The sting of taxation," observes Mr. Hallam, "is wastefulness; but it
is difficult to name a limit beyond which taxes will not be borne
without impatience when _faithfully applied_." In plainer words, this
only signifies, we presume, that Mr. Hallam's party would tax us
without "wastefulness!" Ministerial or opposition, whatever be the
administration, it follows that "taxation is no tyranny;" Dr. Johnson
then was terribly abused in his day for a _vox et præterea nihil_!

Still shall the innocent word be hateful, and the people will turn even
on their best friend, who in administration inflicts a new impost; as we
have shown by the fate of the Roman _Salinator_! Among ourselves, our
government, in its constitution, if not always in its practice, long had
a consideration towards the feelings of the people, and often contrived
to hide the nature of its exactions by a name of blandishment. An
enormous grievance was long the office of purveyance. A purveyor was an
officer who was to furnish every sort of provision for the royal house,
and sometimes for great lords, during their progresses or journeys. His
oppressive office, by arbitrarily fixing the market prices, and
compelling the countrymen to bring their articles to market, would enter
into the history of the arts of grinding the labouring class of society;
a remnant of feudal tyranny! The very title of this officer became
odious; and by a statute of Edward III. the hateful name of _purveyor_
was ordered to be changed into _acheteur_ or buyer![128] A change of
name, it was imagined, would conceal its nature! The term often devised,
strangely contrasted with the thing itself. Levies of money were long
raised under the pathetic appeal of _benevolences_. When Edward IV. was
passing over to France, he obtained, under this gentle demand, money
towards "the great journey," and afterwards having "rode about the more
part of the lands, and used the people in such fair manner, that they
were liberal in their gifts;" old Fabian adds, "the which way of the
levying of this money was after-named a benevolence." Edward IV. was
courteous in this newly-invented style, and was besides the handsomest
tax-gatherer in his kingdom! His royal presence was very dangerous to
the purses of his loyal subjects, particularly to those of the females.
In his progress, having kissed a widow for having contributed a larger
sum than was expected from her estate, she was so overjoyed at the
singular honour and delight, that she doubled her _benevolence_, and a
second kiss had ruined her! In the succeeding reign of Richard III. the
term had already lost the freshness of its innocence. In the speech
which the Duke of Buckingham delivered from the hustings in Guildhall,
he explained the term to the satisfaction of his auditors, who even then
were as cross-humoured as the livery of this day, in their notions of
what now we gently call "supplies." "Under the plausible name of
_benevolence_, as it was held in the time of Edward IV., your goods were
taken from you much against your will, as if by that name was understood
that every man should pay, not what he pleased, but what the king would
have him;" or, as a marginal note in Buck's Life of Richard III. more
pointedly has it, that "the name of _benevolence_ signified that every
man should pay, not what he of his own good will list, but what the king
of his good will list to take."[129] Richard III., whose business, like
that of all usurpers, was to be popular, in a statute even condemns this
"benevolence" as "a new imposition," and enacts that "none shall be
charged with it in future; many families having been ruined under these
pretended gifts." His successor, however, found means to levy "a
benevolence;" but when Henry VIII. demanded one, the citizens of London
appealed to the act of Richard III. Cardinal Wolsey insisted that the
law of a murderous usurper should not be enforced. One of the common
council courageously replied, that "King Richard, conjointly with
parliament, had enacted many good statutes." Even then the citizen seems
to have comprehended the spirit of our constitution--that taxes should
not be raised without the consent of parliament!

Charles the First, amidst his urgent wants, at first had hoped, by the
pathetic appeal to _benevolences_, that he should have touched the
hearts of his unfriendly commoners; but the term of _benevolence_ proved
unlucky. The resisters of _taxation_ took full advantage of a
significant meaning, which had long been lost in the custom: asserting
by this very term that all levies of money were not compulsory, but the
voluntary gifts of the people. In that political crisis, when in the
fulness of time all the national grievances which had hitherto been kept
down started up with one voice, the courteous term strangely contrasted
with the rough demand. Lord Digby said "the granting of _subsidies_,
under so preposterous a name as of a _benevolence_, was a
_malevolence_." And Mr. Grimstone observed, that "they have granted a
benevolence, but the nature of the _thing_ agrees not with the _name_."
The nature indeed had so entirely changed from the name, that when James
I. had tried to warm the hearts of his "benevolent" people, he got
"little money, and lost a great deal of love." "Subsidies," that is
grants made by parliament, observes Arthur Wilson, a dispassionate
historian, "get more of the people's money, but exactions enslave the

When _benevolences_ had become a grievance, to diminish the odium they
invented more inviting phrases. The subject was cautiously informed that
the sums demanded were only _loans_; or he was honoured by a letter
under the _Privy Seal_; a bond which the king engaged to repay at a
definite period; but privy seals at length got to be hawked about to
persons coming out of church. "Privy Seals," says a manuscript letter,
"are flying thick and threefold in sight of all the world, which might
surely have been better performed in delivering them to every man
privately at home." The _general loan_, which in fact was a forced loan,
was one of the most crying grievances under Charles I. Ingenious in the
destruction of his own popularity, the king contrived a new mode of
"_secret instructions to commissioners_."[130] They were to find out
persons who could bear the largest rates. How the commissioners were to
acquire this secret and inquisitorial knowledge appears in the bungling
contrivance. It is one of their orders that after a number of inquiries
have been put to a person, concerning others who had spoken against
loan-money, and what arguments they had used, this person was to be
charged in his majesty's name, and upon his allegiance, not to disclose
to any other the answer he had given. A striking instance of that
fatuity of the human mind, when a weak government is trying to do what
it knows not how to perform: it was seeking to obtain a secret purpose
by the most open and general means: a self-destroying principle!

Our ancestors were children in finance; their simplicity has been too
often described as tyranny! but from my soul do I believe, on this
obscure subject of taxation, that old Burleigh's advice to Elizabeth
includes more than all the squabbling pamphlets of our political


  [122] Cowel's "Interpreter," art. _Acephali_. This by-name we
    unexpectedly find in a grave antiquarian law-dictionary! probably
    derived from Pliny's description of a people whom some travellers
    had reported to have found in this predicament, in their fright and
    haste in attempting to land on a hostile shore among savages. To
    account for this fabulous people, it has been conjectured they wore
    such high coverings, that their heads did not appear above their
    shoulders, while their eyes seemed to be placed in their breasts.
    How this name came to be introduced into the laws of Henry the First
    remains to be told by some profound antiquary; but the allusion was
    common in the middle ages. Cowel says, "Those are called _acephali_
    who were the _levellers_ of that age, and acknowledged _no head_ or

  [123] _Vocabulario di Santa Caterina e della Lingua Sanese_, 1717.
    This pungent lexicon was prohibited at Rome by desire of the court
    of Florence. The history of this suppressed work may be found in _Il
    Giornale de' Letterati d' Italia_, tomo xxix. 1410. In the last
    edition of Haym's "Biblioteca Italiana," 1803, it is said to be
    reprinted at _Manilla, nell' Isole Fillippine_!--For the
    book-licensers it is a great way to go for it.

  [124] Bodin's "Six Books of a Commonwealth," translated by Richard
    Knolles, 1606. A work replete with the _practical_ knowledge of
    politics, and of which Mr. Dugald Stewart has delivered a high
    opinion. Yet this great politician wrote a volume to anathematise
    those who doubted the existence of sorcerers and witches, &c., whom
    he condemns to the flames! See his "Demonomanie des Sorciers," 1593.

  [125] Wood's "Inquiry on Homer," p. 153.

  [126] Bodin's "Commonweal," translated by R. Knolles, p. 148. 1606.

  [127] Burke's Works, vol. i. 288.

  [128] The modern word _cheater_ is traced by some authors to this
    term, which soon became odious to the populace.

  [129] Daines Barrington, in "Observations on the Statutes," gives
    the marginal _note_ of Buck as the _words_ of the duke; they
    certainly served his purpose to amuse, better than the veracious
    ones; but we expect from a grave antiquary inviolable authenticity.
    The duke is made by Barrington a sort of wit, but the pithy
    quaintness is Buck's.

  [130] These "Private Instructions to the Commissioners for the
    General Loan" may be found in Rushworth, i. 418.


Montaigne was fond of reading minute accounts of the deaths of remarkable
persons; and, in the simplicity of his heart, old Montaigne wished to be
learned enough to form a collection of these deaths, to observe "their
words, their actions, and what sort of countenance they put upon it." He
seems to have been a little over curious about deaths, in reference, no
doubt, to his own, in which he was certainly deceived; for we are told
that he did not die as he had promised himself,--expiring in the
adoration of the mass; or, as his preceptor Buchanan would have called
it, in "the act of rank idolatry."

I have been told of a privately printed volume, under the singular title
of "The Book of Death," where an _amateur_ has compiled the pious
memorials of many of our eminent men in their last moments: and it may
form a companion-piece to the little volume on "Les grands hommes qui
sont morts en plaisantant." This work, I fear, must be monotonous; the
deaths of the righteous must resemble each other; the learned and the
eloquent can only receive in silence that hope which awaits "the
covenant of the grave." But this volume will not establish any decisive
principle, since the just and the religious have not always encountered
death with indifference, nor even in a fit composure of mind.

The functions of the mind are connected with those of the body. On a
death-bed a fortnight's disease may reduce the firmest to a most
wretched state; while, on the contrary, the soul struggles, as it were
in torture, in a robust frame. Nani, the Venetian historian, has
curiously described the death of Innocent the Tenth, who was a character
unblemished by vices, and who died at an advanced age, with too robust a
constitution. _Dopo lunga e terribile agonia, con dolore e con pena,
seperandosi l'anima da quel corpo robusto, egli spiro ai sette di
Genuaro, nel ottantesimo primo de suoi anno._ "After a long and terrible
agony, with great bodily pain and difficulty, his soul separated itself
from that robust frame, and expired in his eighty-first year."

Some have composed sermons on death, while they passed many years of
anxiety, approaching to madness, in contemplating their own. The
certainty of an immediate separation from all our human sympathies may,
even on a death-bed suddenly disorder the imagination. The great
physician of our times told me of a general, who had often faced the
cannon's mouth, dropping down in terror, when informed by him that his
disease was rapid and fatal. Some have died of the strong imagination of
death. There is a print of a knight brought on the scaffold to suffer;
he viewed the headsman; he was blinded, and knelt down to receive the
stroke. Having passed through the whole ceremony of a criminal
execution, accompanied by all its disgrace, it was ordered that his life
should be spared. Instead of the stroke from the sword, they poured cold
water over his neck. After this operation the knight remained
motionless; they discovered that he had expired in the very imagination
of death! Such are among the many causes which may affect the mind in
the hour of its last trial. The habitual associations of the natural
character are most likely to prevail, though not always. The intrepid
Marshal Biron disgraced his exit by womanish tears and raging
imbecility; the virtuous Erasmus, with miserable groans, was heard
crying out, _Domine! Domine! fac finem! fac finem!_ Bayle having
prepared his proof for the printer, pointed to where it lay, when dying.
The last words which Lord Chesterfield was heard to speak were, when the
valet, opening the curtains of the bed, announced Mr. Dayroles, "Give
Dayroles a chair!" "This good breeding," observed the late Dr. Warren,
his physician, "only quits him with his life." The last words of Nelson
were, "Tell Collingwood to bring the fleet to an anchor." The tranquil
grandeur which cast a new majesty over Charles the First on the
scaffold, appeared when he declared, "I fear not death! Death is not
terrible to me!" And the characteristic pleasantry of Sir Thomas More
exhilarated his last moments, when, observing the weakness of the
scaffold, he said, in mounting it, "I pray you, see me up safe, and for
my coming down, let me shift for myself!" Sir Walter Rawleigh passed a
similar jest when going to the scaffold.[131]

My ingenious friend Dr. Sherwen has furnished me with the following
anecdotes of death:--In one of the bloody battles fought by the Duke
d'Enghien, two French noblemen were left wounded among the dead on the
field of battle. One complained loudly of his pains; the other, after
long silence, thus offered him consolation: "My friend, whoever you are,
remember that our God died on the cross, our king on the scaffold; and
if you have strength to look at him who now speaks to you, you will see
that both his legs are shot away."

At the murder of the Duke d'Enghien, the royal victim looking at the
soldiers, who had pointed their fusees, said, "Grenadiers! lower your
arms, otherwise you will miss, or only wound me!" To two of them who
proposed to tie a handkerchief over his eyes, he said, "A loyal soldier
who has been so often exposed to fire and sword can see the approach of
death with naked eyes and without fear."

After a similar caution on the part of Sir George Lisle, or Sir Charles
Lucas, when murdered in nearly the same manner at Colchester, by the
soldiers of Fairfax, the loyal hero, in answer to their assertions and
assurances that they would take care not to miss him, nobly replied,
"You have often missed me when I have been nearer to you in the field of

When the governor of Cadiz, the Marquis de Solano, was murdered by the
enraged and mistaken citizens, to one of his murderers, who had run a
pike through his back, he calmly turned round and said, "Coward, to
strike there! Come round--if you dare face--and destroy me!"

Abernethy, in his Physiological Lectures, has ingeniously observed that
"Shakspeare has represented Mercutio continuing to jest, though
conscious that he was mortally wounded; the expiring Hotspur thinking of
nothing but honour; and the dying Falstaff still cracking his jests upon
Bardolph's nose. If such facts were duly attended to, they would prompt
us to make a more liberal allowance for each other's conduct, under
certain circumstances, than we are accustomed to do." The truth seems to
be, that whenever the functions of the mind are not disturbed by "the
nervous functions of the digestive organs," the personal character
predominates even in death, and its habitual associations exist to its
last moments. Many religious persons may have died without showing in
their last moments any of those exterior acts, or employing those
fervent expressions, which the collector of "The Book of Death" would
only deign to chronicle; their hope is not gathered in their last hour.

Yet many have delighted to taste of death long before they have died,
and have placed before their eyes all the furniture of mortality. The
horrors of a charnel-house is the scene of their pleasure. The "Midnight
Meditations" of Quarles preceded Young's "Night Thoughts" by a century,
and both these poets loved preternatural terror.

  If I must die, I'll snatch at everything
    That may but mind me of my latest breath;
  DEATH'S-HEADS, GRAVES, KNELLS, BLACKS,[132] TOMBS, all these shall bring
    Into my soul such _useful thoughts of death_,
      That this sable king of fears
      Shall not catch me unawares.--QUARLES.

But it may be doubtful whether the _thoughts of death are useful_,
whenever they put a man out of the possession of his faculties. Young
pursued the scheme of Quarles: he raised about him an artificial emotion
of death: he darkened his sepulchral study, placing a skull on his table
by lamp-light; as Dr. Donne had his portrait taken, first winding a
sheet over his head and closing his eyes; keeping this melancholy
picture by his bed-side as long as he lived, to remind him of his
mortality[133]. Young, even in his garden, had his conceits of death: at
the end of an avenue was viewed a seat of an admirable chiaro-oscuro,
which, when approached, presented only a painted surface, with an
inscription, alluding to the deception of the things of this world. To
be looking at "the mirror which flatters not;" to discover ourselves
only as a skeleton with the horrid life of corruption about us, has been
among those penitential inventions, which have often ended in shaking
the innocent by the pangs which are only natural to the damned.[134]
Without adverting to those numerous testimonies, the diaries of
fanatics, I shall offer a picture of an accomplished and innocent lady,
in a curious and unaffected transcript she has left of a mind of great
sensibility, where the preternatural terror of death might perhaps have
hastened the premature one she suffered.

From the "Reliquiæ Gethinianæ,"[135] I quote some of Lady Gethin's ideas
on "Death."--"The very thoughts of death disturb one's reason; and
though a man may have many excellent qualities, yet he may have the
weakness of not commanding his sentiments. Nothing is worse for one's
health than to be in fear of death. There are some so wise as neither to
hate nor fear it; but for my part I have an aversion for it; and with
reason; for it is a rash inconsiderate thing, that always comes before
it is looked for; always comes unseasonably, parts friends, ruins
beauty, laughs at youth, and draws a dark veil over all the pleasures of
life.--This dreadful evil is but the evil of a moment, and what we
cannot by any means avoid; and it is that which makes it so terrible to
me; for were it uncertain, hope might diminish some part of the fear;
but when I think I must die, and that I may die every moment, and that
too a thousand several ways, I am in such a fright as you cannot
imagine. I see dangers where, perhaps, there never were any. I am
persuaded 'tis happy to be somewhat dull of apprehension in this case;
and yet the best way to cure the pensiveness of the thoughts of death is
to think of it as little as possible." She proceeds by enumerating the
terrors of the fearful, who "cannot enjoy themselves in the pleasantest
places, and although they are neither on sea, river, or creek, but in
good health in their chamber, yet are they so well instructed with the
_fear of dying_, that they do not measure it only by the _present_
dangers that wait on us.--Then is it not best to submit to God? But some
people cannot do it as they would; and though they are not destitute of
reason, but perceive they are to blame, yet at the same time that their
reason condemns them their imagination makes their hearts feel what it

Such is the picture of an ingenious and a religious mind, drawn by an
amiable woman, who, it is evident, lived always in the fear of death.
The Gothic skeleton was ever haunting her imagination. In Dr. Johnson
the same horror was suggested by the thoughts of death. When Boswell
once in conversation persecuted Johnson on this subject, whether we
might not fortify our minds for the approach of death; he answered in a
passion, "No, sir! let it alone! It matters not how a man dies, but how
he lives! The art of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short a
time!" But when Boswell persisted in the conversation, Johnson was
thrown into such a state of agitation, that he thundered out "Give us no
more of this!" and, further, sternly told the trembling and too curious
philosopher, "Don't let us meet to-morrow!"

It may be a question whether those who by their preparatory conduct have
appeared to show the greatest indifference for death, have not rather
betrayed the most curious art to disguise its terrors. Some have
invented a mode of escaping from life in the midst of convivial
enjoyment. A mortuary preparation of this kind has been recorded of an
amiable man, Moncriff, the author of "Histoire des Chats" and "L'Art de
Plaire," by his literary friend La Place, who was an actor in, as well
as the historian of, the singular narrative. One morning La Place
received a note from Moncriff, requesting that "he would immediately
select for him a dozen volumes most likely to amuse, and of a nature to
withdraw the reader from being occupied by melancholy thoughts." La
Place was startled at the unusual request, and flew to his old friend,
whom he found deeply engaged in being measured for a new peruke, and a
taffety robe-de-chambre, earnestly enjoining the utmost expedition.
"Shut the door!" said Moncriff, observing the surprise of his friend.
"And now that we are alone, I confide my secret: on rising this morning,
my valet in dressing me showed me on this leg this dark spot--from that
moment I knew I was 'condemned to death;' but I had presence of mind
enough not to betray myself." "Can a head so well organised as yours
imagine that such a trifle is a sentence of death?"--"Don't speak so
loud, my friend! or rather deign to listen a moment. At my age it is
fatal! The system from which I have derived the felicity of a long life
has been, that whenever any evil, moral or physical, happens to us, if
there is a remedy, all must be sacrificed to deliver us from it--but in
a contrary case, I do not choose to wrestle with destiny and to begin
complaints, endless as useless! All that I request of you, my friend, is
to assist me to pass away the few days which remain for me, free from
all cares, of which otherwise they might be too susceptible. But do not
think," he added with warmth, "that I mean to elude the religious duties
of a citizen, which so many of late affect to contemn. The good and
virtuous curate of my parish is coming here under the pretext of an
annual contribution, and I have even ordered my physician, on whose
confidence I can rely. Here is a list of ten or twelve persons, friends
beloved! who are mostly known to you. I shall write to them this
evening, to tell them of my condemnation; but if they wish me to live,
they will do me the favour to assemble here at five in the evening,
where they may be certain of finding all those objects of amusement,
which I shall study to discover suitable to their tastes. And you, my
old friend, with my doctor, are two on whom I most depend."

La Place was strongly affected by this appeal--neither Socrates, nor
Cato, nor Seneca looked more serenely on the approach of death.

"Familiarise yourself early with death!" said the good old man with a
smile--"It is only dreadful for those who dread it!"

During ten days after this singular conversation, the whole of
Moncriff's remaining life, his apartment was open to his friends, of
whom several were ladies; all kinds of games were played till nine
o'clock; and that the sorrows of the host might not disturb his guests,
he played the _chouette_ at his favourite game of _picquet_; a supper,
seasoned by the wit of the master, concluded at eleven. On the tenth
night, in taking leave of his friend, Moncriff whispered to him, "Adieu,
my friend! to-morrow morning I shall return your books!" He died, as he
foresaw, the following day.

I have sometimes thought that we might form a history of this _fear of
death_, by tracing the first appearances of the SKELETON which haunts
our funereal imagination. In the modern history of mankind we might
discover some very strong contrasts in the notion of death entertained
by men at various epochs. The following article will supply a sketch of
this kind.


  [131] To these may be added Queen Anne Boleyn. Kingston, the
    Lieutenant of the Tower, in a letter to Cromwell, records that she
    remarked of her own execution, "'I heard say the executioner was
    very good, and I have a little neck;' and she put her hands about
    it, laughing heartily. Truly, this lady has much joy and pleasure in

  [132] _Blacks_ was the term for mourning in James the First and
    Charles the First's time.

  [133] It was from this picture his stone effigy was constructed for
    his tomb in old St. Paul's. This mutilated figure, which withstood
    the great fire of London, is still preserved in the crypt of the
    present cathedral.

  [134] A still more curious _fashion_ in this taste for mortuary
    memorials originated at the court of Henry II. of France; whose
    mistress, Diana of Poitiers, being a widow; mourning colours of
    black and white became the fashion at court. Watches in the form of
    skulls were worn; jewels and pendants in the shape of coffins; and
    rings decorated with skulls and skeletons.

  [135] My discovery of the nature of this rare volume, of what is
    original and what collected, will be found in volume ii. of this


_Euthanasia! Euthanasia_! an easy death! was the exclamation of
Augustus; it was what Antoninus Pius enjoyed; and it is that for which
every wise man will pray, said Lord Orrery, when perhaps he was
contemplating the close of Swift's life.

The ancients contemplated DEATH without terror, and met it with
indifference. It was the only divinity to which they never sacrificed,
convinced that no human being could turn aside its stroke. They raised
altars to Fever, to Misfortune, to all the evils of life; for these
might change! But though they did not court the presence of death in any
shape, they acknowledged its tranquillity; and in the beautiful fables
of their allegorical religion, Death was the daughter of Night, and the
sister of Sleep; and ever the friend of the unhappy! To the eternal
sleep of death they dedicated their sepulchral monuments--_Æternali
somno!_[136] If the full light of revelation had not yet broken on them,
it can hardly be denied that they had some glimpses and a dawn of the
life to come, from the many allegorical inventions which describe the
transmigration of the soul. A butterfly on the extremity of an
extinguished lamp, held up by the messenger of the gods intently gazing
above, implied a dedication of that soul; Love, with a melancholy air,
his legs crossed, leaning on an inverted torch, the flame thus naturally
extinguishing itself, elegantly denoted the cessation of human life; a
rose sculptured on a sarcophagus, or the emblems of epicurean life
traced on it, in a skull wreathed by a chaplet of flowers, such as they
wore at their convivial meetings, a flask of wine, a patera, and the
small bones used as dice: all these symbols were indirect allusions to
death, veiling its painful recollections. They did not pollute their
imagination with the contents of a charnel-house. The sarcophagi of the
ancients rather recall to us the remembrance of the activity of life;
for they are sculptured with battles or games, in basso relievo; a sort
of tender homage paid to the dead, observes Mad. de Staël, with her
peculiar refinement of thinking.

It would seem that the Romans had even an aversion to mention death in
express terms, for they disguised its very name by some periphrasis,
such as _discessit e vita_, "he has departed from life;" and they did
not say that their friend had _died_, but that he had _lived_; _vixit_!
In the old Latin chronicles, and even in the _Foedera_ and other
documents of the middle ages, we find the same delicacy about using the
fatal word _Death_, especially when applied to kings and great people.
"_Transire à Sæculo--Vitam suam mutare--Si quid de eo humanitùs
contigerit, &c._" I am indebted to Mr. Merivale for this remark. Even
among a people less refined, the obtrusive idea of death has been
studiously avoided: we are told that when the Emperor of Morocco
inquires after any one who has recently died, it is against etiquette to
mention the word "death;" the answer is "his destiny is closed!" But
this tenderness is only reserved for "the elect" of the Mussulmen. A
Jew's death is at once plainly expressed: "He is dead, sir! asking your
pardon for mentioning such a contemptible wretch!" _i.e._ a Jew! A
Christian's is described by "The infidel is dead!" or, "The cuckold is

The ancient artists have so rarely attempted to personify Death, that we
have not discovered a single revolting image of this nature in all the
works of antiquity.[137]--To conceal its deformity to the eye, as well
as to elude its suggestion to the mind, seems to have been an universal
feeling, and it accorded with a fundamental principle of ancient art;
that of never permitting violent passion to produce in its
representation distortion of form. This may be observed in the Laocoon,
where the mouth only opens sufficiently to indicate the suppressed agony
of superior humanity, without expressing the loud cry of vulgar
suffering. Pausanias considered as a personification of death a female
figure, whose teeth and nails, long and crooked, were engraven on a
coffin of cedar, which enclosed the body of Cypselus; this female was
unquestionably only one of the _Parcæ_, or the Fates, "watchful to cut
the thread of life." Hesiod describes Atropos indeed as having sharp
teeth and long nails, waiting to tear and devour the dead; but this
image was of a barbarous era. Catullus ventured to personify the Sister
Destinies as three Crones; "but in general," Winkelmann observes, "they
are portrayed as beautiful virgins, with winged heads, one of whom is
always in the attitude of writing on a scroll." Death was a nonentity to
the ancient artist. Could he exhibit what represents nothing? Could he
animate into action what lies in a state of eternal tranquillity?
Elegant images of repose and tender sorrow were all he could invent to
indicate the state of death. Even the terms which different nations have
bestowed on a burial-place are not associated with emotions of horror.
The Greeks called a burying-ground by the soothing term of
_Coemeterion_, or "the sleeping-place;" the Jews, who had no horrors
of the grave, by _Beth-haim_, or, "the house of the living;" the
Germans, with religious simplicity, "God's-field." The Scriptures had
only noticed that celestial being "the Angel of Death,"--graceful,
solemn, and sacred!

Whence, then, originated that stalking skeleton, suggesting so many
false and sepulchral ideas, and which for us has so long served as the
image of death?

When the Christian religion spread over Europe, the world changed! the
certainty of a future state of existence, by the artifices of wicked
worldly men, terrified instead of consoling human nature; and in the
resurrection the ignorant multitude seemed rather to have dreaded
retribution, than to have hoped for remuneration. The Founder of
Christianity everywhere breathes the blessedness of social feelings. It
is "Our Father!" whom he addresses. The horrors with which Christianity
was afterwards disguised arose in the corruptions of Christianity among
those insane ascetics who, misinterpreting "the Word of Life," trampled
on nature; and imagined that to secure an existence in the other world
it was necessary not to exist in the one in which God had placed them.
The dominion of mankind fell into the usurping hands of those imperious
monks whose artifices trafficed with the terrors of ignorant and
hypochondriac "Kaisers and kings." The scene was darkened by penances
and by pilgrimages, by midnight vigils, by miraculous shrines, and
bloody flagellations; spectres started up amidst their _ténèbres_;
millions of masses increased their supernatural influence. Amidst this
general gloom of Europe, their troubled imaginations were frequently
predicting the end of the world. It was at this period that they first
beheld the grave yawn, and Death, in the Gothic form of a gaunt anatomy,
parading through the universe! The people were frightened as they
viewed, everywhere hung before their eyes, in the twilight of their
cathedrals, and their "pale cloisters," the most revolting emblems of
death. They startled the traveller on the bridge; they stared on the
sinner in the carvings of his table and chair; the spectre moved in the
hangings of the apartment; it stood in the niche, and was the picture
of their sitting-room; it was worn in their rings, while the illuminator
shaded the bony phantom in the margins of their "Horæ," their primers,
and their breviaries. Their barbarous taste perceived no absurdity in
giving action to a heap of dry bones, which could only keep together in
a state of immovability and repose; nor that it was burlesquing the
awful idea of the resurrection, by exhibiting the incorruptible spirit
under the unnatural and ludicrous figure of mortality drawn out of the
corruption of the grave.

An anecdote of these monkish times has been preserved by old Gerard
Leigh; and as old stories are best set off by old words, Gerard
speaketh! "The great Maximilian the emperor came to a monastery in High
Almaine (Germany), the monks whereof had caused to be curiously painted
the charnel of a man, which they termed--Death! When that well-learned
emperor had beholden it awhile, he called unto him his painter,
commanding to blot the skeleton out, and to paint therein the image
of--a fool. Wherewith the abbot, humbly beseeching him to the contrary,
said 'It was a good remembrance!'--'Nay,' quoth the emperor, 'as vermin
that annoyeth man's body cometh unlooked for, so doth death, which here
is but a fained image, and life is a certain thing, if we know to
deserve it.'"[138] The original mind of Maximilian the Great is
characterized by this curious story of converting our emblem of death
into a parti-coloured fool; and such satirical allusions to the folly of
those who persisted in their notion of the skeleton were not unusual
with the artists of those times; we find the figure of a fool sitting
with some drollery between the legs of one of these skeletons.[139]

This story is associated with an important fact. After they had
successfully terrified the people with their charnel-house figure, a
reaction in the public feelings occurred, for the skeleton was now
employed as a medium to convey the most facetious, satirical, and
burlesque notions of human life. Death, which had so long harassed their
imaginations, suddenly changed into a theme fertile in coarse humour.
The Italians were too long accustomed to the study of the beautiful to
allow their pencil to sport with deformity; but the Gothic taste of the
German artists, who could only copy their own homely nature, delighted
to give human passions to the hideous physiognomy of a noseless skull;
to put an eye of mockery or malignity into its hollow socket, and to
stretch out the gaunt anatomy into the postures of a Hogarth; and that
the ludicrous might be carried to its extreme, this imaginary being,
taken from the bone-house, was viewed in the action of _dancing_! This
blending of the grotesque with the most disgusting image of mortality,
is the more singular part of this history of the skeleton, and indeed of
human nature itself!

"The Dance of Death," erroneously considered as Holbein's, with other
similar Dances, however differently treated, have one common subject
which was painted in the arcades of burying-grounds, or on town-halls,
and in market-places. The subject is usually "The Skeleton" in the act
of leading all ranks and conditions to the grave, personated after
nature, and in the strict costume of the times. This invention opened a
new field for genius; and when we can for a moment forget their luckless
choice of their bony and bloodless hero, who to amuse us by a variety of
action becomes a sort of horrid Harlequin in these pantomimical scenes,
we may be delighted by the numerous human characters, which are so
vividly presented to us. The origin of this extraordinary invention is
supposed to be a favourite pageant, or religious mummery, invented by
the clergy, who in these ages of barbarous Christianity always found it
necessary to amuse, as well as to frighten the populace; a circumstance
well known to have occurred in so many other grotesque and licentious
festivals they allowed the people. The practice of dancing in churches
and church-yards was interdicted by several councils; but it was found
convenient in those rude times. It seems probable that the clergy
contrived the present dance, as more decorous and not without moral and
religious emotions. This pageant was performed in churches, in which the
chief characters in society were supported in a sort of masquerade,
mixing together in a general dance, in the course of which every one in
his turn vanished from the scene, to show how one after the other died
off. The subject was at once poetical and ethical; and the poets and
painters of Germany adopting the skeleton, sent forth this chimerical
Ulysses of another world to roam among the men and manners of their own.
A popular poem was composed, said to be by one Macaber, which name
seems to be a corruption of St. Macaire; the old Gaulish version,
reformed, is still printed at Troyes, in France, with the ancient blocks
of woodcuts, under the title of "La Grande Danse Macabre des Hommes et
des Femmes." Merian's "Todten Tanz," or the "Dance of the Dead," is a
curious set of prints of a Dance of Death from an ancient painting, I
think not entirely defaced, in a cemetery at Basle, in Switzerland. It
was ordered to be painted by a council held there during many years, to
commemorate the mortality occasioned by a plague in 1439. The prevailing
character of all these works is unquestionably grotesque and ludicrous;
not, however, that genius, however barbarous, could refrain in this
large subject of human life from inventing scenes often imagined with
great delicacy of conception, and even great pathos. Such is the
new-married couple, whom Death is leading, beating a drum; and in the
rapture of the hour, the bride seems, with a melancholy look, not
insensible of his presence; or Death is seen issuing from the cottage of
the poor widow with her youngest child, who waves his hand sorrowfully,
while the mother and the sister vainly answer; or the old man, to whom
Death is playing on a psaltery, seems anxious that his withered fingers
should once more touch the strings, while he is carried off in calm
tranquillity. The greater part of these subjects of death are, however,
ludicrous; and it may be a question, whether the spectators of these
Dances of Death did not find their mirth more excited than their
religious emotions. Ignorant and terrified as the people were at the
view of the skeleton, even the grossest simplicity could not fail to
laugh at some of those domestic scenes and familiar persons drawn from
among themselves. The skeleton, skeleton as it is, in the creation of
genius, gesticulates and mimics, while even its hideous skull is made to
express every diversified character, and the result is hard to describe;
for we are at once amused and disgusted with so much genius founded on
so much barbarism.[140]

When the artist succeeded in conveying to the eye the most ludicrous
notions of death, the poets also discovered in it a fertile source of
the burlesque. The curious collector is acquainted with many volumes
where the most extraordinary topics have been combined with this
subject. They made the body and the soul debate together, and ridicule
the complaints of a damned soul! The greater part of the poets of the
time were always composing on the subject of Death in their humorous
pieces.[141] Such historical records of the public mind, historians,
intent on political events, have rarely noticed.

Of a work of this nature, a popular favourite was long the one entitled
"_Le faut mourir, et les Excuses Inutiles qu'on apporte à cette
Necessité; Le tout en vers burlesques, 1658_." Jacques Jacques, a canon
of Ambrun, was the writer, who humorously says of himself that he gives
his thoughts just as they lie on his heart, without dissimulation--"For
I have nothing double about me except my name! I tell thee some of the
most important truths in laughing; it is for thee _d'y penser tout à
bon_." This little volume was procured for me with some difficulty in
France; and it is considered as one of the happiest of this class of
death-poems, of which I know not of any in our literature.

Our canon of Ambrun, in facetious rhymes, and with the _naïveté_ of
expression which belongs to his age, and an idiomatic turn fatal to a
translator, excels in pleasantry; his haughty hero condescends to hold
very amusing dialogues with all classes of society, and delights to
confound their "excuses inutiles." The most miserable of men, the
galley-slave, the mendicant, alike would escape when he appears to them.
"Were I not absolute over them," Death exclaims, "they would confound me
with their long speeches; but I have business, and must gallop on!" His
geographical rhymes are droll.

  Ce que j'ai fait dans l'Afrique
  Je le fais bien dans l'Amérique;
  On l'appelle monde nouveau
  Mais ce sont des brides à veau;
  Nulle terre à moy n'est nouvelle
  Je vay partout sans qu'on m'appelle;
  Mon bras de tout temps commanda
  Dans le pays du Canada;
  J'ai tenu de tout temps en bride
  La Virginie et la Floride,
  Et j'ai bien donné sur le bec
  Aux Français du fort de Kebec.
  Lorsque je veux je fais la nique
  Aux Incas, aux rois de Mexique;
  Et montre aux Nouveaux Grénadins
  Qu'ils sont des foux et des badins.
  Chacun sait bien comme je matte
  Ceux du Brésil et de la Plate,
  Ainsi que les Taupinembous--
  En un mot, je fais voir à tout
  Que ce que naît dans la nature,
  Doit prendre de moy tablature![142]

The perpetual employments of Death display copious invention with a
facility of humour.

  Egalement je vay rangeant,
  Le conseiller et le serjent,
  Le gentilhomme et le berger,
  Le bourgeois et le boulanger,
  Et la maistresse et la servante
  Et la nièce comme la tante;
  Monsieur l'abbé, monsieur son moine,
  Le petit clerc et le chanoine;
  Sans choix je mets dans mon butin
  Maistre Claude, maistre Martin,
  Dame Luce, dame Perrete, &c.
  J'en prends un dans le temps qu'il pleure
  A quelque autre, au contraire à l'heure
  Qui démésurément il rit;
  Je donne le coup qui le frit.
  J'en prends un, pendant qu'il se lève;
  En se couchant l'autre j'enlève.
  Je prends le malade et le sain
  L'un aujourd'hui, l'autre le demain.
  J'en surprends un dedans son lit,
  L'autre à l'estude quand il lit.
  J'en surprends un le ventre plein
  Je mène l'autre par la faim.
  J'attrape l'un pendant qu'il prie,
  Et l'autre pendant qu'il renie;
  J'en saisis un au cabaret
  Entre le blanc et le clairet,
  L'autre qui dans son oratoire
  A son Dieu rend honneur et gloire:
  J'en surprends un lorsqu'il se psame
  Le jour qu'il èpouse sa femme,
  L'autre le jour que plein de deuil
  La sieune il voit dans le cercueil;
  Un à pied et l'autre à cheval,
  Dans le jeu l'un, et l'autre au bal;
  Un qui mange et l'autre qui boit,
  Un qui paye et l'autre qui doit,
  L'un en été lorsqu'il moissonne,
  L'autre eu vendanges dans l'automne,
  L'un criant almanachs nouveaux--
  Un qui demande son aumosne
  L'autre dans le temps qu'il la donne,
  Je prends le bon maistre Clément,
  Au temps qu'il prend un lavement,
  Et prends la dame Catherine
  Le jour qu'elle prend médecine.

This veil of gaiety in the old canon of Ambrun covers deeper and more
philosophical thoughts than the singular mode of treating so solemn a
theme. He has introduced many scenes of human life which still interest,
and he addresses the "teste à triple couronne," as well as the "forçat
de galère," who exclaims, "Laissez-moi vivre dans mes fers," "le gueux,"
the "bourgeois," the "chanoine," the "pauvre soldat," the "médecin;" in
a word, all ranks in life are exhibited, as in all the "Dances of
Death." But our object in noticing these burlesque paintings and poems
is to show that after the monkish Goths had opened one general scene of
melancholy and tribulation over Europe, and given birth to that dismal
_skeleton of death_, which still terrifies the imagination of many, a
reaction of feeling was experienced by the populace, who at length came
to laugh at the gloomy spectre which had so long terrified them!


  [136] Montfaucon, "L'Antiquité Expliquée," i. 362.

  [137] A representation of Death by a skeleton appears among the
    Egyptians: a custom more singular than barbarous prevailed, of
    enclosing a skeleton of beautiful workmanship in a small coffin,
    which the bearer carried round at their entertainments; observing,
    "After death you will resemble this figure: drink, then! and be
    happy." A symbol of Death in a convivial party was not designed to
    excite terrific or gloomy ideas, but a recollection of the brevity
    of human life.

  [138] "The Accidence of Armorie," p. 199.

  [139] A woodcut preserved in Mr. Dibdin's Bibliographical Decameron,
    i. 35.

  [140] My greatly-lamented friend, the late Mr. Douce, has poured
    forth the most curious knowledge on this singular subject, of "The
    Dance of Death." This learned investigator has reduced _Macaber_ to
    a nonentity, but not "The Macaber Dance," which has been frequently
    painted. Mr. Douce's edition is accompanied by a set of woodcuts,
    which have not unsuccessfully copied the exquisite originals of the
    Lyons wood-cutter.

  [141] Goujet, "Bib. Françoise," vol. x. 185.

  [142] _Tablature d'un luth_, Cotgrave says, is the belly of a lute,
    meaning "all in nature must dance to my music!"


Peter Heylin was one of the popular writers of his times, like Fuller
and Howell, who, devoting their amusing pens to subjects which deeply
interested their own busy age, will not be slighted by the curious.[143]
We have nearly outlived their divinity, but not their politics.
Metaphysical absurdities are luxuriant weeds which must be cut down by
the scythe of Time; but the great passions branching from the tree of
life are still "growing with our growth."

There are two biographies of our Heylin, which led to a literary quarrel
of an extraordinary nature; and, in the progress of its secret history,
all the feelings of rival authorship were called out.

Heylin died in 1662. Dr. Barnard, his son-in-law, and a scholar,
communicated a sketch of the author's life to be prefixed to a
posthumous folio, of which Heylin's son was the editor. This Life was
given by the son, but anonymously, which may not have gratified the
author, the son-in-law.[144]

Twenty years had elapsed when, in 1682, appeared "The Life of Dr. Peter
Heylin, by George Vernon." The writer, alluding to the prior Life
prefixed to the posthumous folio, asserts that, in borrowing something
from Barnard, Barnard had also "Excerpted passages out of _my papers_,
the very words as well as matter, when he had them in his custody, as
any reader may discern who will be at the pains of comparing the Life
now published with what is extant before the _Keimalea Ecclesiastica_;"
the quaint, pedantic title, after the fashion of the day, of the
posthumous folio.

This strong accusation seemed countenanced by a dedication to the son
and the nephew of Heylin. Roused now into action, the indignant Barnard
soon produced a more complete Life, to which he prefixed "A necessary
Vindication." This is an unsparing castigation of Vernon, the literary
pet whom the Heylins had fondled in preference to their learned
relative.[145] The long-smothered family grudge, the suppressed
mortifications of literary pride, after the subterraneous grumblings of
twenty years, now burst out, and the volcanic particles flew about in
caustic pleasantries and sharp invectives; all the lava of an author's
vengeance, mortified by the choice of an inferior rival.

It appears that Vernon had been selected by the son of Heylin, in
preference to his brother-in-law, Dr. Barnard, from some family
disagreement. Barnard tells us, in describing Vernon, that "No man,
except himself, who was totally ignorant of the doctor, and all the
circumstances of his life, would have engaged in such a work, which was
never primarily laid out for him, but by reason of some unhappy
differences, as usually fall out in families; and he, who loves to put
his oar in troubled waters, instead of closing them up, hath made them

Barnard tells his story plainly. Heylin the son, intending to have a
more elaborate Life of his father prefixed to his works, Dr. Barnard,
from the high reverence in which he held the memory of his
father-in-law, offered to contribute it. Many conferences were held, and
the son entrusted him with several papers. But suddenly his caprice,
more than his judgment, fancied that George Vernon was worth John
Barnard. The doctor affects to describe his rejection with the most
stoical indifference. He tells us--"I was satisfied, and did patiently
expect the coming forth of the work, not only term after term, but year
after year--a very considerable time for such a tract. But at last,
instead of the Life, came a letter to me from a bookseller in London,
who lived at the sign of the Black Boy, in Fleet-street."[146]

Now, it seems that he who lived at the Black Boy had combined with
another who lived at the Fleur de Luce, and that the Fleur de Luce had
assured the Black Boy that Dr. Barnard was concerned in writing the Life
of Heylin--this was a strong recommendation. But lo! it appeared that
"one Mr. Vernon, of Gloucester," was to be the man! a gentle,
thin-skinned authorling, who bleated like a lamb, and was so fearful to
trip out of its shelter, that it allows the Black Boy and the Fleur de
Luce to communicate its papers to any one they choose, and erase or add
at their pleasure.[147]

It occurred to the Black Boy, on this proposed arithmetical criticism,
that the work required addition, subtraction, and division; that the
fittest critic, on whose name, indeed, he had originally engaged in the
work, was our Dr. Barnard; and he sent the package to the doctor, who
resided near Lincoln.

The doctor, it appears, had no appetite for a dish dressed by another,
while he himself was in the very act of the cookery; and it was suffered
to lie cold for three weeks at the carrier's.

But entreated and overcome, the good doctor at length sent to the
carrier's for the life of his father-in-law. "I found it, according to
the bookseller's description, most lame and imperfect; ill begun, worse
carried on, and abruptly concluded." The learned doctor exercised that
plenitude of power with which the Black Boy had invested him--he very
obligingly showed the author in what a confused state his materials lay
together, and how to put them in order--

  Nec facundia deseret hunc, nec lucidus ordo.

If his rejections were copious, to show his good-will as well as his
severity, his additions were generous, though he used the precaution of
carefully distinguishing by "distinct paragraphs" his own insertions
amidst Vernon's mass, with a gentle hint that "He knew more of Heylin
than any man now living, and ought therefore to have been the
biographer." He returned the MS. to the gentleman with great civility,
but none he received back! When Vernon pretended to ask for
improvements, he did not imagine that the work was to be improved by
being nearly destroyed; and when he asked for correction, he probably
expected all might end in a compliment.

The narrative may now proceed in Dr. Barnard's details of his doleful
mortifications, in being "altered and mangled" by Mr. Vernon.

"Instead of thanks from him (Vernon), and the return of common civility,
he disfigured my papers, that no sooner came into his hands, but he fell
upon them as a lion rampant, or the cat upon the poor cock in the fable,
saying, _Tu hodie mihi discerperis_--so my papers came home miserably
clawed, blotted, and blurred; whole sentences dismembered, and pages
scratched out; several leaves omitted which ought to be
printed,--shamefully he used my copy; so that before it was carried to
the press, he swooped away the second part of the Life wholly from
it--in the room of which he shuffled in a preposterous conclusion at the
last page, which he printed in a different character, yet could not keep
himself honest, as the poet saith,

  _Dicitque tua pagina, fur es._

For he took out of my copy Dr. Heylin's dream, his sickness, his last
words before his death, and left out the burning of his surplice. He so
mangled and metamorphosed the whole Life I composed, that I may say as
Sosia did, _Egomet mihi non credo, ille alter Sosia me malis mulcavit

Dr. Barnard would have "patiently endured these wrongs;" but the
accusation Vernon ventured on, that Barnard was the plagiary, required
the doctor "to return the poisoned chalice to his own lips," that
"himself was the plagiary both of words and matter." The fact is, that
this reciprocal accusation was owing to Barnard having had a prior
perusal of Heylin's papers, which afterwards came into the hands of
Vernon: they both drew their water from the same source. These papers
Heylin himself had left for "a rule to guide the writer of his life."

Barnard keenly retorts on Vernon for his surreptitious use of whole
pages from Heylin's works, which he has appropriated to himself without
any marks of quotation. "I am no such excerptor (as he calls me); he is
of the humour of the man who took all the ships in the Attic haven for
his own, and yet was himself not master of any one vessel."


"But all this while I misunderstand him, for possibly he meaneth his own
dear words I have excerpted. Why doth he not speak in plain, downright
English, that the world may see my faults? For every one doth not know
what is _excerpting_. If I have been so bold to pick or snap a word from
him, I hope I may have the benefit of the clergy. What words have I
robbed him of?--and how have I become the richer for them? I was never
so taken with him as to be once tempted to break the commandments,
because I love plain speaking, plain writing, and plain dealing, which
he does not: I hate the word _excerpted_, and the action imported in it.
However, he is a fanciful man, and thinks there is no elegancy nor wit
but in his own way of talking. I must say as Tully did, _Malim equidem
indisertam prudentiam quam stultam loquacitatem_."

In his turn he accuses Vernon of being a perpetual transcriber, and for
the Malone minuteness of his history.

"But how have I excerpted _his_ matter? Then I am sure to rob the
spittle-house; for he is so poor and put to hard shifts, that he has
much ado to compose a tolerable story, which he hath been hammering and
conceiving in his mind for four years together, before he could bring
forth his _foetus_ of intolerable transcriptions to molest the reader's
patience and memory. How doth he run himself out of breath, sometimes
for twenty pages and more, at other times fifteen, ordinarily nine and
ten, collected out of Dr. Heylin's old books, before he can take his
wind again to return to his story! I never met with such a transcriber
in all my days; for want of matter to fill up a _vacuum_, of which his
book was in much danger, he hath set down the story of Westminster, as
long as the Ploughman's Tale in Chaucer, which to the reader would have
been more pertinent and pleasant. I wonder he did not transcribe bills
of Chancery, especially about a tedious suit my father had for several
years about a lease at Norton."

In his raillery of Vernon's affected metaphors and comparisons, "his
similitudes and dissimilitudes strangely hooked in, and fetched as far
as the Antipodes," Barnard observes, "The man hath also a strange
opinion of himself that he is Dr. Heylin; and because he writes his
Life, that he hath his natural parts, if not acquired. The soul of St.
Augustin (say the schools) was Pythagorically transfused into the corpse
of Aquinas; so the soul of Dr. Heylin into a narrow soul. I know there
is a question in philosophy, _An animæ sint oequales?_--whether souls
be alike? But there's a difference between the spirits of Elijah and
Elisha: so small a prophet with so great a one!"

Dr. Barnard concludes by regretting that good counsel came now
unseasonably, else he would have advised the writer to have transmitted
his task to one who had been an ancient friend of Dr. Heylin, rather
than ambitiously have assumed it, who was a professed stranger to him,
by reason of which no better account could be expected from him than
what he has given. He hits off the character of this piece of
biography--"A Life to the half; an imperfect creature, that is not only
lame (as the honest bookseller said), but wanteth legs, and all other
integral parts of a man; nay, the very soul that should animate a body
like Dr. Heylin. So that I must say of him, as Plutarch does of Tib.
Gracchus, 'that he is a bold undertaker and rash talker of those matters
he does not understand.' And so I have done with him, unless he creates
to himself and me a future trouble!"

Vernon appears to have slunk away from the duel. The son of Heylin stood
corrected by the superior Life produced by their relative; the learned
and vivacious Barnard probably never again ventured to _alter and
improve the works of an author_ kneeling and praying for corrections.
These bleating lambs, it seems, often turn out roaring lions![148]


  [143] Dr. Heylin's principal work, "_Ecclesia Restaurata_; or, the
    History of the Reformation of the Church of England," was reprinted
    at the Cambridge University press, for "the Ecclesiastical History
    Society," in 2 vols. 8vo, 1849, under the able editorship of J. C.
    Robertson, M.A., Vicar of Bekesbourne, Kent. The introductory
    account of Heylin has enabled us to correct the present article in
    some particulars, and add a few useful notes.

  [144] Dr. John Barnard married the daughter of Heylin, when he lived
    at Abingdon, near Oxford. He afterwards became rector of the rich
    living of Waddington, near Lincoln, of which he purchased the
    perpetual advowson, holding also the sinecure of Gedney, in the same
    county. He was ultimately made Prebendary of Asgarby, in the church
    of Lincoln, and died at Newark, on a journey, in August, 1683. His
    rich and indolent life would naturally hold out few inducements for
    literary labour.

  [145] Mr. George Vernon, according to Wood (Athen. Oxon. iv. 606),
    was made Chaplain of All Souls' College, afterwards Rector of
    Sarsden, near Churchill, in Oxfordshire, of Bourton-on-the-Water, in
    Gloucestershire, and of St. John and St. Michael, in the city of
    Gloucester. Wood enumerates several works by him, so that he was
    evidently more of a "literary man" than Barnard, who enjoyed
    "learned ease" to a great degree, and was evidently only to be
    aroused by something flagitious.

  [146] This was Harper, a bookseller, who had undertaken a
    republication of the _Ecclesia Vindicata_, and other tracts by
    Heylin, to which the Life was to be prefixed.

  [147] The author had "desired Mr. Harper to communicate the papers
    to whom he pleases, and cross out or add what is thought
    convenient." A leave very few literary men would give!

  [148] The most curious part of the story remains yet to be told. Dr.
    Barnard was mistaken in his imputations, and Vernon was not the
    really blamable party. We tell the tale in Mr. Robertson's words in
    the work already alluded to.--"Who was the party guilty of these
    outrages? Barnard assumed that it could be no other than Vernon; but
    the truth seems to be that the Rector of Bourton had nothing
    whatever to do with the matter. The publisher had called in a more
    important adviser--Dr. Barlow, Bishop of Lincoln (Ath. Oxon. iii.
    567; iv. 606); the mutilations of Barnard's MS. were really the
    work, not of the obscure Gloucestershire clergyman, but of the
    indignant author's own diocesan; and we need not hesitate to ascribe
    the abruptness of the conclusion, and the smallness of the type in
    which it is printed, to Mr. Harper's economical desire to save the
    expense of an additional sheet." Thus "Bishop Barlow and the
    bookseller had made the mischief between the parties, who, instead
    of attempting a private explanation, attacked each other in print."


The "_Méthode pour étudier l' Histoire_," by the Abbé Lenglet du
Fresnoy, is a master-key to all the locked-up treasures of ancient and
modern history, and to the more secret stores of the obscurer
memorialists of every nation. The history of this work and its author
are equally remarkable. The man was a sort of curiosity in human nature,
as his works are in literature. Lenglet du Fresnoy is not a writer
merely laborious; without genius, he still has a hardy originality in
his manner of writing and of thinking; and his vast and restless
curiosity fermenting his immense book-knowledge, with a freedom verging
on cynical causticity, led to the pursuit of uncommon topics. Even the
prefaces to the works which he edited are singularly curious, and he
has usually added _bibliothèques_, or critical catalogues of authors,
which we may still consult for notices on the writers of romances--of
those on literary subjects--on alchymy, or the hermetic philosophy; of
those who have written on apparitions, visions, &c.; an historical
treatise on the secret of confession, &c.; besides those "Pièces
Justificatives," which constitute some of the most extraordinary
documents in the philosophy of history. His manner of writing secured
him readers even among the unlearned; his mordacity, his sarcasm, his
derision, his pregnant interjections, his unguarded frankness, and often
his strange opinions, contribute to his reader's amusement more than
comports with his graver tasks; but his peculiarities cannot alter the
value of his knowledge, whatever they may sometimes detract from his
opinions; and we may safely admire the ingenuity, without quarrelling
with the sincerity of the writer, who having composed a work on _L'Usage
des Romans_, in which he gaily impugned the authenticity of all history,
to prove himself not to have been the author, ambidexterously published
another of _L'Histoire justifiée contre les Romans_; and perhaps it was
not his fault that the attack was spirited, and the justification dull.

This "Méthode" and his "Tablettes Chronologiques," of nearly forty other
publications are the only ones which have outlived their writer;
volumes, merely curious, are exiled to the shelf of the collector; the
very name of an author merely curious--that shadow of a shade--is not
always even preserved by a dictionary-compiler in the universal charity
of his alphabetical mortuary.

The history of this work is a striking instance of those imperfect
beginnings, which have often closed in the most important labours. This
admirable "Méthode" made its first meagre appearance in two volumes in
1713. It was soon reprinted at home and abroad, and translated into
various languages. In 1729 it assumed the dignity of four quartos; but
at this stage it encountered the vigilance of government, and the
lacerating hand of a celebrated _censeur_, Gros de Boze. It is said,
that from a personal dislike of the author, he cancelled one hundred and
fifty pages from the printed copy submitted to his censorship. He had
formerly approved of the work, and had quietly passed over some of these
obnoxious passages: it is certain that Gros de Boze, in a dissertation
on the Janus of the ancients in this work, actually erased a high
commendation of himself,[149] which Lenglet had, with unusual courtesy,
bestowed on Gros de Boze; for as a critic he is most penurious of
panegyric, and there is always a caustic flavour even in his drops of
honey. This _censeur_ either affected to disdain the commendation, or
availed himself of it as a trick of policy. This was a trying situation
for an author, now proud of a great work, and who himself partook more
of the bull than of the lamb. He who winced at the scratch of an
epithet, beheld his perfect limbs bruised by erasures and mutilated by
cancels. This sort of troubles indeed was not unusual with Lenglet. He
had occupied his old apartment in the Bastile so often, that at the
sight of the officer who was in the habit of conducting him there,
Lenglet would call for his nightcap and snuff; and finish the work he
had then in hand at the Bastile, where, he told Jordan, that he made his
edition of Marot. He often silently restituted an epithet or a sentence
which had been condemned by the _censeur_, at the risk of returning once
more; but in the present desperate affair he took his revenge by
collecting the castrations into a quarto volume, which was sold
clandestinely. I find, by Jordan, in his _Voyage Littéraire_, who
visited him, that it was his pride to read these cancels to his friends,
who generally, but secretly, were of opinion that the decision of the
_censeur_ was not so wrong as the hardihood of Lenglet insisted on. All
this increased the public rumour, and raised the price of the cancels.
The craft and mystery of authorship was practised by Lenglet to
perfection; and he often exulted, not only in the subterfuges by which
he parried his _censeurs_, but in his bargains with his booksellers, who
were equally desirous to possess, while they half feared to enjoy, his
uncertain or his perilous copyrights. When the _unique_ copy of the
_Méthode_, in its pristine state, before it had suffered any
dilapidations, made its appearance at the sale of the curious library of
the _censeur_ Gros de Boze, it provoked a Roxburgh competition, where
the collectors, eagerly outbidding each other, the price of this
uncastrated copy reached to 1500 livres; and even more extraordinary in
the history of French bibliography, than in our own. The curious may now
find all these cancel sheets, or _castrations_, preserved in one of
those works of literary history, to which the Germans have contributed
more largely than other European nations, and I have discovered that
even the erasures, or _bruises_, are amply furnished in another
bibliographical record.[150]

This _Méthode_, after several later editions, was still enlarging itself
by fresh supplements; and having been translated by men of letters in
Europe, by Coleti in Italy, by Mencken in Germany, and by Dr. Rawlinson
in England, these translators have enriched their own editions by more
copious articles, designed for their respective nations. The sagacity of
the original writer now renovated his work by the infusions of his
translators; like old Æson, it had its veins filled with green juices;
and thus his old work was always undergoing the magic process of

The personal character of our author was as singular as many of the
uncommon topics which engaged his inquiries; these we might conclude had
originated in mere eccentricity, or were chosen at random. But Lenglet
has shown no deficiency of judgment in several works of acknowledged
utility; and his critical opinions, his last editor has shown, have, for
the greater part, been sanctioned by the public voice. It is curious to
observe how the first direction which the mind of a hardy inquirer may
take, will often account for that variety of uncommon topics he delights
in, and which, on a closer examination, may be found to bear an
invisible connexion with some preceding inquiry. As there is an
association of ideas, so in literary history there is an association of
research; and a very judicious writer may thus be impelled to compose on
subjects which may be deemed strange or injudicious.

This observation may be illustrated by the literary history of Lenglet
du Fresnoy. He opened his career by addressing a letter and a tract to
the Sorbonne, on the extraordinary affair of Maria d'Agreda, abbess of
the nunnery of the Immaculate Conception in Spain, whose mystical Life
of the Virgin, published on the decease of the abbess, and which was
received with such rapture in Spain, had just appeared at Paris, where
it excited the murmurs of the pious, and the inquiries of the curious.
This mystical Life was declared to be founded on apparitions and
revelations experienced by the abbess. Lenglet proved, or asserted, that
the abbess was not the writer of this pretended Life, though the
manuscript existed in her handwriting; and secondly, that the
apparitions and revelations recorded were against all the rules of
apparitions and revelations which he had painfully discovered. The
affair was of a delicate nature. The writer was young and incredulous; a
grey-beard, more deeply versed in theology, replied, and the Sorbonnists
silenced our philosopher in embryo.

Lenglet confined these researches to his portfolio; and so long a period
as fifty-five years had elapsed before they saw the light. It was when
Calmet published his Dissertations on Apparitions, that the subject
provoked Lenglet to return to his forsaken researches. He now published
all he had formerly composed on the affair of Maria d'Agreda, and two
other works; the one, "_Traité historique et dogmatique sur les
Apparitions, les Visions, et les Révélations particulières_," in two
volumes; and "_Recueil de Dissertations anciennes et nouvelles, sur les
Apparitions, &c._," with a catalogue of authors on this subject, in four
volumes. When he edited the _Roman de la Rose_, in compiling the
glossary of this ancient poem, it led him to reprint many of the
earliest French poets; to give an enlarged edition of the _Arrêts
d'Amour_, that work of love and chivalry, in which his fancy was now so
deeply embedded; while the subject of Romance itself naturally led to
the taste of romantic productions which appeared in "_L'Usage des
Romans_," and its accompanying copious nomenclature of all romances and
romance-writers, ancient and modern. Our vivacious Abbé had been
bewildered by his delight in the works of a chemical philosopher; and
though he did not believe in the existence of apparitions, and certainly
was more than a sceptic in history, yet it is certain that the "grande
oeuvre" was an article in his creed; it would have ruined him in
experiments, if he had been rich enough to have been ruined. It altered
his health; and the most important result of his chemical studies
appears to have been the invention of a syrup, in which he had great
confidence; but its trial blew him up into a tympany, from which he was
only relieved by having recourse to a drug, also of his own discovery,
which, in counteracting the syrup, reduced him to an alarming state of
atrophy. But the mischances of the historian do not enter into his
history: and our curiosity must be still eager to open Lenglet's
"Histoire de la Philosophie Hermétique," accompanied by a catalogue of
the writers in this mysterious science, in two volumes: as well as his
enlarged edition of the works of a great Paracelsian, Nicholas le Fevre.
This philosopher was appointed by Charles the Second superintendent over
the royal laboratory at St. James's: he was also a member of the Royal
Society, and the friend of Boyle, to whom he communicated the secret of
infusing young blood into old veins, with a notion that he could
renovate that which admits of no second creation.[152] Such was the
origin of Du Fresnoy's active curiosity on a variety of singular topics,
the germs of which may be traced to three or four of our author's
principal works.

Our Abbé promised to write his own life, and his pugnacious vivacity,
and hardy frankness, would have seasoned a piece of autobiography; an
amateur has, however, written it in the style which amateurs like, with
all the truth he could discover, enlivened by some secret history,
writing the life of Lenglet with the very spirit of Lenglet: it is a
mask taken from the very features of the man, not the insipid wax-work
of an hyperbolical éloge-maker.[153]

Although Lenglet du Fresnoy commenced in early life his career as a man
of letters, he was at first engaged in the great chase of political
adventure; and some striking facts are recorded, which show his
successful activity. Michault describes his occupations by a
paraphrastical delicacy of language, which an Englishman might not have
so happily composed. The minister for foreign affairs, the Marquis de
Torcy, sent Lenglet to Lille, where the court of the Elector of Cologne
was then held: "He had particular orders to _watch_ that the two
ministers of the elector should do nothing prejudicial to the king's
affairs." He seems, however, to have _watched_ many other persons, and
detected many other things. He discovered a captain, who agreed to open
the gates of Mons to Marlborough, for 100,000 piastres; the captain was
arrested on the parade, the letter of Marlborough was found in his
pocket, and the traitor was broken on the wheel. Lenglet denounced a
foreign general in the French service, and the event warranted the
prediction. His most important discovery was that of the famous
conspiracy of Prince Cellamar, one of the chimerical plots of Alberoni;
to the honour of Lenglet, he would not engage in its detection unless
the minister promised that no blood should be shed. These successful
incidents in the life of an honourable spy were rewarded with a moderate
pension.--Lenglet must have been no vulgar intriguer; he was not only
perpetually confined by his very patrons when he resided at home, for
the freedom of his pen, but I find him early imprisoned in the citadel
of Strasburgh for six months: it is said for purloining some curious
books from the library of the Abbé Bignon, of which he had the care. It
is certain that he knew the value of the scarcest works, and was one of
those lovers of bibliography who trade at times in costly rarities. At
Vienna he became intimately acquainted with the poet Rousseau, and
Prince Eugene. The prince, however, who suspected the character of our
author, long avoided him. Lenglet insinuated himself into the favour of
the prince's librarian; and such was his bibliographical skill, that
this acquaintance ended in Prince Eugene laying aside his political
dread, and preferring the advice of Lenglet to his librarian's, to
enrich his magnificent library. When the motive of Lenglet's residence
at Vienna became more and more suspected, Rousseau was employed to
_watch_ him; and not yet having quarrelled with his brother spy, he
could only report that the Abbé Lenglet was every morning occupied in
working on his "Tablettes Chronologiques," a work not worthy of
alarming the government; that he spent his evenings at a violin-player's
married to a Frenchwoman, and returned home at eleven. As soon as our
historian had discovered that the poet was a brother spy and newsmonger
on the side of Prince Eugene, their reciprocal civilities cooled.
Lenglet now imagined that he owed his six months' retirement in the
citadel of Strasburgh to the secret officiousness of Rousseau: each grew
suspicious of the other's fidelity; and spies are like lovers, for their
mutual jealousies settled into the most inveterate hatred. One of the
most defamatory libels is Lenglet's intended dedication of his edition
of Marot to Rousseau, which being forced to suppress in Holland, by
order of the States-general; at Brussels, by the intervention of the
Duke of Aremberg; and by every means the friends of the unfortunate
Rousseau could contrive; was, however, many years afterwards at length
subjoined by Lenglet to the first volume of his work on Romances; where
an ordinary reader may wonder at its appearance unconnected with any
part of the work. In this dedication, or "Éloge Historique," he often
addresses "Mon cher Rousseau," but the irony is not delicate, and the
calumny is heavy. Rousseau lay too open to the unlicensed causticity of
his accuser. The poet was then expatriated from France for a false
accusation against Saurin, in attempting to fix on him those criminal
couplets, which so long disturbed the peace of the literary world in
France, and of which Rousseau was generally supposed to be the writer;
but of which on his death-bed he solemnly protested that he was
guiltless. The _coup-de-grace_ is given to the poet, stretched on this
rack of invective, by just accusations on account of those infamous
epigrams, which appear in some editions of that poet's works; a lesson
for a poet, if poets would be lessoned, who indulge their imagination at
the cost of their happiness, and seem to invent crimes, as if they
themselves were criminals.

But to return to our Lenglet. Had he composed his own life, it would
have offered a sketch of political servitude and political adventure, in
a man too intractable for the one, and too literary for the other. Yet
to the honour of his capacity, we must observe that he might have chosen
his patrons, would he have submitted to patronage. Prince Eugene at
Vienna; Cardinal Passionei at Rome; or Mons. Le Blanc, the French
minister, would have held him on his own terms. But "Liberty and my
books!" was the secret ejaculation of Lenglet; and from that moment all
things in life were sacrificed to a jealous spirit of independence,
which broke out in his actions as well as in his writings; and a passion
for study for ever crushed the worm of ambition.

He was as singular in his conversation, which, says Jordan, was
extremely agreeable to a foreigner, for he delivered himself without
reserve on all things, and on all persons, seasoned with secret and
literary anecdotes. He refused all the conveniences offered by an
opulent sister, that he might not endure the restraint of a settled
dinner-hour. He lived to his eightieth year, still busied, and then died
by one of those grievous chances, to which aged men of letters are
liable: our caustic critic slumbered over some modern work, and, falling
into the fire was burnt to death. Many characteristic anecdotes of the
Abbé Lenglet have been preserved in the _Dictionnaire Historique_, but I
shall not repeat what is of easy recurrence.


  [149] This fact appears in the account of the minuter erasures.

  [150] The _castrations_ are in _Beyeri Memoriæ historico-criticæ
    Librorum rariorum_, p. 166. The _bruises_ are carefully noted in the
    _Catalogue of the Duke de la Valière_, 4467. Those who are curious
    in such singularities will be gratified by the extraordinary
    opinions and results in Beyer; and which after all were purloined
    from a manuscript "Abridgment of Universal History," which was drawn
    up by Count de Boulainvilliers, and more adroitly than delicately
    inserted by Lenglet in his own work. The original manuscript exists
    in various copies, which were afterwards discovered. The minuter
    corrections, in the Duke de la Valière's catalogue, furnish a most
    enlivening article in the dryness of bibliography.

  [151] The last edition, enlarged by Drouet, is in fifteen volumes,
    but is not later than 1772. It is still an inestimable manual for
    the historical student, as well as his _Tablettes Chronologiques_.

  [152] The "Dictionnaire Historique," 1789, in their article Nich. Le
    Fevre, notices the third edition of his "Course of Chemistry," that
    of 1664, in two volumes; but the present one of Lenglet du Fresnoy's
    is more recent, 1751, enlarged into five volumes, two of which
    contain his own additions. I have never met with this edition, and
    it is wanting at the British Museum. Le Fevre published a tract on
    the great cordial of Sir Walter Rawleigh, which may be curious.

  [153] This anonymous work of "Mémoires de Monsieur l'Abbé Lenglet du
    Fresnoy," although the dedication is signed G. P., is written by
    Michault, of Dijon, as a presentation copy to Count de Vienne in my
    possession proves. Michault is the writer of two volumes of
    agreeable "Mélanges Historiques et Philologiques;" and the present
    is a very curious piece of literary history. The "Dictionnaire
    Historique" has compiled the article of Lenglet entirely from this
    work; but the _Journal des Sçavans_ was too ascetic in this opinion.
    _Etoit-ce la peine de faire un livre pour apprendre au public qu'un
    homme de lettres fut espion, escroc, bizarre, fougueux, cynique,
    incapable d'amitié, de soumission aux loix? &c._ Yet they do not
    pretend that the bibliography of Lenglet du Fresnoy is at all
    deficient in curiosity.


A learned friend, in his very agreeable "Trimestre, or a Three Months'
Journey in France and Switzerland," could not pass through the small
town of Trevoux without a literary association of ideas which should
accompany every man of letters in his tours, abroad or at home. A mind
well-informed cannot travel without discovering that there are objects
constantly presenting themselves, which _suggest_ literary, historical,
and moral facts. My friend writes, "As you proceed nearer to Lyons you
stop to dine at Trevoux, on the left bank of the Saone. On a sloping
hill, down to the water-side, rises an amphitheatre, crowned with an
ancient Gothic castle, in venerable ruin; under it is the small town of
Trevoux, well known for its Journal and Dictionary, which latter is
almost an encyclopædia, as _there are few things of which something is
not said in that most valuable compilation_, and the whole was printed
at Trevoux. The knowledge of this circumstance greatly enhances the
delight of any visitor who has consulted the book, and is acquainted
with its merit; and must add much to his local pleasures."

A work from which every man of letters may be continually deriving such
varied knowledge, and which is little known but to the most curious
readers, claims a place in these volumes; nor is the history of the work
itself without interest. Eight large folios, each consisting of a
thousand closely printed pages, stand like a vast mountain, of which,
before we climb, we may be anxious to learn the security of the passage.
The history of dictionaries is the most mutable of all histories; it is
a picture of the inconstancy of the knowledge of man; the learning of
one generation passes away with another; and a dictionary of this kind
is always to be repaired, to be rescinded, and to be enlarged.

The small town of Trevoux gave its name to an excellent literary
journal, long conducted by the Jesuits, and to this dictionary--as
Edinburgh has to its Critical Review and Annual Register, &c. It first
came to be distinguished as a literary town from the Duc du Maine, as
prince sovereign of Dombes,[154] transferring to this little town of
Trevoux not only his parliament and other public institutions, but also
establishing a magnificent printing-house, in the beginning of the last
century. The duke, probably to keep his printers in constant employ,
instituted the "_Journal de Trévoux_;" and this perhaps greatly tended
to bring the printing-house into notice, so that it became a favourite
with many good writers, who appear to have had no other connexion with
the place; and this dictionary borrowed its first title, which it always
preserved, merely from the place where it was printed. Both the journal
and the dictionary were, however, consigned to the care of some learned
Jesuits; and perhaps the place always indicated the principles of the
writers, of whom none were more eminent for elegant literature than the

The first edition of this dictionary sprung from the spirit of rivalry,
occasioned by a French dictionary published in Holland, by the
protestant Basnage de Beauval. The duke set his Jesuits hastily to work;
who, after a pompous announcement that this dictionary was formed on a
plan suggested by their patron, did little more than pillage Furetière,
and rummage Basnage, and produced three new folios without any
novelties; they pleased the Duc du Maine, and no one else. This was in
1704. Twenty years after, it was republished and improved; and editions
increasing, the volumes succeeded each other, till it reached to its
present magnitude and value in eight large folios, in 1771, the only
edition now esteemed. Many of the names of the contributors to this
excellent collection of words and things, the industry of Monsieur
Barbier has revealed in his "Dictionnaire des Anonymes," art. 10782. The
work, in the progress of a century, evidently became a favourite
receptacle with men of letters in France, who eagerly contributed the
smallest or largest articles with a zeal honourable to literature and
most useful to the public. They made this dictionary their commonplace
book for all their curious acquisitions; every one competent to write a
short article, preserving an important fact, did not aspire to compile
the dictionary, or even an entire article in it; but it was a treasury
in which such mites collected together formed its wealth; and all the
literati may be said to have engaged in perfecting these volumes during
a century. In this manner, from the humble beginnings of three volumes,
in which the plagiary much more than the contributor was visible, eight
were at length built up with more durable materials, and which claim the
attention and the gratitude of the student.

The work, it appears, interested the government itself, as a national
concern, from the tenor of the following anecdotes.

Most of the minor contributors to this great collection were satisfied
to remain anonymous; but as might be expected among such a number,
sometimes a contributor was anxious to be known to his circle; and did
not like this penitential abstinence of fame. An anecdote recorded of
one of this class will amuse: A Monsieur Lautour du Chatel, avocat au
parlement de Normandie, voluntarily devoted his studious hours to
improve this work, and furnished nearly three thousand articles to the
supplement of the edition of 1752. This ardent scholar had had a lively
quarrel thirty years before with the first authors of the dictionary. He
had sent them one thousand three hundred articles, on condition that the
donor should be handsomely thanked in the preface of the new edition,
and further receive a copy _en grand papier_. They were accepted. The
conductors of the new edition, in 1721, forgot all the promises--nor
thanks, nor copy! Our learned avocat, who was a little irritable, as his
nephew who wrote his life acknowledges, as soon as the great work
appeared, astonished, like Dennis, that "they were rattling his own
thunder," without saying a word, quits his country town, and ventures,
half dead with sickness and indignation, on an expedition to Paris, to
make his complaint to the chancellor; and the work was deemed of that
importance in the eye of government, and so zealous a contributor was
considered to have such an honourable claim, that the chancellor
ordered, first, that a copy on large paper should be immediately
delivered to Monsieur Lautour, richly bound and free of carriage; and
secondly, as a reparation of the unperformed promise, and an
acknowledgment of gratitude, the omission of thanks should be inserted
and explained in the three great literary journals of France; a curious
instance, among others, of the French government often mediating, when
difficulties occurred in great literary undertakings, and considering
not lightly the claims and the honours of men of letters.

Another proof, indeed, of the same kind, concerning the present work,
occurred after the edition of 1752. One Jamet l'aîné, who had with
others been usefully employed on this edition, addressed a proposal to
government for an improved one, dated from the Bastile. He proposed that
the government should choose a learned person, accustomed to the labour
of the researches such a work requires; and he calculated, that if
supplied with three amanuenses, such an editor would accomplish his task
in about ten or twelve years, the produce of the edition would soon
repay all the expenses and capital advanced. This literary projector did
not wish to remain idle in the Bastile. Fifteen years afterwards the
last improved edition appeared, published by the associated booksellers
of Paris.

As for the work itself, it partakes of the character of our
Encyclopædias; but in this respect it cannot be safely consulted, for
widely has science enlarged its domains and corrected its errors since
1771. But it is precious as a vast collection of ancient and modern
learning, particularly in that sort of knowledge which we usually term
antiquarian and philological. It is not merely a grammatical,
scientific, and technical dictionary, but it is replete with divinity,
law, moral philosophy, critical and historical learning, and abounds
with innumerable miscellaneous curiosities. It would be difficult,
whatever may be the subject of inquiry, to open it, without the
gratification of some knowledge neither obvious nor trivial. I heard a
man of great learning declare, that whenever he could not recollect his
knowledge he opened Hoffman's _Lexicon Universale Historicum_, where he
was sure to find what he had lost. The works are similar; and valuable
as are the German's four folios, the eight of the Frenchman may safely
be recommended as their substitute, or their supplement. As a Dictionary
of the French Language it bears a peculiar feature, which has been
presumptuously dropped in the Dictionnaire de l'Académie; the last
invents phrases to explain words, which therefore have no other
authority than the writer himself! this of Trevoux is furnished, not
only with mere authorities, but also with quotations from the classical
French writers--an improvement which was probably suggested by the
English Dictionary of Johnson. One nation improves by another.


  [154] It was always acknowledged as an independent state by the
    French kings from the time of Philip Augustus. It had its own
    parliament, and the privilege also of coining its own money.

  [155] The house in which the Jesuits resided, having the shield of
    arms of their order over its portal, still remains at Trevoux.


It is, perhaps, somewhat mortifying in our literary researches to
discover that our own literature has been only known to the other
nations of Europe comparatively within recent times. We have at length
triumphed over our continental rivals in the noble struggles of genius,
and our authors now see their works printed even at foreign presses,
while we are furnishing with our gratuitous labours nearly the whole
literature of a new empire; yet so late as in the reign of Anne, our
poets were only known by the Latin versifiers of the "Musæ Anglicanæ;"
and when Boileau was told of the public funeral of Dryden, he was
pleased with the national honours bestowed on genius, but he declared
that he never heard of his name before. This great legislator of
Parnassus has never alluded to one of our own poets, so insular then was
our literary glory! The most remarkable fact, or perhaps assertion, I
have met with, of the little knowledge which the Continent had of our
writers, is a French translation of Bishop Hall's "Characters of Virtues
and Vices." It is a duodecimo, printed at Paris, of 109 pages, 1610,
with this title _Charactères de Vertus et de Vices; tirés de l'Anglois
de M. Josef Hall_. In a dedication to the Earl of Salisbury, the
translator informs his lordship that "_ce livre est la_ première
traduction de l'Anglois _jamais_ imprimée en aucun vulgaire"--the first
translation from the English ever printed in any modern language!
Whether the translator is a bold liar, or an ignorant blunderer, remains
to be ascertained; at all events it is a humiliating demonstration of
the small progress which our home literature had made abroad in 1610!

I come now to notice a contemporary writer, professedly writing the
history of our Poetry, of which his knowledge will open to us as we
proceed with our enlightened and amateur historian.

Father Quadrio's _Della Storia e dell' ragione d' ogni Poesia_,--is a
gigantic work, which could only have been projected and persevered in by
some hypochondriac monk, who, to get rid of the _ennui_ of life, could
discover no pleasanter way than to bury himself alive in seven monstrous
closely-printed quartos, and every day be compiling something on a
subject which he did not understand. Fortunately for Father Quadrio,
without taste to feel, and discernment to decide, nothing occurred in
this progress of literary history and criticism to abridge his volumes
and his amusements; and with diligence and erudition unparalleled, he
has here built up a receptacle for his immense, curious, and trifling
knowledge on the poetry of every nation. Quadrio is among that class of
authors whom we receive with more gratitude than pleasure, fly to
sometimes to quote, but never linger to read; and fix on our shelves,
but seldom have in our hands.

I have been much mortified, in looking over this voluminous compiler, to
discover, although he wrote so late as about 1750, how little the
history of English poetry was known to foreigners. It is assuredly our
own fault. We have too long neglected the bibliography and the literary
history of our own country. Italy, Spain, and France have enjoyed
eminent bibliographers--we have none to rival them. Italy may justly
glory in her Tiraboschi and her Mazzuchelli; Spain in the Bibliothecas
of Nicholas Antonio; and France, so rich in bibliographical treasures,
affords models to every literary nation of every species of literary
history. With us, the partial labour of the hermit Anthony for the
Oxford writers, compiled before philosophical criticism existed in the
nation; and Warton's History of Poetry, which was left unfinished at its
most critical period, when that delightful antiquary of taste had just
touched the threshold of his Paradise--these are the sole great labours
to which foreigners might resort, but these will not be found of much
use to them. The neglect of our own literary history has, therefore,
occasioned the errors, sometimes very ridiculous ones, of foreign
writers respecting our authors. Even the lively Chaudon, in his
"Dictionnaire Historique," gives the most extraordinary accounts of most
of the English writers. Without an English guide to attend such weary
travellers, they have too often been deceived by the _mirages_ of our
literature. They have given blundering accounts of works which do exist,
and chronicled others which never did exist; and have often made up the
personal history of our authors, by confounding two or three into one.
Chaudon, mentioning Dryden's tragedies, observes, that Atterbury
translated two into Latin verse, entitled _Achitophel_ and

Of all these foreign authors, none has more egregiously failed than this
good Father Quadrio. In this universal history of poetry, I was curious
to observe what sort of figure we made, and whether the fertile genius
of our original poets had struck the foreign critic with admiration or
with critical censure. But little was our English poetry known to its
universal historian. In the chapter on those who have cultivated "la
melica poesia in propria lingua tra, Tedeschi, Fiamminghi e
Inglesi,"[157] we find the following list of English poets.

"Of John Gower; whose rhymes and verses are preserved in manuscript in
the college of the most Holy Trinity, in Cambridge.

"Arthur Kelton, flourished in 1548, a skilful English poet: he composed
various poems in English; also he lauds the Cambrians and their

"The works of William Wycherly, in English prose and verse."

These were the only English poets whom Quadrio at first could muster
together! In his subsequent additions he caught the name of Sir Philip
Sidney with an adventurous criticism, "le sue poesie assai buone." He
then was lucky enough to pick up the title--not the volume,
surely--which was one of the rarest; "Fiori poetici de A. Cowley," which
he calls "poesie amorose:" this must mean that early volume of Cowley's,
published in his thirteenth year, under the title of "Poetical
Blossoms." Further he laid hold of "John Donne" by the skirt, and
"Thomas Creech," at whom he made a full pause, informing his Italians
that "his poems are reputed by his nation as 'assai buone.'" He has also
"Le opere di Guglielmo;" but to this Christian name, as it would
appear, he had not ventured to add the surname. At length, in his
progress of inquiry, in his fourth volume (for they were published at
different periods), he suddenly discovers a host of English poets--in
Waller, Duke of Buckingham, Lord Roscommon, and others, among whom is
Dr. Swift; but he acknowledges their works have not reached him.
Shakspeare at length appears on the scene; but Quadrio's notions are
derived from Voltaire, whom, perhaps, he boldly translates. Instead of
improving our drama, he conducted it _a totale rovina nelle sue farse
monstruose, che si chiaman tragedie; alcune scene vi abbia luminose e
belle e alcuni tratti si trovono terribili e grandi_. Otway is said to
have composed a tragic drama on the subject of "Venezia Salvata;" he
adds with surprise, "ma affatto regolare." Regularity is the essence of
genius with such critics as Quadrio. Dryden is also mentioned; but the
only drama specified is "King Arthur." Addison is the first Englishman
who produced a classical tragedy; but though Quadrio writes much about
the life of Addison, he never alludes to the Spectator.

We come now to a more curious point. Whether Quadrio had read our
_comedies_ may be doubtful; but he distinguishes them by very high
commendation. Our comedy, he says, represents human life, the manners of
citizens and the people, much better than the French and Spanish
comedies, in which all the business of life is mixed up with love
affairs. The Spaniards had their gallantry from the Moors, and their
manners from chivalry; to which they added their tumid African taste,
differing from that of other nations. I shall translate what he now adds
of English comedy.

"The English, more skilfully even than the French, have approximated to
the true idea of comic subjects, choosing for the argument of their
invention the customary and natural objects of the citizens and the
populace. And when religion and decorum were more respected in their
theatres, they were more advanced in this species of poetry, and merited
not a little praise, above their neighbouring nations. But more than the
English and the French (to speak according to pure and bare truth) have
the Italians signalised themselves." A sly, insinuating criticism! But,
as on the whole, for reasons which I cannot account for, Father Quadrio
seems to have relished our English comedy, we must value his candour.
He praises our comedy; "per il bello ed il buono;" but, as he is a
methodical Aristotelian, he will not allow us that liberty in the
theatre which we are supposed to possess in parliament--by delivering
whatever we conceive to the purpose. His criticism is a specimen of the
irrefragable. "We must not abandon legitimate rules _to give mere
pleasure thereby_; because pleasure is produced by, and flows from, the
_beautiful_; and the beautiful is chiefly drawn from the good order and
unity in which it consists!"

Quadrio succeeded in discovering the name of one of our greatest comic
geniuses; for, alluding to our diversity of action in comedy, he
mentions in his fifth volume, page 148,--"Il celebre _Benjanson_, nella
sua commedia intitolato _Bartolommeo Foicere_, e in quella altra
commedia intitolato _Ipsum Veetz_." The reader may decipher the poet's
name with his _Fair_; but it required the critical sagacity of Mr. Douce
to discover that by _Ipsum Veetz_ we are to understand Shadwell's comedy
of _Epsom Wells_. The Italian critic had transcribed what he and his
Italian printer could not spell. We have further discovered the source
of his intelligence in St. Evremond, who had classed Shadwell's comedy
with Ben Jonson's. To such shifts is the writer of an universal history
_d' ogni Poesia_ miserably reduced!

Towards the close of the fifth volume we at last find the sacred muse of
Milton,--but, unluckily, he was a man "di pochissima religione," and
spoke of Christ like an Arian. Quadrio quotes Ramsay for Milton's
vomiting forth abuse on the Roman Church. His figures are said to be
often mean, unworthy of the majesty of his subject; but in a later
place, excepting his religion, our poet, it is decided on, is worthy "di
molti laudi."

Thus much for the information the curious may obtain on English poetry
from its universal history. Quadrio unquestionably writes with more
ignorance than prejudice against us: he has not only highly
distinguished the comic genius of our writers, and raised it above that
of our neighbours, but he has also advanced another discovery, which
ranks us still higher for original invention, and which, I am confident,
will be as new as it is extraordinary to the English reader.

Quadrio, who, among other erudite accessories to his work, has exhausted
the most copious researches on the origin of Punch and Harlequin, has
also written, with equal curiosity and value, the history of
Puppet-shows. But whom has he lauded? whom has he placed paramount,
above all other people, for their genius of invention in improving this
art!--The English! and the glory which has hitherto been universally
conceded to the Italian nation themselves, appears to belong to us! For
we, it appears, while others were dandling and pulling their little
representatives of human nature into such awkward and unnatural motions,
first invented pulleys, or wires, and gave a fine and natural action to
the artificial life of these gesticulating machines!

We seem to know little of ourselves as connected with the history of
puppet-shows; but in an article in the curious Dictionary of Trevoux, I
find that John Brioché, to whom had been attributed the invention of
_Marionnettes_, is only to be considered as an improver; in his time
(but the learned writers supply no date) _an Englishman_ discovered the
secret of moving them by springs, and without strings; but the
Marionnettes of Brioché were preferred for the pleasantries which he
made them deliver. The erudite Quadrio appears to have more successfully
substantiated our claims to the pulleys or wires, or springs of the
puppets, than any of our own antiquaries; and perhaps the uncommemorated
name of this Englishman was that Powell, whose Solomon and Sheba were
celebrated in the days of Addison and Steele; the former of whom has
composed a classical and sportive Latin poem on this very subject. But
Quadrio might well rest satisfied that the nation which could boast of
its _Fantoccini_, surpassed, and must ever surpass the puny efforts of a
doll-loving people!


  [156] Even recently, il Cavaliere Onofrio Boni, in his Eloge of Lanzi,
    in naming the three Augustan periods of modern literature, fixes
    them, for the Italians, under Leo the Tenth; for the French, under
    Louis the Fourteenth, or the Great; and for the English, under
    Charles the Second!

  [157] Quadrio, vol. ii. p. 416.


In Professor Dugald Stewart's first Dissertation on the Progress of
Philosophy, I find this singular and significant term. It has occasioned
me to reflect on those contests for religion, in which a particular
faith has been made the ostensible pretext, while the secret motive was
usually political. The historians, who view in religious wars only
religion itself, have written large volumes, in which we may never
discover that they have either been a struggle to obtain predominance,
or an expedient to secure it. The hatreds of ambitious men have
disguised their own purposes, while Christianity has borne the odium of
loosening a destroying spirit among mankind; which, had Christianity
never existed, would have equally prevailed in human affairs. Of a moral
malady, it is not only necessary to know the nature, but to designate it
by a right name, that we may not err in our mode of treatment. If we
call that _religious_ which we shall find for the greater part is
_political_, we are likely to be mistaken in the regimen and the cure.

Fox, in his "Acts and Monuments," writes the martyrology of the
_Protestants_ in three mighty folios; where, in the third, "the tender
mercies" of the Catholics are "cut in wood" for those who might not
otherwise be enabled to read or spell them. Such pictures are
abridgments of long narratives, but they leave in the mind a fulness of
horror. Fox made more than one generation shudder; and his volume,
particularly this third, chained to a reading-desk in the halls of the
great, and in the aisles of churches, often detained the loiterer, as it
furnished some new scene of papistical horrors to paint forth on
returning to his fireside. The protestants were then the martyrs,
because, under Mary, the protestants had been thrown out of power.

Dodd has opposed to Fox three curious folios, which he calls "The Church
History of England," exhibiting a most abundant martyrology of the
_catholics_, inflicted by the hands of the protestants; who in the
succeeding reign of Elizabeth, after long trepidations and balancings,
were confirmed into power. He grieves over the delusion and seduction of
the black-letter romance of honest John Fox, which he says, "has
obtained a place in protestant churches next to the Bible, while John
Fox himself is esteemed little less than an evangelist."[158] Dodd's
narratives are not less pathetic: for the situation of the catholic, who
had to secrete himself, as well as to suffer, was more adapted for
romantic adventures, than even the melancholy but monotonous story of
the protestants tortured in the cell, or bound to the stake. These
catholics, however, were attempting all sorts of intrigues; and the
saints and martyrs of Dodd, to the parliament of England, were only
traitors and conspirators!

Heylin, in his history of the _Puritans_ and the _Presbyterians_,
blackens them for political devils. He is the Spagnolet of history,
delighting himself with horrors at which the painter himself must have
started. He tells of their "oppositions" to monarchical and episcopal
government; their "innovations" in the church; and their "embroilments"
of the kingdoms. The sword rages in their hands; treason, sacrilege,
plunder; while "more of the blood of Englishmen had poured like water
within the space of four years, than had been shed in the civil wars of
York and Lancaster in four centuries!"

Neal opposes a more elaborate history; where these "great and good men,"
the puritans and the presbyterians, "are placed among the _reformers_;"
while their fame is blanched into angelic purity. Neal and his party
opined that the protestant had not sufficiently protested, and that the
reformation itself needed to be reformed. They wearied the impatient
Elizabeth and her ardent churchmen; and disputed with the learned James,
and his courtly bishops, about such ceremonial trifles, that the
historian may blush or smile who has to record them. And when the
_puritan_ was thrown out of preferment, and seceded into separation, he
turned into a _presbyter_. Nonconformity was their darling sin, and
their sullen triumph.

Calamy, in four painful volumes, chronicles the bloodless martyrology of
the two thousand silenced and ejected ministers. Their history is not
glorious, and their heroes are obscure; but it is a domestic tale. When
the second Charles was restored, the _presbyterians_, like every other
faction, were to be amused, if not courted. Some of the king's chaplains
were selected from among them, and preached once. Their hopes were
raised that they should, by some agreement, be enabled to share in that
ecclesiastical establishment which they had so often opposed; and the
bishops met the presbyters in a convocation at the Savoy. A conference
was held between the _high church_, resuming the seat of power, and the
_low church_, now prostrate; that is, between the _old clergy_ who had
recently been mercilessly ejected by the _new_, who in their turn were
awaiting their fate. The conference was closed with arguments by the
weaker, and votes by the stronger. Many curious anecdotes of this
conference have come down to us. The presbyterians, in their last
struggle, petitioned for _indulgence_; but oppressors who had become
petitioners, only showed that they possessed no longer the means of
resistance. This conference was followed up by the _Act of Uniformity_,
which took place on Bartholomew day, August 24, 1652: an act which
ejected Calamy's two thousand ministers from the bosom of the
established church. Bartholomew day with this party was long paralleled,
and perhaps is still, with the dreadful French massacre of that fatal
saint's day. The calamity was rather, however, of a private than of a
public nature. The two thousand ejected ministers were indeed deprived
of their livings; but this was, however, a happier fate than what has
often occurred in these contests for the security of political power.
This _ejection_ was not like the expulsion of the Moriscoes, the best
and most useful subjects of Spain, which was a human sacrifice of half a
million of men, and the proscription of many Jews from that land of
Catholicism; or the massacre of thousands of Huguenots, and the
expulsion of more than a hundred thousand by Louis the Fourteenth from
France. The presbyterian divines were not driven from their fatherland,
and compelled to learn another language than their mother-tongue.
Destitute as divines, they were suffered to remain as citizens; and the
result was remarkable. These divines could not disrobe themselves of
their learning and their piety, while several of them were compelled to
become tradesmen: among these the learned Samuel Chandler, whose
literary productions are numerous, kept a bookseller's shop in the

Hard as this event proved in its result, it was, however, pleaded, that
"It was but like for like." And that the history of "the like" might not
be curtailed in the telling, opposed to Calamy's chronicle of the two
thousand ejected ministers stands another, in folio magnitude, of the
same sort of chronicle of the clergy of the Church of England, with a
title by no means less pathetic.

This is Walker's "Attempt towards recovering an Account of the Clergy of
the Church of England who were sequestered, harassed, &c., in the late
Times." Walker is himself astonished at the size of his volume, the
number of his sufferers, and the variety of the sufferings. "Shall the
church," says he, "not have the liberty to preserve the history of her
sufferings, as well as the _separation_ to set forth an account of
theirs? Can Dr. Calamy be acquitted for publishing the history of the
_Bartholomew sufferers_, if I am condemned for writing that of the
_sequestered loyalists_?" He allows that "the number of the ejected
amounts to two thousand," and there were no less than "seven or eight
thousand of the episcopal clergy imprisoned, banished, and sent a
starving," &c. &c.

Whether the reformed were martyred by the catholics, or the catholics
executed by the reformed; whether the puritans expelled those of the
established church, or the established church ejected the puritans, all
seems reducible to two classes, conformists and non-conformists, or, in
the political style, the administration and the opposition. When we
discover that the heads of all parties are of the same hot temperament,
and observe the same evil conduct in similar situations; when we view
honest old Latimer with his own hands hanging a mendicant friar on a
tree, and, the government changing, the friars binding Latimer to the
stake; when we see the French catholics cutting out the tongues of the
protestants, that they might no longer protest; the haughty Luther
writing submissive apologies to Leo the Tenth and Henry the Eighth for
the scurrility with which he had treated them in his writings, and
finding that his apologies were received with contempt, then retracting
his retractations; when we find that haughtiest of the haughty, John
Knox, when Elizabeth first ascended the throne, crouching and repenting
of having written his famous excommunication against all female
sovereignty; or pulling down the monasteries, from the axiom that when
the rookery was destroyed, the rooks would never return; when we find
his recent apologist admiring, while he apologises for, some
extraordinary proofs of Machiavelian politics, an impenetrable mystery
seems to hang over the conduct of men who profess to be guided by the
bloodless code of Jesus. But try them by a human standard, and treat
them as _politicians_, and the motives once discovered, the actions are

Two edicts of Charles the Fifth, in 1555, condemned to death the
Reformed of the Low Countries, even should they return to the catholic
faith, with this exception, however, in favour of the latter, that they
shall not be burnt alive, but that the men shall be beheaded, and the
women buried alive! _Religion_ could not, then, be the real motive of
the Spanish cabinet, for in returning to the ancient faith that point
was obtained; but the truth is, that the Spanish government considered
the reformed as _rebels_, whom it was not safe to re-admit to the rights
of citizenship. The undisguised fact appears in the codicil to the will
of the emperor, when he solemnly declares that he had written to the
Inquisition "to burn and extirpate the heretics," _after trying to make
Christians of them_, because he is convinced that they never can become
sincere catholics; and he acknowledges that he had committed a great
fault in permitting Luther to return free on the faith of his
safe-conduct, as the emperor was not bound to keep a promise with a
heretic. "It is because that I destroyed him not, that heresy has now
become strong, which I am convinced might have been stifled with him in
its birth."[159] The whole conduct of Charles the Fifth in this mighty
revolution was, from its beginning, censured by contemporaries as purely
_political_. Francis the First observed that the emperor, under the
colour of religion, was placing himself at the head of a league to make
his way to a predominant monarchy. "The pretext of religion is no new
thing," writes the Duke of Nevers. "Charles the Fifth had never
undertaken a war against the Protestant princes but with the design of
rendering the Imperial crown hereditary in the house of Austria; and he
has only attacked the electoral princes to ruin them, and to abolish
their right of election. Had it been zeal for the catholic religion,
would he have delayed from 1519 to 1549 to arm? That he might have
extinguished the Lutheran heresy, which he could easily have done in
1526, but he considered that this novelty would serve to divide the
German princes, and he patiently waited till the effect was

Good men of both parties, mistaking the nature of these religious wars,
have drawn horrid inferences! The "dragonnades" of Louis XIV. excited
the admiration of Bruyère; and Anquetil, in his "Esprit de la Ligue,"
compares the revocation of the Edict of Nantes to a salutary amputation.
The massacre of St. Bartholomew in its own day, and even recently, has
found advocates; a Greek professor at the time asserted that there were
_two classes_ of protestants in France--political and religious; and
that "the late ebullition of public vengeance was solely directed
against the former." Dr. M'Crie, cursing the catholic with a catholic's
curse, execrates "the stale sophistry of this calumniator." But should
we allow that the Greek professor who advocated their national crime was
the wretch the calvinistic doctor describes, yet the nature of things
cannot be altered by the equal violence of Peter Charpentier and Dr.

This subject of "Political Religionism" is indeed as nice as it is
curious; _politics_ have been so cunningly worked into the cause of
_religion_, that the parties themselves will never be able to separate
them; and to this moment the most opposite opinions are formed
concerning the same events and the same persons. When public
disturbances broke out at Nismes on the first restoration of the
Bourbons, the protestants, who there are numerous, declared that they
were persecuted for religion, and their cry, echoed by their brethren
the dissenters, resounded in this country. We have not forgotten the
ferment it raised here; much was said, and something was done. Our
minister, however, persisted in declaring that it was a mere _political_
affair. It is clear that our government was right on the _cause_, and
those zealous complainants wrong, who only observed the _effect_; for as
soon as the Bourbonists had triumphed over the Bonapartists, we heard no
more of those sanguinary persecutions of the protestants of Nismes, of
which a dissenter has just published a large history. It is a curious
fact, that when two writers at the same time were occupied in a Life of
Cardinal Ximenes, Flechier converted the cardinal into a saint, and
every incident in his administration was made to connect itself with his
religious character; Marsollier, a writer very inferior to Flechier,
shows the cardinal merely as a politician. The elegances of Flechier
were soon neglected by the public, and the deep interests of truth soon
acquired, and still retain, for the less elegant writer the attention of
the statesman.

A modern historian has observed that "the affairs of religion were the
grand fomenters and promoters of the _Thirty Years' War_, which first
brought down the powers of the North to mix in the politics of the
Southern states." The fact is indisputable, but the cause is not so
apparent. Gustavus Adolphus, the vast military genius of his age, had
designed, and was successfully attempting, to oppose the overgrown power
of the imperial house of Austria, which had long aimed at an universal
monarchy in Europe; a circumstance which Philip IV. weakly hinted at to
the world when he placed this motto under his arms--"_Sine ipso factum
est nihil_;" an expression applied to Jesus Christ by St. John!


  [158] "Fox's Martyrs," as the book was popularly called, was often
    chained to a reading-desk in churches; one is still thus affixed at
    Cirencester; it thus received equal honour with the Bible.

  [159] Llorente's "Critical History of the Inquisition."

  [160] Naudé, "Considérations Politiques," p. 115. See a curious note
    in Hart's "Life of Gustavus Adolphus," ii. 129.


An enlightened toleration is a blessing of the last age--it would seem
to have been practised by the Romans, when they did not mistake the
primitive Christians for seditious members of society; and was
inculcated even by Mahomet, in a passage in the Koran, but scarcely
practised by his followers. In modern history it was condemned when
religion was turned into a political contest under the aspiring house of
Austria--and in Spain--and in France. It required a long time before its
nature was comprehended--and to this moment it is far from being clear,
either to the tolerators or the tolerated.

It does not appear that the precepts or the practice of Jesus and the
apostles inculcate the _compelling_ of any to be Christians;[161] yet an
expression employed in the nuptial parable of the great supper, when the
hospitable lord commanded the servant, finding that he had still room to
accommodate more guests, to go out in the highways and hedges, and
"_compel them to come in, that my house may be filled_," was alleged as
an authority by those catholics who called themselves "the converters,"
for using religious force, which, still alluding to the hospitable lord,
they called "a charitable and salutary violence." It was this
circumstance which produced Bayle's "Commentaire Philosophique sur ces
Paroles de Jesus Christ," published under the supposititious name of an
_Englishman_, as printed at Canterbury in 1686, but really at Amsterdam.
It is curious that Locke published his first letter on "Toleration" in
Latin at Gouda, in 1689--the second in 1690--and the third in 1692.
Bayle opened the mind of Locke, and some time after quotes Locke's Latin
letter with high commendation.[162] The caution of both writers in
publishing in foreign places, however, indicates the prudence which it
was deemed necessary to observe in writing in favour of toleration.

These were the first _philosophical_ attempts; but the earliest
advocates for toleration may be found among the religious
controversialists of a preceding period; it was probably started among
the fugitive sects who had found an asylum in Holland. It was a blessing
which they had gone far to find, and the miserable, reduced to humane
feelings, are compassionate to one another. With us the sect called "the
Independents" had, early in our revolution under Charles the First,
pleaded for the doctrine of religious liberty, and long maintained it
against the presbyterians. Both proved persecutors when they possessed
power. The first of our respectable divines who advocated this cause
were Jeremy Taylor, in his "Discourse on the Liberty of Prophesying,"
1647, and Bishop Hall, who had pleaded the cause of _moderation_ in a
discourse about the same period.[163] Locke had no doubt examined all
these writers. The history of opinions is among the most curious of
histories; and I suspect that Bayle was well acquainted with the
pamphlets of our sectarists, who, in their flight to Holland, conveyed
those curiosities of theology, which had cost them their happiness and
their estates: I think he indicates this hidden source of his ideas by
the extraordinary ascription of his book to _an Englishman_, and fixing
the place of its publication at _Canterbury_!

Toleration has been a vast engine in the hands of modern politicians. It
was established in the United Provinces of Holland, and our numerous
non-conformists took refuge in that asylum for disturbed consciences; it
attracted a valuable community of French refugees; it conducted a colony
of Hebrew fugitives from Portugal; conventicles of Brownists, quakers'
meetings, French churches, and Jewish synagogues, and (had it been
required) Mahometan mosques, in Amsterdam, were the precursors of its
mart, and its exchange; the moment they could preserve their consciences
sacred to themselves, they lived without mutual persecution, and mixed
together as good Dutchmen.

The excommunicated part of Europe seemed to be the most enlightened, and
it was then considered as a proof of the admirable progress of the human
mind, that Locke and Clarke and Newton corresponded with Leibnitz, and
others of the learned in France and Italy. Some were astonished that
philosophers who differed in their _religious opinions_ should
communicate among themselves with so much toleration.[164]

It is not, however, clear that had any one of these sects at Amsterdam
obtained predominance, which was sometimes attempted, they would have
granted to others the toleration they participated in common. The
infancy of a party is accompanied by a political weakness which disables
it from weakening others.

The catholic in this country pleads for toleration; in his own he
refuses to grant it. Here, the presbyterian, who had complained of
persecution, once fixed in the seat of power, abrogated every kind of
independence among others. When the flames consumed Servetus at Geneva,
the controversy began, whether the civil magistrate might punish
heretics, which Beza, the associate of Calvin, maintained; he triumphed
in the small predestinating city of Geneva; but the book he wrote was
fatal to the protestants a few leagues distant, among a majority of
catholics. Whenever the protestants complained of the persecutions they
suffered, the catholics, for authority and sanction, never failed to
appeal to the volume of their own Beza.

M. Necker de Saussure has recently observed on "what trivial
circumstances the change or the preservation of the established religion
in different districts of Europe has depended!" When the Reformation
penetrated into Switzerland, the government of the principality of
Neufchatel, wishing to allow liberty of conscience to all their
subjects, invited each parish to vote "for or against the adoption of
the new worship; and in all the parishes, except two, the majority of
suffrages declared in favour of the protestant communion." The
inhabitants of the small village of Cressier had also assembled; and
forming an even number, there happened to be an equality of votes for
and against the change of religion. A shepherd being absent, tending
the flocks on the hills, they summoned him to appear and decide this
important question: when, having no liking to innovation, he gave his
voice in favour of the existing form of worship; and this parish
remained catholic, and is so at this day, in the heart of the protestant

I proceed to some facts which I have arranged for the history of
Toleration. In the Memoirs of James the Second, when that monarch
published "The Declaration for Liberty of Conscience," the catholic
reasons and liberalises like a modern philosopher: he accuses "the
jealousy of our clergy, who had degraded themselves into intriguers; and
like mechanics in a trade, who are afraid of nothing so much as
interlopers--they had therefore induced indifferent persons to imagine
that their earnest contest was not about their faith, but about their
temporal possessions. It was incongruous that a church, which does not
pretend to be infallible, should constrain persons, under heavy
penalties and punishments, to believe as she does: they delighted, he
asserted, to hold an iron rod over dissenters and catholics; so sweet
was dominion, that the very thought of others participating in their
freedom made them deny the very doctrine they preached." The chief
argument the catholic urged on this occasion was "the reasonableness of
repealing laws which made men liable to the greatest punishments for
that it was not in their power to remedy, for that no man could force
himself to believe what he really did not believe."[165]

Such was the rational language of the most bigoted of zealots!--The fox
can bleat like the lamb. At the very moment James the Second was
uttering this mild expostulation, in his own heart he had anathematised
the nation; for I have seen some of the king's private papers, which
still exist; they consist of communications, chiefly by the most bigoted
priests, with the wildest projects, and most infatuated prophecies and
dreams, of restoring the true catholic faith in England! Had the
Jesuit-led monarch retained the English throne, the language he now
addressed to the nation would have been no longer used; and in that case
it would have served his protestant subjects. He asked for toleration,
to become intolerant! He devoted himself, not to the hundredth part of
the English nation; and yet he was surprised that he was left one
morning without an army! When the catholic monarch issued this
declaration for "liberty of conscience," the Jekyll of his day observed,
that "it was but scaffolding: they intend to build another house, and
when that house (Popery) is built, they will take down the

When presbytery was our lord, they who had endured the tortures of
persecution, and raised such sharp outcries for freedom, of all men were
the most intolerant: hardly had they tasted of the Circean cup of
dominion, ere they were transformed into the most hideous or the most
grotesque monsters of political power. To their eyes toleration was an
hydra, and the dethroned bishops had never so vehemently declaimed
against what, in ludicrous rage, one of the high-flying presbyterians
called "a cursed intolerable toleration!" They advocated the rights of
persecution; and "shallow Edwards," as Milton calls the author of "The
Gangræna," published a treatise _against toleration_. They who had so
long complained of "the licensers," now sent all the books they
condemned to penal fires. Prynne now vindicated the very doctrines under
which he himself had so severely suffered; assuming the highest possible
power of civil government, even to the infliction of death on its
opponents. Prynne lost all feeling for the ears of others!

The idea of toleration was not intelligible for too long a period in the
annals of Europe: no parties probably could conceive the idea of
toleration in the struggle for predominance. Treaties are not proffered
when conquest is the concealed object. Men were immolated! a massacre
was a sacrifice! medals were struck to commemorate these holy
persecutions![167] The destroying angel, holding in one hand a cross,
and in the other a sword, with these words--_Vgonottorum Strages_,
1572--"The massacre of the Huguenots"--proves that toleration will not
agree with that date.[168] Castelnau, a statesman and a humane man, was
at a loss how to decide on a point of the utmost importance to France.
In 1532 they first began to burn the Lutherans or Calvinists, and to cut
out the tongues of all protestants, "that they might no longer protest."
According to Father Paul, fifty thousand persons had perished in the
Netherlands, by different tortures, for religion. But a change in the
religion of the state, Castelnau considered, would occasion one in the
government: he wondered how it happened, that the more they punished
with death, it only increased the number of the victims: martyrs
produced proselytes. As a statesman, he looked round the great field of
human actions in the history of the past; there he discovered that the
Romans were more enlightened in their actions than ourselves; that
Trajan commanded Pliny the younger not to molest the Christians for
their _religion_, but should their conduct endanger the state, to put
down _illegal assemblies_; that Julian the Apostate expressly forbad the
_execution_ of the Christians, who then imagined that they were securing
their salvation by martyrdom; but he ordered all their goods to be
_confiscated_--a severe punishment--by which Julian prevented more than
he could have done by persecutions. "All this," he adds, "we read in
ecclesiastical history."[169] Such were the sentiments of Castelnau, in
1560. Amidst perplexities of state necessity, and of our common
humanity, the notion of _toleration_ had not entered into the views of
the statesman. It was also at this time that De Sainctes, a great
controversial writer, declared, that had the fires lighted for the
destruction of Calvinism not been extinguished, the sect had not spread!
About half a century subsequent to this period, Thuanus was, perhaps,
the first great mind who appears to have insinuated to the French
monarch and his nation, that they might live at peace with heretics; by
which avowal he called down on himself the haughty indignation of Rome,
and a declaration that the man who spoke in favour of heretics must
necessarily be one of the first class. Hear the afflicted historian:
"Have men no compassion, after forty years passed full of continual
miseries? Have they no fear after the loss of the Netherlands,
occasioned by the frantic obstinacy which marked the times? I grieve
that such sentiments should have occasioned my book to have been
examined with a rigour that amounts to calumny." Such was the language
of Thuanus, in a letter written in 1606;[170] which indicates an
approximation to _toleration_, but which term was not probably yet found
in any dictionary. We may consider, as so many attempts at toleration,
the great national synod of Dort, whose history is amply written by
Brandt; and the mitigating protestantism of Laud, to approximate to the
ceremonies of the Roman church; but the synod, after holding about two
hundred sessions, closed, dividing men into universalists and
semi-universalists, supralapsarians and sublapsarians! The _reformed_
themselves produced the _remonstrants_; and Laud's ceremonies ended in
placing the altar eastward, and in raising the scaffold for the monarchy
and the hierarchy. Error is circuitous when it will do what it has not
yet learnt. They were pressing for conformity to do that which, a
century afterwards, they found could only be done by _toleration_.

The _secret history of toleration_ among certain parties has been
disclosed to us by a curious document, from that religious Machiavel,
the fierce ascetic republican John Knox, a calvinistical Pope. "While
the posterity of Abraham," says that mighty and artful reformer, "were
_few in number_, and while they sojourned in _different countries_, they
were merely required to avoid all participation in the idolatrous rites
of the heathen; but _as soon as they prospered into a kingdom_, and had
obtained _possession of Canaan_, they were strictly charged to suppress
idolatry, and to destroy all the monuments and incentives. The same duty
was _now_ incumbent on the professors of the true religion in Scotland.
Formerly, when not more than _ten persons in a county_ were enlightened,
it would have been _foolishness_ to have demanded of the nobility the
suppression of idolatry. But _now_, when knowledge had been increased,"
&c.[171] Such are the men who cry out for toleration during their state
of political weakness, but who cancel the bond by which they hold their
tenure whenever they "obtain possession of Canaan." The only commentary
on this piece of the secret history of _toleration_ is the acute remark
of Swift:--"We are fully convinced that we shall always tolerate them,
but not that they will tolerate us."

The truth is that TOLERATION was allowed by none of the parties! and I
will now show the dilemmas into which each party thrust itself.

When the kings of England would forcibly have established episcopacy in
Scotland, the presbyters passed an act _against the toleration of
dissenters from presbyterian doctrines and discipline_; and thus, as
Guthrie observes, they were committing the same violence on the
consciences of their brethren which they opposed in the king. The
presbyterians contrived their famous _covenant_ to dispossess the
royalists of their livings; and the independents, who assumed the
principle of toleration in their very name, shortly after enforced what
they called the _engagement_, to eject the presbyterians! In England,
where the dissenters were ejected, their great advocate Calamy complains
that the dissenters were only making use of the same arguments which the
most eminent reformers had done in their noble defence of the
reformation against the papists; while the arguments of the established
church against the dissenters were the same which were urged by the
papists against the protestant reformation![172] When the presbyterians
were our masters, and preached up the doctrine of passive obedience in
spiritual matters to the civil power, it was unquestionably passing a
self-condemnation on their own recent opposition and detraction of the
former episcopacy. Whenever men act from a secret motive entirely
contrary to their ostensible one, such monstrous results will happen;
and as extremes will join, however opposite they appear in their
beginnings, John Knox and Father Petre, in office, would have equally
served James the Second as confessor and prime minister!

A fact relating to the famous Justus Lipsius proves the difficulty of
forming a clear notion of TOLERATION. This learned man, after having
been ruined by the religious wars of the Netherlands, found an
honourable retreat in a professor's chair at Leyden, and without
difficulty abjured papacy. He published some political works: and
adopted as his great principle, that only _one religion_ should be
allowed to a people, and that no clemency should be granted to
non-conformists, who, he declares, should be pursued by sword and fire:
in this manner a single member would be cut off to preserve the body
sound. _Ure, seca_--are his words. Strange notions these in a protestant
republic; and, in fact, in Holland it was approving of all the horrors
of their oppressors, the Duke d'Alva and Philip the Second, from which
they had hardly recovered.[173] It was a principle by which we must
inevitably infer, says Bayle, that in Holland no other mode of religious
belief but one sect should be permitted; and that those Pagans who had
hanged the missionaries of the gospel had done what they ought. Lipsius
found himself sadly embarrassed when refuted by Theodore Cornhert,[174]
the firm advocate of political and religious freedom, and at length
Lipsius, that protestant with a catholic heart, was forced to eat his
words, like Pistol his onion, declaring that the two objectionable
words, _ure_, _seca_, were borrowed from medicine, meaning not literally
_fire_ and _sword_, but a strong efficacious remedy, one of those
powerful medicines to expel poison. Jean de Serres, a warm Huguenot,
carried the principle of TOLERATION so far in his "Inventaire générale
de l'Histoire de France," as to blame Charles Martel for compelling the
Frisans, whom he had conquered, to adopt Christianity! "A pardonable
zeal," he observes, "in a warrior; but in fact the minds of men cannot
be gained over by arms, nor that religion forced upon them, which must
be introduced into the hearts of men by reason." It is curious to see a
protestant, in his zeal for toleration, blaming a king for forcing
idolaters to become Christians; and to have found an opportunity to
express his opinions in the dark history of the eighth century, is an
instance how historians incorporate their passions in their works, and
view ancient facts with modern eyes.

The protestant cannot grant toleration to the catholic, unless the
catholic ceases to be a papist; and the Arminian church, which opened
its wide bosom to receive every denomination of Christians, nevertheless
were forced to exclude the papists, for their passive obedience to the
supremacy of the Roman pontiff. The catholic has curiously told us, on
this word _toleration_, that _Ce mot devient fort en usage à mesure que
le nombre des tolérans augmente_.[175] It was a word which seemed of
recent introduction, though the book is modern! The protestants have
disputed much how far they might tolerate, or whether they should
tolerate at all; "a difficulty," triumphantly exclaims the catholic,
"which they are not likely ever to settle, while they maintain their
principles of pretended reformation; the consequences which naturally
follow excite horror to the Christian. It is the weak who raise such
outcries for toleration; the strong find authority legitimate."

A religion which admits not of _toleration_ cannot be safely tolerated,
if there is any chance of its obtaining a political ascendancy.

When Priscillian and six of his followers were condemned to torture and
execution for asserting that the three persons of the Trinity were to be
considered as three different _acceptions_ of the same being, Saint
Ambrose and Saint Martin asserted the cause of offended humanity, and
refused to communicate with the bishops who had called out for the blood
of the Priscillianists; but Cardinal Baronius, the annalist of the
church, was greatly embarrassed to explain how men of real purity could
abstain from _applauding_ the ardent zeal of the _persecution_: he
preferred to give up the saints rather than to allow of toleration--for
he acknowledges that the toleration which these saints would have
allowed was not exempt from sin.[176]

In the preceding article, "Political Religionism," we have shown how to
provide against the possible evil of the _tolerated_ becoming the
_tolerators_! Toleration has been suspected of indifference to religion
itself; but with sound minds, it is only an indifference to the
logomachies of theology--things "not of God, but of man," that have
perished, and that are perishing around us!


  [161] Bishop Barlow's "Several Miscellaneous and Weighty Cases of
    Conscience Resolved," 1692. His "Case of a Toleration in Matters of
    Religion," addressed to Robert Boyle, p. 39. This volume was not
    intended to have been given to the world, a circumstance which does
    not make it the less curious.

  [162] In the article _Sancterius_. Note F.

  [163] Recent writers among our sectarists assert that Dr. Owen was
    the _first_ who wrote in favour of toleration, in 1648! Another
    claims the honour for John Goodwin, the chaplain of Oliver Cromwell,
    who published one of his obscure polemical tracts in 1644, among a
    number of other persons who, at that crisis, did not venture to
    prefix their names to pleas in favour of toleration, so delicate and
    so obscure did this subject then appear! In 1651, they translated
    the liberal treatise of Grotius, _De Imperio Summarum Potestatum
    circa Sacra_, under the title of "The Authority of the Highest
    Powers about Sacred Things." London, 8vo, 1651. To the honour of
    Grotius, the first of philosophical reformers, be it recorded, that
    he displeased both parties!

  [164] J. P. Rabaut, "sur la Revolution Française," p. 27.

  [165] "Life of James the Second, from his own Papers," ii 114.

  [166] This was a Baron Wallop. From Dr. H. Sampson's Manuscript Diary.

  [167] It is curious to observe that the catholics were afterwards
    ashamed of these indiscretions; they were unwilling to own that
    there were any medals which commemorate massacres. Thuanus, in his
    53rd book, has minutely described them. The medals, however, have
    become excessively scarce; but copies inferior to the originals have
    been sold. They had also pictures on similar subjects, accompanied
    by insulting inscriptions, which latter they have effaced, sometimes
    very imperfectly. See Hollis's "Memoirs," p. 312-14. This enthusiast
    advertised in the papers to request travellers to procure them.

  [168] The _Sala Regia_ of the Vatican has still upon its walls a
    painting by Vasari of this massacre, among the other important
    events in the history of the Popes similarly commemorated.

  [169] "Mémoires de Michel de Castelnau," liv. i. c. 4.

  [170] "Life of Thuanus, by the Rev. J. Collinson," p. 115.

  [171] Dr. M'Crie's "Life of John Knox," ii. 122.

  [172] I quote from an unpublished letter, written so late as in 1749,
    addressed to the author of "The Free and Candid Disquisition," by
    the Rev. Thomas Allen, rector of Kettering, Northamptonshire.
    However extravagant his doctrine appears to us, I suspect that it
    exhibits the concealed sentiments of even some protestant churchmen!
    This rector of Kettering attributes the growth of schism to the
    _negligence_ of the clergy, and seems to have persecuted both the
    archbishops, "to his detriment," as he tells us, with singular plans
    of reform borrowed from monastic institutions. He wished to revive
    the practice inculcated by a canon of the counsel of Laodicea of
    having prayers _ad horam nonam et ad vesperam_--prayers twice a day
    in the churches. But his grand project take in his own words:--

    "I let the archbishop know that I had composed an _irenicon_,
    wherein I prove the necessity of an ecclesiastical _power over
    consciences_ in matters of religion, which utterly silences their
    arguments who _plead so hard for toleration_. I took my scheme from
    'A Discourse of Ecclesiastical Polity,' wherein the authority of the
    civil magistrate over the consciences of subjects in matters of
    external religion is asserted; _the mischiefs and inconveniences of
    toleration_ are represented, and all pretences pleaded in behalf of
    _liberty of conscience_ are fully answered. If this book were
    reprinted and considered, the king would know his power and the
    people their duty."

    The rector of Kettering seems not to have known that the author of
    this "Discourse on Ecclesiastical Polity" was the notorious Parker,
    immortalised by the satire of Marvell. This political apostate, from
    a republican and presbyterian, became a furious advocate for
    _arbitrary government_ in church and state! He easily won the favour
    of James the Second, who made him Bishop of Oxford! His principles
    were so violent that Father Petre, the confessor of James, made sure
    of him! This letter of the rector of Kettering, in adopting the
    system of such a _catholic_ bishop, confirms my suspicion that
    _toleration_ is condemned as an evil among some protestants!

  [173] The cruelties practised by the Protestant against the Catholic
    party are pictured and described in Arnoudt Van Geluwe's book, "Over
    de Ontledinghe van dry verscheyden Niew-Ghereformeerde Martelaers
    Boecken," published at Antwerp in 1656.

  [174] Cornhert was one of the fathers of Dutch literature, and even
    of their arts. He was the composer of the great national air of
    William of Orange; he was too a famous engraver, the master of
    Goltzius. On his death-bed he was still writing against the
    _persecution of heretics_.

  [175] "Dictionnaire de Trevoux," _ad vocem_ Tolerance. Printed in 1771.

  [176] Sismondi, "Hist. des Français," i. 41. The character of the
    _first person_ who introduced _civil_ persecution into the Christian
    church has been described by Sulpicius Severus. See Dr. Maclaine's
    note in his translation of Mosheim's "Ecclesiastical History," vol.
    i. 428.


An original document now lying before me, the autograph letter of
Charles the Ninth, will prove, that the unparalleled massacre, called by
the world _religious_, was, in the French cabinet, considered merely as
_political_; one of those revolting state expedients which a pretended
instant necessity has too often inflicted on that part of a nation
which, like the undercurrent, subterraneously works its way, and runs
counter to the great stream, till the critical moment arrives when one
or the other must cease.

The massacre began on St. Bartholomew day, in August, 1572, lasted in
France during seven days: that awful event interrupted the
correspondence of our court with that of France. A long silence ensued;
the one did not dare to tell the tale which the other could not listen
to. But sovereigns know how to convert a mere domestic event into a
political expedient. Charles the Ninth, on the birth of a daughter, sent
over an ambassador extraordinary to request Elizabeth to stand as
sponsor: by this the French monarch obtained a double purpose; it served
to renew his interrupted intercourse with the silent queen, and alarmed
the French protestants by abating their hopes, which long rested on the
aid of the English queen.

The following letter, dated 8th February, 1573, is addressed by the king
to La Motte Fénélon, his resident ambassador at London. The king in this
letter minutely details a confidential intercourse with his mother,
Catharine of Medicis, who, perhaps, may have dictated this letter to the
secretary, although signed by the king with his own hand.[177] Such
minute particulars could only have been known to herself. The Earl of
_Wolchester_ (Worcester) was now taking his departure, having come to
Paris on the baptism of the princess; and accompanied by Walsingham, our
resident ambassador, after taking leave of Charles, had the following
interview with Catharine de Medicis. An interview with the young monarch
was usually concluded by a separate audience with his mother, who
probably was still the directress of his councils.

The French court now renewed their favourite project of marrying the
Duke d'Alençon with Elizabeth. They had long wished to settle this
turbulent spirit, and the negotiation with Elizabeth had been broken off
in consequence of the massacre at Paris. They were somewhat uneasy lest
he should share the fate of his brother, the Duke of Anjou, who had not
long before been expedited on the same fruitless errand; and Elizabeth
had already objected to the disparity of their ages, the Duke of
Alençon, being only seventeen, and the maiden queen six-and-thirty; but
Catharine observed that Alençon was only one year younger than his
brother, against whom this objection had not occurred to Elizabeth, for
he had been sent back upon another pretext--some difficulty which the
queen had contrived about his performing mass in his own house.

After Catharine de Medicis had assured the Earl of Worcester of her
great affection for the Queen of England, and her and the king's strict
intention to preserve it, and that they were therefore desirous of this
proposed marriage taking place, she took this opportunity of inquiring
of the Earl of Worcester the cause of the queen his mistress's marked
_coolness toward them_. The narrative becomes now dramatic.

"On this Walsingham, who kept always close by the side of the count,
here took on himself to answer, acknowledging that the said count had
indeed been charged to speak on this head; and he then addressed some
words in English to Worcester. And afterwards the count gave to my lady
and mother to understand, that the queen his mistress had been waiting
for an answer on two articles; the one concerning religion, and the
other for an interview. My lady and mother instantly replied, that she
had never heard any articles mentioned, on which she would not have
immediately satisfied the Sieur Walsingham, who then took up the word;
first observing that the count was not accustomed to business of this
nature, but that he himself knew for certain that the cause of this
negotiation for marriage not being more advanced, was really these two
unsettled points: that his mistress still wished that the point of
religion should be cleared up; for that they concluded in England that
this business was designed only to amuse and never to be completed (as
happened in that of my brother the Duke of Anjou); and the other point
concerned the interview between my brother the Duke of Alençon; because
some letters which may have been written between the parties[178] in
such sort of matters, could not have the same force which the sight and
presence of both the persons would undoubtedly have. But, he added,
_another thing, which had also greatly retarded this business, was what
had happened lately in this kingdom_; and during such troubles,
proceeding from religion, it could not have been well timed to have
spoken with them concerning the said marriage; and that himself and
those of his nation had been in great fear in this kingdom, thinking
that we intended to extirpate all those of the said religion. On this,
my lady and mother answered him instantly and in order: That she was
certain that the queen his mistress could never like nor value a prince
who had not his religion at heart; and whoever would desire to have this
otherwise, would be depriving him of what we hold dearest in this world;
That he might recollect that my brother had always insisted on the
freedom of religion, and that it was from the difficulty of its public
exercise, which he always insisted on, which had broken off this
negotiation: the Duke d'Alençon will be satisfied when this point is
agreed on, and will hasten over to the queen, persuaded that she will
not occasion him the pain and the shame of passing over the seas without
happily terminating this affair. In regard to _what has occurred these
latter days_, that he must have seen how it happened by the fault of the
chiefs of those who remained here; for when the late admiral was
treacherously wounded at Nôtre Dame, he knew the affliction it threw us
into (fearful that it might have occasioned great troubles in this
kingdom), and the diligence we used to verify judicially whence it
proceeded; and the verification was nearly finished, when they were so
forgetful, as to raise a conspiracy, to attempt the lives of myself, my
lady and mother, and my brothers, and endanger the whole state; which
was the cause, that to avoid this, I was compelled, to my very great
regret, to permit what had happened in this city; but as he had
witnessed, I gave orders to stop, as soon as possible, this fury of the
people, and place every one in repose. On this, the Sieur Walsingham
replied to my lady and mother, that the exercise of the said religion
had been interdicted in this kingdom. To which she also answered, that
this had not been done but for a good and holy purpose; namely, that the
fury of the catholic people might the sooner be allayed, who else had
been reminded of the past calamities, and would again have been let
loose against those of the said religion, had they continued to preach
in this kingdom. Also should these once more fix on any chiefs, which I
will prevent as much as possible, giving him clearly and pointedly to
understand, that what is done here is much the same as what has been
done, and is now practised by the queen his mistress in her kingdom. For
she permits the exercise but of one religion, although there are many of
her people who are of another; and having also, during her reign,
punished those of her subjects whom she found seditious and rebellious.
It is true this has been done by the laws, but I indeed could not act in
the same manner; for finding myself in such imminent peril, and the
conspiracy raised against me and mine, and my kingdom, ready to be
executed, I had no time to arraign and try in open justice as much as I
wished, but was constrained, to my very great regret, to strike the blow
(lascher le main) in what has been done in this city."

This letter of Charles the Ninth, however, does not here conclude. "My
lady and mother" plainly acquaints the Earl of Worcester and Sir Francis
Walsingham, that her son had never interfered between their mistress and
her subjects, and in return expects the same favour; although, by
accounts they had received from England, many ships were arming to
assist their rebels at Rochelle. "My lady and mother" advances another
step, and declares that Elizabeth by treaty is bound to assist her son
against his rebellious subjects; and they expect, at least, that
Elizabeth will not only stop these armaments in all her ports, but
exemplarily punish the offenders. I resume the letter.

"And on hearing this, the said Walsingham changed colour, and appeared
somewhat astonished, as my lady and mother well perceived by his face;
and on this he requested the Count of Worcester to mention the order
which he knew the queen his mistress had issued to prevent these people
from assisting those of La Rochelle; but that in England, so numerous
were the seamen and others who gained their livelihood by maritime
affairs, and who would starve without the entire freedom of the seas,
that it was impossible to interdict them."

Charles the Ninth encloses the copy of a letter he had received from
London, in part agreeing with an account the ambassador had sent to the
king, of an English expedition nearly ready to sail for La Rochelle, to
assist his rebellious subjects. He is still further alarmed, that
Elizabeth foments the _wartegeux_, and assists underhand the
discontented. He urges the ambassador to hasten to the queen, to impart
these complaints in the most friendly way, as he knows the ambassador
can well do, and as, no doubt, Walsingham will have already prepared her
to receive. Charles entreats Elizabeth to prove her good faith by deeds
and not by words; to act openly on a point which admits of no
dissimulation. The best proof of her friendship will be the marriage;
and the ambassador, after opening this business to her chief ministers,
who the king thinks are desirous of this projected marriage, is then
"to acquaint the queen with what has passed between her ambassadors and

Such is the first letter on English affairs which Charles the Ninth
despatched to his ambassador, after an awful silence of six months,
during which time La Motte Fénélon was not admitted into the presence of
Elizabeth. The apology for the massacre of St. Bartholomew comes from
the king himself, and contains several remarkable expressions, which are
at least divested of that style of bigotry and exultation we might have
expected: on the contrary, this sanguinary and inconsiderate young
monarch, as he is represented, writes in a subdued and sorrowing tone,
lamenting his hard necessity, regretting he could not have recourse to
the laws, and appealing to others for his efforts to check the fury of
the people, which he himself had let loose. Catharine de Medicis, who
had governed him from the tender age of eleven years, when he ascended
the throne, might unquestionably have persuaded him that a conspiracy
was on the point of explosion. Charles the Ninth died young, and his
character is unfavourably viewed by the historians. In the voluminous
correspondence which I have examined, could we judge by state letters of
the character of him who subscribes them, we must form a very different
notion; they are so prolix, and so earnest, that one might conceive they
were dictated by the young monarch himself!


  [177] All the numerous letters which I have seen of Charles the
    Ninth, now in the possession of Mr. Murray, are carefully signed by
    himself, and I have also observed _postscripts_ written with his own
    hand: they are always countersigned by his secretary. I mention this
    circumstance, because, in the _Dictionnaire Historique_, it is said
    that Charles, who died young, was so given up to the amusements of
    his age, that he would not even sign his despatches, and introduced
    the custom of secretaries subscribing for the king. This voluminous
    correspondence shows the falsity of this statement. History is too
    often composed of popular tales of this stamp.

  [178] These _love-letters_ of Alençon to our Elizabeth are noticed
    by Camden, who observes, that the queen became wearied by receiving
    so many; and to put an end to this trouble, she consented that the
    young duke should come over, conditionally, that he should not be
    offended if her suitor should return home suitless.


In a curious treatise on "Divination," or the knowledge of future events,
Cicero has preserved a complete account of the state-contrivances which
were practised by the Roman government to instil among the people those
hopes and fears by which they regulated public opinion. The pagan creed,
now become obsolete and ridiculous, has occasioned this treatise to be
rarely consulted; it remains, however, as a chapter in the history of

To these two books of Cicero on "Divination," perhaps a third might be
added, on POLITICAL and MORAL PREDICTION. The principles which may even
raise it into a science are self-evident; they are drawn from the heart
of man, and they depend on the nature and connexion of human events! We
presume we shall demonstrate the positive existence of such a faculty;
a faculty which Lord Bacon describes of "making things FUTURE and REMOTE
AS PRESENT." The aruspex, the augur, and the astrologer have vanished
with their own superstitions; but the moral and the political predictor,
proceeding on principles authorised by nature and experience, has become
more skilful in his observations on the phenomena of human history; and
it has often happened that a tolerable philosopher has not made an
indifferent prophet.

No great political or moral revolution has occurred which has not been
accompanied by its _prognostic_; and men of a philosophic cast of mind
in their retirement, freed from the delusions of parties and of sects,
at once intelligent in the _quicquid agunt homines_, while they are
withdrawn from their conflicting interests, have rarely been confounded
by the astonishment which overwhelms those who, absorbed in active life,
are the mere creatures of sensation, agitated by the shadows of truth,
the unsubstantial appearances of things! Intellectual nations are
advancing in an eternal circle of events and passions which succeed each
other, and the last is necessarily connected with its antecedent; the
solitary force of some fortuitous incident only can interrupt this
concatenated progress of human affairs.

That every great event has been accompanied by a presage or prognostic,
has been observed by Lord Bacon. "The shepherds of the people should
understand the _prognostics of state tempests_; hollow blasts of wind
seemingly at a distance, and secret swellings of the sea, often precede
a storm." Such were the prognostics discerned by the politic Bishop
Williams in Charles the First's time, who clearly foresaw and predicted
the final success of the Puritanic party in our country: attentive to
his own security, he abandoned the government and sided with the rising
opposition, at the moment when such a change in public affairs was by no
means apparent.[179]

In this spirit of foresight our contemplative antiquary Dugdale must
have anticipated the scene which was approaching in 1641, in the
destruction of our ancient monuments in cathedral churches. He hurried
on his itinerant labours of taking draughts and transcribing
inscriptions, as he says, "to preserve them for future and better
times." Posterity owes to the prescient spirit of Dugdale the ancient
Monuments of England, which bear the marks of the haste, as well as the
zeal, which have perpetuated them.

Continental writers formerly employed a fortunate expression, when they
wished to have an _Historia Reformationis ante Reformationem_: this
history of the Reformation would have commenced at least a century
before the Reformation itself! A letter from Cardinal Julian to Pope
Eugenius the Fourth, written a century before Luther appeared, clearly
predicts the Reformation and its consequences. He observed that the
minds of men were ripe for something tragical; he felt the axe striking
at the root, and the tree beginning to bend, and that his party, instead
of propping it, were hastening its fall.[180] In England, Sir Thomas
More was not less prescient in his views; for when his son Roper was
observing to him that the Catholic religion, under "the Defender of the
Faith," was in a most flourishing state, the answer of More was an
evidence of political foresight--"Truth, it is, son Roper! and yet I
pray God that we may not live to see the day that we would gladly be at
league and composition with heretics, to let them have their churches
quietly to themselves, so that they would be contented to let us have
ours quietly to ourselves." Whether our great chancellor predicted from
a more intimate knowledge of the king's character, or from some private
circumstances which may not have been recorded for our information, of
which I have an obscure suspicion, remains to be ascertained. The minds
of men of great political sagacity were unquestionably at that moment
full of obscure indications of the approaching change; Erasmus, when at
Canterbury before the tomb of Becket, observing it loaded with a vast
profusion of jewels, wished that those had been distributed among the
poor, and that the shrine had been only adorned with boughs and flowers;
"For," said he, "those who have heaped up all this mass of treasure will
one day be plundered, and fall a prey to those who are in power;"--a
prediction literally fulfilled about twenty years after it was made. The
unknown author of the Visions of Piers Ploughman, who wrote in the reign
of Edward the Third,[181] surprised the world by a famous prediction of
_the fall of the religious houses from the hand of a king_.[182] The
event was realised, two hundred years afterwards, by our Henry the
Eighth. The protestant writers have not scrupled to declare that in this
instance he was _divino numine afflatus_. But moral and political
prediction is not inspiration; the one may be wrought out by man, the
other descends from God. The same principle which led Erasmus to predict
that those who were "in power" would destroy the rich shrines, because
no other class of men in society could mate with so mighty a body as the
monks, conducted the author of Piers Ploughman to the same conclusion;
and since power only could accomplish that great purpose, he fixed on
the highest as the most likely; and thus the wise prediction was, so
long after, literally accomplished!

Sir Walter Rawleigh foresaw the future consequences of the separatists
and the sectaries in the national church, and the very scene his
imagination raised in 1530 has been exhibited, to the letter of his
description, two centuries after the prediction! His memorable words
are--"Time will even bring it to pass, if it were not resisted, that God
would be _turned out of churches_ into _barns_, and from thence again
into the _fields_ and _mountains_, and under _hedges_--all order of
discipline and church government left to _newness of opinion_ and men's
fancies, and _as many kinds of religion_ spring up as there are parish
churches within England." We are struck by the profound genius of
Tacitus, who clearly foresaw the calamities which so long ravaged Europe
on the fall of the Roman Empire, in a work written five hundred years
before the event! In that sublime anticipation of the future, he
observed--"When the Romans shall be hunted out from those countries
which they have conquered, what will then happen? The revolted people,
freed from their master oppressor, will not be able to subsist without
destroying their neighbours, and the most cruel wars will exist among
all these nations."

We are told that Solon at Athens, contemplating on the port and citadel
of Munychia, suddenly exclaimed, "How blind is man to futurity! Could
the Athenians foresee what mischief this will do their city, they would
even eat it with their own teeth to get rid of it!"--a prediction
verified more than two hundred years afterwards! Thales desired to be
buried in an obscure quarter of Milesia, observing that that very spot
would in time be the forum. Charlemagne, in his old age, observing from
the window of a castle a Norman descent on his coast, tears started in
the eyes of the aged monarch. He predicted that since they dared to
threaten his dominions while he was yet living, what would they do when
he should be no more!--a melancholy prediction, says De Foix, of their
subsequent incursions, and of the protracted calamities of the French
nation during a whole century!

There seems to be something in minds which take in extensive views of
human nature which serves them as a kind of divination, and the
consciousness of this faculty has even been asserted by some. Cicero
appeals to Atticus how he had always judged of the affairs of the
republic as a good diviner; and that its overthrow had happened as he
had foreseen fourteen years before.[183] Cicero had not only predicted
what happened in his own times, but also what occurred long after,
according to the testimony of Cornelius Nepos. The philosopher, indeed,
affects no secret revelation, nor visionary second-sight; he honestly
tells us that this art had been acquired merely by study and the
administration of public affairs, while he reminds his friend of several
remarkable instances of his successful predictions. "I do not divine
human events by the arts practised by the augurs, but I use other
signs." Cicero then expresses himself with the guarded obscurity of a
philosopher who could not openly ridicule the prevailing superstitions;
but we perfectly comprehend the nature of his "signs" when, in the great
pending event of the rival conflicts of Pompey and of Cæsar, he shows
the means he used for his purpose. "On one side I consider the humour
and genius of Cæsar, and on the other the condition and the manner of
civil wars."[184] In a word, the political diviner foretold events by
their dependence on general causes, while the moral diviner, by his
experience of the personal character, anticipated the actions of the
individual. Others, too, have asserted the possession of this faculty.
Du Vair, a famous chancellor of France, imagined the faculty was
intuitive with him: by his own experience he had observed the results of
this curious and obscure faculty, and at a time when the history of the
human mind was so imperfectly comprehended, it is easy to account for
the apparent egotism of this grave and dignified character. "Born," says
he, "with constitutional infirmity, a mind and body but ill adapted to
be laborious, with a most treacherous memory, enjoying no gift of
nature, yet able at all times to exercise a sagacity so great that I do
not know, since I have reached manhood, that anything of importance has
happened to the state, to the public, or to myself in particular, which
I had not foreseen."[185] This faculty seems to be described by a
remarkable expression employed by Thucydides in his character of
Themistocles, of which the following is given as a close translation:
"By a species of sagacity peculiarly his own, for which he was in no
degree indebted either to early education or after study, he was
supereminently happy in forming a prompt judgment in matters that
admitted but little time for deliberation; at the same time that he far
surpassed all in his _deductions of the future from the_ PAST, or was
the best _guesser of the future_ from the past."[186] Should this
faculty of moral and political prediction be ever considered as a
science, we can even furnish it with a denomination; for the writer of
the Life of Sir Thomas Browne prefixed to his works, in claiming the
honour of it for that philosopher, calls it "the Stochastic," a term
derived from the Greek and from archery, meaning "to shoot at a mark."
This eminent genius, it seems, often "hit the white." Our biographer
declares, that "though he were no prophet, yet in that faculty which
comes nearest to it, he excelled, _i.e._, _the Stochastic_, wherein he
was seldom mistaken as to _future events_, as well public as private."

We are not, indeed, inculcating the fanciful elements of an occult art.
We know whence its principles may be drawn; and we may observe how it
was practised by the wisest among the ancients. Aristotle, who collected
all the curious knowledge of his times, has preserved some remarkable
opinions on the art of _divination_. In detailing the various
subterfuges practised by the pretended diviners of his day, he reveals
the _secret principle_ by which one of them regulated his predictions.
He frankly declared that the FUTURE being always very obscure, while the
PAST was easy to know, _his predictions had never the future in view_;
for he decided from the PAST as it appeared in human affairs, which,
however, lie concealed from the multitude.[187] Such is the true
principle by which a philosophical historian may become a skilful

Human affairs make themselves; they grow out of one another, with slight
variations; and thus it is that they usually happen as they have
happened. The necessary dependence of effects on causes, and the
similarity of human interests and human passions, are confirmed by
comparative parallels with the past. The philosophic sage of holy writ
truly deduced the important principle, that "the thing that hath been is
that which shall be." The vital facts of history, deadened by the touch
of chronological antiquarianism, are restored to animation when we
comprehend the principles which necessarily terminate in certain
results, and discover the characters among mankind who are the usual
actors in these scenes. The heart of man beats on the same eternal
springs; and whether he advances or retrogrades, he cannot escape out of
the march of human thought. Hence, in the most extraordinary revolutions
we discover that the time and the place only have changed; for even when
events are not strictly parallel, we detect the same conducting
principles. Scipio Ammirato, one of the great Italian historians, in his
curious discourses on Tacitus, intermingles ancient examples with the
modern; that, he says, all may see how the truth of things is not
altered by the changes and diversities of time. Machiavel drew his
illustrations of modern history from the ancient.

When the French Revolution recalled our attention to a similar eventful
period in our own history, the neglected volumes which preserved the
public and private history of our Charles the First and Cromwell were
collected with eager curiosity. Often the scene existing before us, even
the very personages themselves, opened on us in these forgotten pages.
But as the annals of human nature did not commence with those of Charles
the First, we took a still more retrograde step, and it was discovered
in this wider range, that in the various governments of Greece and Rome,
the events of those times had been only reproduced. Among them the same
principles had terminated in the same results, and the same personages
had figured in the same drama. This strikingly appeared in a little
curious volume, entitled, "Essai sur l'Histoire de la Révolution
Françoise, par une Société d'Auteurs Latins," published at Paris in
1801. This "Society of Latin Authors," who have written so inimitably
the history of the _French_ Revolution, consist of the _Roman
historians_ themselves! By extracts ingeniously applied, the events of
that melancholy period are so appositely described, indeed so minutely
narrated, that they will not fail to surprise those who are not
accustomed to detect the perpetual parallels which we meet with in
philosophical history.

Many of these crises in history are close resemblances of each other.
Compare the history of "The League" in France with that of our own civil
wars. We are struck by the similar occurrences performed by the same
political characters who played their part on both those great theatres
of human action. A satirical royalist of those times has commemorated
the motives, the incidents, and the personages in the "Satire Ménippée
de la Vertu du Catholicon d'Espagne;" and this famous "Satire Ménippée"
is a perfect Hudibras in prose! The writer discovers all the bitter
ridicule of Butler in his ludicrous and severe exhibition of the "Etats
de Paris," while the artist who designed the satirical prints becomes no
contemptible Hogàrth. So much are these public events alike in their
general spirit and termination, that they have afforded the subject of a
printed but unpublished volume, entitled "Essai sur les
Revolutions."[188] The whole work was modelled on this principle. "It
would be possible," says the eloquent writer, "to frame a table or chart
in which all the given imaginable events of the history of a people
would be reduced to a mathematical exactness." The conception is
fanciful, but its foundation lies deep in truth.

A remarkable illustration of the secret principle divulged by Aristotle,
and described by Thucydides, appears in the recent confession of a man
of genius among ourselves. When Mr. Coleridge was a political writer in
the _Morning Post_ and _Courier_, at a period of darkness and utter
confusion, that writer was then conducted by a tract of light, not
revealed to ordinary journalists, on the Napoleonic empire. "Of that
despotism in masquerade" he decided by "the state of Rome under the
first Cæsars;" and of the Spanish American Revolution, by taking the war
of the United Provinces with Philip the Second as the groundwork of the
comparison. "On every great occurrence," he says, "I endeavoured to
discover, in PAST HISTORY the event that most nearly resembled it. I
procured the contemporary historians, memorialists, and pamphleteers.
Then fairly subtracting the points of _difference_ from those of
_likeness_, as the balance favoured the former or the latter, I
conjectured that the result would be the same or different. In the
essays 'On the Probable Final Restoration of the Bourbons,' I feel
myself authorised to affirm, by the effect produced on many intelligent
men, that were the dates wanting, it might have been suspected that the
essays had been written within the last twelve months."[189]

In moral predictions on individuals, many have discovered the future
character. The revolutionary character of Cardinal de Retz, even in his
youth, was detected by the sagacity of Mazarin. He then wrote the
history of the conspiracy of Fiesco, with such vehement admiration of
his hero, that the Italian politician, after its perusal, predicted that
the young author would be one of the most turbulent spirits of the age!
The father of Marshal Biron, even amid the glory of his son, discovered
the cloud which, invisible to others, was to obscure it. The father,
indeed, well knew the fiery passions of his son. "Biron," said the
domestic seer, "I advise thee, when peace takes place, to go and plant
cabbages in thy garden, otherwise I warn thee, thou wilt lose thy head
on the scaffold!" Lorenzo de' Medici had studied the temper of his son
Piero; for Guicciardini informs us that he had often complained to his
most intimate friends that "he foresaw the imprudence and arrogance of
his son would occasion the ruin of his family." There is a remarkable
prediction of James the First of the evils likely to ensue from Laud's
violence, in a conversation given by Hacket, which the king held with
Archbishop Williams. When the king was hard pressed to promote Laud, he
gave his reasons why he intended to "keep Laud back from all place of
rule and authority, because I find he hath a restless spirit, and cannot
see when matters are well, but loves to toss and change, and to bring
things to a pitch of reformation floating in his own brain, which
endangers the steadfastness of that which is in a good pass. I speak not
at random; he hath made himself known to me to be such an one." James
then gives the circumstances to which he alludes; and at length, when,
still pursued by the archbishop, then the organ of Buckingham, as usual,
this king's good nature too easily yielded; he did not, however, without
closing with this prediction: "Then take him to you!--but, on my soul,
you will repent it!" The future character of Cromwell was apparent to
two of our great politicians. "This coarse unpromising man," said Lord
Falkland, pointing to Cromwell, "will be the first person in the
kingdom, if the nation comes to blows!" And Archbishop Williams told
Charles the First confidentially, "There was _that_ in Cromwell which
foreboded something dangerous, and wished his majesty would either win
him over to him, or get him taken off." The Marquis of Wellesley's
incomparable character of Bonaparte predicted his fall when highest in
his glory; that great statesman then poured forth the sublime language
of philosophical prophecy. "His eagerness of power is so inordinate; his
jealousy of independence so fierce; his keenness of appetite so feverish
in all that touches his ambition, even in the most trifling things, that
he must plunge into dreadful difficulties. He is one of an order of
minds that by nature make for themselves great reverses."

Lord Mansfield was once asked, after the commencement of the French
Revolution, when it would end? His lordship replied, "It is an event
_without precedent_, and therefore _without prognostic_." The truth,
however, is, that it had both. Our own history had furnished a precedent
in the times of Charles the First. And the prognostics were so
redundant, that a volume might be collected of passages from various
writers who had predicted it. However ingenious might be a history of
the Reformation before it occurred, the evidence could not be more
authentic and positive than that of the great moral and political
revolution which we have witnessed in our own days.

A prediction which Bishop Butler threw out in a sermon before the House
of Lords, in 1741, does honour to his political sagacity, as well as to
his knowledge of human nature; he calculated that the irreligious spirit
would produce, some time or other, political disorders similar to those
which, in the seventeenth century, had arisen from religious fanaticism.
"Is there no danger," he observed, "that all this may raise somewhat
like _that levelling spirit_, upon atheistical principles, which in the
last age prevailed upon enthusiastic ones? Not to speak of the
possibility that _different sorts of people_ may _unite_ in it upon
these _contrary principles_!" All this literally has been accomplished!
Leibnitz, indeed, foresaw the results of those selfish, and at length
demoralizing, opinions, which began to prevail through Europe in his
day. These disorganizing principles, conducted by a political sect, who
tried "to be worse than they could be," as old Montaigne expresses it; a
sort of men who have been audaciously congratulated as "having a _taste_
for evil;" exhibited to the astonished world the dismal catastrophe the
philosopher predicted. I shall give this remarkable passage. "I find
that certain opinions approaching those of Epicurus and Spinoza, are,
little by little, insinuating themselves into the minds of the great
rulers of public affairs, who serve as the guides of others, and on whom
all matters depend; besides, these opinions are also sliding into
fashionable books, and thus _they are preparing all things to that_
GENERAL REVOLUTION _which menaces Europe_; destroying those generous
sentiments of the ancients, Greek and Roman, which preferred the love of
country and public good, and the cares of posterity, to fortune and even
to life. Our _public spirits_,[190] as the English call them,
excessively diminish, and are no more in fashion, and will be still less
while the least vicious of these men preserve only one principle, which
they call _honour_; a principle which only keeps them from not doing
what they deem a low action, while they openly laugh at the love of
country--ridicule those who are zealous for public ends--and when a
well-intentioned man asks what will become of their posterity, they
reply 'Then, as now!' _But it may happen to these persons themselves to
have to endure those evils which they believe are reserved for others._
If this epidemical and intellectual disorder could be corrected, _whose
bad effects are already visible_, those evils might still be prevented;
but if it proceeds in its growth, _Providence will correct man by the
very revolution which must spring from it_. Whatever may happen indeed,
all must turn out as usual for the best in general, at the end of the
account, although _this cannot happen without the punishment of those
who contribute even to general good by their evil actions_." The most
superficial reader will hardly require a commentary on this very
remarkable passage; he must instantly perceive how Leibnitz, in the
seventeenth century, foresaw what has occurred in the eighteenth; and
the prediction has been verified in the history of the actors in the
late revolution, while the result, which we have not perhaps yet had,
according to Leibnitz's own exhilarating system of optimism, is an
eduction of good from evil.

A great genius, who was oppressed by malignant rivals in his own times,
has been noticed by Madame de Staël, as having left behind him an actual
prophecy of the French Revolution: this was Guibert, who, in his
Commentary on Folard's Polybius, published in 1727, declared that "a
conspiracy is actually forming in Europe, by means at once so subtle and
efficacious, that I am sorry not to have come into the world _thirty
years later_ to witness its result. It must be confessed that the
sovereigns of Europe wear very bad spectacles. The proofs of it are
mathematical, if such proofs ever were, of a conspiracy." Guibert
unquestionably foresaw the anti-monarchical spirit gathering up its
mighty wings, and rising over the universe! but could not judge of the
nature of the impulse which he predicted; prophesying from the ideas in
his luminous intellect, he seems to have been far more curious about,
than certain of, the consequences. Rousseau even circumstantially
predicted the convulsions of modern Europe. He stood on the crisis of
the French Revolution, which he vividly foresaw, for he seriously
advised the higher classes of society to have their children taught some
useful trade; a notion highly ridiculed on the first appearance of the
Emile: but at its hour the awful truth struck! He, too, foresaw the
horrors of that revolution; for he announced that Emile designed to
emigrate, because, from the moral state of the people, a virtuous
revolution had become impossible.[191] The eloquence of Burke was often
oracular; and a speech of Pitt, in 1800, painted the state of Europe as
it was only realised fifteen years afterwards.

But many remarkable predictions have turned out to be false. Whenever
the facts on which the prediction is raised are altered in their
situation, what was relatively true ceases to operate as a general
principle. For instance, to that striking anticipation which Rousseau
formed of the French revolution, he added, by way of note, as remarkable
a prediction on MONARCHY. _Je tiens pour impossible que les grandes
monarchies de l'Europe aient encore long tems à durer; toutes ont brillé
et tout état qui brille est sur son declin._ The predominant
anti-monarchical spirit among our rising generation seems to hasten on
the accomplishment of the prophecy; but if an important alteration has
occurred in the nature of things, we may question the result. If by
looking into the past, Rousseau found facts which sufficiently proved
that nations in the height of their splendour and corruption had closed
their career by falling an easy conquest to barbarous invaders, who
annihilated the most polished people at a single blow; we now find that
no such power any longer exists in the great family of Europe: the state
of the question is therefore changed. It is _now_ how corrupt nations
will act against corrupt nations equally enlightened? But if the citizen
of Geneva drew his prediction of the extinction of monarchy in Europe
from that predilection for democracy which assumes that a republic must
necessarily produce more happiness to the people than a monarchy, then
we say that the fatal experiment was again repeated since the
prediction, and the fact proved not true! The excess of democracy
inevitably terminates in a monarchical state; and were all the
monarchies in Europe at present republics, a philosopher might safely
predict the restoration of monarchy!

If a prediction be raised on facts which our own prejudices induce us to
infer will exist, it must be chimerical. We have an Universal Chronicle
of the Monk Carion, printed in 1532, in which he announces that the
world was about ending,[192] as well as his chronicle of it; that the
Turkish empire would not last many years; that after the death of
Charles the Fifth the empire of Germany would be torn to pieces by the
Germans themselves. This monk will no longer pass for a prophet; he
belongs to that class of historians who write to humour their own
prejudices, like a certain lady-prophetess, who, in 1811, predicted that
grass was to grow in Cheapside about this time![193] The monk Carion,
like others of greater name, had miscalculated the weeks of Daniel, and
wished more ill to the Mahometans than suit the Christian cabinets of
Europe to inflict on them; and, lastly, the monastic historian had no
notion that it would please Providence to prosper the heresy of Luther!
Sir James Mackintosh once observed, "I am sensible that in the field of
_political prediction_ veteran sagacity has often been deceived." Sir
James alluded to the memorable example of Harrington, who published a
demonstration of the impossibility of re-establishing monarchy in
England six months before the restoration of Charles the Second! But the
author of the Oceana was a political fanatic, who ventured to predict an
event, not by other similar events, but by a theoretical principle which
he had formed, that "the balance of power depends on that of property."
Harrington, in his contracted view of human nature, had dropped out of
his calculation all the stirring passions of ambition and party, and the
vacillations of the multitude. A similar error of a great genius occurs
in De Foe. "Child," says Mr. George Chalmers, "foreseeing from
experience that men's _conduct_ must finally be decided by their
_principles_, FORETOLD _the colonial revolt_. De Foe, allowing his
prejudices to obscure his sagacity, reprobated that suggestion, because
he deemed _interest_ a more strenuous prompter than _enthusiasm_." The
predictions of Harrington and De Foe are precisely such as we might
expect from a petty calculator, a political economist, who can see
nothing farther than immediate results; but the true philosophical
predictor was Child, who had read the _past_. It is probable that the
American emancipation from the mother country of England was foreseen
twenty or thirty years before it occurred, though not perhaps by the
administration. Lord Orford, writing in 1754, under the ministry of the
Duke of Newcastle, blames "The instructions to the governor of New York,
which seemed better calculated for the latitude of Mexico, and for a
Spanish tribunal, than for a free British settlement, and in such
opulence and such haughtiness, that _suspicions had long been conceived
of their meditating to throw off the dependence on their
mother-country_." If this was written at the time, as the author
asserts, it is a very remarkable passage, observes the noble editor of
his memoirs. The prognostics or presages of this revolution it may now
be difficult to recover; but it is evident that Child, before the time
when Lord Orford wrote this passage, predicted the separation on true
and philosophical principles.

Even when the event does not always justify the prediction, the
predictor may not have been the less correct in his principles of
divination. The catastrophe of human life, and the turn of great events,
often prove accidental. Marshal Biron, whom we have noticed, might have
ascended the throne instead of the scaffold; Cromwell and De Retz might
have become only the favourite general or the minister of their
sovereigns. Fortuitous events are not comprehended in the reach of human
prescience; such must be consigned to those vulgar superstitions which
presume to discover the issue of human events, without pretending to any
human knowledge. There is nothing supernatural in the prescience of the

Sometimes predictions have been condemned as false ones, which, when
scrutinised, we can scarcely deem to have failed: they may have been
accomplished, and they may again revolve on us. In 1749 Dr. Hartley
published his "Observations on Man," and predicted the fall of the
existing governments and hierarchies in two simple propositions; among

Prop. 81. It is probable that all the civil governments will be

Prop. 82. It is probable that the present forms of church-government
will be dissolved.

Many were alarmed at these predicted falls of church and state. Lady
Charlotte Wentworth asked Hartley when these terrible things would
happen. The answer of the predictor was not less awful: "I am an old
man, and shall not live to see them; but you are a young woman, and
probably will see them." In the subsequent revolutions of America and of
France, and perhaps now of Spain, we can hardly deny that these
predictions had failed. A fortuitous event has once more thrown back
Europe into its old corners: but we still revolve in a circle, and what
is now dark and remote may again come round, when time has performed its
great cycle. There was a prophetical passage in Hooker's Ecclesiastical
Polity regarding the church which long occupied the speculations of its
expounders. Hooker indeed seemed to have done what no predictor of
events should do; he fixed on the period of its accomplishment. In 1597
he declared that it would "peradventure fall out to be threescore and
ten years, or if strength do awe, into fourscore." Those who had
outlived the revolution in 1641, when the long parliament pulled down
the ecclesiastical establishment, and sold the church-lands--a
circumstance which Hooker had contemplated--and were afterwards returned
to their places on the Restoration, imagined that the prediction had not
yet been completed, and were looking with great anxiety towards the year
1677, for the close of this extraordinary prediction! When Bishop
Barlow, in 1675, was consulted on it, he endeavoured to dissipate the
panic, by referring to an old historian, who had reproached our nation
for their proneness to prophecies![194] The prediction of the venerable
Hooker in truth had been fully accomplished, and the event had occurred
without Bishop Barlow having recurred to it; so easy it seems to forget
what we dislike to remember! The period of time was too literally taken,
and seems to have been only the figurative expression of man's age in
scriptural language which Hooker had employed; but no one will now deny
that this prescient sage had profoundly foreseen the results of that
rising party, whose designs on church and state were clearly depicted in
his own luminous view.

The philosophical predictor, in foretelling a crisis from the appearance
of things, will not rashly assign the period of time; for the crisis
which he anticipates is calculated on by that inevitable march of events
which generate each other in human affairs; but the period is always
dubious, being either retarded or accelerated by circumstances of a
nature incapable of entering into this moral arithmetic. It is probable
that a revolution similar to that of France would have occurred in this
country, had it not been counteracted by the genius of Pitt. In 1618 it
was easy to foretell by the political prognostic that a mighty war
throughout Europe must necessarily occur. At that moment, observes
Bayle, the house of Austria aimed at a universal monarchy; the
consequent domineering spirit of the ministers of the Emperor and the
King of Spain, combined with their determination to exterminate the new
religion, excited a reaction to this imperial despotism; public opinion
had been suppressed, till every people grew impatient; while their
sovereigns, influenced by national feeling, were combining against
Austria. But Austria was a vast military power, and her generals were
the first of their class. The efforts of Europe would then be often
repulsed! This state of affairs prognosticated a long war!--and when at
length it broke out it lasted thirty years! The approach and the
duration of the war might have been predicted; but the period of its
termination could not have been foreseen.

There is, however, a spirit of political vaticination which presumes to
pass beyond the boundaries of human prescience; it has been often
ascribed to the highest source of inspiration by enthusiasts; but since
"the language of prophecy" has ceased, such pretensions are not less
impious than they are unphilosophical. Knox the reformer possessed an
extraordinary portion of this awful prophetic confidence: he appears to
have predicted several remarkable events, and the fates of some persons.
We are told that, condemned to a galley at Rochelle, he predicted that
"within two or three years he should preach the gospel at Saint Giles's
in Edinburgh;" an improbable event, which happened. Of Mary and Darnley,
he pronounced that, "as the king, for the queen's pleasure, had gone to
mass, the Lord, in his justice, would make her the instrument of his
overthrow." Other striking predictions of the deaths of Thomas Maitland,
and of Kirkaldy of Grange, and the warning he solemnly gave to the
Regent Murray not to go to Linlithgow, where he was assassinated,
occasioned a barbarous people to imagine that the prophet Knox had
received an immediate communication from Heaven. A Spanish friar and
almanac-maker predicted, in clear and precise words, the death of Henry
the Fourth of France; and Pieresc, though he had no faith in the vain
science of astrology, yet, alarmed at whatever menaced the life of a
beloved monarch, consulted with some of the king's friends, and had the
Spanish almanac laid before his majesty. That high-spirited monarch
thanked them for their solicitude, but utterly slighted the prediction:
the event occurred, and in the following year the Spanish friar spread
his own fame in a new almanac. I have been occasionally struck at the
Jeremiads of honest George Withers, the vaticinating poet of our civil
wars: some of his works afford many solemn predictions. We may account
for many predictions of this class without the intervention of any
supernatural agency. Among the busy spirits of a revolutionary age, the
heads of a party, such as Knox, have frequently secret communications
with spies or with friends. In a constant source of concealed
information, a shrewd, confident, and enthusiastic temper will find
ample matter for mysterious prescience. Knox exercised that deep
sagacity which took in the most enlarged views of the future, as appears
by his Machiavelian foresight on the barbarous destruction of the
monasteries and the cathedrals--"The best way to keep the _rooks_ from
returning, is to pull down their _nests_." In the case of the prediction
of the death of Henry the Fourth, by the Spanish friar, it resulted
either from his being acquainted with the plot, or from his being made
an instrument for their purpose by those who were. It appears that
rumours of Henry's assassination were rife in Spain and Italy before the
event occurred. Such vaticinators as George Withers will always rise in
those disturbed times which his own prosaic metre has forcibly

  It may be on that darkness, which they find
  Within their hearts, a sudden light hath shin'd,
  Making reflections of SOME THINGS TO COME,
  Which leave within them musings troublesome
  To their weak spirits; or too intricate
  For them to put in order, and relate.
  They act as men in ecstasies have done--
  Striving their cloudy visions to declare--
  And I, perhaps, among these may be one
  That was let loose for service to be done:
  I blunder out what worldly-prudent men
  Count madnesse.--P. 7.[195]

Separating human prediction from inspired prophecy, we only ascribe to
the faculties of man that acquired prescience which we have demonstrated
that some great minds have unquestionably exercised. We have discovered
its principles in the necessary dependence of effects on general causes,
and we have shown that, impelled by the same motives, and circumscribed
by the same passions, all human affairs revolve in a circle; and we
have opened the true source of this yet imperfect science of moral and
political prediction, in an intimate but a discriminative knowledge of
the PAST.

Authority is sacred, when experience affords parallels and analogies. If
much which may overwhelm when it shall happen can be foreseen, the
prescient statesman and moralist may provide defensive measures to break
the waters, whose streams they cannot always direct; and the venerable
Hooker has profoundly observed, that "the best things have been
overthrown, not so much by puissance and might of adversaries, as
through defect of council in those that should have upheld and defended
the same."[196]

The philosophy of history blends the past with the present, and combines
the present with the future: each is but a portion of the other! The
actual state of a thing is necessarily determined by its antecedent, and
thus progressively through the chain of human existence; while "the
present is always full of the future," as Leibnitz has happily expressed
the idea.

A new and beautiful light is thus thrown over the annals of mankind, by
the analogies and the parallels of different ages in succession. How the
seventeenth century has influenced the eighteenth; and the results of
the nineteenth as they shall appear in the twentieth, might open a
source of predictions, to which, however difficult it might be to affix
their dates, there would be none in exploring into causes, and tracing
their inevitable effects.

The multitude live only among the shadows of things in the appearances
of the PRESENT; the learned, busied with the PAST, can only trace whence
and how all comes; but he who is one of the people, and one of the
learned, the true philosopher, views the natural tendency and
terminations which are preparing for the FUTURE!


  [179] See Rushworth, vol. i. p. 420. His language was decisive.

  [180] This letter is in the works of Æneas Sylvius; a copious
    extract is given by Bossuet, in his "Variations." See also Mosheim,
    Cent. xiii. part ii. chap. 2, note _m_.

  [181] Though it cannot be positively asserted it is generally
    believed that the author was Robert Longlande, a monk of Malvern.
    See introduction to Wright's edition of "The Vision." The latter
    part of the year 1362 is believed to be the time of its composition.

  [182] The passage is so remarkable as to be worth giving here, for
    the immediate reference of such readers as may not have ready access
    to the original. We modernize the spelling from Mr. Wright's

      But there shall come a king,
      And confess you religious,
      And award you as the Bible telleth
      For breaking of your rule.

         *       *       *       *       *

      And then shall the Abbot of Abingdon
      And all his issue for ever,
      Have a knock of a king,
      And incurable the wound.

  [183] Ep. ad Att. Lib. x. Ep. 4.

  [184] Ep. ad Att. Lib. vi. Ep. 6.

  [185] This remarkable confession I find in Menage's "Observations
    sur la Langue Françoise," Part II. p. 110.

  [186] [Greek: Okeia gar xunesei, kai oute promathôn es autên ouden,
    out epimathôn tôn te parachrêma di elachistês boulês kratistos
    gnômôn, kai tôn mellontôn epipleiston tou genêsomenou aristos
    eikastês].--Thucydides, lib. i.

  [187] Arist. Rhet. lib. vii. c. 5.

  [188] This work was printed in London as a _first_ volume, but
    remained unpublished. This singularly curious production was
    suppressed, but reprinted at Paris. It has suffered the most cruel
    mutilations. I read with surprise and instruction the single copy
    which I was assured was the only one saved from the havoc of the
    entire edition. The writer was the celebrated Chateaubriand.

  [189] "Biographia Literaria; or, Biographical Sketches of my
    Literary Life and Opinions." By S.T. Coleridge, Esq. 1807. Vol. i.
    p. 214.

  [190] _Public spirit_, and _public spirits_, were about the year
    1700 household words with us. Leibnitz was struck by their
    significance, but it might now puzzle us to find synonyms, or even
    to explain the very terms themselves.

  [191] This extraordinary passage is at the close of the third book
    of _Emile_, to which I must refer the reader. It is curious,
    however, to observe, that in 1760 Rousseau poured forth the
    following awful predictions, which were considered quite
    absurd:--"Vous vous fiez à l'ordre actuel de la société, sans songer
    que cet ordre est sujet à des _révolutions inévitables_--le grand
    devient petit, le riche devient pauvre, le monarque devient
    sujet--_nous approchons l'état de crise et du siècle des
    révolutions_. Que fera donc dans la bassesse ce satrape que vous
    n'aurez élevé que pour la grandeur? Que fera dans la pauvreté, ce
    publicain qui ne sçait vivre que d'or? Que fera, dépourvu de tout,
    ce fastueux imbecille qui ne sait point user de lui-même?" &c. &c.

  [192] This prediction of the end of the world is one of the most
    popular hallucinations, warmly received by many whenever it is
    promulgated. It had the most marked effect when the cycle of a
    thousand years after the birth of Christ was approaching completion;
    and the world was assured that was the limit of its present state.
    Numerous acts of piety were performed. Churches were built,
    religious houses founded, and asceticism became the order of the
    day, until the dreaded year was completed without the accompaniment
    of the supernatural horrors so generally feared; the world soon
    relapsed into forgetfulness, and went on as before. Very many
    prophecies have since been promulgated; and in defiance of such
    repeated failures are still occasionally indulged in by persons from
    whom better things might be expected. Richard Brothers, in the last
    century, and more than one reverend gentleman in the present one,
    have been bold enough to fix an exact time for the event: but it has
    passed as quietly as the thousandth anniversary noted above.

  [193] One of the most effective prophecies against London, and which
    frightened for the time a very large number of its inhabitants, was
    that given out in the spring of 1750, after a slight shock of an
    earthquake was felt in London, and it was prophesied that another
    should occur which would destroy the town and all its inhabitants.
    All the roads were thronged with persons flying to the country a day
    or two before the threatened event; and they were all unmercifully
    ridiculed when the day passed over quietly. Walpole in one of his
    amusing letters speaks of a party who went "to an inn ten miles out
    of town, where they are to play at brag till five in the morning,
    and then come back--I suppose, to look for the bones of their
    husbands and families under the rubbish!" Jokers who were out late
    amused themselves by bawling in the watchmen's voice, "Past four
    o'clock, and a dreadful earthquake!" A pamphlet purporting to be "a
    full and true account" of this earthquake which never happened, was
    "printed for Tim Tremor, in Fleet-street, 1750," and made the
    vehicle for much personal satire. Thus it is stated that the
    "Commissioners of Westminster-bridge have ordered this calamity to
    be entered in their books, as a glorious excuse for the next sinking
    pier;" and that the town received some comfort upon hearing that
    "the Inns of Court were all sunk, and several orders were given that
    no one should assist in bringing any one lawyer above ground."

  [194] An eye-witness of the great fire of London has noted the
    difficulty of obtaining effective assistance in endeavouring to stay
    its progress, owing to the superstition which seized many persons,
    because a prophecy of Mother Shipton's was quoted to show that
    London was doomed to hopeless and entire destruction.

  [195] "A Dark Lantherne, offering a dim Discovery, intermixed with
    Remembrances, Predictions, &c. 1652."

  [196] Hooker wrote this about 1560, and he wrote before the _Siècle
    des Révolutions_ had begun, even among ourselves! He penetrated into
    this important principle merely by the force of his own meditation.
    _At this moment_, after more practical experience in political
    revolutions, a very intelligent French writer, in a pamphlet,
    entitled "M. da Villèle," says, "Experience proclaims a great
    truth--namely, that revolutions themselves cannot succeed, except
    when they are favoured by a portion of the GOVERNMENT." He
    illustrates the axiom by the different revolutions which have
    occurred in his nation within these thirty years. It is the same
    truth, traced to its source by another road.


Modern philosophy, theoretical or experimental, only amuses while the
action of discovery is suspended or advances; the interest ceases with
the inquirer when the catastrophe is ascertained, as in the romance
whose _dénouement_ turns on a mysterious incident, which, once unfolded,
all future agitation ceases. But in the true infancy of science,
philosophers were as imaginative a race as poets: marvels and portents,
undemonstrable and undefinable, with occult fancies, perpetually
beginning and never ending, were delightful as the shifting cantos of
Ariosto. Then science entranced the eye by its thaumaturgy; when they
looked through an optic tube, they believed they were looking into
futurity; or, starting at some shadow darkening the glassy globe, beheld
the absent person; while the mechanical inventions of art were toys and
tricks, with sometimes an automaton, which frightened them with life.

The earlier votaries of modern philosophy only witnessed, as Gaffarel
calls his collection, "Unheard-of Curiosities." This state of the
marvellous, of which we are now for ever deprived, prevailed among the
philosophers and the _virtuosi_ in Europe, and with ourselves, long
after the establishment of the Royal Society. Philosophy then depended
mainly on authority--a single one, however, was sufficient: so that when
this had been repeated by fifty others, they had the authority of fifty
honest men--whoever the first man might have been! They were then a
blissful race of children, rambling here and there in a golden age of
innocence and ignorance, where at every step each gifted discoverer
whispered to the few, some half-concealed secret of nature, or played
with some toy of art; some invention which with great difficulty
performed what, without it, might have been done with great ease. The
cabinets of the lovers of mechanical arts formed enchanted apartments,
where the admirers feared to stir or look about them; while the
philosophers themselves half imagined they were the very thaumaturgi,
for which the world gave them too much credit, at least for their quiet!
Would we run after the shadows in this gleaming land of moonshine, or
sport with these children in the fresh morning of science, ere Aurora
had scarcely peeped on the hills, we must enter into their feelings,
view with their eyes, and believe all they confide to us; and out of
these bundles of dreams sometimes pick out one or two for our own
dreaming. They are the fairy tales and the Arabian Nights'
entertainments of science. But if the reader is stubbornly mathematical
and logical, he will only be holding up a great torch against the muslin
curtain, upon which the fantastic shadows playing upon it must vanish at
the instant. It is an amusement which can only take place by carefully
keeping himself in the dark.[197]

What a subject, were I to enter on it, would be the narratives of
magical writers! These precious volumes have been so constantly wasted
by the profane, that now a book of real magic requires some to find it,
as well as a great magician to use it. Albertus Magnus, or Albert the
Great, as he is erroneously styled--for this sage only derived this
enviable epithet from his surname _De Groot_, as did Hugo Grotius--this
sage, in his "Admirable Secrets," delivers his opinion that these books
of magic should be most preciously preserved; for, he prophetically
added, the time is arriving when they would be understood! It seems they
were not intelligible in the thirteenth century; but if Albertus has not
miscalculated, in the present day they may be! Magical terms with
talismanic figures may yet conceal many a secret; gunpowder came down to
us in a sort of anagram, and the kaleidoscope, with all its interminable
multiplications of forms, lay at hand for two centuries in Baptista
Porta's "Natural Magic." The abbot Trithemius, in a confidential letter,
happened to call himself a magician, perhaps at the moment he thought
himself one, and sent three or four leaves stuffed with the names of
devils and with their evocations. At the death of his friend these
leaves fell into the unworthy hands of the prior, who was so frightened
on the first glance at the diabolical nomenclature, that he raised the
country against the abbot, and Trithemius was nearly a lost man! Yet,
after all, this evocation of devils has reached us in his
"Steganographia," and proves to be only one of this ingenious abbot's
polygraphic attempts at _secret writing_; for he had flattered himself
that he had invented a mode of concealing his thoughts from all the
world, while he communicated them to a friend. Roger Bacon promised to
raise thunder and lightning, and disperse clouds by dissolving them into
rain. The first magical process has been obtained by Franklin; and the
other, of far more use to our agriculturists, may perchance be found
lurking in some corner which has been overlooked in the "Opus majus" of
our "Doctor mirabilis." Do we laugh at their magical works of art? Are
we ourselves such indifferent artists? Cornelius Agrippa, before he
wrote his "Vanity of the Arts and Sciences," intended to reduce into a
system and method the secret of communicating with spirits and
demons.[198] On good authority, that of Porphyrius, Psellus, Plotinus,
Jamblichus--and on better, were it necessary to allege it--he was well
assured that the upper regions of the air swarmed with what the Greeks
called _dæmones_, just as our lower atmosphere is full of birds, our
waters of fish, and our earth of insects. Yet this occult philosopher,
who knew perfectly eight languages, and married two wives, with whom he
had never exchanged a harsh word in any of them, was everywhere avoided
as having by his side, for his companion, a personage no less than a
demon! This was a great black dog, whom he suffered to stretch himself
out among his magical manuscripts, or lie on his bed, often kissing and
patting him, and feeding him on choice morsels. Yet for this would
Paulus Jovius and all the world have had him put to the ordeal of fire
and fagot! The truth was afterwards boldly asserted by Wierus, his
learned domestic, who believed that his master's dog was really nothing
more than what he appeared! "I believe," says he, "that he was a real
natural dog; he was indeed black, but of a moderate size, and I have
often led him by a string, and called him by the French name Agrippa had
given him, Monsieur! and he had a female who was called Mademoiselle! I
wonder how authors of such great character should write so absurdly on
his vanishing at his death, nobody knows how!" But as it is probable
that Monsieur and Mademoiselle must have generated some puppy demons,
Wierus ought to have been more circumstantial.

Albertus Magnus, for thirty years, had never ceased working at a man of
brass, and had cast together the qualities of his materials under
certain constellations, which threw such a spirit into his man of
brass, that it was reported his growth was visible; his feet, legs,
thighs, shoulders, neck, and head, expanded, and made the city of
Cologne uneasy at possessing one citizen too mighty for them all. This
man of brass, when he reached his maturity, was so loquacious, that
Albert's master, the great scholastic Thomas Aquinas, one day, tired of
his babble, and declaring it was a devil, or devilish, with his staff
knocked the head off; and, what was extraordinary, this brazen man, like
any human being thus effectually silenced, "word never spake more." This
incident is equally historical and authentic; though whether heads of
brass can speak, and even prophesy, was indeed a subject of profound
inquiry even at a later period.[199] Naudé, who never questioned their
vocal powers, and yet was puzzled concerning the nature of this new
species of animal, has no doubt most judiciously stated the question,
Whether these speaking brazen heads had a sensitive and reasoning
nature, or whether demons spoke in them? But brass has not the faculty
of providing its own nourishment, as we see in plants, and therefore
they were not sensitive; and as for the act of reasoning, these brazen
heads presumed to know nothing but the future: with the past and the
present they seemed totally unacquainted, so that their memory and their
observation were very limited; and as for the future, that is always
doubtful and obscure--even to heads of brass! This learned man then
infers that "These brazen heads could have no reasoning faculties, for
nothing altered their nature; they said what they had to say, which no
one could contradict; and having said their say, you might have broken
the head for anything more that you could have got out of it. Had they
had any life in them, would they not have moved as well as spoken? Life
itself is but motion, but they had no lungs, no spleen; and, in fact,
though they spoke, they had no tongue. Was a devil in them? I think not.
Yet why should men have taken all this trouble to make, not a man, but a

Our profound philosopher was right not to agitate the question whether
these brazen heads had ever spoken. Why should not a man of brass
speak, since a doll can whisper, a statue play chess,[200] and brass
ducks have performed the whole process of digestion?[201] Another
magical invention has been ridiculed with equal reason. A magician was
annoyed, as philosophers still are, by passengers in the street; and he,
particularly so, by having horses led to drink under his window. He made
a magical horse of wood, according to one of the books of Hermes, which
perfectly answered its purpose, by frightening away the horses, or
rather the grooms! the wooden horse, no doubt, gave some palpable kick.
The same magical story might have been told of Dr. Franklin, who finding
that under his window the passengers had discovered a spot which they
made too convenient for themselves, he charged it with his
newly-discovered electrical fire. After a few remarkable incidents had
occurred, which at a former period would have lodged the great
discoverer of electricity in the Inquisition, the modern magician
succeeded just as well as the ancient, who had the advantage of conning
over the books of Hermes. Instead of ridiculing these works of magic,
let us rather become magicians ourselves!

The works of the ancient alchemists have afforded numberless discoveries
to modern chemists: nor is even their grand operation despaired of. If
they have of late not been so renowned, this has arisen from a want of
what Ashmole calls "apertness;" a qualification early inculcated among
these illuminated sages. We find authentic accounts of some who have
lived three centuries, with tolerable complexions, possessed of nothing
but a crucible and a bellows! but they were so unnecessarily mysterious,
that whenever such a person was discovered, he was sure in an instant
to disappear, and was never afterwards heard of.

In the "Liber Patris Sapientiæ" this selfish cautiousness is all along
impressed on the student for the accomplishment of the great mystery. In
the commentary on this precious work of the alchemist Norton, who

  Be thou in a place secret, by thyself alone,
  That no man see or hear what thou shalt say or done.
  Trust not thy friend too much wheresoe'er thou go,
  For he thou trustest best, sometyme may be thy foe;

Ashmole observes, that "Norton gives exceeding good advice to the
student in this science where he bids him be secret in the carrying on
of his studies and operations, and not to let any one know of his
undertakings but his good angel and himself:" and such a close and
retired breast had Norton's master, who,

  When men disputed _of colours of the rose_,
  He would not speak, but kept himself full close!

We regret that by each leaving all his knowledge to "his good angel and
himself," it has happened that "the good angels" have kept it all to

It cannot, however, be denied, that if they could not always extract
gold out of lead, they sometimes succeeded in washing away the pimples
on ladies' faces, notwithstanding that Sir Kenelm Digby poisoned his
most beautiful lady, because, as Sancho would have said, he was one of
those who would "have his bread whiter than the finest wheaten." Van
Helmont, who could not succeed in discovering the true elixir of life,
however hit on the spirit of hartshorn, which for a good while he
considered was the wonderful elixir itself, restoring to life persons
who seemed to have lost it. And though this delightful enthusiast could
not raise a ghost, yet he thought he had; for he raised something aerial
from spa-water, which mistaking for a ghost, he gave it that very name;
a name which we still retain in _gas_, from the German _geist_, or
ghost! Paracelsus carried the tiny spirits about him in the hilt of his
great sword! Having first discovered the qualities of laudanum, this
illustrious quack made use of it as an universal remedy, and distributed
it in the form of pills, which he carried in the basket-hilt of his
sword; the operations he performed were as rapid as they seemed magical.
Doubtless we have lost some inconceivable secrets by some unexpected
occurrences, which the secret itself it would seem ought to have
prevented taking place. When a philosopher had discovered the art of
prolonging life to an indefinite period, it is most provoking to find
that he should have allowed himself to die at an early age! We have a
very authentic history from Sir Kenelm Digby himself, that when he went
in disguise to visit Descartes at his retirement at Egmond, lamenting
the brevity of life, which hindered philosophers getting on in their
studies, the French philosopher assured him that "he had considered that
matter; to render a man immortal was what he could not promise, but that
he was very sure it was possible to lengthen out his life to the period
of the patriarchs." And when his death was announced to the world, the
Abbé Picot, an ardent disciple, for a long time would not believe it
possible; and at length insisted, that if it had occurred, it must have
been owing to some mistake of the philosopher's.

The late Holcroft, Loutherbourg, and Cosway, imagined that they should
escape the vulgar era of scriptural life by reorganizing their old
bones, and moistening their dry marrow; their new principles of vitality
were supposed by them to be found in the powers of the mind; this seemed
more reasonable, but proved to be as little efficacious as those other
philosophers, who imagine they have detected the hidden principle of
life in the eels frisking in vinegar, and allude to "the bookbinder who
creates the book-worm!"

Paracelsus has revealed to us one of the grandest secrets of nature.
When the world began to dispute on the very existence of the elementary
folk, it was then that he boldly offered to give birth to a fairy, and
has sent down to posterity the recipe. He describes the impurity which
is to be transmuted into such purity, the gross elements of a delicate
fairy, which, fixed in a phial, placed in fuming dung, will in due time
settle into a full-grown fairy, bursting through its vitreous prison--on
the vivifying principle by which the ancient Egyptians hatched their
eggs in ovens. I recollect, at Dr. Farmer's sale, the leaf which
preserved this recipe for making a fairy, forcibly folded down by the
learned commentator; from which we must infer the credit he gave to the
experiment. There was a greatness of mind in Paracelsus, who, having
furnished a recipe to make a fairy, had the delicacy to refrain from its
formation. Even Baptista Porta, one of the most enlightened
philosophers, does not deny the possibility of engendering creatures
which, "at their full growth, shall not exceed the size of a mouse;" but
he adds, "they are only pretty little dogs to play with." Were these
akin to the fairies of Paracelsus?[202]

They were well convinced of the existence of such elemental beings;
frequent accidents in mines showed the potency of the metallic spirits,
which so tormented the workmen in some of the German mines by blindness,
giddiness, and sudden sickness, that they have been obliged to abandon
mines well known to be rich in silver. A metallic spirit at one sweep
annihilated twelve miners, who were all found dead together. The fact
was unquestionable; and the safety-lamp was undiscovered.

Never was a philosophical imagination more beautiful than that exquisite
_Palingenesis_, as it has been termed from the Greek, or a regeneration:
or rather the apparitions of animals and plants. Schott, Kircher,
Gaffarel, Borelli, Digby, and the whole of that admirable school,
discovered in the ashes of plants their primitive forms, which were
again raised up by the force of heat. Nothing, they say, perishes in
nature; all is but a continuation, or a revival. The semina of
resurrection are concealed in extinct bodies, as in the blood of man;
the ashes of roses will again revive into roses, though smaller and
paler than if they had been planted; unsubstantial and unodoriferous,
they are not roses which grow on rose-trees, but their delicate
apparitions; and, like apparitions, they are seen but for a moment! The
process of the _Palingenesis_, this picture of immortality, is
described. These philosophers having burnt a flower, by calcination
disengaged the salts from its ashes, and deposited them in a glass
phial; a chemical mixture acted on it, till in the fermentation they
assumed a bluish and a spectral hue. This dust, thus excited by heat,
shoots upwards into its primitive forms; by sympathy the parts unite,
and while each is returning to its destined place, we see distinctly the
stalk, the leaves, and the flower arise; it is the pale spectre of a
flower coming slowly forth from its ashes. The heat passes away, the
magical scene declines, till the whole matter again precipitates itself
into the chaos at the bottom. This vegetable phoenix lies thus concealed
in its cold ashes till the presence of heat produces this
resurrection--in its absence it returns to its death. Thus the dead
naturally revive; and a corpse may give out its shadowy re-animation
when not too deeply buried in the earth. Bodies corrupted in their
graves have risen, particularly the murdered; for murderers are apt to
bury their victims in a slight and hasty manner. Their salts, exhaled in
vapour by means of their fermentation, have arranged themselves on the
surface of the earth, and formed those phantoms, which at night have
often terrified the passing spectator, as authentic history witnesses.
They have opened the graves of the phantom, and discovered the bleeding
corpse beneath; hence it is astonishing how many ghosts may be seen at
night, after a recent battle, standing over their corpses! On the same
principle, my old philosopher Gaffarel conjectures on the raining of
frogs; but these frogs, we must conceive, can only be the ghosts of
frogs; and Gaffarel himself has modestly opened this fact by a
"peradventure." A more satisfactory origin of ghosts modern philosophy
has not afforded.

And who does not believe in the existence of ghosts? for, as Dr. More
forcibly says--"That there should be so universal a _fame_ and _fear_ of
that which never was, nor is, nor can be ever in the world, is to me the
greatest miracle of all. If there had not been, at some time or other,
true miracles, it had not been so easy to impose on the people by false.
The alchemist would never go about to sophisticate metals to pass them
off for true gold and silver, unless that such a thing was acknowledged
as true gold and silver in the world."

The pharmacopoeia of those times combined more of morals with medicine
than our own. They discovered that the agate rendered a man eloquent and
even witty; a laurel leaf placed on the centre of the skull fortified
the memory; the brains of fowls and birds of swift wing wonderfully
helped the imagination. All such specifics have now disappeared, and
have greatly reduced the chances of an invalid recovering that which
perhaps he never possessed. Lentils and rape-seed were a certain cure
for the small-pox, and very obviously--their grains resembling the spots
of this disease. They discovered that those who lived on "fair" plants
became fair, those on fruitful ones were never barren: on the principle
that Hercules acquired his mighty strength by feeding on the marrow of
lions. But their talismans, provided they were genuine, seem to have
been wonderfully operative; and had we the same confidence, and melted
down the guineas we give physicians, engraving on them talismanic
figures, I would answer for the good effects of the experiment. Naudé,
indeed, has utterly ridiculed the occult virtues of talismans, in his
defence of Virgil, accused of being a magician: the poet, it seems, cast
into a well a talisman of a horse-leech, graven on a plate of gold, to
drive away the great number of horse-leeches which infested Naples.
Naudé positively denies that talismans ever possessed any such occult
virtues: Gaffarel regrets that so judicious a man as Naudé should have
gone this length, giving the lie to so many authentic authors; and
Naudé's paradox is indeed as strange as his denial; he suspects the
thing is not true because it is so generally told! "It leads one to
suspect," says he, "as animals are said to have been driven away from so
many places by these talismans, whether they were ever driven from any
one place." Gaffarel, suppressing by his good temper his indignant
feelings at such reasoning, turns the paradox on its maker:--"As if,
because of the great number of battles that Hannibal is reported to have
fought with the Romans, we might not, by the same reason, doubt whether
he fought any one with them." The reader must be aware that the strength
of the argument lies entirely with the firm believer in talismans.
Gaffarel, indeed, who passed his days in collecting "Curiosités
inouïes," is a most authentic historian of unparalleled events, even in
his own times! Such as that heavy rain in Poitou, which showered down
"petites bestioles," little creatures like bishops with their mitres,
and monks with their capuchins over their heads; it is true, afterwards
they all turned into butterflies!

The museums, the cabinets, and the inventions of our early virtuosi were
the baby-houses of philosophers. Baptista Porta, Bishop Wilkins, and old
Ashmole, were they now living, had been enrolled among the quiet members
of "The Society of Arts," instead of flying in the air, collecting "a
wing of the phoenix, as tradition goes;" or catching the disjointed
syllables of an old doting astrologer. But these early dilettanti had
not derived the same pleasure from the useful inventions of the
aforesaid "Society of Arts" as they received from what Cornelius
Agrippa, in a fit of spleen, calls "things vain and superfluous,
invented to no other end but for pomp and idle pleasure." Baptista Porta
was more skilful in the mysteries of art and nature than any man in his
day. Having founded the Academy _degli Oziosi_, he held an inferior
association in his own house, called _di Secreti_, where none was
admitted but those elect who had communicated some _secret_; for, in the
early period of modern art and science, the slightest novelty became a
secret, not to be confided to the uninitiated. Porta was unquestionably
a fine genius, as his works still show; but it was his misfortune that
he attributed his own penetrating sagacity to his skill in the art of
divination. He considered himself a prognosticator; and, what was more
unfortunate, some eminent persons really thought he was. Predictions and
secrets are harmless, provided they are not believed: but his Holiness
finding Porta's were, warned him that magical sciences were great
hindrances to the study of the Bible, and paid him the compliment to
forbid his prophesying. Porta's genius was now limited to astonish, and
sometimes to terrify, the more ingenious part of _I Secreti_. On
entering his cabinet, some phantom of an attendant was sure to be
hovering in the air, moving as he who entered moved; or he observed in
some mirror that his face was twisted on the wrong side of his
shoulders, and did not quite think that all was right when he clapped
his hand on it; or passing through a darkened apartment a magical
landscape burst on him, with human beings in motion, the boughs of trees
bending, and the very clouds passing over the sun; or sometimes
banquets, battles, and hunting-parties were in the same apartment. "All
these spectacles my friends have witnessed!" exclaims the self-delighted
Baptista Porta. When his friends drank wine out of the same cup which he
had used, they were mortified with wonder; for he drank wine, and they
only water! or on a summer's day, when all complained of the sirocco, he
would freeze his guests with cold air in the room; or, on a sudden, let
off a flying dragon to sail along with a cracker in its tail, and a cat
tied on his back; shrill was the sound, and awful was the concussion; so
that it required strong nerves, in an age of apparitions and devils, to
meet this great philosopher when in his best humour. Albertus Magnus
entertained the Earl of Holland, as that earl passed through Cologne, in
a severe winter, with a warm summer scene, luxuriant in fruits and
flowers. The fact is related by Trithemius--and this magical scene
connected with his vocal head, and his books _De Secretis Mulierum_, and
_De Mirabilibus_, confirmed the accusations they raised against the
great Albert for being a magician. His apologist, Theophilus Raynaud,
is driven so hard to defend Albertus, that he at once asserts the winter
changed to summer and the speaking head to be two infamous flams! He
will not believe these authenticated facts, although he credits a
miracle which proves the sanctity of Albertus,--after three centuries,
the body of Albert the Great remained as sweet as ever!

"Whether such enchauntments," as old Mandeville cautiously observeth,
two centuries preceding the days of Porta, were "by craft or by
nygromancye, I wot nere." But that they were not unknown to Chaucer,
appears in his "Frankelein's Tale," where, minutely describing them, he
communicates the same pleasure he must himself have received from the
ocular illusions of "the Tregetoure," or "Jogelour." Chaucer ascribes
the miracle to a "naturall magique!" in which, however, it was as
unsettled whether the "Prince of Darkness" was a party concerned.

  For I am siker that there be sciences
  By which men maken divers apparences
  Swiche as thise subtil tregetoures play.
  For oft at festes have I wel herd say
  That tregetoures, within an halle large,
  Have made come in a water and a barge,
  And in the halle rowen up and doun.
  Sometime hath semed come a grim leoun,
  And sometime floures spring as in a mede,
  Sometime a vine and grapes white and rede,
  Sometime a castel al of lime and ston,
  And whan hem liketh voideth it anon:
  Thus semeth it to every mannes sight.

Bishop Wilkins's museum was visited by Evelyn, who describes the sort of
curiosities which occupied and amused the children of science. "Here,
too, there was a hollow statue, which gave a voice, and uttered words by
a long concealed pipe that went to its mouth, whilst one speaks through
it at a good distance:" a circumstance which, perhaps, they were not
then aware revealed the whole mystery of the ancient oracles, which they
attributed to demons rather than to tubes, pulleys, and wheels. The
learned Charles Patin, in his scientific travels, records, among other
valuable productions of art, a cherry-stone, on which were engraven
about a dozen and a half of portraits! Even the greatest of human
geniuses, Leonardo da Vinci, to attract the royal patronage, created a
lion which ran before the French monarch, dropping _fleurs de lis_ from
its shaggy breast. And another philosopher who had a spinnet which
played and stopped at command, might have made a revolution in the arts
and sciences, had the half-stifled child that was concealed in it not
been forced, unluckily, to crawl into daylight, and thus it was proved
that a philosopher might be an impostor!

The arts, as well as the sciences, at the first institution of the Royal
Society, were of the most amusing class. The famous Sir Samuel Moreland
had turned his house into an enchanted palace. Everything was full of
devices, which showed art and mechanism in perfection: his coach carried
a travelling kitchen; for it had a fire-place and grate, with which he
could make a soup, broil cutlets, and roast an egg; and he dressed his
meat by clock-work. Another of these virtuosi, who is described as "a
gentleman of superior order, and whose house was a knickknackatory,"
valued himself on his multifarious inventions, but most in "sowing
salads in the morning, to be cut for dinner." The house of Winstanley,
who afterwards raised the first Eddystone lighthouse, must have been the
wonder of the age. If you kicked aside an old slipper, purposely lying
in your way, up started a ghost before you; or if you sat down in a
certain chair, a couple of gigantic arms would immediately clasp you in.
There was an arbour in the garden, by the side of a canal; you had
scarcely seated yourself when you were sent out afloat to the middle of
the canal--from whence you could not escape till this man of art and
science wound you up to the arbour. What was passing at the "Royal
Society" was also occurring at the "Académie des Sciences" at Paris. A
great and gouty member of that philosophical body, on the departure of a
stranger, would point to his legs, to show the impossibility of
conducting him to the door; yet the astonished visitor never failed
finding the virtuoso waiting for him on the outside, to make his final
bow! While the visitor was going down stairs, this inventive genius was
descending with great velocity in a machine from the window: so that he
proved, that if a man of science cannot force nature to walk down
stairs, he may drive her out at the window!

If they travelled at home, they set off to note down prodigies. Dr.
Plott, in a magnificent project of journeying through England, for the
advantage of "Learning and Trade," and the discovery of "Antiquities and
other Curiosities," for which he solicited the royal aid which Leland
enjoyed, among other notable designs, discriminates a class thus: "Next
I shall inquire of animals; and first of strange people."--"Strange
accidents that attend corporations or families, as that the deans of
Rochester ever since the foundation by turns have died deans and
bishops; the bird with a white breast that haunts the family of Oxenham
near Exeter just before the death of any of that family; the bodies of
trees that are seen to swim in a pool near Brereton in Cheshire, a
certain warning to the heir of that honourable family to prepare for the
next world." And such remarkables as "Number of children, such as the
Lady Temple, who before she died saw seven hundred descended from
her."[203] This fellow of the Royal Society, who lived nearly to 1700,
was requested to give an edition of Pliny: we have lost the benefit of a
most copious commentary! Bishop Hall went to "the Spa." The wood about
that place was haunted not only by "freebooters, but by wolves and
witches; although these last are ofttimes but one." They were called
_loups-garoux_; and the Greeks, it seems, knew them by the name of
[Greek: lukanthrôpoi], men-wolves: witches that have put on the shapes
of those cruel beasts. "We sawe a boy there, whose half-face was
devoured by one of them near the village; yet so, as that the eare was
rather cut than bitten off." Rumour had spread that the boy had had half
his face devoured; when it was examined, it turned out that his ear had
only been scratched! However, there can be no doubt of the existence of
"witch-wolves;" for Hall saw at Limburgh "one of those miscreants
executed, who confessed on the wheel to have devoured two-and-forty
children in that form." They would probably have found it difficult to
have summoned the mothers who had lost the children. But observe our
philosopher's reasoning: "It would aske a large volume to scan this
problem of _lycanthropy_." He had laboriously collected all the
evidence, and had added his arguments: the result offers a curious
instance of acute reasoning on a wrong principle.[204]

Men of science and art then passed their days in a bustle of the
marvellous. I will furnish a specimen of philosophical correspondence in
a letter to old John Aubrey. The writer betrays the versatility of his
curiosity by very opposite discoveries. "My hands are so full of work
that I have no time to transcribe for Dr. Henry More an account of the
Barnstable apparition--Lord Keeper North would take it kindly from
you--give a sight of this letter from Barnstable to Dr. Whitchcot." He
had lately heard of a Scotchman who had been carried by fairies into
France; but the purpose of his present letter is to communicate other
sort of apparitions than the ghost of Barnstable. He had gone to
Glastonbury, "to pick up a few berries from the holy thorn which
flowered every Christmas day."[205] The original thorn had been cut down
by a military saint in the civil wars; but the trade of the place was
not damaged, for they had contrived not to have a single holy thorn, but
several, "by grafting and inoculation."[206] He promises to send these
"berries;" but requests Aubrey to inform "that person of quality who had
rather have a _bush_, that it was impossible to get one for him. I am
told," he adds, "that there is a person about Glastonbury who hath a
nursery of them, which he sells for a crown a piece," but they are
supposed not to be "of the right kind."

The main object of this letter is the writer's "suspicion of gold in
this country;" for which he offers three reasons. Tacitus says there was
gold in England, and that Agrippa came to a spot where he had a prospect
of Ireland--from which place he writes; secondly, that "an honest man"
had in this spot found stones from which he had extracted good gold, and
that he himself "had seen in the broken stones a clear appearance of
gold;" and thirdly, "there is a story which goes by tradition in that
part of the country, that in the hill alluded to there was a door into a
hole, that when any wanted money they used to go and knock there, that a
woman used to appear, and give to such as came.[207] At a time one by
greediness or otherwise gave her offence, she flung to the door, and
delivered this old saying, still remembered in the country:

  'When all _the Daws_ be gone and dead,
  Then.... Hill shall shine gold red.'

My fancy is, that this relates to an ancient family of this name, of
which there is now but one man left, and he not likely to have any
issue." These are his three reasons; and some mines have perhaps been
opened with no better ones! But let us not imagine that this great
naturalist was credulous; for he tells Aubrey that "he thought it was
but a monkish tale forged in the abbey so famous in former time; but as
I have learned not to despise our forefathers, I question whether this
may not refer to some rich mine in the hill, formerly in use, but now
lost. I shall shortly request you to discourse with my lord about it, to
have advice, &c. In the mean time it will be best to _keep all private_
for his majesty's service, his lordship's, and perhaps some private
person's benefit." But he has also positive evidence: "A mason not long
ago coming to the renter of the abbey for a freestone, and sawing it,
out came divers pieces of gold of £3 10_s._ value apiece, of ancient
_coins_. The stone belonged to some chimney-work; the gold was hidden in
it, perhaps, when the Dissolution was near." This last incident of
finding coins in a chimney-piece, which he had accounted for very
rationally, serves only to confirm his dream, that they were coined out
of the gold of the mine in the hill; and he becomes more urgent for "a
private search into these mines, which I have, I think, a way to." In
the postscript he adds an account of a well, which by washing, wrought a
cure on a person deep in the king's evil. "I hope you don't forget your
promise to communicate whatever thing you have relating to your IDEA."

This promised _Idea_ of Aubrey may be found in his MSS., under the title
of "The Idea of Universal Education." However whimsical, one would like
to see it. Aubrey's life might furnish a volume of these philosophical
dreams: he was a person who from his incessant bustle and insatiable
curiosity was called "The Carrier of Conceptions of the Royal Society."
Many pleasant nights were "privately" enjoyed by Aubrey and his
correspondent about the "Mine in the Hill;" Ashmole's manuscripts at
Oxford contain a collection of many secrets of the Rosicrucians; one of
the completest inventions is "a Recipe how to walk invisible." Such were
the fancies which rocked the children of science in their cradles! and
so feeble were the steps of our curious infancy!--But I start in my
dreams! dreading the reader may also have fallen asleep!

"Measure is most excellent," says one of the oracles; "to which also we
being in like manner persuaded, O most friendly and pious Asclepiades,
here finish"--the dreams at the dawn of philosophy!


  [197] Godwin's amusing _Lives of the Necromancers_ abound in
    marvellous stories of the supernatural feats of these old students.

  [198] Agrippa was the most fortunate and honoured of occult
    philosophers. He was lodged at courts, and favoured by all his
    contemporaries. Scholars like Erasmus spoke of him with admiration;
    and royalty constantly sought his powers of divination. But in
    advanced life he was accused of sorcery, and died poor in 1534.

  [199] One of the most popular of our old English prose romances,
    "The Historie of Fryer Bacon," narrates how he had intended to "wall
    England about with brass," by means of such a brazen head, had not
    the stupidity of a servant prevented him. The tale may be read in
    Thoms' "Collection of Early English Prose Romances."

  [200] The allusion here is to the automaton chess-player, first
    exhibited by Kempelen (its inventor) in England about 1785. The
    figure was habited as a Turk, and placed behind a chest, this was
    opened by the exhibitor to display the machinery, which seemed to
    give the figure motion, while playing intricate games of chess with
    any of the spectators. But it has been fully demonstrated that this
    chest could conceal a full-grown man, who could place his arm down
    that of the figure, and direct its movements in the game; the
    machinery being really constructed to hide him, and disarm
    suspicion. As the whole trick has been demonstrated by diagrams, the
    marvellous nature of the machinery is exploded.

  [201] This brass duck was the work of a very ingenious mechanist, M.
    Vaucanson; it is reported to have uttered its natural voice, moved
    its wings, drank water, and ate corn. In 1738, he delighted the
    Parisians by a figure of a shepherd which played on a pipe and beat
    a tabor; and a flute-player who performed twelve tunes.

  [202] This great charlatan, after many successful impositions, ended
    his life in poverty in the hospital at Saltzbourg, in 1541.

  [203] Similar popular fallacies may be seen carefully noted in R.
    Burton's "Admirable Curiosities, Rarities, and Wonders in England,
    Scotland, and Ireland," 1684. It is one of those curious volumes of
    "folk-lore" sent out by Nat. Crouch the bookseller, under a
    fictitious name.

  [204] Hall's postulate is, that God's work could not admit of any
    substantial change, which is above the reach of all infernal powers;
    but "Herein the divell plays the double sophister; the sorcerer with
    sorcerers. Hee both deludes the witch's conceit and the beholder's
    eyes." In a word, Hall believes in what he cannot understand! Yet
    Hall will not believe one of the Catholic miracles of "the Virgin of
    Louvain," though Lipsius had written a book to commemorate "the
    goddess," as Hall sarcastically calls her. Hall was told, with great
    indignation, in the shop of the bookseller of Lipsius, that when
    James the First had just looked over this work, he flung it down,
    vociferating "Damnation to him that made it, and to him that
    believes it!"

  [205] Thousands flocked to see this "miracle" in the middle ages,
    and their presence brought great wealth to the abbey. It was
    believed to have grown miraculously from the staff used by St.
    Joseph. It appears to have been brought from Palestine, and merely
    to have flowered in accordance with its natural season, though
    differing with ours.

  [206] Taylor, the water poet, in his "Wonders of the West," 1649,
    says that a slip was preserved by a vintner dwelling at Glastonbury,
    when the soldiers cut down the tree; that he set it in his garden,
    "and he with others did tell me that the same doth likewise bloom on
    the 25th day of December, yearly."

  [207] Many of these tales of treasures in hills, are now reduced to
    the simple facts of discoveries being made of coins and personal
    ornaments, in tumuli of Roman and Saxon settlers in England. In the
    British Museum is a gold breastplate found in a grave at Mold, in
    Flintshire. The grave-hills of Bohemia have furnished the museum at
    Vienna with a large number of gold objects of great size and value.
    In Russia the dead have been found placed between large plates of
    pure gold in the centre of such tumuli; and in Ireland very large
    and valuable gold personal ornaments have been frequently found in


Literary forgeries recently have been frequently indulged in, and it is
urged that they are of an innocent nature; but impostures more easily
practised than detected leave their mischief behind, to take effect at a
distant period; and as I shall show, may entrap even the judicious! It
may require no high exertion of genius to draw up a grave account of an
ancient play-wright whose name has never reached us, or to give an
extract from a volume inaccessible to our inquiries and, as dulness is
no proof of spuriousness, forgeries, in time, mix with authentic

We have ourselves witnessed versions of Spanish and Portuguese poets,
which are passed on their unsuspicious readers without difficulty, but
in which no parts of the pretended originals can be traced; and to the
present hour, whatever antiquaries may affirm, the poems of
Chatterton[209] and Ossian[210] are veiled in mystery!

If we possessed the secret history of the literary life of George
Steevens, it would display an unparalleled series of arch deception and
malicious ingenuity. He has been happily characterised by Gifford as
"the Puck of Commentators!" Steevens is a creature so spotted over with
literary forgeries and adulterations, that any remarkable one about the
time he flourished may be attributed to him. They were the habits of a
depraved mind, and there was a darkness in his character many shades
deeper than belonged to Puck; even in the playfulness of his invention
there was usually a turn of personal malignity, and the real object was
not so much to raise a laugh, as to "grin horribly a ghastly smile," on
the individual. It is more than rumoured that he carried his ingenious
malignity into the privacies of domestic life; and it is to be regretted
that Mr. Nichols, who might have furnished much secret history of this
extraordinary literary forger, has, from delicacy, mutilated his
collective vigour.

George Steevens usually commenced his operations by opening some
pretended discovery in the evening papers, which were then of a more
literary cast than they are at present; the _St. James's Chronicle_, the
_General Evening Post_, or the _Whitehall_, were they not dead in body
and in spirit, would now bear witness to his successful efforts. The
late Mr. Boswell told me, that Steevens frequently wrote notes on
Shakspeare, purposely to mislead or entrap Malone, and obtain for
himself an easy triumph in the next edition! Steevens loved to assist
the credulous in getting up for them some strange new thing, dancing
them about with a Will-o'-the-wisp--now alarming them by a shriek of
laughter! and now like a grinning Pigwigging sinking them chin-deep into
a quagmire! Once he presented them with a fictitious portrait of
Shakspeare, and when the brotherhood were sufficiently divided in their
opinions, he pounced upon them with a demonstration, that every portrait
of Shakspeare partook of the same doubtful authority! Steevens usually
assumed a _nom de guerre_ of Collins, a pseudo-commentator, and
sometimes of Amner, who was discovered to be an obscure puritanic
minister who never read text or notes of a play-wright, whenever he
explored into a "thousand notable secrets" with which he has polluted
the pages of Shakspeare! The marvellous narrative of the upas-tree of
Java, which Darwin adopted in his plan of "enlisting imagination under
the banner of science," appears to have been another forgery which
amused our "Puck." It was first given in the _London Magazine_, as an
extract from a Dutch traveller, but the extract was never discovered in
the original author, and "the effluvia of this noxious tree, which
through a district of twelve or fourteen miles had killed all
vegetation, and had spread the skeletons of men and animals, affording a
scene of melancholy beyond what poets have described, or painters
delineated," is perfectly chimerical. A splendid flim-flam! When Dr.
Berkenhout was busied in writing, without much knowledge or skill, a
history of our English authors, Steevens allowed the good man to insert
a choice letter by George Peele, giving an account of a "merry meeting
at the Globe," wherein Shakspeare said Ben Jonson and Ned Alleyne are
admirably made to perform their respective parts. As the nature of the
"Biographia Literaria" required authorities, Steevens ingeniously added,
"Whence I copied this letter I do not recollect." However, he well knew
it came from the "Theatrical Mirror," where he had first deposited the
precious original, to which he had unguardedly ventured to affix the
date of 1600; unluckily, Peele was discovered to have died two years
before he wrote his own letter! The _date_ is adroitly dropped in
Berkenhout! Steevens did not wish to refer to his original, which I have
often seen quoted as authority. One of these numerous forgeries of our
Puck appears in an article in Isaac Reed's catalogue, art. 8708. "The
Boke of the Soldan, conteyninge strange matters touchynge his lyfe and
deathe, and the ways of his course, in two partes, 12mo," with this
marginal note by Reed--"The foregoing was written by George Steevens,
Esq., from whom I received it. It was composed merely to impose on 'a
literary friend,' and had its effect; for he was so far deceived as to
its authenticity, that he gave implicit credit to it, and put down the
person's name in whose possession the original books were supposed to

One of the sort of inventions which I attribute to Steevens has been got
up with a deal of romantic effect, to embellish the poetical life of
Milton; and unquestionably must have sadly perplexed his last
matter-of-fact editor, who is not a man to comprehend a flim-flam!--for
he has sanctioned the whole fiction, by preserving it in his
biographical narrative! The first impulse of Milton to travel in Italy
is ascribed to the circumstance of his having been found asleep at the
foot of a tree in the vicinity of Cambridge, when two foreign ladies,
attracted by the loveliness of the youthful poet, alighted from their
carriage, and having admired him for some time as they imagined
unperceived, the youngest, who was very beautiful, drew a pencil from
her pocket, and having written some lines, put the paper with her
trembling hand into his own! But it seems,--for something was to account
how the sleeping youth could have been aware of these minute
particulars, unless he had been dreaming them,--that the ladies had been
observed at a distance by some friends of Milton, and they explained to
him the whole silent adventure. Milton on opening the paper read _four
verses_ from Guarini, addressed to those "human stars," his own eyes! On
this romantic adventure, Milton set off for Italy, to discover the fair
"incognita," to which undiscovered lady we are told we stand indebted
for the most impassioned touches in the Paradise Lost! We know how
Milton passed his time in Italy, with Dati, and Gaddi, and Frescobaldi,
and other literary friends, amidst its academies, and often busied in
book-collecting. Had Milton's tour in Italy been an adventure of
knight-errantry, to discover a lady whom he had never seen, at least he
had not the merit of going out of the direct road to Florence and Rome,
nor of having once alluded to this _Dame de ses pensées_, in his letters
or inquiries among his friends, who would have thought themselves
fortunate to have introduced so poetical an adventure in the numerous
_canzoni_ they showered on our youthful poet.

This _historiette_, scarcely fitted for a novel, first appeared where
generally Steevens's literary amusements were carried on, in the
_General Evening Post_, or the _St. James's Chronicle_: and Mr. Todd, in
the improved edition of Milton's Life, obtained this spurious original,
where the reader may find it; but the more curious part of the story
remains to be told. Mr. Todd proceeds, "The preceding highly-coloured
relation, however, is _not singular_; my friend, Mr. Walker, points out
to me a counterpart in the extract from the preface to _Poésies de
Marguerite-Eleanore Clotilde, depuis Madame de Surville, Poète François
du XV. Siècle. Paris, 1803_."

And true enough we find among "the family traditions" of the same
Clotilde, that Justine de Levis, great-grandmother of this unknown
poetess of the fifteenth century, walking in a forest, witnessed the
same beautiful _spectacle_ which the Italian Unknown had at Cambridge;
never was such an impression to be effaced, and she could not avoid
leaving her tablets by the side of the beautiful sleeper, declaring her
passion in her tablets by _four Italian verses_! The very number our
Milton had meted to him! Oh! these _four_ verses! they are as fatal in
their _number_ as the _date_ of Peele's letter proved to George
Steevens! Something still escapes in the most ingenious fabrication
which serves to decompose the materials. It is well our veracious
historian dropped all mention of Guarini--else that would have given
that _coup de grace_--a fatal anachronism! However, his invention
supplied him with more originality than the adoption of this story and
the _four_ verses would lead us to infer. He tells us how Petrarch was
jealous of the genius of his Clotilde's grandmother, and has even
pointed out a sonnet which, "among the traditions of the family," was
addressed to her! He narrates, that the gentleman, when he fairly awoke,
and had read the "four verses," set off for Italy, which he run over
till he found Justine, and Justine found him, at a tournament at Modena!
This parallel adventure disconcerted our two grave English critics--they
find a tale which they wisely judge improbable, and because they
discover the tale copied, they conclude that "it is not singular!" This
knot of perplexity is, however, easily cut through, if we substitute,
which we are fully justified in, for "Poète du XV. Siècle"--"du XIX.
Siècle." The "Poésies" of Clotilde are as genuine a fabrication as
Chatterton's; subject to the same objections, having many ideas and
expressions which were unknown in the language at the time they are
pretended to have been composed, and exhibiting many imitations of
Voltaire and other poets. The present story of the FOUR _Italian
verses_, and the beautiful _Sleeper_, would be quite sufficient
evidence of the authenticity of "the family traditions" of _Clotilde,
depuis Madame de Surville_, and also of Monsieur De Surville himself; a
pretended editor, who is said to have found by mere accident the
precious manuscript, and while he was copying from the press, in 1793,
these pretty poems, for such they are, of his _grande tante_, was shot
in the Reign of Terror, and so completely expired, that no one could
ever trace his existence! The real editor, who we must presume to be the
poet, published them in 1803.

Such, then, is the history of a literary forgery! A Puck composes a
short romantic adventure, which is quietly thrown out to the world in a
newspaper or a magazine; some collector, such as the late Mr. Bindley,
who procured for Mr. Todd his original, as idle at least as he is
curious, houses the forlorn fiction--and it enters into literary
history! A French Chatterton picks up the obscure tale, and behold,
astonishes the literary inquirers of the very country whence the
imposture sprung! But the FOUR _Italian verses_, and the _Sleeping
Youth_! Oh! Monsieur Vanderbourg! for that gentleman is the ostensible
editor of Clotilde's poesies of the fifteenth century, some ingenious
persons are unlucky in this world! Perhaps one day we may yet discover
that this "romantic adventure" of _Milton_ and _Justine de Levis_ is not
so original as it seems--it may lie hid in the _Astrée_ of D'Urfé, or
some of the long romances of the Scuderies, whence the English and the
French Chattertons may have drawn it. To such literary inventors we say
with Swift:--

      ----Such are your tricks;
  But since you hatch, pray own your chicks!

Will it be credited that for the enjoyment of a temporary piece of
malice, Steevens would even risk his own reputation as a poetical
critic? Yet this he ventured, by throwing out of his edition the poems
of Shakspeare, with a remarkable hyper-criticism, that "the strongest
act of parliament that could be framed would fail to compel readers into
their service." Not only he denounced the sonnets of Shakspeare, but the
sonnet itself, with an absurd question, "What has truth or nature to do
with sonnets?" The secret history of this unwarrantable mutilation of a
great author by his editor was, as I was informed by the late Mr.
Boswell, merely done to spite his rival commentator Malone, who had
taken extraordinary pains in their elucidation. Steevens himself had
formerly reprinted them, but when Malone from these sonnets claimed for
himself one ivy leaf of a commentator's pride, behold, Steevens in a
rage would annihilate even Shakspeare himself, that he might gain a
triumph over Malone! In the same spirit, but with more caustic
pleasantry, he opened a controversy with Malone respecting Shakspeare's
wife! It seems that the poet had forgotten to mention his wife in his
copious will; and his recollection of Mrs. Shakspeare seems to mark the
slightness of his regard, for he only introduced by an interlineation, a
legacy to her of his "second best bed with the furniture"--and nothing
more! Malone naturally inferred that the poet had forgot her, and so
recollected her as more strongly to mark how little he esteemed her. He
had already, as it is vulgarly expressed, "cut her off, not indeed with
a shilling, but with an old bed!"[211] All this seems judicious, till
Steevens asserts the conjugal affection of the bard, tells us, that the
poet having, when in health, provided for her by settlement, or knowing
that her father had already done so (circumstances entirely
conjectural), he bequeathed to her at his death not _merely an old piece
of furniture, but_, PERHAPS, _as a mark of peculiar tenderness_,

  The very bed that on his bridal night
  Received him to the arms of Belvidera!

Steevens' severity of satire marked the deep malevolence of his heart;
and Murphy has strongly pourtrayed him in his address to the _Malevoli_.

Such another Puck was Horace Walpole! The King of Prussia's "Letter" to
Rousseau, and "The Memorial" pretended to have been signed by noblemen
and gentlemen, were fabrications, as he confesses, only to make
mischief. It well became him, whose happier invention, the Castle of
Otranto, was brought forward in the guise of forgery, so unfeelingly to
have reprobated the innocent inventions of a Chatterton.

We have Pucks busied among our contemporaries: whoever shall discover
their history will find it copious though intricate; the malignity at
least will exceed tenfold the merriment.


  [208] A remarkable instance is afforded in the present work; see the
    note to the article on _Newspapers_, in Vol. I., detailing one which
    has spread falsity to an enormous extent throughout our general

  [209] The pretended "antique manuscripts" preserved among the
    Chatterton papers in the British Museum, as well as the fac-simile
    of the "Yellow Roll," published in the Cambridge edition of
    Chatterton's works, are, however, so totally unlike the writing of
    the era to which they purport to belong, that no doubt need be
    entertained as to their falsity.

  [210] They are, however, so far determined by the fragments of
    Gaelic originals, since published by Scottish antiquaries, that the
    amplifications of Macpherson can be detected.

  [211] Mr. Charles Knight, in his edition of Shakspeare, first
    clearly pointed out the true nature of the bequest. The great poet's
    estates, with the exception of a copyhold tenement, expressly
    mentioned in the will, were freehold. _His wife was entitled to
    dower_, or a life interest of one-third of the proceeds arising from
    lands or tenements the property of Shakspeare, and which were of
    considerable value, she was thus amply provided for by the clear and
    undeniable operation of the law of England. Mr. Halliwell has
    further proved that such bequests were the constant modes of showing
    regard to such relatives as were well provided for by the usual
    legal course of events; and he adds, "so far from this bequest being
    one of slight importance, and exhibiting small esteem, it was the
    usual mode of expressing a mark of great affection."


The preceding article has reminded me of a subject by no means incurious
to the lovers of literature. A large volume might be composed on
literary impostors; their modes of deception, however, were frequently
repetitions; particularly those at the restoration of letters, when
there prevailed a _mania_ for burying spurious antiquities, that they
might afterwards be brought to light to confound their contemporaries.
They even perplex us at the present day. More sinister forgeries have
been performed by Scotchmen, of whom Archibald Bower, Lauder, and
Macpherson, are well known.

Even harmless impostures by some unexpected accident have driven an
unwary inquirer out of the course. George Steevens must again make his
appearance for a memorable trick played on the antiquary Gough. This was
the famous tombstone on which was engraved the drinking-horn of
Hardyknute, to indicate his last fatal carouse; for this royal Dane died
drunk! To prevent any doubt, the name, in Saxon characters, was
sufficiently legible. Steeped in pickle to hasten a precocious
antiquity, it was then consigned to the corner of a broker's shop, where
the antiquarian eye of Gough often pored on the venerable odds and ends;
it perfectly succeeded on the "Director of the Antiquarian Society." He
purchased the relic for a trifle, and dissertations of a due size were
preparing for the Archæologia![212] Gough never forgave himself nor
Steevens for this flagrant act of ineptitude. On every occasion in the
_Gentleman's Magazine_, when compelled to notice this illustrious
imposition, he always struck out his own name, and muffled himself up
under his titular office of "The Director!" Gough never knew that this
"modern antique" was only a piece of retaliation. In reviewing Masters's
Life of Baker he found two heads, one scratched down from painted glass
by George Steevens, who would have passed it off for a portrait of one
of our kings. Gough, on the watch to have a fling at George Steevens,
attacked his graphic performance, and reprobated a portrait which had
nothing human in it! Steevens vowed, that wretched as Gough deemed his
pencil to be, it should make "The Director" ashamed of his own eyes, and
be fairly taken in by something scratched much worse. Such was the
origin of his adoption of this fragment of a chimney-slab, which I have
seen, and with a better judge wondered at the injudicious antiquary, who
could have been duped by the slight and ill-formed scratches, and even
with a false spelling of the name, which, however, succeeded in being
passed off as a genuine Saxon inscription: but he had counted on his
man.[213] The trick is not so original as it seems. One De Grassis had
engraved on marble the epitaph of a mule, which he buried in his
vineyard: some time after, having ordered a new plantation on the spot,
the diggers could not fail of disinterring what lay ready for them. The
inscription imported that one Publius Grassus had raised this monument
to his mule! De Grassis gave it out as an odd coincidence of names, and
a prophecy about his own mule! It was a simple joke! The marble was
thrown by, and no more thought of. Several years after it rose into
celebrity, for with the erudite it then passed for an ancient
inscription, and the antiquary Poracchi inserted the epitaph in his work
on "Burials." Thus De Grassis and his mule, equally respectable, would
have come down to posterity, had not the story by some means got wind!
An incident of this nature is recorded in Portuguese history, contrived
with the intention to keep up the national spirit, and diffuse hopes of
the new enterprise of Vasco de Gama, who had just sailed on a voyage of
discovery to the Indies. Three stones were discovered near Cintra,
bearing in ancient characters a Latin inscription; a sibylline oracle
addressed prophetically "To the Inhabitants of the West!" stating that
when these three stones shall be found, the Ganges, the Indus, and the
Tagus should exchange their commodities! This was the pious fraud of a
Portuguese poet, sanctioned by the approbation of the king. When the
stones had lain a sufficient time in the damp earth, so as to become
apparently antique, our poet invited a numerous party to a dinner at his
country-house; in the midst of the entertainment a peasant rushed in,
announcing the sudden discovery of this treasure! The inscription was
placed among the royal collections as a sacred curiosity! The prophecy
was accomplished, and the oracle was long considered genuine!

In such cases no mischief resulted; the annals of mankind were not
confused by spurious dynasties and fabulous chronologies; but when
literary forgeries are published by those whose character hardly admits
of a suspicion that they are themselves the impostors, the difficulty of
assigning a motive only increases that of forming a decision; to adopt
or reject them may be equally dangerous.

In this class we must place Annius of Viterbo,[214] who published a
pretended collection of historians of the remotest antiquity, some of
whose _names_ had descended to us in the works of ancient writers, while
their works themselves had been lost. Afterwards he subjoined
commentaries to confirm their authority by passages from known authors.
These at first were eagerly accepted by the learned; the blunders of the
presumed editor, one of which was his mistaking the right name of the
historian he forged, were gradually detected, till at length the
imposture was apparent! The pretended originals were more remarkable for
their number than their volume; for the whole collection does not exceed
171 pages, which lessened the difficulty of the forgery; while the
commentaries which were afterwards published must have been manufactured
at the same time as the text. In favour of Annius, the high rank he
occupied at the Roman Court, his irreproachable conduct, and his
declaration that he had recovered some of these fragments at Mantua, and
that others had come from Armenia, induced many to credit these
pseudo-historians. A literary war soon kindled; Niceron has
discriminated between four parties engaged in this conflict. One party
decried the whole of the collection as gross forgeries; another
obstinately supported their authenticity; a third decided that they were
forgeries before Annius possessed them, who was only credulous; while a
fourth party considered them as partly authentic, and ascribed their
blunders to the interpolations of the editor, to increase their
importance. Such as they were, they scattered confusion over the whole
face of history. The false Berosus opens his history before the deluge,
when, according to him, the Chaldeans through preceding ages had
faithfully preserved their historical evidences! Annius hints, in his
commentary, at the archives and public libraries of the Babylonians: the
days of Noah comparatively seemed modern history with this dreaming
editor. Some of the fanciful writers of Italy were duped: Sansovino, to
delight the Florentine nobility, accommodated them with a new title of
antiquity in their ancestor Noah, _Imperatore e monarcha delle genti,
visse e morì in quelle parti._ The Spaniards complained that in forging
these fabulous origins of different nations, a new series of kings from
the ark of Noah had been introduced by some of their rhodomontade
historians to pollute the sources of their history. Bodin's otherwise
valuable works are considerably injured by Annius's supposititious
discoveries. One historian died of grief, for having raised his
elaborate speculations on these fabulous originals; and their credit was
at length so much reduced, that Pignori and Maffei both announced to
their readers that they had not referred in their works to the pretended
writers of Annius! Yet, to the present hour, these presumed forgeries
are not always given up. The problem remains unsolved--and the silence
of the respectable Annius, in regard to the forgery, as well as what he
affirmed when alive, leave us in doubt whether he really intended to
laugh at the world by these fairy tales of the giants of antiquity.
Sanchoniathon, as preserved by Eusebius, may be classed among these
ancient writings or forgeries, and has been equally rejected and

Another literary forgery, supposed to have been grafted on those of
Annius, involved the Inghirami family. It was by digging in their
grounds that they discovered a number of Etruscan antiquities,
consisting of inscriptions, and also fragments of a chronicle, pretended
to have been composed sixty years before the vulgar era. The characters
on the marbles were the ancient Etruscan, and the historical work tended
to confirm the pretended discoveries of Annius. They were collected and
enshrined in a magnificent folio by Curtius Inghirami, who, a few years
after, published a quarto volume exceeding one thousand pages to support
their authenticity. Notwithstanding the erudition of the forger, these
monuments of antiquity betrayed their modern condiment.[215] There were
uncial letters which no one knew; but these were said to be undiscovered
ancient Etruscan characters; it was more difficult to defend the small
italic letters, for they were not used in the age assigned to them;
besides that, there were dots on the letter _i_, a custom not practised
till the eleventh century. The style was copied from the Latin of the
Psalms and the Breviary; but Inghirami discovered that there had been an
intercourse between the Etruscans and the Hebrews, and that David had
imitated the writings of Noah and his descendants! Of Noah the chronicle
details speeches and anecdotes!

The Romans, who have preserved so much of the Etruscans, had not,
however, noticed a single fact recorded in these Etruscan antiquities.
Inghirami replied that the manuscript was the work of the secretary of
the college of the Etrurian augurs, who alone was permitted to draw his
materials from the archives, and who, it would seem, was the only scribe
who has favoured posterity with so much secret history. It was urged in
favour of the authenticity of these Etruscan monuments, that Inghirami
was so young an antiquary at the time of the discovery, that he could
not even explain them; and that when fresh researches were made on the
spot, other similar monuments were also disinterred, where evidently
they had long lain; the whole affair, however contrived, was confined to
the _Inghirami family_. One of them, half a century before, had been the
librarian of the Vatican, and to him is ascribed the honour of the
forgeries which he buried where he was sure they would be found. This,
however, is a mere conjecture! Inghirami, who published and defended
their authenticity, was not concerned in their fabrication; the design
was probably merely to raise the antiquity of Volaterra, the family
estate of the Inghirami; and for this purpose one of its learned
branches had bequeathed his posterity a collection of spurious
historical monuments, which tended to overturn all received ideas on the
first ages of history.[216]

It was probably such impostures, and those of _false decretals of_
Isidore, which were forged for the maintenance of the papal supremacy,
and for eight hundred years formed the fundamental basis of the canon
law, the discipline of the church, and even the faith of Christianity,
which led to the monstrous pyrrhonism of father Hardouin, who, with
immense erudition, had persuaded himself that, excepting the Bible and
Homer, Herodotus, Plautus, Pliny the elder, with fragments of Cicero,
Virgil, and Horace, all the remains of classical literature were
forgeries of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries! In two
dissertations he imagined that he had proved that the Æneid was not
written by Virgil, nor the Odes of Horace by that poet. Hardouin was one
of those wrong-headed men who, once having fallen into a delusion,
whatever afterwards occurs to them on their favourite subject only tends
to strengthen it. He died in his own faith! He seems not to have been
aware that by ascribing such prodigal inventions as Plutarch,
Thucydides, Livy, Tacitus, and other historians, to the men he did, he
was raising up an unparalleled age of learning and genius when monks
could only write meagre chronicles, while learning and genius themselves
lay in an enchanted slumber with a suspension of all their vital powers.

There are numerous instances of the forgeries of smaller documents. The
Prayer-book of Columbus, presented to him by the Pope, which the great
discoverer of a new world bequeathed to the Genoese republic, has a
codicil in his own writing, as one of the leaves testifies, but as
volumes composed against its authenticity deny. The famous description
in Petrarch's Virgil, so often quoted, of his first _rencontre_ with
Laura in the church of St. Clair on a Good Friday, 6th April, 1327, it
has been recently attempted to be shown is a forgery. By calculation, it
appears that the 6th April, 1327, fell on a Monday! The Good Friday
seems to have been a blunder of the manufacturer of the note. He was
entrapped by reading the second sonnet, as it appears in the _printed_

  Era il giorno ch' al sol _si scolorana_
  _Per la_ pietà del suo fattore i rai.

"It was on the day when the rays of the sun were obscured by compassion
for his Maker." The forger imagined this description alluded to Good
Friday and the eclipse at the Crucifixion. But how stands the passage in
the MS. in the Imperial Library of Vienna, which Abbé Costaing has

  Era il giorno ch' al sol _di color raro_
  _Parve_ la pietà da suo fattore, _ai rai_
  Quand Io fu preso; e non mi guardai
  Che ben vostri occhi dentro mi legaro.

"It was on the day that I was captivated, devotion for its Maker
appeared in the rays of a brilliant sun, and I did not well consider
that it was your eyes that enchained me!"

The first meeting, according to the Abbé Costaing, was not in a
_church_, but in a _meadow_--as appears by the ninety-first sonnet. The
Laura of Sade was _not_ the Laura of Petrarch, but Laura de Baux,
unmarried, and who died young, residing in the vicinity of Vaucluse.
Petrarch had often viewed her from his own window, and often enjoyed her
society amidst her family.[217] If the Abbé Costaing's discovery be
confirmed, the good name of Petrarch is freed from the idle romantic
passion for a married woman. It would be curious if the famous story of
the first meeting with Laura in the church of St. Clair originated in
the blunder of the forger's misconception of a passage which was
incorrectly printed, as appears by existing manuscripts!

Literary forgeries have been introduced into bibliography; dates have
been altered; fictitious titles affixed; and books have been reprinted,
either to leave out or to interpolate whole passages! I forbear entering
minutely into this part of the history of literary forgery, for this
article has already grown voluminous. When we discover, however, that
one of the most magnificent of _amateurs_, and one of the most critical
of bibliographers, were concerned in a forgery of this nature, it may be
useful to spread an alarm among collectors. The Duke de la Vallière, and
the Abbé de St. Leger once concerted together to supply the eager
purchaser of literary rarities with a copy of _De Tribus Impostoribus_,
a book, by the date, pretended to have been printed in 1598, though
probably a modern forgery of 1698. The title of such a work had long
existed by rumour, but never was a copy seen by man! Works printed with
this title have all been proved to be modern fabrications. A copy,
however, of the _introuvable_ original was sold at the Duke de la
Vallière's sale! The history of this volume is curious. The Duke and the
Abbé having manufactured a text, had it printed in the old Gothic
character, under the title, _De Tribus Impostoribus_. They proposed to
put the great bibliopolist, De Bure, in good humour, whose agency would
sanction the imposture. They were afterwards to dole out copies at
twenty-five louis each, which would have been a reasonable price for a
book which no one ever saw! They invited De Bure to dinner, flattered
and cajoled him, and, as they imagined, at a moment they had wound him
up to their pitch, they exhibited their manufacture; the keen-eyed
glance of the renowned cataloguer of the "Bibliographie Instructive"
instantly shot like lightning over it, and, like lightning, destroyed
the whole edition. He not only discovered the forgery, but reprobated
it! He refused his sanction; and the forging Duke and Abbé, in
confusion, suppressed the _livre introuvable_; but they owed a grudge to
the honest bibliographer, and attempted to write down the work whence
the De Bures derive their fame.

Among the extraordinary literary impostors of our age--if we except
Lauder, who, detected by the Ithuriel pen of Bishop Douglas, lived to
make his public recantation of his audacious forgeries, and Chatterton,
who has buried his inexplicable story in his own grave, a tale, which
seems but half told--we must place a man well known in the literary
world under the assumed name of George Psalmanazar. He composed his
autobiography as the penance of contrition, not to be published till he
was no more, when all human motives have ceased which might cause his
veracity to be suspected. The life is tedious; but I have curiously
traced the progress of the mind in an ingenious imposture, which is
worth preservation. The present literary forgery consisted of
personating a converted islander of Formosa: a place then little known
but by the reports of the Jesuits, and constructing a language and a
history of a new people and a new religion, entirely of his own
invention! This man was evidently a native of the south of France;
educated in some provincial college of the Jesuits, where he had heard
much of their discoveries of Japan; he had looked over their maps, and
listened to their comments. He forgot the manner in which the Japanese
wrote; but supposed, like orientalists, they wrote from the right to the
left, which he found difficult to manage. He set about excogitating an
alphabet; but actually forgot to give names to his letters, which
afterwards baffled him before literary men.

He fell into gross blunders; having inadvertently affirmed that the
Formosans sacrificed eighteen thousand male infants annually, he
persisted in not lessening the number. It was proved to be an
impossibility in so small an island, without occasioning a depopulation.
He had made it a principle in this imposture never to vary when he had
once said a thing. All this was projected in haste, fearful of detection
by those about him.

He was himself surprised at his facility of invention, and the progress
of his forgery. He had formed an alphabet, a considerable portion of a
new language, a grammar, a new division of the year into twenty months,
and a new religion! He had accustomed himself to write his language; but
being an inexpert writer with the unusual way of writing backwards, he
found this so difficult, that he was compelled to change the complicated
forms of some of his letters. He now finally quitted his home, assuming
the character of a Formosan convert, who had been educated by the
Jesuits. He was then in his fifteenth or sixteenth year. To support his
new character, he practised some religious mummeries; he was seen
worshipping the rising and setting sun. He made a prayer-book with rude
drawings of the sun, moon, and stars, to which he added some gibberish
prose and verse, written in his invented character, muttering or
chanting it, as the humour took him. His custom of eating raw flesh
seemed to assist his deception more than the sun and moon.[218]

In a garrison at Sluys he found a Scotch regiment in the Dutch pay; the
commander had the curiosity to invite our Formosan to confer with Innes,
the chaplain to his regiment. This Innes was probably the chief cause of
the imposture being carried to the extent it afterwards reached. Innes
was a clergyman, but a disgrace to his cloth. As soon as he fixed his
eye on our Formosan, he hit on a project; it was nothing less than to
make Psalmanazar the ladder of his own ambition, and the stepping-place
for him to climb up to a good living! Innes was a worthless character;
as afterwards appeared, when by an audacious imposition Innes practised
on the Bishop of London, he avowed himself to be the author of an
anonymous work, entitled "A Modest Inquiry after Moral Virtue;" for this
he obtained a good living in Essex: the real author, a poor Scotch
clergyman, obliged him afterwards to disclaim the work in print, and to
pay him the profit of the edition which Innes had made! He lost his
character, and retired to the solitude of his living; if not penitent,
at least mortified.

Such a character was exactly adapted to become the foster-father of
imposture. Innes courted the Formosan, and easily won on the adventurer,
who had hitherto in vain sought for a patron. Meanwhile no time was lost
by Innes to inform the unsuspicious and generous Bishop of London of the
prize he possessed--to convert the Formosan was his ostensible pretext;
to procure preferment his concealed motive. It is curious enough to
observe, that the ardour of conversion died away in Innes, and the most
marked neglect of his convert prevailed, while the answer of the bishop
was protracted or doubtful. He had at first proposed to our Formosan
impostor to procure his discharge, and convey him to England; this was
eagerly consented to by our pliant adventurer. A few Dutch schellings,
and fair words, kept him in good humour; but no letter coming from the
bishop, there were fewer words, and not a stiver! This threw a new light
over the character of Innes to the inexperienced youth. Psalmanazar
sagaciously now turned all his attention to some Dutch ministers; Innes
grew jealous lest they should pluck the bird which he had already in his
net. He resolved to baptize the impostor--which only the more convinced
Psalmanazar that Innes was one himself; for before this time Innes had
practised a stratagem on him which had clearly shown what sort of a man
his Formosan was.

This stratagem was this: he made him translate a passage in Cicero, of
some length, into his pretended language, and give it him in writing;
this was easily done, by Psalmanazar's facility of inventing characters.
After Innes had made him construe it, he desired to have another version
of it on another paper. The proposal, and the arch manner of making it,
threw our impostor into the most visible confusion. He had had but a
short time to invent the first paper, less to recollect it; so that in
the second transcript not above half the words were to be found which
existed in the first. Innes assumed a solemn air, and Psalmanazar was on
the point of throwing himself on his mercy, but Innes did not wish to
unmask the impostor; he was rather desirous of fitting the mask closer
to his face. Psalmanazar, in this hard trial, had given evidence of
uncommon facility, combined with a singular memory. Innes cleared his
brow, smiled with a friendly look, and only hinted in a distant manner
that he ought to be careful to be better provided for the future! An
advice which Psalmanazar afterwards bore in mind, and at length produced
the forgery of an entire new language; and which, he remarkably
observes, "by what I have tried since I came into England, I cannot say
but I could have compassed it with less difficulty than can be conceived
had I applied closely to it." When a version of the catechism was made
into the pretended Formosan language, which was submitted to the
judgment of the first scholars, it appeared to them grammatical, and was
pronounced to be a real language, from the circumstance that it
resembled no other! and they could not conceive that a stripling could
be the inventor of a language. If the reader is curious to examine this
extraordinary imposture, I refer him to that literary curiosity, "An
Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa, with Accounts of the
Religion, Customs and Manners of the Inhabitants, by George Psalmanazar,
a Native of the said Isle," 1704; with numerous plates, wretched
inventions! of their dress! religious ceremonies! their tabernacle and
altars to the sun, the moon, and the ten stars! their architecture! the
viceroy's castle! a temple! a city house! a countryman's house! and the
Formosan alphabet! In his conferences before the Royal Society with a
Jesuit just returned from China, the Jesuit had certain strong
suspicions that our hero was an impostor. The good father remained
obstinate in his own conviction, but could not satisfactorily
communicate it to others; and Psalmanazar, after politely asking pardon
for the expression, complains of the Jesuit that "HE _lied most
impudently," mentitur impudentissime!_ Dr. Mead absurdly insisted
Psalmanazar was a Dutchman or a German; some thought him a Jesuit in
disguise, a tool of the non-jurors; the Catholics thought him bribed by
the Protestants to expose their church; the Presbyterians that he was
paid to explode their doctrine, and cry up episcopacy! This fabulous
history of Formosa seems to have been projected by his artful prompter
Innes, who put Varenius into Psalmanazar's hands to assist him;
trumpeted forth in the domestic and foreign papers an account of this
converted Formosan; maddened the booksellers to hurry the author, who
was scarcely allowed two months to produce this extraordinary volume;
and as the former accounts which the public possessed of this island
were full of monstrous absurdities and contradictions, these assisted
the present imposture. Our forger resolved not to describe new and
surprising things as they had done, but rather studied to clash with
them, probably that he might have an opportunity of pretending to
correct them. The first edition was immediately sold; the world was more
divided than ever in opinion; in a second edition he prefixed a
vindication!--the unhappy forger got about twenty guineas for an
imposture, whose delusion spread far and wide! Some years afterwards
Psalmanazar was engaged in a minor imposture; one man had persuaded him
to father a white composition called the _Formosan japan!_ which was to
be sold at a high price! It was curious for its whiteness, but it had
its faults. The project failed, and Psalmanazar considered the
miscarriage of the _white Formosan japan_ as a providential warning to
repent of all his impostures of Formosa!

Among these literary forgeries may be classed several ingenious ones
fabricated for a _political_ purpose. We had certainly numerous ones
during our civil wars in the reign of Charles the First. This is not the
place to continue the controversy respecting the mysterious _Eikon
Basiliké_, which has been ranked among them, from the ambiguous claim of
Gauden.[219] A recent writer who would probably incline not to leave the
monarch, were he living, not only his head but the little fame he might
obtain by the "Verses" said to be written by him at Carisbrook Castle,
would deprive him also of these. Henderson's death-bed recantation is
also reckoned among them; and we have a large collection of "Letters of
Sir Henry Martin to his Lady of Delight," which were the satirical
effusions of a wit of that day, but by the price they have obtained, are
probably considered as genuine ones, and exhibit an amusing picture of
his loose rambling life.[220] There is a ludicrous speech of the strange
Earl of Pembroke, which was forged by the inimitable Butler. Sir John
Birkenhead, a great humourist and wit, had a busy pen in these spurious
letters and speeches.[221]


  [212] I have since been informed that this famous invention was
    originally a flim-flam of a Mr. Thomas White, a noted collector and
    dealer in antiquities. But it was Steevens who placed it in the
    broker's shop, where he was certain of _catching_ the antiquary.
    When the late Mr. Pegge, a profound brother, was preparing to write
    a dissertation on it, the first inventor of the flam stepped forward
    to save any further tragical termination; the wicked wit had already
    succeeded too well.

  [213] The stone may be found in the British Museum. HARDCNVT is the
    reading on the _Harthacnut_ stone; but the true orthography of the
    name is HARÐACNVT. It was reported to have been discovered in
    Kennington-lane, where the palace of the monarch was said to have
    been located, and the inscription carefully made in Anglo-Saxon
    characters, was to the effect that "Here Hardcnut drank a wine horn
    dry, stared about him, and died."

    Sylvanus Urban, my once excellent and old friend, seems a trifle
    uncourteous on this grave occasion.--He tells us, however, that "The
    history of this wanton trick, with a _fac-simile_ of Schnebbelie's
    drawing, may be seen in his volume lx. p. 217." He says that this
    wicked contrivance of George Steevens was to entrap this famous
    draughtsman! Does Sylvanus then deny that "the Director" was not
    also "entrapped?" and that he always struck out his own _name_ in
    the proof-sheets of the Magazine, substituting his official
    designation, by which the whole society itself seemed to screen "the

  [214] He was a Dominican monk, his real name being Giovanni Nanni,
    which he Latinized in conformity with the custom of his era. He was
    born 1432, and died 1502. His great work, _Antiquitatem Rariorum_,
    professes to contain the works of Manetho, Berosus, and other
    authors of equal antiquity.

  [215] A forgery of a similar character has been recently effected in
    the _débris_ of the Chapelle St. Eloi (Département de L'Eure,
    France), where many inscriptions connected with the early history of
    France were exhumed, which a deputation of antiquaries, convened to
    examine their authenticity, have since pronounced to be forgeries!

  [216] The volume of these pretended Antiquities is entitled
    _Etruscarum Antiquitatum Fragmenta, fo. Franc._ 1637. That which
    Inghirami published to defend their authenticity is in Italian,
    _Discorso sopra l'Opposizioni fatte all' Antichita Toscane_, 4to,
    _Firenze_, 1645.

  [217] I draw this information from a little "new year's gift," which
    my learned friend, the Rev. S. Weston, presented to his friends in
    1822, entitled "A Visit to Vaucluse," accompanied by a Supplement.
    He derives his account apparently from a curious publication of
    L'Abbé Costaing de Pusigner d'Avignon, which I with other inquirers
    have not been able to procure, but which it is absolutely necessary
    to examine, before we can decide on the very curious but
    unsatisfactory accounts we have hitherto possessed of the Laura of

  [218] For some further notices of Psalmanazar and his literary
    labours, we may refer the reader to vol. i. p. 137, note.

  [219] The question has been discussed with great critical acumen by
    Dr. Wordsworth.

  [220] Since this was published I have discovered that Harry Martin's
    Letters are not forgeries, but I cannot immediately recover my

  [221] One of the most amusing of these tricks was perpetrated on
    William Prynne, the well-known puritanic hater of the stage, by some
    witty cavalier. Prynne's great work, "Histriomastix, the Player's
    Scourge; or, Actor's Tragedy," an immense quarto, of 1100 pages, was
    a complete condemnation of all theatrical amusements; but in 1649
    appeared a tract of four leaves, entitled "Mr. William Prynne, his
    Defence of Stage Playes; or, a Retractation of a former Book of his
    called Histriomastix." It must have astonished many readers in his
    own day, and would have passed for his work in more modern times,
    but for the accidental preservation of a single copy of a handbill
    Prynne published disclaiming the whole thing. His style is most
    amusingly imitated throughout, and his great love for quoting
    authorities in his margin. He is made to complain that "this wicked
    and tyrannical army did lately in a most inhumane, cruell, rough,
    and barbarous manner, take away the poor players from their houses,
    being met there to discharge the duty of their callings: as if this
    army were fully bent, and most trayterously and maliciously set, to
    put down and depresse all the King's friends, not only in the
    parliament but in the very theatres; they have no care of covenant
    or any thing else." And he is further made to declare, in spite of
    "what the malicious, clamorous, and obstreperous people" may object,
    that he once wrote against stage-plays,--that it was "when I had not
    so clear a light as now I have." We can fancy the amusement this
    pamphlet must have been to many readers during the great Civil War.


An honest historian at times will have to inflict severe stroke on his
favourites. This has fallen to my lot, for in the course of my
researches, I have to record that we have both forgers and purloiners,
as well as other more obvious impostors, in the republic of letters! The
present article descends to relate anecdotes of some contrivances to
possess our literary curiosities by other means than by purchase; and
the only apology which can be alleged for the _splendida peccata_, as
St. Austin calls the virtues of the heathen, of the present innocent
criminals, is their excessive passion for literature, and otherwise the
respectability of their names. According to Grose's "Classical
Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," we have had celebrated _collectors_,
both in the learned and vulgar idioms. But one of them, who had some
reasons too to be tender on this point, distinguished this mode of
completing his collections, not by _book-stealing_, but by
_book-coveting_. On some occasions, in mercy, we must allow of softening
names. Were not the Spartans allowed to steal from one another, and the
bunglers only punished?

It is said that Pinelli made occasional additions to his literary
treasures sometimes by his skill in an art which lay much more in the
hand than in the head: however, as Pinelli never stirred out of his
native city but once in his lifetime, when the plague drove him from
home, his field of action was so restricted, that we can hardly conclude
that he could have been so great an enterpriser in this way. No one can
have lost their character by this sort of exercise in a confined circle,
and be allowed to prosper! A light-fingered Mercury would hardly haunt
the same spot: however, this is as it may be! It is probable that we owe
to this species of accumulation many precious manuscripts in the
Cottonian collection. It appears by the manuscript note-book of Sir
Nicholas Hyde, chief justice of the King's Bench from the second to the
seventh year of Charles the First, that Sir Robert Cotton had in his
library, records, evidences, ledger-books, original letters, and other
state papers, belonging to the king; for the attorney-general of that
time, to prove this, showed a copy of the _pardon_ which Sir Robert had
obtained from King James for _embezzling records_, &c.[222]

Gough has more than insinuated that Rawlinson and his friend Umfreville
"lie under very strong suspicions;" and he asserts that the collector of
the Wilton treasures made as free as Dr. Willis with his friend's
coins.[223] But he has also put forth a declaration relating to Bishop
More, the famous collector, that "the bishop collected his library by
_plundering_ those of the clergy in his diocese; some he paid with
sermons or more modern books; others, less civilly, only with a _quid
illiterati cum libris?_" This _plundering_ then consisted rather of
_cajoling_ others out of what they knew not how to value; and this is an
advantage which every skilful lover of books must enjoy over those whose
apprenticeship has not expired. I have myself been plundered by a very
dear friend of some such literary curiosities, in the days of my
innocence and of his precocity of knowledge. However, it does appear
that Bishop More did actually lay violent hands in a snug corner on some
irresistible little charmer; which we gather from a precaution adopted
by a friend of the bishop, who one day was found busy in _hiding his
rarest books_, and locking up as many as he could. On being asked the
reason of this odd occupation, the bibliopolist ingenuously replied,
"The Bishop of Ely dines with me to-day." This fact is quite clear, and
here is another as indisputable. Sir Robert Saville writing to Sir
Robert Cotton, appointing an interview with the founder of the Bodleian
Library, cautions Sir Robert, that "If he held any book so dear as that
he would be loath to lose it, he should _not let Sir Thomas out of his
sight_, but set 'the boke' aside beforehand." A surprise and detection
of this nature has been revealed in a piece of secret history by Amelot
de la Houssaie, which terminated in very important political
consequences. He assures us that the personal dislike which Pope
Innocent X. bore to the French had originated in his youth, when
cardinal, from having been detected in the library of an eminent French
collector, of having purloined a most rare volume. The delirium of a
collector's rage overcame even French politesse; the Frenchman not only
openly accused his illustrious culprit, but was resolved that he should
not quit the library without replacing the precious volume--from
accusation and denial both resolved to try their strength: but in this
literary wrestling-match the book dropped out of the cardinal's
robes!--and from that day he hated the French--at least their more
curious collectors!

Even an author on his dying bed, at those awful moments, should a
collector be by his side, may not be considered secure from his too
curious hands. Sir William Dugdale possessed the minutes of King James's
life, written by Camden, till within a fortnight of his death; as also
Camden's own life, which he had from Hacket, the author of the folio
life of Bishop Williams: who, adds Aubrey, "did _filch_ it from Mr.
Camden, as he lay a dying!" He afterwards corrects his information, by
the name of Dr. Thorndyke, which, however, equally answers our purpose,
to prove that even dying authors may dread such collectors!

The medalists have, I suspect, been more predatory than these
subtractors of our literary treasures; not only from the facility of
their conveyance, but from a peculiar contrivance which of all those
things which admit of being secretly purloined, can only be practised in
this department--for they can steal and no human hand can search them
with any possibility of detection; they can pick a cabinet and swallow
the curious things, and transport them with perfect safety, to be
digested at their leisure. An adventure of this kind happened to Baron
Stosch, the famous antiquary. It was in looking over the gems of the
royal cabinet of medals, that the keeper perceived the loss of one; his
place, his pension, and his reputation were at stake: and he insisted
that Baron Stosch should be most minutely examined; in this dilemma,
forced to confession, this erudite collector assured the keeper of the
royal cabinet, that the strictest search would not avail: "Alas, sir! I
have it here within," he said, pointing to his breast--an emetic was
suggested by the learned practitioner himself, probably from some former
experiment. This was not the first time that such a natural cabinet had
been invented; the antiquary Vaillant, when attacked at sea by an
Algerine, zealously swallowed a whole series of Syrian kings; when he
landed at Lyons, groaning with his concealed treasure, he hastened to
his friend, his physician, and his brother antiquary Dufour,--who at
first was only anxious to inquire of his patient, whether the medals
were of the higher empire? Vaillant showed two or three, of which nature
had kindly relieved him. A collection of medals was left to the city of
Exeter, and the donor accompanied the bequest by a clause in his will,
that should a certain antiquary, his old friend and rival, be desirous
of examining the coins, he should be watched by two persons, one on each
side. La Croze informs us in his life, that the learned Charles Patin,
who has written a work on medals, was one of the present race of
collectors: Patin offered the curators of the public library at Basle to
draw up a catalogue of the cabinet of Amberback there preserved,
containing a good number of medals; but they would have been more
numerous, had the catalogue-writer not diminished both them and his
labour, by sequestrating some of the most rare, which was not discovered
till this plunderer of antiquity was far out of their reach.

When Gough touched on this odd subject in the first edition of his
"British Topography," "An Academic" in the _Gentleman's Magazine_ for
August 1772, insinuated that this charge of literary pilfering was only
a jocular one; on which Gough, in his second edition, observed that this
was not the case, and that "one might point out enough _light-fingered
antiquaries_ in the present age, to render such a charge extremely
probable against earlier ones." The most extraordinary part of this
slight history is, that our public denouncer some time after proved
himself to be one of these "light-fingered antiquaries:" the deed
itself, however, was more singular than disgraceful. At the disinterment
of the remains of Edward the First, around which thirty years ago
assembled our most erudite antiquaries, Gough was observed, as Steevens
used to relate, in a wrapping great-coat of unusual dimensions; that
witty and malicious "Puck," so capable himself of inventing mischief,
easily suspected others, and divided his glance as much on the living
piece of antiquity as on the elder. In the act of closing up the relics
of royalty, there was found wanting an entire fore-finger of Edward the
First; and as the body was perfect when opened, a murmur of
dissatisfaction was spreading, when "Puck" directed their attention to
the great antiquary in the watchman's great-coat--from whence--too
surely was extracted Edward the First's great fore-finger!--so that "the
light-fingered antiquary" was recognised ten years after he denounced
the race, when he came to "try his hand."[224]


  [222] Lansdowne MSS. 888, in the former printed catalogue, art. 79.

  [223] Coins are the most dangerous things which can be exhibited to
    a professed _collector_. One of the fraternity, who died but a few
    years since, absolutely kept a record of his pilferings; he
    succeeded in improving his collection by attending sales also, and
    changing his own coins for others in better preservation.

  [224] It is probable that this story of Gough's pocketing the
    fore-finger of Edward the First, was one of the malicious inventions
    of George Steevens, after he discovered that the antiquary was among
    the few admitted to the untombing of the royal corpse; Steevens
    himself was not there! Sylvanus Urban (the late respected John
    Nichols), who must know much more than he cares to record of
    "Puck,"--has, however, given the following "secret history" of what
    he calls "ungentlemanly and unwarrantable attacks" on Gough by
    Steevens. It seems that Steevens was a collector of the works of
    Hogarth, and while engaged in forming his collection, wrote an
    abrupt letter to Gough to obtain from him some early impressions, by
    purchase or exchange. Gough resented the manner of his address by a
    rough refusal, for it is admitted to have been "a peremptory one."
    Thus arose the implacable vengeance of Steevens, who used to boast
    that all the mischievous tricks he played on the grave antiquary,
    who was rarely over-kind to any one, was but a pleasant kind of


The history of Lord Bacon would be that of the intellectual faculties,
and a theme so worthy of the philosophical biographer remains yet to be
written. The personal narrative of this master-genius or inventor must
for ever be separated from the _scala intellectûs_ he was perpetually
ascending: and the domestic history of this creative mind must be
consigned to the most humiliating chapter in the volume of human life; a
chapter already sufficiently enlarged, and which has irrefutably proved
how the greatest minds are not freed from the infirmities of the most

The parent of our philosophy is now to be considered in a new light, one
which others do not appear to have observed. My researches into
contemporary notices of Bacon have often convinced me that his
philosophical works, in his own days and among his own countrymen, were
not only not comprehended, but often ridiculed, and sometimes
reprobated; that they were the occasion of many slights and
mortifications which this depreciated man endured; but that from a very
early period in his life, to that last record of his feelings which
appears in his will, this "servant of posterity," as he prophetically
called himself, sustained his mighty spirit with the confidence of his
own posthumous greatness. Bacon cast his views through the maturity of
ages, and perhaps amidst the sceptics and the rejectors of his plans,
may have felt at times all that idolatry of fame, which has now
consecrated his philosophical works.

At college, Bacon discovered how "that scrap of Grecian knowledge, the
peripatetic philosophy," and the scholastic babble, could not serve the
ends and purposes of knowledge; that syllogisms were not things, and
that a new logic might teach us to invent and judge by induction. He
found that theories were to be built upon experiments. When a young man,
abroad, he began to make those observations on nature, which afterwards
led on to the foundations of the new philosophy. At sixteen, he
philosophised; at twenty-six, he had framed his system into some form;
and after forty years of continued labours, unfinished to his last hour,
he left behind him sufficient to found the great philosophical

On his entrance into active life, study was not however his prime
object. With his fortune to make, his court connexions and his father's
example opened a path for ambition. He chose the practice of common law
as his means, while his inclinations were looking upwards to political
affairs as his end. A passion for study, however, had strongly marked
him; he had read much more than was required in his professional
character, and this circumstance excited the mean jealousies of the
minister Cecil, and the Attorney-General Coke. Both were mere practical
men of business, whose narrow conceptions and whose stubborn habits
assume that whenever a man acquires much knowledge foreign to his
profession, he will know less of professional knowledge than he ought.
These men of strong minds, yet limited capacities, hold in contempt all
studies alien to their habits.

Bacon early aspired to the situation of Solicitor-General; the court of
Elizabeth was divided into factions; Bacon adopted the interests of the
generous Essex, which were inimical to the party of Cecil. The queen,
from his boyhood, was delighted by conversing with her "young
lord-keeper," as she early distinguished the precocious gravity and the
ingenious turn of mind of the future philosopher. It was unquestionably
to attract her favour, that Bacon presented to the queen his "Maxims and
Elements of the Common Law," not published till after his death.
Elizabeth suffered her minister to form her opinions on the legal
character of Bacon. It was alleged that Bacon was addicted to more
general pursuits than law, and the miscellaneous books which he was
known to have read confirmed the accusation. This was urged as a reason
why the post of Solicitor-General should not be conferred on a man of
speculation, more likely to distract than to direct her affairs.
Elizabeth, in the height of that political prudence which marked her
character, was swayed by the vulgar notion of Cecil, and believed that
Bacon, who afterwards filled the situation both of Solicitor-General and
Lord Chancellor, was "a man rather of show than of depth." We have
recently been told by a great lawyer that "Bacon was a master."

On the accession of James the First, when Bacon still found the same
party obstructing his political advancement, he appears, in some
momentary fit of disgust, to have meditated on a retreat into a foreign
country; a circumstance which has happened to several of our men of
genius, during a fever of solitary indignation. He was for some time
thrown out of the sunshine of life, but he found its shade more fitted
for contemplation; and, unquestionably, philosophy was benefited by his
solitude at Gray's Inn. His hand was always on his work, and better
thoughts will find an easy entrance into the mind of those who feed on
their thoughts, and live amidst their reveries. In a letter on this
occasion, he writes, "My ambition now I shall only put upon my PEN,
whereby I shall be able to maintain memory and merit, of THE TIMES
SUCCEEDING." And many years after, when he had finally quitted public
life, he told the king, "I would live to study, and not study to live:
yet I am prepared for _date obolum Belisario_; and, I that have borne a
bag, can bear a wallet."

Ever were THE TIMES SUCCEEDING in his mind. In that delightful Latin
letter to Father Fulgentio, where, with the simplicity of true grandeur,
he takes a view of all his works, and in which he describes himself as
"one who served posterity," in communicating his past and his future
designs, he adds that "they require some ages for the ripening of them."
There, while he despairs of finishing what was intended for the sixth
part of his Instauration, how nobly he despairs! "Of the perfecting this
I have cast away all hopes; but in future ages, perhaps, the design may
bud again." And he concludes by avowing, that the zeal and constancy of
his mind in the great design, after so many years, had never become cold
and indifferent. He remembers how, forty years ago, he had composed a
juvenile work about those things, which with confidence, but with too
pompous a title, he had called _Temporis Partus Maximus_; the great
birth of time! Besides the public dedication of his _Novum Organum_ to
James the First, he accompanied it with a private letter. He wishes the
king's favour to the work, which he accounts as much as a hundred years'
time; for he adds, "I am persuaded _the work will gain upon men's minds
in_ AGES."

In his last will appears his remarkable legacy of fame. "My name and
memory I leave to foreign nations, and to mine own countrymen, AFTER
SOME TIME BE PAST OVER." Time seemed always personated in the
imagination of our philosopher, and with time he wrestled with a
consciousness of triumph.

I shall now bring forward sufficient evidence to prove how little Bacon
was understood, and how much he was even despised, in his philosophical

In those prescient views by which the genius of Verulam has often
anticipated the institutions and the discoveries of succeeding times,
there was one important object which even his foresight does not appear
to have contemplated. Lord Bacon did not foresee that the English
language would one day be capable of embalming all that philosophy can
discover, or poetry can invent; that his country would at length possess
a national literature of its own, and that it would exult in classical
compositions which might be appreciated with the finest models of
antiquity. His taste was far unequal to his invention. So little did he
esteem the language of his country, that his favourite works are
composed in Latin; and he was anxious to have what he had written in
English preserved in that "universal language which may last as long as
books last." It would have surprised Bacon to have been told, that the
most learned men in Europe have studied English authors to learn to
think and to write. Our philosopher was surely somewhat mortified, when
in his dedication of the Essays he observed, that "of all my other works
my Essays have been most current; for that, _as it seems_, they come
home to men's business and bosoms." It is too much to hope to find in a
vast and profound inventor a writer also who bestows immortality on his
language. The English language is the only object in his great survey of
art and of nature, which owes nothing of its excellence to the genius of

He had reason indeed to be mortified at the reception of his
philosophical works; and Dr. Rawley, even some years after the death of
his illustrious master, had occasion to observe, that "His fame is
greater and sounds louder in foreign parts abroad than at home in his
own nation"; thereby verifying that divine sentence, a prophet is not
without honour, save in his own country and in his own house. Even the
men of genius, who ought to have comprehended this new source of
knowledge thus opened to them, reluctantly entered into it; so repugnant
are we suddenly to give up ancient errors which time and habit have made
a part of ourselves. Harvey, who himself experienced the sluggish
obstinacy of the learned, which repelled a great but a novel discovery,
could, however, in his turn deride the amazing novelty of Bacon's _Novum
Organum_. Harvey said to Aubrey, that "Bacon was no great philosopher;
he writes philosophy like a lord chancellor." It has been suggested to
me that Bacon's philosophical writings have been much overrated.--His
experimental philosophy from the era in which they were produced must be
necessarily defective: the time he gave to them could only have been had
at spare hours; but like the great prophet on the mount, Bacon was
doomed to view the land afar, which he himself could never enter.

Bacon found but small encouragement for his _new learning_ among the
most eminent scholars, to whom he submitted his early discoveries. A
very copious letter by Sir Thomas Bodley on Bacon's desiring him to
return the manuscript of the _Cogitata et Visa_, some portion of the
_Novum Organum_, has come down to us; it is replete with objections to
the new philosophy. "I am one of that crew," says Sir Thomas, "that say
we possess a far greater holdfast of certainty in the sciences than you
will seem to acknowledge." He gives a hint too that Solomon complained
"of the infinite making of books in his time;" that all Bacon delivers
is only "by averment without other force of argument, to disclaim all
our axioms, maxims, &c., left by tradition from our elders unto us,
which have passed all probations of the sharpest wits that ever were;"
and he concludes that the end of all Bacon's philosophy, by "a fresh
creating new principles of sciences, would be to be dispossessed of the
learning we have;" and he fears that it would require as many ages as
have marched before us that knowledge should be perfectly achieved.
Bodley truly compares himself to "the carrier's horse which cannot
blanch the beaten way in which I was trained."[225]

Bacon did not lose heart by the timidity of the "carrier's horse:" a
smart vivacious note in return shows his quick apprehension.

"As I am going to my house in the country, I shall want my papers, which
I beg you therefore to return. You are slothful, and you help me
nothing, so that I am half in conceit you affect not the argument; for
myself I know well you love and affect. I can say no more, but _non
canimus surdis, respondent omnia sylvæ_. If you be not _of the lodgings
chalked up_, whereof I speak in my preface, I am but to pass by your
door. But if I had you a fortnight at Gorhambury, I would make you tell
another tale; or else I would add a cogitation _against libraries_, and
be revenged on you that way."

A keen but playful retort of a great author too conscious of his own
views to be angry with his critic! The singular phrase of the _lodgings
chalked up_ is a sarcasm explained by this passage in "The Advancement
of Learning." "As Alexander Borgia was wont to say of the expedition of
the French for Naples, that they came with chalk in their hands to mark
up their lodgings, and not with weapons to fight; so I like better that
entry of truth that cometh peaceably with chalk to mark up those minds
which are capable to lodge and harbour it, than that which cometh with
pugnacity and contention."[226] The threatened agitation _against
libraries_ must have caused Bodley's cheek to tingle.

Let us now turn from the scholastic to the men of the world, and we
shall see what sort of notion these critics entertained of the
philosophy of Bacon. Chamberlain writes, "This week the lord chancellor
hath set forth his new work, called _Instauratio Magna_, or a kind of
_Novum Organum_ of all philosophy. In sending it to the king, he wrote
that he wished his majesty might be so long in reading it as he hath
been in composing and polishing it, which is well near thirty years. I
have read no more than the bare title, and am not greatly encouraged by
Mr. Cuffe's judgment,[227] who having long since perused it, gave this
censure, that a fool could not have written such a work, and a wise man
would not." A month or two afterwards we find that "the king cannot
forbear sometimes in reading the lord chancellor's last book to say,
that it is like _the peace of God, that surpasseth all understanding_."

Two years afterwards the same letter-writer proceeds with another
literary paragraph about Bacon. "This lord busies himself altogether
about _books_, and hath set out two lately, _Historia Ventorum_ and _De
Vitâ et Morte_, with promise of more. I have yet seen neither of them,
because I have not leisure; but if the Life of Henry the Eighth (the
Seventh), which they say he is about, might _come out after his own
manner_ (meaning his Moral Essays), I should find time and means enough
to read it." When this history made its appearance, the same writer
observes, "My Lord Verulam's history of Henry the Seventh is come forth;
I have not read much of it, but they say it is a very pretty book."[228]

Bacon, in his vast survey of human knowledge, included even its humbler
provinces, and condescended to form a collection of apophthegms: his
lordship regretted the loss of a collection made by Julius Cæsar, while
Plutarch indiscriminately drew much of the dregs. The wits, who could
not always comprehend his plans, ridiculed the sage. I shall now quote a
contemporary poet, whose works, for by their size they may assume that
distinction, were never published. A Dr. Andrews wasted a sportive pen
on fugitive events; but though not always deficient in humour and wit,
such is the freedom of his writings, that they will not often admit of
quotation. The following is indeed but a strange pun on Bacon's title,
derived from the town of St. Albans and his collection of apophthegms:--


  When learned Bacon wrote Essays,
  He did deserve and hath the praise;
  But now he writes his _Apophthegms_,
  Surely he dozes or he dreams;
  One said, _St. Albans_ now is grown unable,
  And is in the high-road way--_to Dunstable_ [i.e., _Dunce-table_.]

To the close of his days were Lord Bacon's philosophical pursuits still
disregarded and depreciated by ignorance and envy, in the forms of
friendship or rivality. I shall now give a remarkable example. Sir
Edward Coke was a mere great lawyer, and, like all such, had a mind so
walled in by law-knowledge, that in its bounded views it shut out the
horizon of the intellectual faculties, and the whole of his philosophy
lay in the statutes. In the library at Holkham there will be found a
presentation copy of Lord Bacon's _Novum Organum_, the _Instauratio
Magna_, 1620. It was given to Coke, for it bears the following note on
the title-page, in the writing of Coke:--

  Edw. Coke, _Ex dono authoris,
                Auctori consilium
  Instaurare paras veterum documenta sophorum
  Instaura leges, justitiamque prius_.

The verses not only reprove Bacon for going out of his profession, but
must have alluded to his character as a prerogative lawyer, and his
corrupt administration of the chancery. The book was published in
October, 1620, a few months before his impeachment. And so far one may
easily excuse the causticity of Coke; but how he really valued the
philosophy of Bacon appears by this: in this first edition there is a
device of a ship passing between Hercules's pillars; the _plus ultra_,
the proud exultation of our philosopher. Over this device Coke has
written a miserable distich in English, which marks his utter contempt
of the philosophical pursuits of his illustrious rival. This ship
passing beyond the columns of Hercules he sarcastically conceits as "The
Ship of Fools," the famous satire of the German Sebastian Brandt,
translated by Alexander Barclay.

  _It deserveth not to be read in schools,
  But to be freighted in the Ship of Fools._

Such then was the fate of Lord Bacon; a history not written by his
biographers, but which may serve as a comment on that obscure passage
dropped from the pen of his chaplain, and already quoted, that he was
more valued abroad than at home.


  [225] This letter may be found in _Reliquiæ Bodleianæ_, p. 369.

  [226] I have been favoured with this apt illustration by an
    anonymous communicator, who dates from the "London University." I
    request him to accept my grateful acknowledgments.

  [227] Henry Cuffe, secretary to Robert, Earl of Essex, and executed,
    being concerned in his treason. A man noted for his classical
    acquirements and his genius, who perished early in life.

  [228] Chamberlain adds the price of this moderate-sized folio, which
    was six shillings. It would be worth the while of some literary
    student to note the prices of our earlier books, which are often
    found written upon them by their original possessor. A rare tract
    first purchased for twopence has often realized four guineas or more
    in modern days.


It is an extraordinary circumstance in our history, that the succession
to the English dominion, in two remarkable cases, was never settled by
the possessors of the throne themselves during their lifetime; and that
there is every reason to believe that this mighty transfer of three
kingdoms became the sole act of their ministers, who considered the
succession merely as a state expedient. Two of our most able sovereigns
found themselves in this predicament: Queen Elizabeth and the Protector
Cromwell! Cromwell probably had his reasons not to name his successor;
his positive election would have dissatisfied the opposite parties of
his government, whom he only ruled while he was able to cajole them. He
must have been aware that latterly he had need of conciliating all
parties to his usurpation, and was probably as doubtful on his death-bed
whom to appoint his successor as at any other period of his reign.
Ludlow suspects that Cromwell was "so discomposed in body or mind, that
he could not attend to that matter; and whether he named any one is to
me uncertain." All that we know is the report of the Secretary Thurlow
and his chaplains, who, when the protector lay in his last agonies,
suggested to him the propriety of choosing his eldest son, and they tell
us that he agreed to this choice. Had Cromwell been in his senses, he
would have probably fixed on _Henry_, the lord-lieutenant of Ireland,
rather than on _Richard_, or possibly had not chosen either of his sons!

Elizabeth, from womanish infirmity, or from state-reasons, could not
endure the thoughts of her successor; and long threw into jeopardy the
politics of all the cabinets of Europe, each of which had its favourite
candidate to support. The legitimate heir to the throne of England was
to be the creature of her breath, yet Elizabeth would not speak him into
existence! This had, however, often raised the discontents of the
nation, and we shall see how it harassed the queen in her dying hours.
It is even suspected that the queen still retained so much of the woman,
that she could never overcome her perverse dislike to name a successor;
so that, according to this opinion, she died and left the crown to the
mercy of a party! This would have been acting unworthy of the
magnanimity of her great character--and as it is ascertained that the
queen was very sensible that she lay in a dying state several days
before the natural catastrophe occurred, it is difficult to believe that
she totally disregarded so important a circumstance. It is therefore,
reasoning _à priori_, most natural to conclude that the choice of a
successor must have occupied her thoughts, as well as the anxieties of
her ministers; and that she would not have left the throne in the same
unsettled state at her death as she had persevered in during her whole
life. How did she express herself when bequeathing the crown to James
the First, or did she bequeath it at all?

In the popular pages of her female historian Miss Aikin, it is observed
that "the closing scene of the long and eventful life of Queen Elizabeth
was marked by that peculiarity of character and destiny which attended
her from the cradle, and pursued her to the grave." The last days of
Elizabeth were indeed most melancholy--she died a victim of the higher
passions, and perhaps as much of grief as of age, refusing all remedies
and even nourishment. But in all the published accounts, I can nowhere
discover how she conducted herself respecting the circumstance of our
present inquiry. The most detailed narrative, or as Gray the poet calls
it, "the Earl of Monmouth's _odd account_ of Queen Elizabeth's death,"
is the one most deserving notice; and there we find the circumstance of
this inquiry introduced. The queen at that moment was reduced to so sad
a state, that it is doubtful whether her majesty was at all sensible of
the inquiries put to her by her ministers respecting the succession. The
Earl of Monmouth says, "On Wednesday, the 23rd of March, she grew
speechless. That afternoon, by signs, she called for her council, and by
putting her hand to her head when the King of Scots was named to succeed
her, they all knew he was the man she desired should reign after her."
Such a sign as that of a dying woman putting her hand to her head was,
to say the least, a very ambiguous acknowledgment of the right of the
Scottish monarch to the English throne. The "odd" but very _naïve_
account of Robert Cary, afterwards Earl of Monmouth, is not furnished
with dates, nor with the exactness of a diary. Something might have
occurred on a preceding day which had not reached him. Camden describes
the death-bed scene of Elizabeth; by this authentic writer it appears
that she had confided her state-secret of the succession to the lord
admiral (the Earl of Nottingham); and when the earl found the queen
almost at her extremity, _he communicated her majesty's secret to the
council_, who commissioned the lord admiral, the lord keeper, and the
secretary, to wait on her majesty, and acquaint her that they came in
the name of the rest to learn her pleasure in reference to _the
succession_. The queen was then very weak, and answered them with a
faint voice, that she had already declared, that as she held a regal
sceptre, so she desired no other than a royal successor. When the
secretary requested her to explain herself, the queen said, "I would
have a king succeed me; and who should that he but my nearest kinsman,
the King of Scots?" Here this state conversation was put an end to by
the interference of the archbishop advising her majesty to turn her
thoughts to God. "Never," she replied, "has my mind wandered from him."

An historian of Camden's high integrity would hardly have forged a
fiction to please the new monarch: yet Camden has not been referred to
on this occasion by the exact Birch, who draws his information from the
letters of the French ambassador, Villeroy; information which it appears
the English ministers had confided to this ambassador; nor do we get any
distinct ideas from Elizabeth's more recent popular historian, who could
only transcribe the account of Cary. He had told us a fact which he
could not be mistaken in, that the queen fell speechless on Wednesday,
23rd of March, on which day, however, she called her council, and made
that sign with her hand, which, as the lords choose to understand, for
ever united the two kingdoms. But the noble editor of Cary's Memoirs
(the Earl of Cork and Orrery) has observed that "the speeches made for
Elizabeth on her death-bed are all forged." Echard, Rapin, and a long
string of historians, make her say faintly (so faintly indeed that it
could not possibly be heard), "I will that a king succeed me, and who
should that be but my nearest kinsman, the King of Scots?" A different
account of this matter will be found in the following memoirs. "She was
speechless, and almost expiring, when the chief councillors of state
were called into her bedchamber. As soon as they were perfectly
convinced that she could not utter an articulate word, and scarce could
hear or understand one, they named the King of Scots to her, _a liberty
they dared not to have taken if she had been able to speak_; she put her
hand to her head, which was probably at that time in agonising pain.
_The lords, who interpreted her signs just as they pleased_, were
immediately convinced that the _motion of her hand to her head was a
declaration of James the Sixth as her successor_. What was this but the
unanimous interpretation of persons who were adoring the rising sun?"

This is lively and plausible; but the noble editor did not recollect
that "the speeches made by Elizabeth on her death-bed," which he deems
"forgeries," in consequence of the circumstance he had found in Cary's
Memoirs, originate with Camden, and were only repeated by Rapin and
Echard, &c. I am now to confirm the narrative of the elder historian, as
well as the circumstance related by Cary, describing the sign of the
queen a little differently, which happened on Wednesday, 23rd. A
hitherto unnoticed document pretends to give a fuller and more
circumstantial account of this affair, which commenced on _the preceding
day_, when the queen retained the power of speech; and it will be
confessed that the language here used has all that loftiness and brevity
which was the natural style of this queen. I have discovered a curious
document in a manuscript volume formerly in the possession of Petyt, and
seemingly in his own handwriting. I do not doubt its authenticity, and
it could only have come from some of the illustrious personages who were
the actors in that solemn scene, probably from Cecil. This memorandum is

"Account of the last words of Queen Elizabeth about her Successor.

"On the Tuesday before her death, being the twenty-third of March, the
admiral being on the right side of her bed, the lord keeper on the left,
and Mr. Secretary Cecil (afterwards Earl of Salisbury) at the bed's
feet, all standing, the lord admiral put her in mind of her speech
concerning the succession had at Whitehall, and that they, in the name
of all the rest of her council, came unto her to know her pleasure who
should succeed; whereunto she thus replied:

"_I told you my seat had been the seat of kings, and I will have no
rascal to succeed me. And who should succeed me but a king?_

"The lords not understanding this dark speech, and looking one on the
other; at length Mr. Secretary boldly asked her what she meant by those
words, that _no rascal should succeed her_. Whereto she replied, that
_her meaning was, that a king should succeed: and who_, quoth she,
_should, that be but our cousin of Scotland_?

"They asked her whether that were her absolute resolution? whereto she
answered, _I pray you trouble me no more; for I will have none but him_.
With which answer they departed.

"Notwithstanding, after again, about four o'clock in the afternoon the
next day, being Wednesday, after the Archbishop of Canterbury and other
divines had been with her, and left her in a manner speechless, the
three lords aforesaid repaired unto her again, asking her if she
remained in her former resolution, and who should succeed her? but not
being able to speak, was asked by Mr. Secretary in this sort, 'We
beseech your majesty, if you remain in your former resolution, and that
you would have the King of Scots to succeed you in your kingdom, show
some sign unto us: whereat, _suddenly heaving herself upwards in her
bed, and putting her arms out of bed, she held her hands jointly over
her head in manner of a crown_; whence as they guessed, she signified
that she did not only wish him the kingdom, but desire continuance of
his estate: after which they departed, and the next morning she died.
Immediately after her death, all the lords, as well of the council as
other noblemen that were at the court, came from Richmond to Whitehall
by six o'clock in the morning, where other noblemen that were in London
met them. Touching the succession, after some speeches of divers
competitors and matters of state, at length the admiral rehearsed all
the aforesaid premises which the late queen had spoken to him, and to
the lord keeper, and Mr. Secretary (Cecil), with the manner thereof;
which they, being asked, did affirm to be true upon their HONOUR."

Such is this singular document of secret history. I cannot but value it
as authentic, because the one part is evidently alluded to by Camden,
and the other is fully confirmed by Cary; and besides this, the
remarkable expression of "rascal" is found in the letter of the French
ambassador. There were two interviews with the queen, and Cary appears
only to have noticed the last on Wednesday, when the queen lay
speechless. Elizabeth all her life had persevered in an obstinate
mysteriousness respecting the succession, and it harassed her latest
moments. The second interview of her ministers may seem to us quite
supernumerary; but Cary's "putting her hand to her head," too meanly
describes the "joining her hands in manner of a crown."


Calumnies and sarcasms have reduced the character of James the First to
contempt among general readers; while the narrative of historians, who
have related facts in spite of themselves, is in perpetual contradiction
with their own opinions. Perhaps no sovereign has suffered more by that
art, which is described by an old Irish proverb, of "killing a man by
lies." The surmises and the insinuations of one party, dissatisfied with
the established government in church and state; the misconceptions of
more modern writers, who have not possessed the requisite knowledge; and
the anonymous libels, sent forth at a particular period to vilify the
Stuarts; all these cannot be treasured up by the philosopher as the
authorities of history. It is at least more honourable to resist popular
prejudice than to yield to it a passive obedience; and what we can
ascertain it would be a dereliction of truth to conceal. Much can be
substantiated in favour of the domestic affections and habits of this
pacific monarch; and those who are more intimately acquainted with the
secret history of the times will perceive how erroneously the personal
character of this sovereign is exhibited in our popular historians, and
often even among the few who, with better information, have re-echoed
their preconceived opinions.

Confining myself here to his domestic character, I shall not touch on
the many admirable public projects of this monarch, which have extorted
the praise, and even the admiration, of some who have not spared their
pens in his disparagement. James the First has been taxed with
pusillanimity and foolishness; this monarch cannot, however, be
reproached with having engendered them! All his children, in whose
education their father was so deeply concerned, sustained through life a
dignified character and a high spirit. The short life of Henry was
passed in a school of prowess, and amidst an academy of literature. Of
the king's paternal solicitude, even to the hand and the letter-writing
of Prince Henry when young, I have preserved a proof in the article of
"The History of Writing-masters." Charles the First, in his youth more
particularly designed for a studious life, with a serious character,
was, however, never deficient in active bravery and magnanimous
fortitude. Of Elizabeth, the Queen of Bohemia, tried as she was by such
vicissitudes of fortune, it is much to be regretted that the
interesting story remains untold; her buoyant spirits rose always above
the perpetual changes of a princely to a private state--a queen to an
exile! The father of such children derives some distinction for
capacity, in having reared such a noble offspring; and the king's marked
attention to the formation of his children's minds was such as to have
been pointed out by Ben Jonson, who, in his "Gipsies Metamorphosed,"
rightly said of James, using his native term--

  You are an honest, good man, and have care of YOUR BEARNS (bairns).

Among the flouts and gibes so freely bespattering the personal character
of James the First, is one of his coldness and neglect of his queen. It
would, however, be difficult to prove by any known fact that James was
not as indulgent a husband as he was a father. Yet even a writer so well
informed as Daines Barrington, who, as a lawyer, could not refrain from
lauding the royal sage during his visit to Denmark, on his marriage, for
having borrowed three statutes from the Danish code, found the king's
name so provocative of sarcasm, that he could not forbear observing,
that James "spent more time in those courts of judicature than in
_attending upon his destined consort_."--"Men of all sorts have taken a
pride to gird at me," might this monarch have exclaimed. But everything
has two handles, saith the ancient adage. Had an austere puritan chosen
to observe that James the First, when abroad, had lived jovially; and
had this historian then dropped silently the interesting circumstance of
the king's "spending his time in the Danish courts of judicature," the
fact would have borne him out in his reproof; and Francis Osborne,
indeed, has censured James for giving marks of his _uxoriousness_! There
was no deficient gallantry in the conduct of James the First to his
queen; the very circumstance, that when the Princess of Denmark was
driven by a storm back to Norway, the king resolved to hasten to her,
and consummate his marriage in Denmark, was itself as romantic an
expedition as afterwards was that of his son's into Spain, and betrays
no mark of that tame pusillanimity with which he stands overcharged.

The character of the queen of James the First is somewhat obscure in our
public history, for in it she makes no prominent figure; while in secret
history she is more apparent. Anne of Denmark was a spirited and
enterprising woman; and it appears from a passage in Sully, whose
authority should weigh with us, although we ought to recollect that it
is the French minister who writes, that she seems to have raised a court
faction against James, and inclined to favour the Spanish and catholic
interests; yet it may be alleged as a strong proof of James's political
wisdom, that the queen was never suffered to head a formidable party,
though she latterly might have engaged Prince Henry in that court
opposition. The _bonhommie_ of the king, on this subject, expressed with
a simplicity of style which, though it may not be royal, is something
better, appears in a letter to the queen, which has been preserved in
the appendix to Sir David Dalrymple's collections. It is without date,
but written when in Scotland, to quiet the queen's suspicions, that the
Earl of Mar, who had the care of Prince Henry, and whom she wished to
take out of his hands, had insinuated to the king that her majesty was
strongly disposed to any "popish or Spanish course." This letter
confirms the representation of Sully; but the extract is remarkable for
the manly simplicity of style which the king used.

"I say over again, leave these froward womanly apprehensions, for I
thank God I carry that love and respect unto you which, by the law of
God and nature, I ought to do to my wife, and mother of my children; but
not for that ye are a king's daughter; for whether ye were a king's
daughter, or a cook's daughter, ye must be all alike to me since my
wife. For the respect of your honourable birth and descent I married
you; but the love and respect I now bear you is because that ye are my
married wife, and so partaker of my honour, as of my other fortunes. I
beseech you excuse my plainness in this, for casting up of your birth is
a needless impertinent (that is, not pertinent) argument to me. God is
my witness, I ever preferred you to my bairns, much more than to a

In an ingenious historical dissertation, but one perfectly theoretical,
respecting that mysterious transaction the Gowrie conspiracy, Pinkerton
has attempted to show that Anne of Denmark was a lady somewhat inclined
to intrigue, and that "the king had cause to be jealous." He confesses
that "he cannot discover any positive charge of adultery against Anne of
Denmark, but merely of coquetry."[229] To what these accusations amount
it would be difficult to say. The progeny of James the First
sufficiently bespeak their family resemblance. If it be true, that "the
king had ever reason to be jealous," and yet that no single criminal act
of the queen's has been recorded, it must be confessed that one or both
of the parties were singularly discreet and decent; for the king never
complained, and the queen was never accused, if we except this burthen
of an old Scottish ballad,

  O the bonny Earl of Murray,
  He was the queen's love.

Whatever may have happened in Scotland, in England the queen appears to
have lived occupied chiefly by the amusements of the court, and not to
have interfered with the _arcana_ of state. She appears to have indulged
a passion for the elegancies and splendours of the age, as they were
shown in those gorgeous court masques with which the taste of James
harmonized, either from his gallantry for the queen, or his own poetic
sympathy. But this taste for court masques could not escape the slur and
scandal of the puritanic, and these "high-flying fancies" are thus
recorded by honest Arthur Wilson, whom we summon into court as an
indubitable witness of the mutual cordiality of this royal couple. In
the spirit of his party, and like Milton, he censures the taste, but
likes it. He says, "The court being a continued _maskarado_, where she
(the queen) and her ladies, like so many sea-nymphs or Nereides,
appeared often in various dresses, to the ravishment of the beholders;
the king himself not being a little delighted with such fluent
elegancies as made the night more glorious than the day."[230] This is a
direct proof that James was by no means cold or negligent in his
attentions to his queen; and the letter which has been given is the
picture of his mind. That James the First was fondly indulgent to his
queen, and could perform an act of chivalric gallantry with all the
generosity of passion, and the ingenuity of an elegant mind, a pleasing
anecdote which I have discovered in an unpublished letter of the day
will show. I give it in the words of the writer.

                                      "_August, 1613._

   "At their last being at Theobalds, about a fortnight ago, the queen,
   shooting at a deer, mistook her mark, and killed _Jewel_, the king's
   most principal and special hound; at which he stormed exceedingly
   awhile; but after he knew who did it, he was soon pacified, and with
   much kindness wished her not to be troubled with it, for he should
   love her never the worse: and the next day sent her a diamond worth
   two thousand pounds as _a legacy from his dead dog_. Love and
   kindness increased daily between them."

Such is the history of a contemporary living at court, very opposite to
that representation of coldness and neglect with which the king's temper
has been so freely aspersed; and such too is the true portrait of James
the First in domestic life. His first sensations were thoughtless and
impetuous; and he would ungracefully thunder out an oath, which a
puritan would set down in his "tables," while he omitted to note that
this king's forgiveness and forgetfulness of personal injuries were sure
to follow the feeling they had excited.


  [229] The historical dissertation is appended to the first volume of
    Mr. Malcolm Laing's "History of Scotland," who thinks that "it has
    placed that obscure transaction in its genuine light."

  [230] See the article on _Court Masques_ in the early pages of the
    present volume for notices of the elaborate splendour and costliness
    of these favourite displays.


Mr. Maurice, in his animated Memoirs, has recently acquainted us with a
fact which may be deemed important in the life of a literary man. He
tells us, "We have been just informed that Sir William Jones
_invariably_ read through every year the works of Cicero, whose life
indeed was the great exemplar of his own." The same passion for the
works of Cicero has been participated by others. When the best means of
forming a good style were inquired of the learned Arnauld, he advised
the daily study of Cicero; but it was observed that the object was not
to form a Latin, but a French style: "In that case," replied Arnauld,
"you must still read Cicero."

A predilection for some great author, among the vast number which must
transiently occupy our attention, seems to be the happiest preservative
for our taste: accustomed to that excellent author whom we have chosen
for our favourite, we may in this intimacy possibly resemble him. It is
to be feared that, if we do not form such a permanent attachment, we may
be acquiring knowledge, while our enervated taste becomes less and less
lively. Taste embalms the knowledge which otherwise cannot preserve
itself. He who has long been intimate with one great author will always
be found to be a formidable antagonist; he has saturated his mind with
the excellences of genius; he has shaped his faculties insensibly to
himself by his model, and he is like a man who ever sleeps in armour,
ready at a moment! The old Latin proverb reminds us of this fact, _Cave
ab homine unius libri_: Be cautious of the man of one book!

Pliny and Seneca give very safe advice on reading: that we should read
much, but not many books--but they had no "monthly list of new
publications!" Since their days others have favoured us with "Methods of
Study," and "Catalogues of Books to be Read." Vain attempts to
circumscribe that invisible circle of human knowledge which is
perpetually enlarging itself! The multiplicity of books is an evil for
the many; for we now find an _helluo librorum_ not only among the
learned, but, with their pardon, among the unlearned; for those who,
even to the prejudice of their health, persist only in reading the
incessant book-novelties of our own time, will after many years acquire
a sort of learned ignorance. We are now in want of an art to teach how
books are to be read, rather than not to read them: such an art is
practicable. But amidst this vast multitude still let us be "the man of
one book," and preserve an uninterrupted intercourse with that great
author with whose mode of thinking we sympathise, and whose charms of
composition we can habitually retain.

It is remarkable that every great writer appears to have a predilection
for some favourite author; and, with Alexander, had they possessed a
golden casket, would have enshrined the works they so constantly turned
over. Demosthenes felt such delight in the history of Thucydides, that,
to obtain a familiar and perfect mastery of his style, he re-copied his
history eight times; while Brutus not only was constantly perusing
Polybius, even amidst the most busy periods of his life, but was
abridging a copy of that author on the last awful night of his
existence, when on the following day he was to try his fate against
Antony and Octavius. Selim the Second had the Commentaries of Cæsar
translated for his use; and it is recorded that his military ardour was
heightened by the perusal. We are told that Scipio Africanus was made a
hero by the writings of Xenophon. When Clarendon was employed in writing
his history, he was in a constant study of Livy and Tacitus, to acquire
the full and flowing style of the one, and the portrait-painting of the
other: he records this circumstance in a letter. Voltaire had usually on
his table the _Athalie_ of Racine, and the _Petit Carême_ of Massillon;
the tragedies of the one were the finest model of French verse, the
sermons of the other of French prose. "Were I obliged to sell my
library," exclaimed Diderot, "I would keep back Moses, Homer, and
Richardson;" and, by the _éloge_ which this enthusiastic writer composed
on our English novelist, it is doubtful, had the Frenchman been obliged
to have lost two of them, whether Richardson had not been the elected
favourite. Monsieur Thomas, a French writer, who at times displays high
eloquence and profound thinking, Herault de Sechelles tells us, studied
chiefly one author, but that author was Cicero; and never went into the
country unaccompanied by some of his works. Fénélon was constantly
employed on his Homer; he left a translation of the greater part of the
Odyssey, without any design of publication, but merely as an exercise
for style. Montesquieu was a constant student of Tacitus, of whom he
must be considered a forcible imitator. He has, in the manner of
Tacitus, characterised Tacitus: "That historian," he says, "who abridged
everything, because he saw everything." The famous Bourdaloue re-perused
every year Saint Paul, Saint Chrysostom, and Cicero. "These," says a
French critic, "were the sources of his masculine and solid eloquence."
Grotius had such a taste for Lucan, that he always carried a pocket
edition about him, and has been seen to kiss his hand-book with the
rapture of a true votary. If this anecdote be true, the elevated
sentiments of the stern Roman were probably the attraction with the
Batavian republican. The diversified reading of Leibnitz is well known;
but he still attached himself to one or two favourites: Virgil was
always in his hand when at leisure, and Leibnitz had read Virgil so
often, that even in his old age he could repeat whole books by heart;
Barclay's Argenis was his model for prose; when he was found dead in his
chair, the Argenis had fallen from his hands. Rabelais and Marot were
the perpetual favourites of La Fontaine; from one he borrowed his
humour, and from the other his style. Quevedo was so passionately fond
of the Don Quixote of Cervantes, that often in reading that unrivalled
work he felt an impulse to burn his own inferior compositions: to be a
sincere admirer and a hopeless rival is a case of authorship the hardest
imaginable. Few writers can venture to anticipate the award of
posterity; yet perhaps Quevedo had not even been what he was without the
perpetual excitement he received from his great master. Horace was the
friend of his heart to Malherbe; he laid the Roman poet on his pillow,
took him in the fields, and called his Horace his breviary. Plutarch,
Montaigne, and Locke, were the three authors constantly in the hands of
Rousseau, and he has drawn from them the groundwork of his ideas in his
Emile. The favourite author of the great Earl of Chatham was Barrow; and
on his style he had formed his eloquence, and had read his great master
so constantly, as to be able to repeat his elaborate sermons from
memory. The great Lord Burleigh always carried Tully's Offices in his
pocket; Charles V. and Buonaparte had Machiavel frequently in their
hands; and Davila was the perpetual study of Hampden: he seemed to have
discovered in that historian of civil wars those which he anticipated in
the land of his fathers.

These facts sufficiently illustrate the recorded circumstance of Sir
William Jones's invariable habit of reading his Cicero through every
year, and exemplify the happy result for him, who, amidst the
multiplicity of his authors, still continues in this way to be "the man
of one book."


A startling literary prophecy, recently sent forth from our oracular
literature, threatens the annihilation of public libraries, which are
one day to moulder away!

Listen to the vaticinator! "As conservatories of mental treasures, their
value in times of darkness and barbarity was incalculable; and even in
these happier days, when men are incited to explore new regions of
thought, they command respect as depots of methodical and well-ordered
references for the researches of the curious. But what in one state of
society is invaluable, may at another be worthless; and the progress
which the world has made within a very few centuries has considerably
reduced the estimation which is due to such establishments. We will say
more--"[231] but enough! This idea of striking into dust "the god of his
idolatry," the Dagon of his devotion, is sufficient to terrify the
bibliographer, who views only a blind Samson pulling down the pillars of
his temple!

This future universal inundation of books, this superfluity of
knowledge, in billions and trillions, overwhelms the imaginnation! It
is now about four hundred years since the art of multiplying books has
been discovered; and an arithmetician has attempted to calculate the
incalculable of these four ages of typography, which he discovers have
actually produced 3,641,960 works! Taking each work at three volumes,
and reckoning only each impression to consist of three hundred copies,
which is too little, the actual amount from the presses of Europe will
give to 1816, 3,277,764,000 volumes! each of which being an inch thick,
if placed on a line, would cover 6069 leagues! Leibnitz facetiously
maintained that such would be the increase of literature, that future
generations would find whole cities insufficient to contain their
libraries. We are, however, indebted to the patriotic endeavours of our
grocers and trunkmakers, alchemists of literature! they annihilate the
gross bodies without injuring the finer spirits. We are still more
indebted to that neglected race, the bibliographers!

The science of books, for so bibliography is sometimes dignified, may
deserve the gratitude of a public, who are yet insensible of the useful
zeal of those book-practitioners, the nature of whose labours is yet so
imperfectly comprehended. Who is this vaticinator of the uselessness of
public libraries? Is he a _bibliognoste_, or a _bibliographe_, or a
_bibliomane_, or a _bibliophile_, or a _bibliotaphe_? A
_bibliothecaire_, or a _bibliopole_, the prophet cannot be; for the
_bibliothecaire_ is too delightfully busied among his shelves, and the
_bibliopole_ is too profitably concerned in furnishing perpetual
additions to admit of this hyperbolical terror of annihilation![232]

Unawares, we have dropped into that professional jargon which was
chiefly forged by one who, though seated in the "scorner's chair," was
the Thaumaturgus of books and manuscripts. The Abbé Rive had acquired a
singular taste and curiosity, not without a fermenting dash of singular
_charlatanerie_, in bibliography: the little volumes he occasionally put
forth are things which but few hands have touched. He knew well, that
for some books to be noised about, they should not be read: this was one
of those recondite mysteries of his, which we may have occasion farther
to reveal. This bibliographical hero was librarian to the most
magnificent of book-collectors, the Duke de la Vallière. The Abbé Rive
was a strong but ungovernable brute, rabid, surly, but _très-mordant_.
His master, whom I have discovered to have been the partner of the cur's
tricks, would often pat him; and when the _bibliognostes_, and the
_bibliomanes_ were in the heat of contest, let his "bull-dog" loose
among them, as the duke affectionately called his librarian. The
"bull-dog" of bibliography appears, too, to have had the taste and
appetite of the tiger of politics, but he hardly lived to join the
festival of the guillotine. I judge of this by an expression he used to
one complaining of his parish priest, whom he advised to give "une messe
dans son ventre!" He had tried to exhaust his genius in _La Chasse aux
Bibliographes et aux Antiquaires mal avisés_, and acted Cain with his
brothers! All Europe was to receive from him new ideas concerning books
and manuscripts. Yet all his mighty promises fumed away in projects; and
though he appeared for ever correcting the blunders of others, this
French Ritson left enough of his own to afford them a choice of revenge.
His style of criticism was perfectly _Ritsonian_. He describes one of
his rivals as _l'insolent et très-insensé auteur de l'Almanach de
Gotha_, on the simple subject of the origin of playing-cards!

The Abbé Rive was one of those men of letters, of whom there are not a
few who pass all their lives in preparations. Dr. Dibdin, since the
above was written, has witnessed the confusion of the mind and the
gigantic industry of our _bibliognoste_, which consisted of many trunks
full of _memoranda_. The description will show the reader to what hard
hunting these book-hunters voluntarily doom themselves, with little hope
of obtaining fame! "In one trunk were about _six thousand_ notices of
MSS. of all ages. In another were wedged about _twelve thousand_
descriptions of books in all languages, except those of French and
Italian; sometimes with critical notes. In a third trunk was a bundle of
papers relating to the _History of the Troubadours_. In a fourth was a
collection of memoranda and literary sketches connected with the
invention of arts and sciences, with pieces exclusively bibliographical.
A fifth trunk contained between _two_ and _three thousand_ cards,
written upon each side, respecting a collection of prints. In a sixth
trunk were contained his papers respecting earthquakes, volcanoes, and
geographical subjects."[233] This _Ajax flagellifer_ of the
bibliographical tribe, who was, as Dr. Dibdin observes, "the terror of
his acquaintance, and the pride of his patron," is said to have been in
private a very different man from his public character; all which may be
true, without altering a shade of that public character. The French
Revolution showed how men, mild and even kind in domestic life, were
sanguinary and ferocious in their public.

The rabid Abbé Rive gloried in terrifying, without enlightening his
rivals; he exulted that he was devoting to "the rods of criticism and
the laughter of Europe the _bibliopoles_," or dealers in books, who
would not get by heart his "Catechism" of a thousand and one questions
and answers: it broke the slumbers of honest De Bure, who had found life
was already too short for his own "Bibliographie Instructive."

The Abbé Rive had contrived to catch the shades of the appellatives
necessary to discriminate book amateurs; and of the first term he is
acknowledged to be the inventor.

A _bibliognoste_, from the Greek, is one knowing in title-pages and
colophons, and in editions; the place and year when printed; the presses
whence issued; and all the _minutiæ_ of a book.

A _bibliographe_ is a describer of books and other literary

A _bibliomane_ is an indiscriminate accumulator, who blunders faster
than he buys, cock-brained, and purse-heavy!

A _bibliophile_, the lover of books, is the only one in the class who
appears to read them for his own pleasure.

A _bibliotaphe_ buries his books, by keeping them under lock, or framing
them in glass cases.

I shall catch our _bibliognoste_ in the hour of book-rapture! It will
produce a collection of bibliographical writers, and show to the
second-sighted Edinburgher what human contrivances have been raised by
the art of more painful writers than himself--either to postpone the day
of universal annihilation, or to preserve for our posterity, three
centuries hence, the knowledge which now so busily occupies us, and
transmit to them something more than what Bacon calls "Inventories" of
our literary treasures.

"Histories, and literary _bibliothèques_ (or bibliothecas), will always
present to us," says La Rive, "an immense harvest of errors, till the
authors of such catalogues shall be fully impressed by the importance of
their art; and, as it were, reading in the most distant ages of the
future the literary good and evil which they may produce, force a
triumph from the pure devotion to truth, in spite of all the disgusts
which their professional tasks involve; still patiently enduring the
heavy chains which bind down those who give themselves up to this
pursuit, with a passion which resembles heroism.

"The catalogues of _bibliothèques fixes_ (or critical, historical, and
classified accounts of writers) have engendered that enormous swarm of
bibliographical errors, which have spread their roots, in greater or
less quantities, in all our bibliographers." He has here furnished a
long list, which I shall preserve in the note.[234]

The list, though curious, is by no means complete. Such are the men of
whom the Abbé Rive speaks with more respect than his accustomed
courtesy. "If such," says he, "cannot escape from errors, who shall? I
have only marked them out to prove the importance of bibliographical
history. A writer of this sort must occupy himself with more regard for
his reputation than his own profit, and yield himself up entirely to the
study of books."

The mere knowledge of books, which has been called an erudition of
title-pages, may be sufficient to occupy the life of some; and while the
wits and "the million" are ridiculing these hunters of editions, who
force their passage through secluded spots, as well as course in the
open fields, it will be found that this art of book-knowledge may turn
out to be a very philosophical pursuit, and that men of great name have
devoted themselves to labours more frequently contemned than
comprehended. Apostolo Zeno, a poet, a critic, and a true man of
letters, considered it as no small portion of his glory to have
annotated Fontanini, who, himself an eminent prelate, had passed his
life in forming his _Bibliotheca Italiana_. Zeno did not consider that
to correct errors and to enrich by information this catalogue of Italian
writers was a mean task. The enthusiasm of the Abbé Rive considered
bibliography as a sublime pursuit, exclaiming on Zeno's commentary on
Fontanini--"He chained together the knowledge of whole generations for
posterity, and he read in future ages."

There are few things by which we can so well trace the history of the
human mind as by a classed catalogue, with dates of the first
publication of books; even the relative prices of books at different
periods, their decline and then their rise, and again their fall, form a
chapter in this history of the human mind; we become critics even by
this literary chronology, and this appraisement of auctioneers. The
favourite book of every age is a certain picture of the people. The
gradual depreciation of a great author marks a change in knowledge or in

But it is imagined that we are not interested in the history of
indifferent writers, and scarcely in that of the secondary ones. If none
but great originals should claim our attention, in the course of two
thousand years we should not count twenty authors! Every book, whatever
be its character, may be considered as a new experiment made by the
human understanding; and as a book is a sort of individual
representation, not a solitary volume exists but may be personified, and
described as a human being. Hints start discoveries: they are usually
found in very different authors who could go no further; and the
historian of obscure books is often preserving for men of genius
indications of knowledge, which without his intervention we should not
possess! Many secrets we discover in bibliography. Great writers,
unskilled in this science of books, have frequently used defective
editions, as Hume did the castrated Whitelocke; or, like Robertson, they
are ignorant of even the sources of the knowledge they would give the
public; or they compose on a subject which too late they discover had
been anticipated. Bibliography will show what has been done, and suggest
to our invention what is wanted. Many have often protracted their
journey in a road which had already been worn out by the wheels which
had traversed it: bibliography unrolls the whole map of the country we
purpose travelling over--the post-roads and the by-paths.

Every half-century, indeed, the obstructions multiply; and the Edinburgh
prediction, should it approximate to the event it has foreseen, may more
reasonably terrify a far distant posterity. Mazzuchelli declared, after
his laborious researches in Italian literature, that one of his more
recent predecessors, who had commenced a similar work, had collected
notices of forty thousand writers--and yet, he adds, my work must
increase that number to ten thousand more! Mazzuchelli said this in
1753; and the amount of nearly a century must now be added, for the
presses of Italy have not been inactive.

But the literature of Germany, of France, and of England has exceeded
the multiplicity of the productions of Italy, and an appalling
population of authors swarm before the imagination.[235] Hail then the
peaceful spirit of the literary historian, which sitting amidst the
night of time, by the monuments of genius, trims the sepulchral lamps of
the human mind! Hail to the literary Reaumur, who by the clearness of
his glasses makes even the minute interesting, and reveals to us the
world of insects! These are guardian spirits who, at the close of every
century standing on its ascent, trace out the old roads we had pursued,
and with a lighter line indicate the new ones which are opening, from
the imperfect attempts, and even the errors of our predecessors!


  [231] "Edinburgh Review," vol. xxxiv, 384.

  [232] Will this writer pardon me for ranking him, for a moment,
    among those "generalisers" of the age who excel in what a critical
    friend has happily discriminated as _ambitious writing_? that is,
    writing on any topic, and not least strikingly on that of which they
    know least; men otherwise of fine taste, and who excel in every
    charm of composition.

  [233] The late Wm. Upcott possessed, in a large degree, a similar
    taste for miscellaneous collections. He never threw an old hat away,
    but used it as a receptacle for certain "cuttings" from books and
    periodicals on some peculiar subjects. He had filled a room with
    hats and trunks thus crammed; but they were sacrificed at his death
    for want of necessary arrangement.

  [234] Gessner--Simler--Bellarmin--L'Abbé--Mabillon--Montfaucon--Moreri--
    Bayle--Baillet--Niceron--Dupin--Cave--Warton--Casimir Oudin--Le
    Long--Goujet--Wolfius--John Albert Fabricius--Argelati--Tiraboschi--
    Nicholas Antonio--Walchius--Struvius--Brucker--Scheuchzer--Linnæus--
    Clement--Chevillier--Maittaire--Orlandi--Prosper Marchand--Schoeplin--
    De Boze--Abbé Sallier--and de Saint Leger.

  [235] The British Museum Library now numbers more than 500,000 volumes.
    The catalogue alone forms a small library.



Poland, once a potent and magnificent kingdom, when it sunk into an
elective monarchy, became "venal thrice an age." That country must have
exhibited many a diplomatic scene of intricate intrigue, which although
they could not appear in its public, have no doubt been often consigned
to its secret, history. With us the corruption of a rotten borough has
sometimes exposed the guarded proffer of one party, and the dexterous
chaffering of the other: but a masterpiece of diplomatic finesse and
political invention, electioneering viewed on the most magnificent
scale, with a kingdom to be canvassed, and a crown to be won and lost,
or lost and won in the course of a single day, exhibits a political
drama, which, for the honour and happiness of mankind, is of rare and
strange occurrence. There was one scene in this drama which might appear
somewhat too large for an ordinary theatre; the actors apparently were
not less than fifty to a hundred thousand; twelve vast tents were raised
on an extensive plain, a hundred thousand horses were in the
environs--and palatines and castellans, the ecclesiastical orders, with
the ambassadors of the royal competitors, all agitated by the ceaseless
motion of different factions during the six weeks of the election, and
of many preceding months of preconcerted measures and vacillating
opinions, now were all solemnly assembled at the diet.--Once the poet,
amidst his gigantic conception of a scene, resolved to leave it out:

  So vast a throng the stage can ne'er contain--
  Then build a new, or _act it in a plain_!

exclaimed "La Mancha's knight," kindling at a scene so novel and so

Such an electioneering negotiation, the only one I am acquainted with,
is opened in the "Discours" of Choisin, the secretary of Montluc, Bishop
of Valence, the confidential agent of Catharine de' Medici, and who was
sent to intrigue at the Polish diet, to obtain the crown of Poland for
her son the Duke of Anjou, afterwards Henry the Third. This bold
enterprise at first seemed hopeless, and in its progress encountered
growing obstructions; but Montluc was one of the most finished
diplomatists that the genius of the Gallic cabinet ever sent forth. He
was nicknamed in all the courts of Europe, from the circumstance of his
limping, "le Boiteux;" our political bishop was in cabinet intrigues the
Talleyrand of his age, and sixteen embassies to Italy, Germany, England,
Scotland, and Turkey, had made this "connoisseur en hommes" an
extraordinary politician!

Catharine de' Medici was infatuated with the dreams of judicial
astrology; her pensioned oracles had declared that she should live to
see each of her sons crowned, by which prediction probably they had only
purposed to flatter her pride and her love of dominion. They, however,
ended in terrifying the credulous queen; and she, dreading to witness a
throne in France, disputed perhaps by fratricides, anxiously sought a
separate crown for each of her three sons. She had been trifled with in
her earnest negotiations with our Elizabeth; twice had she seen herself
baffled in her views in the Dukes of Alençon and of Anjou. Catharine
then projected a new empire for Anjou, by incorporating into one kingdom
Algiers, Corsica, and Sardinia; but the other despot, he of
Constantinople, Selim the Second, dissipated the brilliant speculation
of our female Machiavel. Charles the Ninth was sickly, jealous, and
desirous of removing from the court the Duke of Anjou, whom two
victories had made popular, though he afterwards sunk into a
Sardanapalus. Montluc penetrated into the secret wishes of Catharine and
Charles, and suggested to them the possibility of encircling the brows
of Anjou with the diadem of Poland, the Polish monarch then being in a
state of visible decline. The project was approved; and, like a profound
politician, the bishop prepared for an event which might be remote, and
always problematical, by sending into Poland a natural son of his,
Balagny, as a disguised agent; his youth, his humble rank, and his love
of pleasure, would not create any alarm among the neighbouring powers,
who were alike on the watch to snatch the expected spoil; but as it was
necessary to have a more dexterous politician behind the curtain, he
recommended his secretary, Choisnin, as a travelling tutor to a youth
who appeared to want one.

Balagny proceeded to Poland, where, under the veil of dissipation, and
in the midst of splendid festivities, with his trusty adjutant, this
hair-brained boy of revelry began to weave those intrigues which were
afterwards to be knotted, or untied, by Montluc himself. He had
contrived to be so little suspected, that the agent of the emperor had
often disclosed important secrets to his young and amiable friend. On
the death of Sigismond Augustus, Balagny, leaving Choisnin behind to
trumpet forth the virtues of Anjou, hastened to Paris to give an account
of all which he had seen or heard. But poor Choisnin found himself in a
dilemma among those who had so long listened to his panegyrics on the
humanity and meek character of the Duke of Anjou; for the news of St.
Bartholomew's massacre had travelled faster than the post; and Choisnin
complains that he was now treated as an impudent liar, and the French
prince as a monster. In vain he assured them that the whole was an
exaggerated account, a mere insurrection of the people, or the effects
of a few private enmities, praying the indignant Poles to suspend their
decision till the bishop came: "Attendez le Boiteux!" cried he, in

Meanwhile, at Paris, the choice of a proper person for this embassy had
been difficult to settle. It was a business of intrigue more than of
form, and required an orator to make speeches and addresses in a sort of
popular assembly; for though the people, indeed, had no concern in the
diet, yet the greater and the lesser nobles and gentlemen, all electors,
were reckoned at one hundred thousand. It was supposed that a lawyer who
could negotiate in good Latin, and one, as the French proverb runs, who
could _aller et parler_, would more effectually puzzle their heads, and
satisfy their consciences to vote for his client. Catharine at last
fixed on Montluc himself, from the superstitious prejudice, which,
however, in this case accorded with philosophical experience, that
"Montluc had ever been _lucky_ in his negotiations."

Montluc hastened his departure from Paris; and it appears that our
political bishop had, by his skilful penetration into the French
cabinet, foreseen the horrible catastrophe which occurred very shortly
after he had left it; for he had warned the Count de Rochefoucault to
absent himself; but this lord, like so many others, had no suspicions of
the perfidious projects of Catharine and her cabinet. Montluc, however,
had not long been on his journey ere the news reached him, and it
occasioned innumerable obstacles in his progress, which even his
sagacity had not calculated on. At Strasburgh he had appointed to meet
some able coadjutors, among whom was the famous Joseph Scaliger; but
they were so terrified by _Les Matinées Parisiennes_, that Scaliger flew
to Geneva, and would not budge out of that safe corner: and the others
ran home, not imagining that Montluc would venture to pass through
Germany, where the protestant indignation had made the roads too hot for
a catholic bishop. But Montluc had set his cast on the die. He had
already passed through several hair-breadth escapes from the stratagems
of the Guise faction, who more than once attempted to hang or drown the
bishop, who, they cried out, was a Calvinist; the fears and jealousies
of the Guises had been roused by this political mission. Among all these
troubles and delays, Montluc was most affected by the rumour that the
election was on the point of being made, and that the plague was
universal throughout Poland, so that he must have felt that he might be
too late for the one, and too early for the other.

At last Montluc arrived, and found that the whole weight of this
negotiation was to fall on his single shoulders; and further, that he
was to sleep every night on a pillow of thorns. Our bishop had not only
to allay the ferment of the popular spirit of the evangelicals, as the
protestants were then called, but even of the more rational catholics of
Poland. He had also to face those haughty and feudal lords, of whom each
considered himself the equal of the sovereign whom he created, and whose
avowed principle was, and many were incorrupt, that their choice of a
sovereign should be regulated solely by the public interest; and it was
hardly to be expected that the emperor, the czar, and the King of Sweden
would prove unsuccessful rivals to the cruel, and voluptuous, and
bigoted duke of Anjou, whose political interests were too remote and
novel to have raised any faction among these independent Poles.

The crafty politician had the art of dressing himself up in all the
winning charms of candour and loyalty; a sweet flow of honeyed words
melted on his lips, while his heart, cold and immovable as a rock, stood
unchanged amidst the most unforeseen difficulties.

The emperor had set to work the Abbé Cyre in a sort of ambiguous
character, an envoy for the nonce, to be acknowledged or disavowed as
was convenient; and by his activity he obtained considerable influence
among the Lithuanians, the Wallachians, and nearly all Prussia, in
favour of the Archduke Ernest. Two Bohemians, who had the advantage of
speaking the Polish language, had arrived with a state and magnificence
becoming kings rather than ambassadors. The Muscovite had written
letters full of golden promises to the nobility, and was supported by a
palatine of high character; a perpetual peace between two such great
neighbours was too inviting a project not to find advocates; and this
party, Choisnin observes, appeared at first the most to be feared. The
King of Sweden was a close neighbour, who had married the sister of
their late sovereign, and his son urged his family claims as superior to
those of foreigners. Among these parties was a patriotic one, who were
desirous of a Pole for their monarch; a king of their fatherland,
speaking their mother-tongue, one who would not strike at the
independence of his country, but preserve its integrity from the
stranger. This popular party was even agreeable to several of the
foreign powers themselves, who did not like to see a rival power
strengthening itself by so strict a union with Poland; but in this
choice of a sovereign from among themselves, there were at least thirty
lords who equally thought that they were the proper wood of which kings
should be carved out. The Poles therefore could not agree on the Pole
who deserved to be a _Piaste_; an endearing title for a native monarch,
which originated in the name of the family of the _Piastis_, who had
reigned happily over the Polish people for the space of five centuries!
The remembrance of their virtues existed in the minds of the honest
Poles in this affectionate title, and their party were called the

Montluc had been deprived of the assistance he had depended on from many
able persons, whom the massacre of St. Bartholomew had frightened away
from every French political connexion. He found that he had himself only
to depend on. We are told that he was not provided with the usual means
which are considered most efficient in elections, nor possessed the
interest nor the splendour of his powerful competitors: he was to derive
all his resources from diplomatic finesse. The various ambassadors had
fixed and distant residences, that they might not hold too close an
intercourse with the Polish nobles. Of all things, he was desirous to
obtain an easy access to these chiefs, that he might observe, and that
they might listen. He who would seduce by his own ingenuity must come in
contact with the object he would corrupt. Yet Montluc persisted in not
approaching them without being sought after, which answered his purpose
in the end. One favourite argument which our Talleyrand had set afloat,
was to show that all the benefits which the different competitors had
promised to the Poles were accompanied by other circumstances which
could not fail to be ruinous to the country: while the offer of his
master, whose interests were remote, could not be adverse to those of
the Polish nation: so that much good might be expected from him, without
any fear of accompanying evil. Montluc procured a clever Frenchman to be
the bearer of his first despatch, in Latin, to the diet; which had
hardly assembled, ere suspicions and jealousies were already breaking
out. The emperor's ambassadors had offended the pride of the Polish
nobles by travelling about the country without leave, and resorting to
the infanta; and besides, in some intercepted letters the Polish nation
was designated as _gens barbara et gens inepta_. "I do not think that
the said letter was really written by the said ambassadors, who were
statesmen too politic to employ such unguarded language," very
ingeniously writes the secretary of Montluc.

However, it was a blow levelled at the imperial ambassadors; while the
letter of the French bishop, composed "in a humble and modest style,"
began to melt their proud spirits, and two thousand copies of the French
bishop's letter were eagerly spread.

"But this good fortune did not last more than four-and twenty hours,"
mournfully writes our honest secretary; "for suddenly the news of the
fatal day of St. Bartholomew arrived, and every Frenchman was detested."

Montluc, in this distress, published an apology for _les Matinées
Parisiennes_, which he reduced to some excesses of the people, the
result of a conspiracy plotted by the protestants; and he adroitly
introduced as a personage his master Anjou, declaring that "he scorned
to oppress a party whom he had so often conquered with sword in hand."
This pamphlet, which still exists, must have cost the good bishop some
invention; but in elections the lie of the moment serves a purpose; and
although Montluc was in due time bitterly recriminated on, still the
apology served to divide public opinion.

Montluc was a whole cabinet to himself: he dispersed another tract in
the character of a Polish gentleman, in which the French interests were
urged by such arguments, that the leading chiefs never met without
disputing; and Montluc now found that he had succeeded in creating a
French party. The Austrian then employed a real Polish gentleman to
write for his party; but this was too genuine a production, for the
writer wrote too much in earnest; and in politics we must not be in a

The mutual jealousies of each party assisted the views of our
negotiator; they would side with him against each other. The archduke
and the czar opposed the Turk; the Muscovite could not endure that
Sweden should be aggrandised by this new crown; and Denmark was still
more uneasy. Montluc had discovered how every party had its vulnerable
point, by which it could be managed. The cards had now got fairly
shuffled, and he depended on his usual good play.

Our bishop got hold of a palatine to write for the French cause in the
vernacular tongue; and appears to have held a more mysterious
intercourse with another palatine, Albert Lasky. Mutual accusations were
made in the open diet: the Poles accused some Lithuanian lords of
having contracted certain engagements with the czar; these in return
accused the Poles, and particularly this Lasky, with being corrupted by
the gold of France. Another circumstance afterwards arose; the Spanish
ambassador had forty thousand _thalers_ sent to him, but which never
passed the frontiers, as this fresh supply arrived too late for the
election. "I believe," writes our secretary with great simplicity, "that
this money was only designed to distribute among the trumpeters and the
tabourines." The usual expedient in contested elections was now
evidently introduced; our secretary acknowledging that Montluc daily
acquired new supporters, because he did not attempt to gain them over
_merely by promises_--resting his whole cause on this argument, that the
interest of the nation was concerned in the French election.

Still would ill fortune cross our crafty politician when everything was
proceeding smoothly. The massacre was refreshed with more damning
particulars; some letters were forged, and others were but too true; all
parties, with rival intrepidity, were carrying on a complete scene of
deception. A rumour spread that the French king disavowed his accredited
agent, and apologised to the emperor for having yielded to the
importunities of a political speculator, whom he was now resolved to
recall. This somewhat paralysed the exertions of those palatines who had
involved themselves in the intrigues of Montluc, who was now forced
patiently to wait for the arrival of a courier with renewed testimonials
of his diplomatic character from the French court. A great odium was
cast on the French in the course of this negotiation by a distribution
of prints, which exposed the most inventive cruelties practised by the
Catholics on the Reformed; such as women cleaved in half in the act of
attempting to snatch their children from their butchers; while Charles
the Ninth and the Duke of Anjou were hideously represented in their
persons, and as spectators of such horrid tragedies, with words written
in labels, complaining that the executioners were not zealous enough in
this holy work. These prints, accompanied by libels and by horrid
narratives, inflamed the popular indignation, and more particularly the
women, who were affected to tears, as if these horrid scenes had been
passing before their eyes.

Montluc replied to the libels as fast as they appeared, while he
skilfully introduced the most elaborate panegyrics on the Duke of
Anjou; and in return for the caricatures, he distributed two portraits
of the king and the duke, to show the ladies, if not the diet, that
neither of these princes had such ferocious and inhuman faces. Such are
the small means by which the politician condescends to work his great
designs; and the very means by which his enemies thought they should
ruin his cause, Montluc adroitly turned to his own advantage. Anything
of instant occurrence serves electioneering purposes, and Montluc
eagerly seized this favourable occasion to exhaust his imagination on an
ideal sovereign, and to hazard, with address, anecdotes, whose
authenticity he could never have proved, till he perplexed even
unwilling minds to be uncertain whether that intolerant and inhuman duke
was not the most heroic and most merciful of princes. It is probable
that the Frenchman abused even the license of the French _éloge_, for a
noble Pole told Montluc that he was always amplifying his duke with such
ideal greatness, and attributing to him such immaculate purity of
sentiment, that it was inferred there was no man in Poland who could
possibly equal him; and that his declaration, that the duke was not
desirous of reigning over Poland to possess the wealth and grandeur of
the kingdom, and that he was solely ambitious of the honour to be the
head of such a great and virtuous nobility, had offended many lords, who
did not believe that the duke sought the Polish crown _merely_ to be the
sovereign of a virtuous people.

These Polish statesmen appear, indeed, to have been more enlightened
than the subtle politician perhaps calculated on; for when Montluc was
over anxious to exculpate the Duke of Anjou from having been an actor in
the Parisian massacre, a noble Pole observed, "That he need not lose his
time at framing any apologies; for if he could prove that it was the
interest of the country that the duke ought to be elected their king, it
was all that was required. His cruelty, were it true, would be no reason
to prevent his election, for we have nothing to dread from it: once in
our kingdom, he will have more reason to fear us than we him, should he
ever attempt our lives, our property, or our liberty."

Another Polish lord, whose scruples were as pious as his patriotism was
suspicious, however observed that, in his conferences with the French
bishop, the bishop had never once mentioned God, whom all parties ought
to implore to touch the hearts of the electors in the choice of God's
"anointed." Montluc might have felt himself unexpectedly embarrassed at
the religious scruples of this lord, but the politician was never at a
fault. "Speaking to a man of letters, as his lordship was," replied the
French bishop, "it was not for him to remind his lordship what he so
well knew; but since he had touched on the subject, he would, however,
say, that were a sick man desirous of having a physician, the friend who
undertook to procure one would not do his duty should he say it was
necessary to call in one whom God had chosen to restore his health; but
another who should say that the most learned and skilful is he whom God
has chosen, would be doing the best for the patient, and evince most
judgment. By a parity of reason we must believe that God will not send
an angel to point out the man whom he would have his anointed;
sufficient for us that God has given us a knowledge of the requisites of
a good king; and if the Polish gentlemen choose such a sovereign, it
will be him whom God has chosen." This shrewd argument delighted the
Polish lord, who repeated the story in different companies, to the
honour of the bishop. "And in this manner," adds the secretary with
great _naïveté_, "did the _sieur_, strengthened by good arguments,
divulge his opinions, which were received by many, and run from hand to

Montluc had his inferior manoeuvres. He had to equipoise the opposite
interests of the Catholics and the Evangelists, or the Reformed: it was
mingling fire and water without suffering them to hiss, or to extinguish
one another. When the imperial ambassadors gave _fêtes_ to the higher
nobility only, they consequently offended the lesser. The Frenchman gave
no banquets, but his house was open to all at all times, who were
equally welcome. "You will see that the _fêtes_ of the imperialists will
do them more harm than good," observed Montluc to his secretary.

Having gained over by every possible contrivance a number of the Polish
nobles, and showered his courtesies on those of the inferior orders, at
length the critical moment approached, and the finishing hand was to be
put to the work. Poland, with the appearance of a popular government,
was a singular aristocracy of a hundred thousand electors, consisting of
the higher and the lower nobility, and the gentry; the people had no
concern with the government. Yet still it was to be treated by the
politician as a popular government, where those who possessed the
greatest influence over such large assemblies were orators, and he who
delivered himself with the most fluency and the most pertinent arguments
would infallibly bend every heart to the point he wished. The French
bishop depended greatly on the effect which his oration was to produce
when the ambassadors were respectively to be heard before the assembled
diet; the great and concluding act of so many tedious and difficult
negotiations--"which had cost my master," writes the ingenuous
secretary, "six months' daily and nightly labours; he had never been
assisted or comforted by any but his poor servants, and in the course of
these six months had written ten reams of paper, a thing which for forty
years he had not used himself to."

Every ambassador was now to deliver an oration before the assembled
electors, and thirty-two copies were to be printed, to present one to
each palatine, who in his turn was to communicate it to his lords. But a
fresh difficulty occurred to the French negotiator; as he trusted
greatly to his address influencing the multitude, and creating a popular
opinion in his favour, he regretted to find that the imperial ambassador
would deliver his speech in the Bohemian language, so that he would be
understood by the greater part of the assembly; a considerable advantage
over Montluc, who could only address them in Latin. The inventive genius
of the French bishop resolved on two things which had never before been
practised: first, to have his Latin translated into the vernacular
idiom; and, secondly, to print an edition of fifteen hundred copies in
both languages, and thus to obtain a vast advantage over the other
ambassadors, with their thirty-two manuscript copies, of which each copy
was used to be read to 1200 persons. The great difficulty was to get it
secretly translated and printed. This fell to the management of
Choisnin, the secretary. He set off to the castle of the palatine,
Solikotski, who was deep in the French interest; Solikotski despatched
the version in six days. Hastening with the precious MS. to Cracow,
Choisnin flew to a trusty printer, with whom he was connected; the
sheets were deposited every night at Choisnin's lodgings, and at the end
of a fortnight the diligent secretary conducted the 1500 copies in
secret triumph to Warsaw.

Yet this glorious labour was not ended; Montluc was in no haste to
deliver his wonder-working oration, on which the fate of a crown seemed
to depend. When his turn came to be heard, he suddenly fell sick; the
fact was, that he wished to speak last, which would give him the
advantage of replying to any objection raised by his rivals, and admit
also of an attack on their weak points.

He contrived to obtain copies of their harangues, and discovered five
points which struck at the French interest. Our poor bishop had now to
sit up through the night to re-write five leaves of his printed oration,
and cancel five which had been printed; and worse! he had to get them by
heart, and to have them translated and inserted, by employing twenty
scribes day and night. "It is scarcely credible what my master went
through about this time," saith the historian of his "gestes."

The council or diet was held in a vast plain. Twelve pavilions were
raised to receive the Polish nobility and the ambassadors. One of a
circular form was supported by a single mast, and was large enough to
contain 6000 persons, without any one approaching the mast nearer than
by twenty steps, leaving this space void to preserve silence; the
different orders were placed around; the archbishop and the bishops, the
palatines, the castellans, each according to their rank. During the six
weeks of the sittings of the diet, 100,000 horses were in the environs,
yet forage and every sort of provisions abounded. There were no
disturbances, not a single quarrel occurred, although there wanted not
in that meeting for enmities of long standing. It was strange, and even
awful, to view such a mighty assembly preserving the greatest order, and
every one seriously intent on this solemn occasion.

At length the elaborate oration was delivered: it lasted three hours,
and Choisnin assures us not a single auditor felt weary. "A cry of joy
broke out from the tent, and was re-echoed through the plain, when
Montluc ceased: it was a public acclamation; and had the election been
fixed for that moment, when all hearts were warm, surely the duke had
been chosen without a dissenting voice." Thus writes, in rapture, the
ingenuous secretary; and in the spirit of the times communicates a
delightful augury attending this speech, by which evidently was foreseen
its happy termination. "Those who disdain all things will take this to
be a mere invention of mine," says honest Choisnin: "but true it is,
that while the said _sieur_ delivered his harangue, a lark was seen all
the while upon the mast of the pavilion, singing and warbling, which was
remarked by a great number of lords, because the lark is accustomed only
to rest itself on the earth: the most impartial confessed this to be a
good augury.[236] Also it was observed, that when the other ambassadors
were speaking, a hare, and at another time a hog, ran through the tent;
and when the Swedish ambassador spoke, the great tent fell half-way
down. This lark singing all the while did no little good to our cause;
for many of the nobles and gentry noticed this curious particularity,
because when a thing which does not commonly happen occurs in a public
affair, such appearances give rise to hopes either of good or of evil."

The singing of this lark in favour of the Duke of Anjou is not so
evident as the cunning trick of the other French agent, the political
Bishop of Valence, who now reaped the full advantage of his 1500 copies
over the thirty-two of his rivals. Every one had the French one in hand,
or read it to his friends; while the others, in manuscript, were
confined to a very narrow circle.

The period from the 10th of April to the 6th of May, when they proceeded
to the election, proved to be an interval of infinite perplexities,
troubles, and activity; it is probable that the secret history of this
period of the negotiations was never written. The other ambassadors were
for protracting the election, perceiving the French interest prevalent:
but delay would not serve the purpose of Montluc, he not being so well
provided with friends and means on the spot as the others were. The
public opinion which he had succeeded in creating, by some unforeseen
circumstance might change.

During this interval, the bishop had to put several agents of the other
parties _hors de combat_. He got rid of a formidable adversary in the
Cardinal Commendon, an agent of the pope's, whom he proved ought not to
be present at the election, and the cardinal was ordered to take his
departure. A bullying colonel was set upon the French negotiator, and
went about from tent to tent with a list of the debts of the Duke of
Anjou, to show that the nation could expect nothing profitable from a
ruined spendthrift. The page of a Polish count flew to Montluc for
protection, entreating permission to accompany the bishop on his return
to Paris. The servants of the count pursued the page; but this young
gentleman had so insinuated himself into the favour of the bishop, that
he was suffered to remain. The next day the page desired Montluc would
grant him the full liberty of his religion, being an evangelical, that
he might communicate this to his friends, and thus fix them to the
French party. Montluc was too penetrating for this young political
agent, whom he discovered to be a spy, and the pursuit of his fellows to
have been a farce; he sent the page back to his master, the evangelical
count, observing that such tricks were too gross to be played on one who
had managed affairs in all the courts of Europe before he came into

Another alarm was raised by a letter from the grand vizier of Selim the
Second, addressed to the diet, in which he requested that they would
either choose a king from among themselves, or elect the brother of the
King of France. Some zealous Frenchman at the Sublime Porte had
officiously procured this recommendation from the enemy of Christianity;
but an alliance with Mahometanism did no service to Montluc, either with
the catholics or the evangelicals. The bishop was in despair, and
thought that his handiwork of six months' toil and trouble was to be
shook into pieces in an hour. Montluc, being shown the letter, instantly
insisted that it was a forgery, designed to injure his master the duke.
The letter was attended by some suspicious circumstances; and the French
bishop, quick at expedients, snatched at an advantage which the
politician knows how to lay hold of in the chapter of accidents. "The
letter was not sealed with the golden seal, nor enclosed in a silken
purse or cloth of gold; and farther, if they examined the translation,"
he said, "they would find that it was not written on Turkish paper."
This was a piece of the _sieur's_ good fortune, for the letter was not
forged; but owing to the circumstance that the Boyar of Wallachia had
taken out the letter to send a translation with it, which the vizier had
omitted, it arrived without its usual accompaniments; and the courier,
when inquired after, was kept out of the way: so that, in a few days,
nothing more was heard of the great vizier's letter. "Such was our
fortunate escape," says the secretary, "from the friendly but fatal
interference of the sultan, than which the _sieur_ dreaded nothing so

Many secret agents of the different powers were spinning their dark
intrigues; and often, when discovered or disconcerted, the creatures
were again at their "dirty work." These agents were conveniently
disavowed or acknowledged by their employers. The Abbé Cyre was an
active agent of the emperor's, and though not publicly accredited, was
still hovering about. In Lithuania he had contrived matters so well as
to have gained over that important province for the archduke; and was
passing through Prussia to hasten to communicate with the emperor, but
"some honest men," _quelques bons personnages_, says the French
secretary, and no doubt some good friends of his master, "took him by
surprise, and laid him up safely in the castle of Marienburgh, where
truly he was a little uncivilly used by the soldiers, who rifled his
portmanteau and sent us his papers, when we discovered all his foul
practices." The emperor, it seems, was angry at the arrest of his secret
agent; but as no one had the power of releasing the Abbé Cyre at that
moment, what with receiving remonstrances and furnishing replies, the
time passed away, and a very troublesome adversary was in safe custody
during the election. The dissensions between the catholics and the
evangelicals were always on the point of breaking out; but Montluc
succeeded in quieting these inveterate parties by terrifying their
imaginations with sanguinary civil wars, and invasions of the Turks and
the Tartars. He satisfied the catholics with the hope that time would
put an end to heresy, and the evangelicals were glad to obtain a truce
from persecution. The day before the election Montluc found himself so
confident, that he despatched a courier to the French court, and
expressed himself in the true style of a speculative politician, that
_des douze tables du Damier nous en avons les Neufs assurés_.

There were preludes to the election; and the first was probably in
acquiescence with a saturnalian humour prevalent in some countries,
where the lower orders are only allowed to indulge their taste for the
mockery of the great at stated times and on fixed occasions. A droll
scene of a mock election, as well as combat, took place between the
numerous Polish pages, who, saith the grave secretary, are still more
mischievous than our own: these elected among themselves four
competitors, made a senate to burlesque the diet, and went to
loggerheads. Those who represented the archduke were well beaten, the
Swede was hunted down, and for the _Piastis_, they seized on a cart
belonging to a gentleman, laden with provisions, broke it to pieces, and
burnt the axle-tree, which in that country is called a _piasti_, and
cried out _The Piasti is burnt!_ nor could the senators at the diet that
day command any order or silence. The French party wore white
handkerchiefs in their hats, and they were so numerous as to defeat the

The next day, however, opened a different scene; "the nobles prepared to
deliberate, and each palatine in his quarters was with his companions on
their knees, and many with tears in their eyes, chanting a hymn to the
Holy Ghost; it must be confessed that this looked like a work of God,"
says our secretary, who probably understood the manoeuvring of the
mock combat, or the mock prayers, much better than we may. Everything
tells at an election, burlesque or solemnity!

The election took place, and the Duke of Anjou was proclaimed King of
Poland--but the troubles of Montluc did not terminate. When they
presented certain articles for his signature, the bishop discovered that
these had undergone material alterations from the proposals submitted to
him before the proclamation; these alterations referred to a disavowal
of the Parisian massacre; the punishment of its authors, and toleration
in religion. Montluc refused to sign, and cross-examined his Polish
friends about the original proposals; one party agreed that some things
had been changed, but that they were too trivial to lose a crown for;
others declared that the alterations were necessary to allay the fears,
or secure the safety, of the people. Our Gallic diplomatist was
outwitted, and after all his intrigues and cunning, he found that the
crown of Poland was only to be delivered on conditional terms.

In this dilemma, with a crown depending on a stroke of his
pen,--remonstrating, entreating, arguing, and still delaying, like
"Ancient Pistol" swallowing his leek, he witnessed with alarm some
preparations for a new election, and his rivals on the watch with their
protests. Montluc, in despair, signed the conditions--"assured,
however," says the secretary, who groans over this _finale_, "that when
the elected monarch should arrive, the states would easily be induced to
correct them, and place things in _statu quo_, as before the
proclamation. I was not a witness, being then despatched to Paris with
the joyful news, but I heard that the _sieur evesque_ it was thought
would have died in this agony, of being reduced to the hard necessity
either to sign, or to lose the fruits of his labours. The conditions
were afterwards for a long while disputed in France." De Thou informs
us, in lib. lvii. of his history, that Montluc after signing these
conditions wrote to his master, that he was not bound by them, because
they did not concern Poland in general, and that they had compelled him
to sign, what at the same time he had informed them his instructions did
not authorise. Such was the true Jesuitic conduct of a grey-haired
politician, who at length found that honest plain sense could embarrass
and finally entrap the creature of the cabinet, the artificial genius of
diplomatic finesse.

The secretary, however, views nothing but his master's glory in the
issue of this most difficult negotiation; and the triumph of Anjou over
the youthful archduke, whom the Poles might have moulded to their will,
and over the King of Sweden, who claimed the crown by his queen's side,
and had offered to unite his part of Livonia with that which the Poles
possessed. He labours hard to prove that the palatines and the
castellans were not _pratiqués_, i.e., had their votes bought up by
Montluc, as was reported; from their number and their opposite
interests, he confesses that the _sieur evesque_ slept little, while in
Poland, and that he only gained over the hearts of men by that natural
gift of God which acquired him the title of the _happy ambassador_. He
rather seems to regret that France was not prodigal of her
purchase-money, than to affirm that all palatines were alike scrupulous
of their honour.

One more fact may close this political sketch; a lesson of the nature of
court gratitude! The French court affected to receive Choisnin with
favour, but their suppressed discontent was reserved for "the happy
ambassador!" Affairs had changed; Charles the Ninth was dying, and
Catharine de' Medici in despair for a son to whom she had sacrificed
all; while Anjou, already immersed in the wantonness of youth and
pleasure, considered his elevation to the throne of Poland as an exile
which separated him from his depraved enjoyments! Montluc was rewarded
only by incurring disgrace; Catharine de' Medici and the Duke of Anjou
now looked coldly on him, and expressed their dislike of his successful
mission. "The mother of kings," as Choisnin designates Catharine de'
Medici, to whom he addresses his memoirs, with the hope of awakening her
recollections of the zeal, the genius, and the success of his old
master, had no longer any use for her favourite; and Montluc found, as
the commentator of Choisnin expresses in a few words, an important
truth in political morality, that "at court the interest of the moment
is the measure of its affections and its hatreds."[237]


  [236] Our honest secretary reminds me of a passage in Geoffrey of
    Monmouth, who says, "At this place an _eagle spoke_ while the wall
    of the town was building; and indeed I should not have failed
    _transmitting the speech to posterity_ had I thought it _true_ as
    the rest of the history."

  [237] I have drawn up this article, for the curiosity of its subject
    and its details, from the "Discours au vray de tout ce qui s'est
    fait et passé pour l'entière Négociation de l'Election du Roi de
    Pologne, divisés en trois livres, par Jehan Choisnin du
    Chatelleraud, naguères Secrétaire de M. l'Evesque de Valence," 1574.


Recently more than one of our learned judges from the bench have perhaps
astonished their auditors by impressing them with an old-fashioned
notion of residing more on their estates than the fashionable modes of
life and the _esprit de société_, now overpowering all other _esprit_,
will ever admit. These opinions excited my attention to a curious
circumstance in the history of our manners--the great anxiety of our
government, from the days of Elizabeth till much later than those of
Charles the Second, to preserve the kingdom from the evils of an
overgrown metropolis. The people themselves indeed participated in the
same alarm at the growth of the city; while, however, they themselves
were perpetuating the grievance which they complained of.

It is amusing to observe, that although the government was frequently
employing even their most forcible acts to restrict the limits of the
metropolis, the suburbs were gradually incorporating with the city, and
Westminster at length united itself to London. Since that happy
marriage, their fertile progenies have so blended together, that little
Londons are no longer distinguishable from the ancient parent; we have
succeeded in spreading the capital into a county, and have verified the
prediction of James the First, "that England will shortly be London, and
London England."

"I think it a great object," said Justice Best, in delivering his
sentiments in favour of the Game Laws, "that gentlemen should have a
temptation _to reside in the country, amongst their neighbours and
tenantry, whose interests must be materially advanced by such a
circumstance_. The links of society are thereby better preserved, and
_the mutual advantages and dependence of the higher and lower classes_
on one another are better maintained. The baneful effects of our present
system we have lately seen in a neighbouring country, and an ingenious
French writer has lately shown the ill consequences of it on the

These sentiments of a living luminary of the law afford some reason of
policy for the dread which our government long entertained on account of
the perpetual growth of the metropolis; the nation, like a
hypochondriac, was ludicrously terrified that their head was too
monstrous for their body, and that it drew all the moisture of life from
the middle and the extremities. Proclamations warned and exhorted; but
the very interference of a royal prohibition seemed to render the
crowded city more charming. In vain the statute against new buildings
was passed by Elizabeth; in vain during the reigns of James the First
and both the Charleses we find proclamations continually issuing to
forbid new erections.

James was apt to throw out his opinions in these frequent addresses to
the people, who never attended to them: his majesty notices "those
swarms of gentry, who through the instigation of their wives, or to
new-model and fashion their daughters (who if they were unmarried,
marred their reputations, and if married, lost them), did neglect their
country hospitality, and cumber the city, a general nuisance to the
kingdom."--He addressed the Star Chamber to regulate "the exorbitancy of
the new buildings about the city, which were but a shelter for those
who, when they had spent their estates in coaches, lacqueys, and fine
clothes like Frenchmen, lived miserably in their houses like Italians;
but the honour of the English nobility and gentry is to be hospitable
among their tenants." Once conversing on this subject, the monarch threw
out that happy illustration, which has been more than once noticed, that
"Gentlemen resident on their estates were like ships in port; their
value and magnitude were felt and acknowledged; but when at a distance,
as their size seemed insignificant, so their worth and importance were
not duly estimated."[239]

A manuscript writer of the times complains of the breaking up of old
family establishments, all crowding to "upstart London." "Every one
strives to be a Diogenes in his house, and an emperor in the streets;
not caring if they sleep in a tub, so they may be hurried in a coach:
giving that allowance to horses and mares that formerly maintained
houses full of men; pinching many a belly to paint a few backs, and
burying all the treasures of the kingdom into a few citizens' coffers;
their woods into wardrobes, their leases into laces, and their goods and
chattels into guarded coats and gaudy toys." Such is the representation
of an eloquent contemporary; and however contracted might have been his
knowledge of the principles of political economy, and of that prosperity
which a wealthy nation is said to derive from its consumption of
articles of luxury, the moral effects have not altered, nor has the
scene in reality greatly changed.

The government not only frequently forbade new buildings within ten
miles of London, but sometimes ordered them to be pulled down--after
they had been erected for several years. Every six or seven years
proclamations were issued. In Charles the First's reign, offenders were
sharply prosecuted by a combined operation, not only against _houses_,
but against _persons_.[240] Many of the nobility and gentry, in 1632,
were informed against for having resided in the city, contrary to the
late proclamation. And the Attorney-General was then fully occupied in
filing bills of indictment against them, as well as ladies, for staying
in town. The following curious "information" in the Star Chamber will
serve our purpose.

The Attorney-General informs his majesty that both Elizabeth and James,
by several proclamations, had commanded that "persons of livelihood and
means should reside in their counties, and not abide or sojourn in the
city of London, so that counties remain unserved." These proclamations
were renewed by Charles the First, who had observed "a greater number of
nobility and gentry, and abler sort of people, with their families, had
resorted to the cities of London and Westminster, residing there,
contrary to the ancient usage of the English nation"--"by their abiding
in their several counties where their means arise, they would not only
have served his majesty according to their ranks, but by their
_housekeeping in those parts the meaner sort of people formerly were
guided, directed and relieved_." He accuses them of wasting their
estates in the metropolis, which would employ and relieve the common
people in their several counties. The loose and disorderly people that
follow them, living in and about the cities, are so numerous, that they
are not easily governed by the ordinary magistrates: mendicants increase
in great number--the prices of all commodities are highly raised, &c.
The king had formerly proclaimed that all ranks who were not connected
with public offices, at the close of forty days' notice, should resort
to their several counties, and with their families continue their
residence there. And his majesty further warned them "Not to put
themselves to unnecessary charge in providing themselves to return in
winter to the said cities, as it was the king's firm resolution to
withstand such great and growing evil." The information concludes with a
most copious list of offenders, among whom are a great number of
nobility, and ladies and gentlemen, who were accused of having lived in
London for several months after the given warning of forty days. It
appears that most of them, to elude the grasp of the law, had contrived
to make a show of quitting the metropolis, and, after a short absence,
had again returned; "and thus the service of _your majesty_ and _your
people_ in the several counties have been neglected and undone."

Such is the substance of this curious information, which enables us at
least to collect the ostensible motives of this singular prohibition.
Proclamations had hitherto been considered little more than the news of
the morning, and three days afterwards were as much read as the last
week's newspapers. They were now, however, resolved to stretch forth the
strong arm of law, and to terrify by an example. The constables were
commanded to bring in a list of the names of strangers, and the time
they proposed to fix their residence in their parishes. A remarkable
victim on this occasion was a Mr. Palmer, a Sussex gentleman, who was
brought _ore tenus_ into the Star Chamber for disobeying the
proclamation for living in the country. Palmer was a squire of 1000_l._
per annum, then a considerable income. He appears to have been some rich
bachelor; for in his defence he alleged that he had never been married,
never was a housekeeper, and had no house fitting for a man of his birth
to reside in, as his mansion in the country had been burnt down within
two years. These reasons appeared to his judges to aggravate rather than
extenuate his offence; and after a long reprimand for having deserted
his tenants and neighbours, they heavily fined him in one thousand

The condemnation of this Sussex gentleman struck a terror through a wide
circle of sojourners in the metropolis. I find accounts, pathetic
enough, of their "packing away on all sides for fear of the worst;" and
gentlemen "grumbling that they should be confined to their houses:" and
this was sometimes backed too by a second proclamation, respecting
"their wives and families, and also widows," which was "_durus sermo_ to
the women. It is nothing pleasing to all," says the letter-writer, "but
least of all to the women." "To encourage gentlemen to live more
willingly in the country," says another letter-writer, "all game-fowl,
as pheasants, partridges, ducks, as also hares, are this day by
proclamation forbidden to be dressed or eaten in any inn." Here we find
realized the argument of Mr. Justice Best in favour of the game-laws.

It is evident that this severe restriction must have produced great
inconvenience to certain persons who found a residence in London
necessary for their pursuits. This appears from the manuscript diary of
an honest antiquary, Sir Symonds D'Ewes; he has preserved an opinion
which, no doubt, was spreading fast, that such prosecutions of the
Attorney-General were a violation of the liberty of the subject. "Most
men wondered at Mr. Noy, the Attorney-General, being accounted a great
lawyer, that so strictly _took away men's liberties at one blow,
confining them to reside at their own houses_, and not permitting them
freedom to live where they pleased within the king's dominions. I was
myself a little startled upon the first coming out of the proclamation;
but having first spoken with the Lord Coventry, Lord Keeper of the
Great Seal, at Islington, when I visited him; and afterwards with Sir
William Jones, one of the King's Justices of the Bench, about my
condition and residence at the said town of Islington, and they both
agreeing that I was not within the letter of the proclamation, nor the
intention of it neither, I rested satisfied, and thought myself secure,
laying in all my provisions for housekeeping for the year ensuing, and
never imagined myself to be in danger, till this unexpected censure of
Mr. Palmer passed in the Star Chamber; so, having advised with my
friends, I resolved for a remove, being much troubled not only with my
separation from Recordes, but with my wife, being great with child,
fearing a winter journey might be dangerous to her."[242] He left
Islington and the records in the Tower to return to his country-seat, to
the great disturbance of his studies.

It is, perhaps, difficult to assign the cause of this marked anxiety of
the government for the severe restriction of the limits of the
metropolis, and the prosecution of the nobility and gentry to compel a
residence on their estates. Whatever were the motives, they were not
peculiar to the existing sovereign, but remained transmitted from
cabinet to cabinet, and were even renewed under Charles the Second. At a
time when the plague often broke out, a close and growing metropolis
might have been considered to be a great evil; a terror expressed by the
manuscript-writer before quoted, complaining of "this deluge of
building, that we shall be all poisoned with breathing in one another's
faces." The police of the metropolis was long imbecile, notwithstanding
their "strong watches and guards" set at times; and bodies of the idle
and the refractory often assumed some mysterious title, and were with
difficulty governed. We may conceive the state of the police, when
"London apprentices," growing in number and insolence, frequently made
attempts on Bridewell, or pulled down houses. One day the citizens, in
proving some ordnance, terrified the whole court of James the First with
a panic that there was "a rising in the city." It is possible that the
government might have been induced to pursue this singular conduct, for
I do not know that it can be paralleled, of pulling down new-built
houses by some principle of political economy which remains to be
explained, or ridiculed, by our modern adepts. It would hardly be
supposed that the present subject may be enlivened by a poem, the
elegance and freedom of which may even now be admired. It is a great
literary curiosity, and its length may be excused for several remarkable



_Upon Occasion of his Majesty's Proclamation in the Year 1630,
commanding the Gentry to reside upon their Estates in the Country._

  Now war is all the world about,
  And everywhere Erinnys reigns;
  Or of the torch so late put out
                        The stench remains.
  Holland for many years hath been
  Of Christian tragedies the stage,
  Yet seldom hath she played a scene
                        Of bloodier rage:
  And France, that was not long compos'd,
  With civil drums again resounds,
  And ere the old are fully clos'd,
                        Receives new wounds.
  The great Gustavus in the west
  Plucks the imperial eagle's wing,
  Than whom the earth did ne'er invest
                        A fiercer king.
  Only the island which we sow,
  A world without the world so far,
  From present wounds, it cannot show
                        An ancient scar.
  White peace, the beautifull'st of things,
  Seems here her everlasting rest
  To fix and spread the downy wings
                        Over the nest.
  As when great Jove, usurping reign,
  From the plagued world did her exile,
  And tied her with a golden chain
                        To one blest isle,
  Which in a sea of plenty swam,
  And turtles sang on every bough,
  A safe retreat to all that came,
                        As ours is now;
  Yet we, as if some foe were here,
  Leave the despised fields to clowns,
  And come to save ourselves, as 'twere
                        In walled towns.
  Hither we bring wives, babes, rich clothes,
  And gems--till now my soveraign
  The growing evil doth oppose:
                        Counting in vain
  His care preserves us from annoy
  Of enemies his realms to invade,
  Unless he force us to enjoy
                        The peace he made,
  To roll themselves in envied leisure;
  He therefore sends the landed heirs,
  Whilst he proclaims not his own pleasure
                      So much was theirs.
  The sap and blood of the land, which fled
  Into the root, and choked the heart,
  Are bid their quick'ning power to spread
                         Through every part.
  O 'twas an act, not for my muse
  To celebrate, nor the dull age,
  Until the country air infuse
                           A purer rage.
  And if the fields as thankful prove
  For benefits received, as seed,
  They will to 'quite so great a love
                           A Virgil breed.
  Nor let the gentry grudge to go
  Into those places whence they grew,
  But think them blest they may do so.
                          Who would pursue
  The smoky glory of the town,
  That may go till his native earth,
  And by the shining fire sit down
                         Of his own hearth,
  Free from the griping scrivener's bands,
  And the more biting mercer's books;
  Free from the bait of oiled hands,
                         And painted looks?
  The country too even chops for rain;
  You that exhale it by your power,
  Let the fat drops fall down again
                         In a full shower.
  And you bright beauties of the time,
  That waste yourselves here in a blaze,
  Fix to your orb and proper clime
                         Your wandering rays.
  Let no dark corner of the land
  Be unembellish'd with one gem,
  And those which here too thick do stand
                         Sprinkle on them.
  Believe me, ladies, you will find
  In that sweet light more solid joys,
  More true contentment to the mind
                        Than all town-toys.
  Nor Cupid there less blood doth spill,
  But heads his shafts with chaster love,
  Not feather'd with a sparrow's quill,
                        But of a dove.
  There you shall hear the nightingale,
  The harmless syren of the wood,
  How prettily she tells a tale
                          Of rape and blood.
  The lyric lark, with all beside
  Of Nature's feather'd quire, and all
  The commonwealth of flowers in 'ts pride
                         Behold you shall.
  The lily queen, the royal rose,
  The gilly-flower, prince of the blood!
  The courtier tulip, gay in clothes,
                         The regal bud;
  The violet purple senator,
  How they do mock the pomp of state,
  And all that at the surly door
                         Of great ones wait.
  Plant trees you may, and see them shoot
  Up with your children, to be served
  To your clean boards, and the fairest fruit
                         To be preserved;
  And learn to use their several gums;
  'Tis innocence in the sweet blood
  Of cherry, apricocks, and plums,
                         To be imbrued.


  [238] _Morning Chronicle_, January 23, 1820.

  [239] A proclamation was issued in the first year of King James,
    "commanding gentlemen to depart the court and city," because it
    hinders hospitality and endangers the people near their own
    residences, "who had from such houses much comfort and ease toward
    their living." The King graciously says:--"He tooke no small
    contentment in the resort of gentlemen, and other our subjects
    coming to visit us, holding their affectionate desire to see our
    person to be a certaine testimonie of their inward love;" but he
    says he must not "give way to so great a mischiefe as the continuall
    resort may breed," and that therefore all that have no special cause
    of attendance must at once go back until the time of his coronation,
    when they may "returne until the solemnity be passed;" but only for
    that time, for if the proclamation be slighted he shall "make them
    an example of contempt if we shall finde any making stay here
    contrary to this direction." Such proclamations were from time to
    time issued, and though sometimes evaded, were frequently enforced
    by fines, so that living in London was a risk and danger to country
    gentlemen of fortune.

  [240] Rushworth, vol. ii. p. 288.

  [241] From a manuscript letter from Sir George Gresley to Sir Thomas
    Puckering, Nov. 1632.

  [242] Harl. MSS. 6. fo. 152.


The satires and the comedies of the age have been consulted by the
historian of our manners, and the features of the times have been traced
from those amusing records of folly. Daines Barrinton enlarged this
field of domestic history in his very entertaining "Observations on the
Statutes." Another source, which to me seems not to have been explored,
is the proclamations which have frequently issued from our sovereigns,
and were produced by the exigencies of the times.

These proclamations or royal edicts in our country were never armed with
the force of laws--only as they enforce the execution of laws already
established; and the proclamation of a British monarch may become even
an illegal act, if it be in opposition to the law of the land. Once,
indeed, it was enacted under the arbitrary government of Henry the
Eighth, by the sanction of a pusillanimous parliament, that the force of
acts of parliament should be given to the king's proclamations; and at a
much later period the chancellor, Lord Ellesmere, was willing to have
advanced the king's proclamations into laws, on the sophistical maxim
that "all precedents had a time when they began;" but this chancellor
argued ill, as he was told with spirit by Lord Coke, in the presence of
James the First,[243] who probably did not think so ill of the
chancellor's logic. Blackstone, to whom on this occasion I could not
fail to turn, observes, on the statute under Henry the Eighth, that it
would have introduced the most despotic tyranny, and must have proved
fatal to the liberties of this kingdom, had it not been luckily repealed
in the minority of his successor, whom he elsewhere calls an amiable
prince--all our young princes, we discover, were amiable! Blackstone has
not recorded the subsequent attempt of the lord chancellor under James
the First, which tended to raise proclamations to the nature of an ukase
of the autocrat of both the Russias. It seems that our national freedom,
notwithstanding our ancient constitution, has had several narrow

Royal proclamations, however, in their own nature are innocent enough;
for since the manner, time, and circumstances of putting laws in
execution must frequently be left to the discretion of the executive
magistrate, a proclamation that is not adverse to existing laws need not
create any alarm; the only danger they incur is that they seem never to
have been attended to, and rather testified the wishes of the government
than the compliance of the subjects. They were not laws, and were
therefore considered as sermons or pamphlets, or anything forgotten in a
week's time!

These proclamations are frequently alluded to by the letter-writers of
the times among the news of the day, but usually their royal virtue
hardly kept them alive beyond the week. Some on important subjects are
indeed noticed in our history. Many indications of the situation of
affairs, the feelings of the people, and the domestic history of our
nation, may be drawn from these singular records. I have never found
them to exist in any collected form, and they have been probably only
accidentally preserved.[244]

The proclamations of every sovereign would characterize his reign, and
open to us some of the interior operations of the cabinet. The despotic
will, yet vacillating conduct of Henry the Eighth, towards the close of
his reign, may be traced in a proclamation to abolish the translations
of the scriptures, and even the reading of Bibles by the people;
commanding all printers of English books and pamphlets to affix their
names to them, and forbidding the sale of any English books printed
abroad.[245] When the people were not suffered to publish their opinions
at home, all the opposition flew to foreign presses, and their writings
were then smuggled into the country in which they ought to have been
printed. Hence, many volumes printed in a foreign type at this period
are found in our collections. The king shrunk in dismay from that spirit
of reformation which had only been a party business with him, and making
himself a pope, decided that nothing should be learnt but what he
himself deigned to teach!

The antipathies and jealousies which our populace too long indulged, by
their incivilities to all foreigners, are characterised by a
proclamation issued by Mary, commanding her subjects to behave
themselves peaceably towards the strangers coming with King Philip; that
noblemen and gentlemen should warn their servants to refrain from
"strife and contention, either by outward deeds, taunting words,
unseemly countenance, by mimicking them, &c." The punishment not only
"her grace's displeasure, but to be committed to prison without bail or

The proclamations of Edward the Sixth curiously exhibit the unsettled
state of the reformation, where the rites and ceremonies of Catholicism
were still practised by the new religionists, while an opposite party,
resolutely bent on an eternal separation from Rome, were avowing
doctrines which afterwards consolidated themselves into puritanism, and
while others were hatching up that demoralising fanaticism which
subsequently shocked the nation with those monstrous sects, the
indelible, disgrace of our country! In one proclamation the king
denounces to the people "those who despise the sacrament by calling it
_idol_, or such other vile name." Another is against such "as innovate
any ceremony," and who are described as "certain private preachers and
other laiemen, who rashly attempt of _their own and singular wit and
mind_, not only to persuade the people from the old and accustomed rites
and ceremonies, but also themselves bring in _new and strange orders
according to their phantasies_. The which, as it is an evident token of
pride and arrogancy, so it tendeth both to confusion and disorder."
Another proclamation, to press "a godly conformity throughout his
realm," where we learn the following curious fact, of "divers unlearned
and indiscreet priests of a devilish mind and intent, teaching that a
man may forsake his wife and marry another, his first wife yet living;
likewise that the wife may do the same to the husband. Others, that a
man may have _two wives or more_ at once, for that these things are not
prohibited by God's law, but by the Bishop of Rome's law; so that by
such evil and fantastical opinions some have not been afraid indeed to
marry and keep _two wives_." Here, as in the bud, we may unfold those
subsequent scenes of our story which spread out in the following
century; the branching out of the non-conformists into their various
sects; and the indecent haste of our reformed priesthood, who, in their
zeal to cast off the yoke of Rome, desperately submitted to the liberty
of having "two wives or more!" There is a proclamation to abstain from
flesh on Fridays and Saturdays; exhorted on the principle, not only that
"men should abstain on those days, and forbear their pleasures and the
meats wherein they have more delight, to the intent to subdue their
bodies to the soul and spirit, but also for _worldly policy_. To use
_fish_, for the benefit of the commonwealth, and profit of many who be
_fishers_ and men using that trade, unto the which this realm, in every
part environed with the seas, and so plentiful of fresh waters, be
increased the nourishment of the land by saving flesh." It did not seem
to occur to the king in council that the butchers might have had cause
to petition against this monopoly of two days in the week granted to the
fishmongers; and much less, that it was better to let the people eat
flesh or fish as suited their conveniency. In respect to the religious
rite itself, it was evidently not considered as an essential point of
faith, since the king enforces it on the principle, "for the profit and
commodity of his realm." Burnet has made a just observation on religious

A proclamation against excess of apparel, in the reign of Elizabeth, and
renewed many years after, shows the luxury of dress, which was indeed
excessive.[247] There is a curious one against the _iconoclasts, or
image-breakers and picture-destroyers_, for which the antiquary will
hold her in high reverence. Her majesty informs us, that "several
persons, ignorant, malicious, or covetous, of late years, have spoiled
and broken ancient monuments, erected only _to show a memory to
posterity_, and not to nourish any kind of _superstition_." The queen
laments that what is broken and spoiled would be now hard to recover,
but advises her good people to repair them; and commands them in future
to desist from committing such injuries. A more extraordinary
circumstance than the proclamation itself was the manifestation of her
majesty's zeal, in subscribing her name with her own hand to every
proclamation dispersed throughout England. These image-breakers first
appeared in Elizabeth's reign; it was afterwards that they flourished
in all the perfection of their handicraft, and have contrived that these
monuments of art shall carry down to posterity the _memory of their_
SHAME _and of their age_. These image-breakers, so famous in our
history, had already appeared under Henry the Eighth, and continued
their practical zeal, in spite of proclamations and remonstrances, till
they had accomplished their work. In 1641 an order was published by the
Commons, that they should "take away all scandalous pictures out of
churches:" but more was intended than was expressed; and we are told
that the people did not at first carry their barbarous practice against
all Art to the lengths which they afterwards did, till they were
instructed by _private information!_ Dowsing's Journal has been
published, and shows what the _order_ meant! He was their giant
destroyer! Such are the Machiavelian secrets of revolutionary
governments; they give a _public_ order in moderate _words_, but the
_secret_ one, for the _deeds_, is that of extermination! It was this
sort of men who discharged their prisoners by giving a secret sign to
lead them to their execution!

The proclamations of James the First, by their number, are said to have
sunk their value with the people.[248] He was fond of giving them gentle
advice; and it is said by Wilson that there was an intention to have
this king's printed proclamations bound up in a volume, that better
notice might be taken of the matters contained in them. There is more
than one to warn the people against "speaking too freely of matters
above their reach," prohibiting all "undutiful speeches." I suspect that
many of these proclamations are the composition of the king's own hand;
he was often his own secretary. There is an admirable one against
private duels and challenges. The curious one respecting Cowell's
"Interpreter" is a sort of royal review of some of the arcana of state:
I refer to the quotation.[249]

I will preserve a passage of a proclamation "against excess of lavish
and licentious speech." James was a king of words!

   "Although the commixture of nations, confluence of ambassadors, and
   the relation which the affairs of our kingdoms have had towards the
   business and interests of foreign states have caused, during our
   regiment (government) a greater openness and liberty of discourse,
   even concerning MATTERS OF STATE (which are _no themes or subjects
   fit for vulgar persons or common meetings_), than hath been in former
   times used or permitted; and although in our own nature and judgment
   we do well allow of _convenient freedom of speech_, esteeming any
   over-curious or restrained hands carried in that kind rather as a
   weakness, or else over-much severity of government than otherwise;
   yet for as much as it is come to our ears, by common report, that
   there is at this time a more licentious passage of _lavish discourse
   and bold censure in matters of state_ than is fit to be suffered: We
   give this warning, &c., to take heed _how they intermeddle by pen or
   speech with causes of state and secrets of empire_, either at home or
   abroad, but contain themselves within that modest and reverent regard
   of matters above their reach and calling; nor to give any manner of
   applause to such discourse, without acquainting one of our privy
   council within the space of twenty-four hours."

It seems that "the bold speakers," as certain persons were then
denominated, practised an old artifice of lauding his majesty, while
they severely arraigned the counsels of the cabinet; on this James
observes, "Neither let any man mistake us so much as to think that by
giving fair and specious attributes to our person, they cover the
scandals which they otherwise lay upon our government, but conceive that
we make no other construction of them but as fine and artificial
glosses, the better to give passage to the rest of their imputations and

This was a proclamation in the eighteenth year of his reign; he repeated
it in the nineteenth, and he might have proceeded to "the crack of doom"
with the same effect!

Rushworth, in his second volume of Historical Collections, has preserved
a considerable number of the proclamations of Charles the First, of
which many are remarkable; but latterly they mark the feverish state of
his reign. One regulates access for cure of the king's evil--by which
his majesty, it appears, "hath had good success therein;" but though
ready and willing as any king or queen of this realm ever was to relieve
the distresses of his good subjects, "his majesty commands to change the
seasons for his 'sacred touch' from Easter and Whitsuntide to Easter and
Michaelmas, as times more convenient for the temperature of the season,"
&c. Another against "departure out of the realm without license." One to
erect an office "for the suppression of cursing and swearing," to
receive the forfeitures; against "libellous and seditious pamphlets and
discourses from Scotland," framed by factious spirits, and republished
in London--this was in 1640; and Charles, at the crisis of that great
insurrection in which he was to be at once the actor and the spectator,
fondly imagined that the possessors of these "scandalous" pamphlets
would bring them, as he proclaimed "to one of his majesty's justices of
peace, to be by him sent to one of his principal secretaries of state!"

On the Restoration, Charles the Second had to court his people by his
domestic regulations. He early issued a remarkable proclamation, which
one would think reflected on his favourite companions, and which
strongly marks the moral disorders of those depraved and wretched times.
It is against "vicious, debauched, and profane persons!" who are thus

   "A sort of men of whom we have heard much, and are sufficiently
   ashamed; who spend their time in taverns, tippling-houses and
   debauches; giving no _other evidence of their affection to us but in
   drinking our health_, and inveighing against all others who are not
   of their own dissolute temper; and who, in truth, have _more
   discredited our cause_, by the license of their manners and lives,
   than they could ever advance it by their affection or courage. We
   hope all persons of honour, or in place and authority, will so far
   assist us in discountenancing such men, that their discretion and
   shame will persuade them to reform what their conscience would not;
   and that the displeasure of good men towards them may supply what the
   laws have not, and, it may be, cannot well provide against; there
   being by the license and corruption of the times, and the depraved
   nature of man, many enormities, scandals, and impieties in practice
   and manners, which _laws cannot well describe, and consequently not
   enough provide against_, which may, by the example and severity of
   virtuous men, be easily discountenanced, and by degrees suppressed."

Surely the gravity and moral severity of Clarendon dictated this
proclamation! which must have afforded some mirth to the gay, debauched
circle, the loose cronies of royalty!

It is curious that, in 1660, Charles the Second issued a long
proclamation for the strict observance of Lent, and alleges for it the
same reason as we found in Edward the Sixth's proclamation, "for the
good it produces in the employment of _fishermen_" No ordinaries,
taverns, &c., to make any supper _on Friday nights, either in Lent or
out of Lent_.

Charles the Second issued proclamations "to repress the excess of
gilding of coaches and chariots," to restrain the waste of gold, which,
as they supposed, by the excessive use of gilding, had grown scarce.
Against "the exportation and the buying and selling of gold and silver
at higher rates than in our mint," alluding to a statute made in the
ninth year of Edward the Third, called the Statute of Money. Against
building in and about London and Westminster, in 1661: "The
inconveniences daily growing by increase of new buildings are, that the
people increasing in such great numbers, are not well to be governed by
the wonted officers: the prices of victuals are enhanced; the health of
the subject inhabiting the cities much endangered, and many good towns
and boroughs unpeopled, and in their trades much decayed--frequent fires
occasioned by timber-buildings." It orders to build with brick and
stone, "which would beautify, and make an uniformity in the buildings;
and which are not only more durable and safe against fire, but by
experience are found to be of _little more if not less charge than the
building with timber_." We must infer that, by the general use of
timber, it had considerably risen in price, while brick and stone not
then being generally used, became as cheap as wood![250]

The most remarkable proclamations of Charles the Second are those which
concern the regulations of coffee-houses, and one for putting them
down;[251] to restrain the spreading of false news, and licentious
talking of state and government, the speakers and the hearers were made
alike punishable. This was highly resented as an illegal act by the
friends of civil freedom; who, however, succeeded in obtaining the
freedom of the coffee-houses, under the promise of not sanctioning
treasonable speeches. It was urged by the court lawyers, as the high
Tory, Roger North, tells us, that the retailing coffee might be an
innocent trade, when not used in the nature of a common assembly to
discourse of matters of state news and great persons, as a means "to
discontent the people." On the other side, Kennet asserted that the
discontents existed before they met at the coffee-houses, and that the
proclamation was only intended to suppress an evil which was not to be
prevented. At this day we know which of those two historians exercised
the truest judgment. It was not the coffee-houses which produced
political feeling, but the reverse. Whenever government ascribes effects
to a cause quite inadequate to produce them, they are only seeking means
to hide the evil which they are too weak to suppress.


  [243] The whole story is in 12 Co. 746. I owe this curious fact to
    the author of Eunomus, ii. 116.

  [244] A quarto volume was published by Barker, the king's printer,
    and is entitled "A Booke of Proclamations Published since the
    beginning of his Majestie's most happy Reign over England, until
    this present month of Feb. 1609." It contains 110 in all. The
    Society of Antiquaries of London possesses at the present time the
    largest and most perfect collection of royal proclamations in
    existence, brought together since the above was written. They are on
    separate broadsheets, as issued.

  [245] In 1529 the king had issued a proclamation for resisting and
    withstanding of most dampnable heresyes sowen within the realme by
    the discyples of Luther and other "heretykes, perverters of Christes
    relygyon." In June, 1530, this was followed by the proclamation "for
    dampning (or condemning) of erronious bokes and heresies, and
    prohibitinge the havinge of holy scripture translated into the
    vulgar tonges of englishe, frenche, or dutche," he notes many bookes
    "printed beyonde the see" which he will not allow, "that is to say,
    the boke called the wicked Mammona, the boke named the Obedience of
    a Christen Man, the Supplication of Beggars, and the boke called the
    Revelation of Antichrist, the Summary of Scripture, and divers other
    bokes made in the Englishe tongue," in fact all books in the
    vernacular not issued by native printers. "And that having respect
    to the malignity of this present tyme, with the inclination of
    people to erronious opinions, the translation of the newe testament
    and the old into the vulgar tonge of englysshe, shulde rather be the
    occasion of contynuance or increase of errours amonge the said
    people, than any benefit or commodite toward the weale of their
    soules," and he determines therefore that the scriptures shall only
    be expounded to the people as heretofore, and that these books "be
    clerely extermynate and exiled out of this realme of Englande for

  [246] History of the Reformation, vol. ii. p. 96, folio.

  [247] In June, 1574, the queen issued from her "Manour of Greenwich"
    this proclamation against "excesse of apparel, and the superfluitie
    of unnecessarye foreign wares thereto belonginge," which is declared
    to have "growen by sufferance to such an extremetie, that the
    manifest decay, not only of a great part of the wealth of the whole
    realme generally, is like to follow by bringing into the realme such
    superfluities of silkes, clothes of gold, sylver, and other most
    vaine devices, of so greate coste for the quantitie thereof; as of
    necessitie the moneyes and treasure of the realme is, and must be,
    yeerely conveyed out of the same." This is followed by three folio
    leaves minutely describing what may be worn on the dresses of every
    grade of persons; descending to such minutiæ as to note what classes
    are not to be allowed to put lace, or fringes, or borders of velvet
    upon their gowns and petticoats, under pain of fine or punishment,
    because improper for their station, and above their means. The order
    appears to have been evaded, for it was followed by another in
    February, 1580, which recapitulates these prohibitions, and renders
    them more stringent.

  [248] The list of a very few of those issued at the early part of
    his reign may illustrate this. In 1604 was published a "Proclamation
    for the true winding or folding of wools," as well as one "For the
    due regulation of prices of victuals within the verge of Kent." In
    1605, "Against certain calumnious surmises concerning the church
    government of Scotland." In 1608, "A proclamation against making
    starch." In 1612, "That none buy or sell any bullion of gold and
    silver at higher prices than is appointed to be paid for the same."
    Another against dying silk with _slip_ or any corrupt stuff. In
    1613, for "Prohibiting the untimely bringing in of wines," as well
    as for "Prohibiting the publishing of any reports or writings of
    duels," and also "The importation of felt hats or caps." In 1615,
    "Prohibiting the making of glass with timber or wood," because "of
    late yeeres the waste of wood and timber hath been exceeding great
    and intolerable, by the glassehouses and glasseworkes of late in
    divers parts erected," and which his majesty fears may have the
    effect of depriving England of timber to construct her navy!

  [249] I have noticed it in Calamities of Authors.

  [250] Lilly, the astrologer, in his memoirs, notes that Thomas
    Howard, Earl of Arundel (the famous collector of the Arundelian
    marbles now at Oxford), "brought over the new way of building with
    brick in the city, greatly to the safety of the city, and
    preservation of the wood of this nation."

  [251] This proclamation "for the suppression of coffee-houses" bears
    date December 20, 1675, and is stated to have been issued because
    "the multitude of coffee-houses, lately set up and kept within this
    kingdom, and the great resort of idle and dissipated persons to
    them, have produced very evil and dangerous effects," particularly
    in spreading of rumours, and inducing tradesmen to neglect their
    calling, tending to the danger of the commonweal, by the idle waste
    of time and money. It therefore orders all coffee-house keepers
    "that they, or any of them, do not presume from and after the tenth
    day of January next ensuing, to keep any publick coffee-house, or
    utter, or sell by retail, in his, her, or their house, or houses (to
    be spent or consumed within the same), any coffee, chocolate,
    sherbett, or tea; as they will answer it at their utmost peril."


This is a subject which has been hitherto but imperfectly comprehended
even by some historians themselves; and has too often incurred the
satire, and even the contempt, of those volatile spirits who play about
the superficies of truth, wanting the industry to view it on more than
one side, and those superficial readers who imagine that every tale is
told when it is written.

Secret history is the supplement of history itself, and is its great
corrector; and the combination of secret with public history has in
itself a perfection, which each taken separately has not. The popular
historian composes a plausible rather than an accurate tale; researches
too fully detailed would injure the just proportions, or crowd the bold
design, of the elegant narrative; and facts, presented as they occurred,
would not adapt themselves to those theoretical writers of history who
arrange events not in a natural, but in a systematic order. But in
secret history we are more busied in observing what passes than in being
told of it. We are transformed into the contemporaries of the writers,
while we are standing on the "vantage ground" of their posterity; and
thus what to them appeared ambiguous, to us has become unquestionable;
what was secret to them has been confided to us. They mark the
beginnings, and we the ends. From the fulness of their accounts we
recover much which had been lost to us in the general views of history,
and it is by this more intimate acquaintance with persons and
circumstances that we are enabled to correct the less distinct, and
sometimes the fallacious appearances in the page of the popular
historian. He who _only_ views things in masses will have no distinct
notion of any one particular; he may be a fanciful or a passionate
historian, but he is not the historian who will enlighten while he

But as secret history appears to deal in minute things, its connexion
with great results is not usually suspected. The circumstantiality of
its story, the changeable shadows of its characters, the redundance of
its conversations, and the many careless superfluities which egotism or
vanity may throw out, seem usually confounded with that small-talk
familiarly termed _gossiping_. But the _gossiping_ of a profound
politician or a vivacious observer, in one of their letters, or in their
memoirs, often, by a spontaneous stroke, reveals the individual, or by a
simple incident unriddles a mysterious event. We may discover the value
of these pictures of human nature, with which secret history abounds, by
an observation which occurred between two statesmen in office. Lord
Raby, our ambassador, apologised to Lord Bolingbroke, then secretary of
state, for troubling him with the minuter circumstances which occurred
in his conferences; in reply, the minister requests the ambassador to
continue the same manner of writing, and alleges an excellent reason:
"Those _minute circumstances_ give very great light to the general scope
and design of the _persons_ negotiated with. And I own that nothing
pleases me more in that valuable collection of the Cardinal D'Ossat's
letters, than the _naïve_ descriptions which he gives of the looks,
gestures, and even tones of voice, of the persons he conferred with." I
regret to have to record the opinions of another noble author, who
recently has thrown out some degrading notions of secret history, and
particularly of the historians. I would have silently passed by a vulgar
writer, superficial, prejudiced, and uninformed, but as so many are yet
deficient in correct notions of _secret history_, it is but justice that
their representative should be heard before they are condemned.

His lordship says, that "Of late the appetite for _Remains_ of all kinds
has surprisingly increased. A story repeated by the Duchess of
Portsmouth's waiting-woman to Lord Rochester's valet forms the subject
of investigation for a philosophical historian; and you may hear of an
assembly of scholars and authors discussing the validity of a piece of
scandal invented by a maid of honour more than two centuries ago, and
repeated to an obscure writer by Queen Elizabeth's housekeeper. It is a
matter of the greatest interest to see the _letters_ of every busy
trifler. Yet who does not laugh at such men?" This is the attack! but as
if some half truths, like light through the cranny in a dark room, had
just darted in a stream of atoms over this scoffer at secret history, he
suddenly views his object with a very different appearance--for his
lordship justly concludes that "It must be confessed, however, that
knowledge of this kind is very entertaining; and here and there among
the rubbish we find hints that may give the philosopher a clue to
important facts, and afford to the moralist a better analysis of the
human mind than a whole library of metaphysics!" The philosopher may
well abhor all intercourse with wits! because the faculty of judgment is
usually quiescent with them; and in their orgasm they furiously decry
what in their sober senses they as eagerly laud! Let me inform his
lordship, that "the waiting-woman and the valet" of eminent persons are
sometimes no unimportant personages in history. By the _Mémoires de
Mons. de la Porte, premier valet-de-chambre de Louis XIV._, we learn
what before "the valet" wrote had not been known--the shameful arts
which Mazarin allowed to be practised, to give a bad education to the
prince, and to manage him by depraving his tastes. _Madame de
Motteville_, in her Memoirs, "the waiting lady" of our Henrietta, has
preserved for our own English history some facts which have been found
so essential to the narrative, that they are referred to by our
historians. In _Gui Joly_, the humble dependant of Cardinal de Retz, we
discover an unconscious but a useful commentator on the memoirs of his
master; and the most affecting personal anecdotes of Charles the First
have been preserved by _Thomas Herbert_, his gentleman in waiting;
_Cléry_, the valet of Louis the Sixteenth, with pathetic faithfulness,
has shown us the man in the monarch whom he served!

Of SECRET HISTORY there are obviously two species; it is positive, or it
is relative. It is _positive_, when the facts are first given to the
world; a sort of knowledge which can only be drawn from our own personal
experience, or from contemporary documents preserved in their manuscript
state in public or in private collections; or it is _relative_, in
proportion to the knowledge of those to whom it is communicated, and
will be more or less valued according to the acquisitions of the reader;
and this inferior species of secret history is drawn from rare and
obscure books and other published authorities, often as scarce as

Some experience I have had in those literary researches, where
cusiosity, ever wakeful and vigilant, discovers among contemporary
manuscripts new facts; illustrations of old ones; and sometimes detects,
not merely by conjecture, the concealed causes of many events; often
opens a scene in which some well-known personage is exhibited in a new
character; and thus penetrates beyond those generalising representations
which satisfy the superficial, and often cover the page of history with
delusion and fiction.

It is only since the latter institution of national libraries that these
immense collections of manuscripts have been formed; with us they are an
undescribable variety, usually classed under the vague title of
"state-papers."[252] The instructions of ambassadors, but more
particularly their own dispatches; charters and chronicles brown with
antiquity, which preserve a world which had been else lost for us, like
the one before the deluge; series upon series of private correspondence,
among which we discover the most confidential communications, designed
by the writers to have been destroyed by the hand which received them;
memoirs of individuals by themselves or by their friends, such as are
now published by the pomp of vanity, or the faithlessness of their
possessors; and the miscellaneous collections formed by all kinds of
persons, characteristic of all countries and of all eras, materials for
the history of man!--records of the force or of the feebleness of the
human understanding, and still the monuments of their passions.

The original collectors of these dispersed manuscripts were a race of
ingenious men, silent benefactors of mankind, to whom justice has not
yet been fully awarded; but in their fervour of accumulation, everything
in a manuscript state bore its spell; acquisition was the sole point
aimed at by our early collectors, and to this these searching spirits
sacrificed their fortunes, their ease, and their days; but life would
have been too short to have decided on the intrinsic value of the
manuscripts flowing in a stream to the collectors; and suppression, even
of the disjointed reveries of madmen, or the sensible madness of
projectors, might have been indulging a capricious taste, or what has
proved more injurious to historical pursuits, that party-feeling which
has frequently annihilated the memorials of their adversaries.[253]

These manuscript collections now assume a formidable appearance. A
toilsome march over these "Alps rising over Alps!" a voyage in "a sea
without a shore!" has turned away most historians from their severer
duties; those who have grasped at early celebrity have been satisfied to
have given a new form to, rather than contributed to the new matter of
history. The very sight of these masses of history has terrified some
modern historians. When Père Daniel undertook a history of France, the
learned Boivin, the king's librarian, opened for his inspection an
immense treasure of charters, and another of royal autograph letters,
and another of private correspondence; treasures reposing in fourteen
hundred folios! The modern historian passed two hours impatiently
looking over them, but frightened at another plunge into the gulf, this
Curtius of history would not immolate himself for his country! He wrote
a civil letter to the librarian for his "supernumerary kindness," but
insinuated that he could write a very readable history without any
further aid of such _paperasses_ or "paper-rubbish." Père Daniel,
therefore, "quietly sat down to his history," copying others--a
compliment which was never returned by any one: but there was this
striking novelty in his "readable history," that according to the
accurate computation of Count Boulainvilliers, Père Daniel's history of
France contains ten thousand blunders! The same circumstance has been
told me by a living historian of the late Gilbert Stuart; who, on some
manuscript volumes of letters being pointed out to him when composing
his history of Scotland, confessed that "what was already printed was
more than he was able to read!" and thus much for his theoretical
history, written to run counter to another theoretical history, being
Stuart versus Robertson! They equally depend on the simplicity of their
readers, and the charms of style! Another historian, Anquetil, the
author of _L'Esprit de la Ligue_, has described his embarrassment at an
inspection of the contemporary manuscripts of that period. After
thirteen years of researches to glean whatever secret history printed
books afforded, the author, residing in the country, resolved to visit
the royal library at Paris. Monsieur Melot receiving him with that
kindness which is one of the official duties of the public librarian
towards the studious, opened the cabinets in which were deposited the
treasures of French history.--"This is what you require! come here at
all times, and you shall be attended!" said the librarian to the young
historian, who stood by with a sort of shudder, while he opened cabinet
after cabinet. The intrepid investigator repeated his visits, looking
over the mass as chance directed, attacking one side, and then flying to
another. The historian, who had felt no weariness during thirteen years
among printed books, discovered that he was now engaged in a task
apparently always beginning, and never ending! The "Esprit de la Ligue"
was however enriched by labours which at the moment appeared so barren.

The study of these _paperasses_ is not perhaps so disgusting as the
impatient Père Daniel imagined; there is a literary fascination in
looking over the same papers which the great characters of history once
held and wrote on; catching from themselves their secret sentiments; and
often detecting so many of their unrecorded actions! By habit the toil
becomes light; and with a keen inquisitive spirit even delightful! For
what is more delightful to the curious than to make fresh discoveries
every day? Addison has a true and pleasing observation on such pursuits.
"Our employments are converted into amusements, so that even in those
objects which were indifferent, or even displeasing to us, the mind not
only gradually loses its aversion, but conceives a certain fondness and
affection for them." Addison illustrates this case by one of the
greatest geniuses of the age, who by habit took incredible pleasure in
searching into rolls and records, till he preferred them to Virgil and
Cicero! The faculty of curiosity is as fervid, and even as refined in
its search after truth, as that of taste in the objects of imagination;
and the more it is indulged, the more exquisitely it is enjoyed!

The popular historians of England and of France have, in truth, made
little use of manuscript researches. Life is very short for long
histories; and those who rage with an avidity of fame or profit will
gladly taste the fruit which they cannot mature. Researches too remotely
sought after, or too slowly acquired, or too fully detailed, would be so
many obstructions in the smooth texture of a narrative. Our theoretical
historians write from some particular and preconceived result; unlike
Livy, and De Thou, and Machiavel, who describe events in their natural
order, these cluster them together by the fanciful threads of some
political or moral theory, by which facts are distorted, displaced, and
sometimes altogether omitted! One single original document has sometimes
shaken into dust their Palladian edifice of history. At the moment Hume
was sending some sheets of his history to press, Murdin's State Papers
appeared. And we are highly amused and instructed by a letter of our
historian to his rival, Robertson, who probably found himself often in
the same forlorn situation. Our historian discovered in that collection
what compelled him to retract his preconceived system--he hurries to
stop the press, and paints his confusion and his anxiety with all the
ingenuous simplicity of his nature. "We are all in the wrong!" he
exclaims. Of Hume I have heard that certain manuscripts at the State
Paper Office had been prepared for his inspection during a fortnight,
but he never could muster courage to pay his promised visit. Satisfied
with the common accounts, and the most obvious sources of history, when
librarian at the Advocates' Library, where yet may be examined the books
he used, marked by his hand, he spread the volumes about the sofa, from
which he rarely rose to pursue obscure inquiries, or delay by fresh
difficulties the page which every day was growing under his charming
pen. A striking proof of his careless happiness I discovered in his
never referring to the perfect edition of "Whitelocke's Memorials" of
1732, but to the old truncated and faithless one of 1682.

Dr. Birch was a writer with no genius for composition, but one to whom
British history stands more indebted than to any superior author; his
incredible love of labour, in transcribing with his own hand a large
library of manuscripts from originals dispersed in public and in private
repositories, has enriched the British Museum by thousands of the most
authentic documents of genuine secret history. He once projected a
collection of original historical letters, for which he had prepared a
preface, where I find the following passage:--"It is a more important
service to the public to contribute _something not before known_ to the
general fund of history, than to give new form and colour to what we are
already possessed of, by superadding refinement and ornament, which too
often tend _to disguise the real state of the facts_; a fault not to be
atoned for by the pomp of _style_, or even the fine _eloquence_ of the
historian." This was an oblique stroke aimed at Robertson, to whom Birch
had generously opened the stores of history, for the Scotch historian
had needed all his charity; but Robertson's attractive inventions and
highly-finished composition seduce the public taste; and we may forgive
the latent spark of envy in the honest feelings of the man, who was
profoundly skilled in delving in the native beds of ore, but not in
fashioning it; and whose own neglected historical works, constructed on
the true principles of secret history, we may often turn over to correct
the erroneous, the prejudiced, and the artful accounts of those who have
covered their faults by "the pomp of style, and the eloquence of the

The large manuscript collections of original documents, from whence may
be drawn what I have called _positive secret history_, are, as I
observed, comparatively of modern existence. Formerly they were widely
dispersed in private hands; and the nature of such sources of historic
discovery but rarely occurred to our writers. Even had they sought them,
their access must have been partial and accidental. Lord Hardwicke has
observed, that there are still many untouched manuscript collections
within these kingdoms, which, through the ignorance or inattention of
their owners, are condemned to dust and obscurity; but how valuable and
essential they may be to the interests of authentic history and of
sacred truth, cannot be more strikingly demonstrated than in the recent
publications of the Marlborough and the Shrewsbury Papers by Archdeacon
Coxe.[254] The editor was fully authorised to observe, "It is singular
that those transactions should either have been passed over in silence,
or imperfectly represented by most of our national historians." Our
modern history would have been a mere political romance, without the
astonishing picture of William and his ministers, exhibited in those
unquestionable documents. Burnet was among the first of our modern
historians who showed the world the preciousness of such materials, in
his "History of the Reformation," which he largely drew from the
Cottonian collection. Our early historians only repeated a tale ten
times told. Milton, who wanted not for literary diligence, had no fresh
stores to open for his "History of England;" while Hume despatches,
comparatively in a few pages, a subject which has afforded to the
fervent diligence of my learned friend Sharon Turner volumes precious to
the antiquary, the lawyer, and the philosopher.

To illustrate my idea of the usefulness and of the absolute necessity of
SECRET HISTORY, I fix first on _a public event_, and secondly on _a
public character_; both remarkable in our own modern history, and both
serving to expose the fallacious appearances of popular history by
authorities indisputably genuine. The _event_ is the Restoration of
Charles the Second; and the _character_ is that of Mary, the queen of
William the Third.

In history the Restoration of Charles appears in all its splendour--the
king is joyfully received at Dover, and the shore is covered by his
subjects on their knees--crowds of the great hurry to Canterbury--the
army is drawn up, in number and with a splendour that had never been
equalled--his enthusiastic reception is on his birthday, for that was
the lucky day fixed on for his entrance into the metropolis--in a word,
all that is told in history describes a monarch the most powerful and
the most happy. One of the tracts of the day, entitled "England's
Triumph," in the mean quaintness of the style of the times, tells us
that "The soldiery, who had hitherto made _clubs_ trump, resolve now to
enthrone the _king of hearts_." Turn to the faithful memorialist, who so
well knew the secrets of the king's heart, and who was himself an actor
behind the curtain; turn to Clarendon, in his own Life, and we shall
find that the power of the king was then as dubious as when he was an
exile; and his feelings were so much racked, that he had nearly resolved
on a last flight.

Clarendon, in noticing the temper and spirit of that time, observes,
"Whoever reflects upon all this composition of contradictory wishes and
expectations, must confess that the king was not yet the master of the
kingdom, nor his _authority_ and _security_ such as _the general noise
and acclamation, the bells and the bonfires, proclaimed it to
be_."--"The first mortification the king met with as soon as he arrived
at Canterbury, within three hours after he landed at Dover." Clarendon
then relates how many the king found there, who, while they waited with
joy to kiss his hand, also came with importunate solicitations for
themselves; forced him to give them present audience, in which they
reckoned up the insupportable losses undergone by themselves or their
fathers; demanding some grant, or promise of such or such offices; some
even for more! "pressing for two or three with such confidence and
importunity, and with such tedious discourses, that the king was
extremely nauseated with their suits, though his modesty knew not how to
break from them; that he no sooner got into his chamber, which for some
hours he was not able to do, than _he lamented the condition to which he
found he must be subject_; and did, in truth, from that minute, contract
such a prejudice against some of those persons." But a greater
mortification was to follow, and one which had nearly thrown the king
into despair.

General Monk had from the beginning to this instant acted very
mysteriously, never corresponding with nor answering a letter of the
king's, so that his majesty was frequently doubtful whether the general
designed to act for himself or for the king: an ambiguous conduct which
I attribute to the power his wife had over him, who was in the opposite
interest. The general, in his rough way, presented him a large paper,
with about seventy names for his privy council, of which not more than
two were acceptable. "The king," says Clarendon, "was _in more than
ordinary confusion_, for he knew not well what to think of the general,
in whose absolute power he was--so that at this moment his majesty was
almost alarmed at the demand and appearance of things." The general
afterwards undid this unfavourable appearance, by acknowledging that the
list was drawn up by his wife, who had made him promise to present it;
but he permitted his majesty to act as he thought proper. At that moment
General Monk was more king than Charles.

We have not yet concluded. When Charles met the army at Blackheath,
50,000 strong, "he knew well the ill constitution of the army, the
distemper and murmuring that was in it, and how many diseases and
convulsions their infant loyalty was subject to; that _how united soever
their inclinations and acclamations seemed to be at Blackheath_, their
_affections_ were not the _same_--and _the very countenances_ there of
many _officers_, as well as _soldiers_, did sufficiently manifest that
they were drawn thither to a service they were not delighted in. The
_old soldiers_ had little regard for their _new officers_; and it
quickly appeared, by the select and affected mixtures of sullen and
melancholic parties of officers and soldiers."--And then the chancellor
of human nature adds, "And in this _melancholic and perplexed condition_
the king and all his hopes stood, _when he appeared most gay and
exalted, and wore a pleasantness in his face_ that became him, and
looked like as full an assurance of his security as was possible to put
on." It is imagined that Louis the Eighteenth would be the ablest
commentator on this piece of secret history, and add another _twin_ to
Pierre de Saint Julien's "Gemelles ou Pareiles," an old French treatise
of histories which resemble one another: a volume so scarce, that I have
never met with it.

Burnet informs us, that when Queen Mary held the administration of
government during the absence of William, it was imagined by some, that
as "every woman of sense loved to be meddling, they concluded that she
had but a small portion of it, because she lived so abstracted from all
affairs." He praises her exemplary behaviour; "regular in her devotions,
much in her closet, read a great deal, was often busy at work, and
seemed to employ her time and thoughts in anything rather than matters
of state. Her conversation was lively and obliging; everything in her
was easy and natural. The king told the Earl of Shrewsbury, that though
he could not hit on the right way of pleasing England, he was confident
she would, and that we should all be very happy under her." Such is the
miniature of the queen which Burnet offers; we see nothing but her
tranquillity, her simplicity, and her carelessness, amidst the important
transactions passing under her eye; but I lift the curtain from a larger
picture. The distracted state amidst which the queen lived, the
vexations, the secret sorrows, the agonies and the despair of Mary in
the absence of William, nowhere appear in history! and as we see,
escaped the ken of the Scotch bishop! They were reserved for the
curiosity and instruction of posterity; and were found by Dalrymple, in
the letters of Mary to her husband, in King William's cabinet. It will
be well to place under the eye of the reader the suppressed cries of
this afflicted queen at the time when "everything in her was so easy and
natural, employing her time and thoughts in anything rather than matters
of state--often busy at work!"

I shall not dwell on the pangs of the queen for the fate of William--or
her deadly suspicions that many were unfaithful about her; a battle lost
might have been fatal; a conspiracy might have undone what even a
victory had obtained; the continual terrors she endured were such, that
we might be at a loss to determine who suffered most, those who had been
expelled from, or those who had ascended the throne.

So far was the queen from not "employing her thoughts" on "matters of
state," that every letter, usually written towards evening, chronicles
the conflicts of the day; she records not only events, but even
dialogues and personal characteristics; hints her suspicions, and
multiplies her fears; her attention was incessant--"I never write but
what I think others do not;" and her terrors were as ceaseless,--"I pray
God send you back quickly, for I see all breaking out into flames." The
queen's difficulties were not eased by a single confidential
intercourse. On one occasion she observes, "As I do not know what I
ought to speak, and when not, I am as silent as can be." "I ever fear
not doing well, and trust to what nobody says but you. It seems to me
that every one is afraid of themselves.--I am very uneasy in one thing,
which is want of somebody to speak my mind freely to, for it's a great
constraint to think and be silent; and there is so much matter, that I
am one of Solomon's fools, who am ready to burst. I must tell you again
how Lord Monmouth endeavours to frighten me, and indeed things have but
a melancholy prospect." She had indeed reasons to fear Lord Monmouth,
who, it appears, divulged all the secrets of the royal councils to Major
Wildman, who was one of our old republicans; and, to spread alarm in the
privy council, conveyed in lemon-juice all their secrets to France,
often on the very day they had passed in council! They discovered the
fact, and every one suspected the other as the traitor! Lord Lincoln
even once assured her, that "the Lord President and all in general, who
are in trust, were rogues." Her council was composed of factions, and
the queen's suspicions were rather general than particular: for she
observes on them, "Till now I thought you had given me wrong characters
of men; but now I see they answer my expectation of being as little of a
mind as of a body."--For a final extract, take this full picture of
royal misery--"I must see company on my set days; I must play twice a
week; nay, I must laugh and talk, though never so much against my will:
I believe I dissemble very ill to those who know me; at least, it is a
great constraint to myself, yet I must endure it. All my motions are so
watched, and all I do so observed, that if I eat less, or speak less, or
look more grave, all is lost in the opinion of the world; so that I have
this misery added to that of your absence, that I must grin when my
heart is ready to break, and talk when my heart is so oppressed that I
can scarce breathe. I go to Kensington as often as I can for air; but
then I never can be quite alone, neither can I complain--that would be
some ease; but I have nobody whose humour and circumstances agree with
mine enough to speak my mind freely to. Besides, I must hear of
business, which being a thing I am so new in, and so unfit for, does but
break my brains the more, and not ease my heart."

Thus different from the representation of Burnet was the actual state of
Queen Mary: and I suspect that our warm and vehement bishop had but
little personal knowledge of her majesty, notwithstanding the elaborate
character of the queen which he has given in her funeral eulogium. He
must have known that she did not always sympathise with his
party-feelings: for the queen writes, "The Bishop of Salisbury has made
a long thundering sermon this morning, which he has been with me to
desire to print; which I could not refuse, though I should not have
ordered it, for reasons which I told him." Burnet (whom I am very far
from calling what an inveterate Tory, Edward Earl of Oxford, does in one
of his manuscript notes, "that lying Scot") unquestionably has told many
truths in his garrulous page; but the cause in which he stood so deeply
engaged, coupled to his warm sanguine temper, may have sometimes dimmed
his sagacity, so as to have caused him to have mistaken, as in the
present case, a mask for a face, particularly at a time when almost
every individual appears to have worn one!

Both these cases of Charles the Second and Queen Mary show the absolute
necessity of researches into secret history, to correct the appearances
and the fallacies which so often deceive us in public history.

"The appetite for Remains," as the noble author whom I have already
alluded to calls it, may then be a very wholesome one, if it provide the
only materials by which our popular histories can be corrected, and
since it often infuses a freshness into a story which, after having been
copied from book to book, inspires another to tell it for the tenth
time! Thus are the _sources of_ secret history unsuspected by the idler
and the superficial, among those masses of untouched manuscripts--that
subterraneous history!--which indeed may terrify the indolent, bewilder
the inexperienced, and confound the injudicious, if they have not
acquired the knowledge which not only decides on facts and opinions, but
on the authorities which have furnished them. Popular historians have
written to their readers; each with different views, but all alike form
the open documents of history; like feed advocates, they declaim, or
like special pleaders, they keep only on one side of their case: they
are seldom zealous to push on their cross-examination; for they come to
gain their cause, and not to hazard it!

Time will make the present age as obsolete as the last, for our sons
will cast a new light over the ambiguous scenes which distract their
fathers; they will know how some things happened for which we cannot
account; they will bear witness to how many characters we have mistaken;
they will be told many of those secrets which our contemporaries hide
from us; they will pause at the ends of our beginnings; they will read
the perfect story of man, which can never be told while it is
proceeding. All this is the possession of posterity, because they will
judge without our passions; and all this we ourselves have been enabled
to possess by the secret history _of the last two ages_![255]


  [252] The large mass of important documents in the National
    State-paper Office has recently been made available to the use of
    the historic student, with the best results, and cannot fail to have
    important influence on the future historic literature of the

  [253] See what I have said of "Suppressors and Dilapidators of
    Manuscripts," vol. ii. p. 443.

  [254] The "Conway Papers" remain unpublished. From what I have
    already been favoured with the sight of, I may venture to predict
    that our history may receive from them some important accession. The
    reader may find a lively summary of the contents of these Papers in
    Horace Walpole's account of his visit to Ragley, in his letter to
    George Montague, 20th August, 1758. The Right Hon. John Wilson
    Croker, with whom the Marquis of Hertford had placed the disposal of
    the Conway Papers, is also in possession of the Throckmorton Papers,
    of which the reader may likewise observe a particular notice in Sir
    Henry Wotton's will, in Izaak Walton's Lives. Unsunned treasures lie
    in the State-paper office.

  [255] Since this article has been sent to press I rise from reading
    one in the _Edinburgh Review_ on Lord Orford's and Lord Waldegrave's
    Memoirs. This is one of the very rare articles which could only come
    from the hand of a master long exercised in the studies he
    criticises. The critic, or rather the historian, observes, that "of
    a period remarkable for the establishment of our present system of
    government, no authentic materials had yet appeared. Events of
    public notoriety are to be found, though often inaccurately told, in
    our common histories; but the secret springs of action, the private
    views and motives of individuals, &c., are as little known to us as
    if the events to which they relate had taken place in China or
    Japan." The clear, connected, dispassionate, and circumstantial
    narrative, with which he has enriched the stores of English history,
    is drawn from _the sources of_ SECRET HISTORY; from _published
    memoirs_ and _contemporary correspondence_.


Men of genius have usually been condemned to compose their finest works,
which are usually their earliest ones, under the roof of a garret; and
few literary characters have lived, like Pliny and Voltaire, in a villa
or _château_ of their own. It has not therefore often happened that a
man of genius could raise local emotions by his own intellectual
suggestions. Ariosto, who built a palace in his verse, lodged himself in
a small house, and found that stanzas and stones were not put together
at the same rate: old Montaigne has left a description of his library;
"over the entrance of my house, where I view my court-yards, and garden,
and at once survey all the operations of my family!"

There is, however, a feeling among literary men of building up their own
elegant fancies, and giving a permanency to their own tastes; we dwell
on their favourite scenes as a sort of portraits, and we eagerly collect
those few prints, which are their only vestiges. A collection might be
formed of such literary residences chosen for their amenity and their
retirement, and adorned by the objects of their studies; from that of
the younger Pliny, who called his villa of literary leisure by the
endearing term of _villula_, to that of Cassiodorus, the prime minister
of Theodoric, who has left so magnificent a description of his literary
retreat, where all the elegancies of life were at hand; where the
gardeners and the agriculturists laboured on scientific principles; and
where, amidst gardens and parks, stood his extensive library, with
scribes to multiply his manuscripts:--from Tycho Brahe's, who built a
magnificent astronomical house on an island, which he named after the
sole objects of his musings Uranienburgh, or the Castle of the
Heavens;--to that of Evelyn, who first began to adorn Wotton, by
building "a little study," till many years after he dedicated the
ancient house to contemplation, among the "delicious streams and
venerable woods, the gardens, the fountains, and the groves, most
tempting for a great person and a wanton purse; and indeed gave one of
the first examples to that elegancy since so much in vogue."--From Pope,
whose little garden seemed to multiply its scenes by a glorious union of
nobility and literary men conversing in groups;--down to lonely
Shenstone, whose "rural elegance," as he entitles one of his odes,
compelled him to mourn over his hard fate, when

  Had lavish'd thousand ornaments, and taught
  CONVENIENCE to perplex him, ART to pall,
  POMP to deject, and BEAUTY to displease.

We have all by heart the true and delightful reflection of Johnson on
local associations, when the scene we tread suggests to us the men or
the deeds, which have left their celebrity to the spot. We are in the
presence of their fame, and feel its influence!

A literary friend, whom a hint of mine had induced to visit the old
tower in the garden of Buffon, where the sage retired every morning to
compose, passed so long a time in that lonely apartment as to have
raised some solicitude among the honest folks of Montbard, who having
seen the "Englishman" enter, but not return, during a heavy
thunder-storm which had occurred in the interval, informed the good
mayor, who came in due form, to notify the ambiguous state of the
stranger. My friend is, as is well known, a genius of that cast who
could pass two hours in the _Tower of Buffon_, without being aware that
he had been all that time occupied by suggestions of ideas and reveries,
which in some minds such a locality may excite. He was also busied with
his pencil; for he has favoured me with two drawings of the interior and
the exterior of this _old tower in the garden_: the nakedness within can
only be compared to the solitude without. Such was the studying-room of
Buffon, where his eye, resting on no object, never interrupted the unity
of his meditations on nature.

In return for my friend's kindness, it has cost me, I think, two hours
in attempting to translate the beautiful picture of this literary
retreat, which Vicq d'Azyr has finished with all the warmth of a votary.
"At Montbard, in the midst of an ornamented garden, is seen an antique
tower; it was there that Buffon wrote the History of Nature, and from
that spot his fame spread through the universe. There he came at
sunrise, and no one, however importunate, was suffered to trouble him.
The calm of the morning hour, the first warbling of the birds, the
varied aspect of the country, all at that moment which touched the
senses, recalled him to his model. Free, independent, he wandered in his
walks; there was he seen with quickened or with slow steps, or standing
wrapped in thought, sometimes with his eyes fixed on the heavens in the
moment of inspiration, as if satisfied with the thought that so
profoundly occupied his soul; sometimes, collected within himself, he
sought what would not always be found; or at the moments of producing,
he wrote, he effaced, and rewrote, to efface once more; thus he
harmonised, in silence, all the parts of his composition, which he
frequently repeated to himself, till, satisfied with his corrections, he
seemed to repay himself for the pains of his beautiful prose, by the
pleasure he found in declaiming it aloud. Thus he engraved it in his
memory, and would recite it to his friends, or induce some to read it to
him. At those moments he was himself a severe judge, and would again
re-compose it, desirous of attaining to that perfection which is denied
to the impatient writer."

A curious circumstance, connected with local associations, occurred to
that extraordinary oriental student, Fourmont. Originally he belonged to
a religious community, and never failed in performing his offices: but
he was expelled by the superior for an irregularity of conduct not
likely to have become contagious through the brotherhood--he frequently
prolonged his studies far into the night, and it was possible that the
house might be burnt by such superfluity of learning. Fourmont retreated
to the college of Montaign, where he occupied the very chambers which
had formerly been those of Erasmus; a circumstance which contributed to
excite his emulation, and to hasten his studies. He who smiles at the
force of such emotions, only proves that he has not experienced what are
real and substantial as the scene itself--for those who are concerned in
them. Pope, who had far more enthusiasm in his poetical disposition than
is generally understood, was extremely susceptible of the literary
associations with localities: one of the volumes of his Homer was begun
and finished in an old tower over the chapel of Stanton Harcourt;[256]
and he has perpetuated the event, if not consecrated the place, by
scratching with a diamond on a pane of stained glass this inscription:--

  In the year 1718,
  Finished here the f....
  fifth volume of HOMER.[257]

It was the same feeling which induced him one day, when taking his
usual walk with Harte in the Haymarket, to desire Harte to enter a
little shop, where going up three pair of stairs into a small room, Pope
said, "In this garret Addison wrote his _Campaign_!" Nothing less than a
strong feeling impelled the poet to ascend this garret--it was a
consecrated spot to his eye; and certainly a curious instance of the
power of genius contrasted with its miserable locality! Addison, whose
mind had fought through "a campaign!" in a garret, could he have called
about him "the pleasures of imagination," had probably planned a house
of literary repose, where all parts would have been in harmony with his

Such residences of men of genius have been enjoyed by some; and the
vivid descriptions which they have left us convey something of the
delightfulness which charmed their studious repose.

The Italian, Paul Jovius, has composed more than three hundred concise
eulogies of statesmen, warriors, and literary men, of the fourteenth,
fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries; but the occasion which induced him
to compose them is perhaps more interesting than the compositions.

Jovius had a villa, situated on a peninsula, bordered by the Lake of
Como. It was built on the ruins of the villa of Pliny, and in his time
the foundations were still visible. When the surrounding lake was calm,
the sculptured marbles, the trunks of columns, and the fragments of
those pyramids which had once adorned the residence of the friend of
Trajan, were still viewed in its lucid bosom. Jovius was the enthusiast
of literature, and the leisure which it loves. He was an historian, with
the imagination of a poet, and though a Christian prelate, almost a
worshipper of the sweet fictions of pagan mythology; and when his pen
was kept pure from satire or adulation, to which it was too much
accustomed, it became a pencil. He paints with rapture his gardens
bathed by the waters of the lake; the shade and freshness of his woods;
his green slopes; his sparkling fountains, the deep silence and calm of
his solitude! A statue was raised in his gardens to Nature! In his hall
stood a fine statue of Apollo, and the Muses around, with their
attributes. His library was guarded by a Mercury, and there was an
apartment adorned with Doric columns, and with pictures of the most
pleasing subjects dedicated to the Graces! Such was the interior!
Without, the transparent lake here spread its broad mirror, and there
was seen luminously winding by banks covered with olives and laurels; in
the distance, towns, promontories, hills rising in an amphitheatre,
blushing with vines, and the first elevation of the Alps, covered with
woods and pasture, and sprinkled with herds and flocks.

It was in a central spot of this enchanting habitation that a cabinet or
gallery was erected, where Jovius had collected with prodigal cost the
portraits of celebrated men; and it was to explain and to describe the
characteristics of these illustrious names that he had composed his
eulogies. This collection became so remarkable, that the great men his
contemporaries presented our literary collector with their own
portraits, among whom the renowned Fernandez Cortes sent Jovius his
before he died, and probably others who were less entitled to enlarge
the collection; but it is equally probable that our caustic Jovius would
throw them aside. Our historian had often to describe men more famous
than virtuous; sovereigns, politicians, poets, and philosophers, men of
all ranks, countries, and ages, formed a crowded scene of men of genius
or of celebrity; sometimes a few lines compress their character, and
sometimes a few pages excite his fondness. If he sometimes adulates the
living, we may pardon the illusions of a contemporary; but he has the
honour of satirising some by the honest freedom of a pen which
occasionally broke out into premature truths.

Such was the inspiration of literature and leisure which had embellished
the abode of Jovius, and had raised in the midst of the Lake of Como a
cabinet of portraits; a noble tribute to those who are "the salt of the

We possess prints of Rubens's house at Antwerp. That princely artist
perhaps first contrived for his _studio_ the circular apartment with a
dome, like the rotunda of the Pantheon, where the light descending from
an aperture or window at the top, sent down a single equal light,--that
perfection of light which distributes its magical effects on the objects
beneath.[258] Bellori describes it _una stanza rotonda con un solo
occhio in cima_; the _solo occhio_ is what the French term _oeil de
boeuf_; we ourselves want this _single eye_ in our technical language
of art. This was his precious museum, where he had collected a vast
number of books, which were intermixed with his marbles, statues,
cameos, intaglios, and all that variety of the riches of art which he
had drawn from Rome:[259] but the walls did not yield in value; for they
were covered by pictures of his own composition, or copies by his own
hand, made at Venice and Madrid, of Titian and Paul Veronese. No
foreigners, men of letters, or lovers of the arts, or even princes,
would pass through Antwerp without visiting the house of Rubens, to
witness the animated residence of genius, and the great man who had
conceived the idea. Yet, great as was his mind, and splendid as were the
habits of his life, he could not resist the entreaties of the hundred
thousand florins of our Duke of Buckingham, to dispose of this _studio_.
The great artist could not, however, abandon for ever the delightful
contemplations he was depriving himself of; and as substitutes for the
miracles of art he had lost, he solicited and obtained leave to replace
them by casts which were scrupulously deposited in the places where the
originals had stood.

Of this feeling of the local residences of genius, the Italians appear
to have been not perhaps more susceptible than other people, but more
energetic in their enthusiasm. Florence exhibits many monuments of this
sort. In the neighbourhood of _Santa Maria Novella_, Zimmerman has
noticed a house of the celebrated Viviani, which is a singular monument
of gratitude to his illustrious master, Galileo. The front is adorned
with the bust of this father of science, and between the windows are
engraven accounts of the discoveries of Galileo; it is the most
beautiful biography of genius! Yet another still more eloquently excites
our emotions--the house of Michael Angelo: his pupils, in perpetual
testimony of their admiration and gratitude, have ornamented it with all
the leading features of his life; the very soul of this vast genius put
in action: this is more than biography!--it is living as with a


  [256] The room is a small wainscoted apartment in the second floor,
    commanding a pleasant view.

  [257] The above inscription is a fac-simile of that upon the glass.
    The word _fifth_ in the third line has been erased by Pope for want
    of room to complete it properly. It is scratched on a small pane of
    red glass, and has been removed to Nuneham Courtney, the seat of the
    Harcourt family, on the banks of the Thames, a few miles from

  [258] Harrewyns published, in 1684, a series of interesting views of
    the house, and some of the apartments, including this domed one. The
    series are upon one folio sheet, now very rare.

  [259] Rubens was an ardent collector, and lost no chance of increasing
    his stores; in the appendix to Carpenter's "Pictorial Notices of
    Vandyke" is printed the correspondence between himself and Sir D.
    Carleton, offering to exchange some of his own pictures for antiques
    in possession of the latter, who was ambassador from England to
    Holland, and who collected also for the Earl of Arundel.


The political economist replies that it is!

One of our old dramatic writers, who witnessed the singular extravagance
of dress among the modellers of fashion, our nobility, condemns their
"superfluous bravery," echoing the popular cry--

  "There are a sort of men, whose coining heads
  Are mints of all new fashions, that have done
  More hurt to the kingdom, by superfluous bravery,
  Which the foolish gentry imitate, than a war
  Or a long famine. _All the treasure by
  This foul excess is got into the merchants',
  Embroiderers', silkmen's, jewellers', tailors' hands,
  And the third part of the land too!_ the nobility
  Engrossing _titles only_."

Our poet might have been startled at the reply of our political
economist. If the nobility, in follies such as these, only preserved
their "titles," while their "lands" were dispersed among the industrious
classes, the people were not sufferers. The silly victims ruining
themselves by their excessive luxury, or their costly dress, as it
appears some did, was an evil which, left to its own course, must check
itself; if the rich did not spend, the poor would starve. Luxury is the
cure of that unavoidable evil in society--great inequality of fortune!
Political economists therefore tell us that any regulations would be
ridiculous which, as Lord Bacon expresses it, should serve for "the
repressing of waste and excess by _sumptuary laws_." Adam Smith is not
only indignant at "sumptuary laws," but asserts, with a democratic
insolence of style, that "it is the highest impertinence and presumption
in kings and ministers to pretend to watch over the economy of private
people, and to restrain their expense by sumptuary laws. They are
themselves always the greatest spendthrifts in the society; let them
look well after their own expense, and they may safely trust private
people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state,
that of their subjects never will." We must therefore infer that
governments by extravagance may ruin a state, but that individuals enjoy
the remarkable privilege of ruining themselves without injuring society!
Adam Smith afterwards distinguishes two sorts of luxury: the one
exhausting itself in "durable commodities, as in buildings, furniture,
books, statues, pictures," will increase "the opulence of a nation;" but
of the other, wasting itself in dress and equipages, in frivolous
ornaments, jewels, baubles, trinkets, &c., he acknowledges "no trace or
vestige would remain; and the effects of ten or twenty years' profusion
would be as completely annihilated as if they had never existed." There
is, therefore, a greater and a lesser evil in this important subject of
the opulent, unrestricted by any law, ruining his whole generation.

Where "the wealth of nations" is made the solitary standard of their
prosperity, it becomes a fertile source of errors in the science of
morals; and the happiness of the individual is then too frequently
sacrificed to what is called the prosperity of the state. If an
individual, in the pride of luxury and selfism, annihilates the fortunes
of his whole generation, untouched by the laws as a criminal, he leaves
behind him a race of the discontented and the seditious, who, having
sunk in the scale of society, have to reascend from their degradation by
industry and by humiliation; but for the work of industry their habits
have made them inexpert; and to humiliation their very rank presents a
perpetual obstacle.

Sumptuary laws, so often enacted and so often repealed, and always
eluded, were the perpetual, but ineffectual, attempts of all governments
to restrain what, perhaps, cannot be restrained--criminal folly! And to
punish a man for having ruined himself would usually be to punish a most
contrite penitent.

It is not surprising that before "private vices were considered as
public benefits," the governors of nations instituted sumptuary
laws--for the passion for pageantry and an incredible prodigality in
dress were continually impoverishing great families--more equality of
wealth has now rather subdued the form of private ruin than laid this
evil domestic spirit. The incalculable expenditure and the blaze of
splendour of our ancestors may startle the incredulity of our
_élégantes_. We find men of rank exhausting their wealth and pawning
their castles, and then desperately issuing from them, heroes for a
crusade, or brigands for their neighbourhood!--and this frequently from
the simple circumstance of having for a short time maintained some
gorgeous chivalric festival on their own estates, or from having melted
thousands of acres into cloth of gold; their sons were left to beg their
bread on the estates which they were to have inherited.

It was when chivalry still charmed the world by the remains of its
seductive splendours, towards the close of the fifteenth century, that I
find an instance of this kind occurring in the _Pas de Sandricourt_,
which was held in the neighbourhood of the sieur of that name. It is a
memorable affair, not only for us curious inquirers after manners and
morals, but for the whole family of the Sandricourts; for though the
said sieur is now receiving the immortality we bestow on him, and _la
dame_ who presided in that magnificent piece of chivalry was infinitely
gratified, yet for ever after was the lord of Sandricourt ruined--and
all for a short, romantic three months!

This story of the chivalric period may amuse. A _pas d'armes_, though
consisting of military exercises and deeds of gallantry, was a sort of
festival distinct from a tournament. It signified a _pas_ or passage to
be contested by one or more knights against all comers. It was necessary
that the road should be such that it could not be passed without
encountering some guardian knight. The _chevaliers_ who disputed the
_pas_ hung their blazoned shields on trees, pales, or posts raised for
this purpose. The aspirants after chivalric honours would strike with
their lance one of these shields, and when it rung, it instantly
summoned the owner to the challenge. A bridge or a road would sometimes
serve for this military sport, for such it was intended to be, whenever
the heat of the rivals proved not too earnest. The sieur of Sandricourt
was a fine dreamer of feats of chivalry, and in the neighbourhood of his
castle he fancied that he saw a very spot adapted for every game; there
was one admirably fitted for the barrier of a tilting-match; another
embellished by a solitary pine-tree; another which was called the meadow
of the Thorn; there was a _carrefour_, where, in four roads, four
knights might meet; and, above all, there was a forest called
_devoyable_, having no path, so favourable for errant knights who might
there enter for strange adventures, and, as chance directed, encounter
others as bewildered as themselves. Our chivalric Sandricourt found nine
young _seigneurs_ of the court of Charles the Eighth of France, who
answered all his wishes. To sanction this glorious feat it was necessary
to obtain leave from the king, and a herald of the Duke of Orleans to
distribute the _cartel_ or challenge all over France, announcing that
from such a day ten young lords would stand ready to combat, in those
different places, in the neighbourhood of Sandricourt's _château_. The
names of this flower of chivalry have been faithfully registered, and
they were such as instantly to throw a spark into the heart of every
lover of arms! The world of fashion, that is, the chivalric world, were
set in motion. Four bodies of assailants soon collected, each consisting
of ten combatants. The herald of Orleans having examined the arms of
these gentlemen, and satisfied himself of their ancient lineage and
their military renown, admitted their claims to the proffered honour.
Sandricourt now saw with rapture the numerous shields of the assailants
placed on the sides of his portals, and corresponding with those of the
challengers which hung above them. Ancient lords were elected judges of
the feats of the knights, accompanied by the ladies, for whose honour
only the combatants declared they engaged.

The herald of Orleans tells the history in no very intelligible verse;
but the burthen of his stanza is still

  _Du pas d'armes du chasteau Sandricourt._

He sings, or says,

  Oncques, depuis le tempts du roi Artus,
  Ne furent tant les armes exaulcées--
  Maint chevaliers et preux entreprenans--
  Princes plusieurs ont terres déplacées
  Pour y venir donner coups et poussées
  Qui out été lá tenus si de court
  Que par force n'ont prises et passées
  Les barriers, entrées, et passées
  Du pas des armes du chasteau Sandricourt.

Doubtless there many a Roland met with his Oliver, and could not pass
the barriers. Cased as they were in steel, _de pied en cap_, we presume
that they could not materially injure themselves; yet, when on foot, the
ancient judges discovered such symptoms of peril, that on the following
day they advised our knights to satisfy themselves by fighting on
horseback. Against this prudential counsel for some time they protested,
as an inferior sort of glory. However, on the next day, the horse combat
was appointed in the _carrefour_, by the pine-tree. On the following day
they tried their lances in the meadow of the Thorn; but, though on
horseback, the judges deemed their attacks were so fierce that this
assault was likewise not without peril; for some horses were killed, and
some knights were thrown, and lay bruised by their own mail; but the
barbed horses, wearing only _des chamfreins_, head-pieces magnificently
caparisoned, found no protection in their ornaments. The last days were
passed in combats of two to two, or in a single encounter, a-foot, in
the _forêt devoyable_. These jousts passed without any accident, and the
prizes were awarded in a manner equally gratifying to the claimants. The
last day of the festival was concluded with a most sumptuous banquet.
Two noble knights had undertaken the humble office of _maîtres-d'hôtel_;
and while the knights were parading in the _forêt devoyable_ seeking
adventures, a hundred servants were seen at all points, carrying white
and red hypocras, and juleps, and _sirop de violars_, sweetmeats, and
other spiceries, to comfort these wanderers, who, on returning to the
_chasteau_, found a grand and plenteous banquet. The tables were crowded
in the court apartment, where some held one hundred and twelve
gentlemen, not including the _dames_ and the _demoiselles_. In the
halls, and outside of the _chasteau_, were other tables. At that
festival more than two thousand persons were magnificently entertained
free of every expense; their attendants, their armourers, their
_plumassiers_, and others, were also present. _La Dame de Sandricourt_,
"fût moult aise d'avoir donné dans son chasteau si belle, si magnifique,
et gorgiasse fête." Historians are apt to describe their personages as
they appear, not as they are: if the lady of the Sieur Sandricourt
really was "moult aise" during these gorgeous days, one cannot but
sympathise with the lady, when her loyal knight and spouse confessed to
her, after the departure of the mob of two thousand visitors,
neighbours, soldiers, and courtiers,--the knights challengers, and the
knights assailants, and the fine scenes at the pine-tree; the barrier in
the meadow of the Thorn; and the horse-combat at the _carrefour_; and
the jousts in the _forêt devoyable_; the carousals in the castle halls;
the jollity of the banquet tables; the morescoes danced till they were
reminded "how the waning night grew old!"--in a word, when the costly
dream had vanished,--that he was a ruined man for ever, by immortalising
his name in one grand chivalric festival! The Sieur de Sandricourt, like
a great torch, had consumed himself in his own brightness; and the very
land on which the famous _Pas de Sandricourt_ was held--had passed away
with it! Thus one man sinks generations by that wastefulness, which a
political economist would assure us was committing no injury to society!
The moral evil goes for nothing in financial statements.

Similar instances of ruinous luxury we may find in the prodigal
costliness of dress through the reigns of Elizabeth, James the First,
and Charles the First. Not only in their massy grandeur they outweighed
us, but the accumulation and variety of their wardrobe displayed such a
gaiety of fancy in their colours and their ornaments, that the
drawing-room in those days must have blazed at their presence, and
changed colours as the crowd moved. But if we may trust to royal
proclamations, the ruin was general among some classes. Elizabeth issued
more than one proclamation against "the excess of apparel!" and among
other evils which the government imagined this passion for dress
occasioned, it notices "the wasting and undoing of a great number of
young gentlemen, otherwise serviceable; and that others, seeking by show
of apparel to be esteemed as gentlemen, and allured by the vain show of
these things, not only consume their goods and lands, but also run into
such debts and shifts, as they cannot live out of danger of laws without
attempting of unlawful acts." The queen bids her own household "to look
unto it for good example to the realm; and all noblemen, archbishops and
bishops, all mayors, justices of peace, &c., should see them executed in
their private households." The greatest difficulty which occurred to
regulate the wear of apparel was ascertaining the incomes of persons, or
in the words of the proclamation, "finding that it is very hard for any
man's state of living and value to be truly understood by other
persons." They were to be regulated as they appear "sessed in the
subsidy books." But if persons chose to be more magnificent in their
dress, they were allowed to justify their means: in that case, if
allowed, her majesty would not be the loser; for they were to be rated
in the subsidy books according to such values as they themselves offered
as a qualification for the splendour of their dress!

In my researches among manuscript letters of the times, I have had
frequent occasion to discover how persons of considerable rank appear to
have carried their acres on their backs, and with their ruinous and
fantastical luxuries sadly pinched their hospitality. It was this which
so frequently cast them into the nets of the "goldsmiths," and other
trading usurers. At the coronation of James the First, I find a simple
knight whose cloak cost him five hundred pounds; but this was not
uncommon.[260] At the marriage of Elizabeth, the daughter of James the
First, "Lady Wotton had a gown of which the embroidery cost fifty pounds
a yard. The Lady Arabella made four gowns, one of which cost 1500_l._
The Lord Montacute (Montague) bestowed 1500_l._ in apparel for his two
daughters. One lady, under the rank of baroness, was furnished with
jewels exceeding one hundred thousand pounds; "and the Lady Arabella
goes beyond her," says the letter-writer. "All this extreme costs and
riches makes us all poor," as he imagined![261] I have been amused in
observing grave writers of state-dispatches jocular on any mischance or
mortification to which persons are liable whose happiness entirely
depends on their dress. Sir Dudley Carleton, our minister at Venice,
communicates, as an article worth transmitting, the great disappointment
incurred by Sir Thomas Glover, "who was just come hither, and had
appeared one day like a comet, all in crimson velvet and beaten gold,
but had all his expectations marred on a sudden by the news of Prince
Henry's death." A similar mischance, from a different cause, was the lot
of Lord Hay, who made great preparations for his embassy to France,
which, however, were chiefly confined to his dress. He was to remain
there twenty days; and the letter-writer maliciously observes, that "He
goes with twenty special suits of apparel for so many days' abode,
besides his travelling robes; but news is very lately come that the
French have lately altered their fashion, whereby he must needs be out
of countenance, if he be not set out after the last edition!" To find
himself out of fashion, with twenty suits for twenty days, was a
mischance his lordship had no right to count on!

"The glass of fashion" was unquestionably held up by two very eminent
characters, Rawleigh and Buckingham; and the authentic facts recorded of
their dress will sufficiently account for the frequent "Proclamations"
to control that servile herd of imitators--the smaller gentry!

There is a remarkable picture of Sir Walter, which will at least serve
to convey an idea of the gaiety and splendour of his dress. It is a
white satin pinked vest, close sleeved to the wrist; over the body a
brown doublet, finely flowered and embroidered with pearl. In the
feather of his hat a large ruby and pearl drop at the bottom of the
sprig, in place of a button; his trunk or breeches, with his stockings
and riband garters, fringed at the end, all white, and buff shoes with
white riband. Oldys, who saw this picture, has thus described the dress
of Rawleigh. But I have some important additions; for I find that
Rawleigh's shoes on great court days were so gorgeously covered with
precious stones, as to have exceeded the value of six thousand six
hundred pounds: and that he had a suit of armour of solid silver, with
sword and belt blazing with diamonds, rubies, and pearls, whose value
was not so easily calculated. Rawleigh had no patrimonial inheritance;
at this moment he had on his back a good portion of a Spanish galleon,
and the profits of a monopoly of trade he was carrying on with the newly
discovered Virginia. Probably he placed all his hopes in his dress! The
virgin queen, when she issued proclamations against "the excess of
apparel," pardoned, by her looks, that promise of a mine which blazed in
Rawleigh's; and, parsimonious as she was, forgot the three thousand
changes of dresses which she herself left in the royal wardrobe.

Buckingham could afford to have his diamonds tacked so loosely on, that
when he chose to shake a few off on the ground, he obtained all the fame
he desired from the pickers-up, who were generally _les dames de la
cour_; for our duke never condescended to accept what he himself had
dropped. His cloaks were trimmed with great diamond buttons, and diamond
hatbands, cockades, and ear-rings yoked with great ropes and knots of
pearls. This was, however, but for ordinary dances. "He had twenty-seven
suits of clothes made, the richest that embroidery, lace, silk, velvet,
silver, gold, and gems could contribute; one of which was a white uncut
velvet, set all over, both suit and cloak, with diamonds valued at
fourscore thousand pounds, besides a great feather stuck all over with
diamonds, as were also his sword, girdle, hat, and spurs."[262] In the
masques and banquets with which Buckingham entertained the court, he
usually expended, for the evening, from one to five thousand pounds. To
others I leave to calculate the value of money: the sums of this
gorgeous wastefulness, it must be recollected, occurred before this
million age of ours.

If, to provide the means for such enormous expenditure, Buckingham
multiplied the grievances of monopolies; if he pillaged the treasury for
his eighty thousand pounds' coat; if Rawleigh was at length driven to
his last desperate enterprise to relieve himself of his creditors for a
pair of six thousand pounds' shoes--in both these cases, as in that of
the chivalric Sandricourt, the political economist may perhaps
acknowledge that _there is a sort of luxury highly criminal_. All the
arguments he may urge, all the statistical accounts he may calculate,
and the healthful state of his circulating medium among "the merchants,
embroiderers, silkmen, and jewellers"--will not alter such a moral evil,
which leaves an eternal taint on "the wealth of nations!" It is the
principle that "private vices are public benefits," and that men may be
allowed to ruin their generations without committing any injury to


  [260] The famous Puritanic writer, Philip Stubbes, who published his
    "Anatomie of Abuses" in 1593, declares that he "has heard of shirtes
    that have cost some ten shillings, some twentie, some fortie, some
    five pound, some twentie nobles, and (which is horrible to heare)
    some tenne pounde a peece." His book is filled with similar
    denunciations of abuses; in which he is followed by other satirists.
    They appear to have produced little effect in the way of
    reformation; for in the days of James I, John Taylor, the Water
    poet, similarly laments the wastefulness of those who--

      Wear a farm in shoe-strings edged with gold,
      And spangled garters worth a copyhold;
      A hose and doublet which a lordship cost;
      A gaudy cloak, three manors' price almost;
      A beaver band and feather for the head
      Priced at the church's tythe, the poor man's bread.

  [261] It is not unusual to find in inventories of this era, the
    household effects rated at much less than the wearing apparel, of
    the person whose property is thus valued.

  [262] The Jesuit Drexelius, in one of his Religious Dialogues,
    notices the fact; but I am referring to an Harleian manuscript,
    which confirms the information of the Jesuit.


Those who are unaccustomed to the labours of the closet are unacquainted
with the secret and silent triumphs obtained in the pursuits of studious
men. That aptitude, which in poetry is sometimes called _inspiration_,
in knowledge we may call _sagacity_; and it is probable that the
vehemence of the one does not excite more pleasure than the still
tranquillity of the other: they are both, according to the strict
signification of the Latin term from whence we have borrowed ours of
_invention_, a finding out, the result of a combination which no other
has formed but ourselves.

I will produce several remarkable instances of the felicity of this
aptitude of the learned in making discoveries which could only have been
effectuated by an uninterrupted intercourse with the objects of their
studies, making things remote and dispersed familiar and present.[263]

One of ancient date is better known to the reader than those I am
preparing for him. When the magistrates of Syracuse were showing to
Cicero the curiosities of the place, he desired to visit the tomb of
Archimedes; but, to his surprise, they acknowledged that they knew
nothing of any such tomb, and denied that it ever existed. The learned
Cicero, convinced by the authorities of ancient writers, by the verses
of the inscription which he remembered, and the circumstance of a sphere
with a cylinder being engraven on it, requested them to assist him in
the search. They conducted the illustrious but obstinate stranger to
their most ancient burying-ground: amidst the number of sepulchres, they
observed a small column overhung with brambles--Cicero, looking on while
they were clearing away the rubbish, suddenly exclaimed, "Here is the
thing we are looking for!" His eye had caught the geometrical figures on
the tomb, and the inscription soon confirmed his conjecture. Cicero long
after exulted in the triumph of this discovery. "Thus!" he says, "one of
the noblest cities of Greece, and once the most learned, had known
nothing of the monument of its most deserving and ingenious citizen, had
it not been discovered to them by a native of Arpinum!"

The great French antiquary, Peiresc, exhibited a singular combination of
learning, patient thought, and luminous sagacity, which could restore an
"airy nothing" to "a local habitation and a name." There was found on an
amethyst, and the same afterwards occurred on the front of an ancient
temple, a number of _marks_, or indents, which had long perplexed
inquirers, more particularly as similar marks or indents were frequently
observed in ancient monuments. It was agreed on, as no one could
understand them, and all would be satisfied, that they were secret
hieroglyphics. It occurred to Peiresc that these marks were nothing more
than holes for small nails, which had formerly fastened little
_laminæ_, which represented so many Greek letters. This hint of his own
suggested to him to draw lines from one hole to another; and he beheld
the amethyst reveal the name of the sculptor, and the frieze of the
temple the name of the god! This curious discovery has been since
frequently applied; but it appears to have originated with this great
antiquary, who by his learning and sagacity explained a supposed
hieroglyphic, which had been locked up in the silence of seventeen

Learned men, confined to their study, have often rectified the errors of
travellers; they have done more, they have found out paths for them to