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Title: English Lands Letters and Kings - Queen Anne and the Georges
Author: Mitchell, Donald G.
Language: English
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Queen Anne and the Georges




Charles Scribner's Sons


Copyright, 1895, by






_By Donald G. Mitchell_

I. from Celt to Tudor

II. From Elizabeth to Anne

III. Queen Anne and the Georges

IV. The Later Georges to Victoria

_Each 1 vol., 12mo, cloth, gilt top, $1.50_


From the Mayflower to Rip Van Winkel

_1 vol., square 12mo, Illustrated, $2.50_


[To Mrs. Grover Cleveland.]


_Many bookmakers of that early Georgian period covered by this little
volume eagerly sought to dignify their opening pages with the name and
titles of some high-placed patron or patroness.  It is not, my dear
Madam, to revive this practice that I have asked permission to inscribe
this little book to so worthy an occupant of the Presidential Mansion;
but, rather, I have had in mind the courteous reception which--while
yet an inmate of a college on the beautiful banks of Cayuga Lake--you
once gave to some portions of the literary talk embodied in these
pages; and remembering, furthermore, the unswerving dignity, and the
unabating womanly gentleness by which you have conquered and adorned
the trying conditions of a high career, I have wished to add my
applause (as I do now and here) for the grace and kindliness which have
ennobled your life, and made us all proud of such an example of
American womanhood._

_Very respectfully yours,_
  Don^d. G. Mitchell.

_Edgewood, June,_ 1895.





  An Irish Bishop, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    3
  A Scholar, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    9
  Two Doctors, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   12
  Lady Wortley Montagu,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   21
  Alexander Pope,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   30
  His Poetic Methods,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   35
  The Rape of the Lock,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   39
  Pope's Homer, and Life at Twickenham,  . . . . . . . . . .   43
  His Last Days, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   48


  From Stuart to Brunswick,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   53
  Samuel, Richardson,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   62
  Harry Fielding,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   67
  Poet of the Seasons, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   73
  Thomas Gray, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   79
  A Courtier,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   83
  Young Mr. Johnson, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   88



  Johnson and Rasselas,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  104
  The Painter and the Club,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  108
  Some Old Club-Men, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  113
  Mr. Boswell, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  118
  Gibbon,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  122
  Oliver Goldsmith,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  130
  The Thrales and the End, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  135


  A Scottish Historian,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  145
  A Pair of Poets, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  157
  Miss Burney, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  164
  Hannah More, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  171


  King George III.,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  181
  Two Orators, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  188
  An Orator and Playwright,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  195
  The Boy Chatterton,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  202
  Laurence Sterne, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  211


  Macpherson and other Scots,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  221
  George Crabbe, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  231
  William Cowper,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  239
  His Later Life,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  249



  Parson White,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  259
  A Hampshire Novelist,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  265
  Old Juvenilia, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  271
  Miss Edgeworth,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  277
  Some Early Romanticism,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  281
  Vathek,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  285
  Robert Burns,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  291


  A Banker Poet, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  301
  Coleridge, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  309
  Charles Lamb,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  319
  Wordsworth,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  327
  His Poems, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  330
  Personal History,  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  337




We open in this book upon times--belonging to the earlier quarter of
the eighteenth century--when, upon the Continent of Europe, Peter the
Great was stamping out sites for cities in the bogs by the Finland
gulf--when that mad-cap Swedish King Charles XII. was cutting his
bloody swathe through Poland--when Louis XIV., tired at last of wars,
and more tired of Marlborough, was nearing the end of his magnificent
career, and when King Mammon was making ready his huge bloat of the
Mississippi Bubble for France and of the South Sea Company for England.


Queen Anne, that great lady of the abounding ringlets--so kindly and so
weak--was now free from the clutch of Sara of "Blenheim"; and veering
sometimes, under Harleyan influences, toward her half-brother the
"Pretender;" and other times under persuasion of such as Somers,
favoring her cousins of Hanover.

The visitor to London in those times could have taken the "Silent way"
along the river--a shilling for two oarsmen and sixpence for a
"scull"--from the Bridge to Limehouse; or he might encounter, along the
Strand, sooty chimney sweepers and noisy venders of eggs and butter,
with high-piled baskets upon their heads.  Sir Roger de Coverley coming
to town--if we may believe Addison--cannot sleep the first week by
reason of the street cries; while Will Honeycomb, on the other hand,
likens these cries to songs of nightingales: always and everywhere this
difference of ear, between those who love the country and those who
love the towns!

There were lumbering hackney cabs in London streets to be hired at ten
shillings a day (of twelve hours) for those who preferred this to the
"Silent {3} way"; and there were grand coaches for those who could pay
for such display; evidences of wealth were growing year by year.  The
Venetian Republic, now in its last days of power, made a brave if false
show upon London streets in those times.  Luttrel[1] says, under date
of May, 1707:--

"Yesterday the V^n ambassadors made their public entry thro' the city
to Somerset House in great state and splendor; their coach of state
embroidered with gold, and the richest that ever was seen in England:
They had two with 8 horses, and eight with 6 horses, trimmed very fine
with ribbons; 48 footmen in blue velvet covered with gold lace; 24
gentlemen and pages on horseback with feathers in their hats, etc."

Dr. Swift, four years after, writes to Stella--"The Venetian coach is
the most monstrous, huge, fine, rich, gilt thing I ever saw."

_An Irish Bishop._

It could not have been more than two or three years after this sight of
the Venetian Coach that Dean Swift introduced to his friend Miss {4}
Vanhomrigh (Vanessa) a young protégé of his, whom he had known at
Dublin, and who had made a great reputation there among thinkers, by an
ingenious _Theory of Vision_, and by his eloquent advocacy of an
Idealism, which he believed would cut away all standing ground for the
materialism that threatened Christian Faith.

[Sidenote: Bishop Berkeley.]

This protégé was George Berkeley[2]--afterward Dean and Bishop--a most
engaging and winning person then and always.  Addison befriended this
young philosopher, who wrote half a dozen papers for Steele's
_Guardian_, with much of Steele's grace in them, and more than Steele's
Christian earnestness.  He went over to the Continent in the wake of a
British Ambassador--was four or five years there, variously employed,
equipping himself in worldly knowledge, and came back to warn[3]
Englishmen against that extravagance and {5} greed for money, which had
made possible the South-Sea disaster.  New Yorkers might read the
warning with profit now.  For himself, he comes presently to the
Deanship of Derry, and to a considerable legacy from that Miss
Vanhomrigh--the acquaintance of an hour--so impressed had she been by
Berkeley's promise of good.  Nor was the promise ever belied.

With an altruism unusual then, and unusual now, he braved the loss of
his Deanship, and current friendships in England, and set his heart,
his energies, and his fortune upon a scheme for building up the English
colonies in America in ways of Christian living, and of learning.  Long
before, the devout George Herbert had said that Religion was "ready to
pass to the American Strand;" and now Berkeley, fresh from the sight of
dearth and decay in Europe, was earnest in the belief that Christian
civilization was to win its greatest coming conquests "over seas."  His
enthusiasms had, for once, carried him into verse, of which a prophetic
refrain has tingled in many an American ear:--

  Westward the course of Empire takes its way!


The nidus of the good Dean's hopes and schemes lay in a great college
which was to be built up in the Summer Islands (Bermuda) where the air
"is perpetually fanned and kept cool by sea-breezes."  But his
stepping-stone on the way thither was Rhode Island; and for the harbor
of Newport he sailed, with a few friends, and a newly married wife in
the year 1728, after long and weary waiting for a grant, which at last
is made good on parchment, but never made good in money.

[Sidenote: Berkeley at Newport.]

Yet he has faith; and for nearly three years lingers there at his farm
of Whitehall (the old house still standing), within sound of the surf
that breaks upon the ribbed and glistening sands of Newport beaches.
The winter is not so mild as in England, but he "has seen colder ones
in Italy."  Possibly it may be well to set up the college in Newport
rather than the Summer Islands--when the grant comes: but the grant
does _not_ come.  He makes friends of the farmers about him--of the
Quakers, the Methodists; sometimes he preaches at Trinity Church (still
there), and his sermons are unctuous with the broadest and most liberal
Churchism: "Sad," he says in one, "that {7} Religion, which requires us
to love, should become the cause of our hating one another."  He
corresponds with Samuel Johnson, of Stratford, Ct.;[4] also, possibly,
with Mr. Jonathan Edwards, not as yet driven away into the wilds of
Western Massachusetts, by theologic contumacies, from his pleasant
Northampton home.  In the hearing of the pleasant lapse of the waters
upon the beaches--while he waits--the Dean sets himself to that
pleasant, curious writing of _The Minute Philosopher_ in which he
adroitly parries thrusts with the whole tribe of Free Thinkers, and
sublimates anew his old and cherished theory--that the spiritual
apprehension of material things is the only condition (or cause) of
their being.

Children are born to him--and death winnows his small flock--while he
waits.  John Smibert, who was fellow-voyager with him, painted that
little family of the Dean, and the picture is now in possession of Yale
College.  At last, in despair of receiving the royal grant, he goes
back with his {8} family to England (1731).  Many of his books,[5] and
eventually his Whitehall farm, were bestowed upon Yale; and in that
lively institution year after year, there be earnest students who
contend still for Berkeley scholarships and Berkeley prizes; while the
name of the good Dean is still further kept in American remembrance, by
that noble site of a Great Pacific University, which on the Californian
shores, looks through a Golden Gate to a pathway still bearing

We may well believe that the Dean was disheartened by the breaking
down--through no fault of his own--of the great scheme and hope of his
life.  But he found friendly hands and hearts upon his return to
England.  Through the influences of Queen Caroline (consort of George
II.) he was given the bishopric of Cloyne--seated among the heathery
hills which lie northward of the harbor of Queenstown.  All the poor
people of that region loved him: and who did not?


He was never so profound a thinker, as he was ingenious, subtle, and
acute.  Though his philosophies all were over-topped by his sweet
humanities,[6] yet American students may well cherish his memory, and
keep his _Alciphron_--if not his _Hylas and Philonous_--upon their

_A Scholar._

[Sidenote: Richard Bentley]

It is certain that in your forays into the literature of these
times--if made with any earnestness--you will come upon the name of Dr.
Bentley;[7] if nowhere else, then attached to critical footnotes at the
bottom of books.

His demolition of the claims, long maintained by an older generation of
scholars, respecting certain _Epistles of Phalaris_, commanded
attention {10} at an early stage of his career, and showed ability to
cross swords, in a scholastic and bitter way, with such men as
Atterbury and Boyle; and--if need were--with such others as Sir William
Temple and Dr. Swift.

As early as 1700 he had come to the mastership of Trinity College,
Cambridge (where a portrait of him by Thornhill now hangs in the
Master's Lodge), a proud position--made prouder by his large
hospitalities.  He had a sensible wife, courteous "for two"--as many
scholars' wives have need to be--and two daughters; one of whom
inheriting the father's sharp tongue, made a good many young fellows of
the college sing; and made some of them sigh too--marrying at last a
certain young Cumberland, who became the father of Richard Cumberland,
the poet and dramatist.[8]

Some small chronicler tells us of his preference for port over claret;
indeed he loved all intense things, rather than things diluted, and was
inaccessible to those finer, milder, delicater {11} graces--whether of
wine or poetry--which ripen under long reposeful workings.  I spoke of
a portrait of him in the Master's Lodge; there was another in Pope's
_Dunciad_--not so flattering:

  "The mighty scholiast, whose unwearied pains
  Made Horace dull, and humbled Milton's strains;
  Turn what they will to verse, their toil is vain,
  Critics like me shall make it prose again."
                                  --Lib. iv., 211 _et seq._

[Sidenote: Bentley's scholarship]

He left no great work; yet what he did in lines of classical criticism
could not by any possibility have been better done by others.  He
supplied interpretations--where the world had blundered and
stumbled--which blazed their way to unquestioned acceptance.  He
mastered all the difficulties of language, and wore the mastership with
a proud and insolent self-assertion--a very Goliath of learning, with
spear like a weaver's beam, and no son of Jesse to lay him low.  One
wishing to see his slap-dash manner and his amazing command of
authorities should read the _Dissertation on Phalaris_; not a lovable
man surely, but prince of all schoolmastery lore: and how rarely we
love the schoolmaster!  When you meet with that name of {12} Bentley
you may safely give it great weight in all scholarly matters, and not
so much in matters of taste.  Trust him in foot-notes to Aristophanes
(a good mate for him!) or to Terence; trust him less in foot-notes to
Milton,[9] or even Horace (when he leaves prosody to talk of rhythmic
_susurrus_).  You will think furthermore of this Dr. Bentley as living
through all his fierce battles of criticisms and of college mastership
to an extreme old age, and into days when Swift and Pope and Steele and
Addison were all gone--a gray, rugged, persistent, captious old man,
with a great, full eye that looked one through and through, and with a
short nose, turned up--as if he always scented a false quantity in the

_Two Doctors._

We approach a doctor now as mild and gentle as Bentley was irritable
and pugnacious; a man not {13} often enrolled among literary veterans;
treated with scorn, maybe, by the professional critics; and yet this
name now brought to your attention is I think, tenderly associated with
New Englanders' earliest recollections of rhyme or verse; and it is
specially these literary firstlings of the memory that it is well for
us to trace and hold in hand.  Let us listen for a moment to that old
cradle hymn:

  "Hush, my dear, lie still and slumber,
    Holy angels guard thy bed;
  Heavenly blessings without number
    Gently falling on thy head."

How the quaint, simple melody lingers yet, coming from far-away times,
when it drifted over hundreds of New England homes, which as yet knew
not _Pinafore_ nor Mr. Sankey!

[Sidenote: Isaac Watts]

It is of Dr. Watts's[10] familiar name that I speak: he was the son of
a lodging-house keeper in Southampton--in which city a Watts memorial
Hall was dedicated as late as 1875.  Being a {14} dissenter, he was
debarred the advantages of a university education, but he taught
dissenters how to put grace into their hymns and sermons; and without
being a strong logician, he put such clearness into his _Treatise upon
Logic_ as to carry it for a time into the curriculum of Oxford.

Our American poet, Bryant, had great admiration for the familiar
Watts's version of the 100th Psalm:--

  We'll crowd thy gates with thankful songs,
    High as the heavens our voices raise;
  And earth, with her ten thousand tongues,
    Shall fill thy courts with sounding praise.

And what pious tremors shook the air, when the country choirs in New
England meeting-houses lifted up their voices to the old hymn,

  There is a land of pure delight!

I don't know but these bits of moral music may have been hustled out
from modern church primers for something more æsthetic; but I am sure
that a good many white-haired people--of whom I hope to count some
among my readers--are carried back pleasantly by the rhythmic jingle of
the good Doctor to those child days when hopes were {15} fresh, and
holidays a joy, and summers long; and when flowery paths stretched out
before us, over which we have gone toiling since--to quite other music
than that of Dr. Isaac Watts.  And if his songs are gone out of our
fine books, and have fallen below the mention of the dilettanti
critics, I am the more glad to rescue his name, as that of an honest,
devout, hard-working, cultivated man who has woven an immeasurable deal
of moral fibre into the web and woof of many generations of men and

By the generosity of a friend he was endowed with all the privileges of
a beautiful baronial home (Abney Park) where he lived for thirty odd
years--reaching almost four score--never forgetting his simplicities,
his humilities, his faith, his sweet humanities, and never having done
harm, or wished harm, to any of God's creatures; and this cannot be
said of many who preach, and of many of whom we are to talk.

[Sidenote: Edward Young.]

There was another clerical poet of less private worth, who had a very
great reputation early in the eighteenth century.  Fragments of his
sombre-colored and magniloquent _Night Thoughts_ {16} are still
frequently encountered in Commonplace Books of Poetry; while some of
his picturesque or full-freighted lines, or half lines, have passed
into common speech; such as--

    "The undevout astronomer is mad;"

  "Tired Nature's sweet restorer, balmy sleep;"

    "Procrastination is the thief of time."

[Sidenote: Doctor Young.]

You will recognize these as old acquaintances; and you are to credit
them to Dr. Edward Young,[11] who was born about two hundred years ago
down in Hampshire, son of a father who had been Chaplain to King
William III.  He was an Oxford man, lived a wild life there--attaching
himself to a fast young Duke of Wharton, who led him into many awkward
scrapes--and developing an early love, which clung by him through life,
for attaching himself to great people.  He wrote plays which were not
good, and odes which were worse than the plays, but touched off with
little jets of terrific adulation:--

  "To poets, sacred is a Dorset's name,
  Their wonted passport thro' the gates of fame;


  It bribes the partial reader into praise
  And throws a glory round the sheltered lays."

And so on--to a Compton, a Lady Germaine, a Duke, in nauseous
succession.  In fact, he seemed incapable of using any colors but gaudy
or resplendent ones, and is nothing if not exaggerated, and using heaps
of words.  Would you hear how he puts Jonah into the whale's mouth?--

  "As yawns an earthquake, when imprisoned air
  Struggles for vent, and lays the centre bare,
  The whale expands his jaws' enormous size.
  The prophet views the cavern with surprise,
  Measures his monstrous teeth, afar descried,
  And rolls his wondering eyes from side to side,
  Then takes possession of the spacious seat
  And sails secure within the dark retreat."

This is from his poem of the _Last Day_, which has some of his best
work in it.  He wrote flattering words of Addison, which Addison could
not return in the same measure.  He had acquaintance with Pope, with
Swift, with Lady Mary Montagu, and others whom he counted worth
knowing.  He made a vain run for Parliament, and ended by taking church
orders somewhat late in life--staying {18} one of his plays,[12] which
was just then in rehearsal, as inconsistent with his new duties.  He
married the elegant widowed daughter of an earl, who died not many
years thereafter; and from this affliction, and his brooding over it,
came his best-known poem of _Night Thoughts_.  It had great currency in
England, and was admired, and translated, and read largely upon the
Continent.  For many a year, a copy of Young's mournful, magniloquent
poem, bound in morocco and gilt-edged, was reckoned one of the most
acceptable and worthy gifts to a person in affliction.

[Sidenote: Young's Night Thoughts.]

But of a surety it has not the same hold upon people in this century
that it had in the last.  There are eloquent passages in it--passages
almost rising to sublimity.  His love of superlatives and of wordy
exaggerations served him in good stead when he came to talk of the
shortness of time, and the length of eternity, and the depth of the
grave, and the shadows of death.  Amidst these topics he moved on the
great sable pinions of his muse with {19} a sweep of wing, and a
steadiness of poise, that drew a great many sorrowing and pious souls
after him.

This is his Apostrophe to Night:

          "O majestic Night!
  Nature's great ancestor!  Day's elder born!
  And fated to survive the transient sun!
  By mortals and immortals seen with awe!
  A starry crown thy raven brow adorns,
  An azure zone thy waist; clouds in Heaven's loom
  Wrought through varieties of drapery divine
  Thy flowing mantle form, and heaven throughout
  Voluminously pour thy pompous train."

There is no well-considered scheme or method in his poems; but his
august sorrowing and devout meditations, clothed in a great pomp of
language, chase each other over his mind, as vagrant high-sweeping
clouds chase over the sky.  You may watch and follow them in dreamy
hours, with a languid pleasure; but a real sorrow, or a real task do
not, I think, find much help in them.

Dr. Young believed, in the moodiness of his grief, that he was going to
bid adieu to the world; but he did not; we find him back at court long
after the funeral bells had sounded in his verse:--back {20} there too,
in search of offices of some sort; bowing obsequiously to those who had
gifts in their hands.

Good Mrs. Hannah More tells us that being on one occasion at a
Parliamentary party, where some volumes of original letters were shown,
she was specially anxious to see one of her dear Dr. Young, for whose
_Night Thoughts_ she expressed enthusiastic admiration.  Her anxiety
was gratified, and she adds that she had

"the mortification to read the most fawning, servile, mendicant letter
that was perhaps ever penned by a clergyman, imploring the mistress of
George II. to exert her interest for his preferment."

I do not like to tell such things to those who admire the poet; but we
are after the truth--first of all.  A curious mixture he was, of
frugality and piety--of love for reputation and emotional religion.  He
essayed the writing of some of his tragic episodes in a dark room,
"with a candle stuck in a skull;" and such love of claptrap abode with
him and qualified most of his work.

_Night Thoughts_ has some unforgetable things in it: there is a lurid
splendor in many of the {21} lines, and great imaginative range.  But
his was an imagination not chastened by a severe taste or held in check
by the discretions of an elevated and cultured judgment.  Upon the
whole, I have more respect for the memory of Dr. Watts, than for the
memory of Dr. Young.

_Lady Wortley Montagu._

[Sidenote: Mary Wortley Montagu.]

It is a lady that I next introduce; a very much admired lady in her
day; and much admired by many even now.  She was correspondent at one
time of Dr. Young, as well as of Pope, Steele, and Swift (who was one
of the few men she feared).  She knew and greatly admired Congreve, had
free entrée to the palace in time of George I., could and did translate
Epictetus before she was turned of twenty, and wrote letters to her
daughter, Lady Bute, that were long held up to young ladies as patterns
of epistolary work: of course it is Lady Mary Montagu,[13] of whom I


[Sidenote: Lady Mary Montagu.]

She was born at Thoresby Park, a little northward of Sherwood Forest in
Nottingham; was the petted daughter of the Earl of Kingston, and he
introduced her (as the story runs) when only eight years old to that
famous Kit-Kat Club, which held its summer sessions out by Hampstead
Heath; and the applause that greeted her beauty and sprightliness
there, very likely fastened upon her that greed for public triumphs
which clung to her all her life.  She presided at her father's table,
was taught in Greek, Latin, French, Italian; was full of
accomplishments, and at twenty-one fell in with Mr. Montagu, similarly
accomplished, whom she had a half mind to marry.  Her father, however,
had other views, against which the self-willed young lady rebelled; she
had, however, her hesitations--sometimes flinging a new bait to Mr.
Montagu and then showing a coquettish coolness.  Finally, between two
days, she decides; orders Mr. Montagu to have his chaise and four in
readiness and makes a runaway match of it.

Their life for some time is in a suburb of London; where the Lady Mary
chafes at the retirement, {23} in a way which is not very agreeable to
Mr. Montagu and nettles him; and the nettles creep into their future
correspondence.  But her husband being appointed (1716) ambassador to
Constantinople, her Ladyship sets off delightedly with a retinue of
attendants to the shores of the Bosphorus; and writes thence and on her
way thither, letters full of piquancy and charm.

To the distinguished Mr. Pope, who has addressed her in almost a
lover's strain, she says:

"'Tis certain that I may, if I please, take the fine things you say to
me for wit and raillery; and, it may be, it would be taking them right.
But I never in my life was half so well disposed to believe you in
earnest as I am at present."

And thereupon she goes on to describe a Sunday at the opera in the
garden of the Favorita at Vienna.

First of all Englishwomen, she had her son inoculated for the
small-pox; this method of prevention being practised at that time in
portions of Turkey.  Succeeding in this, she brought the method, and
strong advocacy of it, back to England with her.  It was a bold thing
to do, and she {24} always loved boldnesses.  It was a humane thing to
do, and her humanities were always active.  The medical professors
looked doubtingly upon it; even the clergy preached against it as
contravening the intentions of Providence--just as some zealots, fifty
years ago, declared against the employment of chloroform and other
anæsthetics.  But Lady Mary succeeded in her endeavors, and inoculation
became shortly after an approved and adopted practice.

On the return from the Turkish embassy Mr. Montagu, perhaps at the
instance of Pope, bought a home for her at Twickenham, a delightful
suburb of London, where the poet was then residing, and at the zenith
of his fame.  His poetic worship at her shrine was renewed with all the
old ardor.  He gave Sir Godfrey Kneller a commission to paint her
portrait in Turkish dress, with which she had done great execution at
court balls.

"The picture," says Pope, in a letter to her, "dwells really at my
heart, and I have made a perfect passion of preferring your present
face to your past."


What the past had been we may infer from this bit of verse, written
while she was in the East:

  "In vain my structures rise, my gardens grow,
  In vain fair Thames reflects the double scenes
  Of hanging mountains and of sloping greens.
  Joy dwells not there; to happier seats it flies,
  And only dwells where Wortley casts her eyes.
  What are the gay parterre and checkered shade,
  The morning bower, the evening colonnade,
  But soft recesses of uneasy minds
  To sigh unheard into the passing winds;
  So the struck deer in some sequestered part
  Lies down to die, the arrow at his heart;
  There, stretched unseen, in coverts hid from day
  Bleeds drop by drop and pants his life away."

But this worship is not for very long; there comes a quarrel, which is
so sharp and bitter, and with such echoes in ode or satire, as to
become the scandal of the neighborhood.

What brought it about cannot be so distinctly told.  Lady Mary
persisted in saying that the crippled sensitive poet had forgotten
himself to so impudent an avowal of love that she had repelled him with
a shout of laughter, and so turned his heart into gall.

That his heart was all gall toward her {26} thereafter there needed no
proof beyond his stinging couplets; and though he denied her tale with
unction, he never told a story of his own in respect to this affair
which made _her_ character seem the worse, or _his_ the better.

In an evil hour her ladyship (who had written verse already, which for
her fame's sake it were better she had never written), undertook, with
the aid of her friend Lord Hervey, to reply to the lampoons of Pope.
Thereupon the shrinking, keen-smarting poet made other burning verses,
by which the Hervey and the Montagu were both put to the torture.  It
must have been uncomfortable weather for her ladyship at Twickenham in
those days.  True, Hervey, Peterborough, Bolingbroke, and many of the
courtiers were at her service; and she was a favorite of George I.--so
far as any respectable woman could be called a favorite of that gross
creature; but Pope's shafts of ridicule had a feather of grace about
them that carried them straight and far.  Mr. Montagu himself was a
husband who loved London and his coal-fields without her ladyship,
rather better than Twickenham gardens _with_ her ladyship.


Twenty years of gay "outing" she lives, between London and its suburbs;
happy, yet not happy; courted and not courted.  She writes to her
sister Lady Mar[14] in these times:

"Don't you remember how miserable we were in the little parlor at
Thoresby?  We then thought marrying would put us at once in possession
of all we wanted....  One should pluck up a spirit and live upon
cordials, when one can have no other nourishment.  These are my present
endeavors, and I run about though I have five thousand pins and needles
running into my heart.  I try to console myself with a small damsel
[her daughter, afterward Lady Bute] who is at present everything I
like; but, alas, she is yet in a white frock.  At fourteen she may run
away with the butler."

And when this maiden in white had married (better than the mother dared
hope), and her son, a vagrant, had gone out into the world and the
night, Lady Mary--believing in "cordials"--gathered her robes about
her, and took her fading face into the blaze of the Continental cities.

Her reputation for wit, and daring, and beauty has gone before her, and
she writes piquantly and with great complacency of the attentions and
{28} greetings that meet her in Venice, Florence, and Milan.  The
appetite for this life grows with feeding; so it becomes virtually a
separation from her husband, though cool, business-like letters
regularly pass between them.  Her son, though grown up into an
"accomplished" man, is a scoundrel--drifting about Europe; and when
they encounter the mother insists that he shall drop his name, and deny

Twenty-two years she lives in that Continental exile, writing all the
while letters to her daughter, which she loved to compare with the
letters of Madame de Sévigné.  They are witty and sparkling and have
passed into a certain place in English literature, but they are not
Sévigné letters.  Toward the last of her residence abroad she bought an
old ruinous palace in Lombardy, not far from Lago di Guarda, equipped
three or four of its rooms, and with a little bevy of servants, lived
in retirement--busied with reading, with her ducks, her pigeons, and
her garden.

She writes her daughter:

"The active scenes are over at my age; I indulge, with all the art I
can, my taste for reading.  If I _could_ confine it to {29} valuable
books; they are almost as scarce as valuable men....  As I approach a
second childhood I endeavor to enter into the pleasures of it....  I am
reading an idle tale, not expecting wit or truth in it; and am very
glad it is not metaphysics to puzzle my judgment, or history to mislead
my opinion."

She is well past sixty and has lost all her old graces when she falls
into this misanthropic spirit; has grown strangely neglectful of her
person too; she says that for eleven years now she has not looked in a

But presently Mr. Montagu dies leaving an immense fortune; there are
business reasons demanding her return; so she brings back that
shrunken, unseemly face, and figure of hers to London; takes a house
there and fills it with servants.  A cousin, speaking of a call upon
her, says:

"It is like the Tower of Babel; a Hungarian servant takes your name at
the door, he gives it to an Italian, who delivers it to a Frenchman.
The Frenchman to a Swiss, and the Swiss to a Polander; so that by the
time you get to her ladyship's presence you have changed your name five
times, without the expense of an Act of Parliament."


Horace Walpole pays her a visit, and says, "she was old, dirty, tawdry,
and painted."  But he did not like her: I do not think she liked him.

Could it be that this old lady--past seventy--with her fine house and
her polyglot of service and her flush purse, thought to call back the
old trail of flatterers?  I do not know.  I know very well she did not,
and that within a twelvemonth she died.

There is in Lichfield Cathedral a cenotaph representing Beauty weeping
the loss of her Preserver; it was placed there by some grateful person
to perpetuate the memory of the Lady Mary's benevolence in introducing
inoculation; and I think it is the only eulogy to be found on any
memorial tablet of this strange, witty, beautiful, indiscreet,
studious, unhappy, disappointed woman.

_Alexander Pope._

[Sidenote: Alexander Pope.]

We close our chapter with some mention of that proud, shy, infirm poet
of whom we have caught shadowy glimpses in the story of Wortley {31}
Montagu.  There are scores of little crackling couplets floating about
on the lips of people well known as Pope's.[16]

  "A wit's a feather and a chief's a rod,
  An honest man's the noblest work of God."

  "Know then, this truth, eno' for man to know,
  Virtue alone is happiness below."

  "Honor and shame from no condition rise,
  Act well your part; _there_ all the honor lies!"

These must be familiar; and your school must differ from most schools,
if some of these or other such, from the same author, have not one time
done service as snappers at the end of a composition, or as a bit of
decoration in the middle of it.

All know, too, in a general way, that Pope was an infirm man, without
perhaps a clear idea of what his infirmity may have been; some of those
{32} fierce lampoons already alluded to, which went flying back and
forth around the shades of Twickenham, speak of the poet as an ape, a
hunchback, a monster.  The truth is that he inherited from his father a
feeble and crooked frame with some spinal weakness which did give a
measure of excuse to the coarse and brutal satirists of those days.
His height was much below that of ordinary men, so that cushions or a
higher chair were always necessary at table to bring him to the level
of his friends; his legs were thin and shrunken and he walked feebly;
his countenance was drawn and pinched; yet he had good features, with
the delicate complexion of a woman, and a great blue eye, full of
expression.  His toilette was always a serious affair for
him--specially when he went abroad or would appear at his best (as he
always wished to do)--involving the assistance of one or two attendants
to adjust his paddings, his stays, his canvas jackets, and his twice
doubled hose.

I have dwelt with more particularity upon his personal aspect, because
it serves to explain, or at least largely to qualify, a great many
apparent mysteries in his social career.


He was a London boy, born of Romish parents; his father being a small
trader in the city, but retiring, about the time of this weakly boy's
birth, to a home at Binfield--a country parish lying between Windsor
and Reading, where they show now a grove of beaches which was a
favorite haunt of the boy poet.  He caught schooling in a hap-hazard
way, as Romanists needed to do in those times; but had a quick, big
brain, that made up for many shortcomings in teachers.  Before twelve
he had his Latin with some Greek, and had written verse; and after that
age was his own master--sucking literary sweets where he could find

Before twelve, too, he had made many London visitations--partly to
study French there and partly to find his way to Will's coffee-house,
and catch sight of old John Dryden, then drawing near to the end of his
worldly honors.  And this thin, white-faced, crippled boy looking
stealthily up at the master, even then had wild ambitious dreams of the
day when he too should have his dignities and lay down the law for
English letters.

Out by Binfield he happened upon good friends.  {34} Among others a
Blount family to which belonged two daughters Blount--sympathetic
companions to him then and long afterward; scores of letters, too,
there were, to which now Teresa Blount and now Miss Patty Blount were
parties: He seeming in those romantic days (upon the edge of Windsor
Forest) sometimes in love with one and sometimes the other; and they,
in this mixing of letters getting probably as confused as he, and a
great deal more vexed; and so came coldness and short-lived
quarrelling, making one thing pretty sure--that when a young man or
woman begins to play with the different tenses of the verb "I love," a
single correspondent is much better than two.  However, his friendship
with Miss Patty Blount lasted his life out.

An old baronet of the neighborhood, who had been diplomat in James I.'s
day, took a fancy to this keen-thoughted lad and made a companion of
him.  He came to know old Wycherly too, and scores of men about town;
even Jacob Tonson, the famous publisher of those times, had written to
Pope before he was twenty, asking the privilege of printing certain
pastorals of his writing, which {35} had been handed about in the
clubs; and thought them--what they really were--astonishing for their
literary finish.

_His Poetic Methods._

[Sidenote: Poetry of Pope.]

But young Mr. Pope does not think much of the pastorals, save as
stepping-stones; they paved his way to a large acquaintance with the
London wits; and it would seem that at one time he thought of living at
the dreadful pace of these gentlemen--in bottles and midnight routs;
perhaps he tried it for a while; but his feeble frame could stand no
such neck-breaking gallop.  He can, however, put more of wearisome
elaboration and pains-taking skill to his rhymes than any of the
verse-makers of his time.  He has by nature a mincing step of his
own--different as possible from the long, easy lope of Dryden--and that
step he perfects by unwearied practice, and word-mongering, until it
comes to the wondrous ten-syllabled movement, which for polish, and
rhythmic tric-trac is unmatchable.

The _Essay on Criticism_, _Windsor Forest_, and {36} the _Rape of the
Lock_, all belonged to those early years at Binfield, and I give a test
of each; first, from the _Essay_:--

  "Where'er you find 'the cooling Western breeze,'
  In the next line, it 'whispers through the trees:'
  If crystal streams 'with pleasing murmurs creep,'
  The reader's threatened (not in vain) with 'sleep;'
  Then, at the last and only couplet fraught
  With some unmeaning thing they call a thought,
  A needless Alexandrine ends the song,
  That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along."

Next this bustling bit, from _Windsor Forest_:--

  "See, from the brake the whirring pheasant springs
  And mounts exulting on triumphant wings.
      *      *      *      *      *
  Ah! what avail his glossy, varying dyes,
  His purple crest, and scarlet-circled eyes,
  The vivid green his shining plumes unfold,
  His painted wings, and breast that flames with gold."

And again, this, from the _Rape of the Lock_:--

  "Just then, Clarissa drew with tempting grace
  A two-edged weapon from her shining case;
  So ladies in romance assist their knight,
  Present the spear, and arm him for the fight,
  He takes the gift with reverence, and extends
  The little engine on his fingers' ends;


  This just behind Belinda's neck he spread,
  As o'er the fragrant steams she bends her head.
  Swift to the lock a thousand sprites repair,
  A thousand wings, by turns, throw back the hair;
  And thrice they twitched the diamond in her ear,
  Thrice she looked back, and thrice the foe drew near."

And yet again--this worthier excerpt from the same dainty poem:--

  "Fair nymphs, and well-drest youths around her shone
  But every eye was fixed on her alone.
  On her white breast a sparkling cross she wore,
  Which Jews might kiss, and infidels adore.
  Her lively looks a sprightly mind disclose,
  Quick as her eyes, and as unfixed as those;
  Favors to none, to all she smiles extends;
  Oft she rejects, but never once offends."

Ten pages of extracts would not show better his amazing attention to
details--his quick eye--his gifts in word-craft, and his musical
exploitation of his themes.  I know that this poet works in harness,
and has not the free movement of one who gallops under a loose rein;
the couplets fetter him; may be they cramp him; but there is a blithe,
strong resonance of true metal, in the clinking chains that bind him.
No, I do not think that Pope is to be laughed out of court, in {38} our
day, or in any day, because he labored at form and polish, or because
he loved so much the tingle of a rhyme; I think there was something
else that tingled in a good deal that he wrote and will continue to
tingle so long as Wit is known by its own name.

The good word spoken for him in the _Spectator_--the great printed
authority in literary matters--brought him into more intimate
association with the Literary Guild of that paper; he wrote for the
_Spectator_ on several occasions.  An early contribution is that of
1712 (November 10th), where he calls attention to the famous verses
which the Emperor Adrian spoke on his death-bed; he says:--

"I was in company the other day with five or six men of learning, who
agreed that they showed a gayety unworthy that prince in those
circumstances;" and he quotes the lines:

  Animula vagula, blandula
  Hospes Comes que Corporis
  Pallidula, rigida, nudula, etc.

"But," he says, "methinks it was by no means a gay, but a very serious
soliloquy to his soul at the point of his departure."


And out of this comment and thought of Pope's, contributed casually (if
Pope ever did anything _casually_) to the _Spectator_, came by and by
from the poet's anvil, that immortal hymn we all know,--

  "Vital spark of heavenly flame,
  Quit, oh quit, this mortal frame;
  Trembling, hoping, lingering, flying,
  Oh the pain, the bliss of dying!"

_The Rape of the Lock._

[Sidenote: Rape of the Lock]

I cited two significant fragments from the _Rape of the Lock_, a poem
belonging to Pope's early period, and which is reckoned by most poets
and critics,[17] as well as biographers, his masterpiece, and a
beautiful work of the highest literary art.  I recognize the superior
authority, but cannot share the exalted admiration; at least, it does
not beget such loving approval as brings one back again and again to
its perusal.  It does not seem to me to furnish very inspiring reading.


The setting of this little poem is not large; the story is of a stolen
lock of hair, and of the resentments that follow; and if one might
venture upon a synopsis of so delicate a feat of workmanship, it might
run in this way:--Belinda, the despoiled heroine, sleeps; sprites put
dreams in her head and give warning of impending woe.  "Shock" (her
dog) barks and wakes her; she betakes herself to her toilet--the
fairy-fingered sylphs assisting:

  Some thrid the mazy ringlets of her hair;
  Some hang upon the pendants of her ear,

--all pictured like carving on a cherry-stone.  At last, fully
equipped, she goes to a fête upon the Thames; pretty glimpses of the
river scenes follow; a crazy baron covets a lock of Belinda's hair.
The zephyrs play; day fades; cards come; crowding sprites pile into the
game, and twist all into a fairy cable.  The covetous baron snips off a
lock of Belinda's hair, while she bends over the tea-pot.  The nimble
sylphs bring from the "Cave of Spleen" a stock of shrieks, and tears,
and megrims.  Sir Plume ("of amber snuff-box justly vain") champions
Belinda, and demands satisfaction of the {41} ravisher--which he does
not win; so the battle rages--"Fans clap, silks rustle, and tough
whalebones crack," and in the hurly-burly the stolen lock gets wafted
into "lunar spheres," and comet-like, closes the shining tale:

  "This lock the muse [thus] consecrates to Fame
  And midst the stars inscribes Belinda's name."

Yet Belinda's sovereignty is of an ignoble sort; her tiara made up of
pins and pomades; indeed the women all are as small as the sylphs; toy
creatures, and creatures of toys; no nobility, in or about them; and
very much to make an honest, self-respecting woman of our time fling
down the silvery poem with a wearisome distaste.

All this is said with a thorough recognition of its art--its amazing
dexterities of verse--its playful leaps of fancy--its bright shimmer of
over-nature; and yet those gossamer gnomes seem to me like an
intrusion; I cannot forget that they were an afterthought of Pope
himself; I cannot bring myself to think of the charming fairy-folk of
Fletcher, or of Drayton's _Nymphidia_, or of the _Midsummer Night's
Dream_ wallowing in pomades, {42} and straining at whalebone stays!
These live through an eternal frolic in the air; those--of the _Rape of
the Lock_--lie in a literary show-case, like a taxidermist's trophies.

In the sobered time of life, when the iris hues have only fitful play,
I think a man goes away from these earlier poems of Pope (if he reads
them) with new zest, to those wonderful metric condensations of old
truths, which flash and burn along the lines of his moral essays.
There could be few more helpful rhetorical lessons, for boy or girl,
than the effort to pack some of Pope's stinging couplets, or decades of
lines, into an equal number of lines in prose; the difficulties would
be great indeed and would vitalize the lesson; and the lesson, I think,
would be far fuller of profitable ends, than the old "parsing"
exercise, and syntactic analysis and description of sentences according
to the nomenclature of Mr. Lindley Murray or of Mr. Somebody-else.


_Pope's Homer, and Life at Twickenham_.

[Sidenote: Homer of Pope.]

Notwithstanding his much writing, Pope in those early days under the
beeches of Windsor forest, was not winning such financial rewards as
his friends thought he deserved.  The _Spectator_ did not pay much
money for little poetic trifles--such as the _Messiah_; and Jacob
Tonson was the screw which some publishers are.  There can be no doubt
that the poet, with his fine tastes, felt the restraints of a limited
income; his old father, who perhaps did not carry sharp business habits
into his retirement, had been compelled to leave the country house of
Binfield, and had gone over to a suburban street dwelling near to
Chiswick.  In this emergency, (if emergency it were,) was it not the
oddest thing in the world that his friends should have advised a
translation of Homer?

Yet they did; and so this dauntless young fellow, not over-critical in
his Greek knowledge, but with an abounding sense of the marvellous
beauties that lay in the old Homeric hexameters, {44} sets about his
task; and after five years' toil accomplishes it in such a way as makes
it probable that there can never be an English Homer that will quite
match it.  There are juster ones; there are faithfuller ones; but not
one that has been so enduringly popular.  Steeping himself in the
mythologies and the Trojan traditions, he has grafted thereupon his
stock of British word-craft: Ajax, Achilles, and the rest range to
their places in the martial clank of his couplets, with a life and
charm which, if not imbued with Homeric limpidities and melodies,
possess an engaging picturesqueness that belongs to few long English

And the poem took: that trenchant Dean Swift strode into the ante-rooms
of the great men of Court, and swore that he must have a hundred or a
thousand pounds subscribed for the new Homer of Mr. Pope; and he got
it; Mr. Pope was the fashion.

Up to that time in the whole history of English literature there had
been no such payment for literary wares as accrued to the author of the
new Homer--the sum reaching, for both Iliad and {45} Odyssey, some
£9,000; with which the shrewd poet bought an annuity (cheaper then than
now) of some £500, and a long lease of the Twickenham house and
gardens; where, thereafter, amidst his willows and his grottos, he
lived until his death.

The house[18]--if indeed any part be now the same--has been built over
and enlarged, and has a jaunty suburban villa pretension that does not
look Homeric; but the grotto, or tunnel, which he cut under the high
road running parallel with the Thames, and through which he might pass
unobserved from garden to garden and from his house to the river, is
still to be seen there; and trees of his planting still hang their
limbs over the pretty greensward that goes down in gentle slope to the
Thames banks.  He put the same polish upon his grounds he did upon his
verse: his grotto flashed with curious spars, glass jewels, and
prismatic tinted shells; his walks were decorously {46} paved and
rolled and his turf shorn to a nicety.  He entertained there in his
thrifty way, watching his butler very sharply, and by reason of his
infirmities, was very measured in his wine-drinking.  Swift, who used
to come and pass days with him, may have made the glasses jingle: and
there were other worthy friends who, when they came for a dinner, kept
the poet in a tremor of unrest.  The Prince of Wales, after the Georges
of Hanover had come in, used sometimes to honor the poet with a visit;
and the rich and powerful Bolingbroke--what time he lived at
Battersea--used to come up in his barge, landing at the garden
entrance--as most great visitors did--and discuss with him those
faiths, dogmas, truisms, and splendid generalities which afterward took
form in the famous _Essay on Man_.

Though the Twickenham home was on a great high road from London to
Teddington and Hampton Court, and the greater high road of the river,
it had, like all English suburban places now, its high enclosing walls
that gave privacy; and the river shores had their skirting of
rhododendrons and willows and great beds of laurestina, so that {47}
the weak, misshapen poet might take his walks unobserved.  He had his
vanities, but he did not love to be pointed at.  He carried a mind of
extreme sensitiveness under that dwarfed figure; and is mad--maybe,
sometimes, with destiny, that has crippled him so; and bites that thin
lip of his till the blood starts.  But he does not waste force or pride
on repinings; he feels an altitude in that supple mind of his which
lifts him above the bad lines of portraits or figures.  He knows that
the ready hand and brain, and the faculty of verse which comes tripping
to his tongue, and the wit which flashes through and through his
utterance, will make for him--has made for him--a path through whatever
beleaguerments of sense, straight up and on to the gates of the Temple
of Fame.

[Sidenote: Pope's vanities.]

We have had many vain men to encounter in these talks of ours--men
assured of their own judgment and taste; but not one, I think, as yet,
so thoroughly and highly conscious that his cleverness and scholarship
and deftness and wit were as sure of their reward as the sun was sure
to shine.

I can fancy him pausing after having wrought {48} some splendid score
of Homeric lines, which blaze and palpitate with new Greek fire: I can
fancy him humming them over to himself--growing heated with the flames
that flash and play in them--his slight, frail figure trembling with
the rhythmic outburst, and he smiling serenely at a mastery which his
will and wit have brought to such supreme pitch of excellence that no
handling of English will go beyond it.

_His Last Days._

[Sidenote: Last days of Pope.]

I have spoken of one face--I mean Lady Mary Montagu's--which used
sometimes to light up the grotto of Mr. Pope, and have told you how
that badly managed friendship went out in a great muddle of sootiness
and rage; nor were the mud and the filth, which he used in that
direction with such cruel vigor, weapons which he was unused to
handling: poor John Dennis, a poet and critic of that day, had been put
in a rage over and over.  Lord Hervey had been scarified.  Blackmore
and Phillips and Bentley had caught his stiletto thrusts; even Daniel
Defoe had been subject of his sneers; and {49} so had the bland,
courteous Addison.  This sensitive, weak-limbed man saw offence where
other men saw none; and straightway drew out that flashing sword of his
and made the blood spurt.  Of course there were counter-thrusts, and
heavy ones, that caused that poor decrepid figure of his to writhe
again--all the more because he pretended a stoicism that felt no such
attack.  To say that he often made his thrusts without reason, and that
much of his satire was dastardly, is saying what all the world knows,
and what every admirer of his fine powers must lament.  But he had his
steady friendships, too, and his tendernesses.  Nothing could exceed
the kindly consideration and affectionate watchfulness which belonged
to his protection and shelter of his old mother, lingering in that
poet's faery home of Twickenham till over ninety.  A strange, close
friendship knit him to Dean Swift, who had seemed incapable of rallying
this sensitive man's--or, indeed, any man's--affections.  Pope, and
Bolingbroke--the brilliant and the courted--were long bound together in
very close and friendly communion; the tears of this latter were among
the honestest which {50} fell when the poet died.  Bishop Warburton,
too, was most kindly treated by Pope in all his later years, and to
this gentleman most of his books were left.  There can be no doubt,
also, that the poet felt the tenderest regard for that neighbor of his,
Miss Patty Blount, who had grown old beside him, and who used at times
to bring her quiet face into the parlors of Twickenham.  Pope in his
last days would, I think, have seen her oftener--did covertly wish for
a sight of that kindly smile, which he had known so long and perhaps
had valued more than he had dared to confess.  But in those final days
she had gone her ways; maybe was grown tired of waiting upon the
peevish humors of the poet; certainly was not seen by him more often
than a fair neighborly regard would dictate.  Yet he left her all his
rights there at Twickenham, and much money beside.

[Sidenote: Death of Pope.]

They say that at the last he complained of seeing things dimly--seeing
things, too, which others did not see (as the bystanders told him).
"Then, 'twas a vision," he said.  Two days thereafter he entered very
quietly upon the visions all men see after death; leaving that poor,
scathed, {51} misshapen body--I should think gladly--leaving the
pleasant home shaded by the willows he had planted; and leaving a few
wonderful poems which I am sure will live in literature as long as
books are printed.

[1] Narcisse Luttrel: _A brief historical Relation of State affairs_
from September, 1678, to April, 1714.

[2] George Berkeley, b. 1685; d. 1753.  His works (3 vols.) and Life
and Letters (1 vol.); edited by Fraser, in 1871.  See also very
interesting monograph on Berkeley, in Professor Tyler's _Three Men of
Letters_, Putnam, 1895.

[3] _An essay toward preventing the Ruin of Great Britain_, 1721.

[4] Dr. Samuel Johnson, afterward, 1754, first President of King's (now
Columbia) College, New York; he was a graduate of Yale; life by Dr.

[5] In 1730, he writes to Samuel Johnson, of Stratford, Ct.: "Pray let
me know whether they [the college authorities] would admit the writings
of Hooker and Chillingworth to the Library of the College of New Haven?"

[6] One of his last publications was, "_Siris: a chain of Philosophical
Reflections and inquiries concerning the Virtues of Tar-water._"  And
it is remarkable that its arguments and teeming illustrations have not
been laid hold of by our modern venders of Tar-soap.

[7] Richard Bentley, b. 1662; d. 1742.  Native of Oulton, Yorkshire.
Was first Boyle Lecturer, 1692; Master of Trinity, 1700; _Works_,
edited by Dyce, London, 1836 (only 3 vols. issued of a proposed 8 vol.
edition).  _Life_, by Jacob Mähly, Leipsic, 1868.

[8] B. 1732; d. 1811.  Best known by his _Memoirs_, 1806; among his
plays is _False Impressions_, in which appears Scud, the forerunner of
Dickens's _Alfred Jingle_.

[9] All along the foot-notes in a great Quarto of the _Paradise Lost_
(London, 1732) Bentley's critical pyrotechnics flame, and flare; and he
closes a bristling preface with this droll caveat;--"I made [these]
notes _extempore_, and put them to the Press as soon as made; without
any Apprehension of growing leaner by Censures, or plumper by

[10] Isaac Watts, b. 1674; d. 1748.  _Horæ Lyricæ_: Memoir by Southey
(vol. ix., _Sacred Classics_: London, 1834).  Lowndes (_Bib. Manual_)
says, that up to 1864, there were sold annually 50,000 copies of
Watts's Hymns.

[11] B. 1681; d. 1765.  Works, with memoir, by J. Mitford.  2 vols.,
12mo.  London, 1834.

[12] Only _staying_; since the play (of _The Brothers_) was brought out
in 1753, some twenty years after his establishment in the rectory of

[13] Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, b. 1690 (or 1689?); d. 1762.  Works (3
vols.), edited by her great grandson, Lord Wharncliffe: Later edition
(1861), with life by Moy Thomas.

[14] Wife of Lord Mar, who was exiled for his engagement in the
abortive rebellion of 1715.

[15] Dilke; _Papers, etc._, vol. ii. pp. 354-5.

[16] Alexander Pope, b. 1688; d. 1744.  Editions of his works are
numerous.  I name those by Bowles and Roscoe, with that of Elwin and
Courthope; see also Dilke's _Papers of a Critic_, Leslie Stephen's
_Life_, and notices by Lowell, Minto, and Mrs. Oliphant.

[17] Lowell, Professor Minto, De Quincey, Hazlitt, Covington, etc.  De
Quincey says, "It is the most exquisite monument of playful fancy that
universal literature offers."

[18] The identity of the house of Pope was destroyed by a lady owner
(widow of Dr. Phipps, the Court oculist) in or about 1807.  Pope loved
landscape gardening and was aided by Kent and Bridgeman.  Warburton
speaks extravagantly of the poetic graces which he lavished upon his



The name of Dean Berkeley--an acute and kindly philosopher--engaged our
attention in the last chapter.  So did that ripe scholar and master of
Trinity, Richard Bentley;[1] then came that more saintly Doctor--Isaac
Watts, whose Doxologies will long waken the echoes in country churches;
we had a glimpse of the gloomy and lurid draperies, with which the muse
of Dr. Edward Young sailed over earth and sky; sadly draggled, too, we
sometimes found that muse with the stains of earth.  We spoke of a
Lady--Wortley Montagu--conspicuous for her beauty, for her
acquirements, for her vivacity of mind, for her {53} boldness, for her
contempt of the convenances of society, and at last, I think, a
contempt for the whole male portion of the human race.

Then came that keen, discerning, accomplished poet, Alexander Pope,
with a brain as strong and elastic as his body was weak and shaky; and
who, of all the poets we have encountered since Elizabeth's day, knew
best how to give to words their full forces, and how to make them
jingle and shine.

But the lives of these I have now named, and of those previously
brought to your notice[2] overreached the reign of Queen Anne, and
dropped off--some in the time of George I., some under his son George
II., and others in an early part of the long reign of George III.

_From Stuart to Brunswick._

But how came the Georges of Hanover and Brunswick to succeed Anne
Stuart?  Yes, there was a son of the deposed and exiled James II.
(whose {54} mother was an Italian princess--making him half-brother to
Queen Anne) known, sometimes as James Edward, and sometimes as The
Pretender.  He had favorers about the Court of Anne; and if the Queen
had lingered somewhat longer, or if the Jacobite or Tory political
machine had been a little better oiled and in better play, this
Pretender might have come to the throne instead of Hanover George.
Poet and Ambassador Prior, who was suspected of favoring this, was one
of those who went to the Tower, and came near losing his head in the
early days of King George; and Bolingbroke, the friend of Pope, a known
plotter for the Stuarts, took himself off hastily to France for safety.

James Edward, however, did not give the matter up, but made a landing
in Scotland in 1715 and led that dreary rebellion, in which the poor
Earl of Mar went astray, and in which Argyle figured; a rebellion which
gives its small scenes of battle and its network of conspiracies to
Scott's story of _Rob Roy_.  The Pretender escaped with difficulty to
France, made no succeeding attempt, lived in comparative obscurity, and
died in Rome fifty years {55} later.  He was, according to best
accounts, a poor, weak creature, of dissipated habits--of melancholy
aspect--dubbed King of England[3] by the Pope--given a stipend by the
over-gracious Holy Father--and at last a costly tomb in St. Peter's,
which is dignified by some good sculptural work.  Travelling
sentimentalists may meditate over its grandiose inscription of James
III., King of England!

James Edward had married, however, a Princess Sobieski of the Polish
family, by whom he had two sons, Charles Edward and Henry.  The elder,
Charles Edward, an ambitious, handsome, gentlemanly, and amiable
man--known as the Young Pretender--did, by favor of French aid, and
stimulated by larger French promises, make a landing in Scotland in
1745, which was successful at first, but ended with that defeat on
Culloden Moor, which--with pretty romantic broidery--gives a gloomy
setting to Scott's first novel of _Waverley_.


A second plotting of some friends of the Young Pretender, somewhere
about 1751-1752 (dimly foreshadowed in the story of _Redgauntlet_),
proved abortive.  Thenceforward he appears no more in English history.
We know only that this bright, clever, brave Chevalier, who bewitched
many a Highland maiden, lived a corrupt life, made a dreary and
unfortunate marriage (1772), and, bloated with drink and blighted in
hopes, died at Rome in 1788.

His brother Henry was a priest, and was made a cardinal.  He spent all
his money in pompous living, became miserably poor, and died in Venice
early in the present century--the last of his family.  There is in St.
Peter's Church at Rome, in the Chapel of the Presentation, a great
tomb, showy with the sculptures of Canova, which commemorates all these
Stuarts, and--so far as Latin inscriptions can do it--makes kings and
princes of these unfortunate representatives of the family of King
James II.

Still we are without an answer to our question: How and why did the
Georges of Hanover come to the British throne?


Those who recall my mention[4] of that slip-shod pedantic king, James
I., who came from Scotland, and who brought the Stuart name with him,
will remember an allusion to an ambitious daughter of his, Elizabeth
Stuart, who married a certain Frederic of the Palatinate, and possessor
of the famous chateau whose beautiful ruins are still to be seen on the
hill above Heidelberg.  You will remember my mention of that
extravagant ambition which brought her husband to grief and to an early
death.  Well, she had many children; and among them one named Sophia,
who married, in 1658, Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick
and--afterward--Elector of Hanover.  She was a good woman, a fairly
pronounced Protestant--unlike some sisters she had; so that in casting
about for a Protestant successor to William III. and to Anne, the
orthodox wise ones of England fixed upon this Sophia, the
grand-daughter of old James I.  She died, however, before Anne died and
in the same year; so that the succession fell to her son George Louis,
who became George I. of Great Britain.


He was well toward sixty when he came to England--did not care overmuch
to come; loved his ease; loved his indulgences, of which he had a good
many, and a good many bad ones; was a German all over; not speaking
English even, nor ever learning to speak it; had been a good soldier
and fought hard in his day, but did not care for more fighting, or
fatigue of any sort; had little culture, and minded the welcoming odes
which English poets sang to him less than he would mind the gurgling of
good "trink" from a beer-bottle.  Yet withal, he was fairly
well-intentioned, not a meddler, never wantonly unjust, willing to do
kindnesses, if not fatiguing; a heavy, good-natured, heathenish,
sottish lout of a king.

Yet, as I have said,[5] Addison could not find words noble enough to
tell this man how Anne was dead and he was king; if Addison had made
his letter as noble as the drama of _Cato_, George I. would have yawned
and lighted his pipe with it.

This George I. had married in early life a beautiful cousin, and a rich
one, but without much {59} character; perhaps he treated her brutally
(it was certainly a Georgian fashion); and she, who was no saint, would
have run away from that Hanover home--had plotted it all, and the night
came, when suddenly her lover and the would-be attendant of her flight
was savagely slain; and she, separated from her two children and
speaking no word more to her grim husband, was consigned a prisoner to
a gloomy fortress in the Aller valley, where she dragged out an
embittered and disappointed life for thirty odd years; then, Death
opened the gates and set the poor soul free.

This was the wife of George I., and the mother of George II.; this
latter being over thirty at the time of his father's coming to England,
and not getting on over-well with the king--the son, perhaps, resenting
that confinement of his mother in the Ahlden fortress.

This Prince of Wales had no more love for letters than his father
George I.; would have liked a jolly German drinking song better than
anything Pope could do; was short, irascible, as good a fighter as the
father, swore easily and often; had a good, honest wife though, who
clung to him {60} through all his badnesses.  He had a city home in
Leicester Square and a lodge in Richmond Park, whence he used to ride,
at a hard gait, with hunting parties (Pope speaks of meeting him with
such an one) and come home to long dinners and heavy ones.

It was at this lodge in Richmond Park (which is now less changed than
almost any park about London and so one of the best worth seeing) that
a messenger came galloping in jack-boots one evening, thirteen years
after George I. had come to the throne, to tell the Prince that old
George was dead (over in Osnaburg, where he had gone on a visit) and
that he, the Prince, was now King George II.[6]


"Dat is one big lie"--said the new and incredulous King with an oath.
But it was not a lie; the King was wrathy at being waked too early, and
wanted to swear at something or somebody.  But having rubbed his eyes
and considered the matter, he began then and there those thirty-three
years of reign, which, without much credit to George II. personally,
were, as the careful Mr. Hallam says in his history, the most
prosperous years which England had ever known.

Remember please, then, that George I., who succeeded Anne, reigned some
thirteen years; and after him came this short, sharp-spoken George II.,
who reigned thirty-three years--thus bringing us down to 1760.  I have
dwelt upon the personalities of these two monarchs, not because they
are worthy of special regard, but rather that they may serve more
effectively as finger-posts or clumsy mile-stones (with wigs upon
them)--to show us just how far we are moving along upon the big
high-road of English history.


_Samuel Richardson._

Quite early in that century into which these royal people found their
way, there lived over beyond Temple Bar, near to St. Bride's Church, in
the City of London, a mild-mannered, round-faced, prim little man who
was printer and bookseller--in both which callings he showed great
sagacity and prudence.  He was moreover very companionable, especially
with bookish ladies, who often dropped in upon him--he loving to talk;
and to talk much about himself, and his doings, and the characters he
put in his books.  For this was Samuel Richardson[7]--the very great
man as many people thought him--who had written _Pamela_, _Clarissa
Harlowe_, and _Sir Charles Grandison_.  It is doubtful if he knew Pope
or Swift or Berkeley; he was never of the "Spectator set."  Pope we
know read his {63} _Pamela_ and said there was as much good in it as in
twenty sermons: yet I do not think he meant to compliment it--or the
sermons.  Neither did Bookseller Richardson know people in high
position, except Hon. Mr. Onslow the Speaker, who gave him some of the
public printing to do and put him in way of business by which he grew
rich for these times and had a fine large house out by Hammersmith,
where he kept a little court of his own in summer weather; the
courtiers being worthy women, to whom he would read his books, or
correspondence relating to them, by the hour.  Possibly you have not
read his novels; but I am sure your grandmothers or great-grandmothers
have read some of them, and wept over them.  He was not learned; was
the son of a country carpenter, and in his early days was known for an
easy letter-writing faculty he had; and he used to be set upon by
sighing maidens--who were suffering under a prevalent contagious
affection of young years--to write their love-letters for them; and so
at last, in busy London, when his head was streaked with gray, he began
to put together books of letters--written as if {64} some suffering or
wishful one had whispered them all in his ear.  There was no machinery,
no plot, no classicism, no style--but sentiment in abundance and vast
prolixity, and ever-recurring villanies, and "pillows bedew'd with
tears."  The particularity and fulness of his descriptions were
something wonderful; every button on a coat, every ring on the fingers,
every tint of a ribbon, every ruffle on a cap, every ruffle of emotion,
every dimple in a cheek is pictured, and then--the "pillows bedew'd
with tears."

There's a great budget of Richardson correspondence that shows us how
the leaven of such stories worked; letters from Miss Suffern and Miss
Westcomb, and Mr. Dunallan, and a dozen others, all interlaced with his
own; for it does not appear that the old gentleman ever refused the
challenge of a letter, or grew tired of defending and illustrating his
theories of literary art and of morals, which in his view were closely
joined.  The stories were published by himself--volume by volume, so
that his correspondents had good chance to fire upon him--on the wing
as it were: "Poor Clarissa," they say; "my heart bleeds for her, and
what, {65} pray, is to become of her; and why don't you reform
Lovelace, and sha'n't he marry Clarissa?  And I do not believe there
was ever such a man as Sir Charles in the world."  The old gentleman
enjoys this and writes back by the ream; has his own little sentiment
of a sort too, even in the correspondence.  Mme. Belfour wants to see
him--"the delightful man"--without herself being observed; so entreats
him to walk some day in the Park (St. James') at a given hour; and
Richardson complies, giving these data for his picture:--

"I go through the Park, once or twice a week to my little retirement;
but I will for a week together, be in it, every day three or four
hours, till you tell me you have seen a person who answers to this
description, namely, short--rather plump--fair wig, lightish cloth
coat, all black besides; one hand generally in his bosom, the other a
cane in it, which he leans upon under the skirts of his coat ...
looking directly fore-right as passers-by would imagine, but observing
all that stirs on either hand of him; hardly ever turning back, of a
light brown complexion, smoothish faced and ruddy cheeked--looking
about sixty-five, a regular even pace, a gray eye sometimes
lively--very lively if he have hope of seeing a lady whom he loves and


Then he writes to Miss Westbrook--an adopted daughter as he calls her:--

"You rally me on my fears for your safety, and yet I know you to be
near a forest where lies a great wild bear: I am accused for these
fears--I am accused for playing off a sheet-full of witticisms, which
you, poor girl, can't tell what to do with.  Witticism! Miss W.  Very
well, Miss W---- But I did not expect--but no matter;--what have I done
with my handkerchief--I--I--I did not really expect; but no matter,
Miss W----"

A man who can put tears so easily, and for so little cause, into a
letter, can put them by the barrelful in his books: and so he did, and
made Europe weep.  Rousseau and Diderot from over in France,
philosophers as they professed to be, blubbered their admiring thanks
for _Clarissa Harlowe_.

I have spoken of him not because he is to be counted a great classic
(though Dr. Johnson affirmed it); not because I advise your wading
through six or seven volumes of the darling _Sir Charles Grandison_--as
some of our grandames did; but because he was, in a sense, the father
of the modern novel; coming before Fielding; in fact, spurring the
latter, by _Pamela_, to his great, {67} coarse, and more wonderful
accomplishment.  And although what I have said of Richardson may give
the impression of something paltry in the man and in his works, yet he
was an honest gentleman, with good moral inclinations, great art in the
dissection of emotional natures, and did give a fingering to the
heart-strings which made them twang egregiously.

_Harry Fielding._

The British Guild of Critics is, I think, a little more disposed to
_admit_ Richardson's claims to distinction than to be proud of them: it
is not so, however, with Fielding;[8] if Richardson was "womanish,"
Fielding was masculine with a vengeance; gross, too, in a way, which
always will, and always should, keep his books outside the pale of
decent family reading.  Filth is filth, and always deserves to be
scored by its name--whatever blazon of genius may compass it about.  I
have no {68} argument here with the artists who, for art's sake, want
to strip away all the protective kirtles which the Greek Dianas wore:
but when it comes to the bare bestialities of such tavern-bagnios as
poor Fielding knew too well,[9] there seems room for reasonable
objection, and for a strewing of some of the fig-leaves of decency.
And yet this stalwart West-of-England man, "raised" in the fat meadows
of Somersetshire, and who had read _Pamela_ as a stepping-stone for his
first lift into the realms of romance, was a jovial, kind-hearted,
rollicking, dare-devil of a man, with no great guile in him, and no
hypocrisies and no snivelling laxities.  He had a great lineage,
tracing back to that Landgrave of Alsace, from whom are descended the
kings and emperors of the House of Hapsburg: and what a warrant for
immortality does this novelist carry in those words of Gibbon!--

"The successors of Charles V. may disdain their [Somersetshire]
brethren of England; but the romance of _Tom {69} Jones_--that
exquisite picture of humor and manners--will outlive the Palace of the
Escurial and the imperial eagle of Austria."

It was at home or near by that Henry Fielding found his first
schooling; at the hand--a tradition runs--of that master who served as
the original for his picture of Parson Trulliber: if this indeed be so,
never were school-master severities so permanently punished.  After
this came Eton, where he was fellow of Lord Lyttleton, who befriended
him later, and of William Pitt (the elder), and of Fox--the
rattle-brain father of Charles James.  Then came two or more years of
stay at the University of Leyden, from which he laid his course
straight for the dramatic world of London; for his father, General
Fielding, had a good many spendthrift habits, with which he had
inoculated the son.  There was need for that son to work his own way;
and the way he favored was by the green-room, where the sparkle of such
lively elderly ladies as Mrs. Oldcastle and Mrs. Bracegirdle had not
yet wholly gone out.

He wrote play upon play with nervous English, and pretty surprises in
them; but not notable for {70} any results, whether of money-making or
of moral-mending.  He also had his experiences as stage manager; and
between two of his plays (1735 or thereabout) married a pretty girl
down in Salisbury; and with her dot, and a small country place
inherited from his mother, set up as country gentleman, on the north
border of Dorsetshire, determined to cut a new and larger figure in
life--free from the mephitic airs of Drury Lane.  There were
stories--very likely apocryphal--that he ordered extravagant liveries;
it is more certain that he gave himself freely, for a time, to hounds,
horses, and friends.  Of course such a country symposium devoured both
his own and his wife's capital; and we find him very shortly back in
London, buckling down to law study; very probably showing there or
thereabout the "inked ruffles and the wet towel round his head," which
appear in the charming retrospective glasses of Thackeray.[10]

But times are hard with him; those fast years of green-room life have
told upon him; the "wet {71} towels" round the head are in demand; some
of his later plays are condemned by the Lord Chancellor;[11] in 1742,
however, he makes that lunge at the sentimentalism of Richardson which,
in the shape of _Joseph Andrews_, gives him a trumpeting success.  It
encourages him to print two or three volumes of miscellanies.  But
shadows follow him; a year later, his wife dies in his arms; Lady
Wortley Montagu (who was a cousin) tells us this; and tells us how
other cousins were scandalized because, a few years afterward, the
novelist, with an effusive generosity that was characteristic of him,
married his maid, who had lamented her mistress so sincerely, and was
tenderly attached to his children.  At about the same period he
accepted office as Justice of the Peace--thereby still further
disgruntling his aristocratic Denbigh cousins.  But the quick-coming
volumes of _Tom Jones_ and their wonderful acclaim cleared the space
around him; he had room to breathe and {72} to play the magistrate; it
is Henry Fielding, Esq., now,--of Bow Street, Covent Garden.  _Amelia_
followed, for which he received £1,000; and we hear of a new home out
in the pleasant country, by Baling, north of Brentford, and the Kew

Finally on a June day of 1754 we see him leaving this home; "at twelve
precisely," he says in his last Journal, "my coach was at the door,
which I was no sooner told than I kissed my children all around, and
went into it with some little resolution."  There needed resolution;
for he was an utterly broken-down man, the pace of his wild, young days
telling now fearfully, and he bound away for a voyage to the sunny
climate of Portugal--to try if this would stay the end.

But it does not; in October of the same year he died in Lisbon; and
there his body rests in the pretty Cemetery of the Cypresses, where all
visitors who love the triumphs of English letters go to see his tomb,
among the myrtles and the geraniums.  If he had only lived to pluck
away some of those grosser stains which defile the pages where the
characters of an Allworthy and of a Parson Adams will shine forever!


_Poet of the Seasons._

It was just about the opening of the second quarter of the eighteenth
century--when Fielding was fresh from Eton, fifteen years before
_Pamela_ had appeared and while George II. was in waiting for the
slipping off of Father George at Osnaburg--that a stout Scotch poet
found his way to London to try a new style of verses with the public
which was still worshipping at the shrine of Mr. Pope.  This was the
poet of _The Seasons_,[12] whose boyhood had been passed and enriched
in that bight of the beautiful Tweed valley which lies between
Coldstream and the tall mass of Kelso's ruin,--with Melrose and
Smailhome Tower and Ettrickdale not far away, and the Lammermuir hills
glowering in the north.  He had studied theology in Edinboro', till
some iris-hued version of a psalm (which he had wrought) brought the
warning from some grim orthodox friend--that {74} a good Dominie should
rein up his imagination.  So he set his face southward, with the
crystal scenery of a winter on Tweed-side sparkling in his thought.  He
lived humbly in London, for best of reasons, near to Charing Cross; but
by the aid of Northern friends, brought his _Winter_ to book, in the
spring of 1726.

It delighted everybody; the tric-trac of Pope was lacking, and so was
the master's arrant polish; but the change brought its own blithe

We will try a little touch from this first poem of his which he brought
in his satchel, on the boy journey to London:--

  "Thro' the hushed air the whitening shower descends,
  At first, thin, wavering, till at last the flakes
  Fall broad and wide and fast, dimming the day
  With a continual flow....

          Low, the woods
  Bow their hoar heads; and ere the languid sun
  Faint from the west emits his evening ray,
  Earth's universal face, deep hid and chill,
  Is one wide dazzling waste.

          The fowls of heaven,
  Tamed by the cruel season, crowd around
  The winnowing stone....


          One alone,
  The red-breast, sacred to the household gods,
  Wisely regardful of the embroiling sky
  In joyless fields and thorny thickets, leaves
  His shivering mates.

          Half afraid, he first
  Against the window beats; then, brisk, alights
  On the warm hearth; then hopping o'er the floor
  Eyes all the smiling family askance
  And pecks, and starts, and wonders where he is."

That robin red-breast has hopped over a great many floors in his time;
and now after a hundred and sixty years he comes brisk as ever out of
that Winter poem of Thomson's.  This Scotch poet is wordy; he draws
long breaths; he is sometimes tiresome; but you will catch good honest
glimpses of the country in his verse without going there--not true to
our American seasons in detail, but always true to Nature.  The sun
never rises in the west in his poems; the jonquils and the daisies are
not confounded; the roses never forget to blush as roses should; the
oaks are sturdy; the hazels are lithe; the brooks murmur; the torrents
roar a song; the winds carry waves across the grain-fields; the clouds
plant shadows on the mountains.


Thomson was befriended by Pope, who kindly made corrections in the
first draught of some of his poems; and that you may see together the
wordy ways of these two poets I give a sample of Pope's mending.

Thomson wrote--speaking of a gleaning girl:--

  "Thoughtless of Beauty, she was beauty's self
  Recluse among the woods; if city dames
  Will deign their faith; and thus she went, compelled
  By strong necessity, with as serene
  And pleased a look as Patience ere put on,
  To glean Palemon's fields."

And this is the way in which Pope does the mending:--

  "Thoughtless of Beauty, she was beauty's self
  Recluse among the close embowering woods.
  As in the hollow breast of Apennine,
  Beneath the shelter of encircling hills,
  A myrtle rises far from human eyes,
  And breathes its balmy fragrance o'er the wild;
  So flourished, blooming, and unseen by all,
  The sweet Lavinia; till at length compelled
  By strong necessity's supreme command,
  With smiling patience in her looks, she went
  To glean Palemon's fields."


There are more words, but the words gleam!  Pope is the master, yet
mastered by rules; Thomson less a master, but free from bonds.

He tried play-writing, in those days when Fielding was just beginning
in the same line, but it was not a success.  After a year or two of
travel upon the Continent, on some tutoring business, he published an
ambitious poem (1734-1736) entitled _Liberty_--never a favorite.  He
had made friends, however, about the Court; and he pleasantly contrived
to possess himself of some of those pensioned places, which fed unduly
his natural indolence.  But all will forgive him this vice, who have
read his fine poem of the _Castle of Indolence_ in Spenserian verse.
It was his last work--perhaps his best, and first published in 1748,
the year of his death.

One stanza from it I must quote; and shall never forget my first
hearing of it, in tremulous utterance, from the lips of the venerable
John Quincy Adams, after he had bid adieu (as he thought) to public
life and was addressing[13] a {78} large assemblage in the university
town of New Haven:

  "I care not, Fortune, what you me deny!
    You cannot rob me of free Nature's grace,
  You cannot shut the windows of the sky
    Through which Aurora shows her brightening face;
    You cannot bar my constant feet to trace
  The woods and lawns by living streams at eve;
    Let health my nerves and finer fibres brace
  And I their toys to the great children leave,
  Of fancy, reason, virtue, nought can me bereave."

Most readers will think kindly and well of this poet; and if you love
the country, you will think yet more kindly of him; and on summer
afternoons, when cool breezes blow in at your windows and set all the
leaves astir over your head, his muse--if you have made her
acquaintance--will coo to you from among the branches: but you will
never and nowhere find in him the precision, the vigor, the point, the
polish, we found in Pope; and which you may find, too, in the fine
parcel-work {79} done by Thomas Gray, who was a contemporary of
Thomson's, but younger by some fifteen years.

_Thomas Gray._

You will know of that first poem of his--_Ode to Eton College_; at
least you know its terminal lines, which are cited on all the

  "Where ignorance is bliss
  'Tis folly to be wise!"

All the world knows, too, his _Elegy_, on which his fame principally
rests.  Its melancholy music gets somehow stamped on the brain of
nearly all of us, and lends a poetic halo to every old graveyard that
has the shadow of a church tower slanted over it.

Gray[14] was, like Milton, a London boy--born on Cornhill under the
shadow almost of St. Paul's.  The father was a cross-grained man,
living apart from Mrs. Gray, who, it is said, by the gains of some
haberdashery traffic which she set up in {80} Cornhill, sent her boy to
Eton and to Cambridge.  At Eton he came to know Horace Walpole,
travelled with him over Europe, after leaving Cambridge, until they
quarrelled and each took his own path.  That quarrel, however, was
mended somewhat later and Walpole became as good a friend to Gray as he
could be to anybody--except Mr. Walpole.

The poet, after his father's death, undertook, in a languid way, the
study of law; but finally landed again in Cambridge, and was a
dilettanteish student there nearly all his days, being made a Professor
of History at last; but not getting fairly into harness before the gout
laid hold of him and killed him.  Probably no man in English literature
has so large a reputation for so little work.  Gibbon regretted that he
should not have completed his philosophic poem on education and
government; Dr. Johnson, who spoke halting praise of his poems, thought
he would have made admirable books of travel; Cowper says, "I once
thought Swift's letters the best that could be written, but I like
Gray's better."

The truth is, he was a fastidious, scholarly man, whose over-nicety of
taste was always in {81} the way of large accomplishment.  He was
content to do nothing, except he did something in the best possible
way.  He so cherished refinements that refinements choked his impulses.

A great stickler he was, too, for social refinements--distinctions,
preferments, and clap-trap--wanting his courtesies, of which he was as
chary as of his poems, to have the last stamp of gentility; thus
running into affectations of decorum, which, one time, made him the
butt of practical jokers at his college.  Some lovers of fun there
sounded an alarm of fire for the sake of seeing the elegant Mr. Gray
(not then grown famous, to be sure) slipping down a rope-ladder in
undress, out of his window; which he did do, but presently changed his
college in dudgeon.  He had, moreover, a great deal of Walpole's
affected contempt for authorship--wanted rather to be counted an
elegant gentleman who only played with letters.  He writes to his
friend that the proprietors of a magazine were about to print his
Elegy, and says:--

"I have but one bad way to escape the honor they would inflict upon me,
and therefore desire you would make {82} Dodsley print it immediately,
without my name, but on his best paper and type.  _If he would add a
line to say it came into his hands by accident, I should like it

I think he caught this starched folly (if it were folly) from Walpole.
I have heard of over-elegant people in our day with the same
affectation; but, as a rule, they do not write poems so good as the

Gray died, after that quiet life of his, far down in the days of George
III., 1771, leaving little work done, but a very great name.  He was
buried, as was fitting, beside his mother, in that churchyard at Stoke,
out of which the Elegy grew.  And if you ever have a half day to spare
in London, it is worth your while to go out to Slough (twenty miles by
the Great Western road), and thence, two miles of delicious walk among
shady lanes and wanton hedges, to where Stoke-Pogis Church, curiously
hung over with ivy, rises amongst the graves; and if sentimentally
disposed, you may linger there, till the evening shadows fall, and
repeat to yourself (or anybody you like)--

  "The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
  The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea.
  The ploughman homeward plods his weary way
  And leaves the world to darkness and to me."


_A Courtier._

I have spoken of the association of Walpole with Gray; it was not an
intimate one after the two had outgrown their youth-age; indeed
Walpole's association with nobody was intimate; nor was he a man whose
literary reputation ever was, or ever can be great.  He was son[15] of
that famous British Minister of State, Sir Robert Walpole, who for many
long years held the fate of England in his hand.  But his son Horace
cared little for politics.  He was unmarried, and kept so always; had
money in plenty (coming largely from Government sinecures) and a fat
place at Twickenham--called Strawberry Hill; which by his vagaries in
architecture and his enormous collection of bric-à-brac, he made the
show place of all that region.  He established a private press at this
country home, and printed, among a {84} multitude of other books, a
catalogue of royal and noble authors--not reckoning others so worthy of
his regard; indeed, he had a well-bred contempt for ordinary literary
avocations; but he wrote and published (privately at first) a romance
called _The Castle of Otranto_.[16]  It was "a slight thing," he told
his friends, which he had dashed off in an idle hour, and which he "had
not put his name to; but which succeeded so well that he did not any
longer entirely keep the secret."  It is a tale, quite ingenious, of
mingled mystery and chivalry; there are castles in it, and huge
helmets, that only giants could wear; and there are dungeons, and
forlorn maidens; ghosts, and sighing lovers; mysterious sounds, and
pictures that come out of their frames and walk about in the
moonlight--it is a pattern book to read at night in an old country
house which has long corridors and deserted rooms, where the bats fly
in and out, and the doors clang and clash.

But this strange creature, Horace Walpole, is {85} known best of all by
his letters[17]--nine solid volumes of them, big octavo--covering
nearly the whole of his life and addressed to a half score or so of men
and women on all possible topics except any serious one; and all made
ready, with curious care, for publication when his death should come.
On that one point he did have serious belief--he believed he should
die.  This great budget of his letters is one of the most extraordinary
products--if we may call it so--of literature.  It is hard to say what
is not touched upon in them; if he is robbed, you hear how a voice out
of the night said "stop"--how he slipped his watch under his
waistband--how he gave up his purse with nine guineas in it--how Lady
Browne was frightened and gave up _her_ watch; if the king has gout in
his toe you hear of that; if he goes to the palace he tells you who was
in the ante-room and how two fellows were sweeping the floor, dancing
about in sabots; how the Duc of Richelieu was pale except his nose,
"which is red and wrinkled."  Great hoops with brocade dresses come
sailing into {86} his letters; so do all the scandals about my lady
_this_, or the duchess _that_; so do the votes in Parliament and
reports about the last battle, if a war is in progress; and the French
news, and new things at Strawberry Hill--over and over.  And he does
not think much of Gibbon, and does not think much of Dr. Johnson--who
"has no judgment and no taste;" and why doesn't his friend Mason[18] (a
third-rate poet) "show up the doctor and make an end of him?"--which is
much like saying that Mr. Wardle's fat boy should make an end of Mr.

Yet do not think there is no art in all this, and that you would not
like them: there is art of the highest gossipy kind; and I can readily
understand how his correspondents all relished immensely his letters
whenever they came.  There is humor and sparkle, and there are delicate
touches; he approaches his lighter topics as a humming-bird approaches
flowers--a swift dart {87} at them--a sniff, a whirl of wings, and away

Then he has that rare literary instinct of knowing just what each
correspondent would like best to hear of--that's the secret of writing
letters that will be welcome.  You cannot interchange his letters.  He
tickles Lady Ossory's ear with sheerest gossip, and Lady Suffolk with
talk of dress and of the last great Paris ball, and the poet Mason with
bookish platitudes, and Conway with the leakings of political talk, and
Cole with twaddle on art or science.  You want to turn your back on him
again and again for his arrant snobbish pretensions or some weak and
violent prejudice; yet you want to listen again and again.  It is such
a pretty, lively, brisk, frolicsome, _pétillant_ small-beerish talk,
that engages and does not fatigue, and piques appetite yet feeds you
with nothings.

He grew old there in his _gim-crack_ of a palace, cultivating his
flowers and his complexion; tiptoeing while he could over his waxed
floors in lavender suit, with embroidered waistcoat and "partridge silk
stockings," with _chapeau bas_ held before him--very reverent to any
visitor of {88} distinction--and afterward (he lived almost into this
century), when gout seizes him, I seem to see still--as once
before[19]--the fastidious old man shuffling up and down from
drawing-room to library--stopping here and there to admire some newly
arrived bit of pottery--pulling out his golden snuff-box and whisking a
delicate pinch into his old nostrils--then dusting his affluent
shirt-frills with the tips of his dainty fingers, with an air of
gratitude to Providence for having created so fine a gentleman as
Horace Walpole, and of gratitude to Horace Walpole for having created
so fine a place as Strawberry Hill.

_Young Mr. Johnson._

And now what a different man we come upon, living just abreast of him
in that rich English century and that beautiful English country!  We go
into Staffordshire and to the old town of Lichfield, to find the boy
who afterward became the great lexicographer[20] and the great talker.
The {89} house in which he was born is there upon a corner of the great
broadened street, opposite St. Mary's Church.  We get a pleasant
glimpse of the house on a page of _Our Old Home_, by Hawthorne; and
another glimpse of the colossal figure of Dr. Johnson, seated in his
marble chair, upon that Lichfield market-place.

His father was a bookseller; held, too, some small magistracy; was
eminently respectable; loved books as well as sold them, and had a
corresponding inaptitude for business.  The son added to indifferent
schooling, here and there, a habit of large browsing along his father's
shelves; was a great, ungainly lout of a boy, but marvellously
quick-witted.  With some help from his father, and some from friends,
and with a reputation for making verses, and tastes ranging above
bookstalls, he entered at Oxford when nineteen; but {90} the stings of
poverty smote him there early; and after three years of irregular
attendance, he left--only to find his father lapsing into bankruptcy
and a fatal illness.  On the settlement of the old bookseller's estate,
£20 only was the portion of the son.  Then follow some dreary years; he
is hypochondriac and fears madness; he is under-teacher in a school; he
offers to do job-work for the book-makers; he translates the narrative
of a Portuguese missionary about Abyssinia; he ponders over a tragedy
of _Irene_.  Not much good comes of all this, when--on a sudden, our
hero, who is now twenty-six, marries a widow--who admired his
talents--who is twenty years his senior and has £800.  Johnson was not
a person to regard closely such little discrepancies as that difference
in age--nor she, I suppose.

The bride is represented as not over-comely, and as one--of good
judgment in most matters--who resorted to some vulgar appliances for
making the most of her "good looks."  Lord Macaulay[21] uses a very
rampant rhetoric in his encyclopædic {91} mention of the paint she put
upon her cheeks.  With the aid of her £800, Johnson determined to set
up a boarding-school for young gentlemen; a gaunt country-house three
miles out of Lichfield was rented and equipped and advertised; but the
young gentlemen did not come.

How could they be won that way?  The mistress frowsy, simpering,
ancient, painted, and becurled; and Mr. Johnson, gaunt, clumsy,
squinting--one side of his face badly scarred with some early surgical
cut; one eye involved and drooping, and a twitchy St. Vitus's dance
making all uglier.  What boy would not dread a possible whipping from
such a master, and what mamma would not tremble for her boy?  Yet I do
not believe he ever whipped hard, when he had occasion; he was
kind-hearted; but his scolds at a false syntax must have been terrific
and have made the floors shiver.

Among the boys who did venture to that Edial school was one David
Garrick, whose father had been a friend of the elder Johnson; and when
the school broke up--as it did presently--Johnson and David Garrick set
out together for London, to {92} seek their fortune--carrying letters
to some booksellers there; and Johnson carrying that half-written
tragedy of _Irene_ in his pocket.  Garrick's rise began early, and was
brilliant, but of this we cannot speak now.  Johnson knocked about
those London streets--translating a little, jobbing at books a little,
starving and scrimping a great deal.  He fell in early with a certain
Richard Savage,[22] a wild, clever, disorderly poet, as hard pinched as
Johnson.  According to his story, he was the son of the Countess
Macclesfield, but disowned by her--he only coming to knowledge of his
parentage through accident, when he was grown to manhood.  Johnson
tells the pathetic tale of how Savage paced up and down, at night, in
sight of his mother's palatial windows, gazing grief-smitten at them,
and yearning for the maternal recognition, which the heartless,
dishonored woman refused.  So, this castaway runs to drink and all
deviltries; Johnson staying him much as {93} he can--walking with him
up and down through London streets till midnight--talking poetry,
philosophy, religion; hungry both of them, and many a time with only
ten pence between them.

Well, at last, Savage kills his man in a tavern broil; would have been
hung--the mother countess (as the story runs) hoping it would be so;
but he escapes, largely through the influence of that Queen Caroline,
to whom Jeanie Deans makes her eloquent plea in Scott's ever-famous
novel of _The Heart of Mid-Lothian_.  Savage escapes, but 'tis only to
go to other bad ways, and at last he died in a Bristol jail.

All this offered material for a pathetic story, and Johnson made the
most of it in his _Life of Savage_--afterward incorporated in his
_Lives of the Poets_, but first published in 1744, about seven years
after his coming to London.  The book appeared anonymously; but its
qualities gave it great vogue; and its essential averments formed the
basis of all biographic and encyclopædic[23] notices for nearly a
century thereafter.


But was the story true?  There were those who doubted at the time, and
had an unpleasant sense that Johnson had been wheedled by an
adventurer; but demonstration of the imposture of Savage did not come
till the middle of the present century.  The investigations of Moy
Thomas[24] would go to show that the Savage friend of Johnson's early
days in London was the most arrant of impostors; and that of all the
shame that rests upon him, he can only justly be relieved of that which
counts him a child of such a woman as the Countess of Macclesfield.  I
have dwelt upon the Savage episode, not alone because it provoked one
of Johnson's best pieces of prose work, but because it shows how open
were his sympathies to such tales of distress, and how quick he was to
lift the rod of chastisement upon wrong-doers of whatever degree.

In _London_, too, that imitative classic poem, there shone in a glitter
of couplets (which provoked Pope's praises) the same righteous
indignation, and the stings--pricking through all his big {95}
Staffordshire bulk--of supperless-days and of shortened means:--

  "By numbers here from shame or censure free
  All crimes are safe, but hated Poverty;
  This, only this, the rigid Law pursues,
  This, only this, provokes the snarling muse.

  "The sober trader at a tattered cloak
  Wakes from his dream, and labors for a joke;
  With brisker air the silken courtiers gaze
  And turn the varied taunt a thousand ways."

Better than this was that poem (_Vanity of Human Wishes_) in which,
even now, some of us--admiringly--

  "In full flown dignity see Wolsey stand,
  Law in his voice, and fortune in his hand."

And the couplet leads on through Wolsey's story to the poet's coupleted
sermon, with its savors of a church-bell--

  "Still raise for good the supplicating voice,
  But leave to Heaven the measure and the choice.
  Safe in his power whose eye discerns afar
  The secret ambush of a specious prayer;
  Implore his aid, in his decisions rest,
  Secure whate'er he gives, he gives the best.
      *      *      *      *      *


  Pour forth thy fervors for a healthful mind,
  Obedient passions, and a will resigned;
      *      *      *      *      *
  For faith, that, panting for a happier seat,
  Counts death kind nature's signal of retreat."

We must note also that famous Prologue, spoken at Drury Lane in 1747,
when the theatre came first under control of his old friend, Garrick.
Never had the stage, before nor since, a nobler summons in worthier
verse: it closes--

  "Then prompt no more the follies you decry,
  As Tyrants doom their tools of guilt to die:
  'Tis yours, this night, to bid the reign commence
  Of rescued Nature and reviving Sense:
  To chase the charms of Sound, the pomp of Show,
  For useful Mirth and salutary Woe:
  Bid scenic Virtue form the rising age
  And Truth diffuse her radiance from the Stage."

Garrick must have been proud to act under such banner of song as that.
The tragedy of _Irene_ came to its first representation a short time
afterward; and surely it would have been worth one's while to see the
stout, awkward gerund-grinder of forty, slipping into a side-box, or
even behind {97} the scenes "in a scarlet waistcoat, with rich gold
lace and a gold-laced hat!"  The play, however, did not prove a great
success either then or thereafter.  The Dictionary, for which proposals
had already been issued, promised better things.  That Dictionary did
ultimately give him a great lift--as it has to a good many, since.  The
ponderous volume furnished very many New England households seventy
years ago; and I can remember sitting upon it, in my child-days, to
bring my head properly above the level of the table.  An immense and
long-continued toil went to the Dictionary.  Lord Chesterfield,[25] the
finished orator and the elegant man--not unwilling to have so great a
work bear his name--called attention to the book and the author, when
nearly ready; but Johnson was too sore with hope deferred to catch {98}
that bait; he writes an indignant letter (not published until 1790) to
the elegant Chesterfield:--

"Seven years have now passed, my Lord, since I waited in your
outward-rooms, or was repulsed from your door--during which time I have
been pushing on my work, thro' difficulties of which it is useless to
complain, and have brought it at last to the verge of publication
without one act of assistance, one word of encouragement, or one smile
of favor....  The notice which you have been pleased to take of my
labors--had it been early--had been kind; but it has been delayed till
I am indifferent and cannot enjoy it; till I am solitary [his wife dead
now] and cannot impart it, till I am known and do not want it."

This does not show the stuff which went to the making of such a man as

The _Rambler_, too, it must be remembered, is making its periodic
visits in those early days of the Dictionary toil.  Heavy it is, like
the master; and his prejudices as arrant Churchman and sturdy Tory do
indeed break through its piled-up pages; but never insidiously: he
sounds a trumpet before he strikes.  Perhaps a little over-fond of
trumpeting; loving so much his long sonorous roll of Ciceronian

But I have not the same dislike of long {99} Johnsonian periods that a
good many people have--provided always there is a Johnson to utter
them.  They belong to _him_; they match with their wordy convolutions
his great billowy make of mind; and short, sharp sentences would be as
incongruous as a little spurting _jet d'eau_ where great waves come
rocking on the beach.

In fact, I have a large unbelief in much of current pedagogic talk
about style, and "getting a good style," and "reforming style," and
"Saxon style," and so on.  To be thoroughly possessed of one's own
thought, and then to tell it, in the clearest possible way, is the best
law I know for a good style; and a proper following of it will give to
every mind that has any color of its own a style of its own.  To putter
about the rhetorics in search of fine phrases to wrap your thoughts in,
is like going in masquerade; furbish it as you will, people will see
the smear of old wear in the tinsel trappings, and smell it too.

If short, homely Saxon will serve one's purpose best in giving sharp,
shrewd expression to thought, as most times it will, use Saxon; but if
a Latin derivation will hit the very shade of your thinking {100} more
aptly, do not affect to scorn the Latin.  Even if a French
word--provided always it be at once and easily comprehensible by all
whom you address--shall touch the very eye of your purpose better than
another, do not scruple to use it.

But we must ask pardon for this intrusion of small school-mastery talk,
while the great master of the Dictionary and of the _Rambler_ waits.
As yet we have followed him through only half of his career; a stalwart
man, still in the full prime of his years; and I see grouping about him
at the Turk's Head many another whom we wish to follow; a Boswell and a
Burke; Reynolds and Beauclerk and Goldsmith--these all are in waiting.
But for a fuller and nearer view of these old club-men of more than a
century ago, we open upon another chapter of these _Lands and Letters_.

[1] Whoso would take measure, of his scholarly thoroughness, his reach,
his pertinacity, and his capacity for striking sharp blows, should
struggle through his _Dissertation on Phalaris_.

[2] Swift, Addison, Steele, Gay, _et al._, in preceding volume of
_Lands, Letters, and Kings_ ("Elizabeth to Anne")

[3] He lived for many years in the _Palazzo Muti_ near to the church of
the _SS. Apostoli_, in Rome; his disorderly life there made it a _Regio

[4] _Lands and Letters_: "From Elizabeth to Anne," p. 100.

[5] _Lands and Letters_: "Elizabeth to Anne."

[6] This is one contemporary account of it--adopted by Thackeray; but
Wraxall (1st vol., pp. 384-385 American reprint, Lea & Blanchard) says
that the Duke of Dorset was commissioned to carry the news; but some
little time being required to make himself ready, the Duchess was sent
in advance.  She arrived at Kew (where the Prince was staying) just as
that Prince had gone to bed, as was his wont, after dinner.  The
Princess undertook the announcement--though demurring at the duty, and
anticipating a brutal reception for one who should disturb his
after-dinner nap; he was in a huff and _did_ make the comment, noted in
the text; but it was not (says Wraxall) to a messenger in jack-boots,
but to the Princess of Wales herself.

[7] Richardson: b. 1689; d. 1761.  Various editions of his works.
Known quite generally to buyers of cheap books in our day by an
abbreviated issue of _Clarissa Harlowe_ (Routledge & Sons).

[8] Henry Fielding: b. 1707; d. 1754.  Editions of his works have been
edited by Arthur Murphy, William Roscoe, and Leslie Stephen; (10 vols.,
1882-1883.)  Life by Sir Walter Scott in Ballantyne Library; more
trustworthy one is that by Austin Dobson.

[9] It is perhaps to be doubted if the bare-faced coarsenesses of
Fielding (much as they are to be condemned) would provoke pruriency so
much as the sentimental and sensuous languors of Richardson.

[10] _History of Pendennis_, Household Ed., Boston: Chap. xxix.

[11] It was in virtue of some altercations growing out of Fielding's
plays that British censorship was established in 1737, and (perhaps)
Fielding thereby diverted to the study of Law.

[12] James Thomson, b. 1700; d. 1748.  Various editions of his poems; a
very elegant one, illustrated by the Etching Club, published 1842-62.

[13] _The Jubilee of the Constitution_, a discourse delivered by
request of the New York Historical Society, April 30, 1839, and
repeated shortly after in the old "Ludlow" Church, (now "Dime
Theatre"), in Church Street, New Haven.

[14] Thomas Gray, b. 1716; d. 1771.  See Gosse's recent biography for
critical as well as sympathetic account of his life and writings.  See
also Mitford's edition of his works, with life, London, 1836.

[15] Horace Walpole, b. 1717; d. 1785.  The enumeration of his books,
pamphlets, and of titles relating thereto fill a dozen columns of
_Lowndes_.  His letters give best measurement of the man.

[16] It purported to be a translation from the Italian of Onuphrio

[17] Peter Cunningham Edition.  London, 1857-1859.  See also _Horace
Walpole and His World_, by L. B. Seeley.  1884.

[18] Rev. William Mason, b. 1725; d. 1797; author of _The English
Garden_, published at intervals (its successive books) between 1772 and
1782.  It has little merit--Walpole to the contrary.

[19] _Wet Days at Edgewood_, p. 239.

[20] Samuel Johnson, b. 1709; d. 1784.  Boswell's the standard life of
him, and Birkbeck Hill's the best edition of that life.  We miss in it,
indeed, some of the "Croker" notes, which made such inviting quarry for
the sharp huntsmanship of Macaulay.  But the editing is done with a
love and a tirelessness which are as winning as they are rare.  See,
also, Leslie Stephen's sketch--which is the best short life.

[21] _Ency. Britannica_; Art. Johnson.

[22] B. 1698; d. 1743.  Poet and dramatist.  Collected edit. of his
writings published in 1775.  His largest claim to distinction is due to
the _Life of Richard Savage_, by Samuel Johnson; first published 1744.

[23] _Vide_ old edition of _Ency. Britannica_, also Strahan's
_Biographical Dictionary_ of 1784; _Biographie Universelle, et al._

[24] See _Notes and Queries_, November and December, 1858.

[25] Philip Dormer Stanhope (Earl of Chesterfield), b. 1694; d. 1773,
best known by his _Letters to His Son_, first published in 1774.
Johnson said they taught "the morals of a courtesan, and the manners of
a dancing-master."  This was perhaps over-severe.  People who do not
love to disport in fashionable waters are apt to be severe upon those
who spend their faculties upon the coquetries of bathing costume.



It was a little after the middle of the last century that our story
opens again.  George II., whose virtues and vices were clock-like in
their regularities, was on the throne; Queen Caroline, whom he had
always abused and always venerated, was in her grave for twelve or more
years past.  Outside politics were ripening for that French and English
war--in which a Montcalm and a Wolfe figured upon our side the water,
and which has been put in picturesque array by Francis Parkman; the
geraniums and oleanders were blossoming over the Portuguese grave of
Harry Fielding; Thomson had sung his last notes in his _Castle of
Indolence_ and was laid to rest--not in Kelso, or Dryburgh, where his
body should have mouldered--but in a little Richmond Church, within
gunshot of the "Star and Garter." {102} Gray was still studying the
scholarly measures of the _Bard_, in his beloved Cambridge; Horace
Walpole playing the _élégant_ was fattening on his revenues at
Strawberry Hill; while Dr. Johnson--notwithstanding the Dictionary and
the _Rambler_--had been latterly (1756) in such sore straits as to
appeal to his friend Richardson for the loan of a few guineas to save
him from jail; and Richardson, fresh then in his triumphs from
_Clarissa Harlowe_ and the great _Grandison_, was not slow to grant the
request,[1] and to enjoy all the more his Kingship among the women, in
his great house out at Hammersmith.

[Sidenote: London streets.]

A sharp walk of a quarter of an hour from St. Paul's would, in that
time, take one into the green fields that lay in Islington; and beyond,
upon the Waltham road, were the hedges, pikes, and quiet paddocks,
through which went galloping--at a little later day--that citizen of
"credit and renown," John Gilpin, instead of the clattering suburbs
that now stretch nearly all the way between Cheapside and the "Bell" at


Of the many bridges which now span the Thames, only two[2]
representatives were in existence; the old Westminster was there in its
first freshness, and ferrymen quarrelling with it, because it spoiled
their carrying trade to Vauxhall and parts adjacent; and the old London
Bridge was cumbered by lumbering houses, held up by trusses and
cross-beams, while its openings were so low and its piers so many as to
make, at certain stages of the tide, furious cascades which drove great
wheels geared to cumbrous pumping machinery, to throw up water for the
behoof of London citizens.  The old Fleet Prison was in existence, and
its smudgy stifling air hung over all that low region above which now
leap the great arches of the Holborn Viaduct; and round the corner, in
the reek and smoke of Fleet Street, half way between the spire of St.
Bride's and the spire of St. Clement's Danes--up a grimy court that is,
very likely, just as grimy to-day, lived that Leviathan of a man, Dr.
Samuel Johnson.


_Johnson and Rasselas._

[Sidenote: Rasselas.]

He had passed through his green days, and the nights when he strolled
supperless about London with that poor wretch of a poet Richard Savage.
The school at Edial with its three pupils was well behind him; so was
the dining behind the screen at Cave's (the bookseller who presided
over the _Gentleman's Magazine_, with St. John's Gate on the cover
then, and on the cover now): so was his age of sentiment ended.

His wife Tetty had gone the way of all flesh (1752) and he had mourned
her truly: in proof of this may be counted the presence under his roof
of a certain old lady, Miss Williams, who is peevish, who is
tempestuous, who is blind, who tests the tea with her fingers, who
_will_ talk, and then again, she _won't_ talk; yet Johnson befriends
her, pensions her--when he has money,--sends home sweetbreads from the
tavern for her; and when his friends ask why he tolerates this vixen,
he gives the soundest reason that he has--"she {105} was a friend of
Tetty; she was with poor Tetty when she died!"

And his brain was as big, or bigger, than his heart; it had made itself
felt all over England by long, honest work--by brave, loud speech.  He
had snubbed the elegant Lord Chesterfield, who would have liked to see
his name upon the first page of the great Dictionary.  Not an outcast
of the neighborhood but had heard of his audacious kindness; not a
linkboy but knew him by the chink of his half-pence; not a beggar but
had been bettered by his generous dole; not a watchman but knew him by
his unwieldy hulk, and his awkward, intrepid walk; and we know him--if
we know him at all--not by his _Rambler_ and his _Rasselas_, so much as
by the story of his life.  Who rates _Rasselas_ among his or her
cherished books of fiction?

What an unlikely, and what a ponderous beginning it has!

"Ye who listen with credulity to the whispers of fancy and pursue with
eagerness the phantoms of hope; who expect that age will perform the
promises of youth, and that the deficiencies of the present day will be
supplied by the morrow, attend to the history of Rasselas, Prince of


When, in days long past, I have read thus far in this elephantine
novelette to my children, they were pretty apt to explode upon me
with--"Please try something else!"  Yet this elephantine novelette has
a host of excellent and eloquent moral reflections in it, shouldering
and elbowing themselves out from its flimsy dress of fiction.  Shall I
give a hint of the scheme of this old story?  An Abyssinian prince
living in the middle of a happy valley, walled in by mountains that are
beautiful, and watered by rivers that are musical, in the enjoyment of
all luxuries, does at last become restless--as so many people do--not
so much from a want, as from the want of a want.  So he conspires with
Imlac, a poet, to escape from the thraldom of complete ease: a sister
of the prince and her handmaid steal away with them; and with plenty of
jewels the party enter upon their exploration of the ways of outside
life.  They encounter hermits whose solitude does not cure their pains,
and shepherds whose simplicities do not conquer misfortune, and
philosophers whose philosophy does not relieve their anxieties, and
scholars whose learning does not make them happy.


Imlac, the poet, sums up their findings in saying--"You will rarely
meet one who does not think the lot of his neighbor better than his
own."  This is its whole philosophy.  There are interlarded discourses
upon learning, and marriage, and death, and riches, which might have
been cut from a _Rambler_ or from a sermon.  They travel through upper
Egypt, and sojourn in the grand Cairo; but there is no shimmer of the
desert, and no flash of crescent or scimitar, and no dreamy
orientalism; its Eastern sages talk as if they might have thundered
their ponderous sentences from the pulpit of St. Bride's.  As a
finality--if the tale can be said to have any finality--the princess
thinks she would like--of all things--Knowledge: the poor handmaid, who
has had her little adventure, by being captured by a Bedouin chief,
thinks she would like best a convent on some oasis in the desert; while
the prince would like a miniature kingdom whose rule he might
administer with justice as easily as one might wind a watch; but all
agree that, when the Nile flood favors, they will go contentedly back
to the happy valley from which they set out upon their {108}
wanderings.  It is interesting to know that the story was written by
Dr. Johnson on the evenings of a single week; and written--before he
had come to his pension[3]--to defray the expenses of his mother's
funeral; and it is interesting further to know that the magniloquent
tale did forge its way into the front rank of readers at a time when
_Roderick Random_ and _Tom Jones_ were comparatively fresh books, and
only five years after Mr. Richardson had issued from his book-shop
under the shadows of St. Bride's, hardly a gunshot away from the house
of Johnson, the voluminous history of _Sir Charles Grandison_.

_The Painter and the Club._

[Sidenote: Sir Joshua Reynolds.]

Among the friends the Doctor made in those days of _Ramblers_ and
_Idlers_ was one Joshua Reynolds,[4] some fourteen years the junior of
the Doctor, but sedate and thoughtful beyond his age; with an eye, too,
for the beautiful faces of young {109} English girls which had never
been opened on them before; and doing artist work that is quite
different in quality and motive from that of the old stand-by Mr.
Hogarth, who not long before this time had been preaching his painted
sermons of the _Rake's Progress_.

Reynolds had made his trip to Italy, and had brought back from Rome, in
addition to his studies of Raphael--an affection of the ear--caught, as
he always said, in the draughty corridors of the Vatican, which obliged
him ever after to carry an ear-trumpet; but his courtesy and grace and
precision of speech made the awkwardness forgotten.  Looking at the
exquisite child's face of his little Penelope Boothby, expressing all
that was most winning in girlhood for him who was so reverent of
exterior graces, and looking from this to the leathern, seamy face of
Johnson, and his unlaundered linen, and snuffy frills (when he wore
any), and it is hard to understand the intimacy of these two men; but
there was a tenderness of soul under the Doctor's slouchy ways which
the keen painter recognized; and in the painter there was a resolute
intellection, which Johnson was not slow to {110} detect, and which
presently--when the new Royal Academy was founded by George III.--was
to have expression in the great painter's discourses on Art--discourses
which for their courageous common-sense will, I think, outrank much of
the art-writing of to-day.

[Sidenote: Turks-Head Club.]

In 1760 (the year after _Rasselas_ appeared) Reynolds moved into a fine
house, for that day, in Leicester Square--a quarter now given over
mostly to French lodgers; but in its neighborhood one may find a marble
bust of the eminent painter; and the house where he gave great steaming
dinners--famous for their profusion and disorderly array--is still
there, though given over to small artists and sellers of bric-à-brac.
His good sister, Miss Fanny, who was his housekeeper, loved painting
and poetry, and a drive in the painter's chariot, which he set up in
later days, better than she loved housewifery.  Over-shrewd ones said
that Sir Joshua (the title came to him a few years after with the
presidency of the Royal Academy) did not marry because he had wholesome
dread of a wife's extravagance; certain it is that he remained a
bachelor all his life, and {111} thereby was a fitting person to
discuss with the widowed Johnson the formation of a club.  The Doctor
was always clubably disposed; so he caught at the idea of Sir Joshua,
and thence sprung that society--called "The Literary Club" afterward,
which held its sessions, first at the Turk's Head, in Gerrard Street,
Soho Square--on Monday evenings at the start, and afterward on
Fridays--numbering among its early members Johnson, Burke, Reynolds,
Hawkins, Beauclerk, and Goldsmith.  This famous club, though moving
from place to place in the closing years of the last century, still
preserved its identity; it took a new lease of life in the first
quarter of the present century, and it still survives in a very quiet
old age, holding its fortnightly meetings--rather sparingly attended,
it is true--at Willis's Rooms, St. James's Street, in the west of
London.  Among recent members may be named Gladstone, Sir Frederick
Leighton, Lord Salisbury, the Duke of Argyle, Tennyson, and Matthew


_Some Old Club-men._

[Sidenote: Edmund Burke.]

Burke,[6] who was among the original nine members, was very much the
junior of Johnson; but known to him as a sometime Irish student at law,
who had written only a few years before two brilliant treatises; one on
_Natural Society_, and the other on the _Sublime and Beautiful_.

Later he had done excellent historic work in connection with _Dodsley's
Annual Register_; but he had not yet entered upon that sea of political
turmoil over which he was to sweep in so grand a way and with such
blaze of triumph.  It is possible indeed that he was indebted to the
associations of the club for some of the initiative steps toward that
wonderful career whose outcome in Parliament, in the courts, and in
pamphleteering, has become a component part of the {113} literature of
England.  Burke, even at that early stage of his progress (his first
speech was made in 1766) had all his vast resources at ready command;
Johnson did not wish to meet him in debate without warning; true he was
afraid of no mere eloquence; he was used to puncturing bloat of that
sort; but Burke's most fiery speeches were beaded throughout with
globules of thought, which must be grasped and squelched one by one, if
mastery were sought.  He was impetuous, too, and aggressive, but
reverent of the superior age and reputation of the Doctor; and I
daresay coyly avoided those American questions which later came to the
front, and upon which they held views diametrically opposed.  In after
years it used to be said that Burke's speeches would empty the benches
of the Commons--ye philosophized; and when not heated, spoke with a
drawling utterance and a touch of Irish brogue flavoring his voice;
indeed he talked so well he was never tired of talking; his sentences
so swelled out under the amplitude of his illustrations and allusions
that I think he came at last to take a pride in their very longitude,
and trailed his gorgeous convolutions of {114} speech with the
delighted eagerness with which a fine woman trails her sheen of satins
and velvets.

[Sidenote: Topham Beauclerk.]

Dr. Nugent, a physician of culture, father-in-law of Mr. Burke, was
also one of the original members of the club--getting the
preferment--as so many in all times do get preferment--simply because
son-in-law, father-in-law, or nephew--to somebody else.  Another
noticeable member of the club was Topham Beauclerk, not by any means
the man a casual observer would have taken for an associate of Johnson.
He was courtly and elegant in bearing, a man of fashion, smiled upon by
such as Lord Chesterfield and Horace Walpole, and who traced his
descent back through the first Duke of St. Albans to Nell Gwynne and
Charles the Second.  He inherited by right, therefore, gayety and humor
and wit, and rare histrionic power, and Satan-ry to match.  Old Dr.
Johnson fairly languished in his admiration of the way in which Topham
Beauclerk could tell a story.  "It costs me fearful pains," he was used
to say; "but this fellow trips through with an airy grace that costs
him nothing."

Beauclerk was proud of his membership, and {115} brought his own share
of wit, of general information, and of cheery _bonhomie_ to the common
reckoning.  He married a certain well-known and much-admired Lady Diana
Bolingbroke--a divorcée of two days' standing--and treated her
shamefully; that being the proper thing for a fashionable man to do,
who was emulous of the domestic virtues of George II.  At his death,
with a large jointure in hand, she had peace; and Burke said, with a
humor that was uncommon to him: "It was really enlivening to behold her
placed in that sweet house, released from all her cares: £1,000 per
annum at her disposal, and her husband dead!  It was pleasant, it was
delightful, to see her enjoyment of the situation!"  Beauclerk was too
fine a fellow to think well of the domesticities; there was a good deal
of the blood of Charles the Second in him.  Over and over we come upon
such--men of parts squandered in the small interchanges of fashionable
life; perpetually saying slight, good things for a dinner-table;
telling a story with rare gusto; the envy of heavy talkers who can
never catch butterflies on the wing; looking down upon serious duty
whether in art or {116} letters; and so, leaving nothing behind them
but a pretty and not always delicate perfume.

[Sidenote: David Garrick.]

Another of the clubmen was David Garrick--not one of the original nine,
but voted in a few years after.  Dr. Johnson does indeed give a
characteristic growl when his name is proposed--"What do we want of
play-actors?" but his good nature triumphs.  Little Garrick was an old
scholar of his at Edial; and though he has conquered all theatric arts
and won all their prizes, he is still for him, "little Garrick."  A
taste for splendor and dress had always belonged to him.  In his
boy-days he had written to his father, who was stationed at Gibraltar,
"I hope, Papa, you find velvet cheap there; for some one has given me a
knee-buckle, and it would go capitally with velvet breeches.  Amen, and
so be it!"

That love for the buckles and the velvet clung to him.  When Edial
school broke up, he tramped with Johnson to London--the master with the
poor tragedy of _Irene_ in his pocket, and the boy with such gewgaws
and pence as he could rake together.  Perhaps, also, the tragic
splendor of Shakespeare's verse shimmering mistily across his {117}
visions of the future, making his finger-ends tingle and his pulse beat

But a legacy of £1,000 comes to the Garrick lad presently, which he
invests in a wine business, in company with his staid brother, Peter
Garrick, who looks after affairs in Lichfield, and who is terribly
disturbed when he hears that David is taking to theatric studies;--has
acted parts even!

And Davy writes back relenting, and sorry to grieve them at home; but
keeps at his parts.  And Peter writes more and more disconsolately,
lamenting this great reproach, and David writes pretty letters of
fence, and the wine business leaks away, and Peter is in despair; and
Davy sends remittances which are certainly not legitimate business
dividends, thus propping up the sinking wine venture; and before Peter
is reconciled, has become the hero of the London boards, with a bank
credit that would buy all their ports and clarets twice over.

And this wonderful histrionic genius, probably unparalleled on the
English stage before or since his day, so gay, so brisk--so witty
betimes--so capable of a song or a fandango, brought life to the {118}
club.  Nor was there lack in him of literary qualities; his prologues
were of the best, and he had the charming art of listening
provocatively when the great doctor expounded.

_Mr. Boswell._

[Sidenote: James Boswell.]

Another early member of the club, whom I think we should have liked to
see making his way with a very assured step into the Turk's Head, of a
Monday or a Friday, was James Boswell, Esquire.[7]  It is a household
name now, and will remain so for years to come by reason of the
extraordinary life which he wrote, of his master and patron, Dr.
Johnson.  Yet it was only a year or so before the formation of the club
that this jaunty Scotch gentleman, son of a laird, and of vast
assurance--having been a tuft-hunter from his youth--caught his first
sight of the great Doctor, in the little shop of Davies the bookseller;
and the great man had given a snubbing, then and there, to the pert,
but always obsequious Boswell; the future biographer, however, digested
{119} excellently well provision of that sort, and I think the Doctor
had always a tenderness for those who took his flagellations without
complaint.  Certain it is that there grew up thereafter an intimacy
between the two, which is one of the most curious things in the history
of English Men of Letters.  I know that hard things are said of Mr.
Boswell, and that every tyro in criticism loves to have a blow at the
well-fed arrogance of the man.  Macaulay has specially given him a
grievous black-eye; but Macaulay--particularly in those early review
papers--was apt to let his exuberant and cumulative rhetoric carry him
up to a climacteric which the ladder of his facts would scantly reach.
To be sure Boswell was a toady; but rather from veneration of those he
worshipped than desire of personal advancement; he was an arrant
tuft-hunter, thereby enlarging the sphere of his observations; but he
was fairly up in classical studies; had large fund of information; was
sufficiently well-bred (indeed, in contrast with the Doctor, I think we
may say excellently well-bred); he rarely, if ever, said malicious
things, though often impertinent ones; {120} his conundrums again and
again gave a new turn to dull talk; and he had a way, which some even
more stolid people possess in our time, of _baiting_ conversation by
interposing irrelevant matter, with an air of innocence that
captivates; then there was the pleasant conceit of the man--full-fed,
sleek, and shining out all over him--over his face, and his erect but
somewhat paunchy figure; all which qualities were contributory to the
humor and fulness and charm of that famous biography which we can read
backward or forward--in the morning or at night--by the chapter or by
the page--with our pipe or without it--with our knitting or without
it--and always with an amazed and delighted sense that the dear, old,
clumsy, gray-stockinged, snuff-ridden Doctor has come to life once
more, and is toddling along our streets, belching out his wit and
wrath, and leaning on the arm of the ever-ready and most excellent and
obsequious James Boswell, Esquire.

Such a book is not to be sneered at, nor the writer of it; perhaps we
think it would be easy for us or anybody to write such another, if we
{121} would only forget conventionalisms and have the courage of our
impressions; but if we made trial, I daresay we should find that to
forget conventionalisms is just what we can't and do not know how to
do; and so our impressions get bundled into the swathings of an
ambitious rhetoric which spoils our chances and vulgarizes effort.  I
do not say Boswell was a very high-toned man or a very capable man in
most directions; but he did have the art of easy narrative to a most
uncommon degree; and did clearly perceive and apprehend just those
points and qualities which go to make portraiture complete and
satisfying.[8]  I do not believe that he stupidly blundered into doing
his biographic work well; stupid {122} blundering never did and never
could accomplish work that will meet acceptance by the intelligence of
the world.


[Sidenote: Edward Gibbon.]

I come now to speak of a more respectable personage--one of whom you
have often heard, and whose resounding periods, full of Roman History
you will most surely have read; I mean Edward Gibbon[9]--not an
original member of the club, but elected at an early day.  His life has
great interest.  He was the sole survivor of seven children; his father
being a Member of Parliament--very reputable, but very inefficient.
There were fears that his famous son would be a cripple for life, so
weakly was he, and so ill put together; but growing stronger, he went
to Oxford; was there for only a short time; did not love Oxford {123}
then, or ever; inclined to theologic inquiry and became Romanist; which
so angered his father that he sent him to Lausanne, Switzerland, to be
re-converted under the Calvinist teachers of that region to
Protestantism.  This in due time came about; and it was perhaps by a
sort of compensating mental retaliation for this topsy-turvy condition
of his youth that he assumed and cultivated the pugnacious indifference
to religion which so marked all his later years and much of his work.
He had his love passages, too, there upon the beautiful borders of Lake
Geneva; a certain Mademoiselle Curchod, daughter of a Protestant
clergyman, lived near by; and with her the future historian read
poetry, read philosophy, read the skies and the mountains, discoursed
upon the conjugation of verbs, and upon conjugalities of other sorts;
but this the English father disapproved as much as he had disapproved
of Romanism; and by reason of this--as Gibbon tells us, in his
delightful autobiography--that "sweet dream came to an end."  It is
true the French biographers[10] {124} put a rather different phase upon
the story, and represent that while Mademoiselle respected young Mr.
Gibbon very much, she could not return his ardor.  Two colors, I have
observed, are very commonly given to any sudden interruption of such

Mademoiselle, however, did not pine in single blessedness; she had a
career before her.  She became in a few years the distinguished wife of
Necker, the great finance minister of France in the days immediately
preceding the Revolution, and the mother of a still more famous
daughter--that Mme. de Stael who wrote _Corinne_.

Though Gibbon lived and died a bachelor, he always maintained friendly
relations with his old flame Mme. Necker, being frequently a guest at
her elegant Paris home; and she, on at least one occasion, a guest of
the historian in London.  It was in the year 1774--ten years after its
foundation, that Gibbon was elected member of the Literary Club; he
being then in his thirty-seventh year and well known for his wide
learning and his conversational powers.  He was recognized as an
author, too, of critical acumen, and great range {125} of language;
some of his earlier treatises were written in French, which he knew as
well as English; German he never knew; but the first volume of the
_History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_ did not appear
until the year 1776--a good tag for that great American date!  That
first volume made a prodigious surprise, and immense applause.  Poor
Hume[11] (whose story waits), struggling with the mortal disease which
was to carry him off in that year, wrote his praises from Edinburgh.
Horace Walpole, who had the vanity of professing to know everybody
worth knowing, says, "I am astonished; I know the man a little; I could
not believe it was in him; I must get to know him better."

Yet Gibbon was not a modest man in the ordinary sense; never, except
when--very rarely--warmed into a colloquial display of his
extraordinary learning, did he impress a stranger with any sense of his
power.  He was short and corpulent; had a waddling walk and puffy
cheeks and a weak {126} double chin; with very much in his general
aspect and manner to explain the miscarriage of his love-affair, and
nothing at all to explain the Decline of the Roman Empire.  Withal, he
was obsequious, studiously courteous; had ready smiles at command; had
a mincing manner; his wig was always in order, and so was his flowered
waistcoat; and he tapped his snuff-box with an easy dégagé air, that
gave no warrant for anything more than an agreeable titillation of the
nerves.  But if an opening came for a thrust of his cumulated learning
in establishing some historic point in dispute, it poured out with a
gush, authority upon authority, citation on citation, as full and
impetuous and unlooked for as a great spring flood.

He went over to Paris with his honors fresh upon him; was cordially
received there; the Necker influence, and his familiarity with French,
standing him in good stead.  He affected a certain style too.  "I
have," he says, "two footmen in handsome liveries behind my coach, and
my apartment is hung with damask."  He loved such display, though only
the hired luxury of a hotel.  He had never a taste for the simpler
enjoyments of {127} English country life; never mounted a horse and
scorned partridge shooting or angling.  In a letter to a friend he
says, "Never pretend to allure me by painting in odious colors the dust
of London.  I love the dust, and whenever I move into the Weald, it is
to visit _you_, and not your trees."

It does not appear that he went frequently to the Turk's-Head Club.
The brusquerie of Johnson would have grated on him--grated on him in
more senses than one, we suspect; and the gruff Doctor would have
scorned his dilettanteism as much as his scepticism.  Gibbon took
kindly, though, to Goldsmith; but he hated Boswell honestly, and
Boswell honestly hated back.[12]

His letters were never strong or bright, nor were his occasional
literary criticisms either acute or profound; all his great powers were
kept in reserve for his _magnum opus_--the History.  For the quietude
he thought necessary to its completion he went again to the home of his
youth at Lausanne, and there, in sight of that wondrous {128} panorama
of lake and mountain, upon a site where now stands the Hotel
Gibbon,[13] and a few acacia trees under which the historian meditated,
the great work was brought to completion--a great work then, and a
great work now, measured by what standard we will.  To say that one
approaches the accuracy of Gibbon is to exhaust praise; to say that one
surpasses him in reach of learning is to deal in hyperbole.  Even the
historian, Dr. Freeman, who, I think, did much prefer saying a critical
thing to saying a pleasant thing, testified that--"He remains the one
historian of the eighteenth century whom modern research has neither
set aside, nor threatened to set aside."  Modern high critics sneer at
his large, ceremonious manner; Ruskin pronounces "his English the worst
ever written by an educated Englishman"[14] (the same Ruskin who found
a "mass of errors" under the sunshine of Claude).  But let {129} us
remember what burden of knowledge those grandiloquent sentences of
Gibbon had to carry; what reach of empire they had to cover!  Here be
no pigmies, predicating the outcome of little factions, no discourse
about the smallness of word-meanings; but vast populations are arrayed
under our eye.  We cannot talk of the stars in their courses as we talk
of the will-o'-wisps of politicians.  Rome marching to its dissolution,
with captive nations in its trail,[15] must put a lofty strain upon the
page that records her downfall.

Through all, this corpulent, learned, dainty, keen-eyed, indefatigable
little man, is cool--over cool; he has no enthusiasms but the
enthusiasm of knowing things.  No wrongs that he records seem to chafe
him; his blood has no boiling-point; his love no flame; his indignation
no scorching power.  A great, imposing, processional array of
sovereigns, armies, nations--of the wise, the vicious, the savage, the
learned, the good; but not a figure in it all, however pure or
innocent, which kindles his sympathies into a glow; not one {130} so
profligate as to make his anger burn; not one so lofty or so true as to
give warmth to his expressions of reverence.

Yet notwithstanding, if any of my young readers are projecting the
writing of a history, I strongly advise them to avoid the subject of
the _Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_.

_Oliver Goldsmith._

[Sidenote: Oliver Goldsmith.]

And now we come to another member of our club, who reaped far fewer of
the substantial rewards of life.----Who, with any relish for the
beatitudes of letters, has not tender reverence for the memory of
Goldsmith?  He was the youngest member of the club at its start, and
yet the thirty-four years he then counted had been full of change and
adventure: he had wandered away early from the beautiful paternal home
of Lissoy in Ireland; had studied in Scotland and in Leyden; had idled
in both; had been vagrant over Europe; had tried medicine, tried
flute-playing, tried school-keeping, tried proof-reading for the old
shopkeeper, Samuel Richardson, and had finally landed in a court not
{131} far from Johnson's, where he did work for the booksellers.
Amongst this work were certain essays which attracted the old Doctor's
attention by their rare literary qualities; and the old gentleman had
befriended the author--all the more when he found him a man who did not
befriend himself; and who, if he had only sixpence in his pocket (and
he was not apt to have more), would give the half of it to a beggar.  A
little over-love for wine, too--when the chance of a tavern dinner came
to him--was another weakness which the great Doctor knew how to pardon;
and so Goldsmith became one of the original clubmen; Reynolds, with all
his courtly ceremony, growing to love the man; so did Burke; but
Boswell was always a little jealous of him, and Goldsmith caught at any
occasion for giving a good slap to that sleek self-consequence which
shone out all over Boswell--even to his knee-buckles and his silken
hose.  I do not suppose that Goldsmith contributed much to the
weightier debates of the club, and can imagine him sulking somewhat if
he found no good opening in the troubled waters in which to feather his
dainty oar.  Again there was an {132} awkwardness, partly
self-consciousness, partly organic tremor, which put him at bad odds in
promiscuous talk; to say nothing of the irascibility which he had not
learned to control, and which sometimes put a stammer to the tongue;
hence, Boswell says, "poorest of talkers;" but around in his chambers,
with one or two sympathetic listeners only, and perhaps a bottle of
Canary flanking him, and with a topic started that chimed with the
emotional nature of the man, and I am sure he would have talked out a
whole chapter of a new _Vicar of Wakefield_.

But whatever the tongue might do, there was no doubt about the pen; we
find him even undertaking discourses upon _Animated Nature_, and
history--of Greece or of Rome.  Has he then the plodding faculty, and
is he a man of research?  No; but he has the aptitude to seize upon the
plums in the researches of others, and embody them in the amber of his
language.  He poaches all over the fields of history and science, and
bags the bright-winged birds which the compilers have never seen, or
which, if seen, they have classed with the gray and the dun of the
{133} sparrows.  His poetry, when he makes it, may not have so much of
polished clang and witty jingle as the verse of Pope; it may lack the
great ground-swell of rhythmic cadence which belongs to Johnson;
but--somewhere between the lines, and subtly pervading every pause and
flow--there is a tenderness, a suave, poetic perfume, a caressing touch
of both mind and heart which we cannot describe--nor forget.

Of the original club-men, Goldsmith[16] died first, in 1774, at
Brick-court in the Temple; he was forty-five years old, and yielded to
a quick, sharp illness at the last, into which all the worries of a
much worried life seemed to crowd him.  He had been plotting new works,
and a new life too; a getting away (if it might be) from the smirch
that hung about him in the Temple corridors, out to the Edgware
farmery, where primroses and hedges grew, and where there was a scent
upon the air, of that old country home of Lissoy:

  "I still had hopes my latest hours to crown,
  Amidst those humble bowers to lay me down;


  To husband out life's taper at the close,
  And keep the flame from wasting by repose.
  I still had hopes, for pride attends me still,
  Amidst the swains to show my book-learned skill;
  Around my fire an evening group to draw
  And tell of all I felt and all I saw.
  And, as a hare, whom hounds and horns pursue,
  Pants to the place from which at first he flew,
  I still had hopes, my long vexations past,
  Here to return, and die at home at last."

A stolid physician, called in consultation in those last days, and
seeing his disordered state, asked, "If his mind was at ease?"  Mind at
ease!  Surely a rasping question to put to a man whose pulse is
thumping toward the hundreds, whose purse is empty, plans broken up,
credit gone, debts crowding him at every point, pains racking him, and
the grimy Fleet Prison close by, throwing its shadow straight across
his path.  No, his mind is _not_ at ease; and the pulse does gallop
faster and faster, and harder and harder to the end; when, let us
hope--ease did come, and--God willing--"Rest for the weary."


_The Thrales and the End._

Meantime Dr. Johnson has been withdrawing somewhat from his old regular
attendance upon the club.  New men have come in, of whiggish
tendencies; he hears things he does not like to hear; the Americans are
at last making a fight of it; he is a heavier walker than once; besides
which his increased revenue has perhaps made him a little more free of
the Mitre tavern than of old; then he has made the acquaintance of Mr.
Thrale and of Mrs. Thrale--an every-way memorable acquaintance for him.
Mr. Thrale is a wealthy brewer, one while Member of Parliament--his
works standing on the ground in Southwark now held by Barclay &
Perkins, some of whose dependencies cover the site of that Globe
Theatre where William Shakespeare was sometime actor and shareholder.
Withal, Mr. Thrale is a most generous, sound-headed, practical, kindly
man, without being very acute, or cultured, or any way accomplished.
Mrs. Thrale, however, {136} has her literary qualities; can jingle a
little of not inharmonious verse of her own; reads omnivorously; is apt
in French or Latin; is full of esprit and liveliness, and is not
without a certain charm of person.  She is small indeed, but with
striking features and picturesque; easily gracious at her table; witty,
headstrong, arch, proud of association with the great Dr. Johnson;
really having strong friendship for him; enduring his rudenesses;
yielding to him in very much, but not so submissive as to take his
opinion (or that of any other man) about whether she should or should
not marry Signor Piozzi, when afterward she came to be a widow.  In
fact, she had in fine development the very womanly way--of having her
own way.

The Thrales owned a delightful country place at Streatham, a pleasant
drive out from the city, down through Southwark and Brixton and on the
road to Croydon; and there Johnson went again and again: Mr. Thrale was
so kind, and Mrs. Thrale so engaging.  At last they put at his service
a complete apartment, where he could, on his blue days, growl to his
liking.  Who can say {137} what might have been the career of the great
lexicographer if he had fallen into such downy quarters in his callow
days; should we have had the Dictionary?  Surely never the life of
Savage, with its personal piquancy, and possibly never the Boswelliana.

[Sidenote: Tour to the Hebrides.]

But Johnson was not wholly idle; neither the luxuries of Streatham, nor
the chink of his pension money, could stay the unrest of his mind: he
writes dedications for other people--shoals of them; he re-edits twice
over the great Dictionary; publishes _The False Alarm_; completes his
_Lives of the Poets_; and in the interim--between visits to Oxford,
Brighton, and Lichfield--he makes that famous trip, with Boswell, to
Scotland and the Hebrides; and never, I think, was so unimportant a
journey so known of men.  Every smart boy in every American school,
knows now what puddings he ate, and about the cudgel that he carried,
and the boiled mutton that was set before him.  The bare mention of
these things brings back a relishy smack of the whole story of the
journey.  Is it for the literary quality of the book which describes
it?  Is it for our interest {138} in the great, nettlesome, ponderous
traveller; or is it by reason of a sneaking fondness we all have for
the perennial stream of Boswell's gossip?  I cannot tell, for one: I do
not puzzle with the question; but I enjoy.

[Sidenote: Last days of Johnson.]

In the year 1779 his old friend Garrick died,--leaving nearly a million
of dollars, which came to him by that stage following and thrift which
had so worried the orthodox and respectable brother Peter of the
wine-shop.  The interesting Mrs. Garrick came, after a time, to a
lively widowhood on the Adelphi Terrace--looking out over what is now
the London Embankment, and with such friends as Miss Hannah More, and
"Evelina" Burney, and the old wheezing Doctor himself, to cheer her
loneliness and share her luxurious dinners.  The year after, in 1780,
Topham Beauclerk died; and so that other bright light in the Turks-Head
Club is dashed forever.

These, things may well have put new wrinkles in the old Doctor's
visage; but he still keeps good courage; works in his spasmodic
way;--dines with the printer Strahan; dines at the Mitre; dines at
Streatham; coquettes, in his lumbering {139} way, with Mrs. Thrale, and
goes home to the fogs and grime of Bolt Court.

Shall I quote from a letter to the last-named lady, dating in the year

"How do you think I live?  On Thursday I dined with Hamilton and went
thence to Mrs. Ord.  On Friday at the Reynolds'--on Sunday at Dr.
Burney's with the two sweets [daughters of Mrs. T.] from Kensington; on
Monday with Reynolds; to-day with Mr. Langton; to-morrow with the
Bishop of St. Asaph.  I not only scour the town from day to day, but
many visitors come to me in the morning, so that my work [_Lives of the
Poets_] makes little progress.

"You are at all places of high resort, and bring home hearts by dozens,
while I am seeking for something to say of men about whom I know
nothing but their verses....  Congreve, whom I despatched at the
Borough, is one of the best of the little lives: but then _I had the
benefit of your conversation_."

This is very well for a plethoric old gentleman of seventy-one.  The
next year, 1781, his friend and patron Mr. Thrale died.  This loss was
a grievous one for Johnson.  He had relished his kindliness and his
large, practical sagacity: indeed I think he had relished in him the
lack of that literary talk and allusion which so many of {140} his
acquaintances thought it necessary to throw out as bait for the
Leviathan.  But was the Doctor to enjoy still the delights of that
Streatham retreat?  It is certain that a year did not pass before there
was much gossip, in neighboring gossiping circles, that associated the
name of Johnson with the clever and wealthy widow, as a possible
successor to Mr. Thrale.  I do not think any such gossips of the male
kind ever ventured within easy reach of the Doctor's oaken cudgel.
There is no evidence that any thought of such alliance ever came into
Johnson's mind; but I _do_ think he had sometimes regaled himself with
the hope of a certain kindly protectorate over the luxuries and the
mistress of Streatham, which would keep all its old charms open to him,
and permit of a fatherly dalliance with the family there.  It appeared,
however, that the clever lady had other views; and did marry three
years after--very much to the disgust of her children--Signor Piozzi, a
musician of very fair reputation; did live a happy enough life with
him; did publish a book or two full of sparkle and many errors, and
some mischievously strong cuts at people she disliked; did live {141}
thereafter to a great old age, and carried roses in her cheeks amongst
the eighties; though I think these roses came from the apothecaries.
She was always fond of decoration.

In 1783 the Doctor had a stroke of paralysis, from which, however, he
rallied and was himself once more--dining with Dilly, with Reynolds, at
the Mitre too, with Boswell; he even projects new work--suggests the
formation of another club in the city, and more within reach: So
tenaciously do we cling, and so hopefully do we keep plotting!  Finally
in June, 1784, he takes his last dinner at the old club; Reynolds and
Burke and Langton and Boswell are there, with others he does not know
so well; he is feeble at this sitting and ill at ease; clouds gathering
over him, from which, however, there flashes out from time to time a
blaze of his old wit.

Thereafter, it is mostly Bolt-court--poor blind Miss Williams gone, by
this time, and also the sorry physician who had been long a pensioner
on him, and whose nostrums he had taken out of charity.  Of all the
faces that once welcomed him {142} there in their way, only his black
man Francis left.

Langton comes to see him; and Reynolds comes bringing more cheer,
though the ear trumpet is awkward for the sick man; Burke comes and
shows all the melting tenderness of a woman; Boswell, too--before he
goes north--bounces in and out, his conceit and assurance mollified and
decently draped by the sorrow that hung over him.  Little Miss Burney
rushes in to the ante-room and stays there hours, hoping some shortest
last interview with the great man who had said kindly things to
her--never thinking that he could not relish her gossippy prattle about
the court, and the royal George, now that a great, swift tide was
lifting him into the presence of another king.

[Sidenote: Death of Johnson.]

The old superstitious awe and dread of death, which had belonged to him
throughout life, disappeared in these latter days, and the gloom--with
its teasing vampires--was rarefied into a certain celestial haze that
hung over him tenderly.  He did not excitedly wrestle with the awful
possibilities the change might bring, nor work himself {143} into any
craze of pious exhilaration to bridge the gap; but was restful as a
babe at last, and so was led away tranquilly, by his own child-like
trust, over the threshold of the mysteries we must all confront.

[1] See note, Hill's Boswell, p. 304, vol. i.

[2] Blackfriars was not built until 1769, and the old Westminster in

[3] Pension granted, 1762: _Rasselas_ published, 1759.

[4] Joshua Reynolds, b. 1723; d. 1792.  His _Discourses_ published,
1771.  Life by Leslie, 1867.

[5] It is from this latter gentleman--whom I had the good fortune to
meet in the course of his visit to this country--that my information in
regard to the latter _status_ of the club is derived.

[6] Edmund Burke, b. 1729; d. 1797.  Editions of his works are various.
Best life of him is by John Morley (1867).

[7] B. 1740; d. 1795.

[8] There is, to be sure, a great deal of what the natural reserve of
most men would lead them to withhold.  But if this "free-telling" does
add some of the finer lights and most artistic touches to his picture,
and if he perceives this to be so (and have we any right to assume the
contrary?) shall we not credit it rightly to his book-making art and
commend it accordingly?

That his gentlemanly reserves are not of a pronounced sort may count
against the delicacy of his nature, but not necessarily against his
capacity as a literary artist.

[9] Edward Gibbon, b. 1737; d. 1794.  Dr. Milman's is the standard
edition of his History.  Bowdler's edition (1825) is noticeable for its
expurgations.  The work, through its translations, holds as large a
place in the historic _curriculum_ of French, Italian, and German
students, as in that of English-speaking nations.

[10] _Biographie Universale_; Article Necker (Mme. Necker, _née Susanne

[11] Hume's first volume of English History appeared in 1754--just
twenty-two years before the _Decline and Fall_.  Hume was about
twenty-six years Gibbon's senior.

[12] Boswell says in his Diary (1779): "Gibbon is an ugly, affected,
disgusting fellow, and poisons our literary club to me."

[13] The old house has wholly disappeared; the hotel covers a portion
of Gibbon's garden.

[14] Letter in the _Pall Mall Gazette_ in relation to Sir John
Lubbock's "List of Hundred Best Books."  Reprinted in _Critic_
(American) of March 20, 1886.

[15] See, for instance, account of Julian's march, and of the taking of

[16] Oliver Goldsmith, b. 1728; d. 1774.  Fullest and best _Life_, that
of John Forster.



We parted company, in our last chapter, with Dr. Johnson, of whose work
and career every educated person should know; we parted company also,
with that more lovable, though less important man, Dr. Goldsmith--of
whom it would have been easy and pleasant to talk by the hour; we all
know him so well; we all would have wished him so well--if wishes could
have counted.  And as we sidle into the Poets' corner of Westminster
Abbey--on whatever visit we make there--we put a friendly eagerness
into our search for the medallion effigy of Goldsmith over the door,
which we do not put into our search for a great many entombed under
much greater show of marble.  But Goldsmith's bones do not lie in the
Abbey; he was buried somewhere under the wing of the Old Temple
Church--the particular locality {145} being subject of much doubt;
while the memorial statue of Johnson--his body lying in
Westminster--must be sought for, still farther down in the city, under
the arches of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Garrick has what we might almost call melodramatic monument among the
marbles of the Poets' corner; Reynolds has abiding memorials in the
dashes of mellowed coloring and in the tender graces of those cherished
portraits, some of which belong to every considerable gallery of
England; Burke and Gibbon lie in quiet country places--the first near
to his old home of Beaconsfield; and the historian among those southern
downs of Sussex which look upon the Channel waters; his books may never
have touched us to tenderness; but he bows his way out of our presence,
with the grandest history belonging to the eighteenth century for a

_A Scottish Historian._

[Sidenote: David Hume.]

We must not forget that hard-headed man who wrote Hume's History of
England, who was born twenty-two years before the historian of Rome,
{146} and died in the year in which Gibbon was reaping his first
rewards.  He[1] was a sceptic too of even more aggressive type than
Gibbon--was, like him, somewhat ungainly in person, and though of
larger build and of coarser mould, possessed a cheery good humor, and a
bright colloquial wit which made him sure of good friends and many.
Like Gibbon he lived and died a bachelor: like him, he leaned toward
continental ways of living, and like him garnered some of his highest
honors in France.  Of course you know his History of England--where it
begins, where it ends--but we do not press examination on these points.
In most editions you will find--(it should be found in all)--among the
foreleaves, a short autobiographic sketch, written in his most neat,
perspicuous, and engaging manner, which is well worth the close
attention of every reader, even if he do not wade through the royal
extensions of the History.  You will learn there that David Hume was
born in that pleasant border land of Scotland which is watered {147} by
the Tweed, the Yarrow, and the Teviot--where we found the poet Thomson.
North of his boyish home stretched Lammermoor, and westward within easy
tramping distance lay Lauderdale; but in that day these names had not
been illuminated by a touch of the magician's wand, nor was his mind
ever keenly alive to the beauties of landscape.  Hume's childhood knew
only great stretches of brown heather, bounded by bare bluish-gray
heights, with the waves of the German Sea pounding on the rocky,
desolate shores--where stands the ruin of Fast Castle, the original of
"Wolf's Crag" of the Master of Ravenswood.

You will learn further from that precious bit of autobiography--which
he calls with a naïve directness, "My Own Life"--that he was younger
son of a good family; that he came to fairish education thereabout, and
in Edinboro'; that his family would have pushed him to the study of
law; but he--loving philosophy and literature better, and in search of
some method of increasing his means for their pursuit--wandered
southward to study business in the city of Bristol.  This was a place
of much greater commercial importance, {148} relatively, then than now:
but Bristol merchandizing presently disgusts him; and husbanding
carefully his small moneys, he goes across the Channel--to study
philosophy, while practising the economies of French provincial life in
a small town of central France.  A few years thereafter he prints his
first book in London on _Human Nature_; and he says it fell "dead-born"
from the press; but he is still sanguine and cheery; writes other
essays after his return from France--hovering between Edinboro' and his
old Berwickshire home; studying Greek the while, and for a year
serving, as secretary, the crazy Marquis of Annandale.  Shortly
thereafter (1746) began his official connection with the General St.
Clair, involving a new and pleasanter experience of European life.  On
his return, after three years, he goes to cover again in his old
Berwickshire home, where he elaborates the _Political
Discourses_--setting forth those broad views of trade and commerce,
which came to larger illustration later, under the pen of his good
friend Adam Smith.[2]


[Sidenote: Hume's England.]

In 1751 he removed from country to town--the true scene he says "for a
man of letters," and established himself in a small flat of one of
those lofty houses which still look down over the New City and the
valley gardens, and lived there comfortably--with his sister for help
mate--on some £50 a year.  He tried vainly for a professorship in one
of the Scottish universities, but was counted too unsafe a man.  As
Custodian of the Advocates' Library of Edinboro', a place which he
secured shortly after--largely through the influence of lady
friends--he came to that familiar fellowship with books which prompted
him to the making of his History of England.  He does not begin at the
beginning: he tells of the Stuarts first; then goes back to the Tudors;
and then back of these to the dull (dull to him and dull to us)
Anglo-saxon start point: Stubbs and Freeman had not in that {150} day
made their explorative forays and set up their scaffoldings.

Hume's ambition was high and sensitive: he was intensely disappointed
with the reception of the earlier volumes of his history.  "I was
discouraged," he says, "and had not the war been at that time breaking
out between France and England, I had certainly retired to some
provincial town of the former kingdom, have changed my name, and never
more have returned to my native country."

But his writings had qualities which were sure in the end to provoke
the reading and discussion of them by thoughtful men and women.  He is
known wider than he thinks; his books have been translated; Montesquieu
has corresponded with him; so has a certain Mme. de Boufflers--a pet of
the Paris salons--who has written gushingly of her admiration; and the
stolid, good-humored, cool-blooded Hume has responded in his awkward
manner; other missives, with growing confidences have passed; she
always clever, and witty and full of adulation; and he clumsy and
clever, and with such tenderness as an elephant might show toward {151}
a gazelle.  And the shining side of life opens bewitchingly upon him
when he goes to Paris in 1763 as an attaché to the Embassy of Lord

[Sidenote: Hume in Paris.]

In place of Scotch kerseys, his square, massive figure is set off with
the golden broidery of a diplomat.  His reputation as a philosopher and
as a historian had been confirmed by all the literary magnates of
Paris; and the queens of society in that gay capital, Mme. de Boufflers
among them, pounced upon the big Scotch David, to be led away through
the pretty martyrdoms of the salon.  And he bore it bravely; he had
feared, indeed, that his inaptitudes and inexperience would have made
such a life irksome to one of his quiet habits; but he good-humoredly
and complacently accepted the sacrifice and came to love the
intoxicating incense.  Sterne, who happened in Paris in those days,
says that Hume was the lion of the city; no assemblage was complete
without his presence.  Yet he did not lose his cool philosophic poise.
He carried his good humor everywhere, and an indifference that made him
engaging; if arrows of Cupid were launched at him, they did not pierce
through the wrappings of his thick Scotch phlegm.


Mme. d'Épinay tells a good story of these times about his taking part
in some tableau where he was to personate an Eastern sovereign, seated
between two beautiful Circassian damsels, to whom he was expected to
show devotional assiduities of speech.  But the frigid philosopher,
banked in between those feminine piles of silk and jewels, only rubs
his hands, slaps his knees, purses up his mouth, and says over and
over, in his inconsequent French,--"Eh bien, Mesdemoiselles, vous
voilà! vous voilà donc!  Eh bien, nous voici!"  Whereat we may be sure
that his pretty companions let fall slily a disparaging "_qu'il est
béte!_"--As if the man who had traced to their ultimate issues the
subtleties of the _Principles of Morals_ could parry and thrust with
the pretty conversational foils of a Pompadour!

[Sidenote: David Hume.]

It chanced that by the unexpected withdrawal of Lord Hertford, Hume was
for a time chief of the Embassy, and for the first and last time (in so
full a sense) did a historian of England thus become British Ambassador
to the Court of France.  But Hume does not love the English or England;
he resents their neglect of him; he never {153} forgets that he is a
Scotsman; it twangs in his speech; it twangs louder in his heart; he
would like to live in that pleasant country of France:--"They are all
kind to me here," he says; "but not one of a thousand in all England
would care a penny's worth if I broke my neck to-morrow."  And though
his reputation is now largely upon the growth at home, still he is not
pleasantly _lié_ with the masters.  Somewhat later, when by another
unexpected good turn he is made Under-Secretary of State and has
official position in London, he writes to Dr. Blair, of Edinboro', who
has offered to give him a letter to Bishop Percy--"I thank you, but it
would be impracticable for me to cultivate his friendship, as men of
letters have here no place of rendezvous; and are indeed sunk and
forgot in the general torrent of the world."  And yet this was at a
date (1763), when the Turk's Head gathering was all alive, when Sterne
had recently published the last volume of his _Tristram_; when poor
Smollett[3] (of {154} _Roderick Random_ fame) has won success by a
flimsy, but popular continuation of Hume's History; when the _Vicar of
Wakefield_ was fresh (though as yet unprinted); when Mason and Gray and
Warburton and Johnson were all sounding their trumpets.  With such
feelings of alienation it is not strange that Hume did not nestle into
the hearts of great Londoners as he had nestled into the good-will of

Under the influences of Mme. de Boufflers he tried to make a home in
England for that strange creature, Rousseau, who had become an exile,
and who brought with him--to the torment of Hume--all his
eccentricities, his peevishness, his inhuman vanities, his abnormal
sensitiveness, his wild jealousies, and his exaltations of genius.
These things work a rupture between the two in the end--as they should
and ought to do,--and the next good sight we have of the Scotch
philosopher is in a new home of his own (1772), which he has built in
the new part of Edinboro'.  Twenty odd years before he had lived in the
old city on an income of £50 a year; and now he lives in the new with
an income of £1,000 a year.  In {155} the old times he had hardly
secured place as Custodian of the mouldy Library of the Advocates; now
he is the marked potentate in the literary world of Scotland.  Stanch
Presbyterians do indeed look at him askance, and shake their heads at
his uncanny beliefs, or rather lack of beliefs.  Old nurses put
hobgoblin wings upon him to frighten good children; but he has stanch,
loving friends among the best and the clearest sighted.  Dr. Blair is
his friend; excellent Dr. Robertson is his friend; his good nature, his
kindness of heart, his rectitude of life, his intellectual charities,
won even those who shuddered at his disbeliefs; that sceptical
miasma--born in his blood--and harmful to many (as it was to himself),
seemed to lose its malarious taint in the large, free, intellectual
atmosphere in which the philosopher lived.  Honest doubts were then,
and always will be, better than dishonest beliefs; just as honest
beliefs are a thousand fold better than dishonest doubts.

[Sidenote: Death of Hume.]

It was in our year of 1776--when his reputation was brightening and
widening month by month, that David Hume, the author of the first
scholarly History of England, died, and was buried {156} on a shoulder
of the Calton Hill, from which one may look eastward across the valley
(where lies Holyrood Palace) to the Salisbury Crags on the left and to
the Castle Rock on the right.

It is probable that his History will long hold place on our library
shelves; its style might almost be counted a model historic style--if
we were to have models (of which the wisdom is doubtful).  It is clear,
it is precise, it is perspicuous, it is neat to a fault.  It might
almost be called a reticent style, in its neglect of those wrappings of
wordy illustration and amplification which so many historians employ.
He makes us see his meaning as if we looked through crystal; and if the
crystal is toned by his prejudices--as it is and very largely--it is
altogether free from the impertinent decorative arabesques of the
rhetorician.  Many of the periods of which he gives the record, have
had new light thrown upon them by the searching inquiries of late days.
Old reputations with which he dealt reverently have suffered collapse;
political horizons which were limited and gave smallness consequence,
have widened; but for good, straightforward, lucid, {157} logical
setting forth of the main facts of which he undertook the record, Hume
will long remain the reference book.  There will be never a time when
lovers of good literature will not be attracted by his pathetic picture
of the career of Charles I.; and never a time when the judicious reader
will accept it as altogether worthy of trust.

The life of the historian--by Dr. Huxley--is rather a history of his
philosophy than of his life; in which the eminent scientist--with due
apology for intrusion upon literary ground--sets his logic to an easy
canter all around the soberer paces of the great Scotch
charger--showing nice agreement in the paces of the two, and commending
and illustrating the metaphysics of the Historian, with a pretty
fanfaronade of Exposition and Applause.

_A Pair of Poets._

[Sidenote: Two poets.]

Were it only to change the current of our talk, I bring now a brace of
poets to your notice; not well paired indeed, as you will find: but
each one in his own way giving us music that strongly {158} contrasts
with _The Deserted Village_, and the ponderous Satires of Johnson.

[Sidenote: Shenstone.]

Shenstone[4] is a name not very much known--not very much worth
knowing: he was a big, somewhat scholarly, fastidious, indolent,
rhyme-haunted man, who had studied at Oxford, and who, when the muses
were buzzing about his ears, came into possession of a pretty farm in
that bit of Shropshire which (by queer English fashion) is planted
within the northern borders of Worcestershire; and it was there that he
wrote--what is typical of all that he ever wrote, and what has his
current and favorite sing-song in it:--

  "Since Phyllis vouchsafed me a look
    I never once dreamt of my vine.
  May I lose both my pipe and my crook
    If I knew of a kid that was mine!
  I prized every hour that went by
    Beyond all that had pleased me before;
  But now they are past, and I sigh;
    And I grieve that I prized them no more."

And again--

  "When forced the fair nymph to forego
    What anguish I felt at my heart!


  Yet I thought--but it might not be so--
    'Twas with pain that she saw me depart.
  She gazed as I slowly withdrew.
    My path I could hardly discern;
  So sweetly she bade me Adieu
    I thought that she bade me return!"

What should we think of that if we encountered it fresh in a corner of
one of our Sunday newspapers?  We should hardly reckon its author among
our boasted treasures; yet Burns says "his elegies do honor to our
language," and a great deal of the same guileless tintinnabulum did
have its admirers all over England a century ago; and some of
Shenstone's pretty wares have come drifting down on the wings of albums
and anthologies fairly into our day.

Yet I should rather have encountered him in his fields, than in his
garret; for he made those fields very beautiful.  He was a bad farmer,
to be sure; and sacrificed turnips to marigolds; and wheat to primroses
and daisies, fast as the season went round; but his home at Leasowes
was a place worth visiting for its charming graces of every rural sort;
even our staid John Adams, when he was in England in those days,
looking after American {160} colonial interests--must needs coach it in
company with Jefferson from Cirencester to Leasowes, for a sight of
this charming homestead.  Goldsmith too gave its beauties the
embalmment of his language; and Dr. Johnson sat down upon it, with the
weight of his ponderous sentences.  One echo more we will have of him,
as it comes fresh from his pet paradise of that corner of
Shropshire--and certainly carrying a honeyed rhythmic flow:--

  "My banks they are furnished with bees,
    Whose murmur invites one to sleep;
  My grottoes are shaded with trees,
    And my hills are white over with sheep.
  I seldom have met with a loss,
    Such health do my fountains bestow;
  My fountains all bordered with moss
    Where the hare-bells and violets grow."

[Sidenote: William Collins.]

William Collins[5] was a man of a totally different stamp--better worth
your knowing--yet maybe with the general public not so well known.
{161} There is the chink of true and rare poetic metal in his verse,
and it is fused by an imagination capable of intense heat and wonderful
flame.  He was only a hatter's boy from Chichester, in the South of
England; was at Oxford for a while, and left there in a huff--though
securing a degree, 1743; afterward went to London; wrote and printed
some odes, which he knew were better than most current poetry, but
which nobody bought or read.  He sulked under that neglect, and his
rage ran--sometimes to verse--sometimes to drink; he had known Thomson
and Johnson, and both befriended him; but the world did not; indeed he
never met the world half way; the poetic phrenzy in him so fined his
sensibilities that he could not and would not put out a feeling hand
for promiscuous greetings.  Poverty, too, came in the wake of his
poetic cultures, to aggravate his mental inaptitudes and his moral
distractions--all ending at last in a mad-house.  He was not, to be
sure, continuously under restraint--such terrific restraints as
belonged to treatment of the insane in that day; but for a half dozen
or more years of the latter part of his life--wandering all
awry--saying {162} weak and pointless things, in place of the odes
which had coruscated under his fine fancy; lingering about his
childhood's home; stealing under the cathedral vaults of Chichester
(where his body rests now), and lifting up a vacant and wild treble of
sound in dreary sing-song to mingle with the music from the choir.

There are accomplished critics who insist that the odes of Collins
carry in them the finest and the loftiest strains which go to marry the
music of the nineteenth century poets to the music of the days of
Elizabeth.  Certain it is, that he loomed far above the ding-dong of
such as Shenstone--that he scorned the classic trammels of the empire
of Pope--certain that there were fires in him which were lighted by
poets who lived before the time of the Stuarts, and which gave
foretaste and promise of the freedom and the graces that shine

I cannot quote better to show his quality than {163} from that "Ode to
Evening" which is so often cited:--

  "For when thy folding star arising, shows
  His paly circlet at his warning lamp,
    The fragrant hours and elves
    Who slept in flowers the day,

  "And many a nymph who wreathes her brows with
  And sheds the freshning dew, and, lovelier still,
    The pensive pleasures sweet,
    Prepare thy shadowy car.

  "Then lead, calm votress, where some sheety lake
  Cheers the lone heath, or some time hallowed pile,
    Or upland fallows gray
    Reflect its last cool gleam.

  "But when chill, blustering winds or driving rain
  Forbid my willing feet, be mine the hut
    That from the mountain's side,
    Views wilds and swelling floods,

  "And hamlets brown and dim discovered spires,
  And hears their simple bell, and marks o'er all
    Thy dewy fingers draw
    The gradual dusky veil."

This is poetry that goes without help of rhyme; even its halts are big
with invitations to the "upland fallows gray," and to the "pensive
pleasures sweet."  Swinburne says, with piquancy and truth, {164}
"Corot, on canvas, might have signed the 'Ode to Evening.'"

Dr. Johnson, who was a strong friend of Collins, tells us, in his
_Lives of the Poets_, that he died in 1756; and that story is repeated
by most early biographies; the truth is, however, that after that date
he was living--only a sort of death in life, under the care of his
sister at Chichester; and it was not until 1759, when--his moral and
physical wreck complete--the end came.

_Miss Burney._

[Sidenote: Miss Burney.]

We have next to bring to your notice, a clever, somewhat frisky,
_débonnaire_ young person of the other sex, whom you should know--whom
perhaps you do know; I mean Miss Frances Burney.[7]  You will remember
that we have encountered her once before pushing her kindly way into
old Dr. Johnson's ante-room when he was near to death.  The old
gentleman had known intimately her {165} father, Dr. Burney, and had
always shown for her a strong attachment; so did a great many of Dr.
Burney's acquaintances, Garrick among them and Burke; and it was
probably from such men and their talk that she caught the literary bee
in her bonnet and wrote her famous story of _Evelina_.  You should read
that story--whatever you may do with _Cecilia_ and other later ones--if
only to see how good and cleanly a piece of work in the way of a
society novel can come out of those broiling times, when _Humphrey
Clinker_ and _Tom Jones_ and the prurient and sentimental languors of
Richardson were on the toilette tables of the clever and the honest.

The book of _Evelina_ is, all over, Miss Burney; that gives it the
rarest and best sort of realism.  Through all her work indeed, we have
this over-jubilant and gushing, yet timid and diffident young lady,
writing her stories--with all her timidities and large, unspoken hopes,
tumbling and twittering in the bosoms of her heroines: if my lady has
the fidgets, the fidgets come into her books; and you can always chase
back the tremors that smite from time to time the fair Evelina, to
{166} the kindred tremors that afflict the clever and sensitive
daughter of old Dr. Burney.

The book was published anonymously at first, and the secret of
authorship tolerably well kept; she says her papa did not know; but
young ladies are apt to put too small a limit to the knowledge of their
papas!  It is very certain that her self-consciousness, and tremulous,
affected, simpers of ignorance, were not good to stave away suspicion.
It was not long before the world, confounding book and person, came to
call her "Evelina."

A pretty picture with this motif comes into her Diary: On a certain
morning, our Dr. Franklin--being then in London on colonial
business--makes a call upon Dr. Burney:--and in absence of her father,
meets the daughter: a big, square-shouldered man, very formal, very
stout, but very kindly, approaches her and says--"I think I have the
pleasure of speaking with Evelina."

"Oh, no," she replies, "I am Frances Burney," and he--"Ah--indeed!  I
thought it had been Evelina:" and there it ends, and we lose sight of
our broad-shouldered Dr. Franklin, with only this "Ah!" upon his lips.


She had a modesty that was vain by its excess, and was awkward when
caught unexpectedly or with strangers; in great trepidation lest her
books might be talked of--yet with her books and her authorship always
tormentingly uppermost in her thought.  Her Diary and letters are full
of them.  Yet she is attractive--strangely so--by her sympathetic
qualities; so responsive to every shade of sorrow or of joy; winning,
because so tell-tale of heart; and with a tongue that could prattle
gracefully when at ease; Evelina, in short, without Evelina's beauty or

I have read the book over again after a gap of many years--with a view
to this talk of the authoress, and find myself wondering more than
ever, how so many of great and commanding intellect should have so
heartily admired it.  Burke read it with most eager attention and
largest praise; old Dr. Johnson delighted in it, and declared it
superior in many points to Richardson (which for him was extravagant
commendation).  Even Mme. de Stael, some few years later, gave it her
applause; and the quick and swift-witted Mrs. Thrale was in raptures
with it; {168} and Mrs. Thrale knew a dunce, and detested dunces.
There must have been a deftness in her touch of things local,--of
which, I think, she was but half conscious; there was beside a pretty
dramatic art which found play in many pages of her Diary, and in all
she did and all she spoke.  For her third novel of _Camilla_, which
scarce ever comes off the shelf of old libraries now--where it survives
in deserved retirement--she received, according to the rumors current
in those days, the sum of £3,000; such rumors, very likely exaggerated
the amount; they are apt to do so--in all times.

Her Diary[8] is of special interest; particularly the portion which
takes one into the domestic life of Royalty.  For one of the bitter
fruits of her celebrity, was her appointment as Lady of the Robes (or
other such title), to the Queen.  The service indeed did not last many
years, but long enough to give us a good sight of the well-disposed,
{169} fussy, indolent, kind-hearted Queen, and of the inquisitive,
obstinate, good-natured King.

[Sidenote: Trials of the Queen.]

She was at the palace, indeed, when one of the earlier attacks of that
mental ailment which at last slew George III.--fell upon him.  She sees
the poor Queen growing wild with dread--disturbed and trembling under
those flashes of disorderly talk which smite upon her ear.  She watches
the King as he goes out to his drive on a certain fatal day;--hears the
hushed, muffled steps and the babel of uncertain sounds, as he comes
back late at night,--waits hour on hour for her usual summons to the
Queen's presence, which does not come.  At last, midnight being long
past (and she meantime having hint of some great calamity) goes to the
Queen's chamber; two other lady attendants were with her, she says; and
the Queen, ghostly pale and shuddering--puts her hand kindly upon that
of the poor little trembling Miss Burney and says "I am like ice--so
cold--so cold!"

"I tried to speak," says Miss Burney in her Diary, "but burst into
tears: then the Queen did."  And there was cause: for from beyond the
chamber--along the corridor,--came the idle {170} jabbering of King
George; and the intellectual power (such as there was of it) "thro'
words and things went sounding on its dim and perilous way."

I tell this not to test the reader's capability for sympathy, but to
fasten poor little Miss Burney, the author of _Evelina_ and _Cecilia_,
in mind; and to connect her service in the palace of St. James, in the
year 1788, with the first threat and the first real attack of the
King's insanity.  I am afraid we must set down, as one helping cause to
the King's affliction, the American obstinacy in maintaining their

Miss Burney shortly after, with a pension of £100, retired from the
royal duties, which had tried her sadly; and some years later
encountering and greatly admiring General d'Arblay, who had come over
an exile from France, in company with other distinguished emigrants, on
the outbreak of the French Revolution, she married him (1793), and gave
him a home that grew up out of the moneys received from her
_Camilla_--hence called by old Dr. Burney, "Camilla Cottage."

She survived her husband and a son (a clergyman {171} of the
Established Church), and lived to so great an age as to find all her
conquests in fiction over-run at last by the brilliant successes of
Miss Austen, of Miss Edgeworth, and the more splendid triumphs of
Walter Scott.  She died almost in our day (1840) and was buried in
Bath; but her best monument you can see without going there; it is her
book of _Evelina_ and her Diary.

_Hannah More._

[Sidenote: Mistress More.]

Over-fine literary people will, I suppose, hardly recognize Hannah
More--or Mistress Hannah More,[9] as I prefer to call her, in virtue of
a good old English, and a good old New Englandish custom, too, which
gave this title of dignity to matronly women--married or unmarried, of
mature age, and of worthy lives.

We must go into the neighborhood of that picturesque old city of
Bristol, in the West of England, to find her.  She was one of the five
daughters of a respectable schoolmaster in Gloucestershire.  Hannah,
though among the youngest, {172} proved the clever one, and had written
poems, more than passably good, before she was fifteen; and had
completed a pastoral drama, when only seventeen.  She was, moreover,
comely; she was witty and alert of mind, and had so won upon the
affections of a neighbor landholder, and wealthy gentleman of culture,
that a marriage between the two came after a while to be arranged for;
but this affair never went beyond the arrangement,--for reasons which
do not clearly appear.  It does appear that the parties remained
friendly, and that Mistress Hannah More was in receipt of an annual
pension of £200--in the way of _amende_ perhaps--her life through, from
the backsliding but friendly groom.  I am sorry to tell this story of
her (about the £200).  I think so well of her as to wish she had put it
in an envelope, and returned it with her compliments--year after
year--if need were.  However, it went, as did many another hundred
pounds and thousand pounds of her earnings, in the line of those great
charities which illustrated and adorned her life.

Her elder sisters as early as 1757 established in Bristol a school for
young ladies, which became {173} one of the most popular and favorite
schools of the West of England; and when Hannah, some fifteen years
later, went up to London, to look after the publication of her _Search
after Happiness_, one or two of the sisters accompanied her; and Miss
Hannah, who was "taken off her feet" by the acting of Garrick, was met
most kindly by the great tragedian--was taken to his house, indeed, and
became thereafter one of the most intimate of the friends of Mrs.
Garrick.  Dr. Johnson, too, was enchanted by the brisk humor and lively
repartee in these clever West-of-England girls; and we have on record a
bit of his talk to one of them.  He said, in his leviathan way: "I have
heard that you are engaged in the useful and honorable employment of
teaching young ladies."  Whereupon they tell the story of it all, in
their bright, full, eager way, and of their successes: and the Doctor,
softened and made jolly and companionable, says, "What, five women live
happily together in the same house!  Bless me!  I never was in
Bristol--but I will come and see you.  I'll come; I love you all five!"
One of the sisters wrote home that {174} she thought--"perhaps--the big
Doctor might marry Hannah; for 'twas nothing but--'My love,' and 'My
little Kitten,' between them all the evening."

Shortly thereafter Mistress More wrote her tragedy of _Percy_; nobody,
I think, reads it now; but Garrick became sponsor for it--writing both
prologue and epilogue; and by reason perhaps of his sponsorship it ran
some twenty nights successively; the tale of her stage profits running
up to £600, which would pay for a good many trips from London to
Bristol.  When she came to treat for the publication of a poem which
she wrote at that period--she being ignorant of rates,--it was arranged
with her publisher that she should receive the sum, whatever it might
have been, which was paid Goldsmith for _The Deserted Village_!

In those early years she was the lively one, and the gay one, and the
worldly one of the family; but with the death of Garrick, which came
upon her like a blow, life and all its colors seemed to change.  She
haunted London and the theatres no more; she went up to weep indeed at
her home {175} on the Adelphi Terrace[10] with the disconsolate Mrs.
Garrick; but all phases of life have now, for Miss More, taken on a
soberer hue; she teaches; she founds schools for the poor; she founds
chapels; she writes tracts; her forward and sturdy evangelical
proclivities involve her indeed in difficulties with the local church
authorities; for her charities go vaulting over their canons; whereupon
she relents and abases herself--and then sins in the same holy and
beneficent ways of charity again--canons or no canons.

As a worker she is indefatigable; she drives, rides, and walks over her
missionary ground near to Bristol, with the zeal of a gold-hunter.
There were those who questioned her wisdom and who questioned the
quality of her wit, but never one, I think, anywhere, who questioned
her goodness.  She wrote a novel called _Coelebs in Search of a Wife_.
Do you happen to have read it?  I hardly know whether to advise it, or
not; there is so much to read!  But if you do, you will find most
excellent English in it, and a great deal of {176} very good preaching;
and many hints about the social habits of that time--trustworthy even
to the dinner hour and the lunch hour; and maxims good enough for a
copy book, or a calendar; and you will find--what you will not find in
all stories nowadays--a definite beginning and a definite end.  I know
what you may say, if you do read it.  You would say that the sermons
are too long, and that the hero is a prig; and that you would never
marry him if he were worth twice his fortune, and were to offer himself
ten times over.  Well--perhaps not; but he had a deal of money.  And
that book of _Coelebs_--whatever you may choose to say of it, had a
tremendous success; it ran over Europe like wildfire; was translated
into French, into German, into Dutch, into Polish, and I know not what
language besides; and across the Atlantic--in those colonial days, when
book-shops were not, as now, at every corner--over thirty thousand
copies were sold.  Those of us who can remember forty and fifty years
back, and who knew anything of the inner side of an old-fashioned New
England homestead, must recall the saintship that invested good
Mistress Hannah More!  What unfailing {177} Sunday books her books did
make! and with what child-like awe we looked upon her good, kind, old,
peaked face as it looked out from the frontispiece--with soberly
frilled hair all about the forehead, and over this a muslin cap with
huge ruffles hemming in the face, and above this circumambient ruffle
and in the lee of the great puff of muslin--which gave place, I
suppose, to the old lady's comb--a portentous bow, constructed of an
awful quantity of ribbon and crowning that saintly, kindly, homely face
of Hannah More.

Do you remember--I wonder--that in the early pages of "The
Newcomes"--the Colonel tells Olive Newcome, how he used in his boy days
to steal the reading of some of Fielding's famous novels; and how
_Joseph Andrews_, in that forbidden series, had a very sober binding;
so that his mamma, Mrs. Newcome, when she observed the boy reading it,
thought--deceived by that grave binding--that the boy might be regaling
himself with some work of Mistress Hannah More's; and how, under this
belief, she took up the book when he had laid it by; and read and read,
and flung it down all on a sudden with such a killing, scornful {178}
look at the young Colonel, as he never, never forgot in all his life.

It was unfair of Thackeray to poke fun in this way at good Mistress
Hannah More!  We may smile at her quaintness--her primness--her starch;
but there is that in her industry, her courage, her mental range, her
wide Christian beneficence which we must always venerate.

We have run on so far, that we have no words to-day for the sturdy old
King George.  We turn him over to another chapter, when we will speak
too of Sterne--whom we had almost forgotten--and of Chatterton and of
some writing men who sometimes lifted up their voices in the British

[1] David Hume, b. 1711; d. 1776.  Best edition of his works edited by
Green and Grose, 4 vols., 1874.  For life, see Burton and Huxley.

[2] Adam Smith, b. 1723; d. 1790.  A Fifeshire man, and author of that
famous book--_The Wealth of Nations_; a good book to read in these
times, or in any times.  He may indeed say rash things about "that
crafty animal called a Politician," and the mean rapacity of
capitalists; but he is full of sympathy for the poor, and for those who
labor; and is everywhere large in his thought and healthy and generous.
I am glad to pay this tribute, though only in a note.

[3] George Tobias Smollett, b. 1721; d. 1771.  A Scottish physician,
author of various popular novels, of which _The Expedition of Humphrey
Clinker_ is, by many, counted the best.

[4] William Shenstone, b. 1714; d. 1763.  His works (verse and prose)
were published in 1764-69.

[5] William Collins, b. 1731; d. 1759.  Interesting memoir by Moy
Thomas, published in 1858.

[6] Swinburne says, with something more than his usual
exaggeration--"the only man of his time who had in him a note of pure
lyric song";--excluding Gray, and both the Wesleys!

[7] Frances Burney, b. 1752; d. 1840.  She is perhaps better known as
Mme. D'Arblay; though she married somewhat late in life, and after her
reputation had been won.

[8] The newest and most faithful copy of her _Diary and Letters_ has
been published by George Bell & Sons, London, 1889, 2 vols., 8vo.

[9] Hannah More, b. 1745; d. 1833.

[10] Near present London "Embankment"; John Adams was in that day
stopping at a tavern near by.



I have spoken within the last few pages of David Hume--philosopher and
historian; he was kindly natured, witty, serene, with a capacity for
large and enduring friendships; yet with not much beguiling warmth in
him; leaving a much accredited history, and philosophical writings
eminent for their ingenuity, acuteness, and subtlety.  Under our larger
and freer range of thinking to-day, it is hard to understand how he
became such a bugbear to so many, and was so unwisely set upon with
personal scourgings; even if a man's religious conclusions be all awry,
we shall make them no better, nor undo them, by tying a noisy kettle of
maledictions at his heels, and goading him into a yelping and maddened
gallop all down the high ways.  He died unmarried in 1776; his elder
brother John, for some reasons of {180} property--which he counted
larger than the historian's large repute--changed his name to Home; so
that there is not now in Scotland any representative of the immediate
family of this Scotch metaphysician, who bears his name.  I spoke of
Shenstone and gave some specimens of his rhythmic and tender graces;
but he never struck deeply into the poetic mine, whether of passion or
of mystery.  William Collins, however, did; he was not among the very
foremost poets certainly, but he gave to us tingling and sonorous
echoes of the great utterances of olden times, and piquant foretaste of
nobler utterances that were to come.  We had our little social brush
with the lively and chatty "Evelina" Burney; we paid our worship at the
shrine of Mistress Hannah More--and I tried hard to fix her quaint,
homely, kindly figure in your gallery of literary portraits.

She lived, like Mme. d'Arblay, to a very great age--eighty-eight, I
think, and was (with the exception of the last-named lady) the latest
survivor of all those whose lives and works we have thus far made
subject of comment in the present volume.  And the life and works of
these people {181} about whom we have latterly spoken, have had steady
parallelism--longer or shorter--with the life and reign of George III.

_King George III._

[Sidenote: George III.]

We ought to know something of the personality of this king who came to
the head of the British household while all these keen brains were
astir in it, and within the limits of whose rule the American
Revolution began, and ended in the establishment of a new nationality;
while the French Revolution too gathered its seething forces, and shot
up its lurid flame and fell away into the fiery mastership of Napoleon.

You will remember that George II. was son of George I., who inherited
through his mother, Sophia (of Brunswick), who was granddaughter of old
King James I. of Scotland and England.  George III. was not the
son--but a grandson--of George II.  His father, Prince Frederic, who
lived to mature years, who wrote some poor poetry--who was generous,
wayward, incompetent, always at issue with father and mother {182}
both--was a man nobody much respected and nobody greatly mourned for.
It was of him that a squib-like epitaph was written, which I suppose
expressed pretty justly popular indifference respecting him and others
of his family:--

  Here lies Fred,
  Who was alive and is dead.
  Had it been his father
  I had much rather;
  Had it been his sister,
  No one would have missed her.
  But since 'tis only Fred
  Who was alive and is dead,
  There's no more to be said.

George III. was severely brought up by his mother and by old Lord Bute;
taught to be every inch a king; and he was royally stiff and obstinate
to the last.  Two romantic episodes attaching to his young days belong
to the royal traditions--in which a pretty Quakeress, and that
beautiful Sarah Lennox--whose portrait by Reynolds now hangs in Holland
House--both figure; but these episodes are of vague and shadowy
outline, almost mythical, with issues only of the Maud Muller
sort--they sighing "it might have been," and he--not {183} sighing at
all.  It is certain that he accepted complacently and contentedly the
bride Charlotte, who came over to him from Germany; and alone of all
the quartette of Georges, made a devoted and constant husband as long
as he reigned.  But if he did not give his queen heart-aches in the
usual Georgian fashion, I have no doubt that he gave her many a
heart-ache of other sorts; for he was bigoted, unyielding, austere,
and, like most men, selfish.  He had his notions about meal-times and
prayer-time, and getting-up time, and about what meals should be eaten
and what not eaten; under this discipline wife and children grew
up--until the boys made their escape, which they did actively.  Yet
this old gentleman of the crown is considerate too--more perhaps
outside his palace than within: he purposes no unkindness; he indulges
in pleasant chit-chat with his humble neighbors at Windsor; has
sometimes half-crowns by him for poor favorites; cherishes homely
tastes; knows a good pig when he sees it, and can test the fat upon a
bullock with a punch of his staff.  He professed a certain art
knowledge, too--but always loved the spectacular, melodramatic works of
our {184} Benjamin West (in which, art-heresy of the time he had
excellent company), better than the rare sweet faces of Reynolds, or
the picturesqueness of Gainsborough.

He was English in his speech (though familiar with French and German);
English, too, in his contempt for the mere graces of oratory; loving
better point-blank talk, fired with interrogation points and
interjections.  Mme. d'Arblay, whose acquaintance we made, makes us a
party to some of this talk:--"And so you wrote 'Evelina,' eh? and they
didn't know; what--what?  You didn't tell? eh?  And you mean to write

Yet withal, Dr. Franklin--whose name is entered in the London Directory
of 1770, as "Agent for Pennsylvania," Craven Street, Strand--says of
the king: "I can scarcely conceive a man of better disposition, of more
exemplary virtues, or more truly desirous of promoting the welfare of
his subjects."  Ten years later, I think Dr. Franklin would have
qualified the speech.

But he never could have gainsaid the exemplary virtues of that quiet
household--where king and {185} queen lived like Darby and Joan--going
before light through the chilly corridors to morning prayers; with
early dinners, no suppers, no gambling, no painted women coming between
them.  Yet the king, as he grew old, loved plays and farces, and used
to laugh obstreperously at them, till Charlotte would tap him with her
fan and pray his majesty to be "less noisy."

He knew genealogies and geography; he could talk with courtiers about
their aunts and cousins, and stepfathers and mothers-in-law--which is a
great lift to conversation for some minds.  He knew all parts of his
establishment--who cleaned the silver and the brass; and what both
cost.  Like all such meddling, fussy masters of households, he believed
himself always right; prayed himself into accessions of that belief:
and on that belief went on pounding and pumelling the American branch
of his family into a state that proved explosive.  In short he was one
of those methodic, obstinate, sober, stiffly religious, conventional,
straight backed, economic, terrific, excellent men whom we all like to
look at, and read about, rather than to live with.


As a school-master he would have set the old lessons in Cocker (if it
were Cocker) and recognized nothing better; and if the sums were not
done, you would hear of it.  "What, what? not done? sums not done!" and
then the old red ruler, and the hand put out, and a spat, and another
spat.  This was George III.  "Those colonists not going to pay taxes,
eh? and throwing tea into Boston harbor?  What--what?  Zounds--punish
the rebels.  Punish 'em well!  I'll teach 'em.  Flinging tea

And so the war crept on; and all through it the great old stiff
school-master brandishing his red ruler and making cuts with it over
seas.  But the time came when he couldn't reach his rebels; and then
the long ruler, which was the national power, got broken in half, and
it has stayed broken in half ever since.

There is interesting record of the first approaches of that insanity
which ultimately beset the king, in Mme. d'Arblay's Diary, which we
have already mentioned; but he made what seemed an entire recovery from
the early stroke of 1788; and was king, in all his headstrong and
kingly ways, once {187} more.  It was in 1785 when John Adams was
presented to him as Envoy of the United States of America--not a
presentation, it would seem, that would have any soothing aspect.

Yet the old king received Mr. Adams courteously; and under the pretty
fustian of conventional speech the one covered his regrets and the
other covered his exultation.  But it was not many years before the
distraught brain--after renewed threats--waylaid the monarch
again--this time with a surer grip; his speech, his sight, his hearing,
all lost their fineness of quality and went down in the general wreck;
in 1810, that mad-cap, that posture-master, that over-fine
gentleman--so far as dress and carriage and polite accomplishment could
make George IV. a gentleman--took rule; but for years thereafter, his
lunatic father, in white hair and long white beard, might be seen
stalking along the terrace at Windsor, babbling weak drivel, and
humming broken tunes, leading no whither.


_Two Orators._

[Sidenote: Charles James Fox.]

Among the younger members of the famous Literary Club, some ten years
after its foundation, was a muscular, swarthy young fellow[1]--full of
wit and humor, a great friend of Burke's until the bitterness of
politics parted them; shy of approaches to Dr. Johnson, with whom he
differed on almost all points; a man known now in literary ways only by
the fragment of British History which he wrote, but known in his own
times as the most brilliant of debaters, most liberal in his politics,
and always an ardent friend of America.  This was Charles James Fox,
who could trace back his descent--if he had chosen--through a Duchess
of Gordon, to Charles II., and who was a younger son of a very rich
Lord Holland, owner and {189} occupant of that famous Holland House,
which with its remnant of evergreen garden (in whose alleys we found
Addison walking) still makes a venerable breakwater against the waves
of brick and mortar which are piling around it.

Lord Holland was over-indulgent to this son of his, allowing him, when
a boy on his first visit to Bath, five guineas a night to "risk" at
cards; and the boy took with great kindness to that order of training,
sending home to his father, when he came to travel (after a brief
career at Oxford) vouchers, and honest vouchers too, for gaming debts
of one hundred thousand dollars from the city of Naples alone.  And he
matched these losses, and larger ones, at Brooks's in London.  Old
stagers said that he was so sagacious and brilliant at whist, that he
could easily have won his five thousand a year; but he took to hazards
at dice that brought him losses--on one occasion at least--of four
times as much in a night.  It is a wonder he ever became the man in
Parliament that he was, after such dandling as befell him in the lap of
luxury.  Yet he was an accomplished Greek scholar; loving the finesse
of the language, and loving more {190} the exquisite tenderness of such
lamentations as that of Alcestis; his sympathies all alive indeed, in
youth and manhood, to humane instincts--the pains and pleasures of the
race touching his heart-strings, as winds touch an Eolian harp.  Study
of exact sciences put him to sleep; he loved the game of Probabilities
better than the certainties of mathematics--gambling away great
estates, and put to keenest endeavor by the tears of a woman; speaking
with his heart on his tongue--too much there indeed--carrying the
comradery of the clubs into public life; sharp as a knife to those who
had done him, or his, injury; but unbosoming himself with reckless
freedom to those who had befriended him; never un-ready in debate;
warming easily into an eloquence that charmed men.  But there must have
been much in the voice and eye to explain the force of speeches which
now seem almost dull;[2] the best elocutionist cannot read the
magnetism into them which electrified the Commons, and which made {191}
Burke declare him the "most brilliant debater the world ever saw."

Indeed we can only account for his great successes as an orator, his
amazing repute, and his exceptional popularity, when we sum up a half
score of contributory causes, which lie outside of the cold print of
the Parliamentary record; among these, we count--his Holland wealth and
training, his environments of rank and luxury, his picturesque bearing,
his _bonhomie_, his scorn of the rank he held, his accessibility to
all, his outspoken, democratic sympathies, that warmed him into
outbursts of generous passion, his fearlessness, his bearding of the
king, his earnestness whenever afoot, his very shortcomings too, and
the crowding disabilities that grew out of his trust--his
simplicities--his lack of forethought, his want of moneyed prudence,
his free-handedness, his little, unfailing, every-day kindnesses--these
all backed his speeches and put a tender under-tone, and a glow, and a
drawing power in them, which we look for vainly in the rhetoric or the
argumentation.  He was often in Parliament--sometimes in the Ministry;
but his disorderly and reckless life (gaming was not his {192} worst
vice) made his fellow-politicians wary, and put a bar to any easy
confidences between himself and the old-fashioned, sober-sided, orderly
George III.  We must think of him as an accomplished, generous-hearted,
impulsive, dissolute wreck of a man.

[Sidenote: William Pitt.]

If I mention Pitt,[3] it is only because you will find in your
historical reading, his name always coupled with that of Fox; but he
never went to our Literary Club; had little companionship with literary
men; yet he had keen scholarship--within a somewhat limited range--and
an insatiate ambition.  He was tall, spare, pale-faced, haughty, with a
contempt for sentiment, and a contempt for money; and of intellect--all
compact.  At an age when many are still at college, he had made amazing
speeches in Parliament; not profuse, not swollen with words, not
rhetorical--but clear, sharp, polished, strenuous, with now and then
the glitter of some apt and resonant line from his classics.[4]


His perspicuous and never-failing flow of language was due, not a
little, to an early habit of translating at sight, from Greek and Latin
orators, under direction of his father the Earl of Chatham--not taught
by this great master to give slavish word for word translation; but as
apt and polished and vigorous a rendering as he could accomplish,
without any surrender, or mal-presentment of the leading thoughts.  Nor
do I know any class-room exercise, nowadays, which would so test and
amplify a young student's vocabulary, or teach him better the easy and
forcible use of his own language.  But, to have its full disciplinary
power, it should be a loud, _ore rotunda_ rendering--not a {194} mere
lip-service; a launch, straight out from shores, into whatever waters
or wilds the heathen orators may be sailing upon, and a full showing of
their changing drift--whether in the eddies of a playful irony, or
under the driving sweep of their storms of denunciation.

Singularly apart from literary men, and most literary influences,
Macaulay has objected (perhaps with some reason) to Pitt's cruel
disregard of Dr. Johnson's needs and longings in his latter years; it
would have been a charming thing, for instance, for the son of Chatham
to put a Government ship at the service of the invalided philosopher,
for a voyage under Italian skies; but with Pitt, the large political
ends which were taking shape in his mind, and in process of evolution,
blinded him to lesser and personal or kindly interests.  A nod of the
obstinate old king would have counted for more than a tragedy of
_Irene_.  All his classicism was but a weapon to smite with, or from
which to forge the links of those shining parentheses by which he
strangled an opponent.  Nothing beyond or below the cool, considerate
humanities of the cultured, self-poised gentleman {195} (unless we
except some rare outbreak of petulance) belongs to this great orator,
who could thrust one through with a rapier held by the best rules of
fence; and who never did or could say a word so warm as to touch a
friend or make an enemy forget his courtliness.  Guiding the political
fate of England through a period of such strain, as demanded more nerve
and more discretion than any period of a century before, or of a
century thereafter--admired by all, and loved by very few, Pitt died
quite alone, in a little cottage on Wimbledon Common[5]--even his
servants had left;--died too of old age; an old age that grew out of
his tormenting labors and ambitions--before he was fifty.

_An Orator and Playwright._

[Sidenote: Sheridan.]

Sheridan is another name about which you have a better right to hear,
since he was a favorite member of the Turk's Head coterie, and is a
distinct literary survivor of that epoch.[6]  He was {196} son of
Thomas Sheridan, author of a life of Swift and of a now rarely cited
English Dictionary.  The son Richard, after studying at Harrow, and
afterward with his father, made a runaway match with a beautiful Miss
Linley; and he continued doing runaway things all his life.  A duel
which his sharp marriage provoked, gave him material for his early play
of _The Rivals_,--a play which has come to renewed popularity in our
day, and country, under the pleasant humor of Jefferson.  _The School
for Scandal_ is another of his comedies which makes its appearance from
year to year: and Charles Surface and Lady Teazle--no less than Mrs.
Malaprop, and Lydia Languish, are people who hang by, very
persistently, and with whom we are pretty sure to make acquaintance at
some time in our lives.

Mrs. Sheridan proved a much better wife than the conditions of the
marriage promised; and I suppose that she was, in a way, contented with
the ribbons and fine gowns, and equipages he {197} provided for her
(when he could); and with his unctuous, tender speeches, and his fame,
and an occasional tap under the chin,--and with his forgetfulness of
her when he went to the clubs, or the green-room, or the tavern--as he
did very often, and stayed very late.  Indeed "staying late," was the
ruin of him.  But this language into which I have fallen--not without
warrant--should not convey the idea that this man was a commonplace,
dissolute spendthrift; far from it.  His spendings were sublimated by a
crazy splendor of ungovernable and ill-regulated generosities, in which
his Irish nature bubbled over; and his dissipation wore always the
blazon of high social cheer; his excesses not sordid or grovelling, but
they carried a quasi air of distinction, and were illuminated by the
glow of his easy talk and the flashes of his wit.

His wildest spendings were always made without shamefacedness; but, on
the contrary, with a bold alacrity, that gave assurance of riches as
heaped up as those of an Arabian Night's tale.  That wife of his,
too--with her peachy tint, her faery grace, and her syren voice--seemed
{198} altogether a fit portion and adornment of the oriental profusion
he always coveted and always owed for.  His longings and ambitions were
pitched upon a high key--a key to which his social aptitudes were
charmingly attuned; and there was a time early in his career when it
was a distinction to have the privilege of entrée at his beautiful home
in Orchard Street, Portman Square, to share his sybaritic tastes, and
to listen to the siren who warbled there.

At twenty-four this favorite of fortune had written that play which
drew all London to see Captain Absolute; at twenty-five he had become
half owner of that great theatre of Drury Lane, from whose till the
hands of Garrick had drawn out a great fortune, and from which Richard
Sheridan was to draw, often--more than was fairly in it.  Meantime he
had inspired, and, in connection with his father-in-law, had composed,
the comic opera of the _Duenna_, whose success was enormous, and whose
bouncing bits of lyrical jingle have come quivering through all the
_couloirs_ of intervening days, to ours: instance,--


  "I ne'er could any lustre see
  In eyes that would not look on me.
  Is her hand so soft and pure?
  I must press it to be sure."

Then comes the _School for Scandal_, and--two years later--the
_Critic_; and always the steaming suppers and the singing of many
sirens, and deeper thrusts into the till of Old Drury; stockholders may
wince and creditors too; but who shall gainsay or doubt the imperial
genius who is winged with victory?  Garrick, whose days of conquest are
nearly over--is his friend; so is Burke, won by his wit, and by his
rolling Irish r's; Goldsmith acknowledges his sovereignty: Dr. Johnson
veils dislike of his radicalism and of his tirades against taxation, as
he welcomes him to the Club.

In 1780, while still under thirty, he entered Parliament (for Stafford)
and posed there for new conquests.  There came frequent occasions for
the interjection of his witty collocation of apothegms, lighted by his
brilliant elocution; but there was not much in his parliamentary career
to attract national attention until the debates opened with reference
to the Warren Hastings impeachment.  {200} These offered topics which
appealed to his emotional nature, and under the indoctrination and the
coaching of Burke, he made such appeal for the far-off, down-trodden
princesses of India as electrified the nation.  "Whatever the acuteness
of the bar, the dignity of the Senate, or the morality of the pulpit
could furnish [in eloquence] had not been equal to it."  This was the
verdict of so good a judge as Burke.  Yet, reading this speech--or so
much of it as the records show--or those others which followed,[7] when
the great trial had opened in Westminster Hall, we find it hard to
understand the enthusiasm of the old plaudits.  There is wit, indeed,
in whatever work warms him to a glow; old truisms get a setting in his
oratorio reaches which make them gleam like diamonds; but there is none
of that logical method {201} which wraps one around with convictions;
but in place of it a beautiful mass of rhetorical spray, that delights
and refreshes and passes--like a summer cloud.

Meanwhile the suppers abound, and so do the debts: that siren wife, who
had kept his accounts, and made extracts and filled his note-books (and
his flasks), passes away.  It is a shock that does not rally his
forces, but rather disperses them.  He is _lié_ in these times with the
Prince of Wales; dines with him; wines with him.  Who shall say he does
not troll with him some of the piquant snatches of his own verse?  As

  "A bumper of good liquor
  Will end a contest quicker
  Than justice, judge, or vicar;
  So fill a cheerful glass
  And let good humor pass.
  But if more deep the quarrel,
  Why, sooner drain the barrel
  Than be the hateful fellow
  That's crabbed when he's mellow."

He _did_ drain the barrel; he did fall from all his dizzy eminence; he
did die a drunkard of the grosser sort; without money, almost without
{202} friends.[8]  There was a great rally of coronets at his funeral,
and a pompous procession of those who went to bury him at Westminster.
You will find his name there, in the Poets' Corner of the Abbey, and
will give to his memory your wonder and your pity; but not, I think,
much veneration.

_The Boy Chatterton._

[Sidenote: Chatterton.]

We shift the scenes now for a new episode in our little story of
letters, although we are under the same murky sky of London.  George
the Third is just finishing the first decade of his long reign; most of
the clubmen of whom we have spoken are still alive, and go up, with
more or less of regularity, to pay their court to Dr. Johnson; but we
have our eye specially upon a pale, handsome-faced, long-haired lad,
not beyond the schooling age, who knows nothing of courts or clubs, who
has stolen away from the thraldom of a small {203} attorney's office in
Bristol, in the West of England, to come up to London and face the
world there, and try to conquer it.  He does not know the task he has
undertaken.  His brain, indeed, is full of fine fancies; he has the
poetic fervor in full flow upon him.  He has left a mother and a
sister--whom he loves dearly--his only near relatives; and he writes to
that mother under date of May, 1770:

"I am settled, and in such a settlement as I would desire.  I get four
guineas a month by one magazine; shall engage to write a History of
England, or other pieces, which will more than double that sum.
Occasional essays for the daily papers would more than support me.
What a glorious prospect!"

And, again, a few weeks later to his sister:

"I employ my money now in fitting myself fashionably, as my profession
(of letters) obliges me to frequent the places of best resort.  But I
have engaged to live with a gentleman, the brother of a lord, who is
going to advance pretty deeply into the bookselling branches.  I shall
have lodging and boarding, genteel and elegant, gratis.  I shall have
likewise no inconsiderable premium.  I will send you two silks this
summer, and expect, in answer to this, what colors you prefer....
Essay writing has this advantage: you are sure of constant pay; and
when you have once wrote a piece which makes the author inquired after,
you may bring the booksellers to your own terms."


Ah, how young he was!  If only those first literary dreams and hopes
could be realized, which nestle in the brains of so many--what
silks--what houses--what gold--what fame!  Yet this stripling not yet
eighteen could write.  I will give you a taste of his quality--in
verses shorn of some of the old words he put in them for sake of

  "The budding floweret blushes at the light,
    The meads are sprinkled with the yellow hue,
  In daisied mantles is the mountain dight,
    The nesh young cowslip bendeth with the dew;
  The trees enleafed, into heaven straught,
    When gentle winds do blow, to whistling din are brought.

  The evening comes and brings the dew along,
    The ruddy welkin sheeneth to the eyne;
  Around the ale stake minstrels sing their song;
    Young ivy round the door-post doth entwine.
  I lay me on the grass; yet, to my will
    Albeit all is fair, there lacketh something still."[9]

And again, of a different order, this--from the same long poem:--

  "O sing unto my Roundelay,
    O drop the briny tear with me,
  Dance no more at Holy day
    Like a running river be.


      My Love is dead,
      Gone to his death bed,
  All under the willow tree.

  Come with acorn cup and thorn
    Drain my hearte's blood away;
  Life and all its good I scorn,
    Dance by night or feast by day.
  My love is dead
    Gone to his death-bed
  All under the willow tree."

Well, this is the poetry of the marvellous boy
Chatterton[10]--fragments of which you will find in all the
anthologies.  That last tender letter to his sister, which I set before
you--so gleeful, with promise of silks and of brilliant essays, was
written on the last day of the month of May, 1770; and on the 24th of
August--not three months later--after three days of starvation enforced
by a poverty of which his pride would not let him tell, he took poison
and made an end of his career.

Few knew of this; few knew that there had {206} been any such
adventurer in London; fewer yet, knew what poems--brimming, many of
them, with fine fancies--he had left behind him.

A few months after, at the first annual dinner of the newly founded
Royal Academy of Art, Goldsmith,[11] being present, talked at table of
a certain extraordinary lad who had come up the year before from
Bristol--and had died the summer past--literally of starvation--leaving
behind him certain wonderful poems, which in their phrases, he said,
had an air of great antiquity.  And Horace Walpole being also
present--he never omitted being present at a Royal Society dinner, when
it was possible for him to go--overhearing the talk and the name, said
(we may fancy), "Bless me, young Chatterton, to be sure!--I had some
correspondence with the young man; nice poems--but apocryphal--poor
fellow; dead is he--starved, eh? dear me?--shocking--quite so!" and I
suppose that he took snuff and dusted his ruffles thereafter, and then
toyed with his delicate glass of fine old Sercial Madeira.  This was
like {207} Walpole--wantonly like him.  There had been a
correspondence, as he condescendingly admitted, that I will tell you of.

This Bristol boy, growing up in sight of Durdham downs, and the gorge
of the Avon and blue hills of Wales--with poetic visions haunting
him--had somehow come upon old parchments--perhaps out of the muniment
rooms of St. Mary's Redcliffe church, where his father had been sexton;
he had been captivated by the quaint lettering, and awed by the odor of
sanctity; and straightway imaged to himself an old mediæval priest, to
be clothed upon with his own poetic sensibilities, and in the rusty
phrases of the fourteenth century, to unfold to the world the poetic
yearnings and aspirations that were seething in the brain of this
wonderful boy.  The ancient Dictionaries and old copies of Chaucer
supplied the language; the antique parchments gave local allusions and
the nomenclature; and for inspiration and motive--the winds that blew
from over Chepstow and Tintern Abbey, and Caerleon, and whistled round
the buttresses of St. Mary's Redcliffe--supplied more than enough.  So
began {208} the modern antique poems of Thomas Rowley; not a new device
in the literary world; for Macpherson, whom we shall encounter
presently, only a few years before had launched some of the "Ossian"
poems, to the great wonderment and puzzle of the literary world; and
Walpole, still earlier, had claimed a false antiquity and Neapolitan
origin for his _Castle of Otranto_.  To Walpole, therefore, the eager
boy sent some fragments of his Rowley poems, which Walpole courteously
acknowledged, and asked for a continuance of such favors.  Poor
Chatterton, presuming on this courtesy wrote again, declaring his
dependent condition--apprenticed to a scrivener, and with mother and
sister dependent on him--but believing that with God's help, and the
encouragement of his distinguished patron, he might find the way to
other and better Rowley poems.

Meantime Walpole, through his scholarly friend the poet Gray, had come
to doubt the antiquity of Rowley's verse; and the plebeianism of this
correspondent has shocked his gentility.  He replies coolly, therefore;
expresses doubts of the Rowley authorship, and advises poor Chatterton
to keep {209} by his apprenticeship at the scriveners.  This sets the
young poet's blood on fire; he will go to London; he will win his way;
he will smite the Philistines hip and thigh.  And--as I have told
you--he did go; did work; did struggle.  But it is a great self-seeking
world he has to face, full throughout of thwarting circumstance.  Yet
courage and pride hold him up--hold him up for months against terrific
odds; at least he will tell nothing of his griefs.  Thus his last
pennies, which should have gone for bread, go to carry little
love-tokens to the dear ones he has left.  So lost is he in his little
Holborn chamber, in that great seething, turbulent whirl of London,
that he thinks--even as he mixes his death potion--they will never
know; they will never hear: "Gone"--that is all!  But they do know: and
for them it is to chant broken-hearted the refrain of his own roundelay,

    My love is dead,
    Gone to his death bed
  All under the willow tree.

It is not alone for reason of the romantic aspects of the story that I
have given you this glimpse of the boy Chatterton, but because there
was really {210} much literary merit and great promise in his work; in
some respects, he reminds us of our American Poe--the same disposition
to deal with mysteries, the same uncontrolled ardors, the same haughty
pride; and although Chatterton's range in all rhythmic art was far
below that of Poe, and although he did not carry so bold and venturous
a step as the American into the region of _diableries_, he had perhaps
more varied fancies and more homely tendernesses.  The antique gloss
which he put upon his work was unworthy his genius; helping no way save
to stimulate curiosity, and done with a crudeness which, under the
light of modern philologic study, would have deceived no one.  But
under this varnish of archæologic fustian and mould, there is show of
an imaginative power and of a high poetic instinct, which will hold
critical respect[12] and regard as long as English poetry shall be read.


_Laurence Sterne._

[Sidenote: A sentimentalist.]

Just two years before Chatterton died in Holborn, another noted
literary character--Laurence Sterne[13]--died in Old Bond Street, at
what were fashionable lodgings then, and what is now a fashionable
tailor's shop; died there almost alone; for he was not a man who wins
such friendships as hold through all weathers.  A well known friend of
the sick man--Mr. Crawford--was giving a dinner that day a few doors
off; and Garrick was a guest at his table; so was David Hume, the
historian; half through the dinner, the host told his footman to go
over and ask after the sick man; and this is the report the footman
gave to outsiders: "I went to the gentleman's lodgings, and the
mistress opened the door.  Says I--'How is Mr. Sterne to-day?'  She
told me to go up to the nurse; so I went, and he was just a-dying; I
waited a while; but in {212} five minutes he said, 'Now it's come.'
Then he put up his hand, as if to stop a blow, and died in a minute.
The gentlemen were all very sorry."  And all the sorrow anywhere--save
in the heart of his poor daughter Lydia--was, I suspect, of the same
stamp.  His wife certainly would get on very well without him: she had
for a good many years already.

[Sidenote: Laurence Sterne.]

You know the name of Mr. Sterne, I daresay, a great deal better than
his works; and it is well enough that you should.  A good many
fragments drift about in books of miscellany which you are very likely
to know and to admire; for some of them are surely of most exquisite
quality.  Take for instance that talk of Corporal Trim with Uncle Toby
about the poor lieutenant, and of his ways and times of saying his

"When the Lieutenant had taken his glass of sack and toast he felt
himself a little revived, and sent down into the kitchen to let me know
that in about ten minutes he would be glad if I would step upstairs.
'I believe,' said the landlord, 'he is going to say his prayers, for
there was a book laid on the chair by the bedside, and as I shut the
door I saw him take up a cushion.'

"'I thought,' said the curate, 'that you gentlemen of the army, Mr.
Trim, never said your prayers at all."


"'A soldier, an' please your Reverence,' said I, 'prays as often as a
parson; and when he is fighting for his king and for his own life, and
for his honor too, he has the most reason to pray to God of any one in
the whole world.'

"''Twas _well_ said of thee, Trim!' said my Uncle Toby.

"'But when a soldier,' said I, 'an' please your Reverence, has been
standing for twelve hours together in the trenches, up to his knees in
cold water, or engaged for months together in long and dangerous
marches--detached here--countermanded there; benumbed in his
joints;--perhaps without straw in his tent to kneel on, he must say his
prayers how and when he can.'  'I believe', said I, for I was piqued,
quoth the Corporal, 'for the reputation of the army--I believe, an't
please your Reverence--that when a soldier gets time to pray he prays
as heartily as a Parson--though not with all his fuss and hypocrisy."

"'Thou should'st not have said _that_, Trim,' said my uncle Toby; 'for
God only knows who is a hypocrite and who is not.  At the great and
general review of us all, Corporal, at the day of judgment (and not
till then) it will be seen who have done their duties in this world and
who have not, and we shall be advanced, Trim, accordingly.'

"'I hope we shall,' said Trim.

"'It is the Scripture,' said my uncle Toby, 'and I will show it thee in
the morning.'"

Now this beautiful naturalness, this delightful, artistic abstention
from all rant or extravagance, makes us wish overmuch that the whole
guileless character of my uncle Toby had been as {214} charmingly and
as decently set in the text; but unfortunately, there is a continuous
embroidery of it all with ribald blotches, and far-fetched foulness of
speech; nor is his coarseness--like that of Fielding--half excused by
the coarseness of the age; it is inherent and vital: Fielding, indeed,
is vulgar and coarse, and obstreperous--with the scent of bad spirits
and bad company on him;[14] but this other, though a parson, and
perfumed, and wearing may-be, satin small-clothes, has vile and
grovelling tastes that overflow in double-meanings of lewdness: even
Goldsmith, who was not squeamish, calls him "the blackguard parson."
It is not probable that Goldsmith ever encountered him; nor did Dr.
Johnson.  Beauclerk, Garrick, and Walpole would have been more in his
line; for he loved the glint, and the capital letters, and the showy
tag-rags of fashion.  And on the strength of his literary reputation,
which had sudden and brilliant burst, and of his good family--since a
not far-off ancestor had been Archbishop of York--he {215} conquered
and enjoyed, for his little day, all that London fashion had to offer.
I suspect he took a solid comfort in dying in so respectable a quarter
as Old Bond Street.  He was buried over Bayswater way, not far from the
Marble Arch, in the graveyard then pertaining to St. George's (Hanover
Square) church.  And there was a story, supported by a good deal of
circumstantial evidence, that his body was spirited away and recognized
a few days afterward by a medical student among the spoils of a
dissecting-room.  This story would horrify more than it did, had it
attached to an author whose humor had kindled love;--as if this man did
somehow deserve a more effective "cutting-up" after death than he ever
received before it.

The Rev. Laurence Sterne had--I should have told you--a church-living
down in Yorkshire, to which was afterward added, by adroit diplomacy of
his friends, an official position in connection with York Cathedral.  I
do not think the people of his parish missed him much when he was away;
and I am very sure they missed him a good deal, whenever he
was--nominally--there: painting, {216} fiddling, shooting, and
dining-out, took very much of his parochial time; and _Tristram Shandy_
and its success, literary and pecuniary, introduced him to a career in
London, and in Paris afterward--for he was always an immense favorite
with the French (instance Tony Johannot's illustrations)--to which he
yielded himself with a graceful acquiescence that, I am afraid, put his
parishioners more out of mind than the fiddling and the shooting had

I believe that he loved his daughter Lydia with an honest love; with
respect to his wife, one cannot be so sure; some of the most tender
letters he left, are addressed to a Mrs. Draper, who was his "dear
Eliza"--through a great many quires of paper.  He was a Cambridge man
and well taught;--of abundant reading, which he made to serve his turn
in various ways, and conspicuously by his stealings; he stole from
Rabelais; he stole from Shakespeare; he stole from Fuller;[15] he stole
{217} from Burton's _Anatomy of Melancholy_; not a stealing of ideas
only, but of words and sentences and half-pages together, without a
sign of obligation; and yet he did so wrap about these thefts with the
strings and lappets of his own abounding humor and drollery, as to give
to the whole--thieving and Shandyism combined--a stamp of
individuality.  Ten to one that these old authors who had suffered the
pilfering, would have lost cognizance of their expressions, in the new
surroundings of the Yorkshire parson; and joined in the common grin of
applause with which the world welcomed and forgave them.

But I linger longer on this name than the man deserves.  Pathos there
is in his stories, to be sure, that makes you wilt in spite of
yourself; but a mile away from those Bond Street chambers where this
pale, thin, silk-stockinged clergyman lives, and has his dinner
invitations ten deep, is that old scar-faced Dr. Johnson about whom the
beggars crowd; who can put no such pathos into his {218} cumbrous
sentences indeed; but the presence of that old, blind, petulant woman
in his house--who had waited on his lost wife--is itself a bit of
pathos that I think will outlast the story of _Maria_--and that should
do so forty times over.  I wish I could blot out the silk stockings,
the rustling cassock, the simper, the pestilent love letters, the
pretences, the artificialities of the man; they are oppressive; they
rob his words of weight.  Wit--to be sure, and humor--truculent,
sparkling--more than enough; for the rest, there is hypocrisy,
pretension--beastliness--untruth--all pinned under a satinquilted cloak
of vague and unreal piety.

[1] Charles James Fox, b. 1749; d. 1806.  Elected to club membership in
1774.  His great great-grandmother was the Duchess of Portsmouth; and
the Lord Holland so well known for his entertainments at Holland House,
early in this century, was a nephew of Charles James Fox.  Life by
George Otto Trevelyan.

[2] Instance, speech on French affairs and the question of making peace
with Napoleon--just then elected First Consul.  Date of February, 1800.

[3] William Pitt, b. 1759; d. 1806.  Younger son of the Earl of
Chatham.  He entered Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, 1773.

[4] Wraxall in his Memoirs (p. 344) cites special instance in the
speech, where he deprecates new alliance between North and
Fox--alluding to personal results to himself:--

  "Fortuna sævo læta negotio et----"

(leaving out the _mea virtute_) then pounding on the table, and adding
with oratorical vim

  Pauperiem sine dole quæro."

Here (says Wraxall, who was an auditor) he cast his eyes down--passing
his handkerchief across his lips--to recover breath only.  Certainly he
was grandly clear of anything like avarice; no great statesman of
England (unless Gladstone) ever thought so little of money.

[5] See Francis Horner article in _Edinburgh Review_, October, 1843.

[6] Richard Brinsley Sheridan, b. 1751; d. 1816.  Moore's Biography,
interesting but not authoritative.  Mrs. Oliphant's sketch in the
Morley _Lives_, is one of that lady's most charming books.

[7] It was on February 7, 1787, that Sheridan made his first notable
speech on the Begum charge in the House of Commons; the second, in the
impeachment trial in Westminster Hall, in June, 1788.  Others followed
of less interest toward the close of the trial in 1794.  The best
reports are of the speeches made in 1788, published at the instigation
of Sir Cornewall Lewis, in 1859.  See _Wilkes, Sheridan, and Fox_, by
W. Fraser Rae.  1874.

[8] A fearful account of Sheridan's condition in his last days is to be
found in the _Croker Papers_ (1884), chap. x.  It is embodied in what
purports to be a literal transcript of a conversational narrative by
George IV., J. Wilson Croker being interlocutor and listener.

[9] [OE]lia (Humphry Ward's version).

[10] Thomas Chatterton, b. 1752; d. 1770.  Tyrwhitt's edition, "Poems
supposed to have been written by Thomas Rowley," etc., dates from 1777.

[11] Foster's Goldsmith, vol. ii., p. 248.

[12] Dr. Skeat--as a philologist--is naturally severe upon a thief of
archaisms, whose robberies and arrogance did puzzle for a while even
the archæologists.

_Per contra_--there is a disposition among many recent critics to rank
him high among the pioneers of the "New Romantic" movement in England;
_Vid._ Rodin Noel--_Essays on the Poets_; also, _Athenæum_, No. 3073.

[13] Sterne: b. 1713; d. 1768.  _Life_, by H. D. Traill; a fuller one
by Percy Fitzgerald.

[14] Notwithstanding there was almost always evidence of gentlemanly
instincts at bottom; and under the scoriæ of a dissipated life and
habits the sparkling of a soul of honor.

[15] In a sermon read by Corporal Trim (p. 209, _Tristram Shandy_, vol.
i., London, 1790) are a good many strong points taken, without
acknowledgment, from one of Richard Bentley's sermons, preached at
Cambridge against Popery, on November 5th--shortly after the first
attempt of "the Pretender."  This strange similitude is not noticed in
Dr. Ferrier's summing up of Sterne's sinning in this line.



We had sight of George III. in our last chapter, and we shall catch
sight of him again from time to time; for he was a persistent lingerer,
and a most obstinate liver.  We had glimpses, too, of that cheery,
sunny-faced, eloquent, ill-balanced man, Charles James Fox, whom we
ought to remember as a true friend to America, in those critical days
when taxation was swelling into tyranny.  William Pitt, whom we also
saw, and to whom we would have been delighted to listen, would never
have won greatly upon American sympathies; too cold, too austere, too
classic, too fine.  Sheridan, on the other hand, would, and did,
conquer hearts everywhere; but unfortunately spending his forces in
great paroxysms of effort; one while the greatest comedist, and again
the greatest orator, always the greatest spendthrift; {220} and anon
the greatest debtor, who only pays his debts by dying.

Sterne covered better his deficiencies of money and of soul.  Who could
have put more or truer feeling into the story of the poor ill
lieutenant of the inn, whom Corporal Trim (at Uncle Toby's instance)
had gone to see, and of whom he makes report?  And uncle Toby says he
will fetch him home and set him afoot in his regiment.

"Never," says Trim, "can he march."

"But he _shall_ march," says uncle Toby.

"He will die in his tracks," says Trim.

"He shall _not_ die," says Toby, with an oath--which oath, says Sterne,
the recording angel washed away, so soon as it was uttered.  The Rev.
Laurence Sterne, it is to be feared, counted too largely upon the swash
of such tender recording angels.  Only a host of them, with best
lachrymal equipment, could float away poor Sterne's misdeeds!

We touched upon the sad life and fate of the marvellous boy,
Chatterton--not a great poet, but with an exuberant poetic glow within
him which gave new brightness to old Romanticism, and {221} which
kindled in after days many a fancy into flame--up and down the pages of
later and bolder poets.  Were his forgeries perhaps instigated by the
Ossianic mystification?

_Macpherson and other Scots._

[Sidenote: James Macpherson.]

I do not know if you have ever encountered the poems of Ossian.  They
are out of fashion now; I doubt if fragments even get into the
school-books; but some of my readers may remember in a corner of the
art-gallery of Yale University a painting, with two life-size figures
in it, by Colonel John Trumbull--a limp and bleeding, and somewhat
dainty warrior, leaning upon the shoulder of a flax-haired maiden; with
a little strain from Ossian's Fingal, in the placard below, to tell the
story.  The mighty Lamderg (who is the warrior) died: and Gelchossa
(the flax-haired young woman) "mourned three days beside her love.  The
hunters found her dead."  The picture is, I suspect, almost the only
permanent mark in America of the amazing popularity which once belonged
to the strange, weird, monotonous, gloomy, {222} thin poems of Ossian.
There are descriptions of mountain crags in them, and of splintered
pines, of thunder blasts and of ocean hoar; and there are crags again,
and bleeding warriors, and flax-haired women; harps, moonlight, broken
clouds, and crags again: I cite a few fragments:

"The oaks of the mountains fall; the ocean shrinks and grows again; the
moon herself is lost in heaven; but thou art forever the same,
rejoicing in the brightness of thy course.  When the world is dark with
tempests, when thunder rolls and lightning flies, thou lookest in thy
beauty from the clouds and laughest at the storm.

... "Rise, moon, from behind thy clouds!  Stars of the night arise,
lead me, some light, to the place where my love rests from the chase
alone--his bow near him unstrung; his dogs panting around him.  The
stream and the wind roar aloud, I hear not the voice of my love."

[Sidenote: Poems of Ossian.]

And yet these poetic flights, which, it would seem might be made up
from collective but injudicious use of the Songs of Solomon and the
mental exaltations which come from over-indulgence in tea drinking, or
other strong waters, were borne, on a swift gale of plaudits in the
latter half of the last century all over Europe.  Professors of
Literature (such as Dr. Hugh Blair) wrote {223} treatises upon their
fire and grace; such men as Goethe and Schiller were fast admirers;
Napoleon was said to be bewildered by their beauty.  Of course they had
French translation; and there were versions in German, Greek, Dutch,
Spanish, and Latin.  The Abbé Cesarotti, besides writing a dissertation
in favor of the authenticity of the Gaelic poems, gave an Italian
version (the favorite one of Napoleon) which in parts has a rounded
play of vocables that makes one forget all poverty of invention.  Thus
when Ossian says,

"Thy side that is white as the foam of the troubled sea, when dark
winds pour it on rocky Cuthon----" it is rounded by the Italian into
this pretty bit of mellifluence:--

  "Il tuo fianco ch' è candido come la spuma del turbato mare,
  Quando gli oscuri venti lo spingono contro la mormorante
  Roccia di Cutone----"[1]


And who, pray, was this Macpherson[2] of the Ossian poems, and what was
his claim?  He was a Scotch school-master; born somewhere in the upper
valley of the Spey, beyond the Grampians and in the heart of the
Highlands.  He had been at Aberdeen University awhile, and again at
Edinboro'; but took no degree at either.  He wrote and printed some
poor verse when twenty; followed it up with some fragments of old
Gaelic song, which commanded wide attention; and in 1762 published that
poem of Fingal--professedly by Ossian, an old Gaelic bard; and this
made him famous.  The measure and range were new, and there was a
torrent of flame and thunder and love and fury running through it which
captivated: he went up to London--was appointed to go with Governor
Johnston to Florida,[3] in America; remained there at Pensacola, a year
or more; but quarrelled with his chief (he had rare aptitude for
quarrelling) and came back in 1766.  Some English {225} historical work
followed; but with little success or profit.  Yet he was a canny
Scotchman, and so laid his plans that he became agent for some rich
nabob of India (from those pickings winning a great fortune
eventually); entered Parliament in 1780; had a country house at Putney,
where he entertained lavishly; and at last built a great show place in
the Highlands, near to his birth-place--which one may see to-day--with
an obelisk to his memory, looking down on the valley of the Spey; and
not so far away from the old coach-road, that passes through
Killiecrankie, from Blair Athol to Inverness, but the coachman can show
it--as he did to me--with his whip.

There were those who questioned from the beginning whether the Ossianic
poems did really come from the Gaelic;--Dr. Johnson among them, whose
contemptuous doubts infuriated the Macpherson to such a degree that he
challenged the doughty Doctor.  Johnson replied in what may be called
forcible speech:--

"Mr. James Macpherson, I received your foolish and impudent letter.  I
hope I shall never be deterred from detecting what I think a cheat, by
the menaces of a ruffian.  What {226} would you have me retract?  I
thought your book an imposture; I think it an imposture still.  Your
rage I defy.  Your abilities, since your Homer,[4] are not so
formidable: and what I hear of your morals inclines me to pay
regard--not to what you shall _say_, but to what you shall _prove_.
You may print this if you will."

Dr. Johnson carried a big oaken cudgel with him, when he travelled in
Scotland.  Hume, on the other hand, was, with Scotch patriotism,
inclined to accept at first, Macpherson's story of authenticity:[5] but
even he says of this author, with whom he came into altercation--"I
have scarce ever known a man more perverse and unamiable."  The
Highland Society investigated the matter, and reported that while there
was no trace of a complete poem in Gaelic corresponding {227} to
Macpherson's verse, there were snatches of Highland song and ballads
which supported his allegations.  The question is not even yet fully
settled, and is hardly worth the settlement.  Macpherson's own
obstinacies and petulancies put unnumbered difficulties in the way; he
resented any denial of Gaelic origin for his verse; he resented any
denial of his capacity to sing better than the Gael; he promised to
show Highland originals, and always made occasions for delay; withal he
was as touchy as a bad child, and as virulent as a fish-woman.  Nothing
satisfied him; one of those men whose steak is always too much done--or
too little;--the sermon always too short or too long.  He might have
been the "Stout Gentleman" of _Bracebridge Hall_: for he was a big man,
and always wore wax-topped boots.  Old Mrs. Grant too--who must have
been a neighbor of his, when she lived at Laggan--says that he had
habits (with theories about social proprieties) which "excluded him
from decent society."  Mrs. Grant was, however "verra" correct, and a
stickler for the minor, as well as the major virtues.

Macpherson left inheritors of his name, and of {228} his estates in
that upper valley of the Spey; and a daughter of his became the wife of
Sir David Brewster, the eminent scientist.  He was buried "by special
request" in Westminster Abbey; he had been always covetous of such
public testimonials to his consequence.  Yet if his book of Ossianic
poems was ten-fold better than it is, it would hardly give an enduring,
or a brilliant gloss to the memory of James Macpherson.

But whatever may be said for the Gaelic, it is certain that Scotticisms
were in those days winning their place in song and in tale.  Since the
day, in the first quarter of the century (1725), when Allan Ramsay had
sent out from his book shop in Edinboro', his rustic eclogue of the
_Gentle Shepherd_, a love had been ripening and growing for those
Scottish strains which were to find their last and unsurpassable
expression by and by, in the glow and passion of Burns.

Meantime there were hundreds along the Teviot, and the Esk, and by
Ettrickdale, who rolled under their tongues delightedly the Scottish
bubbles of song, which broke--now from a bookseller, now from a
schoolmaster, now from a Jacobite, {229} and now from a "stickit"
minister.[6]  I will give you one taste of this Scotticism of the
borders, were it only to clear your thought of the gloom and crags of
Ossian.  It is usually attributed to Halket, a Jacobite school-master,
not so well known as Ramsay or Robert Ferguson:--

[Sidenote: Logie O'Buchan.]

  "O Logie o' Buchan, O Logie the laird,
  They ha'e ta'en awa' Jamie, that delved in the yard,
  Wha played on the pipe, and the viol sae sma',
  They ha'e ta'en awa' Jamie, the flower o' them a'.

  "Tho' Sandy has ousen, has gear and has kye,
  A house and a hadden, and siller forbye;
  Yet I'd tak' my ain lad, wi' his staff in his hand,
  Before I'd ha'e him, wi' the houses and land.

  "My Daddie looks sulky, my Minnie looks sour,
  They frown upon Jamie because he is poor;
  Tho' I lo'e them as weel as a daughter should do
  They're nae half sa dear to me, Jamie, as you.

  "I sit on my creepie, I spin at my wheel
  And think on the laddie that lo'ed me sae weel,
  He had but ae saxpence, he brak it in twa
  And gied me the hauf o't, when he ga'd awa'."


Yet the poet, from whom we quote, died only three years before Burns
was born; but I think we can see from the graces of this modest
schoolmaster singer, that taste and accomplishment were both ripening
in those north latitudes for the times and the man, in which and in
whom, such poetry as that of Burns should be possible.

There was, too, another growth in those days in that northern capital
of Great Britain; Dr. Robertson had written his History of America and
his History of Charles V.  Adam Smith (the friend of Hume) was busy on
his _Wealth of Nations_ (published during the year in which Hume died).
Hugh Blair, the eloquent doctor, was delivering his lectures on
rhetoric.  Henry Mackenzie, the amiable Dean of the Edinboro' literati,
was writing his _Man of Feeling_ and his _Julia de Roubigné_,--books of
great reputation in the early part of this century, but with graces in
them that were only imitative, and sentiment that was dismally affected
and over-wrought; and there was Lord Kames, the _Gentleman Farmer_,
with a fine great house in the Canongate, who wrote on criticism, with
acuteness and taste.  You will not read any of the {231} books of these
last-named people; 't were unfair to ask you to do so; but they were
preparing the way for that literary development which will find
expression before many years in the columns of the _Edinburgh Review_
(established at the beginning of this century), and in the border
minstrelsy of Scott.

_George Crabbe._

[Sidenote: Crabbe.]

We step back into England now, to find two poets whose principal work
belonged to the closing years of the last century; and with echoes,
fresh and strong, trailing over into the beginning of this.  Neither
their work nor their lives belonged to the noises or to the atmosphere
of London.  City sounds do not press into their verse; but instead are
the sounds of sea-waves or of winds on woods, or of church bells, or of
the clink and murmur of the lives of cottagers.  The first I name to
you of these two is George Crabbe[7]--a name that {232} may sound
strangely, being almost unknown and unconsidered now; yet fifty years
ago there was not a reading-book in any of the schools, nor an album
full of elegant selections, which was not open for the story of
Ph[oe]be Dawson, or a glimpse of the noble peasant, Isaac Ashford.  But
all that is gone:[8]

  "I see no more those white locks thinly spread
  Round the bald polish of that honored head;
  No more that awful glance on playful wight
  Compelled to knee and tremble at the sight,
  To fold his fingers all in dread the while
  Till Mister Ashford softened to a smile."

This gives the manner and strain of Crabbe; it is Pope, but it is Pope
muddied and rusticated; {233} Pope in cow-skin shoes, instead of Pope
in prunella.

Crabbe was born in the little shore town of Aldborough--looking
straight out upon the North Sea; and the rhythmic beat of those waves
so stamped itself on his boyish brain, that it came out afterward--when
he could manage language, in which he had great gift--very clear and
very real; there's nothing better, all up and down his rural tales,
than his fashion of putting waves into his rhythmic measures--as you
shall see:--

  "Upon the billows rising--all the deep
  Is restless change: the waves so swelled and steep,
  Breaking and sinking, and the sunken swells
  Nor one, one moment, in its station dwells.
      *      *      *      *      *
  Curled as they come, they strike with furious force,
  And then, renewing, take their grating course,
  Raking the rounded flints, which ages past
  Rolled by their rage, and shall to ages last.
      *      *      *      *      *
  In shore, their passage tribes of sea-gulls urge,
  And drop for prey within the sweeping surge,
  Oft in the rough opposing blast they fly
  Far back, then turn and all their force apply,
  While to the storm they give their weak complaining cry,
  Or clap the sleek white pinion on the breast,
  And in the restless ocean dip for rest."


Fashions of poets and of poetry may go by, but such scenes on those
North Sea shores will never go by.  Crabbe was son of a customs' man,
of small, turbulent character, and the boy had starveling education; he
picked up so much as qualified him at length for surgeon (or doctor, as
we say) in that small shore town, but gained little: so, threw all
behind him--a girl he loved, and a town he did not love--and with three
guineas in his pocket, and a few manuscript poems, set off for London.
He was there, indeed, in the very times we have talked of; when wits
met at the Turk's Head, when Fox thundered in Parliament, when Sterne
was just dead; but who should care for this stout young fellow from the
shore?  One man--one only, does care; it is the warm Irish-hearted
Edmund Burke, who being appealed to and having read the verses which
the adventurer brought to his notice, befriends him, takes him to his
house, makes him know old Dr. Johnson; and his first book is launched
and talked of under their patronage.  Then this great friend Burke
conspires religiously with the Bishop of Norwich to plant the poet in
the Church.  Why not?  He has some Latin; he {235} means well, and can
write a sermon.  So we find him returned to that wild North Sea shore
with a little church to feed, and the church people, in their turn, to
feed him.  But the arrangement does not run smoothly; those verses of
his, unlike most rural verse, have shown all the darker colors of
peasant life; if full of sympathy, they were full of bitter, homely
truth.  The muck, the mire, the griefs, the crimes, the unthrift, the
desolation, have given sombre tint to his village pictures; perhaps
those shore people resent it; perhaps he is incapable of the cheeriness
which should brighten charity; at any rate he goes away under private
preferment to a private chaplaincy at Belvoir Castle, the seat of the
Duke of Rutland.

There is not a more princely house among the baronial homes of England.
It sits among wooded hills--which to the eye of a Suffolk man would be
mountains--where Lincolnshire and Leicestershire join: the towers of
Lincoln Cathedral are in sight at the north, and Nottingham Castle in
the west: and there is a glitter in some near valley of an affluent of
the Trent, shining amid billows of foliage; while within the stately
{236} home,[9] the Suffolk doctor could have regaled himself with
examples of Rubens and of Murillo, of Teniers, Poussin, and Vandyke.

The Duke of Rutland was a kindly man, a sentimental lover of
literature, enjoying the verse of Crabbe, and proud of patronizing him,
but lacking the supreme art of putting him at ease among his titled
visitors; perhaps enjoying from his high poise, the disturbing
embarrassments with which the good-natured poet was beset under the
bewildering attentions of some butler, who outshone the host in his
trappings, and in his lordly condescension to the level of an
apothecary's apprentice.

It was not altogether pleasant for Crabbe; and when afterward he had
married his old flame of Aldborough, and by invitation of the Duke (who
was absent in Ireland) was allowed to partake of the hospitalities of
the castle, the ironical obsequience of the flunkeys all, drove him
away from the baronial roof.  Through the influence of friends he
secures livings,--first in Dorset, and afterward {237} in
Leicestershire (1789), almost within sight of Belvoir towers.
Hereabout, or in near counties, where he has parochial duties, he
vegetates slumberously, for twenty years or more.  He preaches,
practises his old apothecary craft, drives (his wife holding the
reins), idles, writes books and burns them, grows old, has children,
loves flowers, and on one occasion, mounts his horse and gallops sixty
miles for a scent of the salt air which he had snuffed as a boy.
Meanwhile the old haunts in London, which he knew for so brief a day,
know him no more; his old friends are dead, his hair is snowy, his
purposes wavering.

But his children are of an age now to spur him to further literary
effort; with the opening of the present century he rallies his power
for new songs; and thereafter the slowly succeeding issues of the
_Parish Register_, _The Borough_, and the _Tales of the Hall_, pave a
new way for him into the courts of Fame.  He secures another and more
valuable living in the South of England (Wiltshire), where the incense
of London praises can reach him more directly.  One day in 1819 he goes
away from his publishers with bills for {238} £3,000[10] in his pocket;
must take them home to show them to his boy, John; he loves that boy
and other children over much--more, it is to be feared, than he had
ever done that mother, the old flame of Aldborough, in respect of whom
there had been intimations of incompatibility; hence, perhaps, the
interjection of that sixty-mile ride for a snuff of the freedom of the
waves.  He died at last down in Trowbridge (his new living), a little
way southward of Bradford in Wiltshire; and his remains lie in the
chancel of the pretty church there.

We must think of him, I believe, as a good, honest-minded, well-meaning
man; dull, I dare say as a preacher; diffuse, meandering, homely and
lumbering as a poet; yet touching with raw and lively colors the griefs
of England's country-poor; and with a realism that is hard to match,
painting the flight of petrels and of the curlew, {239} and the great
sea waves that gather and roll and break along his lines.

William Cowper.

[Sidenote: Cowper.]

The other poet, to whom allusion has been made, living beside him, in
that country of England, yet not near him nor known to him, was William
Cowper.  You know him better: you ought to know him better.  Yet he
would have managed a church--if a parish had been his--worse than
Crabbe did.  I fear he would not have managed children so prudently;
and if he had ever married, I feel quite sure that his wife would have
managed him.

Cowper was of an excellent family, being the son[11] of a church
rector, and was born at the rectory (now destroyed), which once stood
under the wing of the pretty church that, with its new decorations,
still dominates the picturesque valley {240} town of Great-Berkhamsted,
on the line of the London and Birmingham Railway.  He studied at
Westminster--being school-fellow with Churchill, the poet, and with
Warren Hastings--of whose Trial we have had somewhat to say: afterward
he entered a solicitor's office at the Temple, where Thurlow (later,
Lord Chancellor) chanced to be clerk at the same time.  He had fair
amount of money, good prospect of a place under Government--his uncle,
Ashley Cowper, being a man of position and influence.

This uncle had two daughters, to one of whom this young gentleman said
tender things;--too tender to be altogether cousinly--in which regard
she proved as over-cousinly as he.  But the Papa stamped out that
little fire of love before it had grown into great flame.  There is
reason, however, to believe that the smouldering of it had its
influences upon Miss Theodora all through her life; and who shall say
that it did not touch the great melancholy of the future poet with a
sting of tenderness?  There was, however, no outspoken lamentation; the
feminine nature of the man accepted the decision of the uncle as a
decree of fate; {241} there was never any great capacity in him for
struggle or for controversy, either with men, or with untoward

Meantime, the expected preferment came to young Cowper--a place, or
places of value and of permanence, which he had need only to take with
a bold hand and purpose; but the bold hand was lacking; and his
hesitancy multiplied difficulties which could only be met by
examination for fitness before the Lords; that examination stares him
awfully in the face; he wilts under the bare prospect; is hedged by
doubts; palters with his weakness; falls into a wretched state of
melancholy, and--buys laudanum to make an end of it all;--then, he has
flashes of light, and waves of a redeeming firmness chase over his
mind; but finally, on the very day on which the examination was to take
place, he makes a miserable effort at self-destruction.  Was ever a
man, before or since, who would commit suicide to avoid lucrative
office?  William Cowper, with only an ordinary share of average common
sense, and unhampered by the trappings of genius that belonged to him,
would have "gone on" for this place; secured it; {242} made his easy
fortune; lived a good humdrum life; died lamented, and never heard of.
The poet's fine brain, however--which had been exercised already in
musical verse--built up mountains of difficulty; he told in after
years, with a curious sincerity, all the details of his struggle--how
he held the phial of laudanum to his lips and how he flung it away; how
he held a knife at his heart; and finally, how he threw his garter,
which served for a gallows-rope, over the chamber door, and hung "till
the bitterness of temporal death was past."  Righteously enough, after
all these weakly resolves, which a man of energy would have made
strong, he falls into utter distraction; religious doubts and fears
racking him, and lunacy throttling him; and so this young Templar of
the bright prospects goes away to the care of a mad-doctor.  But long
curative processes are needful; and he emerges at last--the blush of
his youth all gone, and he lighted up and a-flame with tempestuous
religious exhilaration.  He would go into orders, but he can never face
a congregation; so he plants himself, by the advice of friends, who
prop up his waning income, in the flats of Huntingdon, {243} where the
river Ouse winds round and round amid the low lands, and sighs among
its sedges.  He seems like a castaway; what he has written has been
little--a boy's pastime; what he has purposed has been weak; and I
daresay that his uncle Ashley Cowper, and his cousin Theodora, and his
fellow-clerk Thurlow, thought they would never hear of him more, until,
on some far-off day, a funeral invitation might come.

But Cowper was presently domesticated in the home of a Rev. Mr.
Unwin--an old gentleman, who has a youngish wife (though eight or ten
years Cowper's senior) and a son, who is also a preacher.  These take
kindly to the invalid; they relish his religious exuberance; they pity
his frailties; and then and there begins an intimate friendship between
Mrs. Unwin and our poet, which for its purity, its strength, its
constancy, is without a parallel, I think, in English literary annals.
It was about the year 1765 that he first fell in with Mrs. Unwin, and
he was never thereafter separated from her--for any considerable time,
counting by days--up to the year of her death in 1796.

For the first sixteen years of this exile upon {244} the flats along
the Ouse--whether at Huntingdon or at Olney (where they removed after
the death of the elder Unwin) there must have been, what most
men--whether poets or not--would count a weary and monotonous
succession of weeks and days and months.  There were few neighbors of
culture; no village growth or stir; lands all tamely level; streams all
sluggish; industries of the smallest; no shooting--no fishing--no
cards--no visitors--no driving; sermon reading in the morning; sermon
reading in the evening; walks in the garden; digging in the garden
(mild insanity intervening); petting the tame hares; feeding the doves;
reading Mistress More; singing hymns; drinking tea; listening for the
larks; listening to Mrs. Unwin; drowsing--sleeping--dreaming!  Only
contrast that dreary trail of days with those passed by Goldsmith, or
by Johnson, or by Hume!

But good Mrs. Unwin, who is not only kindly, but has some dormant
literary tastes, does rouse him to some poetic labors; she does have
faith in his talent; and it was in 1782, I think, that his book
containing _Table-talk_ and other {245} verse, first appeared, and by
its quiet graces and naturalness provoked inquiry in London, and
amongst cultured readers everywhere--as to who this "William Cowper of
the Inner Temple" might possibly be?  The Rev. John Newton of Olney
knew, for the poet had assisted him in the preparation of a certain
_Olney Hymn Book_, published not long before: and then and thereafter
this John Newton---a good-hearted, well-meaning divine of an
old-fashioned stamp, was pounding, as occasion served, with the hard
hammer of his unblinking Calvinism upon the quivering sensibilities of
the distraught poet.

But on the breezes of this new reputation which Cowper had wrought came
in these times (1782) a fresh bird, in fine feathers, floating into the
domestic aviary of Olney.  This was Lady Austen, the widow of a
baronet--who planted herself there--not without due graces of previous
introduction (1781)--between the Unwin and the Cowper for three years,
giving a new stir to the poet's brain.  Out of that quickening came,
after a night of travail, that ever-fresh ballad of _John Gilpin's
Ride_; it was popular from the first; and {246} some two years
later--it was publicly recited by Henderson--a famous Falstaffian actor
of that epoch, it ran like wild-fire through the journals of the day,
while the shops along Fleet Street showed in their windows a great
jolly picture of Gilpin and his intractable nag cantering past the Bell
at Edmonton.

The shy poet, however, did not go to London to reap any honors which
might have accrued; he stayed at Olney, working at a new _Task_, toward
the conception and accomplishment of which he was led by the witty
sallies and engaging devices of the new favorite--Lady Austen.  This
piquant woman, with her charming vivacities, her alluring airs, her
dazzling chat, had wrapped the quiet, melancholy poet all around with a
witchery to which he was unused and which tempted him to his best
powers of song.  He was proud of his fresh successes, and grateful to
that new and fascinating member of their little household who had
provoked and prompted them.  What should disturb this cheery party of
three--save the ever-lasting unfitness of the odd number?  Perhaps the
thought of this came first through some {247} tender reproachful look
of good Mrs. Unwin; perhaps the poet, stirred to some new wrestle with
his withered heart, found out its emptiness; perhaps the gay,
enchanting new-comer grew weary of the song she had provoked--or weary
of a welcome that stayed so calm.  At any rate she took wing;[12] there
was a little flurry of correspondence to mark the parting, which, I
dare say, both may have wished should be forgotten.

Meanwhile the new, and much-loved poem which had grown out of this
intimacy did worthily, and very largely, extend Cowper's fame.  Miss
Hannah More was enchanted by it; "such an original and philosophic
thinker," she says; "such genuine Christianity, and such a divine
simplicity!"  Even Corsica Boswell calls him "a genius;" and Lord
Thurlow (whose favors to the poet never went beyond words) says of his
old chum, "If there is a good man on earth, it is William Cowper!"

But the waves of applause break only with a {248} low dolorous murmur
upon the threshold of that Olney home.  A cruel sense of his own
undeservings weighs upon his spirits; he cannot ask a blessing at his
meals, for who would listen? he cannot pray, for it would be mockery;
and he consoles himself with the poor satisfaction of not being a
mocker.  He discusses village and public affairs with his barber,
Wilson (who had conscientiously refused to dress Lady Austen's hair
upon a Sunday).  Alluding to American affairs, in that crisis when a
treaty of peace was discussed at Versailles (1783) between France and
America, he speaks of the "thirteen pitiful colonies which the king of
England chose to keep and the king of France to obtain--if he could."
A little later, at the same crisis, he says:

"I may be prejudiced against these [Americans], but I do not think them
equal to the task of establishing an empire....  You will suppose me a
politician; but, in truth, I am nothing less.  These are the thoughts
that occur to me while I read the newspaper; and when I have laid it
down, I feel myself more interested in the success of my 'early
cucumbers' than in any part of this important subject."[13]


_His Later Life._

It was only in the latter part of his career that the poet made the
acquaintance of William Hayley,[14] his future biographer, who had been
drawn toward Cowper by the charms of his verse and who came to visit
him: this friend, through his wide familiarity with the outer world,
had suborned bishops and clergy and public men to write to this
melancholy exile of Olney and cheer him with their praises--all which
praises fell like hail upon Cowper's window pane.  And there had been a
little trip devised, to divert that weakened and fatigued mind, down to
Eartham in Sussex, where his friend Hayley has a beautiful place, and
where he brings the artist Romney, to paint the well-known portrait;
but there is no long stay away from the old covert on the flats of
Buckinghamshire; indeed this covert had taken new life within a few
years by the advent of a cousin, the Lady {250} Hesketh, the widowed
sister of his old lost Theodora; she had come with her carriage and
trappings, and taken a fine house, and sought to revive pleasantly all
the mundane influences of Lady Austen.

From Olney there had come about in those times--at the wise suggestion
of Lady Hesketh--a move over to the near village of Weston, which
thereafter became the poet's home.  [On an April day many years
ago--moved by an old New England cleaving to the poems and the poet--I
strolled down from Newport Pagnell--to which place I had taken coach
from Northampton--following all the windings of the sluggish Ouse, to
Weston; stopping at the "Cowper's Oak" inn, I found next door his old
home--its front overgrown with roses--and strolled into his old garden;
and thence, by a door the gardener unlocked, into the "Wilderness;" the
usher regaling me with stories of the crazy poet whom he had seen in
his boyhood, and who loved the birds, and who wore a white tasselled
night-cap as he wandered in the garden alleys at noon.]

It was at Weston, I think, that the translation of Homer was--if not
undertaken--most largely {251} wrought upon.  The regular occupation
involved counted largely in the dispersion of those despondent mists
that were gathering round him.  He brought scholarly tastes and a quick
conscience to the work; a boy would be helped more to the thieving of
the proper English by Cowper's Homer, than by Pope's; but there was not
"gallop" enough in his nature for a live rendering; and he was too far
in-shore for the rhythmic beat of the multitudinous waves and too far
from the "hollow" ships.

In the intervals of this important labor--which was only fairly
successful, and gave him no such clutch upon the publisher's guineas as
Crabbe gained at a later day--only chance things were written.  But
some of these chances were brimful of suggestion and of most beautiful
issues.  That relating to his mother's picture--sent to him by some
cousinly hand--a flashing from the embers of his life, as it were, the
reader must know; who knows it too well?

  "Oh that those lips had language!  Life has passed
  With me but roughly since I heard thee last.
  Those lips are thine--thy own sweet smile I see,


  The same that oft in childhood solaced me.
  Voice only fails, else how distinct they say,
  Grieve not, my child, chase all thy fears away!"

But it is a poem from which quotation will no way serve.  After the
death of Warton, poet Laureate (1790), Lady Hesketh, and other friends
were anxious that the Olney poet should succeed to that honor; Southey
says, he might have secured it; but Cowper can never, never go up to
court for a kissing of the king's hand.

And now there are coming fast drearier days and months to these good
people of the Weston home.  The poet's mind, staggered perhaps by those
later Homeric labors, but more likely by the grievous religious doubts
which overhang him, loses from time to time its poise; and he goes
maundering, or silent, and with no smile for days, into the deserts of

[Sidenote: Death of Cowper.]

Mrs. Unwin, worn down by long fatigues, is at last smitten by
paralysis; and she whose life has been spent in serving must herself be
served; the poor poet bringing to that service all the instincts of
affection, and the wavering purpose of a shattered mind.  Yet out of
this new gloom and {253} these terrors of the home comes that faultless
little poem inscribed to "My Mary."

  "Thy silver locks, once auburn bright,
  Are still more lovely in my sight
  Than golden beams of Orient light,
              My Mary.

  "For could I view--nor them--nor thee
  What sight worth seeing could I see?
  The sun would rise in vain for me,
              My Mary.

  "Partakers of thy sad decline
  Thy hands their little force resign,
  Yet gently prest, press gently mine,
              My Mary."

But here, as before, quotation counts for nothing; it cannot bring to
mind the mellowness and the tenderness which lurk in so many of the
lines and in all the flowing measure of the little poem.  Mrs. Unwin
has embalmment in it that will keep her memory alive, longer than would
any tomb in Westminster.

Well, Mrs. Unwin dies at last in the town of East Dereham, Norfolk,
where they had taken her for "diversion"; and the poor poet died there
three years later and was buried beside her.  {254} They were three
dreary years--which followed upon her death--for him and for those
about him.  From time to time he touched a little bit of old work, but
put no joy in it; distraught--weary--smileless--only waiting.

[Sidenote: Cowper's poetry.]

Critics are agreed that we shall not rank him among the great poets;
but he comes nearer to their rank than anybody in his day believed
possible.  He is so true; he is so tender; he is so natural.  If in his
longer poems there is sometimes a lack of last finish, and an overplus
of language--there is a frankness of utterance and a billowy undulation
of movement that have compensating charms.  He loves Nature as a boy
loves his play; his humanities are wakened by all her voices.  He not
only seizes upon exterior effects with a painter's eye and hand, but he
has a touch which steals deeper meanings and influences and transfers
them into verse that flows softly and quietly as summer brooks.  He
cannot speak or rhyme but the odors of the country cling to his words.
There is no crazy whirl of expletives which would apply to a hundred
scenes, but clear, forceful epithet, full of singleness of story:--


Far spires lifting over stretches of yellow grass-grown plain; marsh
birds trailing their flight by sluggish rivers; boats dragged
slumberously at noon-tide with seething bubbles in their wake; great
banks of woodland, wading through snows, or throwing shadows by
morning, and counter-shadows at evening, over the flanks of low hills
on which they stand in leafy platoons.  And for sounds--far off
church-bells waking solitudes with their tremulous beat and jangle;
birds chasing the echoes of their own songs; bees murmurous over banks
of thyme; cattle lowing in the meadows; or the bay of some
hound--breaking full and clear, and lost again--as he follows, far off,
some cold trail amongst the hills.

Above all--he is English; the household has for him the sanctity of an
altar; firesides are lighted and glow with a sacred warmth; home
interests are always golden.  Prone to idleness he is perhaps--mental
and physical; much femininity in him; his thought wavering and riding
on his rhyme.  But he is good, kind; crudest to himself--sticking the
John Newton darts of Calvinism into his conscience, and loving the pain
of them.


I think we must always respect the name and the work of William Cowper.
In our next chapter we shall listen to the music of a different singer,
and to the story of a jollier, and yet of a far sadder life.

[1] As a matter of curiosity I give what appears to be the
corresponding Gaelic in a couplet of lines, from the version in Rev.
Archibald Clerk's Ossian:--

  "A's gile na 'n cobhar,' tha sgavilte
  Air muir o ghaillinn nan sian."
                    l. 75, Duan 1, Fionnghal.

[2] James Macpherson: b. 1736; d. 1796.

[3] Mr. Mackenzie (_Diss. lxxxvii., Edit. Highland Soc._, London, 1807)
says that he (Macpherson) took some of his Gaelic MSS. to Florida with
him and many were lost there.

[4] Macpherson had translated and published the Iliad in 1773.  It will
interest my readers to know that a copy of this letter in Johnson's
hand-writing, was sold in 1875 for £50--five times the sum which he
received for the tale of Rasselas!

[5] Sir John Sinclair, a voluminous agricultural writer of Scotland,
was strenuous supporter of Macpherson's claims--respecting Ossianic
origin, etc.  The best exhibit, however, of the Gaelic side of the
question may be found in the prefatory _Dissertation_ by Rev. Archibald
Clerk, to the beautiful edition of Ossian published by Blackwood & Sons
in 1870.

[6] George Halket, a Jacobite schoolmaster, d. 1756; Alexander Ross,
minister, b. 1699; d. 1784; John Skinner, Episcopal clergyman, b. 1721;
d. 1807.

[7] George Crabbe: b. 1754; d. 1832.  _The Village_, _The Borough_, and
_Tales of the Hall_, are his best-known works.  _Life_, by his son
(1834), is a very full and filially devout book of interesting reading.

[8] So late as 1808, the Edinburgh Review, after speaking of
Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey, etc., continues in language which I
suppose is Jeffery's own:--

"From these childish and absurd affectations we turn with pleasure to
the manly sense and correct picturing of Mr. Crabbe; and after being
dazzled and made giddy with the elaborate raptures and obscure
originalities of these new artists, it is refreshing to meet again with
the spirit and nature of our old masters in the nervous pages of the
author [Crabbe] now before us."  Vol. xii., p. 131, Edinboro' Edition.

[9] The old castle was burned in 1816, but has been rebuilt with more
than its old splendor.

[10] Smiles, in his _Memoirs of John Murray_--the publisher in
question--intimates, however, that the sum was far too large, and
Murray a loser by the bargain.  Chap. xxii., p. 72, vol. ii.  See also
Murray's own statement to that effect, p. 385, vol. ii.

[11] William Cowper, b. 1731; d. 1800.  Life by Hayley, 1804; another,
by Southey (regarded as standard), published with edition of his works
in 1833-37.  A recent life by Thomas Wright, chiefly valuable for its
local details.

[12] Lady Austen married some years later a French gentleman, M. de
Tardif, and died in Paris in 1802.  She may be counted almost
joint-author (with Cowper) of _The Task_.

[13] P. 325, Life, etc., by Thomas Wright, London, 1892.

[14] William Hayley, b. 1745; d. 1820.  Life of Cowper, 1803.



Beyond Dunkeld--which is the southern gateway of the Scottish
Highlands--there stretches a great wood, within the domain of the Duke
of Athole, where one can wander for miles; the path sometimes mossy,
always inviting; now threading dark glens, and again winding under
hoary forest trees that grow on uplands; now giving glimpses of brook
or pool, and now of grassy glade on which some group of century-old
larches slant their shadows; one may hear noises of chattering
squirrels, of whirring pheasants, of roaring wood-streams, of pines
soughing in the wind; and at last, going up a side-path, the visitor
will come to the door of a Hermitage, bedded in densest mass of
foliage.  Fifty years ago--to a month--the guide opened that door for
me, entered with me, and closed it behind us.  I then {258} observed
that the whole inner surface of the door was one great mirror, and that
there were other mirrors around; while directly opposite was a
life-size painting of Ossian fingering his harp; and as I was scanning
the details of this picture, the guide touched some hidden spring;
Ossian straightway disappeared, sliding into the wall, and through the
chasm one looked out upon clouds of spray, behind which an Alpine
water-fall with roar and foam plunged down sheer forty feet into a
seething pool below.  The water-fall through an artful collocation of
mirrors seemed to pour down behind you as well; and from the ceiling to
pour down above you, and to gird you all about with its din and splash
and spray.  With the cliffs and the pine boughs it made a pretty
grouping of Ossianic charms; and I am sorry to hear that since 1869 or
thereabout, the Hermitage, by reason of some vandal outrage, has wholly

The only memorial the traveller will find now in that region of the
Ossianic harping, of which we spoke in the last chapter, is the
Macpherson Stone, which some twenty-five miles farther northward, {259}
on the Highland trail, peers out from green copses in the upper valley
of the Spey.

I spoke also in our last talk of the literary ferment that had declared
itself, and was in active progress along the Scottish border, and in
Edinboro'.  We had somewhat to say of the poet Crabbe, and of his long
and successful poems--now little read; and of those other poems by
Cowper, some of which will be always read, and which, when their art
shall grow old-fashioned and out of date, will show a tender humanity
and a kindly purpose, which I trust will never go out of date.

_Parson White._

[Sidenote: White of Selborne.]

You will remember that we found both of the last-named poets in the
country; and that their work concerned itself largely with country life
and with country scenes.  And now we sidle into the country again, for
our first studies to-day;--into the county of Hampshire, where lived,
toward the close of the last century, two personages--not far apart in
that pleasant region of rolling downs; unknown to each other; their
ages, indeed, {260} differing by more than a score of years; but both
leaving books you ought to know something about.

The first of these personages was a quiet clergyman[1] of very simple
tastes and simple habits, who lived in a beautiful parsonage--still
standing, and still overgrown with ivies and banked about with great
waving heaps of foliage--where he wrote _The Natural History of
Selborne_.  It is not a formal book or an ambitious book; it is simply
a bundle of short letters extending over dates that cover twenty years
in their stretch; and yet the book is so small you could carry it in
your pocket.  Its title describes the book; it tells what this quiet
old gentleman saw and learned through twenty odd years of observation,
about the birds, the beasts, the fishes, the trees, the flowers, the
storms, the sunshine and the clouds of that little country parish of
Selborne.  And yet that simple story is told with such easy frankness,
such delicacy, such simplicity, such truthfulness, such tender feeling
for all God's creatures, whether beast or bird, that the little book
has become almost as much a classic {261} as _Walton's Complete
Angler_; and the name of Gilbert White, which scarce a hundred
Londoners knew when he died, is now known to every well-equipped
English library everywhere.  I have compared it with _Walton's Complete
Angler_, though it has not the old fisherman's dalliance with the
muses; nor has it much literary suggestiveness.  There are no milkmaids
courtesying to its periods, nor any songs, except those of the birds.
Good old Parson White is simpler (if maybe); he is more homely; he is
more direct; and by his tender particularity of detail he has given to
the winged and creeping creatures of his pleasant Hampshire downs the
freedom of all lands.

It is true, indeed--as I have said in another connection--that we
Americans do not altogether recognize his chaffinches and his titlarks;
his daws and his fern-owl are strange to us; and his robin
red-breast--though undoubtedly the same which in our nursery days
flitted around the dead "Children in the Wood" (while tears stood in
our eyes) and

  Did cover them with leaves,"

{262} is by no means our American red-breast.  For one, I wish it were
otherwise; I wish with all my heart that I could identify the old
pitying, feathered mourners in the British wood, with the rollicking,
joyous singer who perches every sunrise, through all the spring, upon
some near tree, within stone's throw of my window, and stirs the dewy
air with his loud _bravura_.

Another noticeable thing about this old country parson is his freedom
from all the artifices and buckram and abbreviations of learning, so
that he is delightfully comprehensible by everybody.  If only we could
have an edition of Gray's Botany--for instance--with some ten lines of
Parson White's homely descriptive English about the height and bigness,
and color and habit of the flowers, instead of symbols and Latin
genealogies and scholastic reticence--what a God-send it would be to
the average country gentleman or country woman!

I want specially to call the attention of those young people in whose
interest I am supposed to talk--to that homely truthfulness, and
unabating care of this old gentleman, as giving value to a {263} book
or to any literary work whatever.  They are not qualities, to be sure,
which of themselves carry performance to a high poetic level; but they
are qualities which give to it practical and picturesque values, and
which--well laid in--will make work survive.

If I were to undertake on any occasion the direction of the
composition-writing of young people, I should surely counsel
painstaking and minute description of homely natural objects.  Nature
is better than millinery.  Yet out of ten young ladies of average
culture you shall be able to pick nine who shall tell a listener
flowingly of the last new dress she has seen, and the stuff, and the
train, and the lace, and the sleeves, and the trimmings, and all the
mysteries of its fit--to one who shall give a simple, clear-drawn, and
intelligible account of a new flower, or new tree, or a strange bird.
Thus you will perceive that I have made of this old gentleman--whom I
greatly respect--a stalking horse, to fire a sermon at my readers; and
I am strongly of opinion that there are a great many country clergymen
of our time and day, who, if they would bring old Parson White's zeal
to the {264} encouragement of a love and a study of natural objects,
would do as much thereby to humanize and Christianize the younger
members of their flocks as they can possibly do by Vanity Fairs or
parochial oyster suppers.

The modest house of Gilbert White[2] was occupied very many years by
the venerable Professor Bell, late president of the Linnean Society,
who died in 1880.  The study of the old naturalist remained long as the
master left it; his oaken book-case was still there; so was the
thermometer attached to the shelves by which he made his observations;
his dial by which he counted the hours stands at the foot of the
garden; and in the churchyard near by is his grave; while within the
quaint old church, to the right of the altar, is a tablet in his honor;
and in his honor, too, all the birds of Selborne will sing night and
morning year after year.


_A Hampshire Novelist._

[Sidenote: Jane Austen.]

And now for that other Hampshire personage, of whom I gave you a hint,
as being also guiltless of London life and almost of London
acquaintances; it is a lady now of whom I have to speak,[3] and one who
deserves to be well known.  She lived, when her books were published,
only three or more miles away from Selborne, across the hills
northward--at the village of Chawton, which lies upon the old coach
road from Farnham to Winchester.  Miss Austen was much younger--as I
have said--than our old friend the parson; indeed she was only
beginning to try her pen when Gilbert White was ready to lay his down.
She had all his simplicities of treatment and all his acuteness of
observation--to which she added a charming humor and large dramatic
power; but her subjects were men and women, and not {266} birds.  She
wrote many good old-fashioned novels which people read now for their
light and delicate touches, their happy characterizations, their
charming play of humor, and their lack of exaggeration.  She makes you
slip into easy acquaintance with the people of her books as if they
lived next door, and would be pulling at your bell to-morrow, or
to-night.  And you never confound them; by the mere sound of their
voices you know which is Ellinor, and which is Marianne; and as for the
disagreeable people in her stories, they are just as honestly and
naturally disagreeable as any neighbor you could name--whether by
talking too much, or making puns, or prying into your private affairs.

Walter Scott, who read her books over and over, says, "That young lady
had a talent for describing the involvements and feelings and
characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever
met with."  Macaulay, too, admired her intensely; ventured even to
speak of her amazing, effective naturalness--in the same paragraph with
Shakespeare.  Miss Mitford confided to a young niece of the authoress,
that "she would {267} give her hand," if she could write a story like
Miss Austen.  We may not and must not doubt her quality and her genius,
whatever old-time stiffness we may find in her conversations.  One book
of hers at least you should read, if only to learn her manner; and as
you read it remember that it was written by a young woman who had
passed nearly her whole life in Hampshire--who knew scarce any of the
literary people of the day; who had only made chance visits to London,
and a stay of some four years in the lively city of Bath.  She was very
winning and beautiful--if her portrait[4] is to be relied upon--with a
piquant, mischievous expression--looking very capable of making a great
many hearts ache, beside those which ache in her books.

It would be impossible to cite fragments from her stories that would
give any adequate notion of her manner and accomplishment; it would be
very like showing the feather of a bird, to give an {268} idea of its
swoop of wing.  Perhaps _Pride and Prejudice_, though her first written
work, is the one most characteristic.  You do not get lost in its
sentimental strains; you do not find surfeit of immaculate conduct.
There are fine woods and walks; but there is plenty of mud, and
bad-going.  The very heroines you often want to clutch away from their
uncomely surroundings; and as for the elderly Mrs. Bennett, whose
tongue is forever at its "click-clack," you cannot help wishing that
she might--innocently--get choked off the scene, and appear no more.
But that is not the deft Miss Austen's way; that gossiping, silly,
irritating _mater familias_, goes on to the very end--as such people do
in life--making your bile rise; and when the rainbows of felicity come
at last to arch over the scenes of _Pride and Prejudice_, Mrs.
Bennett's clacking tongue is still strident, and still reminds you in
the strongest possible way, that Miss Austen has been busy with the
veriest actualities of life, and not with its pretty, shimmering vapors.

_Persuasion_ is a less interesting book, and less complete than _Pride
and Prejudice_; its heroine, {269} Anne Eliot, is not possessed of very
salient qualities; hardly gaining or holding very earnest attention;
yet with a quiet sense of duty, and such every-day fulfilment of it, as
makes her righteously draw toward her all the triumphs of the little
drama; a lost love is reclaimed by these quiet forces, and victory
comes to crown her easy gentleness.  _Northanger Abbey_ is weaker, but
with bold, striking naturalism in it; all the littlenesses and
plottings and vain speech of the Bath Pump-Room seem to come to life in
its pages; to just such life as we may find about our Cape Mays, and
Pequod, and Ocean houses, every blessed summer's day!  Miss Austen's
earlier novels, which made her reputation, were written before she was
twenty-five, and published later, and under many
difficulties--anonymously; so she had none of that public incense
regaling her, which was set ablaze for the less capable Miss Burney;
and it was almost as an unknown, strange, quiet gentlewoman that she
went down, in the later years of her life, to the shores of the
beautiful Southampton Waters--seeking health there; and again, on the
same search to the higher lands of the {270} Hampshire downs--where she
died, only forty-two, and lies buried under a black marble slab, which
you may find under the vaults of the interesting old Cathedral of

The recognition of her high qualities was not so extended in her
life-time, as it is now; and thirty years after her death, a visitor to
the great Hampshire Cathedral was asked by the respectable verger:
"What there was _particular_ about Miss Austen, that so many people
should want to see her grave?"  Even the most wooden of vergers would
hardly ask the question now; her extraordinary quickness and justness
of observation astonish every intelligent reader.  All the more, since
her life was lived within narrow lines; but what she saw, she saw true,
and she remembered.  That wonderful masterly Shakespearian alertness of
mind in seizing upon traits and retaining their relations and colors,
is what distinguishes her, as it distinguishes every kindred genius.  I
can understand how many people cannot overmuch relish the stories of
Miss Austen--because they do not relish the people to whom she
introduces us; but I cannot understand how any reader can fail to be
{271} impressed and electrified by her marvellous photographic
reproduction of social shades of conduct.  How delightful is that
indignation of Sir John Middleton, when he learns of the villainy and
falsity of Willoughby.  "To think of it! and he had offered the
scoundrel one of Follies' puppies!"  And then--reflectively--"A pretty
man he was too, and owner of one of the finest pointer bitches in
England!  The devil take him!"  What a synopsis of the man's qualities,
and of Sir John's measurement of them!

_Old Juvenilia._

[Sidenote: Sandford & Merton.]

I cannot pass from this epoch, without saying somewhat concerning that
tide of literature for young people which set in strongly about those
times.  There was _Sandford and Merton_, for instance; can it be that
the moderns are growing up to maturity without a knowledge of the wise
inculcations of that eminently respectable work?  Sixty years ago it
was a stunning book for all good boys, and for the good sisters of good
boys.  Whoever was at the head of his class was pretty apt to {272} get
_Sandford and Merton_; whoever had a birthday present was very likely
to get _Sandford and Merton_; if a good aunt was in search of a proper
New Year's gift for a lad the bookseller was almost sure to recommend
_Sandford and Merton_; and when a boy went away to school, some
considerate friend was very certain to pop a copy of _Sandford and
Merton_ into his satchel.

It is in the guise of a great lumbering narrative--supposed to be
true--into which are whipped a score or more of little stories, each
one capped with a bouncing moral.  Thus, there is an ill-natured boy
going out for a day's scrimmage, and playing his tricks--on a poor
girl, and a blind beggar, and a lame beggar, and a farmer, and a
donkey.  This goes on very well for awhile; but at last the tables are
turned, and he gets bitten by the blind beggar, and beaten by the lame
beggar, and thrashed by the farmer, and is thrown by the donkey, and a
large dog seizes him by the leg; this latter is printed in capitals,
and there is a picture of it.  At last, in bed, and with watery eyes,
the boy reflects--that "no one can long hurt others with impunity;" so
he determined to "behave {273} better for the future."  Is it any
wonder that those who had access to such instructive tales a half a
century ago should have grown up to be excellent men!

This book of _Sandford and Merton_ was written by Thomas Day,[5] an
eccentric rich man (the world of to-day would have called him a crank),
who had a fine place near to Putney on the Thames, who sympathized
strongly with Americans in Revolutionary times; who was also a disciple
of Rousseau, and undertook to educate a young girl--two of them in
fact, one being a foundling--so that he might have a wife of his own
training, after the Rousseau standard; but the young persons did not
train as he wished; so he found his mate otherwheres.

Another comfit of a book for young people, but with fewer plums of
romance in it, was _Evenings at Home_ by Dr. Aikin and Mrs. Barbauld.
I am sure the very name must bring up tender memories to a great many;
for it was a current book down to a time when respectable, and even
mirth-loving {274} people, _did_ pass their evenings at home, and
enjoyed doing so.  The book commands even now, in some old-fashioned
households, about the same sort of consecration which is given to an
antique blue and white china tea-pot--not nearly so fine as the newer
French ones--but which by the aid of a little imagination can be put to
very pretty simmer of old times and tunes.

[Sidenote: Mrs. Barbauld.]

Mrs. Barbauld[6] was worthier than this book; she was a sister of Dr.
Aikin--had distinction for great beauty in her youth; married a French
clergyman of small parts and weak mind, whose intellect, in his later
years, went wholly awry and made her home a martyrdom for her, against
which she struggled bravely.  That home was for a time out at
Hampstead, only a half hour's drive from London, and she knew people
worth knowing there; Fox and Johnson among the rest--though {275}
Johnson did give her a big slap for marrying as she did and for
teaching an infant school.[7]  She wrote poetry too, one verse at least
which Wordsworth greatly admired, and with condescension declared that
he would have liked to be the author of such a verse himself.  I cite
the verse (with some of the context), which is from an apostrophe to
_Life_; doubtless suggested by the

  "Animula, vagula, blandula"

of Adrian, to which allusion has been made in a previous chapter; but
the good woman's evolution of the thought is curiously different from
that of Pope:--

  "Life!  I know not what thou art.
  But know that thou and I must part;
  And when, or how, or where we met,
  I own to me's a secret yet.
  But this I know, when thou art fled
  Where'er they lay these limbs, this head,
  No clod so valueless shall be
  As all that then remains of me.
    O whither, whither dost thou fly,
  Where bend unseen thy trackless course,


  And in this strange divorce,
    Ah, tell where I must seek this compound I?
      *      *      *      *      *
  Life! we've been long together,
  Through pleasant and through cloudy weather;
  'Tis hard to part when friends are dear;
  Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear;
    Then--steal away, give little warning,
  Choose thine own time;
  Say not--Good night; but in some brighter clime
    Bid me--Good morning."

I cannot part from this excellent old friend of British boys, without
calling to mind her ardent Whiggism, and her very pronounced advocacy
of the American cause, in her last poem of _Eighteen hundred and
eleven_; the republican sympathies alienated a good many of her Tory
friends, and brought to her temporary disrepute.  Wherefor, I think,
patriotic American boys may, on some coming fourth of July, fling their
caps into the air for the kindly, brave-speaking Mrs. Barbauld, and for
her _Evenings at Home_!


_Miss Edgeworth._

[Sidenote: An Irish story-teller.]

You may be sure that I have not forgotten Miss Edgeworth, who was a
good friend of Mrs. Barbauld, and who scored Dr. Johnson and Boswell
too, for the printing of their slurs upon Miss Aikin.[8]

I suspect it would not be an easy task to bring young people, nowadays,
to much enthusiasm about Miss Edgeworth[9] and her books; and yet if I
were to tell all that "we fellows" used to think about her when her
_Popular Tales_, and her delightful _Parent's Assistant_, with its
stories exactly of the right length--about Lazy Lawrence, and Simple
Susan, and the False Key, and Tarlton--were in vogue, I am afraid you
would give me very little credit for critical sagacity.  A most proper
and interesting old lady we reckoned her, and do still.  I for one
never counted on her being {278} young; it seemed to me that she must
have been born straight into the severities of middle age and of
story-telling.  I could never imagine her at a game of romps, or buying
candies on the sly.  Though I had never seen her portrait--and no one
else, for that matter--yet I knew the face--as well as that of my own
grandmother; and what a good, kind, serene, motherly face it was!
There was dignity in it, however; no boy would have thought of
approaching her without a study of his deportment; he would see to it
that his shoe-lacings were tied and his waistcoat buttons all in
place--else, a shake of the head that would have made the cap-strings,
and the frisette, and the starched ruffles shiver.  But we must not
speak lightly of the authoress, to whom thousands of elderly people owe
so much of instruction and of entertainment.

[Sidenote: Miss Edgeworth.]

She was the daughter of an Irish gentleman who made a runaway match at
Gretna Green, Maria Edgeworth being a child of that irregular marriage;
and her father being widowed shortly after, married three other
wives[10] successively, whose {279} children filled the great house at
Edgeworthtown in Ireland, where the authoress grew up (though born in
England), and where she came to that knowledge of Irish character and
habit which gives distinction and the greatest charm to her books.

Scott read them gleefully and admiringly, and as he himself confesses,
took a hint from them, to put Scottish character into story, as this
English-Irish lady had put Irish character into hers; and he says in
his first outspoken preface to the _Waverley_ series--that Miss
Edgeworth in "making the English familiar with the character of their
gay and kind-hearted neighbors may truly be said to have done more
toward completing the union than perhaps all the legislative enactments
by which it has been followed up."  Such laurels were enough for her
fame--did not braver ones grow out of the thumb-worn edges of her
books.  I think it would be safe to distrust the honor and directness
of purpose of any boy or man who, after reading--has either scorn or
dread of Maria Edgeworth.

One will not find startling things in her {280} writing; nor will you
find great brilliancy of execution--nor the pretty banter and delicate
English humor, and finer touches which belong to Miss Austen: but you
will find orderly progress and a good orderly story--illuminated by
flashes of Irish wit, and glowing through and through with the kindness
of a heart which never saw suffering without sympathy, and never any
joys of even the most vulgar, without a tender satisfaction.  Add to
this a shrewd common sense--which never lost its way in romantic
pitfalls, and an unblinking honesty, and charity of purpose--always
making itself felt, and always driving a nail--and you have an array of
qualities which will, I think, keep good Miss Edgeworth's name alive
for a long period to come.  Few people will have the courage to invest
in the whole of her score of volumes octavo.  It is hardly to be
advised; but you may wisely choose a sprinkling of them; her _Frank_,
for instance--her _Rackrent_--her _Ormond_, and a volume or two of her
shorter tales, which will bravely hold their own amongst all the goody
books of a later generation.

Two specimens of that Irish humor, which she {281} is so apt at
reporting, and which shine by their pretty flicker of unconsciousness,
I must cite: the first is that of the politician--a charming type of
our municipal Milesians--who resented highly his non-appointment to
some fat place, after unwearied support of the government, "against his
conscience, in a most honorable manner."  The second is that of the
hopeful old Irish dame, who trusted she might die upon a fête day, when
the gates of Heaven were opened wide, and a poor "body might slip in

For our good friend, Miss Edgeworth, we believe that those gates were
wide open, on every day of the year.

_Some Early Romanticism._

[Sidenote: Early Romanticism.]

While that clever and attractive Miss Jane Austen was engaged upon her
stories in her quiet study in Steventon, Hampshire, there was opened
upon England, by certain other ladies, a new sluice of literature--from
which some phosphorescent sparkles are still distinguishable in our
{282} time--in brilliant red and yellow covers.  I allude to the
_Children of the Abbey_, by Miss Roche[11] (an Irish-French lady, who
lived in Waterford, Ireland), to _Thaddeus of Warsaw_ and the _Scottish
Chiefs_ by Miss Jane Porter, and the _Mysteries of Udolpho_ by Mrs.
Radcliffe, of London.[12]

Very few middle-aged readers have passed their lives without hearing of
these books; the chances are strong that most of such readers have
dipped into them; and if people dipped at all, before the age of
fourteen, they were pretty apt to undergo complete submergence.

From ten to twelve was--as nearly as I now recollect--about the
susceptible age for the _Children of the Abbey_; and if the book came
into the {283} hands of one of a bevy of boys or girls, in such tender
years, it was pretty apt to run through them all, eruptively--like

It was a book that even young people had an inclination to put under
cover, if detected or liable to be detected in the reading of it; and
elderly people so caught were understood to be only "glancing at it;"
the sentiment is so very profuse and gushing.  None of us like to make
a show of our allegiance to Master Cupid.  Miss Roche wrote other
books--but none beside the _Children of the Abbey_ have come down to us
in the yellow and red of sixpenny form; for which we ought to be

_Thaddeus of Warsaw_ had more excuse in the expression of tender
sympathies for Poland and all Polish people, at a crisis in the history
of that unfortunate kingdom.  The success of the book was immense.
Kosciusko sent his portrait and a medal to the author; she was made
member of foreign societies, received gold crosses of honor; and oddly
enough, even from America there came, under the guiding providence of
Mr. John {284} Harper,[13] then I believe Mayor of the City of New
York, an elegant carved armchair, trimmed with crimson plush, to
testify "the admiring gratitude of the American people" to the author
of _Thaddeus of Warsaw_.  The book, by its amazing popularity, and by
the entertaining way in which it marshals its romantic effulgencies in
favor of a great cause, may very naturally suggest that other, later
and larger enlistment of all the forces of good story-telling,
which--fifty years thereafter--in the hands of an American lady (Mrs.
Stowe) contributed to a larger cause, and with more abiding results.

_The Scottish Chiefs_ has less of gusto than the Polish novel--and as I
took occasion to say when we were at that date of Scottish history--is
full of bad anachronisms, and of historical untruths.  Yet there is a
good bracing air of the Highlands in parts of it, and an ebullient
martial din of broadswords and of gathering clans which go far to
redeem its maudlin sentiment.  Mrs. Radcliffe's _Mysteries of Udolpho_
had more of the {285} conventionally artistic qualities than either of
those last named, though never so infectiously popular.  There are
gloomy Italian chieftains in it, splendid dark fellows with swords and
pistols and plumes to match; and there are purple sunsets and massive
castles with secret passages and stairs; and marks of bloody fingers,
and papers that are to be signed--or not signed; and one ineffable
young lady--Emily, I think, is her name--who by her spiritual presence
and lovely features serves to light up all the gloom and the mystery
and makes the castle, and the dark woods, and the reeking vaults, and
the secret paths all blossom like a rose.  I cannot advise the reading
of the book.


[Sidenote: Wm. Beckford.]

When poor Chatterton--of whom we had speech not far back--was near to
starving in London, he made one desperate effort to secure the favor
and patronage of the Lord Mayor of the city, who was a very rich West
India merchant, by the name of Beckford.  Chatterton did gain an
interview; did get promise of aid, and win strongly upon the {286} good
will of the Lord Mayor; but unfortunately his honor died only a few
days thereafter.  Had he lived, the young poet might have had a totally
different career; and had he lived, the only son and heir of this
benevolent Mayor,--William Beckford,[14] then a boy of ten,--would have
had a different bringing up.  At twenty, this youth printed--though he
did not publish--some journals of continental travel which he had
conducted in the spirit and with the large accompaniments of a young
man who loves the splendor of life, and who had at command an annual
revenue of six hundred thousand dollars, at that day said to be the
largest moneyed income in England.  What a little fragment of this sum
which was squandered upon that splendid trail of travel through Europe
would have made poor Chatterton happy!  But young Beckford was by no
means a brainless spendthrift; he had strong intellectual aptitudes;
was a scholar in a certain limited yet true sense; and when twenty-two
only, had written (in French) {287} that strange, weird romance of
_Vathek_; well worth your reading on a spare day, and which in its
English version has made his fame, and keeps his name alive, now that
his great houses and moneys are known and reverenced no more.

It is an Eastern story, with all the glow, color, and splendors of the
days of the good _Haroun al Raschid_ in it.  There are crime and love
in it too; and phantoms and beautiful women, and terrific punishment of
the wicked.  Vathek, the hero, who might be Beckford himself, wanders
through a world of delights, where evil phantoms and genii assail him,
and fascinating maidens allure him; and after adventures full of
escapes and dangers and feastings, in which he listens to the melody of
lutes and quaffs the delicious wine of Schiraz, he reaches at last, in
company with the lovely Mironihar, the great hall of Eblis; here we
come to something horrific and Dantesque--something which I am sure had
its abiding influence upon the work of Edgar Poe.

"The place, though roofed with a vaulted ceiling, was so spacious and
lofty that at first they took it for an immeasurable plain.  But their
eyes at length growing familiar with {288} the grandeur of surrounding
objects, they extended their view to those at a distance, and
discovered rows of columns and arcades which gradually diminished till
they terminated in a point radiant as the sun when he darts his last
beams athwart the ocean....  The pavement, which was strewed over with
gold-dust and saffron, exhaled so subtle an odor as almost overpowered
them....  In the midst of this immense hall a vast multitude was
incessantly passing, who severally kept their right hands on their
hearts, without once regarding anything around them.  They had all the
livid paleness of death.  Their eyes deep sunk in their sockets,
resembled those phosphoric meteors that glimmer by night in places of

And afterward, when a royal sufferer, who from livid lips had made
warning exhortation to these wanderers, lifts his right hand in
supplication, Vathek sees--through his bosom which was "transparent as
crystal"--his heart enveloped in flames.  Perhaps Hawthorne, in certain
passages of the _Scarlet Letter_, may have had these red, burning
hearts of this famous Hall of Eblis in mind.

Beckford wrote also a very interesting account of certain religious
houses in Portugal which were the wonder of old days and are a wonder
now.  At Cintra, the picturesque suburb of Lisbon, he {289} established
a great Moorish country house within sight of the sea.  Byron gives a
glimpse of this in _Childe Harold_:--

  "Here didst thou dwell, here schemes of pleasure plan,
    Beneath yon mountain's ever beauteous brow;
  But now, as if a thing unblest by man,
    Thy fairy dwelling is as lone as thou!
    Here giant weeds a passage scarce allow
  To halls deserted, portals gaping wide.
    Fresh lessons to the thinking bosom, how
  Vain are the pleasaunces on earth supplied,
  Swept into wrecks anon by Time's ungentle tide."

Byron would now have to mend his description, since the estate is at
present owned by a London merchant, who has bought a title from the
weak king-folk of Portugal, and keeps the great house in Pimlico order.
It is one of the show places of Cintra; and if Moorish domes, and
marble halls, and sculpture delicate as that of the Alhambra, and
fountains, and palms, and oranges, and bowers of roses, and century-old
oaks, and cliffs, and wooded dells, and far-off sight of sails from the
Bay of Biscay are deserving of show, surely this old palace of the rich
Englishman is.

Another palace--for Beckford had an {290} architectural mania--was
built at Fonthill, the place of his birth, not far east of Salisbury.
Here was a great ancestral estate, around which he caused to be erected
a huge wall of masonry, some ten or twelve miles in length, to secure
privacy and protect his birds.  Within he built courts, towers, and
halls--some six hundred men often working together night and day on
these constructions--which he equipped with the rare and munificent
spoils brought back from his travel.  To this Fairy land, however,
Byron's lament would better apply; the walls are down and the towers
have fallen; the property is divided; only here and there and blended
with new structures and new offices can you see traces of the old
architectural extravagance.  The spoiled plantations of Jamaica--whence
the Vathek revenue mostly came--brought the change; enough, however,
remained for the erection of a costly home in Bath, portions of which
may still be seen.

A daughter of Beckford's became Duchess of Hamilton; another daughter,
who declined Ducal overtures which the father favored, was treated
therefor with severities that would have become an {291} Eastern
caliph--for which, maybe, he now, like the poor creatures of Eblis
Hall, is holding his right hand over "a burning heart."

_Robert Burns._

[Sidenote: Burns.]

We go now out of England, northward of the Solway, to find that peasant
poet[15] at whose career I hinted in the last chapter, and whose burst
of Scotch song was a new wakening for that kingdom of the highlands and
the moors.  I dare not, and will not speak critically of his verses;
there they are--in their little budget of gilt-bound, or paper-bound
leaves; rhythmic, tender, coarse, glowing, burning, with a grip in many
of them at our heart-strings which we may not and cannot shake off.  To
tell you about these poems and of their special melodies would be like
taking you to the sea and telling you how the waves gather and
roll--with murmurs that you know--along all the shore.


Nor can I hope to tell any more of what will be new to you about his
life and fate.  We all know that white-washed, low, roadside cottage--a
little drive out from the old Scotch town of Ayr--where he was born; we
have been there perhaps; we have seen other Scottish peasants boozing
there over their ale; and have noted the names scribbled over tables
and cupboards and walls to testify to the world's yearnings and to its
pilgrimages thither.  We know, too, that other low cottage of Mossgiel,
where his poor father--a gospel abiding man--made his last struggle
against the fates--and who of a Saturday night--

  "Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes,
  Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend,
  And weary, o'er the moor, his course does homeward bend."

We all know what a brave fight the two Burns boys, Gilbert and Rob,
made of it when Death, "the poor man's dearest friend," took off the
father; Gilbert the elder; but Robert the brighter and keener--making
verselets in the fields which the elder brother approves, and says
would "bear {293} to be printed;" and so presently after, the first
poor, thin, dingy volume finds it way to the light, and gives to
far-away Edinboro' people their earliest hint of this strange, fine,
new, human plant which has begun to blossom under the damps of
Mossgiel.  But the farm life is hard; the poet is wayward; his jolly
friends near by who chant his songs are not helpful; his love affairs,
of which he has overstock in his young wildness, run to confusion;
quarrels threaten; so he books himself with what moneys the thin, dingy
volume of poems have brought him, for America.

What if he had come!

But no; one low, wee encouraging voice--the piping answer to those
poems--reaches him from Edinboro', and the poet goes thither in his
best gear; Dugald Stewart, and Dr. Blacklock the blind poet, and
Mackenzie, of whom I have already made mention, all befriend him.  The
gentlewomen of Edinboro' entertain him, and admire him, and flatter
him; and he, in best blue and buff, with his dark, rolling eyes, and
lips that command all shapes of language, holds his dignity with these
fine ladies of the Northern capital; {294} gives compliments that make
them tremble; prints other and fuller edition of his poems; goes
northward amongst the highlands--dropping jewels of verse as he
goes--to beautiful women, to waterfalls, to noble patrons.  The next
season in Edinboro', however, is no longer the same; that brilliant
series of fêtes and of conquests has gone by; the new lion is too
audacious; he shakes his fetters with a bold rage that intimidates.  So
we find him with some three hundred pounds only, saved out of the new
book and the junketings of the Capital, going off to lease quietly the
farm of Ellisland, near to Dumfries, and turn ploughman once more.

It is a poor place, but very beautiful; it is in Nithsdale, and the
murmur of the river through its wooded banks makes the poet forget the
crop of pebbles which every ploughing turns to the top.  He is
presently in the Excise too (1789): so gets some added pence by the
gauging of beer-barrels and looking after frauds upon the revenue;
married too--having out of all the loose love-strings, which held him
more or less weakly, at last knotted one, which ties the quiet, pretty,
womanly, much injured Jean Armour to his hearth and {295} home,
forever.  And he begins that Ellisland life bravely well; has prayers
at night; teaches the "toddlin' wee things" their catechism; has hope
and faith, and sings--and sings; and this, amongst other things, was
what he sang--

  "O, Willie brewed a peck o' maut,
    And Bob and Allen cam to see;
  Three blither hearts that lee-lang night
    Ye wad na find in Christendie.
  We are na fou, we're na that fou,
    But just a drappie in our e'e;
  The cock may craw, the day may daw,
    And ay we'll taste the barley bree.
  It is the moon, I ken her horn,
    That's blinkin in the lift sae hie;
  She shines sae bright, to wyle us hame;
    But, by my sooth, she'll wait a wee.
  The cock may craw, the day may daw,
    And aye we'll taste the barley bree."

No wonder the pebbles began to show more and more in the plough-land;
no wonder the jolly fellows of Dumfries came oftener and oftener; the
long bouts too amongst the hills chilled him; the crops grew smaller
and smaller; the "barley bree" better and better; he has no tact at
bargaining; a stanza of Tam O'Shanter is worth more than ten {296}
plough-days, yet he makes gifts of his best songs.  Household affairs
go all awry, let poor Jeanie Armour struggle as she may; the cottage
palings are down; debts accumulate; and so do those rollicking nights
at the Globe, or in a shieling amongst the hills.  Yet from out all the
impending want, and the gloom, and the desperation, come such sweet
notes as these, reaching the ear of humanity everywhere:--

  "John Anderson, my jo, John,
    We clamb the hill thegither;
  And mony a canty day, John,
    W've had wi' ane anither:
  Now we maun totter down, John,
    But hand in hand we'll go,
  And sleep thegither at the foot,
    John Anderson, my jo."

At last Ellisland must be given up--crops, beasties and all; and never
more the wooded banks of Nithsdale shall feel his tread, or hear his
chant mingling with the river murmurs.  He, and they all--five souls
now--just of an age to relish most the woods, the range, the fields,
the daisies of Ellisland, must go to one of the foulest and least
attractive streets of Dumfries, and to a {297} home as little
attractive as the street.  Fifty years thereafter I went over that
house and found it small, pinched, and pitifully meagre in all its
appointments; twenty years later, Hawthorne speaks of both house and
street as _filthy_.  What could or should supply the place now--to the
peasant poet--of the fields, the open sky, the gentle fret and murmurs
of the streams of Nithsdale?

The foul fiends who taunted him in the woods now lay hold upon him in
earnest; every day his fame is flying over straits and seas; every day
his poems, old and new, are planting themselves in fresh hearts and
brains; every day his wild passions are dealing him back-handed blows.
Old neighbors have to pass him by; modest women look away; he has
forfeited social position; and I suspect, welcomed in those days of
July, 1796, the approaches of the disease which he knew was sapping his

  "Oh, Martinmas wind! when wilt thou blaw
    And shake the dead leaves frae the tree?
  Oh gentle death! when wilt thou come
    And tak a life that wearies me?"


And it comes, in that dismal, miserable upper chamber that you can see
when you go there;--his wife ill; his little children wandering
aimlessly about; it comes sharply; he is on his back--"uneasy" the
nurse said, and "chafing"; when suddenly by a great effort--as if at
last he would shake off all the beleaguerments of sense, and the
haunting phantoms swarming about him--he rallied all his powers--rose
to his full height from the bed--tottered for a moment, then fell prone
forward a dead man.

This was in the month of July, 1796; Burns being then only
thirty-seven.  Walter Scott, a young fellow of twenty-five, living in
Edinboro', had just printed his translation of _Leonora_.
Wordsworth--unknown save for a thin booklet of indifferent verse--was
living down in Dorsetshire, enjoying the "winding wood-walks green,"
with that sister Dorothy, who "added sunshine to his daylight."  These
two had not as yet made the acquaintance of that coming man, S. T.
Coleridge, who is living at Clevedon, over by Bristol Channel, with
that newly married wife, who has decoyed him from his schemes of
American migration; {299} and the poet of the Ancient Mariner (as yet
unwritten) has published his little booklet with Mr. Cottle, of
Bristol, in which are some modest verses signed C. L.  And Charles Lamb
(for whom those initials stand) is just now in his twenty-first year,
and is living in humble lodgings in Little Queen Street, London, from
which he writes to Coleridge, saying that "Burns was a God of my
idolatry."  And in that very year (1796) the dismalest of tragedies is
to overshadow those humble lodgings of Little Queen Street.  Of this
and of Coleridge and of Wordsworth, we shall have somewhat to say in
the chapter we open upon next.

[1] Gilbert White, b. 1720; d. 1793.  Oxford man; Fellow in 1744;
curate of Faringdon 1758; after 1784, at Selborne.

[2] A charmingly illustrated edition of _The Natural History of
Selborne_--showing his ivy-covered home and other objects of interest,
was published by Macmillan & Co. in 1875 (edited by Frank Buckland).  I
am indebted for a copy to my friend, Wm. Robinson, of the London

[3] Jane Austen, b. 1775; d. 1817.  _Sense and Sensibility_, published
1811.  Life was written by her nephew J. Austen-Leigh.  Her _Letters_,
edited by Lord Brabourne, 1884.

[4] Not the dreadful, seamy, photographic reproduction of an old oil
painting that Lord Brabourne gives, which must be wholly unfair to her;
but the earlier engravings.

[5] Thomas Day, b. 1748; d. 1789.  Oxford man; married, 1778; _Sandford
and Merton_ published 1783.

[6] Mrs. Barbauld (Anna Letitia Aikin), b. 1743; d. 1825.  There is a
pleasant sketch of Mrs. Barbauld and (for a wonder) an approving and
commendatory notice of her in Miss Martineau's _Autobiography_, vol.
i., pp. 228-39.

Miss Martineau's father, it appears, had been a pupil of Mrs. Barbauld.

[7] Boswell's Johnson, vol. vi., p. 28.

[8] The circumstances are given in _Crabb Robinson's Diary_.

[9] Maria Edgeworth, b. 1767; d. 1849.  First volume of _Parent's
Assistant_ was published, 1796; _Castle Rackrent_, 1800; _Popular
Tales_, 1804.

[10] Miss Honora Sneyd among them, in 1773.

[11] Maria Regina Roche, b. 1766; d. 1845.  The _Grand Dict. Universal
du XIX. Siècle_ enumerates no less than thirteen other romances by
her--in forty odd volumes, all translated, and now utterly forgotten!

[12] Mrs. Radcliffe (Ann Ward), b. 1764; d. 1823; _Romance of the
Forest_, 1791; _Mysteries of Udolpho_, 1794.

Miss Jane Porter, b. 1776; d. 1850; _Thaddeus of Warsaw_, published
1803; _Scottish Chiefs_, 1810; _Sir Edward Seaward's Narrative_ (in
concert with her sister Anna Maria Porter), published in 1826.

[13] Senior member of the old firm of J. & J. Harper, 82 Cliff Street.

[14] William Beckford, b. 1759; d. 1844.  _Vathek_, published (in
French), 1787; better known by an unauthentic English translation,
published 1784.

[15] Robert Burns, b. 1759; d. 1796.  Poems published 1786.  First
collected edition, 1800; Cunningham edition, with life, in 1834, 4 vols.



We have still in our mind's eye, and very pleasantly, that quaint old
clergyman of Hampshire, who wrote about the daws, and the swallows, and
the fern-owl, in a way that has kept the name of Gilbert White alive,
for a great many years.  And who that has read them can ever forget the
stories of that winning Hampshire lady, whose fame takes on new
greenness with every spring-time?  Following upon our talk of this
charming authoress, we had a little discursive mention, in our last
chapter, of certain books which at the close of the last century, or
early in this, were written for boys and girls; chiefest among these we
noted those written by that excellent woman, Miss Edgeworth.  We spoke
of Miss Roche, who gushed over in the loves of Amanda and
Mortimer--those fond and sentimental _Children {301} of the Abbey_; and
of Miss Porter, with her gorgeous heroics about Poland and Scotland,
and of Mrs. Radcliffe's stunning _Mysteries of Udolpho_.  We had a
glimpse of the strange work and life of William Beckford--son of the
rich Lord Mayor Beckford; and we closed our chapter over the grave of
that brilliant poet and wrecked man Robert Burns.

That grewsome death of the great Scotch singer occurred in a miserable
house of a disorderly street in Dumfries, within four years of the
close of the last century; his children--without any mastership to
control, and the love that should have guided dumb--wandering in and
out; no home comforts about them; the very necessities of life
uncertain and precarious; all hopes narrowed for them, and all memories
of theirs full of wildest alternations of joyousness and fright.

_A Banker Poet._

[Sidenote: Samuel Rogers.]

You have perhaps read and enjoyed a poem called _The Pleasures of
Memory_.  It has tender passages in it; it has an easy, melodious


  "Twilight's soft dews steal o'er the village green,
  With magic tints to harmonize the scene;
  Stilled is the hum that thro' the hamlet broke,
  When round the ruins of their ancient oak
  The peasants flocked to hear the minstrel play
  And games and carols closed the busy day.
      *      *      *      *      *
  Up springs, at every step--to claim a tear,
  Some little friendship formed and cherished here;
  And not the lightest leaf, but trembling teems
  With golden visions and romantic dreams.

This poem, with echoes of Goldsmith in it, with echoes of Dryden, with
echoes of Cowper--all caught together by a hand that was most deft, and
by a taste that was most fastidious--was written and published in
London, four years before Burns died, by the poet-banker Samuel
Rogers.[1]  It is not a name that I feel inclined to glorify very much,
or that should be honored with any large reverence; but it is brought
specially to the reader's notice here, because the life, career, and
accomplishment of the man offers so striking a contrast to that of the
Scottish poet who was his contemporary.  They were born within four
years {303} of each other.  One under the bare roof of an Ayrshire
cottage, the other amid the luxuries of a banker's home in London; one
caught inspiration amongst the hills and the woods; the other was
taught melody in the drawing-rooms and libraries of London; one wrested
his conquests in the kingdom of song, single-handed; and the other, his
lesser and feebler ones, bolstered with all the appliances that wealth
could give, or long culture suggest.  The poetry of the one is rich,
individual, and spirited, with sources in nature and in the passions of
the man; the poetry of the other has only those congruous and tamer
harmonies, whose sources lie in the utterance of deeper and stronger
singers before him.  Yet the life of that Ayrshire poet was a miserable
failure; and the life of this other, Samuel Rogers, was--as the world
counts things--a complete success.  No half-starved children pulled at
his skirts for bread.  All luxuries were about him, and from the
beginning life flowed with him as calmly as a river.

Of his early history there is not much to be said.  We know that he was
born at Newington Green--an old suburb lying directly north of the
city, {304} toward Stamford Hill--and now engulfed by the tide of
London houses; we know he studied at good schools there, and under
careful teachers at home; we know that he used to read and love Dr.
Beattie's minstrel; we know that once, in boyhood (he tells the story
himself), craving a sight of the great Dr. Johnson, he went to his
door, but scared by the first tap of the knocker, sidled away, and so
never saw that literary magnate.  It was a timidity that did not cling
to Mr. Rogers; in all his later years no man in London was less afraid
of the pounding of a knocker.

His first volume was printed in the very year on which the poor thin
book of Burns's first poems saw the light at Kilmarnock.  This,
however, did not make his reputation; _that_ came six years later with
the _Pleasures of Memory_, of which I cited a fragment; and thereafter,
all down through the earlier half of the present century, there was
hardly a better known man in London than Samuel Rogers, banker and
poet.  He voyaged widely and brought back many spoils of travel; he had
luxurious tastes and fed them with the utmost discretion.  He had
social ambition, and rare sagacity in {305} selecting his companions,
and in timing his courtesies; he flattered critics, and was obsequious
to men with titles.

His house in St. James's--with its broad upper double window, looking
out upon the Green Park--was known of all men.  Before yet the days of
bric-à-brac had come, it was filled with beautiful things and with
trophies of art.  It was not large nor pretentious; but on its walls
were paintings, or sketches by Raphael, by Rubens, by Titian, by
Gainsborough, by Rembrandt, and by Reynolds; and in its ante-rooms,
marbles by Thorwaldsen and Canova.  There were no children of the
house, nor was there ever a wife there to aid, or to lord the master.
Yet many a lady, ranking by title, or by cleverness, has enjoyed the
dinners and the breakfasts for which the house was famous.  The cooking
was always of the best; the wines the rarest; the meats and fruits the
choicest, and the porcelain superb.  Like most who have richly equipped
houses, he loved to have his fine things admired; and he loved to have
his fine words echoed.  Few foreigners of any literary distinction
visited London from 1815 to 1850, without coming to a taste {306} of
the poet's hospitality, and to a taste too, very likely, of his pretty
satire.  His wit flashed more sharply in his talk than in his verse;
and his dinner stories were fabulous in number, in piquancy, and in
sting.  Like all accomplished _raconteurs_, he must needs tell his good
stories over and over, so that Rogers's butler, it was wittily said,
was next best to Rogers.

He could hardly have been called a good-natured man, and was always, I
think, keener for a good thing to say, than for a good thing to do.  He
gave, it is true, largely in charities; but in orderly, business-like
ways and with none of the unction and kindly indirectness[2] which
doubles the {307} warmth of the best giving.  All London knew him as a
diner out, as a connoisseur, as an opera-goer, as a patron of clever
people, as a friend to those in place, as a _flâneur_ along Piccadilly.
He was cool, unimpassioned, blasé in look, never doing openly
discreditable things; and he carried his reputation for unmitigated
respectability, for wealth, for sharp speeches, for cleverness, for
sagacious charities, down to extreme age; dying as late as 1855,
ninety-three years old.

[Sidenote: Rogers' poems.]

Though the poem entitled _The Pleasures of Memory_ made his fame, a
later descriptive poem, embodying the gleanings from a trip in Italy,
is perhaps better known; and it enjoys the distinction of having been
illustrated and printed at a cost of $70,000 of the banker's money.
Fragments of that poem you must know; the story of Ginevra, perhaps,
best of all; so daintily told that it is likely to live and be
cherished as long as any of the bric-à-brac which the banker poet
gathered in his travels.  'Tis a story of a picture that he saw--a
"lady in her earliest youth."


  "She sits inclining forward as to speak,
  Her lips half open, and her finger up
  As though she said--Beware!  Her vest of gold
  Broidered with flowers, and clasped from head to foot,
  An emerald stone in every golden clasp,
  And on her brow, fairer than alabaster,
  A coronet of pearls....  Alone it hangs
  Over a mouldering heirloom, its companion,
  An oaken chest, half eaten by the worms.
      *      *      *      *      *
  Just as she looks there in her bridal dress
  She was all gentleness and gaiety.
      *      *      *      *      *
  And in the lustre of her youth, she gave
  Her hand with her heart in it, to Francesco.
  Great was the joy; but at the bridal feast
  When all sat down, the bride was wanting there,
  Nor was she to be found!  Her father cried
  "'Tis but to make a trial of our love!"
  And filled his glass to all; _but his hand shook_,
  And soon from guest to guest the panic spread.
  'Twas but that instant she had left Francesco
  Laughing, and looking back and flying still,
  Her ivory tooth imprinted on his finger.
  But now, alas, she was not to be found;
  Nor from that hour could anything be guessed
  But that she was not!  Weary of his life
  Francesco flew to Venice, and forthwith
  Flung it away in battle with the Turk.
  Orsini lived; and long mightest thou have seen
  An old man wandering as in quest of something--
  Something he could not find--he knew not what


  When he was gone, the house remained awhile
  Silent and tenantless; then, went to strangers.

    Full fifty years were past, and all forgot,
  When on an idle day--a day of search
  Mid the old lumber in the gallery--
  That mouldering chest was noticed; and 'twas said
  By one as young, as thoughtless, as Ginevra,
  Why not remove it from its lurking-place?
  'Twas done, as soon as said; but on the way
  It burst--it fell; and lo, a skeleton,
  With here and there a pearl, an emerald stone,
  A golden clasp--clasping a shred of gold.
  All else had perished, save a nuptial ring
  And a small seal--her mother's legacy,
  Engraven with a name--the name of both--

A pretty delicacy certainly goes to the telling of that story; but in
the tale of Christabel and of the Ancient Mariner there is something
more than delicacy--more of brain and passion and far-reaching poetic
insight in the poet Coleridge, than in ten such men as Samuel Rogers.


[Sidenote: Coleridge.]

Yet what a sad life we have to tell you of now!  A life without any
repose in it;--a life haunted and goaded by its own ambitions--a life
put to {310} wreck by lack of resolute governance--a life going out at
last under the shadows of great clouds.

Coleridge[3] was the son of a humble, quiet, self-forgetting, earnest
clergyman in the West of England; and the boy, having no other
opportunity, came to be billeted upon that famous Christ Hospital
school in London--whose boys in their ancient uniform of yellow
stockings and blue coats, and bare heads, still provoke the curiosity
of those western travellers who wander down Newgate Street, and gaze
through the iron grill upon the paved approach-way.

He knew Lamb there--Charles Lamb, who in the Essays of Elia addresses
to him that famous apostrophe: "Come back into memory, like as thou
wert in the dayspring of thy fancies, with hope like a fiery column
before thee--the dark pillar not yet turned--Samuel Taylor
Coleridge--Logician, Metaphysician, Bard!"  Yet this pale-faced
metaphysician and friend of Lamb gets {311} severe beatings at the
hands of the Greek master, though his sweet intonations make the
corridors resound with the verse of Homer.  At Cambridge, where he goes
afterward for a time, he is cheated and bullied; his far-off and dreamy
look upon the symphonies of a poetic world not qualifying him for the
every-day contests of the cloisters; in the haze in which he lives, he
loses scent of the honors he had hoped to win; there is no prospective
fellowship and no establishment for him there.  Disappointed and
despairing he goes up to London and enlists as private in the dragoons
under a feigned name; but friends detect and prevent the military

A little later, we find him in his own West of England again, at
Bristol--whither we have wandered so often in search of poets--and he
encounters Southey thereabout, whom he had met for the first time on a
visit to Oxford in 1794; this brother poet being as hazy, and dreamy,
and theosophic, and hopeful in those days as Coleridge himself.  The
two form a sort of garret partnership--lecture to the savages of
surrounding towns--are inoculated both with the {312} "fraternity and
equality" fever which had grown out of the French Revolution--they
believing that this French car of Juggernaut is to be dragged with its
bloody wheels over the whole brotherhood of nations.  In this faith
they plot a settlement, in the new region--of which they know nothing,
but the sweetly sounding name of Wyoming--upon the banks of the
Susquehanna.  There they would dig, and build cottages, and
philosophize, and found Arcadia.  With kindred poetic foresight,
Coleridge marries in these days a bride as inexperienced and as poor as
himself; and for a little time there is a one-volumed Arcadia on the
banks of the Bristol Channel, with a lovely and pensive Sara for its
presiding nymph.  Only for those few early years does this nymph enter
for much into the career of Coleridge.  Domesticity[4] was never a
{313} shining virtue in him; and wife, and cottage, and Arcadia somehow
fade out from the story of his life--as pointless, unsaving, and
ineffective for him, all these, as the blurred lines with which we
begin a story, and cross them out.  Southey, with a practical old aunt
to look sharply after his youngness, is quickly driven from his
Arcadian feeding ground and for the present disappears.

But Coleridge is still in the wallow of his wild vain hopes and wild
discourse, when he encounters another poet--his elder by a few years
and of a cooler temperament--William Wordsworth; who about that time
had established himself, with his sister Dorothy, upon the borders of
Somersetshire.  These two men, so unlike, cleave together from the
beginning; there is a flagging now in the Unitarian discourses of
Coleridge in country chapels; and instead, wanderings with the brother
poets over the fair country ways that border upon the Bristol
straits--looking off upon the green flats of Somerset, the tufted banks
of the Avon, the shining of the sea, with trafficking ships, to the
west.  Out of these, and of their meditations grow the first book--a
joint one--of {314} _Lyrical Ballads_; its issue not making a ripple on
the tide where Crabbe and Cowper were then afloat; and yet creating an
epoch in the history of British verse.  For in it was the story of the
Ancient Mariner, and words therein that will never grow old:

  "Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
    To thee, thou wedding guest!
  He prayeth well, who loveth well
    Both man and bird and beast;
  He prayeth best, who loveth best
    All things both great and small;
  For the dear God who loveth us
    He made and loveth all!"

Yet the poet does still--from time to time wandering into country
chapels--hammer at strange, irregular sermons, with a mixed metaphysics
and poetry; and theologies of a dim vague sort which beat on ear and
hearts, like sleet on slated roofs, and bring never a beam of that
warming sunshine which lies in the lines I have quoted from the Mariner.

One wonders how he lived in those times; with no moneys coming from
books; only driblets from his preachments; and with not enough of {315}
commercial aptitude in him to audit a grocer's bill.  The
Wedgewoods--so well known by their pottery--who have a quick eye for
fine wares of all sorts--recognize his rare brain, and send him over to
Germany, bestowing upon him an annuity, which enables him to forego his
travelling priesthood, and gives him the means of visiting various
cities of the continent.

The Wordsworths make the trip with him; and after a stay of a
twelve-month--mostly in Gottingen--Coleridge returns, with his
translation of Wallenstein; but this counts for little.  A year later,
he finds his way to Keswick--to a beautiful, wooded bay, where Southey
ultimately established his anchorage for life;[5] the Wordsworths were
not far off, at Grasmere; and Coleridge plans that weekly paper--_The
Friend_ (finding issue some years later) with wonderful things in it,
which few people read then; and so fine-drawn, that few read them now.
The damps of Keswick give him {316} rheumatic pains, for which he uses
protective stimulants; good Dorothy Wordsworth has fears thereanent,
and regards hopefully his appointment to some civil station at Malta.
But his impracticabilities lose him the place after a very short
incumbency; he crosses to Italy; sees Naples, Amain, and Vesuvius;
sees, and knows well at Rome, our American painter, Washington Allston.
There are bonds of sympathy we might have looked for between the author
of _Monaldi_ and the author of _Christabel_.

In England again, the fogs bring back old rheumatic pains; the
alienation from his wife is declaring itself in more unmistakable ways;
and then, or thereabout,[6] begins that terrible slavery to opium,
whose chains he wore thenceforth, some twenty years, and was not
entirely free until death broke his bonds.  There is a dreary, yet
touching pathos in this confession of his--"Alas, it is with a bitter
smile, a laugh of gall and bitterness, that I recall that period of
unsuspecting delusion, and how I first became aware of the {317}
maelstrom, the fatal whirlpool to which I was drawing, just when the
current was already beyond my strength to stem."

But against the circling terrors of that maelstrom he does make now and
then gallant struggle--goes to the house of that kindly surgeon,
Gillman, at Highgate, who is charged to guard him--does guard him with
exceeding kindness; the servants have orders to watch him--to follow
him in the street on his lecture days.  But the cunning of a man crazed
by his insatiate appetite outwits them; and over and over the turbid
roll of his speech--with flashing splendors in it, that give no
light--betrays him.  And yet it was in those very days of alternate
heroic struggle and of devilish yielding that he re-vamps and extends
and retouches that sweet, serene poem of Christabel, with the pure,
innocent, loving, trustful, winning, blue-eyed daughter of Sir Leoline
praying under the oaks, and contrasted with her that graceful, mocking,
radiant Geraldine--with smiles that enchant, and alabaster front, and
undying graces, and wiles of the serpent, and the damps of the pit in
her breath--as if the demon that pursued and {318} pushed him to the
wall had foreshadowed himself in that mocking and most beautiful

In those days, too, it was that the young Carlyle used to come to
Highgate and watch those bulging eyes--pressed out with excess of brain
substance behind them--and listen to his poetic convolutions of speech.
"The eyes," he says, "were as full of sorrow as of inspiration.  I have
heard him talk with eager, musical energy two stricken hours, his face
radiant and moist, and communicate no meaning whatsoever to any
individual of his hearers, certain of whom--I for one--still kept
eagerly listening in hope."

The very children of the neighborhood stood in awe of this wildish
man--who seemed talking to the trees at times; and yet their awe was
broken by fits of mocking courage, and they made faces at him across
the high road.  He died there at last--1834 was the year; within sight
of the smoke of London and the dome of St. Paul's, toward which from
Highgate there stretched in that day a long line of suburban houses,
with scattered open fields, hedges, trees, flowers, and the hum of bees.


_Charles Lamb._

[Sidenote: Essays of Elia.]

Among those who used to come somewhiles to follow that fine, confused
stream of poetic talk which poured from Coleridge's lips, was Charles
Lamb,[7] his old school-fellow and friend in the blue-coat days of
Christ's Hospital.  And what a strange, odd friendship it seems when we
contrast the tender and delicious quietude of the Essays of Elia with
the portentous flow of Coleridge's speech!  A quiet little stream,
purling with gentle bendings and doublings along its own meadows--mated
against a river that whirls in mad career, flinging foam high into
trees that border it, and only losing its turbidness when it is tided
away into the sea, where both brook and river end.

[Sidenote: Charles Lamb.]

I love Charles Lamb and his writings so much, that I think everybody
else ought to love them.  There is not great weight in those essays of
his; you cannot learn from them what the capital of Hindostan is, or
what Buddhism is, nor the date of the capture of Constantinople.
Measured by {320} the Dry-as-Dust standard, and there is scarce more in
them than in a field of daisies, over which the sunshine and the summer
breezes are at play.  But what delicacy there is! what a tender humor;
what gentle and regaling lapses of quaint thought that beguiles and
invites and is soothing and never wearies.

Lamb's poems are not of the best; they have a haltingness--like that in
his speech,--with none of Rogers's glibness and currency, and none of
his shallowness either.  Constraint of rhyme sat on Elia no easier than
a dress-coat.  But in prose he was all at home; it purled from his pen
like a river.  It was quaint, kindly, utterly true--with little yaws of
humor in it, filling his sails of a sudden, and stirring you to smiling
outbreak--then falling away and leaving him to a gently undulating
forward movement which charms by its quietude, serenities, and

There was not much in his life to tell you of; no cannon firing, no
drum beats, no moving splendors.  A thin, kindly face he had, and thin
figure too; in dark or grayish clothes ordinarily, that a clerk might
wear; threadbare perhaps at the {321} elbows; not a presentable man
amongst swell people; never aspiring to be;--as distinct indeed as a
brown hermit-thrush amongst chattering parrots.  He has a stammer, too,
as I have hinted, in his voice, which may annoy but never makes this
quiet man ashamed; in fact, he deploys that stammering habit so as to
allow of coy advance, and opportunity for pouncing with tremulous
iteration upon his little jokelets, in a way to double their execution;
he put it to service, too, in some of his tenderer stories, so as to
make, by his very hesitancies, an added and most touching pathos.

He was of humble origin, his father a servitor about Temple
Courts--only long gunshot away from Newgate Street; and when the
son--through with his Christ Hospital schooling--came to have a small
stipend (first, from the South Sea House and later from the East India
Company), he had his little family--the only one that ever belonged to
Charles Lamb--all about him in his lodgings in Little Queen Street.
There was Mary, his sister, ten years older; his poor, bedridden
mother, and his father, lapsing into dotage and only happy with
cribbage-board at his elbow, and {322} Charles or other good friend to
make count.  It was this quiet household on which a thunderbolt fell
one day.  This is Lamb's mention of it in a letter to Coleridge:--

"My poor dear, dearest sister, in a fit of insanity, has been the death
of her own mother.  I was at hand only time enough to snatch the knife
out of her grasp.  She is at present in a mad-house, from whence I fear
she must be moved to a hospital.  My poor father was slightly wounded.
God has preserved to me my senses.  Write as religious a letter as
possible, but no mention of what is gone and done with."

And only a day after this, the weak old father, with his plastered
head, is playing cribbage; and again, on another day, friends having
come in--very many for those small rooms--and the last ceremonies not
yet over, and they all sitting down at some special repast--Lamb
bethinks himself of all that has happened, of what lies in the next
room (he tells this in a letter to Coleridge), and rushes thither to
kiss once more the cold face and to pray forgiveness that he has
forgotten her so soon.

Poor Mary recovers; she lives for years with her brother; the horror of
the past staying like a {323} black dream in their thought--of which
they dare not speak.  And when new visitations of estrangement
threaten, they two, brother and sister, walk away out from the
streets--on to Edmonton, through green fields, by hedges, under trees
which they much enjoy, to the doctor's strong guardianship and ward,
until repose comes again and a return.  Lamb at last goes to live at
Enfield, which is close by Edmonton, north of London, that he may be
near her prison-house at all times and seasons.

Yet in all these days when the pains and fears of that distracting life
are resting on him, he is putting those tender and playful touches into
the pleasant essays we know so well; conjuring for himself and for
thousands everywhere a world of sunshine that shall overlap the dreary
one in which he lives, and spend its graces and cheeriness upon the
mind of the poor forlorn one, who with sisterly affection cleaves there
and journeys meekly and obediently and sadly beside him.

I do not know how to trust myself to make a citation from those essays
which shall carry to those not over-familiar some good hint of their
{324} qualities; but I venture upon a bit from his _Dream-Children_:--

"Then I told how for seven long years, in hope sometimes, sometimes in
despair, yet persisting ever, I courted the fair Alice W----; and as
much as children could understand, I explained to them what coyness,
and difficulty, and denial, meant in maidens--when suddenly, turning to
little Alice, the soul of the first Alice looked out at her eyes with
such a reality of re-presentment that I became in doubt which of them
stood there before me, or whose that bright hair was; and while I stood
gazing, both the children gradually grew fainter to my view, receding,
and still receding, till nothing at last but two mournful features were
seen in the uttermost distance, which--without speech--strangely
impressed upon me the effects of speech:--We are not of Alice, not of
thee, nor are we children at all.  The children of Alice call Bartram
father, we are nothing--less than nothing and dreams.  We are only what
might have been, and must wait upon the tedious shores of Lethe,
millions of ages, before we have existence and a name; and immediately
awaking, I found myself quietly seated in my arm-chair--where I had
fallen asleep, with the faithful Bridget unchanged by my side."

Lamb was not deep-thoughted; he would have lost the trail in those
meditations and searchings to which Coleridge in his cooler and clearer
moments invited and led the way; but there was about him an
individuality, a delicacy of thought, {325} a quaint play of airy
fancies, a beguiling inconsequence, that have made his path in letters
a delightful one for thousands to follow.

I cannot leave his name without calling attention to the charming
little stories of Mrs. Leicester's School--written by Charles Lamb and
his sister jointly.  They are--or profess to be--the tales told by
school children themselves of their memories--whether sorrows or joys;
and are so artless in their narrative, so pathetic often, that you
cannot help but follow the trend of their simple language as you would
follow a story which an older sister might tell you about your own
homes and your own father and mother.

Those essays of Lamb may sometimes show a liking for things we cannot
like; in his dealings with the old dramatists he may pour chirrupy
praises where we cannot follow with ours.  We may not be won over,
though we see Marston through those pitiful eyes and the lens of that
always tender heart.  And why should we?  That criticism is not the
best which serves to put us in agreeing herds, and to leash us in a
bundled cohesion of opinion; but it is better worth if it {326}
stimulate us by putting beside our individuality of outlook the warming
or the chafing or the contesting individuality of another mind.  There
is never a time when Lamb's generous, kindly, witty opinions--whether
about men or books, or every-day topics--will not find a great company
of delighted readers, if not of ardent sponsors.  Then, for style--what
is to be said, except that it is so gracious, so winning, we are
delighted with its flow, its cadences, its surprises, its charming
lapses--like waves on summer beaches--or like an August brook,
prattling, babbling, and finding spread and pause in some pellucid,
overshadowed pool--where we rest in fulness of summery content.

He was never a strong man physically, and his poor thin form vanished
from the sight of men in 1834, six months after Coleridge died; and the
poor sister--unaware what helplessness and loneliness had fallen on
her, lingered for years in blessed ignorance; she then died; and so we
turn over that page of English letters on which are scored _Elia_ and
the _Tales of Shakespeare_ and pass to others.



[Sidenote: A lake poet.]

On the 29th day of June, just half a century ago, upon a beautiful
sunny afternoon--most rare in the Lake Counties of England--I had one
of the outside places upon an English coach, which was making its daily
trip from Kendal, along the borders of Lake Windermere, and on by
Grasmere and under the flank of Helvellyn, to Derwent-Water and
Keswick.  I stopped halfway at the good inn of the "Salutation" in
Ambleside, with the blue of Windermere stretching before me; and in the
twilight took a row upon the lake--the surface being scarce ruffled,
and the shores, with their copses of wood, and their slopes of green
lawn, as beautiful as a dream.

  "I dipped my oars into the silent lake,
  And as I rose upon the stroke, my boat
  Went heaving thro' the water like a swan."

[Sidenote: Wordsworth.]

The words were Wordsworth's[8] own; and this was his country; and he
who was counted the {328} King-poet in those College Days which were
not then long behind me, was living only a little way off.  From
different points in the embowered roads I could catch a glimpse of the
light in his window, at Rydal Mount.  Stratford had been seen indeed,
but there were only memories there; and Abbotsford, but Scott and the
last of his family were gone; and Olney, but Cowper had been silent a
matter of forty years; and here, at last, I was to come into near
presence of one of the living magicians of English verse--in his own
lair, with his mountains and his lakes around him.  But I did not
interview him: no thought of such audacity came nigh me: there was more
modesty in those days than now.  Yet it has occurred to me since--with
some relentings--that I might have won a look of benediction from the
old man of seventy-five, if I had sought his door, and told him--as I
might truthfully have {329} done--that within a twelvemonth of their
issue his beautiful sextette of "Moxon" volumes were lying, thumb-worn,
on my desk, in a far-off New England college-room; and that within the
month I had wandered up the Valley of the Wye, with his _Tintern Abbey_
pulsing in my thought more stirringly than the ivy-leaves that wrapped
the ruin; and that only the week before I had followed lovingly his
White Doe of Rylstone along the picturesque borders of Wharfdale, and
across the grassy glades of Bolton Priory and among the splintered

  "Where Rylstone Brook with Wharf is blended."

Poets love to know that they have laid such trail for even the youngest
of followers; and though the personal benedictions were missed, I did
go around next morning--being Sunday--to the little chapel on the
heights of Rydal, where he was to worship; and from my seat saw him
enter; knowing him on the instant; tall (to my seeming), erect, yet
with step somewhat shaky; his coat closely buttoned; his air serious,
and self-possessed; his features large, mouth almost coarse; {330} hair
white as the driven snow, fringing a dome of baldness; an eye with a
dreamy expression in it, and seeming to look--beyond, and still beyond.
He carried, too, his serious air into his share of the service, and
made his successive responses of "Good Lord deliver us!" and "Amen!"
with an emphasis that rung throughout the little chapel.

I trust the reader will excuse these personal reminiscences, which I
write down to fix in mind more distinctly the poet, whose work and life
we have only space to glance at now, and whose name will close the roll
of poets for the present volume.

_His Poems._

There is, and always has been, on the part of too many admirers of
Wordsworth a disposition to resent any depreciation or expression of
dissent from fullest praise, which has counted against his reputation.
We do not like--any of us--to be forced into our admiration of this or
that poet, and will not be, for long whiles together.  There is no
{331} bolstering of bad work that will make it permanently sound; so,
too, what good things are done--whatever opposing sneers or silence may
do--will surely, some day or other, be found out.  A book or a poem
that needs careful and insistent pilotage by critics, into the harbor
of a great Fame, will not be so sure of safe anchorage and good
holding-ground as one that drifts thither under stress of the unbroken,
quiet, resistless tide of a cultivated popular judgment.  Wordsworth's
place is a very high one; some things he has done are incomparable;
some altitudes of thought he has reached range among the Miltonic
heights.  But he has printed--as so many people have--too much.  His
vanities--which were excellently well developed--seem to have made him
insensible to any demerits in his own work and incapable of believing
that hand or brain of his could do aught that was not so far above
common level as to warrant its acceptance by the world.  I think he was
conscientious in this; I do not believe that, like many an author, he
put before us what he knew or suspected to be inferior, simply because
he knew it would be devoured.  There was {332} none of that dishonesty
in Wordsworth.  He religiously believed that even "Peter Bell" and the
dreariest lines of the "Idiot Boy" had a mission.

If Wordsworth had possessed Browning's sense of humor, he would have
withdrawn an eighth of his published works; if he had possessed Hood's
sense of humor, I think he would have withdrawn a third.  Humor is a
great and good shortener.  Humor seeks to provoke mirth and ripples of
cheery satisfaction, so it shuns length and prosiness.  Humor is a
charming quality in either preacher or poet; and brevity is one of the
best parts of humor; indeed brevity and humor always lock hands.
Unfortunately, Wordsworth had no humor.  Again, that too free and lax
play of language in Wordsworth--that told nothing vital, but only
served to tie together, by loose and swaying looplets, the flashing
jewels wherein his real genius coruscated and crystallized--not only
fatigued us who followed and wanted to follow, but it filled the
master's time and books and thought to the neglect of that large
entertainment of some systematized purpose--some great, balanced, and
concreted scheme of poetic story, {333} which he always hinted at, but
never made good.  Take that budget of verse which went toward the
making of the "Recluse"--how incomplete; how unfinished even in detail;
yet splashed up and down with brilliancies of thought and fancy; with
here and there noble, statuesque, single figures; like a great
antechamber, detaining us with its diverting objects, with interposed,
wearisome, official talk--we all the while hoping to fare through to
some point where we shall see the grandeur of the house and take in
reverently its great proportions, and pay homage to the master.  But we
never come to those Arcana; we end in waiting; great, fine bursts of
song, and of glowing narrative--sun, mountains, and clouds giving us
august attendance--but no mapping of a whole, whose scheme is fitly
balanced, and whose foundations bear up a completed body and dome, with
cross and crown.  But though his languors of language, his prosiness,
his self-satisfaction do madden one to damnatory speech, yet when his
song breaks out at its best--seeming to tie the upper mysterious world
to this mundane level--to make steps of melody and of heavenly lift to
{334} invite and charm as toward the Infinite, we are ashamed of our
too easy discomfiture:--

    "Not in entire forgetfulness,
    And not in utter nakedness,
  But trailing clouds of glory do we come
    From God, who is our home:

  "O joy! that in our embers
    Is something that doth live,
  That Nature yet remembers
    What was so fugitive!
  The thought of our past years in me doth breed
  Perpetual benediction: nor indeed
  For that which is most worthy to be blest;

    "But for those first affections,
    Those shadowy recollections,
    Which be they what they may,
    Are yet a fountain light of all our day,
  Are yet a master light of all our seeing;
    Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
  Our noisy years seem moments in the being
    Of the Eternal silence: truths that wake,
          To perish never;
  Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavor,
          Nor man, nor boy,
  Nor all that is at enmity with joy.
  Can utterly abolish or destroy!
    Hence in a season of calm weather
    Though inland far we be,
  Our souls have sight of that immortal sea


    Which brought us hither,
    Can, in a moment travel thither,
  And see the children sport upon the shore,
  And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore."

These verses belong to an ode that should never be forgotten when we
reckon up the higher reaches of the poetic tides of this generation.

I am disposed to think that all of us, as we grow older, come into
larger and fuller appreciation of the wonderful intuitions of this poet
and of his marvellous grasp of all the subtler meanings in Nature's
aspects.  Certainly those lines composed above _Tintern Abbey_, do not
offer food for babes.  Only older ones know that--

              "Nature never did betray
  The heart that loves her; 'tis her privilege,
  Through all the years of this our life, to lead
  From joy to joy; for she can so inform
  The mind that is within us, so impress
  With quietness and beauty, and so feed
  With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
  Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
  Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
  The dreary intercourse of daily life,
  Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
  Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
  Is full of blessings."


So, too, in the Excursion, whose mention we perhaps dwelt upon too
lightly--that grand Wordsworthian mating of man with Nature is always
shining through the poet's purpose, and gleaming along his lines: a
deep and radical purpose it is; all else sways to it; all else is
dwarfed and made small in the comparison.  Hence, poor Mary Lamb is
half-justified in her outcry--that under its dominance a poor dweller
in town has hardly "a soul to be saved."[9]  Grand, surely, are many of
his utterances, morally and intellectually, and carrying richest
adornments of poesy to their livery; immortal--yes; yet not favorites
for these many generations: too encumbered; sheathed about with tamer
things, that will not let the sword of his intent gleam with a vital
keenness and poignancy.  Always the great lesson which the stars and
the mountains and rolling rivers sing--sing in his lines; but
buttressed with over-much building up of supporting and flanking words.
Always the grand appeal to man's moral nature and instincts is
imminent; always the verse radiant with the {337} beguiling lights
which he has set to burn upon the hills and in the skies; but, too
often, even the sunset glories pall, and weary with their over-painting
and golden suffusions of language.

If one is tempted to go back to the contemporary criticism of the
_Excursion_, he should temper the matter-of-fact admeasurement and
antipathies of Jeffrey in the _Edinburgh_, with the kindlier and more
feeling discourse of Charles Lamb in the _Quarterly_ (1814).  And of
this latter, it is to be remembered that its warm unction and
earnestness were very much abated by editorial jugglery.  Lamb never
forgave Gifford for putting "his d----d shoemaker phraseology instead
of mine;" and in an explanatory letter to Wordsworth he tells him that
many passages are cut out altogether, and "what is left is of course
the worse for their having been there," and in a wonderful figure
continues,--"the eyes are pulled out, and the bleeding sockets are

_Personal History._

Wordsworth was a Cumberland man by birth, and from the very first
opened his young eyes {338} upon such scenes as lay along the Derwent.
His father was an attorney-at-law and agent for the Lonsdale estates;
nor does the poet fail to assure us in his autobiographic notes--with a
pride that is only half veiled--of the gentle blood that flowed in his
mother's veins.  But the family purse was not plethoric; and--his
father dying, when Wordsworth was only fourteen--it was through the
kindness of his uncles that he had his "innings" at Trinity College,
Cambridge, and felt his poetic pulses stirred by the memory of such old
Cambridge men as Milton, and Waller, and Gray.  The flat meadows
bordering the Cam were doubtless tame to his Cumberland eyes, nor do
University memories count for much in irradiating his future work;
perhaps the brightest gleam that comes from those cloistered sources
upon his verse is that which is reflected from the wondrous vaulted
ceiling of King's College Chapel:--

              "That branching roof
  Self-poised, and scooped into ten thousand cells
  Where light and shade repose, where music dwells,
  Lingering and wandering on as loth to die."


A vacation passed in the mountains of Switzerland sharpened an appetite
for travel upon the Continent; and thither he went shortly after taking
his degree (1791); was in Orleans and in Paris the succeeding year;
caught the fever of those revolutionary times, and for a while
seriously entertained the purpose of throwing himself into the swirl of
that tide of Girondism which was to fall away so shortly after, leaving
tracks of blood.

There was a short stay in London on his return--counting for very
little in the story of his life.  _Westminster Bridge_ and _A Farmer of
Tilsbury Vale_ are all that bring a glimmer of remembrance to the lover
of his books, out of the tumult and roar of "Lothbury" and Cheapside.
Thereafter came the quiet life in Dorsetshire with his good sister
Dora--where his poetic moods first came to print--and where Coleridge
found him (1796) and cemented that friendship which drew him next year
into Somersetshire--a friendship, which, with one brief interruption,
that promised a bitter quarrel--lasted throughout their lives.
There--at Alfoxden, in Somersetshire--was forged that little book of
_Lyrical Ballads_, containing the _Ancient {340} Mariner_ and _Tintern
Abbey_--the best possible types of the respective powers of the two

In 1799 Wordsworth established himself at Grasmere, in Westmoreland,
his sister remaining--as she always did--a beloved inmate of his home.
In 1802 he married, most fortunately, a woman who was always
sympathetic and kindly, as well as an excellent and devoted mother of
the children born to them;[10] moreover, she was exceptionally endowed
to stimulate and give range to his poetic ambitions.  Between Grasmere
or its neighborhood, and the better-known home of Rydal Mount, the poet
passed the remainder of his life.  There were, indeed, frequent
interludes of travel--to Scotland, to Leicestershire, to Southern
England, to Ireland, and the Continent--from all which places he came
back with an unabated love for the lakes and mountains which bounded
his home.  Never did there live a more exalted lover of {341} Nature;
and specially for those scenes of Nature which cradled him in infancy
and which cheered his manhood.  Without being largely experienced in
the devices of gardening craft, he yet gave frequent and profitable
advice to those among his friends who were building up homes in the
surrounding lake district; and the Beaumont family of Leicestershire
show with pride a winter garden at Coleorton, which is an evergreen
remembrancer of the poet's skill and taste.  He resented all undue
interference with natural surfaces; his art was the larger art of
winning one to the reasonableness and beauty of nature's own purposes.

Not a resident in the neighborhood of Ambleside but knew his gaunt
figure stalking up and down the hills; yet not counted over-affable;
the villagers report him--"distant, vera distant.  As for his habits he
had none--niver knew him wi' a pot i' his hand or a pipe i' his mouth."
And another says--"As for fishing, he hadn't a bit of fish in him,
hadn't Wordsworth--not a bit o' fish in him!"[11]  This sounds
strangely to one familiar {342} with _Lines to gold and silver fish in
a glass globe_.

Certainly he did not love babble nor little persiflage; he had neither
the art to coin it nor the humor to redeem it.  But he was capable of
sensible, heavily-charged talk, even upon practical themes, showing a
capacity for, and a habit of, consecutive and logical thinking.  Often
reading and discoursing on poets and their work, but chary of any
exuberance of praise; if ever cynical, tending that way under such
provocation.  Not indisposed--for small cause--to recite from
Wordsworth (as Emerson tells us in the story of his first visit to
Rydal Mount); but reciting well, and putting large, dashing movement
into the verse--as of faraway rebounding water-falls.  His egotism,
though not easily kept under, was not riotously exacting or audacious;
one could see at the bottom of it--not the little vanities of a
flibbertigibbet, but respect and reverence for his inborn seership and
for his long priesthood at the altar of the Muses.

He had no musical ear, no power of distinguishing tunes, yet was rapt
into ecstatic fervor by the {343} near and sweet warbling of a bird.
Books he loved only for their uses; he favored no finical "keeping" of
them, but plunged into an uncut volume with a smeared fruit-knife--if
need were.  Southey dreaded his visits to his Keswick library, saying
he was "like a bear in a tulip garden."  He was parsimonious too;
generosity in praise, or in purse, was unknown to him; and he had stiff
school-mastery ways with youngish men--craving oblation and large
tokens of respect.  De Quincey said he never offered to carry a lady's
shawl; hardly offered a hand to help her over a stile.  He was not
mobile, not adaptive, not gossipy; last of men for a picnic or a
tea-party.  His shaking of hands was "feckless;" which to a Scottish
ear means a hand-shake not to be run after and with no heartiness in
its grip.  That home of Rydal Mount was a modest and charming one;
within--severely simple; in abstemiousness the poet was almost an
anchorite: without--a terrace walk, a velvety stretch of turf, mossy
vases, a dial, a few patches of flowers, grayish house-walls on which
the clambering vines took hold, quaint stone chimney-tops on which the
{344} lichens clung and around which the swallows played, views of
Rydal Water, glimpses of Windermere, of Nab-scar, and of nearer heights
crowned with foliage.

Wordsworth was never a man of large means; his poems gave only small
moneyed returns; nor did he care overmuch for expensive indulgences;
travelling was his greatest and most coveted luxury.  All new scenes in
nature came to his eye as so many new phases of his oldest and
tenderest friend.

For a considerable period he was in receipt of a small revenue from a
local Commissionership of Stamps, and during the last eight years of
his life received a pension of £300 from the Government.  A year after
the grant, upon the death of Dr. Southey, he was, through the urgence
of friends, and at the solicitation of Sir Robert Peel, induced to
accept the post of Poet Laureate--going up to London, at the age of
seventy-three, to kiss the hand of the young Queen, in recognition of
that honor.  This young Queen, then in her twenty-fourth year, was her
present gracious lady, Victoria, who had succeeded to her bluff
sailor-uncle, {345} William IV., in 1837, and to her sorrier uncle,
George IV., who had died in 1830.

Wordsworth was among those stately country gentlemen who believed that
with the passage of the great Reform Bill of 1832, England was about to
enter upon her decadence.  Like many another poet, he had faith in
established privileges, and faith in grand traditions.  He bestirred
himself, too, in the latter years of his life, to defeat--if it might
be--the scheme for pushing railways across his quiet and beautiful
region among the lakes of Westmoreland and Cumberland.  Happily he did
not live to see the desecration of his charming solitudes; it would
have made him wroth to watch the wreaths of vapor from the engines
floating around the chimney-tops of Rydal Mount.[12]  The lines he
wrote fifty years before his death, he lived by to the last:--

  "To her fair works did Nature link
  The human soul that thro' me ran;


  And much it grieved my heart to think
  What man has made of man.
  The budding twigs spread out their fan
  To catch the breezy air;
  And I must think, do all I can,
  That there was pleasure there."

He had not only a poet's, but a Briton's love for that old England--of
mossy roofs, and park lands, and smoking chimneys, and great old
houses, and gnarled oaks, and way-side cottages.  He cherished all
Raskin's antipathy to huge manufacturing centres, and the din of
machinery and trip-hammers; he would have no pounding to fright the
cuckoos, and no reservoirs among the hills to choke the rills; but
everywhere the brooks purling their own murmurous ways through leafy
solitudes and sweet, open valleys.

Well, those are the sights that win most, I think, toward the celestial
visions which the good poet always cherished, and which symbolized best
the "dear Jerusalem,"--

  "Along whose streets, with pleasing sound,
    The living waters flow,
  And on the banks, on either side.
    The trees of life do grow."


Only the name--William Wordsworth--is graven upon the simple stone
which marks the poet's grave, in a corner of the church-yard at
Grasmere; and the bodies of wife and children lie grouped there beside

[1] Samuel Rogers, b. 1768; d. 1855.  His _Pleasures of Memory_,
published 1792; _Italy_, 1822-28.

[2] Crabb Robinson, chap. ix., 1881, p. 165, vol. ii., says he "was
noted for his generosity toward poor artists."  The story he tells in
confirmation is, that Sir Thomas Lawrence appeared at his door and
begged him to save the president of the Royal Academy from disgrace,
which must follow except a few thousands were raised next day; he (Sir
Thomas) offering his paintings, drawings, etc., in guarantee.  Crabb
Robinson continues that "Rogers saw Lord Ward [a nobleman of great
wealth] next day and arranged for the advance by him;" an advance that
never brought loss to either Ward or Rogers.  The latter's
"generosities" were a good many of them of this color; _i.e._, securing
advances which were pretty sure to be repaid.

[3] S. T. Coleridge, b. 1772; d. 1834.  Many of his works edited by H.
N. Coleridge, husband of his only daughter Sara.  Special mention
should be made of the Coleridgean labors of that indefatigable worker,
the late J. Dykes Campbell.

[4] He had a son Hartley, whom Crabb Robinson describes in 1816 as "one
of the strangest boys I ever saw.  He has the features of a foreign
Jew, with starched and affected manners."  He also speaks of the other
son, Derwent, as a "hearty boy, with a good-natured expression."  The
daughter--afterward Mrs. Henry Nelson Coleridge, editress of many of
her father's works (continues Robinson), "has a face of great

[5] Southey did not go to Keswick to reside until 1803-4.  Coleridge,
however, was there as an occupant of a portion of the future Southey
home in 1800.  Southey paid him a visit in the summer of 1801.  See
Traill, chap. v.  See also _Memorials of Coleorton_, passim.

[6] Probably some time between 1803 and 1806.

[7] Charles Lamb, b. 1775; d. 1834.

[8] William Wordsworth, b. 1770; d. 1850.  _Evening Walk_ published
1793; _Lyrical Ballads_ (in conjunction with Coleridge), 1798;
_Excursion_, 1814; _White Doe of Rylstone_, 1815; first collected
edition of poems, 1836-37; _Life_ by W. H. Myers; a much fuller, but
somewhat muddled one, by William Knight, 3 vols,, 8vo, 1889.  Dowden's
edition of Wordsworth's poems (Aldine Series) is latest and best.

[9] See Lamb's Letters, cited in Knight, vol. ii., p. 235.

[10] His wife was Mary Hutchinson, of Penrith.  Their children were
John, b. 1803; Dorothy, b. 1804 (became Mrs. Quinlan and died before
her father); Thomas, b. 1806; Catharine, b. 1808; and William, b.
1810--the last being the only one who survived the poet.

[11] This based on "Mr. Rawnsley's Gleanings amongst the Villagers."
See _Athenæum_, February 23, 1889.

[12] There is a very interesting account of Wordsworth's home life,
etc., in Miss Martineau's _Autobiography_, vol. i., p. 504 _et
seq._--but very much colored, as all her pictures are, by her own
megrims and disposition to sneer at all the world--except Miss



Adams, John, 187.

Addison, Joseph, 4.

Aikin, Dr., 273-276.

Allston, Washington, 316.

Anne, Queen, the times of, 1-3.

Austen, Jane, her life and personality, 265-267; opinions of Walter
Scott, Macaulay, and Miss Mitford concerning, 266, 267; her _Pride and
Prejudice_, 268; _Persuasion_ and _Northanger Abbey_, 268, 269; her
qualities, 270, 271; burial-place, 270.

Austen, Lady, and William Cowper, 246, 247.

Barbauld, Mrs., 273-276.

Beauclerk, Topham, 114-116.

Beckford, William, and his _Vathek_, 285-291.

Bentley, Richard, his _Siris: A chain of Philosophical Reflections and
Inquiries concerning the Virtues of Tarwater_, 9; writes on the
_Epistles of Phalaris_, 9-11; his family, 10; portrait of, 10, 11; as a
writer and as a man, 11, 12.

Berkeley, George, his _Theory of Vision_, 4; his career, 4-9; his
verse, 5; his sermons, 6; _The Minute Philosopher_, 7; his family, 7;
his philosophy, 9.

Blair, Hugh, 230.

Blounts, Alexander Pope and the, 34.

Boswell, James, and his _Life of Dr. Johnson_, 118-122.

Boufflers, Madame de, and David Hume, 150.

Burke, Edmund, 112, 113; his words concerning Beauclerk's widow, 115;
his burial-place, 145.

Burney, Frances, and Dr. Johnson, 138, 142, 164, 165; her stories, 165;
_Evelina_, 165-168; _Camilla_, 168; her Diary, 168-169; last years,
170, 171.

Burns, Robert, his poetry, 291; his career, 292-297; his death, 298,
301; compared with Samuel Rogers, 302, 303.

_Camilla_, Miss Burney's, 170.

Carlyle, Thomas, his words concerning Coleridge, 318.

_Castle of Otranto_, The, Walpole's, 84.

Chatterton, Thomas, the young poet, 202-205; his end, 205, 206, 209;
and Horace Walpole, 206-209; the Rowley Poems, 207, 208; compared with
Poe, 210.

Chesterfield, Lord, and Dr. Johnson, 97, 98.

_Children of the Abbey_, Miss Roche's, 282, 283.

_Christabel_, Coleridge's, 317, 318.

Coach, the Venetian, 3.

_C[oe]lebs_, Hannah More's, 175, 176.

Coleridge, S. T., 298, 299; his life, 309-317; Lamb's apostrophe to,
310; and Southey, 311, 312; and Wordsworth, 313; his _Ancient Mariner_,
314, and Washington Allston, 316; his opium habit, 316, 317; his
_Christabel_, 317; Carlyle's words concerning, 318; his death, 318.

Collins, William, 100-163; his _Ode to Evening_, 163, 180.

Coverley, Sir Roger de, 2.

Cowper, William, his family and education, 239, 240; his love affair,
240; mental trouble, 241, 242; and Mrs. Unwin, 243-245, and Rev. John
Newton, 245; _John Gilpin's Ride_, 245, 246, and Lady Austen, 246; _The
Task_, 240, 247; on American affairs, 248; later life, 249-253; his
Homer, 250, 251; his place as a poet, 254-256.

Crabbe, George, compared with Pope, 232, 233; his birth and early work,
233-235; private chaplain to the Duke of Rutland, 235, 236; his life
and character, 237, 238.

Curchod, Mademoiselle, afterward Madame Necker, 123.

Day, Thomas, and _Sandford and Merton_, 271-273.

_Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_, Gibbons's History of, 125, 127,

Edgeworth, Maria, 277-281.

Ernest, Augustus, Duke of Brunswick, 57.

_Evelina_, Miss Burney's, 165-168.

_Evenings at Home_, by Dr. Aikin and Mrs. Barbauld, 273-276.

Ferguson, Robert, 229.

Fielding, Henry, his coarseness, 67, 68; his character and ancestry,
68; his schooling, 69; his dramatic work, 69, 70; his _Joseph Andrews_,
_Amelia_, and _Tom Jones_, 71, 72; his marriage, 70, 71; his death, 72.

Fox, Charles James, 188-192.

Franklin, Benjamin, and Miss Burney, 166; his words concerning George
III., 184.

Freeman, Edward, his words concerning Gibbon, 128.

Garrick, David, at Dr. Johnson's school, 91, 92; as a boy, 116; a
member of the "Literary Club, " 116; as an actor, 117, 118; his death,
138; Hannah More and, 173, 174.

George I., ancestry, 57; comes to England, 58; his character, 58; his
wife, 58, 59.

George II., 59-61; his reign, 61.

George III., character and personality of, 181-187.

Gibbon, Edward, birth, parentage, and education, 122; his love for
Mlle. Curchod, afterward Madame Necker, 133, 124; a member of the
"Literary Club, " 124, 127; as an author, 124, 125; his _Decline and
fall of the Roman Empire_, 125, 127-130; as a man, 125, 126; in Paris,
126; his burial-place, 145.

Goldsmith, Oliver, a member of the "Literary Club, " 130, 131; as a
writer, 132, 133; his death, 133, 134; his burial-place, 144, 145.

Gray, Thomas, birth, parentage, and education, 79, 80; opinions of his
work, 80; his fastidious refinement, 80-82; the _Elegy_ churchyard, 82;
and the Rowley Poems, 208.

Halket, George, 229.

Hayley, William, a friend of Cowper's, 249.

Hesketh, Lady, her interest in Cowper, 250, 252.

Homer, Pope's translation of, 43-45; Cowper's translation, 250, 251.

Honeycomb, Will, 2.

Hume, David, compared with Gibbon, 145, 146; his birth and early years,
146-148; his _Political Discourses_, 148; his _History of England_,
146, 149, 150, 156, 157; and Madame de Boufflers, 150; in Paris,
151-154; ambassador to the Court of France, 152; did not love England,
152, 153; his home in Edinboro', 154, 155; his death, 155, 156, 179;
his words concerning James Macpherson, 226.

_John Gilpin's Ride_, Cowper's, 245, 246.

Johnson, Samuel, his birth, parentage, and early career, 88-90; his
marriage, 90, 91; his boarding-school, 91; his personal appearance, 91;
goes to London, 91, 92; his _Irene_, 90, 92, 96, 97; and Richard
Savage, 92-94; his _London_, 94, 95; his _Vanity of Human Wishes_, 95,
96; his Prologue spoken at Drury Lane, 96; his Dictionary, 97, 98; his
letter to Lord Chesterfield, 98; in poverty, 102; death of his wife,
104; and Miss Williams, 104, 105; his power felt, 105; his _Rasselas_,
105-108; his friendship with Sir Joshua Reynolds, 108, 109; Boswell's
Life of, 118-122; and the Thrales, 135-137, 139, 140; his journey to
the Hebrides, 137, 138; his last years, 137-143; his burial-place, 145;
Hannah More and, 173; his reply to James Macpherson, 225, 226.

_Joseph Andrews_, Fielding's, 177.

Kames, Lord, 230.

Lamb, Charles, his words on Burns, 299; his apostrophe to Coleridge,
310; his writings, 319, 320, 323-326; his personality, 320, 321; his
family afflictions, 321-323; his death, 326.

Lamb, Mary, 321-323, 326.

"Literary Club, " the, 111.

London Bridge, 103.

Macaulay, T. B., on Boswell, 119; his opinion of Jane Austen, 266.

Mackenzie, Henry, 230.

Macpherson, James, and the Ossian poems, 221-227; his life, 224, 225;
his habits and disposition, 226, 227.

Mitford, Miss, her words concerning Jane Austen, 266, 267.

Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley, her birth, parentage, and early life, 21,
22; her marriage, 22; her letters, 21, 23, 28; has her son inoculated
for smallpox, 23, 24; Pope's admiration for, 23-25; quarrels with Pope,
25, 26; a favorite of George I., 26; her later life, 27-30; Horace
Walpole's words concerning, 30, 52, 53.

More, Hannah, her words concerning Dr. Edward Young, 20; her youth,
171, 172; her pension, 172; acquaintance with Garrick and Johnson, 173,
174; her tragedy of _Percy_, 174; as a worker, 175; her _C[oe]lebs_,
175, 176; her goodness, 175-178; Thackeray's reference to, in _The
Newcomes_, 177, 178; her age, 180.

_Mysteries of Udolpho_, Radcliffe's, 284, 285.

Necker, Madame, 123, 124.

Newton, Rev. John, of Olney, and William Cowper, 245.

_Night Thoughts_, Young's, 15, 16, 18-30.

_Northanger Abbey_, Jane Austen's, 269.

Nugent, Dr., 114.

_Ode to Evening_, Collins's, 163.

Ossian's Poems, 221-227; the Ossianic Hermitage, 257, 258.

_Percy_, Hannah More's tragedy, 174.

_Persuasion_, Jane Austen's, 268, 269.

Pitt, William, 192-195.

Pope, Alexander, his admiration for Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, 23-25;
familiar couplets of, 31; his infirmity and personal appearance, 31,
32; his birth and early years, 33, 34; and the Blounts, 34; his poetic
methods, 35-39: his _Essay on Criticism_, 36; his _Windsor Forest_, 36;
his _Rape of the Lock_, 36, 39-42; writes for the _Spectator_, 38, 39;
his translation of Homer, 43-45; his house and friends at Twickenham,
45-50; his last days, 48-51, 53.

Porter, Jane, her _Thaddeus of Warsaw_, 283, 284; her _Scottish
Chiefs_, 284.

_Pride and Prejudice_, Jane Austen's, 268.

Radcliffe, Ann Ward, her _Mysteries of Udolpho_, 284, 285.

_Rambler, The_, 98.

Ramsay, Allan, 228.

_Rape of the Lock_, Pope's, 36, 39-42.

_Rasselas_, Dr. Johnson's, 105-108.

Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 108-111.

Richardson, Samuel, a printer and book-seller, 62; his friends, 63, 64;
as a writer of letters, 63-66; the father of the novel, 66, 67; assists
Dr. Johnson, 102.

Robertson, Dr., 230.

Roche, Maria Regina, her _Children of the Abbey_, 282, 283.

Rogers, Samuel, his _Pleasures of Memory_, 301, 302, 307-309; compared
with Burns, 302, 303; his career and character, 303-307.

Rousseau, J. J., 154.

Rowley Poems, The, 208.

Ruskin, John, on Gibbon's style, 128.

_Sandford and Merton_, Day's, 271-273.

Savage, Richard, and Dr. Johnson, 92, 94.

Scott, Walter, his opinion of Jane Austen, 266; his translation of
_Leonora_, 298.

_Scottish Chiefs_, Jane Porter's, 284.

_Selborne, Natural History of_, White's, 260-262.

Shenstone, William, 158-160, 180.

Sheridan, Thomas Brinsley, 195-202; as an orator, 199, 200; his end,
201, 202, 219.

Smibert, John, his painting of Berkeley and family, 7.

Smith, Adam, 230.

Sophia, grand-daughter of James I. and mother of George I., 57.

Southey, Robert, and Coleridge, 311, 312.

Sterne, Laurence, his death, 211, 212; his style, 212-214; his
burial-place, 215; his character and habit, 215, 216; his literary
pilferings, 216, 217; pathos of his life, 217, 218, 220.

Stoke-Pogis Churchyard and Gray's _Elegy_, 82.

Stuart, Charles Edward, the Young Pretender, 55, 56.

Stuart, Elizabeth, daughter of James I., 57.

Stuart, Henry, 56.

Stuart, James Edward, the Pretender, 53-55.

Swift, Dean, and Pope's Homer, 44.

Thackeray, W. M., and Hannah More, 177, 178.

_Thaddeus of Warsaw_, Jane Porter's, 283, 284.

Thomson, James, his boyhood, 73; brings his poetry to London, 73, 74;
his _Winter_, 74, 75; befriended by Pope, 76; his _Liberty_ and _Castle
of Indolence_, 77, 78; his burial-place, 101.

Thrales, The, and Dr. Johnson, 135-137, 139, 140.

Turk's Head Club, The, 111 _et seq._

Unwin, Mrs., and William Cowper, 243-245, 252, 253.

Vanhomrigh, Miss, 4, 5.

_Vathek_, Beckford's, 285-288.

Walpole, Horace, his words concerning Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, 30;
his parentage and life at Twickenham, 83, 84, 87, 88; his _Castle of
Otranto_, 84; his letters, 85-87; his words concerning Gibbon, 125; and
the poet Chatterton, 206-209.

Watts, Isaac, associations of the name, 12, 13; birth, parentage, and
education, 13, 14; Bryant's admiration for, 14; his hymns, 14, 15;
endowed with a home, 15.

Westminster Bridge, 103.

White, Gilbert, and the _Natural History of Selborne_, 259-264; his
house, 264.

Williams, Miss, and Dr. Johnson, 104, 105.

Wordsworth, William, 298; and Coleridge, 313; the author's personal
reminiscence of, 327-330; his poetry, 330-337; his parentage and early
years, 337-340; his marriage, 340; his love of Nature, 340, 341;
personal traits, 341-343; his home at Rydal Mount, 343, 344; his
pension, 344; made Poet Laureate, 344; opposed to railways and
manufactures, 345, 346; his burial-place, 347.

Young, Dr. Edward, his _Night Thoughts_, 15, 16, 18-20; his birth,
parentage, and early work, 16; his _Last Day_, 17; his marriage, 18;
back at court, 19, 20; Hannah More's words concerning, 20.

[Transcriber's note: the source book's odd-numbered pages had varying
headers.  In this etext, they have been converted to sidenotes and
placed where appropriate.]

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