The Project Gutenberg eBook of Curiosities of Literature, Vol. 2

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Title: Curiosities of Literature, Vol. 2

Author: Isaac Disraeli

Editor: Earl of Beaconsfield Benjamin Disraeli

Release date: July 24, 2005 [eBook #16350]
Most recently updated: December 12, 2020

Language: English

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Isaac Disraeli




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

George Villiers was suddenly raised from private station, and loaded with wealth and honours by James the First, merely for his personal beauty.[4] Almost all the favourites of James became so from their handsomeness.[5]

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their expressions mean as little as their ceremonies. If a Chinese is asked how he finds himself in health, he answers, Very well; thanks to your abundant felicity. If they would tell a man that he looks well, they say, Prosperity is painted on your face: or, Your air announces your happiness.

If you render them any service, they say, My thanks shall be immortal. If you praise them, they answer, How shall I dare to persuade myself of what you say of me? If you dine with them, they tell you at parting, We have not treated you with sufficient distinction. The various titles they invent for each other it would be impossible to translate.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Les vents, les frimats, les orages,
Eteindront ces FEUX, pour un tems;
Mais, ainsi que les FLEURS, avec plus d'avautage,
Ils renaîtront dans le printems.
The icy gale, the falling snow,
Extinction to these FIRES shall bring;
But, like the FLOWERS, with brighter glow,
They shall renew their charms in spring.

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


The following are the express words contained in the regulation of the popes to prohibit the use of the Bible.

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

It is there also said, "That the reading the Bibles of catholic editors may be permitted to those by whose perusal or power the faith may be spread, and who will not criticise it. But this permission is not to be granted without an express order of the bishop, or the inquisitor, with the advice of the curate and confessor; and their permission must first be had in writing. And he who, without permission, presumes to read the holy writings, or to have them in his possession, shall not be absolved of his sins before he first shall have returned the Bible to his bishop."

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

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

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

The reader may meditate on what the popes did, and what they probably would have done, had not Luther happily been in a humour to abuse the pope, and begin a REFORMATION. It would be curious to sketch an account of the probable situation of Europe at the present moment, had the pontiffs preserved the omnipotent power of which they had gradually possessed themselves.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The style now noticed long disgraced the writings of our divines; and we see it sometimes still employed by some of a certain stamp. Matthew Henry, whose commentaries are well known, writes in this manner on Judges ix.:—"We are here told by what acts Abimelech got into the saddle.—None would have dreamed of making such a fellow as he king.—See how he has wheedled them into the choice. He hired into his service the scum and scoundrels of the country. Jotham was really a fine gentleman.—The Sechemites that set Abimelech up, were the first to kick him off. The Sechemites said all the ill they could of him in their table-talk; they drank healths to his confusion.—Well, Gaal's interest in Sechem is soon at an end. Exit Gaal!"

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

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


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

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

The most ancient mode of writing was on bricks, tiles, and oyster-shells, and on tables of stone; afterwards on plates of various materials, on ivory, on barks of trees, on leaves of trees.[7]

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

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

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

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

Who would not leave posterity such rhymes
As cedar oil might keep to latest times!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Of his Habit.

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

"Of his Diet.

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

"His Recreation and Exercise.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Carmine, qui tragico, vilem certavit ob hircum.

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

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

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

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

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

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

—How now, ye heavens! grow you
So proud, that you must needs put on curled locks,
And clothe yourselves in periwigs of fire!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


As a literary curiosity, can we deny a niche to that "obliquity of distorted wit," of Barton Holyday, who has composed a strange comedy, in five acts, performed at Christ Church, Oxford, 1630, not for the entertainment, as an anecdote records, of James the First?

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

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

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

Fruits of dull heat, and sooterkins of wit.

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

"Geog. Come, now you shall, Astronomia.

Ast. What shall I, Geographus?

Geog. Kisse!

Ast. What, in spite of my teeth!

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

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

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

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

Ast. Won't I what?

Geo. Be kinde?

Ast. Be kinde! How?"

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

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

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

Phan. Nay, sir, the actuality of the performance puts it beyond all contradiction. With his tongue he'd so vowel you out as smooth Italian as any man breathing; with his eye he would sparkle forth the proud Spanish; with his nose blow out most robustious Dutch; the creaking of his high-heeled shoe would articulate exact Polonian; the knocking of his shinbone feminine French; and his belly would grumble most pure and scholar-like Hungary."

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

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

Her brow is like a brave heroic line
That does a sacred majestie inshrine;
Her nose, Phaleuciake-like, in comely sort,
Ends in a Trochie, or a long and short.
Her mouth is like a pretty Dimeter;
Her eie-brows like a little-longer Trimeter.
Her chinne is an adonicke, and her tongue
Is an Hypermeter, somewhat too long.
Her eies I may compare them unto two
Quick-turning dactyles, for their nimble view.
Her ribs like staues of Sapphicks doe descend
Thither, which but to name were to offend.
Her arms like two Iambics raised on hie,
Doe with her brow bear equal majestie;
Her legs like two straight spondees keep apace
Slow as two scazons, but with stately grace.

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

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

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

At Christ-church marriage, done before the king,
Lest that those mates should want an offering,
The king himself did offer;—What, I pray?
He offered twice or thrice—to go away!"


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

He says, that "Not any one old man more than another is mimiqued, by Mr. Lee's way of speaking, which all comedians can witness, was my own invention, and Mr. Lee was taught it by me. To prove this farther, I have printed Bartoline's part in that manner of spelling by which I taught it Mr. Lee. They who have no teeth cannot pronounce many letters plain, but perpetually lisp and break their words, and some words they cannot bring out at all. As for instance th is pronounced by thrusting the tongue hard to the teeth, therefore that sound they cannot make, but something like it. For that reason you will often find in Bartoline's part, instead of th, ya, as yat for that; yish for this; yosh for those; sometimes a t is left out, as housand for thousand; hirty for thirty. S they pronounce like sh, as sher for sir; musht for must; t they speak like ch,—therefore you will find chrue for true; chreason for treason; cho for to; choo for two; chen for ten; chake for take. And this ch is not to be pronounced like k, as 'tis in Christian, but as in child, church, chest. I desire the reader to observe these things, because otherwise he will hardly understand much of the lawyer's part, which in the opinion of all is the most divertising in the comedy; but when this ridiculous way of speaking is familiar with him, it will render the part more pleasant."

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

Old Bartoline thus speaks:—"I wrong'd my shelf, cho entcher incho bondsh of marriage and could not perform covenantsh I might well hinke you would chake the forfeiture of the bond; and I never found equichy in a bedg in my life; but I'll trounce you boh; I have paved jaylsh wi' the bonesh of honester people yen you are, yat never did me nor any man any wrong, but had law of yeir shydsh and right o' yeir shydsh, but because yey had not me o' yeir shydsh. I ha' hrown 'em in jaylsh, and got yeir eshchatsch for my clyentsh yat had no more chytle to 'em yen dogsh."


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

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

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

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

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

Je ne veux point, mon père, espouser un censeur;
Puisque vous me souffrez recevoir la douceur
Des plaisirs innocens que le théâtre apporte,
Prendrais-je le hasard de vivre d'autre sorte?
Puis on a des enfans, qui vous sont sur les bras,
Les mener an théâtre, O Dieux! quel embarras!
Tantôt couche ou grossesse, on quelque maladie;
Pour jamais vous font dire, adieu la comédie!
No, no, my father, I will have no critic,
(Miscalled a husband) since you still permit
The innocent sweet pleasures of the stage;
And shall I venture to exchange my lot?
Then we have children folded in our arms
To bring them to the play-house; heavens! what troubles!
Then we lie in, are big, or sick, or vexed:
These make us bid farewell to comedy!

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And afterwards he adds,

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

C'est toi qui me cherchant au sein de l'infortune,
Relevas mon sort abattu,
Et sus me rendre chère une vie importune.
* * * *
Qu'importent ces pleurs—
O douleur impuissante! ô regrets superflus!
Je vis, helas! Je vis, et mon ami n'est plus!
In misery's haunts, thy friend thy bounties seize,
And give an urgent life some days of ease;
Ah! ye vain griefs, superfluous tears I chide!
I live, alas! I live—and thou hast died!

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Formerly a custom prevailed with learned men to change their names. They showed at once their contempt for vulgar denominations and their ingenious erudition. They christened themselves with Latin and Greek. This disguising of names came, at length, to be considered to have a political tendency, and so much alarmed Pope Paul the Second, that he imprisoned several persons for their using certain affected names, and some, indeed, which they could not give a reason why they assumed. Desiderius Erasmus was a name formed out of his family name Gerard, which in Dutch signifies amiable; or GAR all, AERD nature. He first changed it to a Latin word of much the same signification, desiderius, which afterwards he refined into the Greek Erasmus, by which name he is now known. The celebrated Reuchlin, which in German signifies smoke, considered it more dignified to smoke in Greek by the name of Capnio. An Italian physician of the name of Senza Malizia, prided himself as much on his translating it into the Greek Akakia, as on the works which he published under that name. One of the most amiable of the reformers was originally named Hertz Schwartz (black earth), which he elegantly turned into the Greek name Melancthon. The vulgar name of a great Italian poet was Trapasso; but when the learned Gravius resolved to devote the youth to the muses, he gave him a mellifluous name, which they have long known and cherished—Metastasio.

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

The actor Macklin was softened down by taking in the first and last syllables of the name of Macklaughlin, as Malloch was polished to Mallet; and even our sublime Milton, in a moment of humour and hatred to the Scots, condescends to insinuate that their barbarous names are symbolical of their natures,—and from a man of the name of Mac Collkittok, he expects no mercy. Virgil, when young, formed a design of a national poem, but was soon discouraged from proceeding, merely by the roughness and asperity of the old Roman names, such as Decius Mus; Lucumo; Vibius Caudex. The same thing has happened to a friend who began an Epic on the subject of Drake's discoveries; the name of the hero often will produce a ludicrous effect, but one of the most unlucky of his chief heroes must be Thomas Doughty! One of Blackmore's chief heroes in his Alfred is named Gunter; a printer's erratum might have been fatal to all his heroism; as it is, he makes a sorry appearance. Metastasio found himself in the same situation. In one of his letters he writes, "The title of my new opera is Il Re Pastor. The chief incident is the restitution of the kingdom of Sidon to the lawful heir: a prince with such a hypochondriac name, that he would have disgraced the title-page of any piece; who would have been able to bear an opera entitled L'Abdolonimo? I have contrived to name him as seldom as possible." So true is it, as the caustic Boileau exclaims of an epic poet of his days, who had shown some dexterity in cacophony, when he chose his hero—

O le plaisant projet d'un poète ignorant,
Qui de tant de heros va choisir Childebrand!
D'un seul nom quelquefois le son dur et bizarre
Bend un poème entier, ou burlesque ou barbare.
Art Poétique, c. iii. v. 241.
In such a crowd the Poet were to blame
To choose King Chilperic for his hero's name.

This epic poet perceiving the town joined in the severe raillery of the poet, published a long defence of his hero's name; but the town was inexorable, and the epic poet afterwards changed Childebrand's name to Charles Martel, which probably was discovered to have something more humane. Corneille's Pertharite was an unsuccessful tragedy, and Voltaire deduces its ill fortune partly from its barbarous names, such as Garibald and Edvidge. Voltaire, in giving the names of the founders of Helvetic freedom, says, the difficulty of pronouncing these respectable names is injurious to their celebrity; they are Melchthal, Stawffarcher, and Valtherfurst. Line 3381 - Query word ou

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

But the influence of long names is of very ancient standing. Lucian notices one Simon, who coming to a great fortune aggrandised his name to Simonides. Dioclesian had once been plain Diocles before he was emperor. When Bruna became queen of France, it was thought proper to convey some of the regal pomp in her name by calling her Brunehault.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The learned Calmet also notices among the Hebrews nicknames and names of raillery taken from defects of body or mind, &c. One is called Nabal, or fool; another Hamor, the Ass; Hagab, the Grasshopper, &c. Women had frequently the names of animals; as Deborah, the Bee; Rachel, the Sheep. Others from their nature or other qualifications; as Tamar, the Palm-tree; Hadassa, the Myrtle; Sarah, the Princess; Hannah, the Gracious. The Indians of North America employ sublime and picturesque names; such are the great Eagle—the Partridge—Dawn of the Day!—Great swift Arrow!—Path-opener!—Sun-bright!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Concerning the acknowledged infallibility of the Popes, it appears that Gregory VII., in council, decreed that the church of Rome neither had erred, and never should err. It was thus this prerogative of his holiness became received, till 1313, when John XXII. abrogated decrees made by three popes his predecessors, and declared that what was done amiss by one pope or council might be corrected by another; and Gregory XI., 1370, in his will deprecates, si quid in catholicâ fide erasset. The university of Vienna protested against it, calling it a contempt of God, and an idolatry, if any one in matters of faith should appeal from a council to the Pope; that is, from God who presides in councils, to man. But the infallibility was at length established by Leo X., especially after Luther's opposition, because they despaired of defending their indulgences, bulls, &c., by any other method.

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

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


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

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

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

I have heard that this careless bard, after a successful work, usually precipitated the publication of another, relying on its crudeness being passed over by the public curiosity excited by its better brother. He called this getting double pay, for thus he secured the sale of a hurried work. But Churchill was a spendthrift of fame, and enjoyed all his revenue while he lived; posterity owes him little, and pays him nothing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To choose an author as we would a friend,

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

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

1. Elements of the Laws of England.

Model—The Essay on Bailments. ARISTOTLE.

2. The History of the American War.


3. Britain Discovered, an Epic Poem. Machinery—Hindu

Gods.  Model—HOMER.

4. Speeches, Political and Forensic.


5. Dialogues, Philosophical and Historical.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He calculates an alarming extent of historical ground.

For a knowledge of Sacred History he gives3 months.
Ancient Egypt, Babylon, and Assyria,
modern Assyria or Persia
1 do.
Greek History6 do.
Roman History by the moderns7 do.
Roman History by the original writers6 do.
Ecclesiastical History, general and particular30 do.
Modern History24 do.
To this may be added for recurrences and re-perusals48 do.

The total will amount to 10½ years.

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

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

For reading Père Calmet's learned dissertations in the
order he points out
12 days
For Père Calmet's History, in 2 vols. 4to (now in 4)12
For Prideaux's History10
For Josephus12
For Basnage's History of the Jews20
In all 66 days.

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

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

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


Tantus amor florum, et generandi gloria mellis.
Georg. Lib. iv. v. 204.
Such rage of honey in our bosom beats,
And such a zeal we have for flowery sweets!

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

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

Gray, in his "Ode to Spring," has

The Attic warbler POURS HER THROAT.

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

——κἑεν αυδἡν: HES. Scut. Her. 396.
——Suaves ex ore loquelas
Funde.                      LUCRET. i. 40.

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

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

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

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

Wakefield censures the expression "torturing hour," by discovering an impropriety and incongruity. He says, "consistency of figure rather required some material image, like iron scourge and adamantine chain." It is curious to observe a verbal critic lecture such a poet as Gray! The poet probably would never have replied, or, in a moment of excessive urbanity, he might have condescended to point out to this minutest of critics the following passage in Milton:—

—— When the SCOURGE
Inexorably, and the TORTURING HOUR
Calls us to penance.
Par. Lost, B. ii. v. 90.

Gray, in his "Ode to Adversity," has

Light THEY DISPERSE, and with them go

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

They SWARM, that in thy NOONTIDE BEAM are born,

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

—— for men, like BUTTERFLIES,
Show not their mealy wings but to THE SUMMER.
Troilus and Cressida, Act iii. s. 7.

And two similar passages in Timon of Athens:—

The swallow follows not summer more willingly than we your lordship.
Timon. Nor more willingly leaves winter; such summer birds are
men.—Act iii.

Again in the same,

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

Gray, in his "Progress of Poetry," has

In climes beyond the SOLAR ROAD.

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

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

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

Beyond the year, out of the SOLAR WALK.

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

Far as the SOLAR WALK, or milky way.

Gray has in his "Bard,"

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

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

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

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

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

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

This HAIRY METEOR did denounce
The fall of sceptres and of crowns.
Hudibras, c. 1.

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

—— She from west her silent course advance
With inoffensive pace that spinning sleeps
On her soft axle, while she paces even.

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

The imperial ensign, which full high advanced,
Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind.
Par. Lost, B. i. v. 535.

Very similar to Gray's

Streamed like a meteor to the troubled air!

Gray has been severely censured by Johnson for the expression,

Give ample room and verge enough,
The characters of hell to trace.—The Bard.

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

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

Gray in his Elegy has

Even in our ashes live their wonted fires.

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

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

Gray has a very expressive word, highly poetical, but I think not common:


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

And in himself with sorrow, does complain

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

High-born Hoel's harp.

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

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

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

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd eaves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is torn to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness in the desert air.

Pope had said:

There kept by charms conceal'd from mortal eye,
Like roses that in deserts bloom and die.
Rape of the Lock.

Young says of nature:

In distant wilds by human eye unseen
She rears her flowers and spreads her velvet green;
Pure gurgling rills the lonely desert trace,
And waste their music on the savage race.

And Shenstone has—

And like the desert's lily bloom to fade!
Elegy iv.

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

Milton thus paints the evening sun:

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

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

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

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

Each WINDOW like the PILLORY appears,
With HEADS thrust through: NAILED BY THE EARS!
Hudibras, Part ii. c. 3, v. 301.
An opera, like a PILLORY, may be said
YOUNG'S Satires.

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

When Pope composed the following lines on Fame,

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

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

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

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

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

David for him his tuneful harp had strung,
And Heaven had wanted one immortal song.

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

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

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

The heralds and sweet harbingers that move
From East to West, on embassies of love;
They can the tropic cut, and cross the line.

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

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

Then he adds, they

Speed the soft intercourse from soul to soul,
And waft a sigh from Indus to the Pole.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sir Philip Sidney, in his "Defence of Poesie," has the same image. He writes, "Tragedy openeth the greatest wounds, and showeth forth the ulcers that are covered with tissue."

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

While the charm'd reader with thy thought complies,
And views thy Rosamond with Henry's eyes.

Evidently from the French Horace:

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Butler who can think without just rage,
The glory and the scandal of the age?
Satire against Poetry.

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

At length Erasmus, that great injured name,
The glory of the priesthood and the shame!

Young remembered the antithesis when he said,

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

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

Scandale d'Eglise, et des rois le modèle.

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

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

Goldsmith applies the thought very happily—

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

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

A breath unmakes them, as a breath has made.

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

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

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

You took her up a little tender flower,
—— and with a careful loving hand
Transplanted her into your own fair garden,
Where the sun always shines.

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

—— While universal Pan,
Knit with the graces and the hours, in dance
Led on th' eternal spring.
Paradise Lost.

Thomson probably caught this strain of imagery:

Sudden to heaven
Thence weary vision turns, where leading soft
The silent hours of love, with purest ray
Sweet Venus shines.
Summer, v. 1692.

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

Lo, where the rosy-bosom'd hours,
Fair Venus' train, appear.
Ode to Spring.
Along the crisped shades and bowers
Revels the spruce and jocund spring;
The graces and the rosy-bosom'd hours
Thither all their bounties bring.
Comus, v. 984.

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

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

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

First Fear, his hand, his skill to try,
Amid the chords bewildered laid,
And back recoil'd, he knew not why,
E'en at the sound himself had made.
Ode to the Passions.

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

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

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

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

In the modern tragedy of The Castle Spectre is this fine description of the ghost of Evelina:—"Suddenly a female form glided along the vault. I flew towards her. My arms were already unclosed to clasp her,—when suddenly her figure changed! Her face grew pale—a stream of blood gushed from her bosom. While speaking, her form withered away; the flesh fell from her bones; a skeleton loathsome and meagre clasped me in her mouldering arms. Her infected breath was mingled with mine; her rotting fingers pressed my hand; and my face was covered with her kisses. Oh! then how I trembled with disgust!"

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

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

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

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

Goldsmith very pathetically applies a similar image:

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

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

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

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

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

Vast chain of being! which from God began,

and proceeds to

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

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

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

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

—— And where the unpierced shade
Imbrowned the noon tide bowers.

And B. ix., v. 1086:

—— Where highest Woods impenetrable
To sun or star-light, spread their umbrage broad,
And brown as evening.

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

—— With quickened step
Brown night retires.
Summer, v. 51.

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

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

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

—— Tibi suaveis Dædala tellus
Submittit flores: tibi RIDENT æquora ponti.

Inelegantly rendered by Creech,

The roughest sea puts on smooth looks, and SMILES.

Dryden more happily,

The ocean SMILES, and smooths her wavy breast.

But Metastasio has copied Lucretius:—

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

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

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

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

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

It is extremely difficult to conceive what the ancients precisely meant by the word purpureus. They seem to have designed by it anything BRIGHT and BEAUTIFUL. A classical friend has furnished me with numerous significations of this word which are very contradictory. Albinovanus, in his elegy on Livia, mentions Nivem purpureum. Catullus, Quercus ramos purpureos. Horace, Purpureo bibet ore nectar, and somewhere mentions Olores purpureos. Virgil has Purpuream vomit ille animam; and Homer calls the sea purple, and gives it in some other book the same epithet, when in a storm.

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

The bloom of young desire and purple light of love.

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

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

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

—— Lumenque Juventæ

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

—— With hands divine,
Had formed his curling locks and made his temples shine,
And given his rolling eys a sparkling grace.

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


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

—— What time the laboured ox
In his loose traces from the furrow came,
And the swinkt hedger at his supper sat.

Gray has

The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way.

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

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

Dryden introduces the highly finished picture of the hare in his Annus Mirabilis:—

Stanza 131.
So I have seen some fearful hare maintain
A course, till tired before the dog she lay,
Who stretched behind her, pants upon the plain,
Past power to kill, as she to get away.
With his loll'd tongue he faintly licks his prey;
His warm breath blows her flix up as she lies:
She trembling creeps upon the ground away
And looks back to him with beseeching eyes.

Thomson paints the stag in a similar situation:—

——Fainting breathless toil
Sick seizes on his heart—he stands at bay:
The big round tears run down his dappled face,
He groans in anguish.
Autumn, v. 451.

Shakspeare exhibits the same object:—

The wretched animal heaved forth such groans,
That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat
Almost to bursting; and the big round tears
Coursed one another down his innocent nose
In piteous chase.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The parts distinguished by Italics were rejected.

Thus having spoke, the illustrious chief of Troy
Extends his eager arms to embrace his boy,
Stretched his fond arms to seize the beauteous boy;
The boy clung crying to his nurse's breast,
Scar'd at the dazzling helm and nodding crest.
each kind
With silent pleasure the fond parent smil'd,
And Hector hasten'd to relieve his child.
The glittering terrors unbound,
His radiant helmet from his brows unbrac'd,
on the ground, he
And on the ground the glittering terror plac'd,
And placed the radiant helmet on the ground,
Then seized the boy and raising him in air,
Then fondling in his arms his infant heir,
Thus to the gods addrest a father's prayer.
glory fills
O thou, whose thunder shakes th' ethereal throne,
And all ye other powers protect my son!
Like mine, this war, blooming youth with every virtue blest,
The shield and glory of the Trojan race;
Like mine his valour, and his just renown.
Like mine his labours, to defend the crown.
Grant him, like me, to purchase just renown,
the Trojans
To guard my country, to defend the crown:
In arms like me, his country's war to wage,
And rise the Hector of the future age!
Against his country's foes the war to wage,
And rise the Hector of the future age!
So when triumphant from the glorious toils
Of heroes slain, he bears the reeking spoils,
Whole hosts may
All Troy shall hail him, with deserv'd acclaim,
own the son
And cry, this chief transcends his father's fame.
While pleas'd, amidst the general shouts of Troy,
His mother's conscious heart o'erflows with joy.
fondly on her
He said, and gazing o'er his consort's charms,
Restor'd his infant to her longing arms.
Soft in her fragrant breast the babe she laid,
Prest to her heart, and with a smile survey'd;
to repose
Hush'd him to rest, and with a smile survey'd.
But soon the troubled pleasure mixt with rising fears,
dash'd with fear,
The tender pleasure soon, chastised by fear,
She mingled with the smile a tender tear.

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

Thus having spoke, the illustrious chief of Troy
Stretch'd his fond arms to clasp the lovely boy.
The babe clung crying to his nurse's breast,
Scar'd at the dazzling helm and nodding crest.
With secret[28] pleasure each fond parent smil'd,
And Hector hasted to relieve his child,
The glittering terrors from his brows unbound,
And placed the beaming helmet on the ground:
Then kiss'd the child, and lifting high in air,
Thus to the gods preferr'd a father's prayer:
O thou, whose glory fills th' ethereal throne,
And all ye deathless powers, protect my son!
Grant him like me to purchase just renown,
To guard the Trojans, to defend the crown;
Against his country's foes the war to wage,
And rise the Hector of the future age!
So when, triumphant from successful toils,
Of heroes slain he bears the reeking spoils,
Whole hosts may hail him, with deserv'd acclaim,
And say, this chief transcends his father's fame:
While pleas'd amidst the general shouts of Troy,
His mother's conscious heart o'erflows with joy.
He spoke, and fondly gazing on her charms,
Restor'd the pleasing burden to her arms:
Soft on her fragrant breast the babe she laid,
Hush'd to repose, and with a smile survey'd.
The troubled pleasure soon chastis'd by fear,
She mingled with the smile a tender tear.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Il est des gens de qui l'esprit guindé
Sous un front jamais déridé
Ne souffre, n'approuve, et n'estime
Que le pompeux, et le sublime;
Pour moi j'ose poser en fait
Qu'en de certains momens l'esprit le plus parfait
Peut aimer sans rougir jusqu'aux marionettes;
Et qu'il est des tems et des lieux,
Où le grave, et le sérieux,
Ne valent pas d'agréables sornettes.
Peau d'Ane.
People there are who never smile;
Their foreheads still unsmooth'd the while,
Some lambent flame of mirth will play,
That wins the easy heart away;
Such only choose in prose or rhyme
A bristling pomp,—they call sublime!
I blush not to like Harlequin,
Would he but talk,—and all his kin.
Yes, there are times, and there are places,
When flams and old wives' tales are worth the Graces.

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

Even the studious Bayle, wrapping himself in his cloak, and hurrying to the market-place to Punchinello, would laugh when the fellow had humour in him, as was usually the case; and I believe the pleasure some still find in pantomimes, to the annoyance of their gravity, is a very natural one, and only wants a little more understanding in the actors and the spectators.[31]

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

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

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

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

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

Of the Mimi and the Pantomimi of the Romans the following notices enter into our present researches:

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

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

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

The parti-coloured hero, with every part of his dress, has been drawn out of the great wardrobe of antiquity: he was a Roman Mime. HARLEQUIN is described with his shaven head, rasis capitibus; his sooty face, fuligine faciem obducti; his flat, unshod feet, planipedes; and his patched coat of many colours, Mimi centunculo.[36] Even Pullicinella, whom we familiarly call PUNCH, may receive, like other personages of not greater importance, all his dignity from antiquity; one of his Roman ancestors having appeared to an antiquary's visionary eye in a bronze statue; more than one erudite dissertation authenticates the family likeness; the nose long, prominent, and hooked; the staring goggle eyes; the hump at his back and at his breast; in a word, all the character which so strongly marks the Punch-race, as distinctly as whole dynasties have been featured by the Austrian lip and the Bourbon nose.[37]

The genealogy of the whole family is confirmed by the general term, which includes them all; for our Zany, in Italian Zanni, comes direct from Sannio, a buffoon: and a passage in Cicero, De Oratore, paints Harlequin and his brother gesticulators after the life; the perpetual trembling motion of their limbs, their ludicrous and flexible gestures, and all the mimicry of their faces:—Quid enim potest tam ridiculum, quam SANNIO esse? Qui ore, vultu, imitandis motibus, voce, denique corpore ridetur ipso. Lib. ii. sect. 51. "For what has more of the ludicrous than SANNIO? who, with his mouth, his face, imitating every motion, with his voice, and, indeed, with all his body, provokes laughter."[38]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Italian EXTEMPORAL COMEDY is a literary curiosity which claims our attention.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

—— The lean and slipper'd Pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose——.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sung to the wheel, and sung unto the payle;

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

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

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

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

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

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

which has all the florid brilliancy of an Italian spring.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ecco 'l Messia
E la Madre Maria,

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

Ben venga Maggio,
E 'l gonfalon selvaggio.

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

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

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

The collectors for "The Crow" sung:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Measure for Measure we find,

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

The eager "gull," for his immediate wants, takes at an immense price any goods on credit, which he immediately resells for less than half the cost; and when despatch presses, the vender and the purchaser have been the same person, and the "brown paper and old ginger" merely nominal.[74]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Such were the hells of our ancestors, from which our worthies might take a lesson; and the "warren" in which the Audleys were the conie-catchers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my goodes is but vain hope of gain.
The day is fled, and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done!
My spring is past, and yet it hath not sprung,
The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves are green,
My youth is past, and yet I am but young,
I saw the world, and yet I was not seen;
My thread is cut, and yet it is not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done!
I sought for death, and found it in the wombe,
I lookt for life, and yet it was a shade,
I trade the ground, and knew it was my tombe,
And now I dye, and now I am but made.
The glass is full, and yet my glass is run;
And now I live, and now my life is done![80]


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

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

The real cause of this repugnance has been passed over by our historians. Camden, however, hints at it, when he places among other popular rumours of the day, that "men cursed Huic, the queen's physician, for dissuading her from marriage, for I know not what female infirmity." The queen's physician thus incurred the odium of the nation for the integrity of his conduct: he well knew how precious was her life![81]

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

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

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

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

27th October, 1566.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tros Tyriusve mihi nullo discrimine agetur,

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

Anglus Scotusve mihi nullo discrimine agetur.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

When the Earls of Holland and Carlisle, our ambassadors extraordinary to the court of France, in 1624, were at Paris, to treat of the marriage of Charles with Henrietta, and to join in a league against Spain, before they showed their propositions, they were desirous of ascertaining in what manner Cardinal Richelieu would receive them. The Marquis of Ville-aux-Clers was employed in this negotiation, which appeared at least as important as the marriage and the league. He brought for answer, that the cardinal would receive them as he did the ambassadors of the Emperor and the King of Spain; that he could not give them the right hand in his own house, because he never honoured in this way those ambassadors; but that, in reconducting them out of his room, he would go farther than he was accustomed to do, provided that they would permit him to cover this unusual proceeding with a pretext, that the others might not draw any consequences from it in their favour. Our ambassadors did not disapprove of this expedient, but they begged time to receive the instructions of his majesty. As this would create a considerable delay, they proposed another, which would set at rest, for the moment, the punctilio. They observed, that if the cardinal would feign himself sick, they would go to see him: on which the cardinal immediately went to bed, and an interview, so important to both nations, took place, and articles of great difficulty were discussed by the cardinal's bedside! When the Nuncio Spada would have made the cardinal jealous of the pretensions of the English ambassadors, and reproached him with yielding his precedence to them, the cardinal denied this. "I never go before them, it is true, but likewise I never accompany them; I wait for them only in the chamber of audience, either seated in the most honourable place, or standing till the table is ready: I am always the first to speak, and the first to be seated; and besides, I have never chosen to return their visit, which has made the Earl of Carlisle so outrageous."[96]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a curious passage in a letter of Sir Thomas Bodley, recommending to Sir Francis Bacon, then a young man on his travels, the mode by which he should make his life "profitable to his country and his friends." His expressions are remarkable. "Let all these riches be treasured up, not only in your memory, where time may lessen your stock, but rather in good writings and books of account, which will keep them safe for your use hereafter." By these good writings and books of account, he describes the diaries of a student and an observer; these "good writings" will preserve what wear out in the memory, and these "books of account" render to a man an account of himself to himself.

It was this solitary reflection and industry which assuredly contributed so largely to form the gigantic minds of the Seldens, the Camdens, the Cokes, and others of that vigorous age of genius. When Coke fell into disgrace, and retired into private life, the discarded statesman did not pule himself into a lethargy, but on the contrary seemed almost to rejoice that an opportunity was at length afforded him of indulging in studies more congenial to his feelings. Then he found leisure not only to revise his former writings, which were thirty volumes written with his own hand, but, what most pleased him, he was enabled to write a manual, which he called Vade Mecum, and which contained a retrospective view of his life, since he noted in that volume the most remarkable occurrences which happened to him. It is not probable that such a MS. could have been destroyed but by accident; and it might, perhaps, yet be recovered.

"The interest of the public was the business of Camden's life," observes Bishop Gibson; and, indeed, this was the character of the men of that age. Camden kept a diary of all occurrences in the reign of James the First; not that at his advanced age, and with his infirm health, he could ever imagine that he should make use of these materials; but he did this, inspired by the love of truth, and of that labour which delights in preparing its materials for posterity. Bishop Gibson has made an important observation on the nature of such a diary, which cannot be too often repeated to those who have the opportunities of forming one; and for them I transcribe it. "Were this practised by persons of learning and curiosity, who have opportunities of seeing into the public affairs of a kingdom, the short hints and strictures of this kind would often set things in a truer light than regular histories."

A student of this class was Sir Symonds D'Ewes, an independent country gentleman, to whose zeal we owe the valuable journals of parliament in Elizabeth's reign, and who has left in manuscript a voluminous diary, from which may be drawn some curious matters.[104] In the preface to his journals, he has presented a noble picture of his literary reveries, and the intended productions of his pen. They will animate the youthful student, and show the active genius of the gentlemen of that day. The present diarist observes, "Having now finished these volumes, I have already entered upon other and greater labours, conceiving myself not to be born for myself alone,

"Qui vivat sibi solus, homo nequit esse beatus,
Malo mori, nam sic vivere nolo mihi."

He then gives a list of his intended historical works, and adds, "These I have proposed to myself to labour in, besides divers others, smaller works: like him that shoots at the sun, not in hopes to reach it, but to shoot as high as possibly his strength, art, or skill will permit. So though I know it impossible to finish all these during my short and uncertain life, having already entered into the thirtieth year of my age, and having many unavoidable cares of an estate and family, yet, if I can finish a little in each kind, it may hereafter stir up some able judges to add an end to the whole:

"Sic mihi contingat vivere, sicque mori."

Richard Baxter, whose facility and diligence, it is said, produced one hundred and forty-five distinct works, wrote, as he himself says, "in the crowd of all my other employments." Assuredly the one which may excite astonishment is his voluminous autobiography, forming a folio of more than seven hundred closely-printed pages; a history which takes a considerable compass, from 1615 to 1684; whose writer pries into the very seed of events, and whose personal knowledge of the leading actors of his times throws a perpetual interest over his lengthened pages. Yet this was not written with a view of publication by himself; he still continued this work, till time and strength wore out the hand that could no longer hold the pen, and left it to the judgment of others whether it should be given to the world.

These were private persons. It may excite our surprise to discover that our statesmen, and others engaged in active public life, occupied themselves with the same habitual attention to what was passing around them in the form of diaries, or their own memoirs, or in forming collections for future times, with no possible view but for posthumous utility. They seem to have been inspired by the most genuine passion of patriotism, and an awful love of posterity. What motive less powerful could induce many noblemen and gentlemen to transcribe volumes; to transmit to posterity authentic narratives, which would not even admit of contemporary notice; either because the facts were then well known to all, or of so secret a nature as to render them dangerous to be communicated to their own times. They sought neither fame nor interest: for many collections of this nature have come down to us without even the names of the scribes, which have been usually discovered by accidental circumstances. It may be said that this toil was the pleasure of idle men:—the idlers then were of a distinct race from our own. There is scarcely a person of reputation among them, who has not left such laborious records of himself. I intend drawing up a list of such diaries and memoirs, which derive their importance from diarists themselves. Even the women of this time partook of the same thoughtful dispositions. It appears that the Duchess of York, wife to James the Second, and the daughter of Clarendon, drew up a narrative of his life; the celebrated Duchess of Newcastle has formed a dignified biography of her husband; Lady Fanshaw's Memoirs have been recently published; and Mrs. Hutchinson's Memoirs of her Colonel have delighted every curious reader.

Whitelocke's "Memorials" is a diary full of important public matters; and the noble editor, the Earl of Anglesea, observes, that "our author not only served the state, in several stations, both at home and in foreign countries, but likewise conversed with books, and made himself a large provision from his studies and contemplation, like that noble Roman Portius Cato, as described by Nepos. He was all along so much in business, one would not imagine he ever had leisure for books; yet, who considers his studies might believe he had been always shut up with his friend Selden, and the dust of action never fallen on his gown." When Whitelocke was sent on an embassy to Sweden, he journalised it; it amounts to two bulky quartos, extremely curious. He has even left us a History of England.

Yet all is not told of Whitelocke; and we have deeply to regret the loss, or at least the concealment, of a work addressed to his family, which apparently would be still more interesting, as exhibiting his domestic habits and feelings, and affording a model for those in public life who had the spirit to imitate such greatness of mind, of which we have not many examples.—Whitelocke had drawn up a great work, which he entitled, "Remembrances of the Labours of Whitelocke in the Annales of his Life, for the instruction of his Children." To Dr. Morton, the editor of Whitelocke's "Journal of the Swedish Ambassy," we owe the notice of this work; and I shall transcribe his dignified feelings in regretting the want of these MSS. "Such a work, and by such a father, is become the inheritance of every child, whose abilities and station in life may at any time hereafter call upon him to deliberate for his country,—and for his family and person, as parts of the great whole; and I confess myself to be one of those who lament the suppression of that branch of the Annales which relates to the author himself in his private capacity; they would have afforded great pleasure as well as instruction to the world in their entire form. The first volume, containing the first twenty years of his life, may one day see the light; but the greatest part has hitherto escaped my inquiries." This is all we know of a work of equal moral and philosophical curiosity. The preface, however, to these "Remembrances," has been fortunately preserved, and it is an extraordinary production. In this it appears that Whitelocke himself owed the first idea of his own work to one left by his father, which existed in the family, and to which he repeatedly refers his children. He says, "The memory and worth of your deceased grandfather deserves all honour and imitation, both from you and me; his 'Liber Famelicus,' his own story, written by himself, will be left to you, and was an encouragement and precedent to this larger work." Here is a family picture quite new to us; the heads of the house are its historians, and these records of the heart were animated by examples and precepts, drawn from their own bosoms; and, as Whitelocke feelingly expresses it, "all is recommended to the perusal and intended for the instruction of my own house; and almost in every page you will find a dedication to you, my dear children."

The habit of laborious studies, and a zealous attention to the history of his own times, produced the Register and Chronicle of Bishop Kennett. "Containing matters of fact, delivered in the words of the most authentic papers and records, all daily entered and commented on:" it includes an account of all pamphlets as they appeared. This history, more valuable to us than to his own contemporaries, occupied two large folios, of which only one has been printed: a zealous labour, which could only have been carried on from a motive of pure patriotism. It is, however, but a small part of the diligence of the bishop, since his own manuscripts form a small library of themselves.

The malignant vengeance of Prynne in exposing the diary of Laud to the public eye, lost all its purpose, for nothing appeared more favourable to Laud than this exposition of his private diary. We forget the harshness in the personal manners of Laud himself, and sympathise even with his errors, when we turn over the simple leaves of this diary, which obviously was not intended for any purpose but for his own private eye and collected meditations.[105] There his whole heart is laid open: his errors are not concealed, and the purity of his intentions is established. Laud, who too haughtily blended the prime minister with the archbishop, still, from conscientious motives, in the hurry of public duties, and in the pomp of public honours, could steal aside into solitude, to account to God and himself for every day, and "the evil thereof."

The diary of Henry Earl of Clarendon, who inherited the industry of his father, has partly escaped destruction; it presents us with a picture of the manners of the age, from whence, says Bishop Douglas, we may learn that at the close of the last century, a man of the first quality made it his constant practice to pass his time without shaking his arm at a gaming-table, associating with jockeys at Newmarket, or murdering time by a constant round of giddy dissipation, if not of criminal indulgence. Diaries were not uncommon in the last age: Lord Anglesea, who made so great a figure in the reign of Charles the Second, left one behind him; and one said to have been written by the Duke of Shrewsbury still exists.

But the most admirable example is Lord Clarendon's History of his own "Life," or rather of the court, and every event and person passing before him. In this moving scene he copies nature with freedom, and has exquisitely touched the individual character. There that great statesman opens the most concealed transactions, and traces the views of the most opposite dispositions; and, though engaged, when in exile, in furthering the royal intercourse with the loyalists, and when, on the Restoration, conducting the difficult affairs of a great nation, a careless monarch, and a dissipated court, yet besides his immortal history of the civil wars, "the chancellor of human nature" passed his life in habitual reflection, and his pen in daily employment. Such was the admirable industry of our later ancestors: their diaries and their memoirs are its monuments!

James the Second is an illustrious instance of the admirable industry of our ancestors. With his own hand this prince wrote down the chief occurrences of his times, and often his instant reflections and conjectures. Perhaps no sovereign prince, said Macpherson, has been known to have left behind him better materials for history. We at length possess a considerable portion of his diary, which is that of a man of business and of honest intentions, containing many remarkable facts which had otherwise escaped from our historians.

The literary man has formed diaries purely of his studies, and the practice may he called journalising the mind, in a summary of studies, and a register of loose hints and sbozzos, that sometimes happily occur; and like Ringelbergius, that enthusiast for study, whose animated exhortations to young students have been aptly compared to the sound of a trumpet in the field of battle, marked down every night, before going to sleep, what had been done during the studious day. Of this class of diaries, Gibbon has given us an illustrious model: and there is an unpublished quarto of the late Barré Roberts, a young student of genius, devoted to curious researches, which deserves to meet the public eye.[106] I should like to see a little book published with this title, "Otium delitiosum in quo objecta vel in actione, vel in lectione, vel in visione ad singulos dies Anni 1629 observata representantur." This writer was a German, who boldly published for the course of one year, whatever he read or had seen every day in that year. As an experiment, if honestly performed, this might be curious to the philosophical observer; but to write down everything, may end in something like nothing.

A great poetical contemporary of our own country does not think that even Dreams should pass away unnoticed; and he calls this register his Nocturnals. His dreams are assuredly poetical; as Laud's, who journalised his, seem to have been made up of the affairs of state and religion;—the personages are his patrons, his enemies, and others; his dreams are scenical and dramatic. Works of this nature are not designed for the public eye; they are domestic annals, to be guarded in the little archives of a family; they are offerings cast before our Lares.

Pleasing, when youth is long expired, to trace
The forms our pencil or our pen design'd;
Such was our youthful air, and shape, and face,
Such the soft image of our youthful mind.


In the history of literature, and perhaps in that of the human mind, the institution of the LICENSERS OF THE PRESS, and CENSORS OF BOOKS, was a bold invention, designed to counteract that of the Press itself; and even to convert this newly-discovered instrument of human freedom into one which might serve to perpetuate that system of passive obedience which had so long enabled modern Rome to dictate her laws to the universe. It was thought possible in the subtlety of Italian astuzia and Spanish monachism, to place a sentinel on the very thoughts as well as on the persons of authors; and in extreme cases, that books might be condemned to the flames as well as heretics.

Of this institution, the beginnings are obscure, for it originated in caution and fear; but as the work betrays the workman, and the national physiognomy the native, it is evident that so inquisitorial an act could only have originated in the Inquisition itself. Feeble or partial attempts might previously have existed, for we learn that the monks had a part of their libraries called the inferno, which was not the part which they least visited, for it contained, or hid, all the prohibited books which they could smuggle into it. But this inquisitorial power assumed its most formidable shape in the council of Trent, when some gloomy spirits from Rome and Madrid foresaw the revolution of this new age of books. The triple-crowned pontiff had in vain rolled the thunders of the Vatican, to strike out of the hands of all men the volumes of Wickliffe, of Huss, and of Luther, and even menaced their eager readers with death. At this council Pius IV. was presented with a catalogue of books of which they denounced that the perusal ought to be forbidden; his bull not only confirmed this list of the condemned, but added rules how books should be judged. Subsequent popes enlarged these catalogues, and added to the rules, as the monstrous novelties started up. Inquisitors of books were appointed; at Rome they consisted of certain cardinals and "the master of the holy palace;" and literary inquisitors were elected at Madrid, at Lisbon, at Naples, and for the Low Countries; they were watching the ubiquity of the human mind. These catalogues of prohibited books were called Indexes; and at Rome a body of these literary despots are still called "the Congregation of the Index." The simple Index is a list of condemned books which are never to be opened; but the Expurgatory Index indicates those only prohibited till they have undergone a purification. No book was allowed to be on any subject, or in any language, which contained a single position, an ambiguous sentence, even a word, which, in the most distant sense, could be construed opposite to the doctrines of the supreme authority of this council of Trent; where it seems to have been enacted, that all men, literate and illiterate, prince and peasant, the Italian, the Spaniard and the Netherlander, should take the mint-stamp of their thoughts from the council of Trent, and millions of souls be struck off at one blow, out of the same used mould.

The sages who compiled these Indexes, indeed, long had reason to imagine that passive obedience was attached to the human character: and therefore they considered, that the publications of their adversaries required no other notice than a convenient insertion in their indexes. But the heretics diligently reprinted them with ample prefaces and useful annotations; Dr. James, of Oxford, republished an Index with due animadversions. The parties made an opposite use of them: while the catholic crossed himself at every title, the heretic would purchase no book which had not been indexed. One of their portions exposed a list of those authors whose heads were condemned as well as their books: it was a catalogue of men of genius.

The results of these indexes were somewhat curious. As they were formed in different countries, the opinions were often diametrically opposite to each other. The learned Arias Montanus, who was a chief inquisitor in the Netherlands, and concerned in the Antwerp Index, lived to see his own works placed in the Roman Index; while the inquisitor of Naples was so displeased with the Spanish Index, that he persisted to assert that it had never been printed at Madrid! Men who began by insisting that all the world should not differ from their opinions, ended by not agreeing with themselves. A civil war raged among the Index-makers; and if one criminated, the other retaliated. If one discovered ten places necessary to be expurgated, another found thirty, and a third inclined to place the whole work in the condemned list. The inquisitors at length became so doubtful of their own opinions, that they sometimes expressed in their license for printing, that "they tolerated the reading, after the book had been corrected by themselves, till such time as the work should be considered worthy of some farther correction." The expurgatory Indexes excited louder complaints than those which simply condemned books; because the purgers and castrators, as they were termed, or as Milton calls them, "the executioners of books," by omitting, or interpolating passages, made an author say, or unsay, what the inquisitors chose; and their editions, after the death of the authors, were compared to the erasures or forgeries in records: for the books which an author leaves behind him, with his last corrections, are like his last will and testament, and the public are the legitimate heirs of an author's opinions.

The whole process of these expurgatory Indexes, that "rakes through the entrails of many an old good author, with a violation worse than any could be offered to his tomb," as Milton says, must inevitably draw off the life-blood, and leave an author a mere spectre! A book in Spain and Portugal passes through six or seven courts before it can be published, and is supposed to recommend itself by the information, that it is published with all the necessary privileges. They would sometimes keep works from publication till they had "properly qualified them, interemse calficam," which in one case is said to have occupied them during forty years. Authors of genius have taken fright at the gripe of "the master of the holy palace," or the lacerating scratches of the "corrector-general por su magestad." At Madrid and Lisbon, and even at Rome, this licensing of books has confined most of their authors to the body of the good fathers themselves.

The Commentaries on the Lusiad, by Faria de Souza, had occupied his zealous labours for twenty-five years, and were favourably received by the learned. But the commentator was brought before this tribunal of criticism and religion, as suspected of heretical opinions; when the accuser did not succeed before the inquisitors of Madrid, he carried the charge to that of Lisbon: an injunction was immediately issued to forbid the sale of the Commentaries, and it cost the commentator an elaborate defence, to demonstrate the catholicism of the poet and himself. The Commentaries finally were released from perpetual imprisonment.

This system has prospered to admiration, in keeping public opinion down to a certain meanness of spirit, and happily preserved stationary the childish stupidity through the nation, on which so much depended.

Nani's History of Venice is allowed to be printed, because it contained nothing against princes. Princes then were either immaculate or historians false. The History of Guicciardini is still scarred with the merciless wound of the papistic censor; and a curious account of the origin and increase of papal power was long wanting in the third and fourth book of his history. Velly's History of France would have been an admirable work had it not been printed at Paris!

When the insertions in the Index were found of no other use than to bring the peccant volumes under the eyes of the curious, they employed the secular arm in burning them in public places. The history of these literary conflagrations has often been traced by writers of opposite parties; for the truth is, that both used them: zealots seem all formed of one material, whatever be their party. They had yet to learn, that burning was not confuting, and that these public fires were an advertisement by proclamation. The publisher of Erasmus's Colloquies intrigued to procure the burning of his book, which raised the sale to twenty-four thousand!

A curious literary anecdote has reached us of the times of Henry VIII. Tonstall, Bishop of London, accused at that day for his moderation in preferring the burning of books to that of authors, which was then getting into practice, to testify his abhorrence of Tindal's principles, who had printed a translation of the New Testament, a sealed book for the multitude, thought of purchasing all the copies of Tindal's translation, and annihilating them in the common flame. This occurred to him when passing through Antwerp in 1529, then a place of refuge for the Tindalists. He employed an English merchant there for this business, who happened to be a secret follower of Tindal, and acquainted him with the bishop's intention. Tindal was extremely glad to hear of the project, for he was desirous of printing a more correct edition of his version; the first impression still hung on his hands, and he was too poor to make a new one; he gladly furnished the English merchant with all his unsold copies, which the bishop as eagerly bought, and had them all publicly burnt in Cheapside. The people not only declared this was a "burning of the word of God," but it inflamed the desire of reading that volume; and the second edition was sought after at any price. When one of the Tindalists, who was sent here to sell them, was promised by the lord chancellor, in a private examination, that he should not suffer if he would reveal who encouraged and supported his party at Antwerp, the Tindalist immediately accepted the offer, and assured the lord chancellor that the greatest encouragement they had was from Tonstall, the Bishop of London, who had bought up half the impression, and enabled them to produce a second!

In the reign of Henry VIII. we seem to have burnt books on both sides; it was an age of unsettled opinions; in Edward's, the Catholic works were burnt; and Mary had her pyramids of Protestant volumes; in Elizabeth's, political pamphlets fed the flames; and libels in the reign of James I. and his sons.

Such was this black dwarf of literature, generated by Italian craft and Spanish monkery, which, however, was fondly adopted as it crept in among all the nations of Europe. France cannot exactly fix on the era of her Censeurs de Livres; and we ourselves, who gave it its death-blow, found the custom prevail without any authority from our statutes. The practice of licensing books was unquestionably derived from the Inquisition, and was applied here first to books of religion. Britain long groaned under the leaden stamp of an Imprimatur. Oxford and Cambridge still grasp at this shadow of departed literary despotism; they have their licensers and their Imprimaturs. Long, even in our land, men of genius were either suffering the vigorous limbs of their productions to be shamefully mutilated in public, or voluntarily committed a literary suicide in their own manuscripts. Camden declared that he was not suffered to print all his Elizabeth, and sent those passages over to De Thou, the French historian, who printed his history faithfully two years after Camden's first edition, 1615. The same happened to Lord Herbert's History of Henry VIII. which has never been given according to the original, which is still in existence. In the poems of Lord Brooke, we find a lacuna of the first twenty pages; it was a poem on Religion, cancelled by the order of Archbishop Laud. The great Sir Matthew Hale ordered that none of his works should be printed after his death; as he apprehended that, in the licensing of them, some things might be struck out or altered, which he had observed, not without some indignation, had been done to those of a learned friend; and he preferred bequeathing his uncorrupted MSS. to the Society of Lincoln's Inn, as their only guardians, hoping that they were a treasure worth keeping. Contemporary authors have frequent allusions to such books, imperfect and mutilated at the caprice or the violence of a licenser.

The laws of England have never violated the freedom and the dignity of its press. "There is no law to prevent the printing of any book in England, only a decree in the Star-chamber," said the learned Selden.[107] Proclamations were occasionally issued against authors and books; and foreign works were, at times, prohibited. The freedom of the press was rather circumvented, than openly attacked, in the reign of Elizabeth, who dreaded the Roman Catholics, who were at once disputing her right to the throne, and the religion of the state. Foreign publications, or "books from any parts beyond the seas," were therefore prohibited.[108] The press, however, was not free under the reign of a sovereign, whose high-toned feelings, and the exigencies of the times, rendered as despotic in deeds, as the pacific James was in words. Although the press had then no restrictions, an author was always at the mercy of the government. Elizabeth too had a keen scent after what she called treason, which she allowed to take in a large compass. She condemned one author (with his publisher) to have the hand cut off which wrote his book; and she hanged another.[109] It was Sir Francis Bacon, or his father, who once pleasantly turned aside the keen edge of her regal vindictiveness; for when Elizabeth was inquiring whether an author, whose book she had given him to examine, was not guilty of treason, he replied, "Not of treason, madam, but of robbery, if you please; for he has taken all that is worth noticing in him from Tacitus and Sallust." With the fear of Elizabeth before his eyes, Holinshed castrated the volumes of his History. When Giles Fletcher, after his Russian embassy, congratulated himself with having escaped with his head, and on his return wrote a book called "The Russian Commonwealth," describing its tyranny, Elizabeth forbad the publishing of the work. Our Russian merchants were frightened, for they petitioned the queen to suppress the work; the original petition, with the offensive passages, exists among the Lansdowne manuscripts. It is curious to contrast this fact with another better known, under the reign of William the Third; then the press had obtained its perfect freedom, and even the shadow of the sovereign could not pass between an author and his work. When the Danish ambassador complained to the king of the freedom which Lord Molesworth had exercised on his master's government, in his Account of Denmark, and hinted that, if a Dane had done the same with a King of England, he would, on complaint, have taken the author's head off—"That I cannot do," replied the sovereign of a free people; "but if you please, I will tell him what you say, and he shall put it into the next edition of his book." What an immense interval between the feelings of Elizabeth and William, with hardly a century betwixt them!

James the First proclaimed Buchanan's history, and a political tract of his, at "the Mercat Cross;" and every one was to bring his copy "to be perusit and purgit of the offensive and extraordinare materis," under a heavy penalty. Knox, whom Milton calls "the Reformer of a Kingdom," was also curtailed; and "the sense of that great man shall, to all posterity, be lost for the fearfulness or the presumptuous rashness of a perfunctory licenser."

The regular establishment of licensers of the press appeared under Charles the First. It must be placed among the projects of Laud, and the king, I suspect, inclined to it; for by a passage in a manuscript letter of the times, I find, that when Charles printed his speech on the dissolution of the parliament, which excited such general discontent, some one printed Queen Elizabeth's last speech as a companion-piece. This was presented to the king by his own printer, John Bill, not from a political motive, but merely by way of complaint that another had printed, without leave or license, that which, as the king's printer, he asserted was his own copyright. Charles does not seem to have been pleased with the gift, and observed, "You printers print anything." Three gentlemen of the bed-chamber, continues the writer, standing by, commended Mr. Bill very much, and prayed him to come oftener with such rarities to the king, because they might do some good.[110]

One of the consequences of this persecution of the press was, the raising up of a new class of publishers, under the government of Charles I., those who became noted for what was then called "unlawful and unlicensed books." Sparkes, the publisher of Prynne's "Histriomastix," was of this class. I have elsewhere entered more particularly into this subject.[111] The Presbyterian party in parliament, who thus found the press closed on them, vehemently cried out for its freedom: and it was imagined, that when they had ascended into power, the odious office of a licenser of the press would have been abolished; but these pretended friends of freedom, on the contrary, discovered themselves as tenderly alive to the office as the old government, and maintained it with the extremest vigour. Such is the political history of mankind.

The literary fate of Milton was remarkable: his genius was castrated alike by the monarchical and the republican government. The royal licenser expunged several passages from Milton's history, in which Milton had painted the superstition, the pride, and the cunning of the Saxon monks, which the sagacious licenser applied to Charles II. and the bishops; but Milton had before suffered as merciless a mutilation from his old friends the republicans; who suppressed a bold picture, taken from life, which he had introduced into his History of the Long Parliament and Assembly of Divines. Milton gave the unlicensed passages to the Earl of Anglesea, a literary nobleman, the editor of Whitelocke's Memorials; and the castrated passage, which could not be licensed in 1670, was received with peculiar interest when separately published in 1681.[112] "If there be found in an author's book one sentence of a venturous edge, uttered in the height of zeal, and who knows whether it might not be the dictate of a divine spirit, yet not suiting every low decrepit humour of their own, they will not pardon him their dash."

This office seems to have lain dormant a short time under Cromwell, from the scruples of a conscientious licenser, who desired the council of state, in 1649, for reasons given, to be discharged from that employment. This Mabot, the licenser, was evidently deeply touched by Milton's address for "The Liberty of Unlicensed Printing." The office was, however, revived on the restoration of Charles II.; and through the reign of James II. the abuses of licensers were unquestionably not discouraged: their castrations of books reprinted appear to have been very artful; for in reprinting Gage's "Survey of the West Indies," which originally consisted of twenty-two chapters, in 1648 and 1657, with a dedication to Sir Thomas Fairfax,—in 1677, after expunging the passages in honour of Fairfax, the dedication is dexterously turned into a preface; and the twenty-second chapter being obnoxious for containing particulars of the artifices of "the papalins," as Milton calls the Papists, in converting the author, was entirely chopped away by the licenser's hatchet. The castrated chapter, as usual, was preserved afterwards separately. Literary despotism at least is short-sighted in its views, for the expedients it employs are certain of overturning themselves.

On this subject we must not omit noticing one of the noblest and most eloquent prose compositions of Milton; "the Areopagitica; a Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing." It is a work of love and inspiration, and breathing the most enlarged spirit of literature; separating, at an awful distance from the multitude, that character "who was born to study and to love learning for itself, not for lucre, or any other end, but, perhaps, for that lasting fame and perpetuity of praise, which God and good men have consented shall be the reward of those whose published labours advance the good of mankind."

One part of this unparalleled effusion turns on "the quality which ought to be in every licenser." It will suit our new licensers of public opinion, a laborious corps well known, who constitute themselves without an act of Star-chamber. I shall pick out but a few sentences, that I may add some little facts, casually preserved, of the ineptitude of such an officer.

"He who is made judge to sit upon the birth or death of books, whether they may be wafted into this world or not, had need to be a man above the common measure, both studious, learned, and judicious; there may be else no mean mistakes in his censure. If he be of such worth as behoves him, there cannot be a more tedious and unpleasing journey-work, a greater loss of time levied upon his head, than to be made the perpetual reader of unchosen books and pamphlets. There is no book acceptable, unless at certain seasons; but to be enjoyned the reading of that at all times, whereof three pages would not down at any time, is an imposition which I cannot believe how he that values time and his own studies, or is but of a sensible nostril, should be able to endure.—What advantage is it to be a man over it is to be a boy at school, if we have only 'scaped the ferula to come under the fescue of an Imprimatur?—if serious and elaborate writings, as if they were no more than the theme of a grammar lad under his pedagogue, must not be uttered without the cursory eyes of a temporising licenser? When a man writes to the world, he summons up all his reason and deliberation to assist him; he searches, meditates, is industrious, and likely consults and confers with his judicious friends, as well as any that writ before him; if in this, the most consummate act of his fidelity and ripeness, no years, no industry, no former proof of his abilities can bring him to that state of maturity as not to be still mistrusted and suspected, unless he carry all his considerate diligence, all his midnight watchings, and expense of Palladian oil, to the hasty view of an unleisured licenser, perhaps much his younger, perhaps inferior in judgment, perhaps one who never knew the labour of book writing; and if he be not repulsed or slighted, must appear in print like a Punie with his guardian, and his censor's hand on the back of his title to be his bail and surety that he is no idiot or seducer, it cannot be but a dishonour and derogation to the author, to the book, to the privilege and dignity of learning."

The reader may now follow the stream in the great original; I must, however, preserve one image of exquisite sarcasm.

"Debtors and delinquents walk about without a keeper; but inoffensive books must not stir forth without a visible jailor in their title; nor is it to the common people less than a reproach; for if we dare not trust them with an English pamphlet, what do we but censure them for a giddy, vitious, and ungrounded people, in such a sick and weak state of faith and discretion, as to be able to take nothing but thro' the glister-pipe of a licenser!"

The ignorance and stupidity of these censors were often, indeed, as remarkable as their exterminating spirit. The noble simile of Milton, of Satan with the rising sun, in the first book of the Paradise Lost, had nearly occasioned the suppression of our national epic: it was supposed to contain a treasonable allusion. The tragedy of Arminius, by one Paterson, who was an amanuensis of the poet Thomson, was intended for representation, but the dramatic censor refused a license: as Edward and Eleanora was not permitted to be performed, being considered a party work, our sagacious state-critic imagined that Paterson's own play was in the same predicament by being in the same hand-writing! Malebranche said, that he could never obtain an approbation for his "Research after Truth," because it was unintelligible to his censors; at length Mezeray, the historian, approved of it as a book of geometry. Latterly, in France, it is said that the greatest geniuses were obliged to submit their works to the critical understanding of persons who had formerly been low dependents on some man of quality, and who appear to have brought the same servility of mind to the examination of works of genius. There is something, which, on the principle of incongruity and contrast, becomes exquisitely ludicrous, in observing the works of men of genius allowed to be printed, and even commended, by certain persons who have never printed their names but to their licenses. One of these gentlemen suppressed a work, because it contained principles of government which appeared to him not conformable to the laws of Moses. Another said to a geometrician—"I cannot permit the publication of your book: you dare to say, that, between two given points, the shortest line is the straight line. Do you think me such an idiot as not to perceive your allusion? If your work appeared, I should make enemies of all those who find, by crooked ways, an easier admittance into court, than by a straight line. Consider their number!" This seems, however, to be an excellent joke. At this moment the censors in Austria appear singularly inept; for, not long ago, they condemned as heretical, two books; one of which, entitled "Principes de la Trigonométrie," the censor would not allow to be printed, because the Trinity, which he imagined to be included in trigonometry, was not permitted to be discussed: and the other, on the "Destruction of Insects," he insisted had a covert allusion to the Jesuits, who, he conceived, were thus malignantly designated.

A curious literary anecdote has been recorded of the learned Richard Simon. Compelled to insert in one of his works the qualifying opinions of the censor of the Sorbonne, he inserted them within crotchets. But a strange misfortune attended this contrivance. The printer, who was not let into the secret, printed the work without these essential marks: by which means the enraged author saw his own peculiar opinions overturned in the very work written to maintain them!

These appear trifling minutiæ; and yet, like a hair in a watch, which utterly destroys its progress, these little ineptiæ obliged writers to have recourse to foreign presses; compelled a Montesquieu to write with concealed ambiguity, and many to sign a recantation of principles which they could never change. The recantation of Selden, extorted from his hand on his suppressed "Historie of Tithes," humiliated a great mind; but it could not remove a particle from the masses of his learning, nor darken the luminous conviction of his reasonings; nor did it diminish the number of those who assented and now assent to his principles. Recantations usually prove the force of authority rather than the change of opinion. When a Dr. Pocklington was condemned to make a recantation, he hit the etymology of the word, while he caught at the spirit—he began thus: "If canto be to sing, recanto is to sing again." So that he rechanted his offending opinions, by repeating them in his recantation.

At the Revolution in England, licenses for the press ceased; but its liberty did not commence till 1694, when every restraint was taken off by the firm and decisive tone of the Commons. It was granted, says our philosophic Hume, "to the great displeasure of the king and his ministers, who, seeing nowhere in any government, during present or past ages, any example of such unlimited freedom, doubted much of its salutary effects; and probably thought that no books or writings would ever so much improve the general understanding of men, as to render it safe to entrust them with an indulgence so easily abused."

And the present moment verifies the prescient conjecture of the philosopher. Such is the licentiousness of our press, that some, not perhaps the most hostile to the cause of freedom, would not be averse to manacle authors once more with an IMPRIMATUR. It will not be denied that Erasmus was a friend to the freedom of the press; yet he was so shocked at the licentiousness of Luther's pen, that there was a time when he considered it necessary to restrain its liberty. It was then as now. Erasmus had, indeed, been miserably calumniated, and expected future libels. I am glad, however, to observe, that he afterwards, on a more impartial investigation, confessed that such a remedy was much more dangerous than the disease. To restrain the liberty of the press, can only be the interest of the individual, never that of the public; one must be a patriot here: we must stand in the field with an unshielded breast, since the safety of the people is the supreme law. There were, in Milton's days, some who said of this institution, that, although the inventors were bad, the thing, for all that, might be good. "This may be so," replies the vehement advocate for "unlicensed printing." But as the commonwealths have existed through all ages, and have forborne to use it, he sees no necessity for the invention; and held it as a dangerous and suspicious fruit from the tree which bore it. The ages of the wisest commonwealths, Milton seems not to have recollected, were not diseased with the popular infection of publications, issuing at all hours, and propagated with a celerity on which the ancients could not calculate. The learned Dr. James, who has denounced the invention of the Indexes, confesses, however, that it was not unuseful when it restrained the publications of atheistic and immoral works. But it is our lot to bear with all the consequent evils, that we may preserve the good inviolate; since, as the profound Hume has declared, "The LIBERTY OF BRITAIN IS GONE FOR EVER, when such attempts shall succeed."

A constitutional sovereign will consider the freedom of the press as the sole organ of the feelings of the people. Calumniators he will leave to the fate of calumny; a fate similar to those who, having overcharged their arms with the fellest intentions, find that the death which they intended for others, in bursting, only annihilates themselves.


The "true" modern critics on our elder writers are apt to thunder their anathemas on innocent heads: little versed in the eras of our literature, and the fashions of our wit, popular criticism must submit to be guided by the literary historian.

Kippis condemns Sir Symonds D'Ewes for his admiration of two anagrams, expressive of the feelings of the times. It required the valour of Falstaff to attack extinct anagrams; and our pretended English Bayle thought himself secure in pronouncing all anagrammatists to be wanting in judgment and taste: yet, if this mechanical critic did not know something of the state and nature of anagrams in Sir Symonds' day, he was more deficient in that curiosity of literature which his work required, than plain honest Sir Symonds in the taste and judgment of which he is so contemptuously deprived. The author who thus decides on the tastes of another age by those of his own day, and whose knowledge of the national literature does not extend beyond his own century, is neither historian nor critic. The truth is, that ANAGRAMS were then the fashionable amusements of the wittiest and the most learned.

Kippis says, and others have repeated, "That Sir Symonds D'Ewes's judgment and taste, with regard to wit, were as contemptible as can well be imagined, will be evident from the following passage taken from his account of Carr Earl of Somerset, and his wife: 'This discontent gave many satirical wits occasion to vent themselves into stingie [stinging] libels, in which they spared neither the persons nor families of that unfortunate pair. There came also two anagrams to my hands, not unworthy to be owned by the rarest wits of this age.' These were, one very descriptive of the lady, and the other, of an incident in which this infamous woman was so deeply criminated.


Car finds a Whore.                O! O! base Murther."

This sort of wit is not falser at least than the criticism which infers that D'Ewes' "judgment and taste were as contemptible as can well be;" for he might have admired these anagrams, which, however, are not of the nicest construction, and yet not have been so destitute of those qualities of which he is so authoritatively divested.

Camden has a chapter in his "Remains" on ANAGRAMS, which he defines to be a dissolution of a (person's) name into its letters, as its elements; and a new connexion into words is formed by their transposition, if possible, without addition, subtraction, or change of the letters: and the words must make a sentence applicable to the person named. The Anagram is complimentary or satirical; it may contain some allusion to an event, or describe some personal characteristic.[113]

Such difficult trifles it may be convenient at all times to discard; but, if ingenious minds can convert an ANAGRAM into a means of exercising their ingenuity, the things themselves will necessarily become ingenious. No ingenuity can make an ACROSTIC ingenious; for this is nothing but a mechanical arrangement of the letters of a name, and yet this literary folly long prevailed in Europe.

As for ANAGRAMS, if antiquity can consecrate some follies, they are of very ancient date. They were classed, among the Hebrews, among the cabalistic sciences; they pretended to discover occult qualities in proper names; it was an oriental practice; and was caught by the Greeks. Plato had strange notions of the influence of Anagrams when drawn out of persons' names; and the later Platonists are full of the mysteries of the anagrammatic virtues of names. The chimerical associations of the character and qualities of a man with his name anagrammatised may often have instigated to the choice of a vocation, or otherwise affected his imagination.

Lycophron has left some on record,—two on Ptolemæus Philadelphus, King of Egypt, and his Queen Arsinöe. The king's name was thus anagrammatised:—


Ἁπὁ μελιτος, MADE OF HONEY:

and the queen's,


Ἡρας ιον, JUNO'S VIOLET.

Learning, which revived under Francis the First in France, did not disdain to cultivate this small flower of wit. Daurat had such a felicity in making these trifles, that many illustrious persons sent their names to him to be anagrammatised. Le Laboureur, the historian, was extremely pleased with the anagram made on the mistress of Charles the Ninth of France. Her name was

Marie Touchet.


which is historically just.

In the assassin of Henry the Third,

Frère Jacques Clement,

they discovered


I preserve a few specimens of some of our own anagrams. The mildness of the government of Elizabeth, contrasted with her intrepidity against the Iberians, is thus picked out of her title; she is made the English ewe-lamb, and the lioness of Spain:—

Elizabetha Regina Angliæ.


The unhappy history of Mary Queen of Scots, the deprivation of her kingdom, and her violent death, were expressed in this Latin anagram:—

Maria Steuarda Scotorum Regina:


and in

Maria Stevarta


Another fanciful one on our James the First, whose rightful claim to the British monarchy, as the descendant of the visionary Arthur, could only have satisfied genealogists of romance reading:—

Charles James Steuart.


Sylvester, the translator of Du Bartas, considered himself fortunate when he found in the name of his sovereign the strongest bond of affection to his service. In the dedication he rings loyal changes on the name of his liege, James Stuart in which he finds a just master!

The anagram on Monk, afterwards Duke of Albemarle, on the restoration of Charles the Second, included an important date in our history:—

Georgius Monke, Dux de Aumarle.
Ego regem reduxi An°Sa. MDCLVV.

A slight reversing of the letters in a name produced a happy compliment; as in Vernon was found Renoun; and the celebrated Sir Thomas Wiat bore his own designation in his name, a Wit.[114] Of the poet Waller the anagrammatist said,

His brows need not with Lawrel to be bound,
Since in his name with Lawrel he is crown'd.

Randle Holmes, who has written a very extraordinary volume on heraldry, was complimented by an expressive anagram:—

Lo, Men's Herald!

These anagrams were often devoted to the personal attachments of love or friendship. A friend delighted to twine his name with the name of his friend. Crashawe, the poet, had a literary intimate of the name of Car, who was his posthumous editor; and, in prefixing some elegiac lines, discovers that his late friend Crashawe was Car; for so the anagram of Crashawe runs: He was Car. On this quaint discovery, he has indulged all the tenderness of his recollections:—

Was Car then Crashawe, or was Crashawe Car?
Since both within one name combined are.
Yes, Car's Crashawe, he Car; 'tis Love alone
Which melts two hearts, of both composing one,
So Crashawe's still the same, &c.

A happy anagram on a person's name might have a moral effect on the feelings: as there is reason to believe, that certain celebrated names have had some influence on the personal character. When one Martha Nicholson was found out to be Soon calm in Heart, the anagram, in becoming familiar to her, might afford an opportune admonition. But, perhaps, the happiest of anagrams was produced on a singular person and occasion. Lady Eleanor Davies, the wife of the celebrated Sir John Davies, the poet, was a very extraordinary character. She was the Cassandra of her age; and several of her predictions warranted her to conceive she was a prophetess. As her prophecies in the troubled times of Charles I. were usually against the government, she was at length brought by them into the court of High Commission. The prophetess was not a little mad, and fancied the spirit of Daniel was in her, from an anagram she had formed of her name—



The anagram had too much by an L, and too little by an s; yet Daniel and reveal were in it, and that was sufficient to satisfy her inspirations. The court attempted to dispossess the spirit from the lady, while the bishops were in vain reasoning the point with her out of the scriptures, to no purpose, she poising text against text:—one of the deans of the Arches, says Heylin, "shot her thorough and thorough with an arrow borrowed from her own quiver:" he took a pen, and at last hit upon this elegant anagram:



The happy fancy put the solemn court into laughter, and Cassandra into the utmost dejection of spirit. Foiled by her own weapons, her spirit suddenly forsook her; and either she never afterwards ventured on prophesying, or the anagram perpetually reminded her hearers of her state—and we hear no more of this prophetess!

Thus much have I written in favour of Sir Symonds D'Ewes's keen relish of a "stingie anagram;" and on the error of those literary historians, who do not enter into the spirit of the age they are writing on.

We find in the Scribleriad, the ANAGRAMS appearing in the land of false wit.

But with still more disorder'd march advance,
(Nor march it seem'd, but wild fantastic dance,)
The uncouth ANAGRAMS, distorted train,
Shifting, in double mazes, o'er the plain.
C. ii. 161.

The fine humour of Addison was never more playful than in his account of that anagrammatist, who, after shutting himself up for half a year, and having taken certain liberties with the name of his mistress, discovered, on presenting his anagram, that he had misspelt her surname; by which he was so thunderstruck with his misfortune, that in a little time after he lost his senses, which, indeed, had been very much impaired by that continual application he had given to his anagram.

One Frenzelius, a German, prided himself on perpetuating the name of every person of eminence who died by an anagram; but by the description of the bodily pain he suffered on these occasions, when he shut himself up for those rash attempts, he seems to have shared in the dying pangs of the mortals whom he so painfully celebrated. Others appear to have practised this art with more facility. A French poet, deeply in love, in one day sent his mistress, whose name was Magdelaine, three dozen of anagrams on her single name!

Even old Camden, who lived in the golden age of anagrams, notices the difficilia quæ pulchra, the charming difficulty, "as a whetstone of patience to them that shall practise it. For some have been seen to bite their pen, scratch their heads, bend their brows, bite their lips, beat the board, tear their paper, when their names were fair for somewhat, and caught nothing therein." Such was the troubled happiness of an anagrammatist: yet, adds our venerable author, notwithstanding "the sour sort of critics, good anagrams yield a delightful comfort and pleasant motion in honest minds."[115]

When the mania of making ANAGRAMS prevailed, the little persons at court flattered the great ones at inventing anagrams for them; and when the wit of the maker proved to be as barren as the letters of the name, they dropped or changed them, raving with the alphabet, and racking their wits. Among the manuscripts of the grave Sir Julius Cæsar, one cannot but smile at a bundle emphatically endorsed "Trash." It is a collection of these court-anagrams; a remarkable evidence of that ineptitude to which mere fashionable wit can carry the frivolous.

In consigning this intellectual exercise to oblivion, we must not confound the miserable and the happy together. A man of genius would not consume an hour in extracting even a fortunate anagram from a name, although on an extraordinary person or occasion its appositeness might be worth an epigram. Much of its merit will arise from the association of ideas; a trifler can only produce what is trifling, but an elegant mind may delight by some elegant allusion, and a satirical one by its causticity. We have some recent ones, which will not easily be forgotten.

A similar contrivance, that of ECHO VERSES, may here be noticed. I have given a specimen of these in a modern French writer, whose sportive pen has thrown out so much wit and humour in his ECHOES.[116] Nothing ought to be contemned which, in the hands of a man of genius, is converted into a medium of his talents. No verses have been considered more contemptible than these, which, with all their kindred, have been anathematised by Butler, in his exquisite character of "a small poet" in his "Remains," whom he describes as "tumbling through the hoop of an anagram" and "all those gambols of wit." The philosophical critic will be more tolerant than was the orthodox church wit of that day, who was, indeed, alarmed at the fantastical heresies which were then prevailing. I say not a word in favour of unmeaning ACROSTICS; but ANAGRAMS and ECHO VERSES may be shown capable of reflecting the ingenuity of their makers. I preserve a copy of ECHO VERSES, which exhibit a curious picture of the state of our religious fanatics, the Roundheads of Charles I., as an evidence, that in the hands of a wit even such things can be converted into the instruments of wit.

At the end of a comedy presented at the entertainment of the prince, by the scholars of Trinity College, Cambridge, in March, 1641, printed for James Calvin, 1642, the author, Francis Cole, holds in a print a paper in one hand, and a round hat in the other. At the end of all is this humorous little poem.


Now, Echo, on what's religion grounded?
Whose its professors most considerable?
How do these prove themselves to be the godly?
But they in life are known to be the holy,
O lie!
Who are these preachers, men or women-common?
Come they from any universitie?
Do they not learning from their doctrine sever?
Yet they pretend that they do edifie:
O fie!
What do you call it then, to fructify?
What church have they, and what pulpits?
But now in chambers the Conventicle;
The godly sisters shrewdly are belied.
The godly number then will soon transcend.
As for the temples, they with zeal embrace them.
Rase them!
What do they make of bishop's hierarchy?
Archie! [117]
Are crosses, images, ornaments their scandall?
Nor will they leave us many ceremonies.
Must even religion down for satisfaction?
How stand they affected to the government civil?
But to the king they say they are most loyal.
Lye all!
Then God keep King and State from these same men.


We are often perplexed to decide how the names of some of our eminent men ought to be written; and we find that they are even now written diversely. The truth is, that our orthography was so long unsettled among us, that it appears by various documents of the times which I have seen, that persons were at a loss how to write their own names, and most certainly have written them variously. I have sometimes suspected that estates may have been lost, and descents confounded, by such uncertain and disagreeing signatures of the same person. In a late suit respecting the Duchess of Norfolk's estate, one of the ancestors has his name printed Higford, while in the genealogy it appears Hickford. I think I have seen Ben Jonson's name written by himself with an h; and Dryden made use of an i. I have seen an injunction to printers with the sign-manual of Charles II., not to print Samuel Boteler esquire's book or poem called Hudibras, without his consent; but I do not know whether Butler thus wrote his name. As late as in 1660, a Dr. Crovne was at such a loss to have his name pronounced rightly, that he tried six different ways of writing it, as appears by printed books; Cron, Croon, Crovn, Crone, Croone, and Crovne; all of which appear under his own hand, as he wrote it differently at different periods of his life. In the subscription book of the Royal Society he writes W. Croone, but in his will at the Commons he signs W. Crovne. Ray the naturalist informs us that he first wrote his name Wray, but afterwards omitted the W. Dr. Whitby, in books published by himself, writes his name sometimes Whiteby. And among the Harleian Manuscripts there is a large collection of letters, to which I have often referred, written between 1620 and 1630, by Joseph Mead; and yet in all his printed letters, and his works, even within that period, it is spelt Mede; by which signature we recognise the name of a learned man better known to us: it was long before I discovered the letter-writer to have been this scholar. Oldys, in some curious manuscript memoirs of his family, has traced the family name through a great variety of changes, and sometimes it is at such variance that the person indicated will not always appear to have belonged to the family. We saw recently an advertisement in the newspapers offering five thousand pounds to prove a marriage in the family of the Knevetts, which occurred about 1633. What most disconcerted the inquirers is their discovery that the family name was written in six or seven different ways: a circumstance which I have no doubt will be found in most family names in England. Fuller mentions that the name of Villers was spelt fourteen different ways in the deeds of that family.

I shall illustrate this subject by the history of the names of two of our most illustrious countrymen, Shakspeare and Rawleigh.

We all remember the day when a violent literary controversy was opened, nor is it yet closed, respecting the spelling of our poet's name. One great editor persisted in his triumphant discovery, by printing Shakspere, while another would only partially yield, Shakspeare; but all parties seemed willing to drop the usual and natural derivation of his name, in which we are surely warranted from a passage in a contemporary writer, who alludes by the name to a conceit of his own, of the martial spirit of the poet.[118] The truth seems to be, then, that personal names were written by the ear, since the persons themselves did not attend to the accurate writing of their own names, which they changed sometimes capriciously, and sometimes with anxious nicety. Our great poet's name appears Shakspere in the register of Stratford church; it is Shakspeare in the body of his will, but that very instrument is indorsed Mr. Shackspere's will. He himself has written his name in two different ways, Shakspeare and Shakspere. Mr. Colman says, the poet's name in his own county is pronounced with the first a short, which accounts for this mode of writing the name, and proves that the orthoëpy rather than the orthography of a person's name was most attended to; a very questionable and uncertain standard.[119]

Another remarkable instance of this sort is the name of Sir Walter Rawley, which I am myself uncertain how to write; although I have discovered a fact which proves how it should be pronounced.

Rawley's name was spelt by himself and by his contemporaries in all sorts of ways. We find it Ralegh, Raleigh, Rawleigh, Raweley, and Rawly; the last of which at least preserves its pronunciation. This great man, when young, subscribed his name "Walter Raweley of the Middle Temple" to a copy of verses, prefixed to a satire called the Steel-Glass, in George Gascoigne's Works, 1576. Sir Walter was then a young student, and these verses, both by their spirit and signature, cannot fail to be his; however, this matter is doubtful, for the critics have not met elsewhere with his name thus written. The orthoëpy of the name of this great man I can establish by the following fact. When Sir Walter was first introduced to James the First, on the King's arrival in England, with whom, being united with an opposition party, he was no favourite, the Scottish monarch gave him this broad reception: "Rawly! Rawly! true enough, for I think of thee very Rawly, mon!" There is also an enigma contained in a distich written by a lady of the times, which preserves the real pronunciation of the name of this extraordinary man.

What's bad for the stomach, and the word of dishonour,
Is the name of the man, whom the king will not honour.

Thus our ancient personal names were written down by the ear at a period when we had no settled orthography; and even at a later period, not distant from our own times, some persons, it might be shown, have been equally puzzled how to write their names; witness the Thomsons, Thompsons; the Wartons, Whartons, &c.


Lord Orford has in one of his letters projected a curious work to be written in a walk through the streets of the metropolis, similar to a French work, entitled "Anecdotes des Rues de Paris." I know of no such work, and suspect the vivacious writer alluded in his mind to Saint Foix's "Essais Historiques sur Paris," a very entertaining work, of which the plan is that projected by his lordship. We have had Pennant's "London," a work of this description; but, on the whole, this is a superficial performance, as it regards manners, characters, and events. That antiquary skimmed everything, and grasped scarcely anything; he wanted the patience of research, and the keen spirit which revivifies the past. Should Lord Orford's project be carried into execution, or rather should Pennant be hereafter improved, it would be first necessary to obtain the original names, or the meanings, of our streets, free from the disguise in which time has concealed them. We shall otherwise lose many characters of persons, and many remarkable events, of which their original denominations would remind the historian of our streets.

I have noted down a few of these modern misnomers, that this future historian may be excited to discover more.

Mincing-lane was Mincheon-lane; from tenements pertaining to the Mincheons, or nuns of St. Helen's, in Bishopsgate-street.

Gutter-lane, corrupted from Guthurun's-lane; from its first owner, a citizen of great trade.

Blackwall-hall was Bakewell's-hall, from one Thomas Bakewell; and originally called Basing's-haugh, from a considerable family of that name, whose arms were once seen on the ancient building, and whose name is still perpetuated in Basing's-lane.

Finch-lane was Finke's-lane, from a whole family of this name.

Thread-needle-street was originally Thrid-needle-street, as Samuel Clarke dates it from his study there.

Billiter-lane is a corruption of Bellzetter's-lane, from the first builder or owner.

Crutched-friars was Crowched or Crossed-friars.

Lothbury was so named from the noise of founders at their work; and, as Howell pretends, this place was called Lothbury, "disdainedly."

Garlick-hill was Garlicke-hithe, or hive, where garlick was sold.

Fetter-lane has been erroneously supposed to have some connexion with the fetters of criminals. It was in Charles the First's time written Fewtor-lane, and is so in Howell's "Londinopolis," who explains it from "Fewtors (or idle people) lying there as in a way leading to gardens." It was the haunt of these Faitors, or "mighty beggars." The Faitour, that is, a defaytor, or defaulter, became Fewtor; and in the rapid pronunciation, or conception, of names, Fewtor has ended in Fetter-lane.

Gracechurch-street, sometimes called Gracious-street, was originally Grass-street, from a herb-market there.

Fenchurch-street, from a fenny or moorish ground by a river side.

Galley-key has preserved its name, but its origin may have been lost. Howell, in his "Londinopolis," says, "here dwelt strangers called Galley-men, who brought wines, &c. in Galleys."

"Greek-street," says Pennant, "I am sorry to degrade into Grig-street;" whether it alludes to the little vivacious eel, or to the merry character of its tenants, he does not resolve.

Bridewell was St. Bridget's-well, from one dedicated to Saint Bride, or Bridget.

Marybone was St. Mary-on-the-Bourne, corrupted to Marybone; as Holborn was Old Bourn, or the Old River; Bourne being the ancient English for river; hence the Scottish Burn.

Newington was New-town.

Maiden-lane was so called from an image of the Virgin, which, in Catholic days, had stood there, as Bagford writes to Hearne; and he says, that the frequent sign of the Maiden-head was derived from "our Lady's head."

Lad-lane was originally Lady's-lane, from the same personage.

Rood-lane was so denominated from a Rood, or Jesus on the cross, there placed, which was held in great regard.

Piccadilly was named after a hall called Piccadilla-hall, a place of sale for Piccadillies, or turn-overs; a part of the fashionable dress which appeared about 1614. It has preserved its name uncorrupted; for Barnabe Rice, in his "Honestie of the Age," has this passage on "the body-makers that do swarm through all parts, both of London and about London. The body is still pampered up in the very dropsy of excess. He that some fortie years sithens should have asked after a Pickadilly, I wonder who would have understood him; or could have told what a Pickcadilly had been, either fish or flesh."[120]

Strype notices that in the liberties of Saint Catharine is a place called Hangmen's-gains; the traders of Hammes and Guynes, in France, anciently resorted there; thence the strange corruption.

Smithfield is a corruption of Smoothfield; smith signifies smooth, from the Saxon ʃmeð. An antiquarian friend has seen it designated in a deed as campus planus, which confirms the original meaning. It is described in Fitz Stephen's account of London, written before the twelfth century, as a plain field, both in reality and name, where "every Friday there is a celebrated rendezvous of fine horses, brought hither to be sold. Thither come to look or buy a great number of earls, barons, knights, and a swarm of citizens. It is a pleasing sight to behold the ambling nags and generous colts, proudly prancing." This ancient writer continues a minute description, and, perhaps, gives the earliest one of a horse-race in this country. It is remarkable that Smithfield should have continued as a market for cattle for more than six centuries, with only the change of its vowels.

This is sufficient to show how the names of our streets require either to be corrected, or explained by their historian. The French, among the numerous projects for the moral improvement of civilised man, had one, which, had it not been polluted by a horrid faction, might have been directed to a noble end. It was to name streets after eminent men. This would at least preserve them from the corruption of the people, and exhibit a perpetual monument of moral feeling and of glory, to the rising genius of every age. With what excitement and delight may the young contemplatist, who first studies at Gray's Inn, be reminded of Verulam-buildings!

The names of streets will often be found connected with some singular event, or the character of some person; and anecdotes of our streets might occupy an entertaining antiquary. Not long ago, a Hebrew, who had a quarrel with his community about the manner of celebrating the Jewish festival in commemoration of the fate of Haman, called Purim, built a neighbourhood at Bethnal-green, and retained the subject of his anger in the name which the houses bear, of Purim-place. This may startle some theological antiquary at a remote period, who may idly lose himself in abstruse conjectures on the sanctity of a name, derived from a well-known Hebrew festival; and, perhaps, in his imagination be induced to colonise the spot with an ancient horde of Israelites!


It is an odd circumstance in literary research, that I am enabled to correct a story which was written about 1680. The Aubrey Papers, recently published with singular faithfulness, retaining all their peculiarities, even to the grossest errors, were memoranda for the use of Anthony Wood's great work. But beside these, the Oxford antiquary had a very extensive literary correspondence; and it is known, that when speechless and dying he evinced the fortitude to call in two friends to destroy a vast multitude of papers: about two bushels full were ordered for the fires lighted for the occasion; and, "as he was expiring, he expressed both his knowledge and approbation of what was done, by throwing out his hands." These two bushels full were not, however, all his papers; his more private ones he had ordered not to be opened for seven years. I suspect also, that a great number of letters were not burnt on this occasion; for I have discovered a manuscript written about 1720 to 1730, and which, the writer tells us, consists of "Excerpts out of Anthony Wood's papers." It is closely written, and contains many curious facts not to be found elsewhere. These papers of Anthony Wood probably still exist in the Ashmolean Museum; should they have perished, in that case this solitary manuscript will be the sole record of many interesting particulars.

By these I correct a little story, which may be found in the Aubrey Papers, vol. iii. 395. It is an account of one Nicholas Hill, a man of great learning, and in the high confidence of a remarkable and munificent Earl of Oxford, travelling with him abroad. I transcribe the printed Aubrey account.

"In his travels with his lord (I forget whether Italy or Germany, but I think the former), a poor man begged him to give him a penny. 'A penny!' said Mr. Hill; 'what dost say to ten pounds?'—'Ah! ten pounds,' said the beggar; 'that would make a man happy.' Mr. Hill gave him immediately ten pounds, and putt it downe upon account. Item, to a beggar ten pounds to make him happy!"—The point of this story has been marred in the telling: it was drawn up from the following letter by Aubrey to A. Wood, dated July 15, 1689. "A poor man asked Mr. Hill, his lordship's steward, once to give him sixpence, or a shilling, for an alms. 'What dost say, if I give thee ten pounds?' 'Ten pounds! that would make a man of me!' Hill gave it him, and put down in his account, '£10 for making a man,' which his lordship inquiring about for the oddness of the expression, not only allowed, but was pleased with it."

This philosophical humorist was the steward of Edward Vere, Earl of Oxford, in the reign of Elizabeth. This peer was a person of elegant accomplishments; and Lord Orford, in his "Noble Authors," has given a higher character of him than perhaps he may deserve. He was of the highest rank, in great favour with the queen, and, in the style of the day, when all our fashions and our poetry were moulding themselves on the Italian model, he was the "Mirrour of Tuscanismo;" and, in a word, this coxcombical peer, after seven years' residence in Florence, returned highly "Italianated." The ludicrous motive of this peregrination is given in the present manuscript account. Haughty of his descent and alliance, irritable with effeminate delicacy and personal vanity, a little circumstance, almost too minute to be recorded, inflicted such an injury on his pride, that in his mind it required years of absence from the court of England ere it could be forgotten. Once making a low obeisance to the queen, before the whole court, this stately and inflated peer suffered a mischance, which has happened, it is said, on a like occasion—it was "light as air!" But this accident so sensibly hurt his mawkish delicacy, and so humbled his aristocratic dignity, that he could not raise his eyes on his royal mistress. He resolved from that day to "be a banished man," and resided for seven years in Italy, living in more grandeur at Florence than the Grand Duke of Tuscany. He spent in those years forty thousand pounds. On his return he presented the queen with embroidered gloves and perfumes, then for the first time introduced into England, as Stowe has noticed. Part of the new presents seem to have some reference to the earl's former mischance. The queen received them graciously, and was even painted wearing those gloves; but my authority states, that the masculine sense of Elizabeth could not abstain from congratulating the noble coxcomb; perceiving, she said, that at length my lord had forgot the mentioning the little mischance of seven years ago!

This peer's munificence abroad was indeed the talk of Europe; but the secret motive of this was as wicked as that of his travels had been ridiculous. This Earl of Oxford had married the daughter of Lord Burleigh, and when this great statesman would not consent to save the life of the Duke of Norfolk, the friend of this earl, he swore to revenge himself on the countess, out of hatred to his father-in-law. He not only forsook her, but studied every means to waste that great inheritance which had descended to him from his ancestors. Secret history often startles us with unexpected discoveries: the personal affectations of this earl induced him to quit a court where he stood in the highest favour, to domesticate himself abroad; and a family pique was the secret motive of that splendid prodigality which, at Florence, could throw into shade the court of Tuscany itself.


The memorable grand dinner given by the classical doctor in Peregrine Pickle, has indisposed our tastes for the cookery of the ancients; but, since it is often "the cooks who spoil the broth," we cannot be sure but that even "the black Lacedæmonian," stirred by the spear of a Spartan, might have had a poignancy for him, which did not happen at the more recent classical banquet.

The cookery of the ancients must have been superior to our humbler art, since they could find dainties in the tough membranous parts of the matrices of a sow, and the flesh of young hawks, and a young ass. The elder Pliny records, that one man had studied the art of fattening snails with paste so successfully, that the shells of some of his snails would contain many quarts.[121] The same monstrous taste fed up those prodigious goose livers; a taste still prevailing in Italy. Swine were fattened with whey and figs; and even fish in their ponds were increased by such artificial means. Our prize oxen might have astonished a Roman as much as one of their crammed peacocks would ourselves. Gluttony produces monsters, and turns away from nature to feed on unwholesome meats. The flesh of young foxes about autumn, when they fed on grapes, is praised by Galen; and Hippocrates equals the flesh of puppies to that of birds. The humorous Dr. King, who has touched on this subject, suspects that many of the Greek dishes appear charming from their mellifluous terminations, resounding with a floios and toios. Dr. King's description of the Virtuoso Bentivoglio or Bentley, with his "Bill of Fare" out of Athenæus, probably suggested to Smollett his celebrated scene.

The numerous descriptions of ancient cookery which Athenæus has preserved indicate an unrivalled dexterity and refinement: and the ancients, indeed, appear to have raised the culinary art into a science, and dignified cooks into professors. They had writers who exhausted their erudition and ingenuity in verse and prose; while some were proud to immortalise their names by the invention of a poignant sauce, or a popular gâteau. Apicius, a name immortalised, and now synonymous with a gorger, was the inventor of cakes called Apicians; and one Aristoxenes, after many unsuccessful combinations, at length hit on a peculiar manner of seasoning hams, thence called Aristoxenians. The name of a late nobleman among ourselves is thus invoked every day.

Of these Eruditæ gultæ Archestratus, a culinary philosopher, composed an epic or didactic poem on good eating. His "Gastrology" became the creed of the epicures, and its pathos appears to have made what is so expressively called "their mouths water." The idea has been recently successfully imitated by a French poet.[122] Archestratus thus opens his subject:—

I write these precepts for immortal Greece,
That round a table delicately spread,
Or three, or four, may sit in choice repast,
Or five at most. Who otherwise shall dine,
Are like a troop marauding for their prey.

The elegant Romans declared that a repast should not consist of less in number than the Graces, nor of more than the Muses. They had, however, a quaint proverb, which Alexander ab Alexandro has preserved, not favourable even to so large a dinner-party as nine; it turns on a play of words:—

Septem convivium, Novem convicium facere.[123]

An elegant Roman, meeting a friend, regretted he could not invite him to dinner, "because my number is complete."

When Archestratus acknowledges that some things are for the winter, and some for the summer, he consoles himself, that though we cannot have them at the same time, yet, at least, we may talk about them at all times.

This great genius seems to have travelled over land and seas that he might critically examine the things themselves, and improve, with new discoveries, the table-luxuries. He indicates the places for peculiar edibles and exquisite potables; and promulgates his precepts with the zeal of a sublime legislator, who is dictating a code designed to ameliorate the imperfect state of society.

A philosopher worthy to bear the title of cook, or a cook worthy to be a philosopher, according to the numerous curious passages scattered in Athenæus, was an extraordinary genius, endowed not merely with a natural aptitude, but with all acquired accomplishments. The philosophy, or the metaphysics, of cookery appears in the following passage:—

"Know then, the COOK, a dinner that's bespoke,
Aspiring to prepare, with prescient zeal
Should know the tastes and humours of the guests;
For if he drudges through the common work,
Thoughtless of manner, careless what the place
And seasons claim, and what the favouring hour
Auspicious to his genius may present,
Why, standing 'midst the multitude of men,
Call we this plodding fricasseer a Cook?
Oh differing far! and one is not the other!
We call indeed the general of an army
Him who is charged to lead it to the war;
But the true general is the man whose mind,
Mastering events, anticipates, combines;
Else is he but a leader to his men!
With our profession thus: the first who comes
May with a humble toil, or slice, or chop,
Prepare the ingredients, and around the fire
Obsequious, him I call a fricasseer!
But ah! the cook a brighter glory crowns!
Well skill'd is he to know the place, the hour,
Him who invites, and him who is invited,
What fish in season makes the market rich,
A choice delicious rarity! I know
That all, we always find; but always all,
Charms not the palate, critically fine.
Archestratus, in culinary lore
Deep for his time, in this more learned age
Is wanting; and full oft he surely talks
Of what he never ate. Suspect his page,
Nor load thy genius with a barren precept.
Look not in books for what some idle sage
So idly raved; for cookery is an art
Comporting ill with rhetoric; 'tis an art
Still changing, and of momentary triumph!
Know on thyself thy genius must depend.
All books of cookery, all helps of art,
All critic learning, all commenting notes,
Are vain, if, void of genius, thou wouldst cook!"
The culinary sage thus spoke: his friend
Demands, "Where is the ideal cook thou paint'st?"
"Lo, I the man?" the savouring sage replied.
"Now be thine eyes the witness of my art!
This tunny drest, so odorous shall steam,
The spicy sweetness so shall steal thy sense,
That thou in a delicious reverie
Shalt slumber heavenly o'er the Attic dish!"

In another passage a Master-Cook conceives himself to be a pupil of Epicurus, whose favourite but ambiguous axiom, that "Voluptuousness is the sovereign good," was interpreted by the bon-vivans of antiquity in the plain sense.

Behold in me a pupil of the school
Of the sage Epicurus.
Thou a sage!
Ay! Epicurus too was sure a cook,
And knew the sovereign good. Nature his study,
While practice perfected his theory.
Divine philosophy alone can teach
The difference which the fish Glociscus[124] shows
In winter and in summer: how to learn
Which fish to choose, when set the Pleiades,
And at the solstice. 'Tis change of seasons
Which threats mankind, and shakes their changeful frame.
This dost thou comprehend? Know, what we use
In season, is most seasonably good!
Most learned cook, who can observe these canons
And therefore phlegm and colics make a man
A most indecent guest. The aliment
Dress'd in my kitchen is true aliment;
Light of digestion easily it passes;
The chyle soft-blending from the juicy food
Repairs the solids.
Ah! the chyle! the solids!
Thou new Democritus! thou sage of medicine!
Versed in the mysteries of the Iatric art!
Now mark the blunders of our vulgar cooks!
See them prepare a dish of various fish,
Showering profuse the pounded Indian grain,
An overpowering vapour, gallimaufry
A multitude confused of pothering odours!
But, know, the genius of the art consists
To make the nostrils feel each scent distinct;
And not in washing plates to free from smoke.
I never enter in my kitchen, I!
But sit apart, and in the cool direct,
Observant of what passes, scullions' toil.
What dost thou there?
I guide the mighty whole;
Explore the causes, prophesy the dish.
'Tis thus I speak: "Leave, leave that ponderous ham;
Keep up the fire, and lively play the flame
Beneath those lobster patties; patient here,
Fix'd as a statue, skim, incessant skim.
Steep well this small Glociscus in its sauce,
And boil that sea-dog in a cullender;
This eel requires more salt and marjoram;
Roast well that piece of kid on either side
Equal; that sweetbread boil not over much."
'Tis thus, my friend, I make the concert play.
O man of science! 'tis thy babble kills!
And then no useless dish my table crowds;
Harmonious ranged, and consonantly just.
Ha! what means this?
Divinest music all!
As in a concert instruments resound,
My ordered dishes in their courses chime.
So Epicurus dictated the art
Of sweet voluptuousness, and ate in order,
Musing delighted o'er the sovereign good!
Let raving Stoics in a labyrinth
Run after virtue; they shall find no end.
Thou, what is foreign to mankind, abjure.
Right honest Cook! thou wak'st me from their dreams!

Another cook informs us that he adapts his repasts to his personages.

I like to see the faces of my guests,
To feed them as their age and station claim.
My kitchen changes, as my guests inspire
The various spectacle; for lovers now,
Philosophers, and now for financiers.
If my young royster be a mettled spark,
Who melts an acre in a savoury dish
To charm his mistress, scuttle-fish and crabs,
And all the shelly race, with mixture due
Of cordials filtered, exquisitely rich.
For such a host, my friend! expends much more
In oil than cotton; solely studying love!
To a philosopher, that animal,
Voracious, solid ham and bulky feet;
But to the financier, with costly niceness,
Glociscus rare, or rarity more rare.
Insensible the palate of old age,
More difficult than the soft lips of youth,
To move, I put much mustard in their dish;
With quickening sauces make their stupor keen,
And lash the lazy blood that creeps within.

Another genius, in tracing the art of cookery, derives from it nothing less than the origin of society; and I think that some philosopher has defined man to be "a cooking animal."

"The art of cookery drew us gently forth
From that ferocious life, when void of faith
The Anthropophaginian ate his brother!
To cookery we owe well-ordered states,
Assembling men in dear society.
Wild was the earth, man feasting upon man,
When one of nobler sense and milder heart
First sacrificed an animal; the flesh
Was sweet; and man then ceased to feed on man!
And something of the rudeness of those times
The priest commemorates; for to this day
He roasts the victim's entrails without salt.
In those dark times, beneath the earth lay hid
The precious salt, that gold of cookery!
But when its particles the palate thrill'd,
The source of seasonings, charm of cookery! came.
They served a paunch with rich ingredients stored;
And tender kid, within two covering plates,
Warm melted in the mouth. So art improved!
At length a miracle not yet perform'd,
They minced the meat, which roll'd in herbage soft,
Nor meat nor herbage seem'd, but to the eye,
And to the taste, the counterfeited dish
Mimick'd some curious fish; invention rare!
Then every dish was season'd more and more,
Salted, or sour, or sweet, and mingled oft
Oatmeal and honey. To enjoy the meal
Men congregated in the populous towns,
And cities flourish'd which we cooks adorn'd
With all the pleasures of domestic life.

An arch-cook insinuates that there remain only two "pillars of the state," besides himself, of the school of Sinon, one of the great masters of the condimenting art. Sinon, we are told, applied the elements of all the arts and sciences to this favourite one. Natural philosophy could produce a secret seasoning for a dish; and architecture the art of conducting the smoke out of a chimney: which, says he, if ungovernable, makes a great difference in the dressing. From the military science he derived a sublime idea of order; drilling the under cooks, marshalling the kitchen, hastening one, and making another a sentinel. We find, however, that a portion of this divine art, one of the professors acknowledges to be vapouring and bragging!—a seasoning in this art, as well as in others. A cook ought never to come unaccompanied by all the pomp and parade of the kitchen: with a scurvy appearance, he will be turned away at sight; for all have eyes, but few only understanding.[125]

Another occult part of this profound mystery, besides vapouring, consisted, it seems, in filching. Such is the counsel of a patriarch to an apprentice! a precept which contains a truth for all ages of cookery.

Carian! time well thy ambidextrous part,
Nor always filch. It was but yesterday,
Blundering, they nearly caught thee in the fact;
None of thy balls had livers, and the guests,
In horror, pierced their airy emptiness.
Not even the brains were there, thou brainless hound!
If thou art hired among the middling class,
Who pay thee freely, be thou honourable!
But for this day, where now we go to cook,
E'en cut the master's throat for all I care;
"A word to th' wise," and show thyself my scholar!
There thou mayst filch and revel; all may yield
Some secret profit to thy sharking hand.
'Tis an old miser gives a sordid dinner,
And weeps o'er every sparing dish at table;
Then if I do not find thou dost devour
All thou canst touch, e'en to the very coals,
I will disown thee! Lo! old Skin-flint comes;
In his dry eyes what parsimony stares!

These cooks of the ancients, who appear to have been hired for a grand dinner, carried their art to the most whimsical perfection. They were so dexterous as to be able to serve up a whole pig boiled on one side, and roasted on the other. The cook who performed this feat defies his guests to detect the place where the knife had separated the animal, or how it was contrived to stuff the belly with an olio composed of thrushes and other birds, slices of the matrices of a sow, the yolks of eggs, the bellies of hens with their soft eggs flavoured with a rich juice, and minced meats highly spiced. When this cook is entreated to explain his secret art, he solemnly swears by the manes of those who braved all the dangers of the plain of Marathon, and combated at sea at Salamis, that he will not reveal the secret that year. But of an incident so triumphant in the annals of the gastric art, our philosopher would not deprive posterity of the knowledge. The animal had been bled to death by a wound under the shoulder, whence, after a copious effusion, the master-cook extracted the entrails, washed them with wine, and hanging the animal by the feet, he crammed down the throat the stuffings already prepared. Then covering the half of the pig with a paste of barley, thickened with wine and oil, he put it in a small oven, or on a heated table of brass, where it was gently roasted with all due care: when the skin was browned, he boiled the other side; and then, taking away the barley paste, the pig was served up, at once boiled and roasted. These cooks, with a vegetable, could counterfeit the shape and the taste of fish and flesh. The king of Bithynia, in some expedition against the Scythians, in the winter, and at a great distance from the sea, had a violent longing for a small fish called aphy—a pilchard, a herring, or an anchovy. His cook cut a turnip to the perfect imitation of its shape; then fried in oil, salted, and well powdered with the grains of a dozen black poppies, his majesty's taste was so exquisitely deceived, that he praised the root to his guests as an excellent fish. This transmutation of vegetables into meat or fish is a province of the culinary art which we appear to have lost; yet these are cibi innocentes, compared with the things themselves. No people are such gorgers of mere animal food as our own; the art of preparing vegetables, pulse, and roots, is scarcely known in this country. This cheaper and healthful food should be introduced among the common people, who neglect them from not knowing how to dress them. The peasant, for want of this skill, treads under foot the best meat in the world; and sometimes the best way of dressing it is least costly.

The gastric art must have reached to its last perfection, when we find that it had its history; and that they knew how to ascertain the æra of a dish with a sort of chronological exactness. The philosophers of Athenæus at table dissert on every dish, and tell us of one called maati, that there was a treatise composed on it; that it was first introduced at Athens, at the epocha of the Macedonian empire, but that it was undoubtedly a Thessalian invention; the most sumptuous people of all the Greeks. The maati was a term at length applied to any dainty of excessive delicacy, always served the last.

But as no art has ever attained perfection without numerous admirers, and as it is the public which only can make such exquisite cooks, our curiosity may be excited to inquire whether the patrons of the gastric art were as great enthusiasts as its professors.

We see they had writers who exhausted their genius on these professional topics; and books of cookery were much read: for a comic poet, quoted by Athenæus, exhibits a character exulting in having procured "The New Kitchen of Philoxenus, which," says he, "I keep for myself to read in my solitude." That these devotees to the culinary art undertook journeys to remote parts of the world, in quest of these discoveries, sufficient facts authenticate. England had the honour to furnish them with oysters, which they fetched from about Sandwich. Juvenal[126] records that Montanus was so well skilled in the science of good eating, that he could tell by the first bite whether they were English or not. The well-known Apicius poured into his stomach an immense fortune. He usually resided at Minturna, a town in Campania, where he ate shrimps at a high price: they were so large, that those of Smyrna, and the prawns of Alexandria, could not be compared with the shrimps of Minturna. However, this luckless epicure was informed that the shrimps in Africa were more monstrous; and he embarks without losing a day. He encounters a great storm, and through imminent danger arrives at the shores of Africa. The fishermen bring him the largest for size their nets could furnish. Apicius shakes his head: "Have you never any larger?" he inquires. The answer was not favourable to his hopes. Apicius rejects them, and fondly remembers the shrimps of his own Minturna. He orders his pilot to return to Italy, and leaves Africa with a look of contempt.

A fraternal genius was Philoxenus: he whose higher wish was to possess a crane's neck, that he might be the longer in savouring his dainties; and who appears to have invented some expedients which might answer, in some degree, the purpose. This impudent epicure was so little attentive to the feelings of his brother guests, that in the hot bath he avowedly habituated himself to keep his hands in the scalding water; and even used to gargle his throat with it, that he might feel less impediment in swallowing the hottest dishes. He bribed the cooks to serve up the repast smoking hot, that he might gloriously devour what he chose before any one else could venture to touch the dish. It seemed as if he had used his fingers to handle fire. "He is an oven, not a man!" exclaimed a grumbling fellow-guest. Once having embarked for Ephesus, for the purpose of eating fish, his favourite food, he arrived at the market, and found all the stalls empty. There was a wedding in the town, and all the fish had been bespoken. He hastens to embrace the new-married couple, and singing an epithalamium, the dithyrambic epicure enchanted the company. The bridegroom was delighted by the honour of the presence of such a poet, and earnestly requested he would come on the morrow. "I will come, young friend, if there is no fish at the market!"—It was this Philoxenus, who, at the table of Dionysius, the tyrant of Sicily, having near him a small barbel, and observing a large one near the prince, took the little one, and held it to his ear. Dionysius inquired the reason. "At present," replied the ingenious epicure, "I am so occupied by my Galatea," (a poem in honour of the mistress of the tyrant,) "that I wished to inquire of this little fish, whether he could give me some information about Nereus; but he is silent, and I imagine they have taken him up too young: I have no doubt that old one, opposite to you, would perfectly satisfy me." Dionysius rewarded the pleasant conceit with the large barbel.


The Stagyrite discovered that our nature delights in imitation, and perhaps in nothing more than in representing personages different from ourselves in mockery of them; in fact, there is a passion for masquerade in human nature. Children discover this propensity; and the populace, who are the children of society, through all ages have been humoured by their governors with festivals and recreations, which are made up of this malicious transformation of persons and things; and the humble orders of society have been privileged by the higher, to please themselves by burlesquing and ridiculing the great, at short seasons, as some consolation for the rest of the year.

The Saturnalia of the Romans is a remarkable instance of this characteristic of mankind. Macrobius could not trace the origin of this institution, and seems to derive it from the Grecians; so that it might have arisen in some rude period of antiquity, and among another people. This conjecture seems supported by a passage in Gibbon's Miscellanies,[127] who discovers traces of this institution among the more ancient nations; and Huet imagined that he saw in the jubilee of the Hebrews some similar usages. It is to be regretted, that Gibbon does not afford us any new light on the cause in which originated the institution itself. The jubilee of the Hebrews was the solemn festival of an agricultural people, but bears none of the ludicrous characteristics of the Roman Saturnalia.

It would have been satisfactory to have discovered the occasion of the inconceivable licentiousness which was thus sanctioned by the legislator,—this overturning of the principles of society, and this public ridicule of its laws, its customs, and its feelings. We are told, these festivals, dedicated to Saturn, were designed to represent the natural equality which prevailed in his golden age; and for this purpose the slaves were allowed to change places with the masters. This was, however, giving the people a false notion of the equality of men; for, while the slave was converted into the master, the pretended equality was as much violated as in the usual situation of the parties. The political misconception of this term of natural equality seems, however, to have been carried on through all ages; and the political Saturnalia had lately nearly thrown Europe into a state of that worse than slavery, where slaves are masters.

The Roman Saturnalia were latterly prolonged to a week's debauchery and folly; and a diary of that week's words and deeds would have furnished a copious chronicle of Facetiæ. Some notions we acquire from the laws of the Saturnalia of Lucian, an Epistle of Seneca's,[128] and from Horace, who from his love of quiet, retired from the city during this noisy season.

It was towards the close of December, that all the town was in an unusual motion, and the children everywhere invoking Saturn; nothing now to be seen but tables spread out for feasting, and nothing heard but shouts of merriment: all business was dismissed, and none at work but cooks and confectioners; no account of expenses was to be kept, and it appears that one-tenth part of a man's income was to be appropriated to this jollity. All exertion of mind and body was forbidden, except for the purposes of recreation; nothing to be read or recited which did not provoke mirth, adapted to the season and the place. The slaves were allowed the utmost freedom of raillery and truth, with their masters;[129] sitting with them at the table, dressed in their clothes, playing all sorts of tricks, telling them of their faults to their faces, while they smutted them. The slaves were imaginary kings, as indeed a lottery determined their rank; and as their masters attended them, whenever it happened that these performed their offices clumsily, doubtless with some recollections of their own similar misdemeanors, the slave made the master leap into the water head-foremost. No one was allowed to be angry, and he who was played on, if he loved his own comfort, would be the first to laugh. Glasses of all sizes were to be ready, and all were to drink when and what they chose; none but the most skilful musicians and tumblers were allowed to perform, for those people are worth nothing unless exquisite, as the Saturnalian laws decreed. Dancing, singing, and shouting, and carrying a female musician thrice round on their shoulders, accompanied by every grotesque humour they imagined, were indulged in that short week, which was to repay the many in which the masters had their revenge for the reign of this pretended equality. Another custom prevailed at this season: the priests performed their sacrifices to Saturn bare-headed, which Pitiscus explains in the spirit of this extraordinary institution, as designed to show that time discovers, or, as in the present case of the bare-headed priests, uncovers, all things.

Such was the Roman Saturnalia, the favourite popular recreations of Paganism; and as the sports and games of the people outlast the date of their empires, and are carried with them, however they may change their name and their place on the globe, the grosser pleasures of the Saturnalia were too well adapted to their tastes to be forgotten. The Saturnalia, therefore, long generated the most extraordinary institutions among the nations of modern Europe; and what seems more extraordinary than the unknown origin of the parent absurdity itself, the Saturnalia crept into the services and offices of the Christian church. Strange it is to observe at the altar the rites of religion burlesqued, and all its offices performed with the utmost buffoonery. It is only by tracing them to the Roman Saturnalia that we can at all account for these grotesque sports—that extraordinary mixture of libertinism and profaneness, so long continued under Christianity.

Such were the feasts of the ass, the feast of fools or madmen, fête des fous—the feast of the bull—of the Innocents—and that of the soudiacres, which, perhaps, in its original term, meant only sub-deacons, but their conduct was expressed by the conversion of a pun into saoudiacres or diacres saouls, drunken deacons. Institutions of this nature, even more numerous than the historian has usually recorded, and varied in their mode, seem to surpass each other in their utter extravagance.[130]

These profane festivals were universally practised in the middle ages, and, as I shall show, comparatively even in modern times. The ignorant and the careless clergy then imagined it was the securest means to retain the populace, who were always inclined to these pagan revelries.

These grotesque festivals have sometimes amused the pens of foreign and domestic antiquaries: for our own country has participated as keenly in these irreligious fooleries. In the feast of asses, an ass covered with sacerdotal robes was gravely conducted to the choir, where service was performed before the ass, and a hymn chanted in as discordant a manner as they could contrive; the office was a medley of all that had been sung in the course of the year; pails of water were flung at the head of the chanters; the ass was supplied with drink and provender at every division of the service; and the asinines were drinking, dancing, and braying for two days. The hymn to the ass has been preserved; each stanza ends with the burthen "Hez! Sire Ane, hez!" "Huzza! Seignior Ass, Huzza!" On other occasions, they put burnt old shoes to fume in the censers; ran about the church, leaping, singing, and dancing obscenely; scattering ordure among the audience; playing at dice upon the altar! while a boy-bishop, or a pope of fools, burlesqued the divine service. Sometimes they disguised themselves in the skins of animals, and pretending to be transformed into the animal they represented, it became dangerous, or worse, to meet these abandoned fools. There was a precentor of fools, who was shaved in public, during which he entertained the populace with all the balderdash his genius could invent. We had in Leicester, in 1415, what was called a glutton-mass, during the five days of the festival of the Virgin Mary. The people rose early to mass, during which they practised eating and drinking with the most zealous velocity, and, as in France, drew from the corners of the altar the rich puddings placed there.

So late as in 1645, a pupil of Gassendi, writing to his master, what he himself witnessed at Aix on the feast of the Innocents, says, "I have seen, in some monasteries in this province, extravagances solemnised, which the pagans would not have practised. Neither the clergy, nor the guardians, indeed, go to the choir on this day, but all is given up to the lay brethren, the cabbage-cutters, the errand-boys, the cooks and scullions, the gardeners; in a word, all the menials fill their places in the church, and insist that they perform the offices proper for the day. They dress themselves with all the sacerdotal ornaments, but torn to rags, or wear them inside out; they hold in their hands the books reversed or sideways, which they pretend to read with large spectacles without glasses, and to which they fix the shells of scooped oranges, which renders them so hideous, that one must have seen these madmen to form a notion of their appearance; particularly while dangling the censers, they keep shaking them in derision, and letting the ashes fly about their heads and faces one against the other. In this equipage they neither sing hymns, nor psalms, nor masses; but mumble a certain gibberish, as shrill and squeaking as a herd of pigs whipped on to market. The nonsense verses they chant are singularly barbarous:—

Hæc est clara dies, clararum clara dierum,
Hæc est festa dies, festarum festa dierum.[131]

These are scenes which equal any which the humour of the Italian burlesque poets have invented, and which might have entered with effect into the "Malmantile racquistato" of Lippi; but that they should have been endured amidst the solemn offices of religion, and have been performed in cathedrals, while it excites our astonishment, can only be accounted for by perceiving that they were, in truth, the Saturnalia of the Romans. Mr. Turner observes, without perhaps having a precise notion that they were copied from the Saturnalia, that "It could be only by rivalling the pagan revelries, that the Christian ceremonies could gain the ascendancy." Our historian further observes, that these "licentious festivities were called the December liberties, and seem to have begun at one of the most solemn seasons of the Christian year, and to have lasted through the chief part of January." This very term, as well as the time, agrees with that of the ancient Saturnalia:—

Age, libertate Decembri,
Quando ita majores voluerunt, utere: narra.
HOR. lib. ii. sat. 7.

The Roman Saturnalia, thus transplanted into Christian churches, had for its singular principle, that of inferiors, whimsically and in mockery, personifying their superiors, with a licensed licentiousness. This forms a distinct characteristic from those other popular customs and pastimes which the learned have also traced to the Roman, and even more ancient nations. Our present inquiry is, to illustrate that proneness in man, of delighting to reverse the order of society, and ridiculing its decencies.

Here we had our boy-bishop, a legitimate descendant of this family of foolery. On St. Nicholas's day, a saint who was the patron of children, the boy-bishop with his mitra parva and a long crosier, attended by his school-mates as his diminutive prebendaries, assumed the title and state of a bishop. The child-bishop preached a sermon, and afterwards, accompanied by his attendants, went about singing and collecting his pence: to such theatrical processions in collegiate bodies, Warton attributes the custom, still existing at Eton, of going ad montem.[132] But this was a tame mummery, compared with the grossness elsewhere allowed in burlesquing religious ceremonies. The English, more particularly after the Reformation, seem not to have polluted the churches with such abuses. The relish for the Saturnalia was not, however, less lively here than on the Continent; but it took a more innocent direction, and was allowed to turn itself into civil life: and since the people would be gratified by mock dignities, and claimed the privilege of ridiculing their masters, it was allowed them by our kings and nobles; and a troop of grotesque characters, frolicsome great men, delighting in merry mischief, are recorded in our domestic annals.

The most learned Selden, with parsimonious phrase and copious sense, has thus compressed the result of an historical dissertation: he derives our ancient Christmas sports at once from the true, though remote, source. "Christmas succeeds the Saturnalia; the same time, the same number of holy-days; then the master waited upon the servant, like the lord of misrule."[133] Such is the title of a facetious potentate, who, in this notice of Selden's, is not further indicated, for this personage was familiar in his day, but of whom the accounts are so scattered, that his offices and his glory are now equally obscure. The race of this nobility of drollery, and this legitimate king of all hoaxing and quizzing, like mightier dynasties, has ceased to exist.

In England our festivities at Christmas appear to have been more entertaining than in other countries. We were once famed for merry Christmases and their pies; witness the Italian proverb, "Ha piu di fare che i forni di Natale in Inghilterra:" "He has more business than English ovens at Christmas." Wherever the king resided, there was created for that merry season a Christmas prince, usually called "the Lord of Misrule;" and whom the Scotch once knew under the significant title of "the Abbot of Unreason." His office, according to Stowe, was "to make the rarest pastimes to delight the beholder." Every nobleman, and every great family, surrendered their houses, during this season, to the Christmas prince, who found rivals or usurpers in almost every parish; and more particularly, as we shall see, among the grave students in our inns of court.

The Italian Polydore Vergil, who, residing here, had clearer notions of this facetious personage, considered the Christmas Prince as peculiar to our country. Without venturing to ascend in his genealogy, we must admit his relationship to that ancient family of foolery we have noticed, whether he be legitimate or not. If this whimsical personage, at his creation, was designed to regulate "misrule," his lordship, invested with plenary power, came himself, at length, to delight too much in his "merry disports." Stubbes, a morose puritan in the days of Elizabeth, denominates him "a grand captaine of mischiefe," and has preserved a minute description of all his wild doings in the country; but as Strutt has anticipated me in this amusing extract, I must refer to his "Sports and Pastimes of the People of England," p. 254.[134] I prepare another scene of unparalleled Saturnalia, among the grave judges and serjeants of the law, where the Lord of Misrule is viewed amidst his frolicsome courtiers, with the humour of hunting the fox and the cat with ten couple of hounds round their great hall, among the other merry disports of those joyous days when sages could play like boys.

For those who can throw themselves back amidst the grotesque humours and clumsy pastimes of our ancestors, who, without what we think to be taste, had whim and merriment—there has been fortunately preserved a curious history of the manner in which "A grand Christmas" was kept at our Inns of Court, by the grave and learned Dugdale, in his "Origines Juridicales:" it is a complete festival of foolery, acted by the students and law-officers. They held for that season everything in mockery: they had a mock parliament, a Prince of Sophie, or Wisdom, an honourable order of Pegasus, a high constable, a marshal, a master of the game, a ranger of the forest, lieutenant of the Tower, which was a temporary prison for Christmas delinquents, all the paraphernalia of a court, burlesqued by these youthful sages before the boyish judges.

The characters personified were in the costume of their assumed offices. On Christmas-day, the constable-marshal, accoutred with a complete gilded "harness," showed that everything was to be chivalrously ordered; while the lieutenant of the Tower, in "a fair white armour," attended with his troop of halberdiers; and the Tower was then placed beneath the fire. After this opening followed the costly feasting; and then, nothing less than a hunt with a pack of hounds in their hall!

The master of the game dressed in green velvet, and the ranger of the forest in green satin, bearing a green bow and arrows, each with a hunting horn about their necks, blowing together three blasts of venery (or hunting), they pace round about the fire three times. The master of the game kneels to be admitted into the service of the high-constable. A huntsman comes into the hall, with nine or ten couple of hounds, bearing on the end of his staff a pursenet, which holds a fox and a cat: these were let loose and hunted by the hounds, and killed beneath the fire.

These extraordinary amusements took place after their repast; for these grotesque Saturnalia appeared after that graver part of their grand Christmas. Supper ended, the constable-marshal presented himself with drums playing, mounted on a stage borne by four men, and carried round; at length he cries out, "a lord! a lord!" &c., and then calls his mock court every one by name.

Sir Francis Flatterer, of Fowlshurt.

Sir Randall Rackabite, of Rascal-hall, in the county of Rakehell.

Sir Morgan Mumchance, of Much Monkery, in the county of Mad Mopery.

Sir Bartholomew Bald-breech, of Buttock-bury, in the county of Break-neck.[135]

They had also their mock arraignments. The king's-serjeant, after dinner or supper, "oratour-like," complained that the constable-marshal had suffered great disorders to prevail; the complaint was answered by the common-serjeant, who was to show his talent at defending the cause. The king's-serjeant replies; they rejoin, &c.: till one at length is committed to the Tower, for being found most deficient. If any offender contrived to escape from the lieutenant of the Tower into the buttery and brought into the hall a manchet (or small loaf) upon the point of a knife, he was pardoned; for the buttery in this jovial season was considered as a sanctuary. Then began the revels. Blount derives this term from the French reveiller, to awake from sleep. These were sports of dancing, masking comedies, &c. (for some were called solemn revels,) used in great houses, and were so denominated because they were performed by night; and these various pastimes were regulated by a master of the revels.

Amidst "the grand Christmass," a personage of no small importance was "the Lord of Misrule." His lordship was abroad early in the morning, and if he lacked any of his officers, he entered their chambers to drag forth the loiterers; but after breakfast his lordship's power ended, and it was in suspense till night, when his personal presence was paramount, or, as Dugdale expresses it, "and then his power is most potent."

Such were then the pastimes of the whole learned bench; and when once it happened that the under-barristers did not dance on Candlemas day, according to the ancient order of the society, when the judges were present, the whole bar was offended, and at Lincoln's-Inn were by decimation put out of commons, for example sake; and should the same omission be repeated, they were to be fined or disbarred; for these dancings were thought necessary, "as much conducing to the making of gentlemen more fit for their books at other times," I cannot furnish a detailed notice of these pastimes; for Dugdale, whenever he indicates them, spares his gravity from recording the evanescent frolics, by a provoking &c. &c. &c.

The dance "round about the coal-fire" is taken off in the Rehearsal. These revels have also been ridiculed by Donne in his Satires, Prior in his Alma, and Pope in his Dunciad. "The judge to dance, his brother serjeants calls."[136]

"The Lord of Misrule," in the inns of court, latterly did not conduct himself with any recollection of "Medio tutissimus ibis," being unreasonable; but the "sparks of the Temple," as a contemporary calls them, had gradually, in the early part of Charles the First's reign, yielded themselves up to excessive disorders. Sir Symonds D'Ewes, in his MS. diary in 1620, has noticed their choice of a lieutenant, or lord of misrule, who seems to have practised all the mischief he invented; and the festival days, when "a standing table was kept," were accompanied by dicing, and much gaming, oaths, execrations, and quarrels: being of a serious turn of mind, he regrets this, for he adds, "the sport, of itself, I conceive to be lawful."

I suspect that the last memorable act of a Lord of Misrule of the inns of court occurred in 1627, when the Christmas game became serious. The Lord of Misrule then issued an edict to his officers to go out at Twelfth-night to collect his rents in the neighbourhood of the Temple, at the rate of five shillings a house; and on those who were in their beds, or would not pay, he levied a distress. An unexpected resistance at length occurred in a memorable battle with the Lord Mayor in person:—and I shall tell how the Lord of Misrule for some time stood victor, with his gunner, and his trumpeter, and his martial array: and how heavily and fearfully stood my Lord Mayor amidst his "watch and ward:" and how their lordships agreed to meet half way, each to preserve his independent dignity, till one knocked down the other: and how the long halberds clashed with the short swords: how my Lord Mayor valorously took the Lord of Misrule prisoner with his own civic hand: and how the Christmas prince was immured in the Counter; and how the learned Templars insisted on their privilege, and the unlearned of Ram's-alley and Fleet-street asserted their right of saving their crown-pieces: and finally how this combat of mockery and earnestness was settled, not without the introduction of "a god," as Horace allows on great occasions, in the interposition of the king and the attorney-general—altogether the tale had been well told in some comic epic; but the wits of that day let it pass out of their hands.

I find this event, which seems to record the last desperate effort of a "Lord of Misrule," in a manuscript letter of the learned Mede to Sir Martin Stuteville; and some particulars are collected from Hammond L'Estrange's Life of Charles the First.

Jan. 12, 1627-8.

"On Saturday the Templars chose one Mr. Palmer their Lord of Misrule, who, on Twelfth-eve, late in the night, sent out to gather up his rents at five shillings a house in Ram-alley and Fleet-street. At every door they came they winded the Temple-horn, and if at the second blast or summons they within opened not the door, then the Lord of Misrule cried out, 'Give fire, gunner!' His gunner was a robustious Vulcan, and the gun or petard itself was a huge overgrown smith's hammer. This being complained of to my Lord Mayor, he said he would be with them about eleven o'clock on Sunday night last; willing that all that ward should attend him with their halberds, and that himself, besides those that came out of his house, should bring the Watches along with him. His lordship, thus attended, advanced as high as Ram-alley in martial equipage; when forth came the Lord of Misrule, attended by his gallants, out of the Temple-gate, with their swords, all armed in cuerpo. A halberdier bade the Lord of Misrule come to my Lord Mayor. He answered, No! let the Lord Mayor come to me! At length they agreed to meet half way; and, as the interview of rival princes is never without danger of some ill accident, so it happened in this: for first, Mr. Palmer being quarrelled with for not pulling off his hat to my Lord Mayor, and giving cross answers, the halberds began to fly about his ears, and he and his company to brandish their swords. At last being beaten to the ground, and the Lord of Misrule sore wounded, they were fain to yield to the longer and more numerous weapon. My Lord Mayor taking Mr. Palmer by the shoulder, led him to the Compter, and thrust him in at the prison-gate with a kind of indignation; and so, notwithstanding his hurts, he was forced to lie among the common prisoners for two nights. On Tuesday the king's attorney became a suitor to my Lord Mayor for their liberty; which his lordship granted, upon condition that they should repay the gathered rents, and do reparations upon broken doors. Thus the game ended. Mr. Attorney-General, being of the same house, fetched them in his own coach, and carried them to the court, where the King himself reconciled my Lord Mayor and them together with joining all hands; the gentlemen of the Temple being this Shrovetide to present a Mask to their majesties, over and besides the king's own great Mask, to be performed at the Banqueting-house by an hundred actors."

Thus it appears, that although the grave citizens did well and rightly protect themselves, yet, by the attorney-general taking the Lord of Misrule in his coach, and the king giving his royal interference between the parties, that they considered that this Lord of Foolery had certain ancient privileges; and it was, perhaps, a doubt with them, whether this interference of the Lord Mayor might not be considered as severe and unseasonable. It is probable, however, that the arm of the civil power brought all future Lords of Misrule to their senses. Perhaps this dynasty in the empire of foolery closed with this Christmas prince, who fell a victim to the arbitrary taxation he levied. I find after this orders made for the Inner Temple, for "preventing of that general scandal and obloquie, which the House hath heretofore incurred in time of Christmas:" and that "there be not any going abroad out of the gates of this House, by any lord or others, to break open any house, or take anything in the name of rent or a distress."

These "Lords of Misrule," and their mock court and royalty, appear to have been only extinguished with the English sovereignty itself, at the time of our republican government. Edmund Gayton tells a story, to show the strange impressions of strong fancies: as his work is of great rarity, I shall transcribe the story in his own words, both to give a conclusion to this inquiry, and a specimen of his style of narrating this sort of little things. "A gentleman was importuned, at a fire-night in the public-hall, to accept the high and mighty place of a mock-emperor, which was duly conferred upon him by seven mock-electors. At the same time, with much wit and ceremony, the emperor accepted his chair of state, which was placed in the highest table in the hall; and at his instalment all pomp, reverence, and signs of homage were used by the whole company; insomuch that our emperor, having a spice of self-conceit before, was soundly peppered now, for he was instantly metamorphosed into the stateliest, gravest, and commanding soul that ever eye beheld. Taylor acting Arbaces, or Swanston D'Amboise, were shadows to him: his pace, his look, his voice, and all his garb, was altered. Alexander upon his elephant, nay, upon the castle upon that elephant, was not so high; and so close did this imaginary honour stick to his fancy, that for many years he could not shake off this one night's assumed deportments, until the times came that drove all monarchical imaginations not only out of his head, but every one's."[137] This mock "emperor" was unquestionably one of these "Lords of Misrule," or "a Christmas Prince." The "public hall" was that of the Temple, or Lincoln's Inn, or Gray's Inn.[138] And it was natural enough, when the levelling equality of our theatrical and practical commonwealths-men were come into vogue, that even the shadowy regality of mockery startled them by reviving the recollections of ceremonies and titles, which some might incline, as they afterwards did, seriously to restore. The "Prince of Christmas" did not, however, attend the Restoration of Charles the Second.

The Saturnalian spirit has not been extinct even in our days. The Mayor of Garrat, with the mock addresses and burlesque election, was an image of such satirical exhibitions of their superiors, so delightful to the people.[139] France, at the close of Louis the Fourteenth's reign, first saw her imaginary "Regiment de la Calotte," which was the terror of the sinners of the day, and the blockheads of all times. This "regiment of the skull-caps" originated in an officer and a wit, who, suffering from violent headaches, was recommended the use of a skull-cap of lead; and his companions, as great wits, formed themselves into a regiment, to be composed only of persons distinguished by their extravagances in words or in deeds. They elected a general, they had their arms blazoned, and struck medals, and issued "brevets," and "lettres patentes," and granted pensions to certain individuals, stating their claims to be enrolled in the regiment for some egregious extravagance. The wits versified these army commissions; and the idlers, like pioneers, were busied in clearing their way, by picking up the omissions and commissions of the most noted characters. Those who were favoured with its "brevets" intrigued against the regiment; but at length they found it easier to wear their "calotte," and say nothing. This society began in raillery and playfulness, seasoned by a spice of malice. It produced a great number of ingenious and satirical little things. That the privileges of the "calotte" were afterwards abused, and calumny too often took the place of poignant satire, is the history of human nature as well as of "the calotins."[140]

Another society in the same spirit has been discovered in one of the lordships of Poland. It was called "The Republic of Baboonery." The society was a burlesque model of their own government: a king, chancellor, councillors, archbishops, judges, &c. If a member would engross the conversation, he was immediately appointed orator of the republic. If he spoke with impropriety, the absurdity of his conversation usually led to some suitable office created to perpetuate his folly. A man talking too much of dogs, would be made a master of the buck-hounds; or vaunting his courage, perhaps a field-marshal; and if bigoted on disputable matters and speculative opinions in religion, he was considered to be nothing less than an inquisitor. This was a pleasant and useful project to reform the manners of the Polish youth; and one of the Polish kings good-humourdly observed, that he considered himself "as much King of Baboonery as King of Poland." We have had in our own country some attempts at similar Saturnalia; but their success has been so equivocal that they hardly afford materials for our domestic history.


In the south aisle of Westminster Abbey stands a monument erected to the memory of Lady Grace Gethin.[141] A statue of her ladyship represents her kneeling, holding a book in her hand. This accomplished lady was considered as a prodigy in her day, and appears to have created a feeling of enthusiasm for her character. She died early, having scarcely attained to womanhood, although a wife; for "all this goodness and all this excellence was bounded within the compass of twenty years."

But it is her book commemorated in marble, and not her character, which may have merited the marble that chronicles it, which has excited my curiosity and my suspicion. After her death a number of loose papers were found in her handwriting, which could not fail to attract, and, perhaps, astonish their readers, with the maturity of thought and the vast capacity which had composed them. These reliques of genius were collected together, methodised under heads, and appeared with the title of "Reliquiæ Gethinianæ; or some remains of Grace Lady Gethin, lately deceased: being a collection of choice discourses, pleasant apothegms, and witty sentences; written by her for the most part by way of essay, and at spare hours; published by her nearest relations, to preserve her memory. Second edition, 1700."

Of this book, considering that comparatively it is modern, and the copy before me is called a second edition, it is somewhat extraordinary that it seems always to have been a very scarce one. Even Ballard, in his Memoirs of Learned Ladies (1750), mentions that these remains "are very difficult to be procured;" and Sir William Musgrave in a manuscript note observed, that "this book was very scarce." It bears now a high price. A hint is given in the preface that the work was chiefly printed for the use of her friends; yet, by a second edition, we must infer that the public at large were so. There is a poem prefixed with the signature W.C. which no one will hesitate to pronounce is by Congreve; he wrote indeed another poem to celebrate this astonishing book, for, considered as the production of a young lady, it is a miraculous, rather than a human, production. The last lines in this poem we might expect from Congreve in his happier vein, who contrives to preserve his panegyric amidst that caustic wit, with which he keenly touched the age.


I that hate books, such as come daily out
By public license to the reading rout,
A due religion yet observe to this;
And here assert, if any thing's amiss,
It can be only the compiler's fault,
Who has ill-drest the charming author's thought,—
That was all right: her beauteous looks were join'd
To a no less admired excelling mind.
But, oh! this glory of frail Nature's dead,
As I shall be that write, and you that read.[142]
Once, to be out of fashion, I'll conclude
With something that may tend to public good;
I wish that piety, for which in heaven
The fair is placed—to the lawn sleeves were given:
Her justice—to the knot of men, whose care
From the raised millions is to take their share.

The book claimed all the praise the finest genius could bestow on it. But let us hear the editor.—He tells us, that "It is a vast disadvantage to authors to publish their private undigested thoughts, and first notions hastily set down, and designed only as materials for a future structure." And he adds, "That the work may not come short of that great and just expectation which the world had of her whilst she was alive, and still has of everything that is the genuine product of her pen, they must be told that this was written for the most part in haste, were her first conceptions and overflowings of her luxuriant fancy, noted with her pencil at spare hours, or as she was dressing, as her Πἁρεργον only; and set down just as they came into her mind."

All this will serve as a memorable example of the cant and mendacity of an editor! and that total absence of critical judgment that could assert such matured reflection, in so exquisite a style, could ever have been "first conceptions, just as they came into the mind of Lady Gethin, as she was dressing."

The truth is, that Lady Gethin may have had little concern in all these "Reliquiæ Gethinianæ." They indeed might well have delighted their readers; but those who had read Lord Bacon's Essays, and other writers, such as Owen Feltham and Osborne, from whom these relics are chiefly extracted, might have wondered that Bacon should have been so little known to the families of the Nortons and the Gethins, to whom her ladyship was allied; to Congreve and to the editor; and still more particularly to subsequent compilers, as Ballard in his Memoirs, and lately the Rev. Mark Noble in his Continuation of Granger; who both, with all the innocence of Criticism, give specimens of these "Relics," without a suspicion that they were transcribing literally from Lord Bacon's Essays! Unquestionably Lady Gethin herself intended no imposture; her mind had all the delicacy of her sex; she noted much from the books she seems most to have delighted in; and nothing less than the most undiscerning friends could have imagined that everything written by the hand of this young lady was her "first conceptions;" and apologise for some of the finest thoughts, in the most vigorous style which the English language can produce. It seems, however, to prove that Lord Bacon's Essays were not much read at the time this volume appeared.

The marble book in Westminster Abbey must, therefore, lose most of its leaves; but it was necessary to discover the origin of this miraculous production of a young lady. What is Lady Gethin's, or what is not hers, in this miscellany of plagiarisms, it is not material to examine. Those passages in which her ladyship speaks in her own person probably are of original growth; of this kind many evince great vivacity of thought, drawn from actual observation on what was passing around her; but even among these are intermixed the splendid passages of Bacon and other writers.

I shall not crowd my pages with specimens of a very suspicious author. One of her subjects has attracted my attention; for it shows the corrupt manners of persons of fashion who lived between 1680 and 1700. To find a mind so pure and elevated as Lady Gethin's unquestionably was, discussing whether it were most advisable to have for a husband a general lover, or one attached to a mistress, and deciding by the force of reasoning in favour of the dissipated man (for a woman, it seems, had only the alternative), evinces a public depravation of morals. These manners were the wretched remains of the court of Charles the Second, when Wycherley, Dryden, and Congreve seem to have written with much less invention, in their indecent plots and language, than is imagined.

I know not which is worse, to be wife to a man that is continually changing his loves, or to an husband that hath but one mistress whom he loves with a constant passion. And if you keep some measure of civility to her, he will at least esteem you; but he of the roving humour plays an hundred frolics that divert the town and perplex his wife. She often meets with her husband's mistress, and is at a loss how to carry herself towards her. 'Tis true the constant man is ready to sacrifice, every moment, his whole family to his love; he hates any place where she is not, is prodigal in what concerns his love, covetous in other respects; expects you should be blind to all he doth, and though you can't but see, yet must not dare to complain. And though both, he who lends his heart to whosoever pleases it, and he that gives it entirely to one, do both of them require the exactest devoir from their wives, yet I know not if it be not better to be wife to an inconstant husband (provided he be something discreet), than to a constant fellow who is always perplexing her with his inconstant humour. For the unconstant lovers are commonly the best humoured; but let them be what they will, women ought not to be unfaithful for Virtue's sake and their own, nor to offend by example. It is one of the best bonds of charity and obedience in the wife if she think her husband wise, which she will never do if she find him jealous.

"Wives are young men's mistresses, companions for middle age, and old men's nurses."

The last degrading sentence is found alas! in the Moral Essays of Bacon. Lady Gethin, with an intellect superior to that of the women of that day, had no conception of the dignity of the female character, the claims of virtue, and the duties of honour. A wife was only to know obedience and silence: however, she hints that such a husband should not be jealous! There was a sweetness in revenge reserved for some of these married women.


Robinson Crusoe, the favourite of the learned and the unlearned, of the youth and the adult; the book that was to constitute the library of Rousseau's Emilius, owes its secret charm to its being a new representation of human nature, yet drawn from an existing state; this picture of self-education, self-inquiry, self-happiness, is scarcely a fiction, although it includes all the magic of romance; and is not a mere narrative of truth, since it displays all the forcible genius of one of the most original minds our literature can boast. The history of the work is therefore interesting. It was treated in the author's time as a mere idle romance, for the philosophy was not discovered in the story; after his death it was considered to have been pillaged from the papers of Alexander Selkirk, confided to the author, and the honour, as well as the genius, of De Foe were alike questioned.

The entire history of this work of genius may now be traced, from the first hints to the mature state, to which only the genius of De Foe could have wrought it.

The adventures of Selkirk are well known: he was found on the desert island of Juan Fernandez, where he had formerly been left, by Woodes Rogers and Edward Cooke, who in 1712 published their voyages, and told the extraordinary history of Crusoe's prototype, with all those curious and minute particulars which Selkirk had freely communicated to them. This narrative of itself is extremely interesting, and has been given entire by Captain Burney; it may also be found in the Biographia Britannica.

In this artless narrative we may discover more than the embryo of Robinson Crusoe.—The first appearance of Selkirk, "a man clothed in goats' skins, who looked more wild than the first owners of them." The two huts he had built, the one to dress his victuals, the other to sleep in: his contrivance to get fire, by rubbing two pieces of pimento wood together; his distress for the want of bread and salt, till he came to relish his meat without either; his wearing out his shoes, till he grew so accustomed to be without them, that he could not for a long time afterwards, on his return home, use them without inconvenience; his bedstead of his own contriving, and his bed of goat-skins; when his gunpowder failed, his teaching himself by continual exercise to run as swiftly as the goats; his falling from a precipice in catching hold of a goat, stunned and bruised, till coming to his senses he found the goat dead under him; his taming kids to divert himself by dancing with them and his cats; his converting a nail into a needle; his sewing his goatskins with little thongs of the same; and when his knife was worn to the back, contriving to make blades out of some iron hoops. His solacing himself in this solitude by singing psalms, and preserving a social feeling in his fervent prayers. And the habitation which Selkirk had raised, to reach which they followed him "with difficulty, climbing up and creeping down many rocks, till they came at last to a pleasant spot of ground full of grass and of trees, where stood his two huts, and his numerous tame goats showed his solitary retreat;" and, finally, his indifference to return to a world from which his feelings had been so perfectly weaned.—Such were the first rude materials of a new situation in human nature; an European in a primeval state, with the habits or mind of a savage.

The year after this account was published, Selkirk and his adventures attracted the notice of Steele, who was not likely to pass unobserved a man and a story so strange and so new. In his paper of "The Englishman," Dec. 1713, he communicates farther particulars of Selkirk. Steele became acquainted with him; he says, that "he could discern that he had been much separated from company from his aspect and gesture. There was a strong but cheerful seriousness in his looks, and a certain disregard to the ordinary things about him, as if he had been sunk in thought. The man frequently bewailed his return to the world, which could not, he said, with all its enjoyments, restore him to the tranquillity of his solitude." Steele adds another very curious change in this wild man, which occurred some time after he had seen him. "Though I had frequently conversed with him, after a few months' absence, he met me in the street, and though he spoke to me, I could not recollect that I had seen him. Familiar converse in this town had taken off the loneliness of his aspect, and quite altered the air of his face." De Foe could not fail of being struck by these interesting particulars of the character of Selkirk; but probably it was another observation of Steele which threw the germ of Robinson Crusoe into the mind of De Foe. "It was matter of great curiosity to hear him, as he was a man of sense, give an account of the different revolutions in his own mind in that long solitude."

The work of De Foe, however, was no sudden ebullition: long engaged in political warfare, condemned to suffer imprisonment, and at length struck by a fit of apoplexy, this unhappy and unprosperous man of genius on his recovery was reduced to a comparative state of solitude. To his injured feelings and lonely contemplations, Selkirk in his Desert Isle, and Steele's vivifying hint, often occurred; and to all these we perhaps owe the instructive and delightful tale, which shows man what he can do for himself, and what the fortitude of piety does for man. Even the personage of Friday is not a mere coinage of his brain: a Mosquito Indian, described by Dampier, was the prototype. Robinson Crusoe was not given to the world till 1719, seven years after the publication of Selkirk's adventures.[143] Selkirk could have no claims on De Foe; for he had only supplied the man of genius with that which lies open to all; and which no one had, or perhaps could have, converted into the wonderful story we possess but De Foe himself. Had De Foe not written Robinson Crusoe, the name and story of Selkirk had been passed over like others of the same sort; yet Selkirk has the merit of having detailed his own history, in a manner so interesting, as to have attracted the notice of Steele, and to have inspired the genius of De Foe.

After this, the originality of Robinson Crusoe will no longer be suspected; and the idle tale which Dr. Beattie has repeated of Selkirk having supplied the materials of his story to De Foe, from which our author borrowed his work, and published for his own profit, will be finally put to rest. This is due to the injured honour and genius of De Foe.


Literature, and the arts connected with it, in this free country, have been involved with its political state, and have sometimes flourished or declined with the fortunes, or been made instrumental to the purposes, of the parties which had espoused them. Thus in our dramatic history, in the early period of the Reformation, the Catholics were secretly working on the stage; and long afterwards the royalist party, under Charles the First, possessed it till they provoked their own ruin. The Catholics, in their expiring cause, took refuge in the theatre, and disguised the invectives they would have invented in sermons, under the more popular forms of the drama, where they freely ridiculed the chiefs of the new religion, as they termed the Reformation, and "the new Gospellers," or those who quoted their Testament, as an authority for their proceedings. Fuller notices this circumstance. "The popish priests, though unseen, stood behind the hangings, or lurked in the tyring-house."[144] These found supporters among the elder part of their auditors, who were tenacious of their old habits and doctrines; and opposers in the younger, who eagerly adopted the term Reformation in its full sense.

This conduct of the Catholics called down a proclamation from Edward the Sixth, (1549,) when we find that the government was most anxious that these pieces should not be performed in "the English tongue;" so that we may infer that the government was not alarmed at treason in Latin.[145] This proclamation states, "that a great number of those that be common players of interludes or plays, as well within the city of London as elsewhere, who for the most part play such interludes as contain matter tending to sedition, &c., &c., whereupon are grown, and daily are like to grow, much division, tumult, and uproars in this realm. The king charges his subjects that they should not openly or secretly play in the English tongue any kind of Interlude, Play, Dialogue, or other matter set forth in form of Play, on pain of imprisonment," &c.[146]

This was, however, but a temporary prohibition; it cleared the stage for a time of these Catholic dramatists; but reformed Enterludes, as they were termed, were afterwards permitted.

These Catholic dramas would afford some speculations to historical inquirers: we know they made very free strictures on the first heads of the Reformation, on Cromwell, Cranmer, and their party; but they were probably overcome in their struggles with their prevailing rivals. Some may yet possibly lurk in their manuscript state. We have, printed, one of those Moralities, or moral plays, or allegorical dramatic pieces, which succeeded the Mysteries in the reign of Henry the Eighth, entitled "Every Man:" in the character of that hero, the writer not unaptly designates Human Nature herself.[147] This comes from the Catholic school, to recall the auditors back to the forsaken ceremonies of that church; but it levels no strokes of personal satire on the Reformers. Percy observed that, from the solemnity of the subjects, the summoning of man out of the world by death, and by the gravity of its conduct, not without some attempts, however rude, to excite terror and pity, this Morality may not improperly be referred to the class of Tragedy. Such ancient simplicity is not worthless to the poetical antiquary; although the mere modern reader would soon feel weary at such inartificial productions, yet the invention which may be discovered in these rude pieces would be sublime, warm with the colourings of a Gray or a Collins.

On the side of the Reformed we have no deficiency of attacks on the superstitions and idolatries of the Romish church; and Satan, and his old son Hypocrisy, are very busy at their intrigues with another hero called "Lusty Juventus," and the seductive mistress they introduce him to, "Abominable Living:" this was printed in the reign of Edward the Sixth. It is odd enough to see quoted in a dramatic performance chapter and verse, as formally as if a sermon were to be performed. There we find such rude learning as this:—

Read the V. to the Galatians, and there you shall see
That the flesh rebelleth against the spirit—

or in homely rhymes like these—

I will show you what St. Paul doth declare
In his epistle to the Hebrews, and the X. chapter.

In point of historical information respecting the pending struggle between the Catholics and the "new Gospellers," we do not glean much secret history from these pieces; yet they curiously exemplify that regular progress in the history of man, which has shown itself in the more recent revolutions of Europe; the old people still clinging, from habit and affection, to what is obsolete, and the young ardent in establishing what is new; while the balance of human happiness trembles between both.

Thus "Lusty Juventus" conveys to us in his rude simplicity the feeling of that day. Satan, in lamenting the downfall of superstition, declares that—

The old people would believe still in my laws,
But the younger sort lead them a contrary way—
They will live as the Scripture teacheth them.

Hypocrisy, when informed by his old master, the Devil, of the change that "Lusty Juventus" has undergone, expresses his surprise; attaching that usual odium of meanness on the early reformers, in the spirit that the Hollanders were nicknamed at their first revolution by their lords the Spaniards, "Les Gueux," or the Beggars.

What, is Juventus become so tame,
To be a new Gospeller?

But in his address to the young reformer, who asserts that he is not bound to obey his parents but "in all things honest and lawful," Hypocrisy thus vents his feelings:—

Lawful, quoth ha! Ah! fool! fool!
Wilt thou set men to school
When they be old?
I may say to you secretly,
The world was never merry
Since children were so bold;
Now every boy will be a teacher,
The father a fool, the child a preacher;
This is pretty gear!
The foul presumption of youth
Will shortly turn to great ruth,
I fear, I fear, I fear!

In these rude and simple lines there is something like the artifice of composition: the repetition of words in the first and the last lines was doubtless intended as a grace in the poetry. That the ear of the poet was not unmusical, amidst the inartificial construction of his verse, will appear in this curious catalogue of holy things, which Hypocrisy has drawn up, not without humour, in asserting the services he had performed for the Devil.

And I brought up such superstition
Under the name of holiness and religion,
That deceived almost all.
As—holy cardinals, holy popes,
Holy vestments, holy copes,
Holy hermits, and friars,
Holy priests, holy bishops,
Holy monks, holy abbots,
Yea, and all obstinate liars.
Holy pardons, holy beads,
Holy saints, holy images,
With holy holy blood.
Holy stocks, holy stones,
Holy clouts, holy bones,
Yea, and holy holy wood.
Holy skins, holy bulls,
Holy rochets, and cowls,
Holy crutches and staves,
Holy hoods, holy caps,
Holy mitres, holy hats,
And good holy holy knaves.
Holy days, holy fastings,
Holy twitchings, holy tastings
Holy visions and sights,
Holy wax, holy lead,
Holy water, holy bread,
To drive away sprites.
Holy fire, holy palme,
Holy oil, holy cream,
And holy ashes also;
Holy broaches, holy rings,
Holy kneeling, holy censings,
And a hundred trim-trams mo.
Holy crosses, holy bells,
Holy reliques, holy jouels,
Of mine own invention;
Holy candles, holy tapers,
Holy parchments, holy papers;—
Had not you a holy son?

Some of these Catholic dramas were long afterwards secretly performed among Catholic families. In an unpublished letter of the times, I find a cause in the Star-chamber respecting a play being acted at Christmas, 1614, at the house of Sir John Yorke; the consequences of which were heavy fines and imprisonment. The letter-writer describes it as containing "many foul passages to the vilifying of our religion and exacting of popery, for which he and his lady, as principal procurers, were fined one thousand pounds apiece, and imprisoned in the Tower for a year; two or three of his brothers at five hundred pounds apiece, and others in other sums."


A period in our dramatic annals has been passed over during the progress of the civil wars, which indeed was one of silence, but not of repose in the theatre. It lasted beyond the death of Charles the First, when the fine arts seemed also to have suffered with the monarch. The theatre, for the first time in any nation, was abolished by a public ordinance, and the actors, and consequently all that family of genius who by their labours or their tastes are connected with the drama, were reduced to silence. The actors were forcibly dispersed, and became even some of the most persecuted objects of the new government.

It may excite our curiosity to trace the hidden footsteps of this numerous fraternity of genius. Hypocrisy and Fanaticism had, at length, triumphed over Wit and Satire. A single blow could not, however, annihilate those never-dying powers; nor is suppression always extinction. Reduced to a state which did not allow of uniting in a body, still their habits and their affections could not desert them: actors would attempt to resume their functions, and the genius of the authors and the tastes of the people would occasionally break out, though scattered and concealed.

Mr. Gifford has noticed, in his introduction to Massinger, the noble contrast between our actors at that time, with those of revolutionary France, when, to use his own emphatic expression—"One wretched actor only deserted his sovereign; while of the vast multitude fostered by the nobility and the royal family of France, not one individual adhered to their cause: all rushed madly forward to plunder and assassinate their benefactors."

The contrast is striking, but the result must be traced to a different principle; for the cases are not parallel as they appear. The French actors did not occupy the same ground as ours. Here, the fanatics shut up the theatre, and extirpated the art and the artists: there, the fanatics enthusiastically converted the theatre into an instrument of their own revolution, and the French actors therefore found an increased national patronage. It was natural enough that actors would not desert a flourishing profession. "The plunder and assassinations," indeed, were quite peculiar to themselves as Frenchmen, not as actors.

The destruction of the theatre here was the result of an ancient quarrel between the puritanic party and the whole corps dramatique. In this little history of plays and players, like more important history, we perceive how all human events form but a series of consequences, linked together; and we must go back to the reign of Elizabeth to comprehend an event which occurred in that of Charles the First. It has been perhaps peculiar to this land of contending opinions, and of happy and unhappy liberty, that a gloomy sect was early formed, who drawing, as they fancied, the principles of their conduct from the literal precepts of the Gospel, formed those views of human nature which were more practicable in a desert than a city, and which were rather suited to a monastic order than to a polished people. These were our puritans, who at first, perhaps from utter simplicity, among other extravagant reforms, imagined that of the extinction of the theatre. Numerous works from that time fatigued their own pens and their readers' heads, founded on literal interpretations of the Scriptures, which were applied to our drama, though written ere our drama existed: voluminous quotations from the Fathers, who had only witnessed farcical interludes and licentious pantomimes: they even quoted classical authority to prove that a "stage-player" was considered infamous by the Romans; among whom, however, Roscius, the admiration of Rome, received the princely remuneration of a thousand denarii per diem; the tragedian, Æsopus, bequeathed about £150,000 to his son;[148] remunerations which show the high regard in which the great actors were held among the Roman people.

A series of writers might be collected of these anti-dramatists.[149] The licentiousness of our comedies had too often indeed presented a fair occasion for their attacks; and they at length succeeded in purifying the stage: we owe them this good, but we owe little gratitude to that blind zeal which was desirous of extinguishing the theatre, which wanted the taste also to feel that the theatre was a popular school of morality; that the stage is a supplement to the pulpit; where virtue, according to Plato's sublime idea, moves our love and affections when made visible to the eye. Of this class, among the earliest writers was Stephen Gosson, who in 1579 published "The School of Abuse, or a Pleasant Invective against Poets, Players, Jesters, and such like Caterpillars." Yet this Gosson dedicated his work to Sir Philip Sidney, a great lover of plays, and one who has vindicated their morality in his "Defence of Poesy." The same puritanic spirit soon reached our universities; for when a Dr. Gager had a play performed at Christchurch, Dr. Reynolds, of Queen's College, terrified at the Satanic novelty, published "The Ouerthrow of Stage-plays," 1593; a tedious invective, foaming at the mouth of its text with quotations and authorities; for that was the age when authority was stronger than opinion, and the slightest could awe the readers. Reynolds takes great pains to prove that a stage-play is infamous, by the opinions of antiquity; that a theatre corrupts morals, by those of the Fathers; but the most reasonable point of attack is "the sin of boys wearing the dress and affecting the airs of women."[150] This was too long a flagrant evil in the theatrical economy. To us there appears something so repulsive in the exhibition of boys, or men, personating female characters, that one cannot conceive how they could ever have been tolerated as a substitute for the spontaneous grace, the melting voice, and the soothing looks of a female. It was quite impossible to give the tenderness of a woman to any perfection of feeling, in a personating male; and to this cause may we not attribute that the female characters have never been made chief personages among our elder poets, as they would assuredly have been, had they not been conscious that the male actor could not have sufficiently affected the audience? A poet who lived in Charles the Second's day, and who has written a prologue to Othello, to introduce the first actress on our stage, has humorously touched on this gross absurdity.

Our women are defective, and so sized,
You'd think they were some of the Guard disguised;
For to speak truth, men act, that are between
Forty and fifty, wenches of fifteen;
With brows so large, and nerve so uncompliant,
When you call Desdemona—enter Giant.

Yet at the time the absurd custom prevailed, Tom Nash, in his Pierce Pennilesse, commends our stage for not having, as they had abroad, women-actors, or "courtezans," as he calls them: and even so late as in 1650, when women were first introduced on our stage, endless are the apologies for the indecorum of this novel usage! Such are the difficulties which occur even in forcing bad customs to return to nature; and so long does it take to infuse into the multitude a little common sense! It is even probable that this happy revolution originated from mere necessity, rather than from choice; for the boys who had been trained to act female characters before the Rebellion, during the present suspension of the theatre, had grown too masculine to resume their tender office at the Restoration; and, as the same poet observes,

Doubting we should never play agen,
We have played all our women into men;

so that the introduction of women was the mere result of necessity:—hence all these apologies for the most natural ornament of the stage.[151]

This volume of Reynolds seems to have been the shadow and precursor of one of the most substantial of literary monsters, in the tremendous "Histriomastix, or Player's Scourge," of Prynne, in 1633. In that volume, of more than a thousand closely-printed quarto pages, all that was ever written against plays and players, perhaps, may be found: what followed could only have been transcripts from a genius who could raise at once the Mountain and the Mouse. Yet Collier, so late as in 1698, renewed the attack still more vigorously, and with final success; although he left room for Arthur Bedford a few years afterwards, in his "Evil and Danger of Stage-plays:" in which extraordinary work he produced "seven thousand instances, taken out of plays of the present century;" and a catalogue of "fourteen hundred texts of scripture, ridiculed by the Stage." This religious anti-dramatist must have been more deeply read in the drama than even its most fervent lovers. His piety pursued too deeply the study of such impious productions; and such labours were probably not without more amusement than he ought to have found in them.

This stage persecution, which began in the reign of Elizabeth, had been necessarily resented by the theatrical people, and the fanatics were really objects too tempting for the traders in wit and satire to pass by. They had made themselves very marketable; and the puritans, changing their character with the times, from Elizabeth to Charles the First, were often the Tartuffes of the stage.[152] But when they became the government itself, in 1642, all the theatres were suppressed, because "stage-plaies do not suit with seasons of humiliation; but fasting and praying have been found very effectual." This was but a mild cant, and the suppression, at first, was only to be temporary. But as they gained strength, the hypocrite, who had at first only struck a gentle blow at the theatre, with redoubled vengeance buried it in its own ruins. Alexander Brome, in his verses on Richard Brome's Comedies, discloses the secret motive:—

—— 'Tis worth our note,
Bishops and players, both suffer'd in one vote:
And reason good, for they had cause to fear them;
One did suppress their schisms, and t'other JEER THEM.
Bishops were guiltiest, for they swell'd with riches;
T'other had nought but verses, songs and speeches,
And by their ruin, the state did no more
But rob the spittle, and unrag the poor.

They poured forth the long-suppressed bitterness of their souls six years afterwards, in their ordinance of 1648, for "the suppression of all stage-plaies, and for the taking down all their boxes, stages, and seats whatsoever, that so there might be no more plaies acted." "Those proud parroting players" are described as "a sort of superbious ruffians; and, because sometimes the asses are clothed in lions' skins, the dolts imagine themselves somebody, and walke in as great state as Cæsar." This ordinance against "boxes, stages, and seats," was, without a metaphor, a war of extermination. They passed their ploughshare over the land of the drama, and sowed it with their salt; and the spirit which raged in the governing powers appeared in the deed of one of their followers. When an actor had honourably surrendered himself in battle to this spurious "saint," he exclaimed, "Cursed be he who doth the work of the Lord negligently," and shot his prisoner because he was an actor!

We find some account of the dispersed actors in that curious morsel of "Historica Histrionica," preserved in the twelfth volume of Dodsley's Old Plays; full of the traditional history of the theatre, which the writer appears to have gleaned from the reminiscences of the old cavalier, his father.

The actors were "Malignants" to a man, if we except that "wretched actor," as Mr. Gifford distinguishes him, who was, however, only such for his politics: and he pleaded hard for his treason, that he really was a presbyterian, although an actor. Of these men, who had lived in the sunshine of a court, and amidst taste and criticism, many perished in the field, from their affection for their royal master. Some sought humble occupations; and not a few, who, by habits long indulged, and their own turn of mind, had hands too delicate to put to work, attempted often to entertain secret audiences, and were often dragged to prison.

These disturbed audiences were too unpleasant to afford much employment to the actors. Francis Kirkman, the author and bookseller, tells us they were often seized on by the soldiers, and stripped and fined at their pleasure. A curious circumstance occurred in the economy of these strolling theatricals: these seizures often deprived them of their wardrobe; and among the stage directions of the time, may be found among the exits and the entrances, these: Enter the red coat—Exit hat and cloak, which were, no doubt, considered not as the least precious parts of the whole living company: they were at length obliged to substitute painted cloth for the splendid habits of the drama.

At this epoch a great comic genius, Robert Cox, invented a peculiar sort of dramatic exhibition, suited to the necessities of the time, short pieces which he mixed with other amusements, that these might disguise the acting. It was under the pretence of rope-dancing that he filled the Red Bull playhouse, which was a large one, with such a confluence that as many went back for want of room as entered. The dramatic contrivance consisted of a combination of the richest comic scenes into one piece, from Shakspeare, Marston, Shirley, &c., concealed under some taking title; and these pieces of plays were called "Humours" or "Drolleries." These have been collected by Marsh, and reprinted by Kirkman, as put together by Cox, for the use of theatrical booths at fairs.[153] The argument prefixed to each piece serves as its plot; and drawn as most are from some of our dramas, these "Drolleries" may still be read with great amusement, and offer, seen altogether, an extraordinary specimen of our national humour. The price this collection obtains among book-collectors is excessive. In "The bouncing Knight, or the Robbers robbed," we recognise our old friend Falstaff, and his celebrated adventure: "The Equal Match" is made out of "Rule a Wife and have a Wife;" and thus most. There are, however, some original pieces, by Cox himself, which were the most popular favourites; being characters created by himself, for himself, from ancient farces: such were The Humours of John Swabber, Simpleton the Smith, &c. These remind us of the extemporal comedy and the pantomimical characters of Italy, invented by actors of genius. This Cox was the delight of the city, the country, and the universities: assisted by the greatest actors of the time, expelled from the theatre, it was he who still preserved alive, as it were by stealth, the suppressed spirit of the drama. That he merited the distinctive epithet of "the incomparable Robert Cox," as Kirkman calls him, we can only judge by the memorial of our mimetic genius, which will be best given in Kirkman's words. "As meanly as you may now think of these Drolls, they were then acted by the best comedians; and, I may say, by some that then exceeded all now living; the incomparable Robert Cox, who was not only the principal actor, but also the contriver and author of most of these farces. How have I heard him cried up for his John Swabber, and Simpleton the Smith; in which he being to appear with a large piece of bread and butter, I have frequently known several of the female spectators and auditors to long for it; and once that well-known natural, Jack Adams of Clerkenwell, seeing him with bread and butter on the stage, and knowing him, cried out, 'Cuz! Cuz! give me some!' to the great pleasure of the audience. And so naturally did he act the smith's part, that being at a fair in a country town, and that farce being presented, the only master-smith of the town came to him, saying, 'Well, although your father speaks so ill of you, yet when the fair is done, if you will come and work with me, I will give you twelve pence a week more than I give any other journeyman.' Thus was he taken for a smith bred, that was, indeed, as much of any trade."

To this low state the gloomy and exasperated fanatics, who had so often smarted under the satirical whips of the dramatists, had reduced the drama itself; without, however, extinguishing the talents of the players, or the finer ones of those who once derived their fame from that noble arena of genius, the English stage. At the first suspension of the theatre by the Long Parliament in 1642, they gave vent to their feelings in an admirable satire. About this time "petitions" to the parliament from various classes were put into vogue; multitudes were presented to the House from all parts of the country, and from the city of London; and some of these were extraordinary. The porters, said to have been 15,000 in number, declaimed with great eloquence on the bloodsucking malignants for insulting the privileges of parliament, and threatened to come to extremities, and make good the saying "necessity has no law;" there was one from the beggars, who declared, that by means of the bishops and popish lords they knew not where to get bread; and we are told of a third from the tradesmen's wives in London, headed by a brewer's wife: all these were encouraged by their party, and were alike "most thankfully accepted."

The satirists soon turned this new political trick of "petitions" into an instrument for their own purpose: we have "Petitions of the Poets,"—of the House of Commons to the King,—Remonstrances to the Porters' Petition, &c.: spirited political satires. One of these, the "Players' Petition to the Parliament," after being so long silenced, that they might play again, is replete with sarcastic allusions. It may be found in that rare collection, entitled "Rump Songs," 1662, but with the usual incorrectness of the press in that day. The following extract I have corrected from a manuscript copy:—

Now while you reign, our low petition craves
That we, the king's true subjects and your slaves,
May in our comic mirth and tragic rage
Set up the theatre, and show the stage;
This shop of truth and fancy, where we vow
Not to act anything you disallow.
We will not dare at your strange votes to jeer,
Or personate King PYM[154] with his state-fleer;
Aspiring Catiline should be forgot,
Bloody Sejanus, or whoe'er could plot
Confusion 'gainst a state; the war betwixt
The Parliament and just Harry the Sixth
Shall have no thought or mention, 'cause their power
Not only placed, but lost him in the Tower;
Nor will we parallel, with least suspicion,
Your synod with the Spanish inquisition.
All these, and such like maxims as may mar
Your soaring plots, or show you what you are,
We shall omit, lest our inventions shake them:
Why should the men be wiser than you make them?
We think there should not such a difference be
'Twixt our profession and your quality:
You meet, plot, act, talk high with minds immense;
The like with us, but only we speak sense
Inferior unto yours; we can tell how
To depose kings, there we know more than you,
Although not more than what we would; then we
Likewise in our vast privilege agree;
But that yours is the larger; and controls
Not only lives and fortunes, but men's souls,
Declaring by an enigmatic sense
A privilege on each man's conscience,
As if the Trinity could not consent
To save a soul but by the parliament.
We make the people laugh at some strange show,
And as they laugh at us, they do at you;
Only i' the contrary we disagree,
For you can make them cry faster than we.
Your tragedies more real are express'd,
You murder men in earnest, we in jest:
There we come short; but if you follow thus,
Some wise men fear you will come short of us.
As humbly as we did begin, we pray,
Dear schoolmasters, you'll give us leave to play
Quickly before the king comes; for we would
Be glad to say you've done a little good
Since you have sat: your play is almost done
As well as ours—would it had ne'er begun.
But we shall find, ere the last act be spent,
Enter the King, exeunt the Parliament.
And Heigh then up we go! who by the frown
Of guilty members have been voted down,
Until a legal trial show us how
You used the king, and Heigh then up go you!
So pray your humble slaves with all their powers,
That when they have their due, you may have yours.

Such was the petition of the suppressed players in 1642; but, in 1653, their secret exultation appears, although the stage was not yet restored to them, in some verses prefixed to RICHARD BROME'S Plays, by ALEXANDER BROME, which may close our little history. Alluding to the theatrical people, he moralises on the fate of players:—

See the strange twirl of times; when such poor things
Outlive the dates of parliaments or kings!
This revolution makes exploded wit
Now see the fall of those that ruin'd it;
And the condemned stage hath now obtain'd
To see her executioners arraign'd.
There's nothing permanent: those high great men,
That rose from dust, to dust may fall again;
And fate so orders things, that the same hour
Sees the same man both in contempt and power;
For the multitude, in whom the power doth lie,
Do in one breath cry Hail! and Crucify!

At this period, though deprived of a theatre, the taste for the drama was, perhaps, the more lively among its lovers; for, besides the performances already noticed, sometimes connived at, and sometimes protected by bribery, in Oliver's time they stole into a practice of privately acting at noblemen's houses, particularly at Holland-house, at Kensington: and "Alexander Goff, the woman-actor, was the jackal, to give notice of time and place to the lovers of the drama," according to the writer of "Historica Histrionica." The players, urged by their necessities, published several excellent manuscript plays, which they had hoarded in their dramatic exchequers, as the sole property of their respective companies. In one year appeared fifty of these new plays. Of these dramas many have, no doubt, perished; for numerous titles are recorded, but the plays are not known; yet some may still remain in their manuscript state, in hands not capable of valuing them. All our old plays were the property of the actors, who bought them for their own companies. The immortal works of Shakspeare had not descended to us, had Heminge and Condell felt no sympathy for the fame of their friend. They had been scattered and lost, and, perhaps, had not been discriminated among the numerous manuscript plays of that age. One more effort, during this suspension of the drama, was made in 1655, to recal the public attention to its productions. This was a very curious collection by John Cotgrave, entitled "The English Treasury of Wit and Language, collected out of the most, and best, of our English Dramatick Poems." It appears by Cotgrave's preface, that "The Dramatick Poem," as he calls our tragedies and comedies, "had been of late too much slighted." He tells us how some, not wanting in wit themselves, but "through a stiff and obstinate prejudice, have, in this neglect, lost the benefit of many rich and useful observations; not duly considering, or believing, that the framers of them were the most fluent and redundant wits that this age, or I think any other, ever knew." He enters further into this just panegyric of our old dramatic writers, whose acquired knowledge in ancient and modern languages, and whose luxuriant fancies, which they derived from no other sources but their own native growth, are viewed to great advantage in COTGRAVE'S commonplaces; and, perhaps, still more in HAYWARD'S "British Muse," which collection was made under the supervisal, and by the valuable aid, of OLDYS, an experienced caterer of these relishing morsels.


The ancient Bacchus, as represented in gems and statues, was a youthful and graceful divinity; he is so described by Ovid, and was so painted by Barry. He has the epithet of Psilas, to express the light spirits which give wings to the soul. His voluptuousness was joyous and tender; and he was never viewed reeling with intoxication. According to Virgil:

Et quocunque deus circum caput egit honestum.
Georg. ii. 392.

which Dryden, contemplating on the red-faced boorish boy astride on a barrel on our sign-posts, tastelessly sinks into gross vulgarity:

On whate'er side he turns his honest face.

This Latinism of honestum even the literal inelegance of Davidson had spirit enough to translate, "Where'er the god hath moved around his graceful head." The hideous figure of that ebriety, in its most disgusting stage, the ancients exposed in the bestial Silenus and his crew; and with these, rather than with the Ovidian and Virgilian deity, our own convivial customs have assimilated.

We shall probably outlive that custom of hard-drinking which was so long one of our national vices. The Frenchman, the Italian, and the Spaniard only taste the luxury of the grape, but seem never to have indulged in set convivial parties, or drinking-matches, as some of the northern people. Of this folly of ours, which was, however, a borrowed one, and which lasted for two centuries, the history is curious: the variety of its modes and customs; its freaks and extravagances; the technical language introduced to raise it into an art; and the inventions contrived to animate the progress of the thirsty souls of its votaries.[155]

Nations, like individuals, in their intercourse are great imitators; and we have the authority of Camden, who lived at the time, for asserting that "the English in their long wars in the Netherlands first learnt to drown themselves with immoderate drinking, and by drinking others' healths to impair their own. Of all the northern nations, they had been before this most commended for their sobriety." And the historian adds, "that the vice had so diffused itself over the nation, that in our days it was first restrained by severe laws."[156]

Here we have the authority of a grave and judicious historian for ascertaining the first period and even origin of this custom; and that the nation had not, heretofore, disgraced itself by such prevalent ebriety, is also confirmed by one of those curious contemporary pamphlets of a popular writer, so invaluable to the philosophical antiquary. Tom Nash, a town-wit of the reign of Elizabeth, long before Camden wrote her history, in his "Pierce Pennilesse," had detected the same origin.—"Superfluity in drink," says this spirited writer, "is a sin that ever since we have mixed ourselves with the Low Countries is counted honourable; but before we knew their lingering wars, was held in that highest degree of hatred that might be. Then if we had seen a man go wallowing in the streets, or lain sleeping under the board, we should have spet at him, and warned all our friends out of his company."[157]

Such was the fit source of this vile custom, which is further confirmed by the barbarous dialect it introduced into our language; all the terms of drinking which once abounded with us are, without exception, of a base northern origin.[158] But the best account I can find of all the refinements of this new science of potation, when it seems to have reached its height, is in our Tom Nash, who being himself one of these deep experimental philosophers, is likely to disclose all the mysteries of the craft.

He says—"Now, he is nobody that cannot drink super-nagulum; carouse the hunter's hoope; quaff vpse freeze crosse; with healths, gloves, mumpes, frolickes, and a thousand such domineering inventions."[159]

Drinking super-nagulum, that is, on the nail, is a device, which Nash says is new come out of France: but it had probably a northern origin, for far northward it still exists. This new device consisted in this, that after a man, says Nash, hath turned up the bottom of the cup to drop it on his nail, and make a pearl with what is left, which if it shed, and cannot make it stand on, by reason there is too much, he must drink again for his penance.

The custom is also alluded to by Bishop Hall in his satirical romance of "Mundus alter et idem," "A Discovery of a New World," a work which probably Swift read, and did not forget. The Duke of Tenter-belly in his oration, when he drinks off his large goblet of twelve quarts, on his election, exclaims, should he be false to their laws—"Let never this goodly-formed goblet of wine go jovially through me; and then he set it to his mouth, stole it off every drop, save a little remainder, which he was by custom to set upon his thumb's nail, and lick it off as he did."

The phrase is in Fletcher:

I am thine ad unguem

that is, he would drink with his friend to the last. In a manuscript letter of the times, I find an account of Columbo, the Spanish ambassador, being at Oxford, and drinking healths to the Infanta. The writer adds—"I shall not tell you how our doctors pledged healths to the Infanta and the arch-duchess; and if any left too big a snuff, Columbo would cry, Supernaculum! supernaculum!"[160]

This Bacchic freak seems still preserved: for a recent traveller, Sir George Mackenzie, has noticed the custom in his Travels through Iceland. "His host having filled a silver cup to the brim, and put on the cover, then held it towards the person who sat next to him, and desired him to take off the cover, and look into the cup, a ceremony intended to secure fair play in filling it. He drank our health, desiring to be excused from emptying the cup, on account of the indifferent state of his health; but we were informed at the same time that if any one of us should neglect any part of the ceremony, or fail to invert the cup, placing the edge on one of the thumbs as a proof that we had swallowed every drop, the defaulter would be obliged by the laws of drinking to fill the cup again, and drink it off a second time. In spite of their utmost exertions, the penalty of a second draught was incurred by two of the company; we were dreading the consequences of having swallowed so much wine, and in terror lest the cup should be sent round again."

Carouse the hunter's hoop.—"Carouse" has been already explained: the hunter's hoop alludes to the custom of hoops being marked on a drinking-pot, by which every man was to measure his draught. Shakspeare makes the Jacobin Jack Cade, among his furious reformations, promise his friends that "there shall be in England seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny; the three-hooped pot shall have ten hoops, and I will make it a felony to drink small beer." I have elsewhere observed that our modern Bacchanalians, whose feats are recorded by the bottle, and who insist on an equality in their rival combats, may discover some ingenuity in that invention among our ancestors of their peg-tankards, of which a few may yet occasionally be found in Derbyshire;[161] the invention of an age less refined than the present, when we have heard of globular glasses and bottles, which by their shape cannot stand, but roll about the table; thus compelling the unfortunate Bacchanalian to drain the last drop, or expose his recreant sobriety.

We must have recourse again to our old friend Tom Nash, who acquaints us with some of "the general rules and inventions for drinking, as good as printed precepts or statutes by act of parliament, that go from drunkard to drunkard; as, still to keep your first man; not to leave any flocks in the bottom of the cup; to knock the glass on your thumb when you have done; to have some shoeing-horn to pull on your wine, as a rasher on the coals or a red-herring."

Shoeing-horns, sometimes called gloves, are also described by Bishop Hall in his "Mundus alter et idem." "Then, sir, comes me up a service of shoeing-horns of all sorts; salt cakes, red-herrings, anchovies, and gammon of bacon, and abundance of such pullers-on."

That famous surfeit of Rhenish and pickled herrings, which banquet proved so fatal to Robert Green, a congenial wit and associate of our Nash, was occasioned by these shoeing-horns.

Massinger has given a curious list of "a service of shoeing-horns."

—— I usher
Such an unexpected dainty bit for breakfast
As never yet I cook'd; 'tis not Botargo,
Fried frogs, potatoes marrow'd, cavear,
Carps' tongues, the pith of an English chine of beef,
Nor our Italian delicate, oil'd mushrooms,
And yet a drawer-on too;[162] and if you show not
An appetite, and a strong one, I'll not say
To eat it, but devour it, without grace too,
(For it will not stay a preface) I am shamed,
And all my past provocatives will be jeer'd at,
MASSINGER, The Guardian, A. ii. S. 3.

To knock the glass on the thumb, was to show they had performed their duty. Barnaby Rich describes this custom: after having drank, the president "turned the bottom of the cup upward, and in ostentation of his dexterity, gave it a fillip, to make it cry ting."

They had among these "domineering inventions" some which we may imagine never took place, till they were told by "the hollow cask"

How the waning night grew old.

Such were flap-dragons, which were small combustible bodies fired at one end and floated in a glass of liquor, which an experienced toper swallowed unharmed, while yet blazing. Such is Dr. Johnson's accurate description, who seems to have witnessed what he so well describes.[163] When Falstaff says of Poins's acts of dexterity to ingratiate himself with the prince, that "he drinks off candle-ends for flap-dragons," it seems that this was likewise one of these "frolics," for Nash notices that the liquor was "to be stirred about with a candle's-end, to make it taste better, and not to hold your peace while the pot is stirring," no doubt to mark the intrepidity of the miserable "skinker." The most illustrious feat of all is one, however, described by Bishop Hall. If the drinker "could put his finger into the flame of the candle without playing hit-I-miss-I! he is held a sober man, however otherwise drunk he might be." This was considered as a trial of victory among these "canary-birds," or bibbers of canary wine.[164]

We have a very common expression to describe a man in a state of ebriety, that "he is as drunk as a beast," or that "he is beastly drunk." This is a libel on the brutes, for the vice of ebriety is perfectly human. I think the phrase is peculiar to ourselves: and I imagine I have discovered its origin. When ebriety became first prevalent in our nation, during the reign of Elizabeth, it was a favourite notion among the writers of the time, and on which they have exhausted their fancy, that a man in the different stages of ebriety showed the most vicious quality of different animals; or that a company of drunkards exhibited a collection of brutes, with their different characteristics.

"All dronkardes are beasts," says George Gascoigne, in a curious treatise on them,[165] and he proceeds in illustrating his proposition; but the satirist Nash has classified eight kinds of "drunkards;" a fanciful sketch from the hand of a master in humour, and which could only have been composed by a close spectator of their manners and habits.

"The first is ape-drunk, and he leaps and sings and hollows and danceth for the heavens; the second is lyon-drunk, and he flings the pots about the house, calls the hostess w—- e, breaks the glass-windows with his dagger, and is apt to quarrel with any man that speaks to him; the third is swine-drunk, heavy, lumpish, and sleepy, and cries for a little more drink and a few more clothes; the fourth is sheep-drunk, wise in his own conceit when he cannot bring forth a right word; the fifth is maudlen-drunk, when a fellow will weep for kindness in the midst of his drink, and kiss you, saying, 'By God! captain, I love thee; go thy ways, thou dost not think so often of me as I do of thee: I would (if it pleased God) I could not love thee so well as I do,' and then he puts his finger in his eye and cries. The sixth is martin-drunk, when a man is drunk, and drinks himself sober ere he stir; the seventh is goat-drunk, when in his drunkenness he hath no mind but on lechery. The eighth is fox-drunk, when he is crafty-drunk, as many of the Dutchmen be, which will never bargain but when they are drunk. All these species, and more, I have seen practised in one company at one sitting; when I have been permitted to remain sober amongst them only to note their several humours." These beast-drunkards are characterised in a frontispiece to a curious tract on Drunkenness where the men are represented with the heads of apes, swine, &c. &c.

A new era in this history of our drinking-parties occurred about the time of the Restoration, when politics heated their wine, and drunkenness and loyalty became more closely connected. As the puritanic coldness wore off, the people were perpetually, in 1650, warmed in drinking the king's health on their knees; and, among various kinds of "ranting cavalierism," the cavaliers during Cromwell's usurpation usually put a crumb of bread into their glass, and before they drank it off, with cautious ambiguity exclaimed, "God send this crum well down!" which by the way preserves the orthoëpy of that extraordinary man's name, and may be added to the instances adduced in our present volume "On the orthography of proper names." We have a curious account of a drunken bout by some royalists, told by Whitelocke in his Memorials. It bore some resemblance to the drinking-party of Catiline: they mingled their own blood with their wine.[166] After the Restoration, Burnet complains of the excess of convivial loyalty. "Drinking the king's health was set up by too many as a distinguishing mark of loyalty, and drew many into great excess after his majesty's restoration."[167]


A writer of penetration sees connexions in literary anecdotes which are not immediately perceived by others: in his hands anecdotes, even should they be familiar to us, are susceptible of deductions and inferences, which become novel and important truths. Facts of themselves are barren; it is when these facts pass through reflections, and become interwoven with our feelings, or our reasonings, that they are the finest illustrations; that they assume the dignity of "philosophy teaching by example;" that, in the moral world, they are what the wise system of Bacon inculcated in the natural knowledge deduced from experiments; the study of nature in her operations. "When examples are pointed out to us," says Lord Bolingbroke, "there is a kind of appeal, with which, we are flattered, made to our senses, as well as to our understandings. The instruction comes then from our authority; we yield to fact, when we resist speculation."

For this reason, writers and artists should, among their recreations, be forming a constant acquaintance with the history of their departed kindred. In literary biography a man of genius always finds something which relates to himself. The studies of artists have a great uniformity, and their habits of life are monotonous. They have all the same difficulties to encounter, although they do not all meet with the same glory. How many secrets may the man of genius learn from literary anecdotes! important secrets, which his friends will not convey to him. He traces the effects of similar studies; warned sometimes by failures, and often animated by watching the incipient and shadowy attempts which closed in a great work. From one he learns in what manner he planned and corrected; from another he may overcome those obstacles which, perhaps, at that very moment make him rise in despair from his own unfinished labour. What perhaps he had in vain desired to know for half his life is revealed to him by a literary anecdote; and thus the amusements of indolent hours may impart the vigour of study; as we find sometimes in the fruit we have taken for pleasure the medicine which restores our health. How superficial is that cry of some impertinent pretended geniuses of these times who affect to exclaim, "Give me no anecdotes of an author, but give me his works!" I have often found the anecdotes more interesting than the works.

Dr. Johnson devoted one of his periodical papers to a defence of anecdotes, and expresses himself thus on certain collectors of anecdotes: "They are not always so happy as to select the most important. I know not well what advantage posterity can receive from the only circumstance by which Tickell has distinguished Addison from the rest of mankind,—the irregularity of his pulse; nor can I think myself overpaid for the time spent in reading the life of Malherbe, by being enabled to relate, after the learned biographer, that Malherbe had two predominant opinions; one, that the looseness of a single woman might destroy all her boast of ancient descent; the other, that French beggars made use, very improperly and barbarously, of the phrase noble gentlemen, because either word included the sense of both."

These just observations may, perhaps, be further illustrated by the following notices. Dr. J. Warton has informed the world that many of our poets have been handsome. This, certainly, neither concerns the world, nor the class of poets. It is trifling to tell us that Dr. Johnson was accustomed "to cut his nails to the quick." I am not much gratified by being informed, that Menage wore a greater number of stockings than any other person, excepting one, whose name I have really forgotten. The biographer of Cujas, a celebrated lawyer, says that two things were remarkable of this scholar. The first, that he studied on the floor, lying prostrate on a carpet, with his books about him; and, secondly, that his perspiration exhaled an agreeable smell, which he used to inform his friends he had in common with Alexander the Great! This admirable biographer should have told us whether he frequently turned from his very uneasy attitude. Somebody informs us, that Guy Patin resembled Cicero, whose statue is preserved at Rome; on which he enters into a comparison of Patin with Cicero; but a man may resemble a statue of Cicero, and yet not be Cicero. Baillet loads his life of Descartes with a thousand minutiæ, which less disgrace the philosopher than the biographer. Was it worth informing the public, that Descartes was very particular about his wigs; that he had them manufactured at Paris; and that he always kept four? That he wore green taffety in France: but that in Holland he quitted taffety for cloth; and that he was fond of omelets of eggs?

It is an odd observation of Clarendon in his own life, that "Mr. Chillingworth was of a stature little superior to Mr. Hales; and it was an age in which there were many great and wonderful men of THAT SIZE." Lord Falkland, formerly Sir Lucius Carey, was of a low stature, and smaller than most men; and of Sidney Godolphin, "There was never so great a mind and spirit contained in so little room; so that Lord Falkland used to say merrily, that he thought it was a great ingredient in his friendship for Mr. Godolphin, that he was pleased to be found in his company where he was the properer man." This irrelevant observation of Lord Clarendon is an instance where a great mind will sometimes draw inferences from accidental coincidences, and establish them into a general principle; as if the small size of the men had even the remotest connexion with their genius and their virtues. Perhaps, too, there was in this a tincture of the superstitions of the times: whatever it was, the fact ought not to have degraded the truth and dignity of historical narrative. We have writers who cannot discover the particulars which characterise THE MAN—their souls, like damp gunpowder, cannot ignite with the spark when it falls on them.

Yet of anecdotes which appear trifling, something may be alleged in their defence. It is certainly safer for some writers to give us all they know, than to try their discernment for rejection. Let us sometimes recollect, that the page over which we toil will probably furnish materials for authors of happier talents. I would rather have a Birch, or a Hawkins, appear heavy, cold, and prolix, than that anything material which concerns a Tillotson, or a Johnson, should be lost. It must also be confessed, that an anecdote, or a circumstance, which may appear inconsequential to a reader, may bear some remote or latent connexion: a biographer who has long contemplated the character he records, sees many connexions which escape an ordinary reader. Kippis, in closing the life of the diligent Dr. Birch, has, from his own experience, no doubt, formed an apology for that minute research, which some have thought this writer carried to excess. "It may be alleged in our author's favour, that a man who has a deep and extensive acquaintance with a subject, often sees a connexion and importance in some smaller circumstances, which may not immediately be discerned by others; and, on that account, may have reasons for inserting them, that will escape the notice of superficial minds."


I flatter myself that those readers who have taken any interest in my volume have not conceived me to have been deficient in the elevated feeling which, from early life, I have preserved for the great literary character: if time weaken our enthusiasm, it is the coldness of age which creeps on us, but the principle is unalterable which inspired the sympathy. Who will not venerate those master-spirits "whose PUBLISHED LABOURS advance the good of mankind," and those BOOKS which are "the precious life-blood of a master-spirit, imbalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life?" But it has happened that I have more than once incurred the censure of the inconsiderate and the tasteless, for attempting to separate those writers who exist in a state of perpetual illusion; who live on querulously, which is an evil for themselves, and to no purpose of life, which is an evil to others. I have been blamed for exemplifying "the illusions of writers in verse,"[168] by the remarkable case of Percival Stockdale,[169] who, after a condemned silence of nearly half a century, like a vivacious spectre throwing aside his shroud in gaiety, came forward, a venerable man in his eightieth year, to assure us of the immortality of one of the worst poets of his age; and for this wrote his own memoirs, which only proved, that when authors are troubled with a literary hallucination, and possess the unhappy talent of reasoning in their madness, a little raillery, if it cannot cure, may serve at least as a salutary regimen.

I shall illustrate the case of condemned authors who will still be pleading after their trials, by a foreign dramatic writer. Among those incorrigible murmurers at public justice, not the least extraordinary was a M. Peyraud de Beaussol, who, in 1775, had a tragedy, Les Arsacides, in six acts, printed, "not as it was acted," as Fielding says on the title-page of one of his comedies, but "as it was damned!"

In a preface, this Sir Fretful, more inimitable than that original, with all the gravity of an historical narrative, details the public conspiracy; and with all the pathetic touches of a shipwrecked mariner, the agonies of his literary egotism.

He declares that it is absurd to condemn a piece which they can only know by the title, for heard it had never been! And yet he observes, with infinite naïveté, "My piece is as generally condemned as if the world had it all by heart."

One of the great objections against this tragedy was its monstrous plan of six acts; this innovation did not lean towards improvement in the minds of those who had endured the long sufferings of tragedies of the accepted size. But the author offers some solemn reasons to induce us to believe that six acts were so far from being too many, that the piece had been more perfect with a seventh! M. de Beaussol had, perhaps, been happy to have known, that other dramatists have considered that the usual restrictions are detrimental to a grand genius. Nat. Lee, when in Bedlam, wrote a play in twenty-five acts.

Our philosophical dramatist, from the constituent principles of the human mind, and the physical powers of man, and the French nation more particularly, deduces the origin of the sublime, and the faculty of attention. The plan of his tragedy is agreeable to these principles: Monarchs, Queens, and Rivals, and every class of men; it is therefore grand! and the acts can be listened to, and therefore it is not too long! It was the high opinion that he had formed of human nature and the French people, which at once terrified and excited him to finish a tragedy, which, he modestly adds, "may not have the merit of any single one; but which one day will be discovered to include the labour bestowed on fifty!"

No great work was ever produced without a grand plan. "Some critics," says our author, "have ventured to assert that my six acts may easily be reduced to the usual five, without injury to the conduct of the fable." To reply to this required a complete analysis of the tragedy, which, having been found more voluminous than the tragedy itself, he considerately "published separately." It would be curious to ascertain whether a single copy of the analysis of a condemned tragedy was ever sold. And yet this critical analysis was such an admirable and demonstrative criticism, that the author assures us that it proved the absolute impossibility, "and the most absolute too," that his piece could not suffer the slightest curtailment. It demonstrated more—that the gradation and the development of interest required necessarily seven acts! but, from dread of carrying this innovation too far, the author omitted one act, which passed behind the scenes![170] but which ought to have come in between the fifth and sixth! Another point is proved, that the attention of an audience, the physical powers of man, can be kept up with interest much longer than has been calculated; that his piece only takes up two hours and three quarters, or three hours at most, if some of the most impassioned parts were but declaimed rapidly.[171]

Now we come to the history of all the disasters which happened at the acting of this tragedy. "How can people complain that my piece is tedious, when, after the first act, they would never listen ten minutes to it? Why did they attend to the first scenes, and even applaud one? Let me not be told, because these were sublime, and commanded the respect of the cabal raised against it; because there are other scenes far more sublime in the piece, which they perpetually interrupted. Will it be believed, that they pitched upon the scene of the sacrifice of Volgesie, as one of the most tedious?—the scene of Volgesie, which is the finest in my piece; not a verse, not a word in it, can be omitted![172] Everything tends towards the catastrophe; and it reads in the closet as well as it would affect us on the stage. I was not, however, astonished at this; what men hear, and do not understand, is always tedious; and it was recited in so shocking a tone by the actress, who, not having entirely recovered from a fit of illness, was flurried by the tumult of the audience. She declaimed in a twanging tone like psalm-singing; so that the audience could not hear, among the fatiguing discordances (he means their own hissing), nor separate the thoughts and words from the full chant which accompanied them. They objected perpetually to the use of the word Madame between two female rivals, as too comic; one of the pit, when an actress said Madame, cried out 'Say Princesse!' This disconcerted the actress. They also objected to the words àpropos and mal-àpropos. Yet, after all, how are there too many Madames in the piece, since they do not amount to forty-six in the course of forty-four scenes? Of these, however, I have erased half."

This historian of his own wrong-headedness proceeds, with all the simplicity of this narrative, to describe the hubbub.

"Thus it was impossible to connect what they were hearing with what they had heard. In the short intervals of silence, the actors, who, during the tumult, forgot their characters, tried with difficulty to recover their conception. The conspirators were prepared to a man; not only in their head, but some with written notes had their watchwords, to set their party a-going. They seemed to act with the most extraordinary concert; they seemed to know the exact moment when they were to give the word, and drown, in their hurly-burly, the voice of the actor, who had a passionate part to declaim, and thus break the connexion between the speakers. All this produced so complete an effect, that it seemed as if the actors themselves had been of the conspiracy, so wilful and so active was the execution of the plot. It was particularly during the fifth and sixth acts that the cabal was most outrageous; they knew these were the most beautiful, and deserved particular attention. Such a humming arose, that the actors seemed to have had their heads turned; some lost their voice, some declaimed at random, the prompter in vain cried out, nothing was heard, and everything was said; the actor, who could not hear the catch-word, remained disconcerted and silent; the whole was broken, wrong and right; it was all Hebrew. Nor was this all; the actors behind the scene were terrified, and they either came forwards trembling, and only watching the signs of their brother actors, or would not venture to show themselves. The machinist only, with his scene-shifters, who felt so deep an interest in the fate of my piece, was tranquil and attentive to his duty, to produce a fine effect. After the hurly-burly was over, he left the actors mute with their arms crossed. He opened the scenery! and not an actor could enter on it! The pit, more clamorous than ever, would not suffer the denouement! Such was the conduct, and such the intrepidity, of the army employed to besiege the Arsacides! Such was the cause of that accusation of tediousness made against a drama, which has most evidently the contrary defect!"

Such is the history of a damned dramatist, written by himself, with a truth and simplicity worthy of a happier fate. It is admirable to see a man, who was himself so deeply involved in the event, preserve the observing calmness which could discover the minutest occurrence; and, allowing for his particular conception of the cause, detailing them with the most rigid veracity. This author was unquestionably a man of the most honourable probity, and not destitute of intellectual ability; but he must serve as an useful example of that wrong-headed nature in some men, which has produced so many "Abbots of Unreason" in society, whom it is in vain to convince by a reciprocation of arguments; who assuming false principles, act rightly according to themselves; a sort of rational lunacy, which, when it discovers itself in politics and religion, and in the more common affairs of life, has produced the most unhappy effects; but this fanaticism, when confined to poetry, only amuses us with the ludicrous; and, in the persons of Monsieur de Beaussol, and of Percival Stockdale, may offer some very fortunate self-recollections in that "Calamity of Authors" which I have called "The Illusions of Writers in Verse."


As a literary curiosity, and as a supplemental anecdote to the article of PREFACES,[173] I cannot pass over the suppressed preface to the "Acajou et Zirphile" of Du Clos, which of itself is almost a singular instance of hardy ingenuity, in an address to the public.

This single volume is one of the most whimsical of fairy tales, and an amusing satire originating in an odd circumstance. Count Tessin, the Swedish Ambassador at the Court of France, had a number of grotesque designs made by Boucher, the king's painter, and engraved by the first artists. The last plate had just been finished when the Count was recalled, and appointed Prime Minister and Governor to the Crown Prince, a place he filled with great honour; and in emulation of Fenelon, composed letters on the education of a Prince, which have been translated. He left behind him in France all the plates in the hands of Boucher, who, having shown them to Du Clos for their singular invention, regretted that he had bestowed so much fancy on a fairy tale, which was not to be had; Du Clos, to relieve his regrets, offered to invent a tale to correspond with these grotesque subjects. This seemed not a little difficult. In the first plate, the author appears in his morning-gown, writing in his study, surrounded by apes, rats, butterflies, and smoke. In another, a Prince is drest in the French costume of 1740, strolling full of thought "in the shady walk of ideas." In a third plate, the Prince is conversing with a fairy who rises out of a gooseberry which he has plucked: two dwarfs, discovered in another gooseberry, give a sharp fillip to the Prince, who seems much embarrassed by their tiny maliciousness. In another walk he eats an apricot, which opens with the most beautiful of faces, a little melancholy, and leaning on one side. In another print, he finds the body of his lovely face and the hands, and he adroitly joins them together. Such was the set of these incomprehensible and capricious inventions, which the lighter fancy and ingenuity of Du Clos converted into a fairy story, full of pleasantry and satire.[174]

Among the novelties of this small volume, not the least remarkable is the dedication of this fairy romance to the public, which excited great attention, and charmed and provoked our author's fickle patron. Du Clos here openly ridicules, and dares his protector and his judge. This hazardous attack was successful, and the author soon acquired the reputation which he afterwards maintained, of being a writer who little respected the common prejudices of the world. Freron replied by a long criticism, entitled "Réponse du Public à l'Auteur d'Acajou;" but its severity was not discovered in its length; so that the public, who had been so keenly ridiculed, and so hardily braved in the light and sparkling page of the haughty Du Clos, preferred the caustic truths and the pleasant insult.

In this "Epistle to the Public," the author informs us that, "excited by example, and encouraged by the success he had often witnessed, he designed to write a piece of nonsense. He was only embarrassed by the choice of subject. Politics, Morals, and Literature, were equally the same to me: but I found, strange to say, all these matters pre-occupied by persons who seem to have laboured with the same view. I found silly things in all kinds, and I saw myself under the necessity of adopting the reasonable ones to become singular; so that I do not yet despair that we may one day discover truth, when we shall have exhausted all our errors.

"I first proposed to write down all erudition, to show the freedom and independence of genius, whose fertility is such as not to require borrowing anything from foreign sources; but I observed that this had sunk into a mere commonplace, trite and trivial, invented by indolence, adopted by ignorance, and which adds nothing to genius,

"Mathematics, which has succeeded to erudition, begins to be unfashionable; we know at present indeed that one may be as great a dizzard in resolving a problem as in restoring a reading. Everything is compatible with genius, but nothing can give it.

"For the bel esprit, so much envied, so much sought after, it is almost as ridiculous to pretend to it, as it is difficult to attain. Thus the scholar is contemned, the mathematician tires, the man of wit and genius is hissed. What is to be done?"

Having told the whimsical origin of this tale, Du Clos continues: "I do not know, my dear Public, if you will approve of my design; however, it appears to me ridiculous enough to deserve your favour; for, to speak to you like a friend, you appear to unite all the stages of human life, only to experience all their cross-accidents. You are a child to run after trifles; a youth when driven by your passions; and, in mature age, you conclude you are wise, because your follies are of a more solemn nature, for you grow old only to dote; to talk at random, to act without design, and to believe you judge, because you pronounce sentence.

"I respect you greatly; I esteem you but little; you are not worthy of being loved. These are my sentiments respecting you; if you insist on others from me, in that case,

"I am,
"Your most humble and obedient servant."

The caustic pleasantry of this "Epistle Dedicatory" was considered by some mawkish critics so offensive, that when the editor of the "Cabinet de Fées," a vast collection of fairy tales, republished this little playful satire and whimsical fancy-piece, he thought proper to cancel the "Epistle:" concluding that it was entirely wanting in that respect with which the public ought to be addressed! This editor, of course, was a Frenchman: we view him in the ridiculous attitude of making his profound bow, and expressing all this "high consideration" for this same "Public," while, with his opera-hat in his hand, he is sweeping away the most poignant and delectable page of Acajou and Zirphile.


The history of a race of singular mendicants, known by the name of Tom o' Bedlams, connects itself with that of our poetry. Not only will they live with our language, since Shakspeare has perpetuated their existence, but they themselves appear to have been the occasion of creating a species of wild fantastic poetry, peculiar to our nation.

Bethlehem Hospital formed, in its original institution, a contracted and penurious charity;[175] its governors soon discovered that the metropolis furnished them with more lunatics than they had calculated on; they also required from the friends of the patients a weekly stipend, besides clothing. It is a melancholy fact to record in the history of human nature, that when one of their original regulations prescribed that persons who put in patients should provide their clothes, it was soon observed that the poor lunatics were frequently perishing by the omission of this slight duty from those former friends; so soon forgotten were they whom none found an interest to recollect. They were obliged to open contributions to provide a wardrobe.[176]

In consequence of the limited resources of the Hospital, they relieved the establishment by frequently discharging patients whose cure might be very equivocal. Harmless lunatics thrown thus into the world, often without a single friend, wandered about the country, chanting wild ditties, and wearing a fantastical dress to attract the notice of the charitable, on whose alms they lived. They had a kind of costume, which I find described by Randle Holme in a curious and extraordinary work.[177]

"The Bedlam has a long staff, and a cow or ox-horn by his side; his clothing fantastic and ridiculous; for being a madman, he is madly decked and dressed all over with rubins (ribands), feathers, cuttings of cloth, and what not, to make him seem a madman, or one distracted, when he is no other than a wandering and dissembling knave." This writer here points out one of the grievances resulting from licensing even harmless lunatics to roam about the country; for a set of pretended madmen, called "Abram men," a cant term for certain sturdy rogues, concealed themselves in their costume, covered the country, and pleaded the privileged denomination when detected in their depredations.[178]

Sir Walter Scott first obligingly suggested to me that these roving lunatics were out-door pensioners of Bedlam, sent about to live as well as they could with the pittance granted by the hospital.

The fullest account that I have obtained of these singular persons is drawn from a manuscript note transcribed from some of Aubrey's papers, which I have not seen printed.

"Till the breaking out of the civil wars, Tom o' Bedlams did travel about the country; they had been poor distracted men, that had been put into Bedlam, where recovering some soberness, they were licentiated to go a begging; i.e., they had on their left arm an armilla, an iron ring for the arm, about four inches long, as printed in some works.[179] They could not get it off; they wore about their necks a great horn of an ox in a string or bawdry, which, when they came to a house, they did wind, and they put the drink given to them into this horn, whereto they put a stopple. Since the wars I do not remember to have seen any one of them." The civil wars, probably, cleared the country of all sorts of vagabonds; but among the royalists or the parliamentarians, we did not know that in their rank and file they had so many Tom o' Bedlams.

I have now to explain something in the character of Edgar in Lear, on which the commentators seem to have ingeniously blundered, from an imperfect knowledge of the character which Edgar personates.

Edgar, in wandering about the country, for a safe disguise assumes the character of these Tom o' Bedlams; he thus closes one of his distracted speeches—"Poor Tom, Thy horn is dry!" On this Johnson is content to inform us, that "men that begged under pretence of lunacy used formerly to carry a horn and blow it through the streets." This is no explanation of Edgar's allusion to the dryness of his horn. Steevens adds a fanciful note, that Edgar alludes to a proverbial expression, Thy horn is dry, designed to express that a man had said all he could say; and, further, Steevens supposes that Edgar speaks these words aside; as if he had been quite weary of Tom o' Bedlam's part, and could not keep it up any longer. The reasons of all this conjectural criticism are a curious illustration of perverse ingenuity. Aubrey's manuscript note has shown us that the Bedlam's horn was also a drinking-horn, and Edgar closes his speech in the perfection of the assumed character, and not as one who had grown weary of it, by making the mendicant lunatic desirous of departing from a heath, to march, as he cries, "to wakes, and fairs, and market-towns—Poor Tom! thy horn is dry!" as more likely places to solicit alms; and he is thinking of his drink-money, when he cries that "his horn is dry."

An itinerant lunatic, chanting wild ditties, fancifully attired, gay with the simplicity of childhood, yet often moaning with the sorrows of a troubled man, a mixture of character at once grotesque and plaintive, became an interesting object to poetical minds. It is probable that the character of Edgar, in the Lear of Shakspeare, first introduced the hazardous conception into the poetical world. Poems composed in the character of a Tom o' Bedlam appear to have formed a fashionable class of poetry among the wits; they seem to have held together their poetical contests, and some of these writers became celebrated for their successful efforts, for old Izaak Walton mentions a "Mr. William Basse, as one who has made the choice songs of 'The Hunter in his career,' and of 'Tom o' Bedlam,' and many others of note." Bishop Percy, in his "Reliques of Ancient English Poetry," has preserved six of what he calls "Mad Songs," expressing his surprise that the English should have "more songs and ballads on the subject of madness than any of their neighbours," for such are not found in the collection of songs of the French, Italian, &c., and nearly insinuates, for their cause, that we are perhaps more liable to the calamity of madness than other nations. This superfluous criticism had been spared had that elegant collector been aware of the circumstance which had produced this class of poems, and recollected the more ancient original in the Edgar of Shakspeare. Some of the "Mad Songs" which the bishop has preserved are of too modern a date to suit the title of his work; being written by Tom D'Urfey, for his comedies of Don Quixote. I shall preserve one of more ancient date, fraught with all the wild spirit of this peculiar character.[180]

This poem must not be read without a continued reference to the personated character. Delirious and fantastic, strokes of sublime imagination are mixed with familiar comic humour, and even degraded by the cant language; for the gipsy habits of life of these "Tom o' Bedlams" had confounded them with "the progging Abram men."[181] These luckless beings are described by Decker as sometimes exceeding merry, and could do nothing but sing songs fashioned out of their own brains; now they danced, now they would do nothing but laugh and weep, or were dogged and sullen both in look and speech. All they did, all they sung, was alike unconnected; indicative of the desultory and rambling wits of the chanter.

From the hag and hungry goblin
That into rags would rend ye,
All the spirits that stand
By the naked man,
In the book of moons defend ye!
That of your five sound senses
You never be forsaken;
Nor travel from
Yourselves with Tom
Abroad, to beg your bacon.
Nor never sing any food and feeding,
Money, drink, or clothing;
Come dame or maid,
Be not afraid,
For Tom will injure nothing.
Of thirty bare years have I
Twice twenty been enraged;
And of forty been
Three times fifteen
In durance soundly caged.
In the lovely lofts of Bedlam,
In stubble soft and dainty,
Brave bracelets strong,
Sweet whips ding, dong,
And a wholesome hunger plenty.
With a thought I took for Maudlin,
And a cruse of cockle pottage,
And a thing thus—tall,
Sky bless you all,
I fell into this dotage.
I slept not till the Conquest;
Till then I never waked;
Till the roguish boy
Of love where I lay,
Me found, and stript me naked.
When short I have shorn my sow's face,
And swigg'd my horned barrel;
In an oaken inn
Do I pawn my skin,
As a suit of gilt apparel.
The morn's my constant mistress,
And the lovely owl my morrow;
The flaming drake,
And the night-crow, make
Me music, to my sorrow.
The palsie plague these pounces,
When I prig your pigs or pullen;
Your culvers take
Or mateless make
Your chanticleer and sullen;
When I want provant with Humphrey I sup,
And when benighted,
To repose in Paul's,
With waking souls
I never am affrighted.
I know more than Apollo;
For, oft when he lies sleeping,
I behold the stars
At mortal wars,
And the rounded welkin weeping.
The moon embraces her shepherd,
And the Queen of Love her warrior;
While the first does horn
The stars of the morn,
And the next the heavenly farrier.
With a heart of furious fancies,
Whereof I am commander:
With a burning spear,
And a horse of air,
To the wilderness I wander;
With a knight of ghosts and shadows,
I summoned am to Tourney:
Ten leagues beyond
The wide world's end;
Methinks it is no journey!

The last stanza of this Bedlam song contains the seeds of exquisite romance; a stanza worth many an admired poem.


It is said that the frozen Norwegians, on the first sight of roses, dared not touch what they conceived were trees budding with fire: and the natives of Virginia, the first time they seized on a quantity of gunpowder, which belonged to the English colony, sowed it for grain, expecting to reap a plentiful crop of combustion by the next harvest, to blow away the whole colony.

In our own recollection, strange imaginations impeded the first period of vaccination; when some families, terrified by the warning of a physician, conceived their race would end in a species of Minotaurs—

Semibovemque virum, semivirumque bovem.

We smile at the simplicity of the men of nature, for their mistaken notions at the first introduction among them of exotic novelties; and yet, even in civilised Europe, how long a time those whose profession or whose reputation regulates public opinion are influenced by vulgar prejudices, often disguised under the imposing form of science! and when their ludicrous absurdities and obstinate prejudices enter into the matters of history, it is then we discover that they were only imposing on themselves and on others.

It is hardly credible that on the first introduction of the Chinese leaf, which now affords our daily refreshment; or the American leaf, whose sedative fumes made it so long an universal favourite; or the Arabian berry, whose aroma exhilarates its European votaries; that the use of these harmless novelties should have spread consternation among the nations of Europe, and have been anathematised by the terrors and the fictions of some of the learned. Yet this seems to have happened. Patin, who wrote so furiously against the introduction of antimony, spread the same alarm at the use of tea, which he calls "l'impertinente nouveauté du siècle." In Germany, Hanneman considered tea-dealers as immoral members of society, lying in wait for men's purses and lives; and Dr. Duncan, in his Treatise on Hot Liquors, suspected that the virtues attributed to tea were merely to encourage the importation.[182]

Many virulent pamphlets were published against the use of this shrub, from various motives. In 1670, a Dutch writer says it was ridiculed in Holland under the name of hay-water. "The progress of this famous plant," says an ingenious writer, "has been something like the progress of truth; suspected at first, though very palatable to those who had courage to taste it; resisted as it encroached; abused as its popularity seemed to spread; and establishing its triumph at last, in cheering the whole land from the palace to the cottage, only by the slow and resistless efforts of time and its own virtues."[183]

The history of the Tea-shrub, by Dr. Lettsom, usually referred to on this subject, I consider little more than a plagiarism on Dr. Short's learned and curious dissertation on Tea, 1730, 4to. Lettsom has superadded the solemn trifling of his moral and medical advice.

These now common beverages are all of recent origin in Europe; neither the ancients nor those of the middle ages tasted of this luxury. The first accounts we find of the use of this shrub are the casual notices of travellers, who seem to have tasted it, and sometimes not to have liked it: a Russian ambassador, in 1639, who resided at the court of the Mogul, declined accepting a large present of tea for the Czar, "as it would only encumber him with a commodity for which he had no use." The appearance of "a black water" and an acrid taste seems not to have recommended it to the German Olearius in 1633. Dr. Short has recorded an anecdote of a stratagem of the Dutch in their second voyage to China, by which they at first obtained their tea without disbursing money; they carried from home great store of dried sage, and bartered it with the Chinese for tea, and received three or four pounds of tea for one of sage: but at length the Dutch could not export sufficient quantities of sage to supply their demand. This fact, however, proves how deeply the imagination is concerned with our palate; for the Chinese, affected by the exotic novelty, considered our sage to be more precious than their tea.

The first introduction of tea into Europe is not ascertained; according to the common accounts it came into England from Holland, in 1666, when Lord Arlington and Lord Ossory brought over a small quantity: the custom of drinking tea became fashionable, and a pound weight sold then for sixty shillings. This account, however, is by no means satisfactory. I have heard of Oliver Cromwell's tea-pot in the possession of a collector, and this will derange the chronology of those writers who are perpetually copying the researches of others, without confirming or correcting them.[184]

Amidst the rival contests of the Dutch and the English East India Companies, the honour of introducing its use into Europe may be claimed by both. Dr. Short conjectures that tea might have been known in England as far back as the reign of James the First, for the first fleet set out in 1600; but had the use of the shrub been known, the novelty had been chronicled among our dramatic writers, whose works are the annals of our prevalent tastes and humours. It is rather extraordinary that our East India Company should not have discovered the use of this shrub in their early adventures; yet it certainly was not known in England so late as in 1641, for in a scarce "Treatise of Warm Beer," where the title indicates the author's design to recommend hot in preference to cold drinks, he refers to tea only by quoting the Jesuit Maffei's account, that "they of China do for the most part drink the strained liquor of an herb called Chia hot." The word Cha is the Portuguese term for tea retained to this day, which they borrowed from the Japanese; while our intercourse with the Chinese made us no doubt adopt their term Theh, now prevalent throughout Europe, with the exception of the Portuguese. The Chinese origin is still preserved in the term Bohea, tea which comes from the country of Vouhi; and that of Hyson was the name of the most considerable Chinese then concerned in the trade.

The best account of the early use, and the prices of tea in England, appears in the handbill of one who may be called our first Tea-maker. This curious handbill bears no date, but as Hanway ascertained that the price was sixty shillings in 1660, his bill must have been dispersed about that period.

Thomas Garway, in Exchange-alley, tobacconist and coffee-man, was the first who sold and retailed tea, recommending it for the cure of all disorders. The following shop-bill is more curious than any historical account we have.

"Tea in England hath been sold in the leaf for six pounds, and sometimes for ten pounds the pound weight, and in respect of its former scarceness and dearness it has been only used as a regalia in high treatments and entertainments, and presents made thereof to princes and grandees till the year 1657. The said Garway did purchase a quantity thereof, and first publicly sold the said tea in leaf or drink, made according to the directions of the most knowing merchants into those Eastern countries. On the knowledge of the said Garway's continued care and industry in obtaining the best tea, and making drink thereof, very many noblemen, physicians, merchants, &c., have ever since sent to him for the said leaf, and daily resort to his house to drink the drink thereof. He sells tea from 16s. to 50s. a pound."

Probably, tea was not in general use domestically so late as in 1687; for in the diary of Henry, Earl of Clarendon, he registers that "Père Couplet supped with me, and after supper we had tea, which he said was really as good as any he had drank in China." Had his lordship been in the general habit of drinking tea, he had not probably made it a subject for his diary.

While the honour of introducing tea may be disputed between the English and the Dutch, that of coffee remains between the English and the French. Yet an Italian intended to have occupied the place of honour: that admirable traveller Pietro della Valle, writing from Constantinople, 1615, to a Roman, his fellow-countryman, informing him that he should teach Europe in what manner the Turks took what he calls "Cahué," or as the word is written in an Arabic and English pamphlet, printed at Oxford, in 1659, on "the nature of the drink Kauhi or Coffee." As this celebrated traveller lived to 1652, it may excite surprise that the first cup of coffee was not drank at Rome; this remains for the discovery of some member of the "Arcadian Society." Our own Sandys, at the time that Valle wrote, was also "a traveller," and well knew what was "Coffa," which "they drank as hot as they can endure it; it is as black as soot, and tastes not much unlike it; good they say for digestion and mirth."

It appears by Le Grand's "Vie privée des François," that the celebrated Thevenot, in 1658, gave coffee after dinner; but it was considered as the whim of a traveller; neither the thing itself, nor its appearance, was inviting: it was probably attributed by the gay to the humour of a vain philosophical traveller. But ten years afterwards a Turkish ambassador at Paris made the beverage highly fashionable. The elegance of the equipage recommended it to the eye, and charmed the women: the brilliant porcelain cups in which it was poured; the napkins fringed with gold, and the Turkish slaves on their knees presenting it to the ladies, seated on the ground on cushions, turned the heads of the Parisian dames. This elegant introduction made the exotic beverage a subject of conversation, and in 1672, an Armenian at Paris at the fair-time opened a coffee-house. But the custom still prevailed to sell beer and wine, and to smoke and mix with indifferent company in their first imperfect coffee-houses. A Florentine, one Procope, celebrated in his day as the arbiter of taste in this department, instructed by the error of the Armenian, invented a superior establishment, and introduced ices; he embellished his apartment, and those who had avoided the offensive coffee-houses repaired to Procope's; where literary men, artists, and wits resorted, to inhale the fresh and fragrant steam. Le Grand says that this establishment holds a distinguished place in the literary history of the times. It was at the coffee-house of Du Laurent that Saurin, La Motte, Danchet, Boindin, Rousseau, &c., met; but the mild streams of the aromatic berry could not mollify the acerbity of so many rivals, and the witty malignity of Rousseau gave birth to those famous couplets on all the coffee drinkers, which occasioned his misfortune and his banishment.

Such is the history of the first use of coffee and its houses at Paris. We, however, had the use before even the time of Thevenot; for an English Turkish merchant brought a Greek servant in 1652, who, knowing how to roast and make it, opened a house to sell it publicly. I have also discovered his hand-bill, in which he sets forth, "The vertue of the coffee-drink, first publiquely made and sold in England, by Pasqua Rosee, in St. Michael's Alley, Cornhill, at the sign of his own head."[185]

For about twenty years after the introduction of coffee in this kingdom, we find a continued series of invectives against its adoption, both for medicinal and domestic purposes. The use of coffee, indeed, seems to have excited more notice, and to have had a greater influence on the manners of the people, than that of tea. It seems at first to have been more universally used, as it still is on the Continent; and its use is connected with a resort for the idle and the curious: the history of coffee-houses, ere the invention of clubs, was that of the manners, the morals, and the politics of a people. Even in its native country, the government discovered that extraordinary fact, and the use of the Arabian berry was more than once forbidden where it grows; for Ellis, in his "History of Coffee," 1774, refers to an Arabian MS., in the King of France's library, which shows that coffee-houses in Asia were sometimes suppressed. The same fate happened on its introduction into England.

Among a number of poetical satires against the use of coffee, I find a curious exhibition, according to the exaggerated notions of that day, in "A Cup of Coffee, or Coffee in its Colours," 1663. The writer, like others of his contemporaries, wonders at the odd taste which could make Coffee a substitute for Canary.

For men and Christians to turn Turks and think
To excuse the crime, because 'tis in their drink!
Pure English apes! ye may, for aught I know,
Would it but mode—learn to eat spiders too.[186]
Should any of your grandsires' ghosts appear
In your wax-candle circles, and but hear
The name of coffee so much called upon,
Then see it drank like scalding Phlegethon;
Would they not startle, think ye, all agreed
'Twas conjuration both in word and deed?
Or Catiline's conspirators, as they stood
Sealing their oaths in draughts of blackest blood,
The merriest ghost of all your sires would say,
Your wine's much worse since his last yesterday.
He'd wonder how the club had given a hop
O'er tavern-bars into a farrier's shop,
Where he'd suppose, both by the smoke and stench,
Each man a horse, and each horse at his drench.—
Sure you're no poets, nor their friends, for now,
Should Jonson's strenuous spirit, or the rare
Beaumont and Fletcher's, in your round appear,
They would not find the air perfumed with one
Castalian drop, nor dew of Helicon;
When they but men would speak as the gods do,
They drank pure nectar as the gods drink too,
Sublim'd with rich Canary—say, shall then
These less than coffee's self, these coffee-men;
These sons of nothing, that can hardly make
Their broth, for laughing how the jest does take,
Yet grin, and give ye for the vine's pure blood
A loathsome potion, not yet understood,
Syrop of soot, or essence of old shoes,
Dasht with diurnals and the books of news?

Other complaints arose from the mixture of the company in the first coffee-houses. In "A Broadside against Coffee, or the Marriage of the Turk," 1672, the writer indicates the growth of the fashion:—

Confusion huddles all into one scene,
Like Noah's ark, the clean and the unclean;
For now, alas! the drench has credit got,
And he's no gentleman who drinks it not.
That such a dwarf should rise to such a stature!
But custom is but a remove from nature.

In "The Women's Petition against Coffee," 1674, they complained that "it made men as unfruitful as the deserts whence that unhappy berry is said to be brought; that the offspring of our mighty ancestors would dwindle into a succession of apes and pigmies; and on a domestic message, a husband would stop by the way to drink a couple of cups of coffee." It was now sold in convenient penny-worths; for in another poem in praise of a coffee-house, for the variety of information obtained there, it is called "a penny university."

Amidst these contests of popular prejudices, between the lovers of forsaken Canary, and the terrors of our females at the barrenness of an Arabian desert, which lasted for twenty years, at length the custom was universally established; nor were there wanting some reflecting minds desirous of introducing the use of this liquid among the labouring classes of society, to wean them from strong liquors. Howell, in noticing that curious philosophical traveller, Sir Henry Blount's "Organon Salutis," 1659, observed that "this coffa-drink hath caused a great sobriety among all nations: formerly apprentices, clerks, &c., used to take their morning draughts in ale, beer, or wine, which often made them unfit for business. Now they play the good-fellows in this wakeful and civil drink. The worthy gentleman, Sir James Muddiford, who introduced the practice hereof first in London, deserves much respect of the whole nation." Here it appears, what is most probable, that the use of this berry was introduced by other Turkish merchants, besides Edwards and his servant Pasqua. But the custom of drinking coffee among the labouring classes does not appear to have lasted; and when it was recently even the cheapest beverage, the popular prejudices prevailed against it, and ran in favour of tea. The contrary practice prevails on the continent, where beggars are viewed making their coffee in the street. I remember seeing the large body of shipwrights at Helvoetsluys summoned by a bell, to take their regular refreshment of coffee; and the fleets of Holland were not then built by arms less robust than the fleets of Britain.

The frequenting of coffee-houses is a custom which has declined within our recollection, since institutions of a higher character, and society itself, have so much improved within late years. These were, however, the common assemblies of all classes of society. The mercantile man, the man of letters, and the man of fashion, had their appropriate coffee-houses. The Tatler dates from either to convey a character of his subject. In the reign of Charles the Second, 1675, a proclamation for some time shut them all up, having become the rendezvous of the politicians of that day. Roger North has given, in his Examen, a full account of this bold stroke: it was not done without some apparent respect to the British constitution, the court affecting not to act against law, for the judges were summoned to a consultation, when, it seems, the five who met did not agree in opinion. But a decision was contrived that "the retailing of coffee and tea might be an innocent trade; but as it was said to nourish sedition, spread lies, and scandalise great men, it might also be a common nuisance." A general discontent, in consequence, as North acknowledges, took place, and emboldened the merchants and retailers of coffee and tea to petition; and permission was soon granted to open the houses to a certain period, under a severe admonition, that the masters should prevent all scandalous papers, books, and libels from being read in them; and hinder every person from spreading scandalous reports against the government. It must be confessed, all this must have frequently puzzled the coffee-house master to decide what was scandalous, what book was fit to be licensed to be read, and what political intelligence might be allowed to be communicated. The object of the government was, probably, to intimidate, rather than to persecute, at that moment.

Chocolate the Spaniards brought from Mexico, where it was denominated Chocolati; it was a coarse mixture of ground cacao and Indian corn with rocou; but the Spaniards, liking its nourishment, improved it into a richer compound, with sugar, vanilla, and other aromatics. The immoderate use of chocolate in the seventeenth century was considered as so violent an inflamer of the passions, that Joan. Fran. Rauch published a treatise against it, and enforced the necessity of forbidding the monks to drink it; and adds, that if such an interdiction had existed, that scandal with which that holy order had been branded might have proved more groundless. This Disputatio medico-diætetica de aëre et esculentis, necnon de potû, Vienna, 1624, is a rara avis among collectors. This attack on the monks, as well as on chocolate, is said to be the cause of its scarcity; for we are told that they were so diligent in suppressing this treatise, that it is supposed not a dozen copies exist. We had chocolate-houses in London long after coffee-houses; they seemed to have associated something more elegant and refined in their new term when the other had become common.[187] Roger North thus inveighs against them: "The use of coffee-houses seems much improved by a new invention, called chocolate-houses, for the benefit of rooks and cullies of quality, where gaming is added to all the rest, and the summons of W—— seldom fails; as if the devil had erected a new university, and those were the colleges of its professors, as well as his schools of discipline." Roger North, a high Tory, and Attorney-General to James the Second, observed, however, these rendezvous were often not entirely composed of those "factious gentry he so much dreaded;" for he says "This way of passing time might have been stopped at first, before people had possessed themselves of some convenience from them of meeting for short despatches, and passing evenings with small expenses." And old Aubrey, the small Boswell of his day, attributes his general acquaintance to "the modern advantage of coffee-houses in this great city, before which men knew not how to be acquainted, but with their own relations, and societies;" a curious statement, which proves the moral connexion with society of all sedentary recreations which induce the herding spirit.


Herbert, the faithful attendant of Charles the First during the two last years of the king's life, mentions "a diamond seal with the king's arms engraved on it." The history of this "diamond seal" is remarkable; and seems to have been recovered by the conjectural sagacity of Warburton, who never exercised his favourite talent with greater felicity. The curious passage I transcribe may be found in a manuscript letter to Dr. Birch.

"If you have read Herbert's account of the last days of Charles the First's life, you must remember he tells a story of a diamond seal, with the arms of England cut into it. This, King Charles ordered to be given, I think, to the prince. I suppose you don't know what became of this seal, but would be surprised to find it afterwards in the Court of Persia. Yet there Tavernier certainly carried it, and offered it for sale, as I certainly collect from these words of vol. i. p. 541.—'Me souvenant de ce qui etoit arrivé au Chevalier de Reville,' &c. He tells us he told the prime minister what was engraved on the diamond was the arms of a prince of Europe, but, says he, I would not be more particular, remembering the case of Reville. Reville's case was this: he came to seek employment under the Sophy, who asked him 'where he had served?' He said 'in England under Charles the First, and that he was a captain in his guards.'—'Why did you leave his service?' 'He was murdered by cruel rebels.'—'And how had you the impudence,' says the Sophy, 'to survive him?' And so disgraced him. Now Tavernier was afraid, if he had said the arms of England had been on the seal, that they would have occasioned the inquiry into the old story. You will ask how Tavernier got this seal? I suppose that the prince, in his necessities, sold it to Tavernier, who was at Paris when the English court was there. What made me recollect Herbert's account on reading this, was the singularity of an impress cut on the diamond, which Tavernier represents as a most extraordinary rarity. Charles the First was a great virtuoso, and delighted particularly in sculpture and painting."

This is an instance of conjectural evidence, where an historical fact seems established on no other authority than the ingenuity of a student, exercised in his library, on a private and secret event, a century after it had occurred. The diamond seal of Charles the First may yet be discovered in the treasures of the Persian sovereign.

Warburton, who had ranged with keen delight through the age of Charles the First, the noblest and the most humiliating in our own history, and in that of the world, perpetually instructive, has justly observed the king's passion for the fine arts. It was indeed such, that had the reign of Charles the First proved prosperous, that sovereign about 1640 would have anticipated those tastes, and even that enthusiasm, which are still almost foreign to the nation.

The mind of Charles the First was moulded by the Graces. His favourite Buckingham was probably a greater favourite for those congenial tastes, and the frequent exhibition of those splendid masques and entertainments, which combined all the picture of ballet dances with the voice of music; the charms of the verse of Jonson, the scenic machinery of Inigo Jones, and the variety of fanciful devices of Gerbier, the duke's architect, the bosom friend of Rubens.[188] There was a costly magnificence in the fêtes at York House, the residence of Buckingham, of which few but curious researchers are aware: they eclipsed the splendour of the French Court; for Bassompiere, in one of his despatches, declares he had never witnessed a similar magnificence. He describes the vaulted apartments, the ballets at supper, which were proceeding between the services with various representations, theatrical changes, and those of the tables, and the music; the duke's own contrivance, to prevent the inconvenience of pressure, by having a turning door made like that of the monasteries, which admitted only one person at a time. The following extract from a manuscript letter of the time conveys a lively account of one of those fêtes.

"Last Sunday, at night, the duke's grace entertained their majesties and the French ambassador at York House with great feasting and show, where all things came down in clouds; amongst which, one rare device was a representation of the French king, and the two queens, with their chiefest attendants, and so to the life, that the queen's majesty could name them. It was four o'clock in the morning before they parted, and then the king and queen, together with the French ambassador, lodged there. Some estimate this entertainment at five or six thousand pounds."[189] At another time, "the king and queen were entertained at supper at Gerbier the duke's painter's house, which could not stand him in less than a thousand pounds." Sir Symonds D'Ewes mentions banquets at five hundred pounds. The fullest account I have found of one of these entertainments, which at once show the curiosity of the scenical machinery and the fancy of the poet, the richness Of the crimson habits of the gentlemen, and the white dresses with white heron's plumes and jewelled head-dresses and ropes of pearls of the ladies, was in a manuscript letter of the times, with which I supplied the editor of "Jonson", who has preserved the narrative in his memoirs of that poet. "Such were the magnificent entertainments," says Mr. Gifford, "which, though modern refinement may affect to despise them, modern splendour never reached, even in thought." That the expenditure was costly, proves that the greater encouragement was offered to artists; nor should Buckingham be censured, as some will incline to, for this lavish expense; it was not unusual for the great nobility then; for the literary Duchess of Newcastle mentions that an entertainment of this sort, which the Duke gave to Charles the First, cost her lord between four and five thousand pounds. The ascetic puritan would indeed abhor these scenes; but their magnificence was also designed to infuse into the national character gentler feelings and more elegant tastes. They charmed even the fiercer republican spirits in their tender youth: Milton owes his Arcades and his delightful Comus to a masque at Ludlow Castle; and Whitelocke, who, was himself an actor and manager, in "a splendid royal masque of the four Inns of Courts joined together" to go to court about the time that Prynne published his Histriomastix, "to manifest the difference of their opinions from Mr. Prynne's new learning,"—seems, even at a later day, when drawing up his "Memorials of the English Affairs," and occupied by graver concerns, to have dwelt with all the fondness of reminiscence on the stately shows and masques of his more innocent age; and has devoted, in a chronicle, which contracts many an important event into a single paragraph, six folio columns to a minute and very curious description of "these dreams past, and these vanished pomps."

Charles the First, indeed, not only possessed a critical tact, but extensive knowledge in the fine arts, and the relics of antiquity. In his flight in 1642, the king stopped at the abode of the religious family of the Farrars at Gidding, who had there raised a singular monastic institution among themselves. One of their favorite amusements had been to form an illustrated Bible, the wonder and the talk of the country. In turning it over, the king would tell his companion the Palsgrave, whose curiosity in prints exceeded his knowledge, the various masters, and the character of their inventions. When Panzani, a secret agent of the Pope, was sent over to England to promote the Catholic cause, the subtle and elegant Catholic Barberini, called the protector of the English at Rome, introduced Panzani to the king's favour, by making him appear an agent rather for procuring him fine pictures, statues, and curiosities: and the earnest inquiries and orders given by Charles the First prove his perfect knowledge of the most beautiful existing remains of ancient art. "The statues go on prosperously," says Cardinal Barberini, in a letter to a Mazarin, "nor shall I hesitate to rob Rome of her most valuable ornaments, if in exchange we might be so happy as to have the King of England's name among those princes who submit to the Apostolic See." Charles the First was particularly urgent to procure a statue of Adonis in the Villa Ludovisia: every effort was made by the queen's confessor, Father Philips, and the vigilant cardinal at Rome; but the inexorable Duchess of Fiano would not suffer it to be separated from her rich collection of statues and paintings, even for the chance conversion of a whole kingdom of heretics."[190]

This monarch, who possessed "four-and-twenty palaces, all of them elegantly and completely furnished," had formed very considerable collections. "The value of pictures had doubled in Europe, by the emulation between our Charles and Philip the Fourth of Spain, who was touched with the same elegant passion." When the rulers of fanaticism began their reign, "all the king's furniture was put to sale; his pictures, disposed of at very low prices, enriched all the collections in Europe; the cartoons when complete were only appraised at £300, though the whole collection of the king's curiosities were sold at above £50,000.[191] Hume adds, "the very library and medals at St. James's were intended by the generals to be brought to auction, in order to pay the arrears of some regiments of cavalry; but Selden, apprehensive of this loss, engaged his friend Whitelocke, then lord-keeper of the Commonwealth, to apply for the office of librarian. This contrivance saved that valuable collection." This account is only partly correct: the love of books, which formed the passion of the two learned scholars whom Hume notices, fortunately intervened to save the royal collection from the intended scattering; but the pictures and medals were, perhaps, objects too slight in the eyes of the book-learned; they wore resigned to the singular fate of appraisement. After the Restoration very many books were missing; but scarcely a third part of the medals remained: of the strange manner in which these precious remains of ancient art and history were valued and disposed of, the following account may not be read without interest.

In March, 1648, the parliament ordered commissioners to be appointed, to inventory the goods and personal estate of the late king, queen, and prince, and appraise them for the use of the public. And in April, 1648, an act, adds Whitelocke, was committed for inventorying the late king's goods, &c.[192]

This very inventory I have examined. It forms a magnificent folio, of near a thousand pages, of an extraordinary dimension, bound in crimson velvet, and richly gilt, written in a fair large hand, but with little knowledge of the objects which the inventory writer describes. It is entitled "An Inventory of the Goods, Jewels, Plate, &c. belonging to King Charles the First, sold by order of the Council of State, from the year 1619 to 1652." So that from the decapitation of the king, a year was allowed to draw up the inventory; and the sale proceeded during three years.

From this manuscript catalogue[193] to give long extracts were useless; it has afforded, however, some remarkable observations. Every article was appraised, nothing was sold under the affixed price, but a slight competition sometimes seems to have raised the sum; and when the Council of State could not get the sum appraised, the gold and silver were sent to the Mint; and assuredly many fine works of art were valued by the ounce. The names of the purchasers appear; they are usually English, but probably many were the agents for foreign courts. The coins or medals were thrown promiscuously into drawers; one drawer having twenty-four medals, was valued at £2 10s.; another of twenty, at £1; another of twenty-four, at £1; and one drawer, containing forty-six silver coins with the box, was sold for £5. On the whole the medals seem not to have been valued at much more than a shilling a-piece. The appraiser was certainly no antiquary.

The king's curiosities in the Tower Jewel-house generally fetched above the price fixed; the toys of art could please the unlettered minds that had no conception of its works.

The Temple of Jerusalem, made of ebony and amber, fetched £25.

A fountain of silver, for perfumed waters, artificially made to play of itself, sold for £30.

A chess-board, said to be Queen Elizabeth's, inlaid with gold, silver, and pearls, £23.

A conjuring drum from Lapland, with an almanac cut on a piece of wood.

Several sections in silver of a Turkish galley, a Venetian gondola, an Indian canoe, and a first-rate man-of-war.

A Saxon king's mace used in war, with a ball full of spikes, and the handle covered with gold plates, and enamelled, sold for £37 8s.

A gorget of massy gold, chased with the manner of a battle, weighing thirty-one ounces, at £3 10s. per ounce, was sent to the Mint.

A Roman shield of buff leather, covered with a plate of gold, finely chased with a Gorgon's head, set round the rim with rubies, emeralds, turquoise stones, in number 137, £132 12s.

The pictures, taken from Whitehall, Windsor, Wimbledon, Greenwich, Hampton-Court, &c., exhibit, in number, an unparalleled collection. By what standard they were valued, it would perhaps be difficult to conjecture; from £50 to £100 seems to have been the limits of the appraiser's taste and imagination. Some whose price is whimsically low may have been thus rated from a political feeling respecting the portrait of the person; there are, however, in this singular appraised catalogue two pictures, which were rated at, and sold for, the remarkable sums of one and of two thousand pounds. The one was a sleeping Venus by Correggio, and the other a Madonna by Raphael. There was also a picture by Julio Romano, called "The great piece of the Nativity," at £500. "The little Madonna and Christ," by Raphael, at £800. "The great Venus and Parde," by Titian, at £600. These seem to have been the only pictures, in this immense collection, which reached a picture's prices. The inventory-writer had, probably, been instructed by the public voice of their value; which, however, would, in the present day, be considered much under a fourth. Rubens' "Woman taken in Adultery," described as a large picture, sold for £20; and his "Peace and Plenty, with many figures big as the life," for £100. Titian's pictures seem generally valued at £100.[194] "Venus dressed by the Graces," by Guido, reached to £200.

The Cartoons of Raphael, here called "The Acts of the Apostles," notwithstanding their subject was so congenial to the popular feelings, and only appraised at £300, could find no purchaser![195]

The following full-lengths of celebrated personages were rated at these whimsical prices:

Queen Elizabeth in her parliament robes, valued £1.

The Queen-mother in mourning habit, valued £3.

Buchanan's picture, valued £3 10s.

The King, when a youth in coats, valued £2.

The picture of the Queen when she was with child, sold for five shillings.

King Charles on horseback, by Sir Anthony Vandyke, was purchased by Sir Balthazar Gerbier, at the appraised price of £200.[196]

The greatest sums were produced by the tapestry and arras hangings, which were chiefly purchased for the service of the Protector. Their amount exceeds £30,000. I note a few.

At Hampton-Court, ten pieces of arras hangings of Abraham, containing 826 yards at £10 a yard, £8260.

Ten pieces of Julius Cæsar, 717 ells at £7, £5019.[197]

One of the cloth of estates is thus described:

"One rich cloth of estate of purple velvet, embroidered with gold, having the arms of England within a garter, with all the furniture suitable thereunto. The state containing these stones following: two cameos or agates, twelve chrysolites, twelve ballases or garnets, one sapphire seated in chases of gold, one long pearl pendant, and many large and small pearls, valued at £500 sold for £602 10s. to Mr. Oliver, 4 February, 1649."

Was plain Mr. Oliver, in 1649, who we see was one of the earlier purchasers, shortly after "the Lord Protector?" All the "cloth of estate" and "arras hangings" were afterwards purchased for the service of the Protector; and one may venture to conjecture, that when Mr. Oliver purchased this "rich cloth of estate," it was not without a latent motive of its service to the new owner.[198]

There is one circumstance remarkable in the feeling of Charles the First for the fine arts: it was a passion without ostentation or egotism; for although this monarch was inclined himself to participate in the pleasures of a creating artist, the king having handled the pencil and composed a poem, yet he never suffered his private dispositions to prevail over his more majestic duties. We do not discover in history that Charles the First was a painter and a poet. Accident and secret history only reveal this softening feature in his grave and king-like character. Charles sought no glory from, but only indulged his love for, art and the artists. There are three manuscripts on his art, by Leonardo da Vinci, in the Ambrosian library, which bear an inscription that a King of England, in 1639, offered one thousand guineas of gold for each. Charles, too, suggested to the two great painters of his age the subjects he considered worthy of their pencils; and had for his "closet-companions" those native poets for which he was censured in "evil times," and even by Milton!

In his imprisonment at Carisbrook Castle, the author of the "Eikon Basilike" solaced his royal woes by composing a poem, entitled in the very style of this memorable volume, "Majesty in Misery, or an Imploration to the King of kings;" a title probably not his own, but like that volume, it contains stanzas fraught with the most tender and solemn feeling; such a subject, in the hands of such an author, was sure to produce poetry, although in the unpractised poet we may want the versifier. A few stanzas will illustrate this conception of part of his character:—

The fiercest furies that do daily tread
Upon my grief, my grey-discrowned head,
Are those that own my bounty for their bread.
With my own power my majesty they wound;
In the king's name, the king himself uncrowned;
So doth the dust destroy the diamond.

After a pathetic description of his queen "forced in pilgrimage to seek a tomb," and "Great Britain's heir forced into France," where,

Poor child, he weeps out his inheritance!

Charles continues:

They promise to erect my royal stem;
To make me great, to advance my diadem;
If I will first fall down and worship them!
But for refusal they devour my thrones,
Distress my children, and destroy my bones;
I fear they'll force me to make bread of stones.

And implores, with a martyr's piety, the Saviour's forgiveness for those who were more misled than criminal:

Such as thou know'st do not know what they do.[199]

As a poet and a painter, Charles is not popularly known; but this article was due, to preserve the memory of the royal votary's ardour and pure feelings for the love of the Fine Arts.[200]


The secret history of Charles the First, and his queen Henrietta of France, opens a different scene from the one exhibited in the passionate drama of our history.

The king is accused of the most spiritless uxoriousness; and the chaste fondness of a husband is placed among his political errors. Even Hume conceives that his queen "precipitated him into hasty and imprudent counsels," and Bishop Kennet had alluded to "the influence of a stately queen over an affectionate husband." The uxoriousness of Charles is re-echoed by all the writers of a certain party. This is an odium which the king's enemies first threw out to make him contemptible; while his apologists imagined that, in perpetuating this accusation, they had discovered, in a weakness which has at least something amiable, some palliation for his own political misconduct. The factious, too, by this aspersion, promoted the alarm they spread in the nation, of the king's inclination to popery; yet, on the contrary, Charles was then making a determined stand, and at length triumphed over a Catholic faction, which was ruling his queen; and this at the risk and menace of a war with France. Yet this firmness too has been denied him, even by his apologist Hume: that historian, on his preconceived system, imagined that every action of Charles originated in the Duke of Buckingham, and that the duke pursued his personal quarrel with Richelieu, and taking advantage of these domestic quarrels, had persuaded Charles to dismiss the French attendants of the queen.[201]

There are, fortunately, two letters from Charles the First to Buckingham, preserved in the State-papers of Lord Hardwicke, which set this point at rest: these decisively prove that the whole matter originated with the king himself, and that Buckingham had tried every effort to persuade him to the contrary; for the king complains that he had been too long overcome by his persuasions, but that he was now "resolved it must be done, and that shortly!"[202]

It is remarkable, that the character of a queen, who is imagined to have performed so active a part in our history, scarcely ever appears in it; when abroad, and when she returned to England, in the midst of a winter storm, bringing all the aid she could to her unfortunate consort, those who witnessed this appearance of energy imagined that her character was equally powerful in the cabinet. Yet Henrietta, after all, was nothing more than a volatile woman; one who had never studied, never reflected, and whom nature had formed to be charming and haughty, but whose vivacity could not retain even a state-secret for an hour, and whose talents were quite opposite to those of deep political intrigue.

Henrietta viewed even the characters of great men with all the sensations of a woman. Describing the Earl of Strafford to a confidential friend, and having observed that he was a great man, she dwelt with far more interest on his person: "Though not handsome," said she, "he was agreeable enough, and he had the finest hands of any man in the world." Landing at Burlington-bay in Yorkshire, she lodged on the quay; the parliament's admiral barbarously pointed his cannon at the house; and several shots reaching it, her favourite, Jermyn, requested her to fly: she safely reached a cavern in the fields, but, recollecting that she had left a lap-dog asleep in its bed, she flew back, and amidst the cannon-shot returned with this other favourite. The queen related this incident of the lap-dog to her friend Madame Motteville; these ladies considered it as a complete woman's victory. It is in these memoirs we find, that when Charles went down to the house, to seize on the five leading members of the opposition, the queen could not restrain her lively temper, and impatiently babbled the plot; so that one of the ladies in attendance despatched a hasty note to the parties, who, as the king entered the house, had just time to leave it. Some have dated the ruin of his cause to the failure of that impolitic step, which alarmed every one zealous for that spirit of political freedom which had now grown up in the Commons. Incidents like these mark the feminine dispositions of Henrietta. But when at sea, in danger of being taken by a parliamentarian, the queen commanded the captain not to strike, but to prepare at the extremity to blow up the ship, resisting the shrieks of her females and domestics. We perceive how, on every trying occasion, Henrietta never forgot that she was the daughter of Henry the Fourth; that glorious affinity was inherited by her with all the sexual pride; and hence, at times, that energy in her actions which was so far above her intellectual capacity.

And, indeed, when the awful events she had witnessed were one by one registered in her melancholy mind, the sensibility of the woman subdued the natural haughtiness of her character; but, true woman! the feeling creature of circumstances, at the Restoration she resumed it, and when the new court of Charles the Second would not endure her obsolete haughtiness, the dowager-queen left it in all the full bitterness of her spirit. An habitual gloom, and the meagreness of grief, during the commonwealth, had changed a countenance once the most lively; and her eyes, whose dark and dazzling lustre was ever celebrated, then only shone in tears. When she told her physician, Sir Theodore Mayerne, that she found her understanding was failing her, and seemed terrified lest it was approaching to madness, the court physician, hardly courtly to fallen majesty, replied, "Madam, fear not that; for you are already mad." Henrietta had lived to contemplate the awful changes of her reign, without comprehending them.

Waller, in the profusion of poetical decoration, makes Henrietta so beautiful, that her beauty would affect every lover "more than his private loves." She was "the whole world's mistress." A portrait in crayons of Henrietta at Hampton-court sadly reduces all his poetry, for the miraculous was only in the fancy of the court-poet. But there may be some truth in what he says of the eyes of Henrietta:—

Such eyes as yours, on Jove himself, had thrown
As bright and fierce a lightning as his own.

And in another poem there is one characteristic line:—

—— such radiant eyes,
Such lovely motion, and such sharp replies.

In a MS. letter of the times, the writer describes the queen as "nimble and quick, black-eyed, brown-haired, and a brave lady."[203] In the MS. journal of Sir Symonds D'Ewes, who saw the queen on her first arrival in London, cold and puritanic as was that antiquary, he notices with some warmth "the features of her face, which were much enlivened by her radiant and sparkling black eye."[204] She appears to have possessed French vivacity both in her manners and her conversation: in the history of a queen, an accurate conception of her person enters for something.

Her talents were not of that order which could influence the revolutions of a people. Her natural dispositions might have allowed her to become a politician of the toilet, and she might have practised those slighter artifices, which may be considered as so many political coquetries. But Machiavelian principles, and involved intrigues, of which she has been so freely accused, could never have entered into her character. At first she tried all the fertile inventions of a woman to persuade the king that she was his humblest creature, and the good people of England that she was quite in love with them. Now that we know that no female was ever more deeply tainted with Catholic bigotry, and that, haughty as she was, this princess suffered the most insulting superstitions, inflicted as penances by her priests, for this very marriage with a Protestant prince, the following new facts relating to her first arrival in England curiously contrast with the mortified feelings she must have endured by the violent suppression of her real ones.

We must first bring forward a remarkable and unnoticed document in the Embassies of Marshal Bassompierre.[205] It is nothing less than a most solemn obligation contracted with the Pope and her brother the King of France, to educate her children as Catholics, and only to choose Catholics to attend them. Had this been known either to Charles or to the English nation, Henrietta could never have been permitted to ascend the English throne. The fate of both her sons shows how faithfully she performed this treasonable contract. This piece of secret history opens the concealed cause of those deep impressions of that faith which both monarchs sucked in with their milk; that triumph of the cradle over the grave which most men experience; Charles the Second died a Catholic, James the Second lived as one.

When Henrietta was on her way to England, a legate from Rome arrested her at Amiens, requiring the princess to undergo a penance, which was to last sixteen days, for marrying Charles without the papal dispensation. The queen stopped her journey, and wrote to inform the king of the occasion. Charles, who was then waiting for her at Canterbury, replied, that if Henrietta did not instantly proceed, he would return alone to London. Henrietta doubtless sighed for the Pope and the penance, but she set off the day she received the king's letter. The king, either by his wisdom or his impatience, detected the aim of the Roman pontiff, who, had he been permitted to arrest the progress of a Queen of England for sixteen days in the face of all Europe, would thus have obtained a tacit supremacy over a British monarch.

When the king arrived at Canterbury, although not at the moment prepared to receive him, Henrietta flew to meet him, and with all her spontaneous grace and native vivacity, kneeling at his feet, she kissed his hand, while the king, bending over her, wrapped her in his arms, and kissed her with many kisses. This royal and youthful pair, unusual with those of their rank, met with the eagerness of lovers, and the first words of Henrietta were those of devotion; Sire! je suis venue en ce pays de votre majesté pour être usée et commandée de vous.[206] It had been rumoured that she was of a very short stature, but, reaching to the king's shoulder, his eyes were cast down to her feet, seemingly observing whether she used art to increase her height. Anticipating his thoughts, and playfully showing her feet, she declared, that "she stood upon her own feet, for thus high I am, and neither higher nor lower." After an hour's conversation in privacy, Henrietta took her dinner surrounded by the court; and the king, who had already dined, performing the office of her carver, cut a pheasant and some venison. By the side of the queen stood her ghostly confessor, solemnly reminding her that this was the eve of John the Baptist, and was to be fasted, exhorting her to be cautious that she set no scandalous example on her first arrival. But Charles and his court were now to be gained over, as well as John the Baptist. She affected to eat very heartily of the forbidden meat, which gave great comfort, it seems, to several of her new heretical subjects then present: but we may conceive the pangs of so confirmed a devotee. She carried her dissimulation so far, that being asked about this time whether she could abide a Huguenot? she replied, "Why not? was not my father one?" Her ready smiles, the graceful wave of her hand, the many "good signs of hope," as a contemporary in a manuscript letter expresses it, induced many of the English to believe that Henrietta might even become one of themselves! Sir Symonds D'Ewes, as appears by his manuscript diary, was struck by "her deportment to her women, and her looks to her servants, which were so sweet and humble!"[207] However, this was in the first days of her arrival, and these "sweet and humble looks" were not constant ones; for a courier at Whitehall, writing to a friend, observes that "the queen, however little of stature, yet is of a pleasing countenance, if she be pleased, otherwise full of spirit and vigour, and seems of more than ordinary resolution;" and he adds an incident of one of her "frowns." The room in which the queen was at dinner, being somewhat over-heated with the fire and company, "she drove us all out of the chamber. I suppose none but a queen could have cast such a scowl."[208] We may already detect the fair waxen mask melting away on the features it covered, even in one short month!

By the marriage-contract, Henrietta was to be allowed a household establishment, composed of her own people; and this had been contrived to be not less than a small French colony, exceeding three hundred persons. It composed, in fact, a French faction, and looks like a covert project of Richelieu's to further his intrigues here, by opening a perpetual correspondence with the discontented Catholics of England. In the instructions of Bassompierre, one of the alleged objects of the marriage is the general good of the Catholic religion, by affording some relief to those English who professed it. If, however, that great statesman ever entertained this political design, the simplicity and pride of the Roman priests here completely overturned it; for in their blind zeal they dared to extend their domestic tyranny over majesty itself.

The French party had not long resided here ere the mutual jealousies between the two nations broke out. All the English who were not Catholics were soon dismissed from their attendance on the queen, by herself; while Charles was compelled, by the popular cry, to forbid any English Catholics to serve the queen, or to be present at the celebration of her mass. The king was even obliged to employ pursuivants or king's messengers, to stand at the door of her chapel to seize on any of the English who entered there, while on these occasions the French would draw their swords to defend these concealed Catholics. "The queen and hers" became an odious distinction in the nation. Such were the indecent scenes exhibited in public; they were not less reserved in private. The following anecdote of saying a grace before the king, at his own table, in a most indecorous race run between the catholic priest and the king's chaplain, is given in a manuscript letter of the times.

"The king and queen dining together in the presence,[209] Mr. Hacket (chaplain to the Lord Keeper Williams)[210] being then to say grace, the confessor would have prevented him, but that Hacket shoved him away; whereupon the confessor went to the queen's side, and was about to say grace again, but that the king pulling the dishes unto him, and the carvers falling to their business, hindered. When dinner was done, the confessor thought, standing by the queen, to have been before Mr. Hacket, but Mr. Hacket again got the start. The confessor, nevertheless, begins his grace as loud as Mr. Hacket, with such a confusion, that the king in great passion instantly rose from the table, and, taking the queen by the hand, retired into the bedchamber."[211] It is with difficulty we conceive how such a scene of priestly indiscretion should have been suffered at the table of an English sovereign.

Such are the domestic accounts I have gleaned from MS. letters of the times; but particulars of a deeper nature may be discovered in the answer of the king's council to Marshal Bassompierre, preserved in the history of his embassy; this marshal had been hastily despatched as an extraordinary ambassador when the French party were dismissed. This state-document, rather a remonstrance than a reply, states that the French household had formed a little republic within themselves, combining with the French resident ambassador, and inciting the opposition members in parliament; a practice usual with that intriguing court, even from the days of Elizabeth, as the original letters of the French ambassador of the time, which will be found in the third volume, amply show; and those of La Boderie in James the First's time, who raised a French party about Prince Henry; and the correspondence of Barillon in Charles the Second's reign, so fully exposed in his entire correspondence published by Fox. The French domestics of the queen were engaged in lower intrigues; they lent their names to hire houses in the suburbs of London, where, under their protection, the English Catholics found a secure retreat to hold their illegal assemblies, and where the youth of both sexes were educated and prepared to be sent abroad to Catholic seminaries. But the queen's priests, by those well-known means which the Catholic religion sanctions, were drawing from the queen the minutest circumstances which passed in privacy between her and the king; indisposed her mind towards her royal consort, impressed on her a contempt of the English nation, and a disgust of our customs, and particularly, as has been usual with the French, made her neglect the English language, as if the queen of England held no common interest with the nation. They had made her residence a place of security for the persons and papers of the discontented. Yet all this was hardly more offensive than the humiliating state to which they had reduced an English queen by their monastic obedience: inflicting the most degrading penances. One of the most flagrant is alluded to in our history. This was a barefoot pilgrimage to Tyburn, where, one morning, under the gallows on which so many Jesuits had been executed as traitors to Elizabeth and James the First, she knelt and prayed to them as martyrs and saints who had shed their blood in defence of the Catholic cause.[212] A manuscript letter of the times mentions that "the priests had also made her dabble in the dirt in a foul morning from Somerset-house to St. James's, her Luciferian confessor riding along by her in his coach! They have made her to go barefoot, to spin, to eat her meat out of dishes, to wait at the table of servants, with many other ridiculous and absurd penances. And if they dare thus insult (adds the writer) over the daughter, sister, and wife of so great kings, what slavery would they not make us, the people, to undergo!"[213]

One of the articles in the contract of marriage was, that the queen should have a chapel at St. James's, to be built and consecrated by her French bishop; the priests became very importunate, declaring that without a chapel mass could not be performed with the state it ought before a queen. The king's answer is not that of a man inclined to popery. "If the queen's closet, where they now say mass, is not large enough, let them have it in the great chamber; and, if the great chamber is not wide enough, they might use the garden; and, if the garden would not serve their turn, then was the park the fittest place."

The French priests and the whole party feeling themselves slighted, and sometimes worse treated, were breeding perpetual quarrels among themselves, grew weary of England, and wished themselves away: but many having purchased their places with all their fortune, would have been ruined by the breaking up of the establishment. Bassompierre alludes to the broils and clamours of these French strangers, which exposed them to the laughter of the English court; and we cannot but smile in observing, in one of the despatches of this great mediator between two kings and a queen, addressed to the minister, that one of the greatest obstacles which he had found in this difficult negotiation arose from the bedchamber women! The French king being desirous of having two additional women to attend the English queen his sister, the ambassador declares, that "it would be more expedient rather to diminish than to increase the number; for they all live so ill together, with such rancorous jealousies and enmities, that I have more trouble to make them agree than I shall find to accommodate the differences between the two kings. Their continual bickerings, and often their vituperative language, occasion the English to entertain the most contemptible and ridiculous opinions of our nation. I shall not, therefore, insist on this point, unless it shall please his majesty to renew it."

The French bishop was under the age of thirty, and his authority was imagined to have been but irreverently treated by two beautiful viragos in that civil war of words which was raging; one of whom, Madame St. George, was in high favour, and most intolerably hated by the English. Yet such was English gallantry, that the king presented this lady on her dismission with several thousand pounds and jewels. There was something inconceivably ludicrous in the notions of the English, of a bishop hardly of age, and the gravity of whose character was probably tarnished by French gesture and vivacity. This French establishment was daily growing in expense and number; a manuscript letter of the times states that it cost the king £240 a day, and had increased from threescore persons to four hundred and forty, besides children!

It was one evening that the king suddenly appeared, and, summoning the French household, commanded them to take their instant departure—the carriages were prepared for their removal. In doing this, Charles had to resist the warmest entreaties, and even the vehement anger of the queen, who is said in her rage to have broken several panes of the window of the apartment to which the king dragged her, and confined her from them.[214]

The scene which took place among the French people, at the sudden announcement of the king's determination, was remarkably indecorous. They instantly flew to take possession of all the queen's wardrobe and jewels; they did not leave her, it appears, a change of linen, since it was with difficulty she procured one as a favour, according to some manuscript letters of the times. One of their extraordinary expedients was that of inventing bills, for which they pretended they had engaged themselves on account of the queen, to the amount of £10,000, which the queen at first owned to, but afterwards acknowledged the debts were fictitious ones. Among these items was one of £400 for necessaries for her majesty; an apothecary's bill for drugs of £800; and another of £150 for "the bishop's unholy water," as the writer expresses it. The young French bishop attempted by all sorts of delays to avoid this ignominious expulsion; till the king was forced to send his yeomen of the guards to turn them out from Somerset-house, where the juvenile French bishop, at once protesting against it, and mounting the steps of the coach, took his departure "head and shoulders."[215] It appears that to pay the debts and the pensions, besides sending the French troops free home, cost £50,000.

In a long procession of nearly forty coaches, after four days' tedious travelling, they reached Dover; but the spectacle of these impatient foreigners so reluctantly quitting England, gesticulating their sorrows or their quarrels, exposed them to the derision, and stirred up the prejudices of the common people. As Madame George, whose vivacity is always described as extravagantly French, was stepping into the boat, one of the mob could not resist the satisfaction of flinging a stone at her French cap; an English courtier, who was conducting her, instantly quitted his charge, ran the fellow through the body, and quietly returned to the boat. The man died on the spot; but no farther notice appears to have been taken of the inconsiderate gallantry of this English courtier.

But Charles did not show his kingly firmness only on this occasion: it did not forsake him when the French Marshal Bassompierre was instantly sent over to awe the king; Charles sternly offered the alternative of war, rather than permit a French faction to trouble an English court. Bassompierre makes a curious observation in a letter to the French Bishop of Mende, he who had been just sent away from England; and which serves as the most positive evidence of the firm refusal of Charles the First. The French marshal, after stating the total failure of his mission, exclaims, "See, sir, to what we are reduced! and imagine my grief, that the Queen of Great Britain has the pain of viewing my departure without being of any service to her; but if you consider that I was sent here to make a contract of marriage observed, and to maintain the Catholic religion in a country from which they formerly banished it to make a contract of marriage, you will assist in excusing me of this failure." The French marshal has also preserved the same distinctive feature of the nation, as well as of the monarch, who, surely to his honour as King of England, felt and acted on this occasion as a true Briton. "I have found," says the Gaul, "humility among Spaniards, civility and courtesy among the Swiss, in the embassies I had the honour to perform for the king; but the English would not in the least abate of their natural pride and arrogance. The king is so resolute not to re-establish any French about the queen, his consort, and was so stern (rude) in speaking to me, that it is impossible to have been more so." In a word, the French marshal, with all his vaunts and his threats, discovered that Charles the First was the true representative of his subjects, and that the king had the same feelings with the people: this indeed was not always the case! This transaction took place in 1626, and when, four years afterwards, it was attempted again to introduce certain French persons, a bishop and a physician, about the queen, the king absolutely refused even a French physician, who had come over with the intention of being chosen the queen's, under the sanction of the queen mother. This little circumstance appears in a manuscript letter from Lord Dorchester to M. de Vic, one of the king's agents at Paris. After an account of the arrival of this French physician, his lordship proceeds to notice the former determinations of the king; "yet this man," he adds, "hath been addressed to the ambassador to introduce him into the court, and the queen persuaded in cleare and plaine terms to speak to the king to admit him as domestique. His majesty expressed his dislike of this proceeding, but contented himself to let the ambassador know that this doctor may return as he is come, with intimation that he should do it speedily; the French ambassador, willing to help the matter, spake to the king that the said doctor might be admitted to kiss the queen's hand, and to carrie the news into France of her safe delivery: which the king excused by a civil answer, and has since commanded me to let the ambassador understand, that he had heard him as Monsieur de Fontenay in this particular, but, if he should persist and press him as ambassador, he should be forced to say that which would displease him." Lord Dorchester adds, that he informs M. de Vic of these particulars, that he should not want for the information should the matter be revived by the French court, otherwise he need not notice it.[216]

By this narrative of secret history, Charles the First does not appear so weak a slave to his queen as our writers echo from each other; and those who make Henrietta so important a personage in the cabinet, appear to have been imperfectly acquainted with her real talents. Charles, indeed, was deeply enamoured of the queen, for he was inclined to strong personal attachments;[217] and "the temperance of his youth, by which he had lived so free from personal vice," as May, the parliamentary historian expresses it, even the gay levity of Buckingham seems never, in approaching the king, to have violated. Charles admired in Henrietta all those personal graces which he himself wanted; her vivacity in conversation enlivened his own seriousness, and her gay volubility the defective utterance of his own; while the versatility of her manners relieved his own formal habits. Doubtless the queen exercised the same power over this monarch which vivacious females are privileged by nature to possess over their husbands; she was often listened to, and her suggestions were sometimes approved; but the fixed and systematic principles of the character and the government of this monarch must not be imputed to the intrigues of a mere lively and volatile woman; we must trace them to a higher source; to his own inherited conceptions of the regal rights, if we would seek for truth, and read the history of human nature in the history of Charles the First.

Long after this article was published, the subject has been more critically developed in my "Commentaries on the Life and Reign of Charles the First."


Richelieu was the greatest of statesmen, if he who maintains himself by the greatest power is necessarily the greatest minister. He was called "the King of the King." After having long tormented himself and France, he left a great name and a great empire—both alike the victims of splendid ambition! Neither this great minister nor this great nation tasted of happiness under his mighty administration. He had, indeed, a heartlessness in his conduct which obstructed by no relentings those remorseless decisions which made him terrible. But, while he trode down the princes of the blood and the nobles, and drove his patroness, the queen-mother, into a miserable exile, and contrived that the king should fear and hate his brother, and all the cardinal-duke chose, Richelieu was grinding the face of the poor by exorbitant taxation, and converted every town in France into a garrison; it was said of him, that he never liked to be in any place where he was not the strongest. "The commissioners of the exchequer and the commanders of the army believe themselves called to a golden harvest; and in the interim the cardinal is charged with the sins of all the world, and is even afraid of his life." Thus Grotius speaks, in one of his letters, of the miserable situation of this great minister, in his account of the court of France in 1635, when he resided there as Swedish ambassador. Yet such is the delusion of these great politicians, who consider what they term state-interests as paramount to all other duties, human or divine, that while their whole life is a series of oppression, of troubles, of deceit, and of cruelty, their state-conscience finds nothing to reproach itself with. Of any other conscience it seems absolutely necessary that they should be divested. Richelieu, on his death-bed, made a solemn protestation, appealing to the last judge of man, who was about to pronounce his sentence, that he never proposed anything but for the good of religion and the state; that is, the Catholic religion and his own administration. When Louis the Thirteenth, who visited him in his last moments, took from the hand of an attendant a plate with two yolks of eggs, that the King of France might himself serve his expiring minister, Richelieu died in all the self-delusion of a great minister.

The sinister means he practised, and the political deceptions he contrived, do not yield in subtilty to the dark grandeur of his ministerial character. It appears that, at a critical moment, when he felt the king's favour was wavering, he secretly ordered a battle to be lost by the French, to determine the king at once not to give up a minister who, he knew, was the only man who could extricate him out of this new difficulty. In our great civil war, this minister pretended to Charles the First that he was attempting to win the parliament over to him, while he was backing their most secret projects against Charles. When a French ambassador addressed the parliament as an independent power, after the king had broken with it, Charles, sensibly affected, remonstrated with the French court; the minister disavowed the whole proceeding, and instantly recalled the ambassador, while at the very moment his secret agents were, to their best, embroiling the affairs of both parties.[218] The object of Richelieu was to weaken the English monarchy, so as to busy itself at home, and prevent its fleets and its armies thwarting his projects on the Continent, lest England, jealous of the greatness of France, should declare itself for Spain the moment it had recovered its own tranquillity. This is a stratagem too ordinary with great ministers, those plagues of the earth, who, with their state-reasons, are for cutting as many throats as God pleases among every other nation.[219]

A fragment of the secret history of this great minister may be gathered from that of some of his confidential agents. One exposes an invention of this minister's to shorten his cabinet labours, and to have at hand a screen, when that useful contrivance was requisite; the other, the terrific effects of an agent setting up to be a politician on his own account, against that of his master.

Richelieu's confessor was one Father Joseph; but this man was designed to be employed rather in state-affairs, than in those which concerned his conscience. This minister, who was never a penitent, could have none. Father Joseph had a turn for political negotiation, otherwise he had not been the cardinal's confessor; but this turn was of that sort, said the nuncio Spada, which was adapted to follow up to the utmost the views and notions of the minister, rather than to draw the cardinal to his, or to induce him to change a tittle of his designs. The truth is, that Father Joseph preferred going about in his chariot on ministerial missions, rather than walking solitarily to his convent, after listening to the unmeaning confessions of Cardinal Richelieu. He made himself so intimately acquainted with the plans and the will of this great minister, that he could venture at a pinch to act without orders: and foreign affairs were particularly consigned to his management. Grotius, when Swedish ambassador, knew them both. Father Joseph, he tells us, was employed by Cardinal Richelieu to open negotiations, and put them in a way to succeed to his mind, and then the cardinal would step in, and undertake the finishing himself. Joseph took businesses in hand when they were green, and, after ripening them, he handed them over to the cardinal. In a conference which Grotius held with the parties, Joseph began the treaty, and bore the brunt of the first contest. After a warm debate, the cardinal interposed as arbitrator: "A middle way will reconcile you," said the minister, "and as you and Joseph can never agree, I will now make you friends."[220]

That this was Richelieu's practice, appears from another similar personage mentioned by Grotius, but one more careless and less cunning. When the French ambassador, Leon Brulart, assisted by Joseph, concluded at Ratisbon a treaty with the emperor's ambassador, on its arrival the cardinal unexpectedly disapproved of it, declaring that the ambassador had exceeded his instructions. But Brulart, who was an old statesman, and Joseph, to whom the cardinal confided his most secret views, it was not supposed could have committed such a gross error; and it was rather believed that the cardinal changed his opinions with the state of affairs, wishing for peace or war as they suited the French interests, or as he conceived they tended to render his administration necessary to the crown.[221] When Brulart, on his return from his embassy, found this outcry raised against him, and not a murmur against Joseph, he explained the mystery; the cardinal had raised this clamour against him merely to cover the instructions which he had himself given, and which Brulart was convinced he had received, through his organ, Father Joseph; a man, said he, who has nothing of the Capuchin but the frock, and nothing of the Christian but the name: a mind so practised in artifices, that he could do nothing without deception: and during the whole of the Ratisbon negotiation, Brulart discovered that Joseph would never communicate to him any business till the whole was finally arranged: the sole object of his pursuit was to find means to gratify the cardinal. Such free sentiments nearly cost Brulart his head: for once in quitting the cardinal in warmth, the minister following him to the door, and passing his hand over the other's neck, observed, that "Brulart was a fine man, and it would be a pity to divide the head from the body."

One more anecdote of this good father Joseph, the favourite instrument of the most important and covert designs of this minister, has been preserved in the Memorie Recondite of Vittorio Siri,[222] an Italian Abbé, the Procopius of France, but afterwards pensioned by Mazarin. Richelieu had in vain tried to gain over Colonel Ornano, a man of talents, the governor of Monsieur, the only brother of Louis XIII.; not accustomed to have his offers refused, he resolved to ruin him. Joseph was now employed to contract a particular friendship with Ornano, and to suggest to him, that it was full time that his pupil should be admitted into the council, to acquire some political knowledge. The advancement of Ornano's royal pupil was his own; and as the king had no children, the crown might descend to Monsieur. Ornano therefore took the first opportunity to open himself to the king, on the propriety of initiating his brother into affairs, either in council, or by a command in the army. This the king, as usual, immediately communicated to the cardinal, who was well prepared to give the request the most odious turn, and to alarm his majesty with the character of Ornano, who, he said, was inspiring the young prince with ambitious thoughts—that the next step would be an attempt to share the crown itself with his majesty. The cardinal foresaw how much Monsieur would be offended by the refusal and would not fail to betray his impatience, and inflame the jealousy of the king. Yet Richelieu bore still an open face and friendly voice for Ornano, whom he was every day undermining in the king's favour, till all terminated in a pretended conspiracy, and Ornano perished in the Bastile, of a fever, at least caught there:—so much for the friendship of Father Joseph! And by such men and such means the astute minister secretly threw a seed of perpetual hatred between the royal brothers, producing conspiracies often closing in blood, which only his own haughty tyranny had provoked.

Father Joseph died regretted by Richelieu; he was an ingenious sort of a creature, and kept his carriage to his last day, but his name is only preserved in secret histories. The fate of Father Caussin, the author of the "Cours Sainte," a popular book among the Catholics for its curious religious stories, and whose name is better known than Father Joseph's, shows how this minister could rid himself of father confessors who persisted, according to their own notions, to be honest men, in spite of the minister. This piece of secret history is drawn from a narrative manuscript which Caussin left addressed to the general of the Jesuits.[223]

Richelieu chose Father Caussin for the king's confessor, and he had scarcely entered his office when the cardinal informed him of the king's romantic friendship for Mademoiselle La Fayette, of whom the cardinal was extremely jealous. Desirous of getting rid altogether of this sort of tender connexion, he hinted to the new confessor that, however innocent it might be, it was attended with perpetual danger, which the lady herself acknowledged, and, warm with "all the motions of grace," had declared her intention to turn "Religieuse;" and that Caussin ought to dispose the king's mind to see the wisdom of the resolution. It happened, however, that Caussin considered that this lady, whose zeal for the happiness of the people was well known, might prove more serviceable at court than in a cloister, so that the good father was very inactive in the business, and the minister began to suspect that he had in hand an instrument not at all fitted to it like Father Joseph.

"The motions of grace" were, however, more active than the confessor, and Mademoiselle retired to a monastery. Richelieu learned that the king had paid her a visit of three hours, and he accused Caussin of encouraging these secret interviews. This was not denied, but it was adroitly insinuated that it was prudent not abruptly to oppose the violence of the king's passion, which seemed reasonable to the minister. The king continued these visits, and the lady, in concert with Caussin, impressed on the king the most unfavourable sentiments of the minister, the tyranny exercised over the exiled queen mother and the princes of the blood;[224] the grinding taxes he levied on the people, his projects of alliance with the Turk against the Christian sovereigns, &c. His majesty sighed: he asked Caussin if he could name any one capable of occupying the minister's place? Our simple politician had not taken such a consideration in his mind. The king asked Caussin whether he would meet Richelieu face to face? The Jesuit was again embarrassed, but summoned up the resolution with equal courage and simplicity.

Caussin went for the purpose: he found the king closeted with the minister; the conference was long, from which Caussin augured ill. He himself tells us, that, weary of waiting in the ante-chamber, he contrived to be admitted into the presence of the king, when he performed his promise. But the case was altered! Caussin had lost his cause before he pleaded it, and Richelieu had completely justified himself to the king. The good father was told that the king would not perform his devotions that day, and that he might return to Paris. The next morning the whole affair was cleared up. An order from court prohibited this voluble Jesuit either from speaking or writing to any person; and farther, drove him away in an inclement winter, sick in body and at heart, till he found himself an exile on the barren rocks of Quimper in Brittany, where, among the savage inhabitants, he was continually menaced by a prison or a gallows, which the terrific minister lost no opportunity to place before his imagination; and occasionally despatched a Paris Gazette, which distilled the venom of Richelieu's heart, and which, like the eagle of Prometheus, could gnaw at the heart of the insulated politician chained to his rock.[225]

Such were the contrasted fates of Father Joseph and Father Caussin! the one, the ingenious creature, the other, the simple oppositionist of this great minister.


"Had the Duke of Buckingham been blessed with a faithful friend, qualified with wisdom and integrity, the duke would have committed as few faults, and done as transcendent worthy actions as any man in that age in Europe." Such was the opinion of Lord Clarendon in the prime of life, when, yet untouched by party feeling, he had no cause to plead, and no quarrel with truth.[226]

The portrait of Buckingham by Hume seems to me a character dove-tailed into a system, adjusted to his plan of lightening the errors of Charles the First by participating them among others. This character conceals the more favourable parts of no ordinary man: the spirit which was fitted to lead others by its own invincibility, and some qualities he possessed of a better nature. All the fascination of his character is lost in the general shade cast over it by the niggardly commendation, that he possessed "some accomplishments of a courtier." Some, indeed! and the most pleasing; but not all truly, for dissimulation and hypocrisy were arts unpractised by this courtier. "His sweet and attractive manner, so favoured by the graces," has been described by Sir Henry Wotton, who knew him well; while Clarendon, another living witness, tells us that "he was the most rarely accomplished the court had ever beheld; while some that found inconvenience in his nearness, intending by some affront to discountenance him, perceived he had masked under this gentleness a terrible courage, as could safely protect all his sweetnesses."

The very errors and infirmities of Buckingham seem to have started from qualities of a generous nature; too devoted a friend, and too undisguised an enemy, carrying his loves and his hatreds on his open forehead;[227] too careless of calumny,[228] too fearless of danger; he was, in a word, a man of sensation, acting from impulse; scorning, indeed, prudential views, but capable at all times of embracing grand and original ones; compared by the jealousy of faction to the Spenser of Edward the Second, and even the Sejanus of Tiberius, he was no enemy to the people; often serious in the best designs, but volatile in the midst; his great error sprung from a sanguine spirit. "He was ever," says Wotton, "greedy of honour and hot upon the public ends, and too confident in the prosperity of beginnings." If Buckingham was a hero, and yet neither general nor admiral; a minister, and yet no statesman; if often the creature of popular admiration, he was at length hated by the people; if long envied by his equals, and betrayed by his own creatures,[229] "delighting too much in the press and affluence of dependents and suitors, who are always the burrs, and sometimes the briars of favourites," as Wotton well describes them; if one of his great crimes in the eyes of the people was, that "his enterprises succeeded not according to their impossible expectation;" and that it was a still greater, that Buckingham had been the permanent favourite of two monarchs, who had spoilt their child of fortune; then may the future inquirer find something of his character which remains to be opened; to instruct alike the sovereigns and the people, and "be worthy to be registered among the great examples of time and fortune."

Contrast the fate of BUCKINGHAM with that of his great rival, RICHELIEU. The one winning popularity and losing it; once in the Commons saluted as "their redeemer," till, at length, they resolved that "Buckingham was the cause of all the evils and dangers to the king and kingdom." Magnificent, open, and merciful; so forbearing, even in his acts of gentle oppression, that they were easily evaded; and riots and libels were infecting the country, till, in the popular clamour, Buckingham was made a political monster, and the dagger was planted in the heart of the incautious minister. The other statesman, unrelenting in his power, and grinding in his oppression, unblest with one brother-feeling, had his dungeons filled and his scaffolds raised, and died in safety and glory—a cautious tyrant!

There exists a manuscript memoir of Sir Balthazar Gerbier, who was one of those ingenious men whom Buckingham delighted to assemble about him: for this was one of his characteristics, that although the duke himself was not learned, yet he never wanted for knowledge; too early in life a practical man, he had not the leisure to become a contemplative one; he supplied this deficiency by perpetually "sifting and questioning well" the most eminent for their experience and knowledge; and Lord Bacon, and the Lord Keeper Williams, as well as such as Gerbier, were admitted into this sort of intimacy. We have a curious letter by Lord Bacon, of advice to our minister, written at his own request: and I have seen a large correspondence with that subtle politician, the Lord Keeper Williams, who afterwards attempted to supplant him, to the same purpose. Gerbier was the painter and architect, and at the same time one of the confidential agents of Buckingham; the friend of Rubens the painter, with whom he was concerned in this country to open a Spanish negotiation, and became at length the master of the ceremonies to Charles the Second, in his exile. He was an actor in many scenes. Gerbier says of himself, that "he was a minister who had the honour of public employment, and may therefore incur censure for declaring some passages of state more overtly than becomes such an one; but secrets are secrets but for a time; others may be wiser for themselves, but it is their silence which makes me write."[230]

A mystery has always hung over that piece of knight-errantry, the romantic journey to Madrid, where the prime minister and the heir apparent, in disguise, confided their safety in the hands of our national enemies; which excited such popular clamour, and indeed anxiety, for the prince and the protestant cause. A new light is cast over this extraordinary transaction, by a secret which the Duke imparted to Gerbier. The project was Buckingham's; a bright original view, but taken far out of the line of precedence. It was one of those bold inventions which no common mind could have conceived, and none but the spirit of Buckingham could have carried on with a splendour and mastery over the persons and events, which turned out, however, as unfavourable as possible.

The restoration of the imprudent Palatine, the son-in-law of James the First, to the Palatinate which that prince had lost by his own indiscretion, when he accepted the crown of Bohemia, although warned of his own incompetency, as well as of the incapacity of those princes of the empire, who might have assisted him against the power of Austria and Spain, seemed, however, to a great part of our nation necessary to the stability of the protestant interests. James the First was most bitterly run down at home for his civil pacific measures, but the truth is, by Gerbier's account, that James could not depend on one single ally, who had all taken fright, although some of the Germans were willing enough to be subsidised at £30,000 a month from England; this James had not to give, and which he had been a fool had he given; for though this war for the protestant interests was popular in England, it was by no means general among the German Princes: the Prince Elector of Treves, and another prince, had treated Gerbier coolly; and observed, that "God in these days did not send prophets more to the protestants than to others, to fight against nations, and to second pretences which public incendiaries propose to princes, to engage them into unnecessary wars with their neighbours." France would not go to war, and much less the Danes, the Swedes, and the Hollanders. James was calumniated for his timidity and cowardice; yet, says Gerbier, King James merited much of his people, though ill-requited, choosing rather to suffer an eclipse of his personal reputation, than to bring into such hazard the reputation and force of his kingdoms in a war of no hopes.

As a father and a king, from private and from public motives, the restoration of the Palatinate had a double tie on James, and it was always the earnest object of his negotiations. But Spain sent him an amusing and literary ambassador, who kept him in play, year after year, with merry tales and bon mots.[231] These negotiations had languished through all the tedium of diplomacy; the amusing promises of the courtly Gondomar were sure, on return of the courier, to bring sudden difficulties from the subtle Olivarez. Buckingham meditated by a single blow to strike at the true secret, whether the Spanish court could be induced to hasten this important object, gained over by the proffered alliance with the English crown, from the lips of the prince himself. The whole scene dazzled with politics, chivalry, and magnificence; it was caught by the high spirit of the youthful prince, who, Clarendon tells us, "loved adventures;" and it was indeed an incident which has adorned more than one Spanish romance. The panic which seized the English, fearful of the personal safety of the prince, did not prevail with the duke, who told Gerbier that the prince ran no hazard from the Spaniard, who well knew that while his sister, the fugitive Queen of Bohemia, with a numerous issue, was residing in Holland, the protestant succession to our crown was perfectly secured: and it was with this conviction, says Gerbier, that when the Count-Duke Olivarez had been persuaded that the Prince of Wales was meditating a flight from Spain, Buckingham with his accustomed spirit told him, that "if love had made the prince steal out of his own country, yet fear would never make him run out of Spain, and that he should depart with an equipage as fitted a Prince of Wales." This was no empty vaunt. An English fleet was then waiting in a Spanish port, and the Spanish court, inviting our prince to the grand Escurial, attended the departure of Charles, as Hume expresses it, with "elaborate pomp."

This attempt of Buckingham, of which the origin has been so often inquired into, and so oppositely viewed, entirely failed with the Spaniard. The catholic league outweighed the protestant. At first, the Spanish court had been as much taken by surprise as the rest of the world. All parties seemed at their first interview highly gratified. "We may rule the world together," said the Spanish to the English minister. They were, however, not made by nature, or state interests, to agree at a second interview. The Lord Keeper Williams, a wily courtier and subtle politician, who, in the absence of his patron Buckingham, evidently supplanted him in the favour of his royal master, when asked by James "whether he thought this knight-errant pilgrimage would be likely to win the Spanish lady," answered with much political foresight, and saw the difficulty: "If my lord marquis will give honour to the Count-Duke Olivarez, and remember he is the favourite of Spain; or, if Olivarez will show honourable civility to my lord marquis, remembering he is the favourite of England, the wooing may be prosperous: but if my lord marquis should forget where he is, and not stoop to Olivarez; or, if Olivarez, forgetting what guest he hath received with the prince, bear himself like a Castilian grandee to my lord marquis, the provocation may cross your majesty's good intentions."[232] What Olivarez once let out, "though somewhat in hot blood, that in the councils of the king the English match had never been taken into consideration, but from the time of the Prince of Wales's arrival at Madrid," might have been true enough. The seven years which had passed in apparent negotiation resembled the scene of a fata morgana,—an earth painted in the air, raised by the delusive arts of Gondomar and Olivarez. As they never designed to realise it, it would of course never have been brought into the councils of his Spanish majesty. Buckingham discovered, as he told Gerbier, that the Infanta, by the will of her father, Philip the Third, was designed for the emperor's son,—the catholic for the catholic, to cement the venerable system. When Buckingham and Charles had now ascertained that the Spanish cabinet could not adopt English and protestant interests, and Olivarez had convinced himself that Charles would never be a Catholic, all was broken up; and thus a treaty of marriage, which had been slowly reared during a period of seven years, when the flower seemed to take, only contained within itself the seeds of war.[233]

Olivarez and Richelieu were thorough-paced statesmen, in every respect the opposites of the elegant, the spirited, and the open Buckingham. The English favourite checked the haughty Castilian, the favourite of Spain, and the more than king-like cardinal, the favourite of France, with the rival spirit of his island, proud of her equality with the continent.

There is a story that the war between England and France was occasioned by the personal disrespect shown by the Cardinal-Duke Richelieu to the English Duke, in the affronting mode of addressing his letters. Gerbier says, the world are in a ridiculous mistake about this circumstance. The fact of the letters is true, since Gerbier was himself the secretary on this occasion. It terminated, however, differently than is known. Richelieu, at least as haughty as Buckingham, addressed a letter, in a moment of caprice, in which the word Monsieur was level with the first line, avoiding the usual space of honour, to mark his disrespect. Buckingham instantly turned on the cardinal his own invention. Gerbier, who had written the letter, was also its bearer. The cardinal started at the first sight, never having been addressed with such familiarity, and was silent. On the following day, however, the cardinal received Gerbier civilly, and, with many rhetorical expressions respecting the duke: "I know," said he, "the power and greatness of a high admiral of England; the cannons of his great ships make way, and prescribe law more forcibly than the canons of the church, of which I am a member. I acknowledge the power of the favourites of great kings, and I am content to be a minister of state, and the duke's humble servant." This was an apology made with all the politesse of a Gaul, and by a great statesman who had recovered his senses.

If ever minister of state was threatened by the prognostics of a fatal termination to his life, it was Buckingham; but his own fearlessness disdained to interpret them. The following circumstances, collected from manuscript letters of the times, are of this nature. After the sudden and unhappy dissolution of the parliament, popular terror showed itself in all shapes; and those who did not join in the popular cry were branded with the odious nickname of the dukelings.

A short time before the assassination of Buckingham, when the king, after an obstinate resistance, had conceded his assent to the "Petition of Right," the houses testified their satisfaction, perhaps their triumph, by their shouts of acclamation. They were propagated by the hearers on the outside, from one to the other, till they reached the city. Some confused account arrived before the occasion of these rejoicings was generally known. Suddenly the bells began to ring; bonfires were kindled; and in an instant all was a scene of public rejoicing. But ominous indeed were these rejoicings; for the greater part was occasioned by a false rumour that the duke was to be sent to the Tower. No one inquired about a news which every one wished to hear; and so sudden was the joy, that a MS. letter says, "the old scaffold on Tower-hill was pulled down and burned by certain unhappy boys, who said they would have a new one built for the duke." This mistake so rapidly prevailed as to reach even the country, which blazed with bonfires to announce the fall of Buckingham.[234] The shouts on the acquittal of the seven bishops, in 1688, did not speak in plainer language to the son's ear, when, after the verdict was given, such prodigious acclamations of joy "seemed to set the king's authority at defiance; it spread itself not only into the city, but even to Hounslow Heath, where the soldiers, upon the news of it, gave up a great shout, though the king was then actually at dinner in the camp."[235] To the speculators of human nature, who find its history written in their libraries, how many plain lessons seem to have been lost on the mere politician, who is only such in the heat of action!

About a month before the duke was assassinated, occurred the murder, by the populace, of the man who was called "the duke's devil." This was a Dr. Lambe, a man of infamous character, a dealer in magical arts, who lived by showing apparitions, or selling the favours of the devil, and whose chambers were a convenient rendezvous for the curious of both sexes. This wretched man, who openly exulted in the infamous traffic by which he lived, when he was sober, prophesied that he should fall one day by the hands from which he received his death; and it was said he was as positive about his patron's. At the age of eighty, he was torn to pieces in the city; and the city was imprudently heavily fined £6000[236] for not delivering up those who, in murdering this hoary culprit, were heard to say, that they would handle his master worse, and would have minced his flesh, and have had every one a bit of him. This is one more instance of the political cannibalism of the mob. The fate of Dr. Lambe served for a ballad; and the printer and singer were laid in Newgate.[237] Buckingham, it seems, for a moment contemplated his own fate in his wretched creature's, more particularly as another omen obtruded itself on his attention; for, on the very day of Dr. Lambe's murder, his own portrait in the council-chamber was seen to have fallen out of its frame,—a circumstance as awful, in that age of omens, as the portrait that walked from its frame in the "Castle of Otranto," but perhaps more easily accounted for. On the eventful day of Dr. Lambe's being torn to pieces by the mob, a circumstance occurred to Buckingham, somewhat remarkable to show the spirit of the times. The king and the duke were in the Spring Gardens, looking on the bowlers; the duke put on his hat; one Wilson, a Scotchman, first kissing the duke's hands, snatched it off, saying, "Off with your hat before the king." Buckingham, not apt to restrain his quick feelings, kicked the Scotchman; but the king interfering, said, "Let him alone, George; he is either mad or a fool." "No, sir," replied the Scotchman, "I am a sober man; and if your majesty would give me leave, I will tell you that of this man which many know, and none dare speak." This was, as a prognostic, an anticipation of the dagger of Felton!

About this time a libel was taken down from a post in Coleman-street by a constable and carried to the lord-mayor, who ordered it to be delivered to none but his majesty. Of this libel the manuscript letter contains the following particulars:—

Who rules the kingdom? The king. Who rules the king? The duke. Who rules the duke? The devil.

Let the duke look to it; for they intend shortly to use him worse than they did the doctor; and if things be not shortly reformed they will work a reformation themselves.

The only advice the offended king suggested was to set a double watch every night! A watch at a post to prevent a libel being affixed to it was no prevention of libels being written, and the fact is, libels were now bundled and sent to fairs, to be read by those who would venture to read to those who would venture to listen; both parties were often sent to prison.[238] It was about this time, after the sudden dissolution of the parliament, that popular terror showed itself in various shapes, and the spirit which then broke out in libels by night was assuredly the same, which, if these political prognostics had been rightly construed by Charles, might have saved the eventual scene of blood. But neither the king nor his favourite had yet been taught to respect popular feelings. Buckingham, after all, was guilty of no heavy political crimes; but it was his misfortune to have been a prime minister, as Clarendon says, "in a busy, querulous, froward time, when the people were uneasy under pretensions of reformation, with some petulant discourses of liberty, which their great impostors scattered among them like glasses to multiply their fears." It was an age, which was preparing for a great contest, where both parties committed great faults. The favourite did not appear odious in the eyes of the king, who knew his better dispositions more intimately than the popular party, who were crying him down. And Charles attributed to individuals, and "the great impostors," the clamours which had been raised.

But the plurality of offices showered on Buckingham rendered him still more odious to the people:[239] had he not been created lord high admiral and general, he had never risked his character amidst the opposing elements, or before impregnable forts. But something more than his own towering spirit, or the temerity of vanity, must be alleged for his assumption of those opposite military characters.[240]

A peace of twenty years appears to have rusted the arms of our soldiers, and their commanders were destitute of military skill. The war with Spain was clamoured for; and an expedition to Cadiz, in which the duke was reproached by the people for not taking the command, as they supposed from deficient spirit, only ended in our undisciplined soldiers under bad commanders getting drunk in the Spanish cellars, insomuch that not all had the power to run away. On this expedition, some verses were handed about, which probably are now first printed, from a manuscript letter of the times; a political pasquinade which shows the utter silliness of this "Ridiculus Mus."

There was a crow sat on a stone,
He flew away—and there was none!
There was a man that run a race,
When he ran fast—he ran apace!
There was a maid that eat an apple,
When she eat two—she eat a couple!
There was an ape sat on a tree,
When he fell down—then down fell he!
There was a fleet that went to Spain,
When it returned—it came again!

Another expedition to Rochelle, under the Earl of Denbigh, was indeed of a more sober nature, for the earl declined to attack the enemy. The national honour, among the other grievances of the people, had been long degraded; not indeed by Buckingham himself, who personally had ever maintained, by his high spirit, an equality, if not a superiority, with France and Spain. It was to win back the public favour by a resolved and public effort, that Buckingham a second time was willing to pledge his fortune, his honour, and his life, into one daring cast, and on the dyke of Rochelle to leave his body, or to vindicate his aspersed name. The garrulous Gerbier shall tell his own story, which I transcribe from his own hand-writing, of the mighty preparations, and the duke's perfect devotion to the cause; for among other rumours, he was calumniated as never having been faithful to his engagement with the protestants of Rochelle.

"The duke caused me to make certain works, according to the same model as those wherewith the Prince of Parma blew up, before Antwerp, the main dyke and estacado; they were so mighty strong, and of that quantity of powder, and so closely masoned in barks, that they might have blown up the half of a town. I employed therein of powder, stone-quarries, bombs, fire-balls, chains, and iron-balls, a double proportion to that used by the Duke of Parma, according to the description left thereof."[241]

"The duke's intention to succour the Rochellers was manifest, as was his care to assure them of it. He commanded me to write and to convey to them the secret advertisement thereof. The last advice I gave them from him contained these words, 'Hold out but three weeks, and God willing I will be with you, either to overcome or to die there.' The bearer of this received from my hands a hundred Jacobuses to carry it with speed and safety." The duke had disbursed threescore thousand pounds of his money upon the fleet; and lost his life ere he could get aboard. Nothing but death had hindered him or frustrated his design, of which I am confident by another very remarkable passage. "The duke, a little before his departure from York House, being alone with me in his garden, and giving me his last commands for my journey towards Italy and Spain, one Mr. Wigmore, a gentleman of his, coming to us, presented to his lordship a paper, said to have come from the prophesying Lady Davers,[242] foretelling that he should end his life that month; besides, he had received a letter from a very considerable hand, persuading him to let some other person be sent on that expedition to command in his place; on which occasion the duke made this expression to me: 'Gerbier, if God please, I will go, and be the first man who shall set his foot upon the dyke before Rochel to die, or do the work, whereby the world shall see the reality of our intentions for the relief of that place.' He had before told me the same in his closet, after he had signed certain despatches of my letters of credence to the Duke of Lorraine and Savoy, to whom I was sent to know what diversion they could make in favour of the king, in case the peace with Spain should not take. His majesty spake to me, on my going towards my residency at Bruxelles—'Gerbier, I do command thee to have a continual care, to press the Infanta and the Spanish ministers there, for the restitution of the Palatinate; for I am obliged in conscience, in honour, and in maxim of state, to stir all the powers of the world, rather than to fail to try to the uttermost to compass this business.'"

In the week of that expedition, the king took "George" with him in his coach to view the ships at Deptford on their departure for Rochelle, when he said to the duke, "George, there are some that wish both these and thou mightest perish together; but care not for them; we will both perish together, if thou doest!"

A few days before the duke went on his last expedition, he gave a farewell masque and supper at York-house to their majesties. In the masque the duke appeared followed by Envy, with many open-mouthed dogs, which were to represent the barkings of the people, while next came Fame and Truth; and the court allegory expressed the king's sentiment and the duke's sanguine hope.

Thus resolutely engaged in the very cause the people had so much at heart, the blood Buckingham would have sealed it with was shed by one of the people themselves; the enterprise, designed to retrieve the national honour, long tarnished, was prevented; and the Protestant cause suffered by one who imagined himself to be, and was blest by nearly the whole nation as, a patriot! Such are the effects of the exaggerations of popular delusion.

I find the following epitaph on Buckingham in a manuscript letter of the times. Its condensed bitterness of spirit gives the popular idea of his unfortunate attempts.

If idle trav'llers ask who lieth here,
Let the duke's tomb this for inscription bear;
Paint Cales and Rhé, make French and Spanish laugh;
Mix England's shame—and there's his epitaph!

Before his last fatal expedition, among the many libels which abounded, I have discovered a manuscript satire, entitled "Rhodomontados."[243] The thoughtless minister is made to exult in his power over the giddy-headed multitude. Buckingham speaks in his own person; and we have here preserved those false rumours and those aggravated feelings then floating among the people: a curious instance of those heaped up calumnies which are often so heavily laid on the head of a prime minister, no favourite with the people.

'Tis not your threats shall take me from the king!—
Nor questioning my counsels and commands,
How with the honour of the state it stands;
That I lost Rhé and with such loss of men,
As scarcely time can e'er repair again;
Shall aught affright me; or the care to see
The narrow seas from Dunkirk clear and free;
Or that you can enforce the king believe,
I from the pirates a third share receive;
Or that I correspond with foreign states
(Whether the king's foes or confederates)
To plot the ruin of the king and state,
As erst you thought of the Palatinate;
Or that five hundred thousand pounds doth lie
In the Venice bank to help Spain's majesty;
Or that three hundred thousand more doth rest
In Dunkirk, for the arch-duchess to contest
With England, whene'er occasion offers;
Or that by rapine I fill up my coffers;
Nor that an office in church, state, or court,
Is freely given, but they must pay me for't.
Nor shall you ever prove I had a hand
In poisoning of the monarch of this land,
Or the like hand by poisoning to intox
Southampton, Oxford, Hamilton, Lennox.
Nor shall you ever prove by magic charms,
I wrought the king's affection or his harms.
Nor fear I if ten Vitrys now were here,
Since I have thrice ten Ravilliacs as near.
My power shall be unbounded in each thing,
If once I use these words, "I and the king."
Seem wise, and cease then to perturb the realm,
Or strive with him that sits and guides the helm.
I know your reading will inform you soon,
What creatures they were, that barkt against the moon.
I'll give you better counsel as a friend:
Cobblers their latchets ought not to transcend;
Meddle with common matters, common wrongs;
To the House of Commons common things belongs.
Leave him the oar that best knows how to row,
And state to him that best the state doth know.
If I by industry, deep reach, or grace,
Am now arriv'd at this or that great place,
Must I, to please your inconsiderate rage,
Throw down mine honours? Will nought else assuage
Your furious wisdoms? True shall the verse be yet—
There's no less wit required to keep, than get.
Though Lambe be dead, I'll stand, and you shall see
I'll smile at them that can but bark at me.

After Buckingham's death, Charles the First cherished his memory as warmly as his life, advanced his friends, and designed to raise a magnificent monument to his memory;[244] and if any one accused the duke, the king always imputed the fault to himself. The king said, "Let not the duke's enemies seek to catch at any of his offices, for they will find themselves deceived." Charles called Buckingham "his martyr!" and often said the world was much mistaken in the duke's character; for it was commonly thought the duke ruled his majesty; but it was much the contrary, having been his most faithful and obedient servant in all things, as the king said he would make sensibly appear to the world. Indeed, after the death of Buckingham, Charles showed himself extremely active in business. Lord Dorchester wrote—"The death of Buckingham causes no changes; the king holds in his own hands the total direction, leaving the executory part to every man within the compass of his charge."[245] This is one proof, among many, that Charles the First was not the puppet-king of Buckingham, as modern historians have imagined.


Felton, the assassin of the Duke of Buckingham, by the growing republican party was hailed as a Brutus, rising, in the style of a patriotic bard,

Refulgent from the stroke.—AKENSIDE.

Gibbon has thrown a shade of suspicion even over Brutus's "god-like stroke," as Pope has exalted it. In Felton, a man acting from mixed and confused motives, the political martyr is entirely lost in the contrite penitent; he was, however, considered in his own day as a being almost beyond humanity. Mrs. Macaulay has called him a "lunatic," because the duke had not been assassinated on the right principle. His motives appeared even inconceivable to his contemporaries; for Sir Henry Wotton, who has written a Life of the Duke of Buckingham, observes, that "what may have been the immediate or greatest motive of that felonious conception (the duke's assassination) is even yet in the clouds." After ascertaining that it was not private revenge, he seems to conclude that it was Dr. Eglisham's furious "libel," and the "remonstrance" of the parliament, which, having made the duke "one of the foulest monsters on earth," worked on the dark imagination of Felton.

From Felton's memorable example, and some similar ones, one observation occurs worth the notice of every minister of state who dares the popular odium he has raised. Such a minister will always be in present danger of a violent termination to his career; for however he may be convinced that there is not political virtue enough in a whole people to afford "the god-like stroke," he will always have to dread the arm of some melancholy enthusiast, whose mind, secretly agitated by the public indignation, directs itself solely on him. It was some time after having written this reflection, that I discovered the following notice of the Duke of Buckingham in the unpublished Life of Sir Symonds D'Ewes. "Some of his friends had advised him how generally he was hated in England, and how needful it would be for his greater safety to wear some coat of mail, or some other secret defensive armour, which the duke slighting, said, 'It needs not; there are no Roman spirits left.'"[246]

An account of the contemporary feelings which sympathised with Felton, and almost sanctioned the assassin's deed, I gather from the MS. letters of the times. The public mind, through a long state of discontent, had been prepared for, and not without an obscure expectation of, the mortal end of Buckingham. It is certain the duke received many warnings which he despised. The assassination kindled a tumult of joy throughout the nation, and a state-libel was written in strong characters in the faces of the people.[247] The passage of Felton to London, after the assassination, seemed a triumph. Now pitied, and now blessed, mothers held up their children to behold the saviour of the country; and an old woman exclaimed, as Felton passed her, with a scriptural allusion to his short stature, and the mightiness of Buckingham, "God bless thee, little David!" Felton was nearly sainted before he reached the metropolis. His health was the reigning toast among the republicans. A character, somewhat remarkable, Alexander Gill (usher under his father, Dr. Gill, master of St. Paul's school), who was the tutor of Milton, and his dear friend afterwards, and perhaps from whose impressions in early life Milton derived his vehement hatred of Charles, was committed by the Star-chamber, heavily fined, and sentenced to lose his ears,[248] on three charges, one of which arose from drinking a health to Felton. At Trinity College Gill said that the king was fitter to stand in a Cheapside shop, with an apron before him, and say, What lack ye? than to govern a kingdom; that the duke was gone down to hell to see king James; and drinking a health to Felton, added he was sorry Felton had deprived him of the honour of doing that brave act.[249] In the taste of that day, they contrived a political anagram of his name, to express the immovable self-devotion he showed after the assassination, never attempting to escape; and John Felton, for the nonce, was made to read,

Noh! flie not!

But while Felton's name was echoing through the kingdom, our new Brutus was at this moment exhibiting a piteous spectacle of remorse; so different often is the real person himself from the ideal personage of the public. The assassination, with him, was a sort of theoretical one, depending, as we shall show, on four propositions; so that when the king's attorney, as the attorney-general was then called, had furnished the unhappy criminal with an unexpected argument, which appeared to him to have overturned his, he declared that he had been in a mistake; and lamenting that he had not been aware of it before, from that instant his conscientious spirit sunk into despair. In the open court he stretched out his arm, offering it as the offending instrument to be first cut off; he requested the king's leave to wear sackcloth about his loins, to sprinkle ashes on his head, to carry a halter about his neck, in testimony of repentance; and that he might sink to the lowest point of contrition, he insisted on asking pardon not only of the duchess, the duke's mother, but even of the duke's scullion-boy; and a man naturally brave was seen always shedding tears, so that no one could have imagined that Felton had been "a stout soldier." These particulars were given by one of the divines who attended him, to the writer of the MS. letter.[250]

The character of Felton must not, however, be conceived from this agonising scene of contrition. Of melancholy and retired habits, and one of those thousand officers who had incurred disappointments, both in promotion and in arrears of pay, from the careless duke, he felt, perhaps, although he denied it, a degree of personal animosity towards him. A solitary man who conceives himself injured broods over his revenge. Felton once cut off a piece of his own finger, inclosing it in a challenge, to convince the person whom he addressed that he valued not endangering his whole body, provided it afforded him an opportunity of vengeance.[251] Yet with all this, such was his love of truth and rigid honour, that Felton obtained the nickname of "honest Jack," one which, after the assassination, became extremely popular through the nation. The religious enthusiasm of the times had also deeply possessed his mind, and that enthusiasm, as is well known, was of a nature that might easily occasion its votary to be mistaken for a republican.

Clarendon mentions that in his hat he had sewed a paper, in which were written a few lines of that remonstrance of the Commons, which appeared to him to sanction the act. I have seen a letter from Sir D. Carleton to the queen, detailing the particulars; his lordship was one of those who saved Felton from the swords of the military around him, who in their vexation for the loss of their general the duke, which they considered to be the end of the war, and their ruin, would have avenged themselves. But though Felton, in conversation with Sir D. Carleton, confessed that by reading the remonstrance of the parliament it came into his head, that in committing the act of killing the duke he should do his country a great good service; yet the paper sewed in his hat, thinking he might have fallen a victim in the attempt, was different from that described by Clarendon, and is thus preserved in this letter to the queen by Sir D. Carleton. "If I be slain, let no man condemn me, but rather condemn himself. Our hearts are hardened, and become senseless, or else he had not gone so long unpunished.[252] He is unworthy the name of a gentleman or soldier, in my opinion, that is afraid to sacrifice his life for the honour of God, his king, and country. JOHN FELTON".[253]

Felton's mind had however previously passed through a more evangelical process: four theological propositions struck the knife into the heart of the minister. The conscientious assassin, however, accompanied the fatal blow with a prayer to Heaven, to have mercy on the soul of the victim; and never was a man murdered with more gospel than the duke. The following curious document I have discovered in the MS. letter.

Propositions found in Felton's trunk, at the time he slew the duke.

"1. There is no alliance nearer to any one than his country.

"Except his God and his own soul, said the divines.

"2. The safety of the people is the chiefest law.

"Next to the law of God, said these divines.

"3. No law is more sacred than the safety and welfare of the commonwealth.

"Only God's law is more sacred, said the divines.

"4. God himself hath enacted this law, that all things that are for the good profit and benefit of the commonwealth should be lawful.

"The divines said, We must not do evil that good may come thereon."

The gradual rise in these extraordinary propositions, with the last sweeping one, which includes everything lawless as lawful for the common weal, was at least but feebly parried by the temperate divines, who, while they were so reasonably referring everything to God, wanted the vulgar curiosity to inquire, or the philosophical discernment to discover, that Felton's imagination was driving everything at the duke. Could they imagine that these were but subtle cobwebs, spun by a closet speculation on human affairs? In those troubled times did they not give a thought to the real object of these inquiries? or did they not care what befel a minion of the state?

There is one bright passage in the history of this unhappy man, who, when broken down in spirits, firmly asserted the rights of a Briton; and even the name of John Felton may fill a date in the annals of our constitutional freedom.

Felton was menaced with torture. Rushworth has noticed the fact, and given some imperfect notes of his speech, when threatened to be racked; but the following is not only more ample, but more important in its essential particulars. When Lord Dorset told him (says the MS. letter) "Mr. Felton, it is the king's pleasure that you should be put to the torture, to make you confess your accomplices, and therefore prepare yourself for the rack:"—Felton answered, "My lord, I do not believe that it is the king's pleasure, for he is a just and a gracious prince, and will not have his subjects tortured against law. I do affirm upon my salvation that my purpose was not known to any man living; but if it be his majesty's pleasure, I am ready to suffer whatever his majesty will have inflicted upon me. Yet this I must tell you, by the way, that if I be put upon the rack, I will accuse you, my lord of Dorset, and none but yourself."[254] This firm and sensible speech silenced them. A council was held; the judges were consulted; and on this occasion they came to a very unexpected decision, that "Felton ought not to be tortured by the rack, for no such punishment is known or allowed by our law." Thus the judges condemned what the government had constantly practised. Blackstone yields a fraternal eulogium to the honour of the judges on this occasion; but Hume more philosophically discovers the cause of this sudden tenderness. "So much more exact reasoners, with regard to law, had they become from the jealous scruples of the House of Commons." An argument which may be strengthened from cases which are unknown to the writers of our history. Not two years before the present one, a Captain Brodeman, one who had distinguished himself among the "bold speakers" concerning the king and the duke, had been sent to the Tower, and was reported to have expired on the rack; the death seems doubtful, but the fact of his having been racked is repeated in the MS. letters of the times. The rack has been more frequently used as a state engine than has reached the knowledge of our historians: secret have been the deadly embraces of the Duke of Exeter's daughter.[255] It was only by an original journal of the transactions in the Tower that Burnet discovered the racking of Anne Askew, a narrative of horror! James the First incidentally mentions in his account of the powder-plot that this rack was shown to Guy Fawkes during his examination; and yet under this prince, mild as his temper was, it had been used in a terrific manner.[256] Elizabeth but too frequently employed this engine of arbitrary power; once she had all the servants of the Duke of Norfolk tortured. I have seen in a MS. of the times heads of charges made against some members of the House of Commons in Elizabeth's reign, among which is one for having written against torturing! Yet Coke, the most eminent of our lawyers, extols the mercy of Elizabeth in the trials of Essex and Southampton, because she had not used torture against their accomplices or witnesses. Was it for the head of law itself, as Coke was, to extol the mercy of the sovereign for not violating the laws, for not punishing the subject by an illegal act? The truth is, lawyers are rarely philosophers; the history of the heart, read only in statutes and law cases, presents the worst side of human nature: they are apt to consider men as wild beasts; and they have never spoken with any great abhorrence of what they so erroneously considered a means of obtaining confession. Long after these times, Sir George Mackenzie, a great lawyer in the reign of James the Second, used torture in Scotland. We have seen how the manly spirit of Felton, and the scruples of the Commons, wrenched the hidden law from judges who had hitherto been too silent; and produced that unexpected avowal, which condemned all their former practices. But it was reserved for better times, when philosophy combining with law, enabled the genius of Blackstone to quote with admiration the exquisite ridicule of torture by Beccaria.

On a rumour that Felton was condemned to suffer torture, an effusion of poetry, the ardent breathings of a pure and youthful spirit, was addressed to the supposed political martyr, by Zouch Townley,[257] of the ancient family of the Townleys in Lancashire, to whose last descendant the nation owes the first public collection of ancient art.[258]

The poem I transcribe from a MS. copy of the time; it appears only to have circulated in that secret form, for the writer being summoned to the Star-chamber, and not willing to have any such poem addressed to himself, escaped to the Hague.

Enjoy thy bondage, make thy prison know
Thou hast a liberty, thou canst not owe
To those base punishments; keep't entire, since
Nothing but guilt shackles the conscience.
I dare not tempt thy valiant blood to whey,
Enfeebling it to pity; nor dare pray
Thy act may mercy finde, least thy great story
Lose somewhat of its miracle and glory.
I wish thy merit, laboured cruelty;
Stout vengeance best befits thy memory.
For I would have posterity to hear,
He that can bravely do, can bravely bear.
Tortures may seem great in a coward's eye;
It's no great thing to suffer, less to die.
Should all the clouds fall out, and in that strife,
Lightning and thunder send to take my life,
I would applaud the wisdom of my fate,
Which knew to value me at such a rate,
As at my fall to trouble all the sky,
Emptying upon me Jove's full armoury.
Serve in your sharpest mischiefs; use your rack,
Enlarge each joint, and make each sinew crack;
Thy soul before was straitened; thank thy doom,
To show her virtue she hath larger room.
Yet sure if every artery were broke,
Thou wouldst find strength for such another stroke.
And now I leave thee unto Death and Fame,
Which lives to shake Ambition with thy name;
And if it were not sin, the court by it
Should hourly swear before the favourite.
Farewell! for thy brave sake we shall not send
Henceforth commanders, enemies to defend;
Nor will it ever our just monarch please,
To keep an admiral to lose our seas.
Farewell! undaunted stand, and joy to be
Of public service the epitome.
Let the duke's name solace and crown thy thrall;
All we by him did suffer, thou for all!
And I dare boldly write, as thou dar'st die,
Stout Felton, England's ransom, here doth lie![259]

This is to be a great poet. Felton, who was celebrated in such elevated strains, was, at that moment, not the patriot but the penitent. In political history it frequently occurs that the man who accidentally has effectuated the purpose of a party, is immediately invested by them with all their favourite virtues; but in reality having acted from motives originally insignificant and obscure, his character may be quite the reverse they have made him; and such was that of our "honest Jack." Had Townley had a more intimate acquaintance with his Brutus, we might have lost a noble poem on a noble subject.


I shall preserve a literary curiosity, which perhaps is the only one of its kind. It is an original memorandum of Dr. Johnson's, of hints for the Life of Pope, written down, as they were suggested to his mind, in the course of his researches. The lines in Italics Johnson had scratched with red ink, probably after having made use of them. These notes should be compared with the Life itself. The youthful student will find some use, and the curious be gratified, in discovering the gradual labours of research and observation, and that art of seizing on those general conceptions which afterwards are developed by meditation and illustrated by genius. I once thought of accompanying these hints by the amplified and finished passages derived from them; but this is an amusement which the reader can contrive for himself. I have extracted the most material notes.

This fragment is a companion-piece to the engraved fac-simile of a page of Pope's Homer, in this volume.

That fac-simile, a minutely perfect copy of the manuscript, was not given to show the autograph of Pope,—a practice which has since so generally prevailed,—but to exhibit to the eye of the student the fervour and the diligence required in every work of genius. This could only be done by showing the state of the manuscript itself, with all its erasures, and even its half-formed lines; nor could this effect be produced by giving only some of the corrections, which Johnson had already, in printed characters. My notion has been approved of, because it was comprehended by writers of genius: yet this fac-simile has been considered as nothing more than an autograph by those literary blockheads, who, without taste and imagination, intruding into the province of literature, find themselves as awkward as a once popular divine, in his "Christian Life," assures us certain sinners would in paradise,—like "pigs in a drawing-room."


Nothing occasional.   No haste.   No rivals.   No compulsion.
Practised only one form of verse.   Facility from use.
Emulated former pieces.   Cooper's-hill.   Dryden's ode.
Affected to disdain flattery.   Not happy in his selection of patrons.
Cobham, Bolingbroke.[260]
Cibber's abuse will be better to him than a dose of hartshorn.
Poems long delayed.
Satire and praise late, alluding to something past.
He had always some poetical plan in his head.[261]
Echo to the sense.
Would not constrain himself too much.
Felicities of language.   Watts.[262]
Luxury of language.
Motives to study; want of health, want of money; helps to study; some small patrimony.
Prudent and frugal; pint of wine.


Amiable disposition—but he gives his own character. Elaborate. Think what to say—say what one thinks. Letter on sickness to Steele.
On Solitude. Ostentatious benevolence. Professions of sincerity.
Neglect of fame. Indifference about everything.
Sometimes gay and airy, sometimes sober and grave.
Too proud of living among the great. Probably forward to make acquaintance. No literary man ever talked so much of his fortune. Grotto. Importance. Post-office, letters open.
Cant of despising the world.
Affectation of despising poetry.
His easiness about the critics..
Something of foppery.
His letters to the ladies—pretty.
Abuse of Scripture—not all early.
Thoughts in his letters that are elsewhere.


Ramsay missed the fall of man.
Others the immortality of the soul. Address to our Saviour.
Excluded by Berkeley.
Bolingbroke's notions not understood.
Scale of Being turn it in prose.
Part and not the whole always said.
Conversation with Bol. R. 220.[263]
Bol. meant ill. Pope well.
Crousaz.   Resnel.   Warburton.
Good sense.   Luxurious—felicities of language.   Wall.
Loved labour—always poetry in his head.
Extreme sensibility.   Ill-health, headaches.
He never laughed.
No conversation.
No writings against Swift.
Parasitical epithets.   Six lines of Iliad.[264]
He used to set down what occurred of thoughts—a line—a couplet.
The humorous lines end sinner. Prunello.[265]
First line made for the sound, or v. versa. Foul lines in Jervas.
More notices of books early than late.


The line on Phillips borrowed from another poem.
Pope did not increase the difficulties of writing.


A new edition of Bayle in France is an event in literary history which could not have been easily predicted. Every work which creates an epoch in literature is one of the great monuments of the human mind; and Bayle may be considered as the father of literary curiosity, and of modern literature. Much has been alleged against our author: yet let us be careful to preserve what is precious. Bayle is the inventor of a work which dignified a collection of facts constituting his text, by the argumentative powers and the copious illustrations which charm us in his diversified commentary. Conducting the humble pursuits of an Aulus Gellius and an Athenæus with a high spirit, he showed us the philosophy of Books, and communicated to such limited researches a value which they had otherwise not possessed.

This was introducing a study perfectly distinct from what is pre-eminently distinguished as "classical learning," and the subjects which had usually entered into philological pursuits. Ancient literature, from century to century, had constituted the sole labours of the learned; and "variæ lectiones" were long their pride and their reward. Latin was the literary language of Europe. The vernacular idiom in Italy was held in such contempt that their youths were not suffered to read Italian books, their native productions. Varchi tells a curious anecdote of his father sending him to prison, where he was kept on bread and water, as a penance for his inveterate passion for reading Italian books! Dante was reproached by the Italians for composing in his mother-tongue, still expressed by the degrading designation of il volgare, which the "resolute" John Florio renders "to make common;" and to translate was contemptuously called volgarizzare. Petrarch rested his fame on his Latin poetry, and called his Italian nugellas vulgares! With us Roger Ascham was the first who boldly avowed "To speak as the common people, to think as wise men;" yet, so late as the time of Bacon, this great man did not consider his "Moral Essays" as likely to last in the moveable sands of a modern language, for he has anxiously had them sculptured in the marble of ancient Rome. Yet what had the great ancients themselves done, but trusted to their own volgare? The Greeks, the finest and most original writers of the ancients, observes Adam Ferguson, "were unacquainted with every language but their own; and if they became learned, it was only by studying what they themselves had produced."

During fourteen centuries, whatever lay out of the pale of classical learning was condemned as barbarism; in the meanwhile, however, amidst this barbarism, another literature was insensibly creating itself in Europe. Every people, in the gradual accessions of their vernacular genius, discovered a new sort of knowledge, one which more deeply interested their feelings and the times, reflecting the image, not of the Greeks and the Latins, but of themselves! A spirit of inquiry, originating in events which had never reached the ancient world, and the same refined taste in the arts of composition caught from the models of antiquity, at length raised up rivals, who competed with the great ancients themselves; and modern literature now occupies a space which appears as immensity, compared with the narrow and the imperfect limits of the ancient. A complete collection of classical works, all the bees of antiquity, may be hived in a glass-case; but those we should find only the milk and honey of our youth; to obtain the substantial nourishment of European knowledge, a library of ten thousand volumes will not avail nor satisfy our inquiries, nor supply our researches even on a single topic!

Let not, however, the votaries of ancient literature dread its neglect, nor be over-jealous of their younger and Gothic sister. The existence of their favourite study is secured, as well by its own imperishable claims, as by the stationary institutions of Europe. But one of those silent revolutions in the intellectual history of mankind, which are not so obvious as those in their political state, seems now fully accomplished. The very term "classical," so long limited to the ancient authors, is now equally applicable to the most elegant writers of every literary people; and although Latin and Greek were long characterised as "the learned languages," yet we cannot in truth any longer concede that those are the most learned who are "inter Græcos Græcissimi, inter Latinos Latinissimi," any more than we can reject from the class of "the learned," those great writers, whose scholarship in the ancient classics may he very indifferent. The modern languages now have also become learned ones, when he who writes in them is imbued with their respective learning. He is a "learned" writer who has embraced most knowledge on the particular subject of his investigation, as he is a "classical" one who composes with the greatest elegance. Sir David Dalrymple dedicates his "Memorials relating to the History of Britain" to the Earl of Hardwicke, whom he styles, with equal happiness and propriety, "Learned in British History." "Scholarship" has hitherto been a term reserved for the adept in ancient literature, whatever may be the mediocrity of his intellect; but the honourable distinction must be extended to all great writers in modern literature, if we would not confound the natural sense and propriety of things.

Modern literature may, perhaps, still be discriminated from the ancient, by a term it began to be called by at the Reformation, that of "the New Learning." Without supplanting the ancient, the modern must grow up with it; the farther we advance in society, it will more deeply occupy our interests; and it has already proved what Bacon, casting his philosophical views retrospectively and prospectively, has observed, "that Time is the greatest of innovators."

When Bayle projected his "Critical Dictionary," he probably had no idea that he was about effecting a revolution in our libraries, and founding a new province in the dominion of human knowledge; creative genius often is itself the creature of its own age: it is but that reaction of public opinion, which is generally the forerunner of some critical change, or which calls forth some want which sooner or later will be supplied. The predisposition for the various but neglected literature, and the curious but the scattered knowledge of the moderns, which had long been increasing, with the speculative turn of inquiry, prevailed in Europe when Bayle took his pen to give the thing itself a name and an existence. But the great authors of modern Europe were not consecrated beings, like the ancients, and their volumes were not read from the chairs of universities; yet the new interests which had arisen in society, the new modes of human life, the new spread of knowledge, the curiosity after even the little things which concern us, the revelations of secret history, and the state-papers which have sometimes escaped from national archives, the philosophical spirit which was hastening its steps and raising up new systems of thinking; all alike required research and criticism, inquiry and discussion. Bayle had first studied his own age before he gave the public his great work.

"If Bayle," says Gibbon, "wrote his Dictionary to empty the various collections he had made, without any particular design, he could not have chosen a better plan. It permitted him everything, and obliged him to nothing. By the double freedom of a dictionary and of notes, he could pitch on what articles he pleased, and say what he pleased in those articles."

"Jacta est alea!" exclaimed Bayle, on the publication of his Dictionary, as yet dubious of the extraordinary enterprise; perhaps, while going on with the work, he knew not at times whither he was directing his course; but we must think that in his own mind he counted on something which might have been difficult even for Bayle himself to have developed. The author of the "Critical Dictionary" had produced a voluminous labour, which, to all appearance, could only rank him among compilers and reviewers, for his work is formed of such materials as they might use. He had never studied any science; he confessed that he could never demonstrate the first problem in Euclid, and to his last day ridiculed that sort of evidence called mathematical demonstration. He had but little taste for classical learning, for he quotes the Latin writers curiously, not elegantly; and there is reason to suspect that he had entirely neglected the Greek. Even the erudition of antiquity usually reached him by the ready medium of some German commentator. His multifarious reading was chiefly confined to the writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. With such deficiencies in his literary character, Bayle could not reasonably expect to obtain pre-eminence in any single pursuit. Hitherto his writings had not extricated him from the secondary ranks of literature, where he found a rival at every step; and without his great work, the name of Bayle at this moment had been buried among his controversialists, the rabid Jurieu, the cloudy Jacquelot, and the envious Le Clerc; to these, indeed, he sacrificed too many of his valuable days, and was still answering them at the hour of his death. Such was the cloudy horizon of that bright fame which was to rise over Europe! Bayle, intent on escaping from all beaten tracks, while the very materials he used promised no novelty, for all his knowledge was drawn from old books, opened an eccentric route, where at least he could encounter no parallel; Bayle felt that if he could not stand alone, he would only have been an equal by the side of another. Experience had more than once taught this mortifying lesson; but he was blest with the genius which could stamp an inimitable originality on a folio.

This originality seems to have been obtained in this manner. The exhausted topics of classical literature he resigned as a province not adapted to an ambitious genius; sciences he rarely touched on, and hardly ever without betraying superficial knowledge, and involving himself in absurdity: but in the history of men, in penetrating the motives of their conduct, in clearing up obscure circumstances, in detecting the strong and the weak parts of him whom he was trying, and in the cross-examination of the numerous witnesses he summoned, he assumed at once the judge and the advocate! Books are for him pictures of men's inventions, and the histories of their thoughts; any book, whatever be its quality, must be considered as an experiment of the human mind.

In controversies, in which he was so ambidextrous—in the progress of the human mind, in which he was so philosophical—furnished, too, by his hoarding curiosity with an immense accumulation, of details,—skilful in the art of detecting falsehoods amidst truths, and weighing probability against uncertainty—holding together the chain of argument from its first principles to its remotest consequence—Bayle stands among those masters of the human intellect who taught us to think, and also to unthink! All, indeed, is a collection of researches and of reasonings: he had the art of melting down his curious quotations with his own subtile ideas. He collects everything; if truths, they enter into his history; if fictions, into discussions; he places the secret by the side of the public story; opinion is balanced against opinion: if his arguments grow tedious, a lucky anecdote or an enlivening tale relieves the folio page; and knowing the infirmity of our nature, he picks up trivial things to amuse us, while he is grasping the most abstract and ponderous. Human nature in her shifting scenery, and the human mind in its eccentric directions, open on his view; so that an unknown person, or a worthless book, are equally objects for his speculation with the most eminent—they alike curiously instruct. Such were the materials, and such the genius of the man, whose folios, which seem destined for the retired few, lie open on our parlour tables. The men of genius of his age studied them for instruction, the men of the world for their amusement. Amidst the mass of facts which he has collected, and the enlarged views of human nature which his philosophical spirit has combined with his researches, Bayle may be called the Shakspeare of dictionary makers; a sort of chimerical being, whose existence was not imagined to be possible before the time of Bayle.

But his errors are voluminous as his genius! and what do apologies avail? Apologies only account for the evil which they cannot alter!

Bayle is reproached for carrying his speculations too far into the wilds of scepticism—he wrote in distempered times; he was witnessing the dragonades and the révocations of the Romish church; and he lived amidst the Reformed, or the French prophets, as we called them when they came over to us, and in whom Sir Isaac Newton more than half believed. These testify that they had heard angels singing in the air, while our philosopher was convinced that he was living among men for whom no angel would sing! Bayle had left persecutors to fly to fanatics, both equally appealing to the Gospel, but alike untouched by its blessedness! His impurities were a taste inherited from his favourite old writers, whose naïveté seemed to sport with the grossness which it touched, and neither in France nor at home had the age then attained to our moral delicacy: Bayle himself was a man without passions! His trivial matters were an author's compliance with his bookseller's taste, which is always that of the public. His scepticism is said to have thrown everything into disorder. Is it a more positive evil to doubt than to dogmatise? Even Aristotle often pauses with a qualified perhaps, and the egotist Cicero with a modest it seems to me. Bayle's scepticism has been useful in history, and has often shown how facts universally believed are doubtful, and sometimes must be false. Bayle, it is said, is perpetually contradicting himself; but a sceptic must doubt his doubts; he places the antidote close to the poison, and lays the sheath by the sword. Bayle has himself described one of those self-tormenting and many-headed sceptics by a very noble figure, "He was a hydra who was perpetually tearing himself."

The time has now come when Bayle may instruct without danger. We have passed the ordeals he had to go through; we must now consider him as the historian of our thoughts as well as of our actions; he dispenses the literary stores of the moderns, in that vast repository of their wisdom and their follies, which, by its originality of design, has made him an author common to all Europe. Nowhere shall we find a rival for Bayle! and hardly even an imitator! He compared himself, for his power of raising up, or dispelling objections and doubts, to "the cloud-compelling Jove." The great Leibnitz, who was himself a lover of his varia eruditio, applied a line of Virgil to Bayle, characterising his luminous and elevated genius:—

Sub pedibusque videt nubes et sidera Daphnis.
Beneath his feet he views the clouds and stars!


To know Bayle as a man, we must not study him in the folio Life of Des Maizeaux, whose laborious pencil, without colour and without expression, loses, in its indistinctness, the individualising strokes of the portrait. Look for Bayle in his "Letters," those true chronicles of a literary man, when they record his own pursuits.

The personal character of Bayle was unblemished even by calumny; his executor, Basnage, never could mention him without tears! With simplicity which approached to an infantine nature, but with the fortitude of a stoic, our literary philosopher, from his earliest days, dedicated himself to literature; the great sacrifice consisted of those two main objects of human pursuits, fortune and a family. Many an ascetic, who has headed an order, has not so religiously abstained from all worldly interests; yet let us not imagine that there was a sullenness in his stoicism,—an icy misanthropy, which shuts up the heart from its ebb and flow. His domestic affections through life were fervid. When his mother desired to receive his portrait, he opened for her a picture of his heart! Early in life the mind of Bayle was strengthening itself by a philosophical resignation to all human events!

"I am indeed of a disposition neither to fear bad fortune nor to have very ardent desires for good. Yet I lose this steadiness and indifference when I reflect that your love to me makes you feel for everything that happens to me. It is therefore from the consideration that my misfortunes would be a torment to you, that I wish to be happy; and when I think that my happiness would be all your joy, I should lament that my bad fortune should continue to persecute me; though, as to my own particular interest, I dare promise to myself that I shall never be very much affected by it."

An instance occurred of those social affections in which a stoic is sometimes supposed to be deficient, which might have afforded a beautiful illustration to one of our most elegant poets. The remembrance of the happy moments which Bayle spent when young on the borders of the river Auriège, a short distance from his native town of Carlat, where he had been sent to recover from a fever occasioned by an excessive indulgence in reading, induced him many years afterwards to devote an article to it in his "Critical Dictionary," for the sake of quoting the poet who had celebrated this obscure river. It was a "Pleasure of Memory!" a tender association of domestic feeling!

The first step which Bayle took in life is remarkable. He changed his religion and became a catholic. A year afterwards he returned to the creed of his fathers. Posterity might not have known the story, had it not been recorded in his Diary. The circumstance is thus curiously stated:—


Years of the            Years

Christian              of my

Æra                  age.

1669. Tues., Mar. 19.  22. I changed my religion—next day I resumed

the study of logic.

1670.        Aug. 20.  23. I returned to the reformed religion, and

made a private abjuration of the Romish

religion, in the hands of four ministers.

His brother was one of these ministers; while a catholic, Bayle had attempted to convert him, by a letter long enough to evince his sincerity; but without his subscription we should not have ascribed it to Bayle.

For this vacillation in his religion has Bayle endured bitter censure. Gibbon, who himself changed his about the same "year of his age," and for as short a period, sarcastically observes of the first entry, that "Bayle should have finished his logic before he changed his religion." It may be retorted, that when he had learnt to reason, he renounced Catholicism. The true fact is, that when Bayle had only studied a few months at college, some books of controversial divinity by the catholics offered many a specious argument against the reformed doctrines. A young student was easily entangled in the nets of the Jesuits. But their passive obedience, and their transubstantiation, and other stuff woven in their looms, soon enabled such a man as Bayle to recover his senses. The promises and the caresses of the wily Jesuits were rejected; and the gush of tears of the brothers, on his return to the religion of his fathers, is one of the most pathetic incidents of domestic life.

Bayle was willing to become an expatriated man; to study, from the love of study, in poverty and honour! It happens sometimes that great men are criminated for their noblest deeds by both parties.

When his great work appeared, the adversaries of Bayle reproached him with haste, while the author expressed his astonishment at his slowness. At first, "The Critical Dictionary," consisting only of two folios, was finished in little more than four years; but in the life of Bayle this was equivalent to a treble amount with men of ordinary application. Bayle even calculated the time of his headaches: "My megrims would have left me had it been in my power to have lived without study; by them I lose many days in every month." The fact is, that Bayle had entirely given up every sort of recreation except that delicious inebriation of his faculties, as we may term it for those who know what it is, which he drew from his books. We have his avowal: "Public amusements, games, country jaunts, morning visits, and other recreations necessary to many students, as they tell us, were none of my business. I wasted no time on them, nor in any domestic cares,—never soliciting for preferment, nor busied in any other way. I have been happily delivered from many occupations which were not suitable to my humour; and I have enjoyed the greatest and the most charming leisure that a man of letters could desire. By such means an author makes a great progress in a few years."

Bayle, at Rotterdam, was appointed to a professorship of philosophy and history; the salary was a competence to his frugal life, and enabled him to publish his celebrated Review, which he dedicates "to the glory of the city," for illa nobis hæc otia fecit.

After this grateful acknowledgment, he was unexpectedly deprived of the professorship. The secret history is curious. After a tedious war, some one amused the world by a chimerical "Project of Peace," which was much against the wishes and the designs of our William the Third. Jurieu, the head of the Reformed party in Holland, a man of heated fancies, persuaded William's party that this book was a part of a secret cabal in Europe, raised by Louis the Fourteenth against William the Third; and accused Bayle as the author and promoter of this political confederacy. The magistrates, who were the creatures of William, dismissed Bayle without alleging any reason. To an ordinary philosopher it would have seemed hard to lose his salary because his antagonist was one

Whose sword is sharper than his pen.

Bayle only rejoiced at this emancipation, and quietly returned to his Dictionary. His feelings on this occasion he has himself perpetuated.

"The sweetness and repose I find in the studies in which I have engaged myself, and which are my delight, will induce me to remain in this city, if I am allowed to continue in it, at least till the printing of my Dictionary is finished; for my presence is absolutely necessary in the place where it is printed. I am no lover of money, nor of honours, and would not accept of any invitation should it be made to me; nor am I fond of the disputes, and cabals, and professorial snarlings which reign in all our academies: Canam mihi et Musis." He was indeed so charmed by quiet and independence, that he was continually refusing the most magnificent offers of patronage, from Count Guiscard, the French ambassador; but particularly from our English nobility. The Earls of Shaftesbury, of Albemarle, and of Huntingdon tried every solicitation to win him over to reside with them as their friend; and too nice a sense of honour induced Bayle to refuse the Duke of Shrewsbury's gift of two hundred guineas for the dedication of his Dictionary. "I have so often ridiculed dedications that I must not risk any," was the reply of our philosopher.

The only complaint which escaped from Bayle was the want of books; an evil particularly felt during his writing the "Critical Dictionary;" a work which should have been composed not distant from the shelves of a public library. Men of classical attainments, who are studying about twenty authors, and chiefly for their style, can form no conception of the state of famine to which an "helluo librorum" is too often reduced in the new sort of study which Bayle founded. Taste when once obtained may be said to be no acquiring faculty, and must remain stationary; but knowledge is of perpetual growth, and has infinite demands. Taste, like an artificial canal, winds through a beautiful country; but its borders are confined, and its term is limited. Knowledge navigates the ocean, and is perpetually on voyages of discovery. Bayle often grieves over the scarcity, or the want of books, by which he was compelled to leave many things uncertain, or to take them at second-hand; but he lived to discover that trusting to the reports of others was too often suffering the blind to lead the blind. It was this circumstance which induced Bayle to declare, that some works cannot be written in the country, and that the metropolis only can supply the wants of the literary man. Plutarch has made a similar confession; and the elder Pliny, who had not so many volumes to turn over as a modern, was sensible to the want of books, for he acknowledges that there was no book so bad by which we might not profit.

Bayle's peculiar vein of research and skill in discussion first appeared in his "Pensées sur la Comète." In December, 1680, a comet had appeared, and the public yet trembled at a portentous meteor, which they still imagined was connected with some forthcoming and terrible event! Persons as curious as they were terrified teased Bayle by their inquiries, but resisted all his arguments. They found many things more than arguments in his amusing volumes: "I am not one of the authors by profession," says Bayle, in giving an account of the method he meant to pursue, "who follow a series of views; who first project their subject, then divide it into books and chapters, and who only choose to work on the ideas they have planned. I for my part give up all claims to authorship, and shall chain myself to no such servitude. I cannot meditate with much regularity on one subject; I am too fond of change. I often wander from the subject, and jump into places of which it might be difficult to guess the way out; so that I shall make a learned doctor who looks for method quite impatient with me." The work is indeed full of curiosities and anecdotes, with many critical ones concerning history. At first it found an easy entrance into France, as a simple account of comets; but when it was discovered that Bayle's comet had a number of fiery tales concerning the French and the Austrians, it soon became as terrific as the comet itself, and was prohibited!

Bayle's "Critique générale de l'Histoire du Calvinisme par le Père Maimbourg," had more pleasantry than bitterness, except to the palate of the vindictive Father, who was of too hot a constitution to relish the delicacy of our author's wit. Maimbourg stirred up all the intrigues he could rouse to get the Critique burnt by the hangman at Paris. The lieutenant of the police, De la Reynie, who was among the many who did not dislike to see the Father corrected by Bayle, delayed this execution from time to time, till there came a final order. This lieutenant of the police was a shrewd fellow, and wishing to put an odium on the bigoted Maimbourg, allowed the irascible Father to write the proclamation himself with all the violence of an enraged author. It is a curious specimen of one who evidently wished to burn his brother with his book. In this curious proclamation, which has been preserved as a literary curiosity, Bayle's "Critique" is declared to be defamatory and calumnious, abounding with seditious forgeries, pernicious to all good subjects, and therefore is condemned to be torn to pieces, and burnt at the Place de Grêve. All printers and booksellers are forbidden to print, or to sell, or disperse the said abominable book, under pain of death; and all other persons, of what quality or condition soever, are to undergo the penalty of exemplary punishment. De la Reynie must have smiled on submissively receiving this effusion from our enraged author; and to punish Maimbourg in the only way he could contrive, and to do at the same time the greatest kindness to Bayle, whom he admired, he dispersed three thousand copies of this proclamation to be posted up through Paris; the alarm and the curiosity were simultaneous; but the latter prevailed. Every book collector hastened to procure a copy so terrifically denounced, and at the same time so amusing. The author of the "Livres condamnés au Feu" might have inserted this anecdote in his collection. It may be worth adding, that Maimbourg always affected to say that he had never read Bayle's work, but he afterwards confessed to Menage, that he could not help valuing a book of such curiosity. Jurieu was so jealous of its success, that Beauval attributes his personal hatred of Bayle to our young philosopher overshadowing that veteran.

The taste for literary history we owe to Bayle; and the great interest he communicated to these researches spread in the national tastes of Europe. France has been always the richest in these stores, but our acquisitions have been rapid; and Johnson, who delighted in them, elevated their means and their end, by the ethical philosophy and the spirit of criticism which he awoke. With Bayle, indeed, his minor works were the seed-plots; but his great Dictionary opened the forest.

It is curious, however, to detect the difficulties of early attempts, and the indifferent success which sometimes attends them in their first state. Bayle, to lighten the fatigue of correcting the second edition of his Dictionary, wrote the first volume of "Réponses aux Questions d'un Provincial," a supposititious correspondence with a country gentleman. It was a work of mere literary curiosity, and of a better description of miscellaneous writing than that of the prevalent fashion of giving thoughts and maxims, and fanciful characters, and idle stories, which had satiated the public taste: however, the book was not well received. He attributes the public caprice to his prodigality of literary anecdotes, and other minutiæ literariæ, and his frequent quotations! but he defends himself with skill: "It is against the nature of things to pretend that in a work to prove and clear up facts, an author should only make use of his own thoughts, or that he ought to quote very seldom. Those who say that the work does not sufficiently interest the public, are doubtless in the right; but an author cannot interest the public except he discusses moral or political subjects. All others with which men of letters fill their books are useless to the public; and we ought to consider them as only a kind of frothy nourishment in themselves; but which, however, gratify the curiosity of many readers, according to the diversity of their tastes. What is there, for example, less interesting to the public than the Bibliothèque Choisie of Colomiés (a small bibliographical work); yet is that work looked on as excellent in its kind. I could mention other works which are read, though containing nothing which interests the public." Two years after, when he resumed these letters, he changed his plan; he became more argumentative, and more sparing of literary and historical articles. We have now certainly obtained more decided notions of the nature of this species of composition, and treat such investigations with more skill; still they are "caviare to the general." An accumulation of dry facts, without any exertion of taste or discussion, forms but the barren and obscure diligence of title-hunters. All things which come to the reader without having first passed through the mind, as well as the pen of the writer, will be still open to the fatal objection of insane industry raging with a depraved appetite for trash and cinders; and this is the line of demarcation which will for ever separate a Bayle from a Prosper Marchand, and a Warton from a Ritson; the one must be satisfied to be useful, but the other will not fail to delight. Yet something must be alleged in favour of those who may sometimes indulge researches too minutely; perhaps there is a point beyond which nothing remains but useless curiosity; yet this too may be relative. The pleasure of these pursuits is only tasted by those who are accustomed to them, and whose employments are thus converted into amusements. A man of fine genius, Addison relates, trained up in all the polite studies of antiquity, upon being obliged to search into several rolls and records, at first found this a very dry and irksome employment; yet he assured me, that at last he took an incredible pleasure in it, and preferred it even to the reading of Virgil and Cicero.

As for our Bayle, he exhibits a perfect model of the real literary character. He, with the secret alchymy of human happiness, extracted his tranquillity out of the baser metals, at the cost of his ambition and his fortune. Throughout a voluminous work, he experienced the enjoyment of perpetual acquisition and delight; he obtained glory, and he endured persecution. He died as he had lived, in the same uninterrupted habits of composition; for with his dying hand, and nearly speechless, he sent a fresh proof to the printer!


Fuseli, in the introduction to the second part of his Lectures, has touched on the character of Cicero, respecting his knowledge and feeling of Art, in a manner which excites our curiosity. "Though Cicero seems to have had as little native taste for painting and sculpture, and even less than he had taste for poetry, he had a conception of Nature, and with his usual acumen frequently scattered useful hints and pertinent observations. For many of these he might probably be indebted to Hortensius, with whom, though his rival in eloquence, he lived on terms of familiarity, and who was a man of declared taste, and one of the first collectors of the time." We may trace the progress of Cicero's taste for the works of art. It was probably a late, though an ardent pursuit; and their actual enjoyment seems with this celebrated man rather to have been connected with some future plan of life.

Cicero, when about forty-three years of age, seems to have projected the formation of a library and a collection of antiquities, with the remote intention of secession, and one day stealing away from the noisy honours of the republic. Although that great man remained too long a victim to his political ambition, yet at all times his natural dispositions would break out, and amidst his public avocations he often anticipated a time when life would be unvalued without uninterrupted repose; but repose, destitute of the ample furniture, and even of the luxuries of a mind occupying itself in literature and art, would only for him have opened the repose of a desert! It was rather his provident wisdom than their actual enjoyment, which induced him, at a busied period of his life, to accumulate from all parts books, and statues, and curiosities without number; in a word, to become, according to the term, too often misapplied and misconceived among us, for it is not always understood in an honourable sense, a COLLECTOR!

Like other late collectors, Cicero often appears ardent to possess what he was not able to command; sometimes he entreats, or circuitously negotiates, or is planning the future means to secure the acquisitions which he thirsted after. He is repeatedly soliciting his literary friend Atticus to keep his books for him, and not to dispose of his collections on any terms, however earnestly the bidders may crowd; and, to keep his patience in good hope (for Atticus imagined his collection would exceed the price which Cicero could afford), he desires Atticus not to despair of his being able to make them his, for that he was saving all his rents to purchase these books for the relief of his old age.

This projected library and collection of antiquities it was the intention of Cicero to have placed in his favourite villa in the neighbourhood of Rome, whose name, consecrated by time, now proverbially describes the retirement of a man of elegant taste. To adorn his villa at Tusculum formed the day-dreams of this man of genius; and his passion broke out in all the enthusiasm and impatience which so frequently characterise the modern collector. Not only Atticus, on whose fine taste he could depend, but every one likely to increase his acquisitions was Cicero persecuting with entreaties on entreaties, with the seduction of large prices, and with the expectation, that if the orator and consul would submit to accept any bribe, it would hardly be refused in the shape of a manuscript or a statue. "In the name of our friendship," says Cicero, addressing Atticus, "suffer nothing to escape you of whatever you find curious or rare." When Atticus informed him that he should send him a fine statue, in which the heads of Mercury and Minerva were united together, Cicero, with the enthusiasm of a maniacal lover of the present day, finds every object which is uncommon the very thing for which he has a proper place. "Your discovery is admirable, and the statue you mention seems to have been made purposely for my cabinet." Then follows an explanation of the mystery of this allegorical statue, which expressed the happy union of exercise and study. "Continue," he adds, "to collect for me as you have promised, in as great a quantity as possible, morsels of this kind." Cicero, like other collectors, may be suspected not to have been very difficult in his choice, and for him the curious was not less valued than the beautiful. The mind and temper of Cicero were of a robust and philosophical cast, not too subject to the tortures of those whose morbid imagination and delicacy of taste touch on infirmity. It is, however, amusing to observe this great man, actuated by all the fervour and joy of collecting. "I have paid your agent, as you ordered, for the Megaric statues; send me as many of them as you can, and as soon as possible, with any others which you think proper for the place, and to my taste, and good enough to please yours. You cannot imagine how greatly my passion increases for this sort of things; it is such that it may appear ridiculous in the eyes of many; but you are my friend, and will only think of satisfying my wishes." Again—"Purchase for me, without thinking farther, all that you discover of rarity. My friend, do not spare my purse." And, indeed, in another place he loves Atticus both for his promptitude and cheap purchases: Te multum amamus, quod ea abs te diligenter, parvoque curata sunt.

Our collectors may not be displeased to discover at their head so venerable a personage as Cicero; nor to sanction their own feverish thirst and panting impatience with all the raptures on the day of possession, and the "saving of rents" to afford commanding prices—by the authority of the greatest philosopher of antiquity.

A fact is noticed in this article which requires elucidation. In the life of a true collector, the selling of his books is a singular incident. The truth is, that the elegant friend of Cicero, residing in the literary city of Athens, appears to have enjoyed but a moderate income, and may be said to have traded not only in books, but in gladiators, whom he let out, and also charged interest for the use of his money; circumstances which Cornelius Nepos, who gives an account of his landed property, has omitted, as, perhaps, not well adapted to heighten the interesting picture which he gives of Atticus, but which the Abbé Mongault has detected in his curious notes on Cicero's letters to Atticus. It is certain that he employed his slaves, who, "to the foot-boy," as Middleton expresses himself, were all literary and skilful scribes, in copying the works of the best authors for his own use: but the duplicates were sold, to the common profit of the master and the slave. The state of literature among the ancients may be paralleled with that of the age of our first restorers of learning, when printing was not yet established; then Boccaccio and Petrarch, and such men, were collectors, and zealously occupied in the manual labour of transcription; immeasurable was the delight of that avariciousness of manuscript, by which, in a certain given time, the possessor, with an unwearied pen, could enrich himself by his copy: and this copy an estate would not always purchase! Besides that a manuscript selected by Atticus, or copied by the hand of Boccaccio and Petrarch, must have risen in value, associating it with the known taste and judgment of the COLLECTOR.


The congenial histories of literature and of art are accompanied by the same periodical revolutions; and none is more interesting than that one which occurs in the decline and corruption of arts, when a single mind returning to right principles, amidst the degenerated race who had forsaken them, seems to create a new epoch, and teaches a servile race once more how to invent! These epochs are few, but are easily distinguished. The human mind is never stationary; it advances or it retrogrades: having reached its meridian point, when the hour of perfection has gone by, it must verge to its decline. In all Art, perfection lapses into that weakened state too often dignified as classical imitation; but it sinks into mannerism, and wantons into affectation, till it shoots out into fantastic novelties. When all languishes in a state of mediocrity, or is deformed by false tastes, then is reserved for a fortunate genius the glory of restoring another golden age of invention. The history of the Caracci family serves as an admirable illustration of such an epoch, while the personal characters of the three Caracci throw an additional interest over this curious incident in the history of the works of genius.

The establishment of the famous accademia, or school of painting, at Bologna, which restored the art in the last stage of degeneracy, originated in the profound meditations of Lodovico. There was a happy boldness in the idea; but its great singularity was that of discovering those men of genius, who alone could realise his ideal conception, amidst his own family circle; and yet these were men whose opposite dispositions and acquirements could hardly have given any hope of mutual assistance; and much, less of melting together their minds and their work in such an unity of conception and execution, that even to our days they leave the critics undetermined which of the Caracci to prefer; each excelling the other in some pictorial quality. Often combining together in the same picture, the mingled labour of three painters seemed to proceed from one palette, as their works exhibit which adorn the churches of Bologna. They still dispute about a picture, to ascertain which of the Caracci painted it; and still one prefers Lodovico for his grandiosità, another Agostino for his invention, and another Annibale for his vigour or his grace.[266]

What has been told of others, happened to Lodovico Caracci in his youth; he struggled with a mind tardy in its conceptions, so that he gave no indications of talent; and was apparently so inept as to have been advised by two masters to be satisfied to grind the colours he ought not otherwise to meddle with. Tintoretto, from friendship, exhorted him to change his trade. "This sluggishness of intellect did not proceed," observes the sagacious Lanzi, "from any deficiency, but from the depth of his penetrating mind: early in life he dreaded the ideal as a rock on which so many of his contemporaries had been shipwrecked." His hand was not blest with precocious facility, because his mind was unsettled about truth itself; he was still seeking for nature, which he could not discover in those wretched mannerists, who, boasting of their freedom and expedition in their bewildering tastes, which they called the ideal, relied on the diplomas and honours obtained by intrigue or purchase, which sanctioned their follies in the eyes of the multitude. "Lodovico," says Lanzi, "would first satisfy his own mind on every line; he would not paint till painting well became a habit, and till habit produced facility."

Lodovico then sought in other cities for what he could not find at Bologna. Ho travelled to inspect the works of the elder masters; he meditated on all their details; he penetrated to the very thoughts of the great artists, and grew intimate with their modes of conception and execution. The true principles of art were collected together in his own mind,—the rich fruits of his own studies,—and these first prompted him to invent a new school of painting.[267]

Returning to Bologna, he found his degraded brothers in art still quarrelling about the merits of the old and the new school, and still exulting in their vague conceptions and expeditious methods. Lodovico, who had observed all, had summed up his principle in one grand maxim,—that of combining a close observation of nature with the imitation of the great masters, modifying both, however, by the disposition of the artist himself. Such was the simple idea and the happy project of Lodovico! Every perfection seemed to have been obtained: the Raffaeleschi excelled in the ideal; the Michelagnuoleschi in the anatomical; the Venetian and the Lombard schools in brilliant vivacity or philosophic gravity. All seemed preoccupied; but the secret of breaking the bonds of servile imitation was a new art: of mingling into one school the charms of every school, adapting them with freedom; and having been taught by all, to remain a model for all; or, as Lanzi expresses it, dopo avere appresso da tutte insegnò a tutte. To restore Art in its decline, Lodovico pressed all the sweets from all the flowers; or, melting together all his rich materials, formed one Corinthian brass. This school is described by Du Fresnoy in the character of Annibale,

—— Quos sedulus Hannibal omnes
In PROPRIAM MENTEM atque morem mirâ arte COEGIT.

Paraphrased by Mason,

From all their charms combined, with happy toil,
Did Annibal compose his wondrous style;
O'er the fair fraud so close a veil is thrown,
That every borrow'd grace becomes his own.[268]

Lodovico perceived that he could not stand alone in the breach, and single-handed encounter an impetuous multitude. He thought of raising up a party among those youthful aspirants who had not yet been habitually depraved. He had a brother whose talent could never rise beyond a poor copyist's, and him he had the judgment, unswayed by undue partiality, to account as a cipher; but he found two of his cousins men capable of becoming as extraordinary as himself.

These brothers, Agostiuo and Annibale, first by nature, and then by their manners and habits, were of the most opposite dispositions. Born amidst humble occupations, their father was a tailor, and Annibale was still working on the paternal board, while Agostino was occupied by the elegant works of the goldsmith, whence he acquired the fine art of engraving, in which he became the Marc Antonio of his time. Their manners, perhaps, resulted from their trades. Agostino was a man of science and literature: a philosopher and poet of the most polished elegance, the most enchanting conversation, far removed from the vulgar, he became the companion of the learned and the noble. Annibale could scarcely write and read; an inborn ruggedness made him sullen, taciturn, or, if he spoke, sarcastic; scorn and ridicule were his bitter delight. Nature had strangely made these brothers little less than enemies. Annibale despised his brother for having entered into the higher circles; he ridiculed his refined manners, and even the neat elegance of his dress. To mortify Agostino, one day he sent him a portrait of their father threading a needle, and their mother cutting out the cloth, to remind him, as he once whispered in Agostino's ear, when he met him walking with a nobleman, "not to forget that they were sons of a poor tailor!"[269] The same contrast existed in the habits of their mind. Agostino was slow to resolve, difficult to satisfy himself; he was for polishing and maturing everything: Annibale was too rapid to suffer any delay, and, often evading the difficulties of the art, loved to do much in a short time. Lodovico soon perceived their equal and natural aptitude for art; and placing Agostino under a master who was celebrated for his facility of execution, he fixed Annibale in his own study, where his cousin might be taught by observation the Festina lente; how the best works are formed by a leisurely haste. Lodovico seems to have adopted the artifice of Isocrates in his management of two pupils, of whom he said that the one was to be pricked on by the spur, and the other kept in by the rein.

But a new difficulty arose in the attempt to combine together such incongruous natures; the thoughtful Lodovico, intent on the great project of the reformation of the art, by his prudence long balanced their unequal tempers, and with that penetration which so strongly characterises his genius, directed their distinct talents to his one great purpose. From the literary Agostino he obtained the philosophy of critical lectures and scientific principles; invention and designing solely occupied Annibale; while the softness of contours, lightness and grace, were his own acquisition. But though Annibale presumptuously contemned the rare and elevated talents of Agostino, and scarcely submitted to copy the works of Lodovico, whom he preferred to rival, yet, according to a traditional rumour which Lanzi records, it was Annibale's decision of character which enabled him, as it were unperceived, to become the master over his cousin and his brother; Lodovico and Agostino long hesitated to oppose the predominant style, in their first Essays; Annibale hardly decided to persevere in opening their new career by opposing "works to voices;" and to the enervate labours of their wretched rivals, their own works, warm in vigour and freshness, conducted on the principles of nature and art.

The Caracci not only resolved to paint justly, but to preserve the art itself, by perpetuating the perfect taste of the true style among their successors. In their own house they opened an Accademia, calling it degli Incaminati, "the opening a new way," or "the beginners." The academy was furnished with casts, drawings, prints, a school for anatomy, and for the living figure; receiving all comers with kindness; teaching gratuitously, and, as it is said, without jealousy; but too many facts are recorded to allow us to credit the banishment of this infectious passion from the academy of the Caracci, who, like other congregated artists, could not live together and escape their own endemial fever.

It was here, however, that Agostino found his eminence as the director of their studies; delivering lectures on architecture and perspective, and pointing out from his stores of history and fable subjects for the designs of their pupils, who, on certain days exhibited their works to the most skilful judges, adjusting the merits by their decisions. "To the crowned sufficient is the prize of the glory," says Lanzi; and while the poets chanted their praises, the lyre of Agostino himself gratefully celebrated the progress of his pupils. A curious sonnet has been transmitted to us, where Agostino, like the ancient legislators, compresses his new laws into a few verses, easily to be remembered. The sonnet is now well known, since Fuseli and Barry have preserved it in their lectures. This singular production has, however, had the hard fate of being unjustly depreciated: Lanzi calls it pittoresco veramente più che poetico; Fuseli sarcastically compares it to "a medical prescription." It delighted Barry, who calls it "a beautiful poem. Considered as a didactic and descriptive poem, no lover of art who has ever read it, will cease to repeat it till he has got it by heart. In this academy every one was free to indulge his own taste, provided he did not violate the essential principles of art; for though the critics have usually described the character of this new school to have been an imitation of the preceding ones, it was their first principle to be guided by nature, and their own disposition; and if their painter was deficient in originality, it was not the fault of this academy so much as of the academician. In difficult doubts they had recourse to Lodovico, whom Lanzi describes in his school like Homer among the Greeks, fons ingeniorum, profound in every part of painting. Even the recreations of the pupils were contrived to keep their mind and hand in exercise; in their walks sketching landscapes from nature, or amusing themselves with what the Italians call Caricatura, a term of large signification; for it includes many sorts of grotesque inventions, whimsical incongruities, such as those arabesques found at Herculaneum, where Anchises, Æneas, and Ascanius are burlesqued by heads of apes and pigs, or Arion, with a grotesque motion, is straddling a great trout; or like that ludicrous parody which came from the hand of Titian in a playful hour, when he sketched the Laocoon whose three figures consist of apes. Annibale had a peculiar facility in these incongruous inventions, and even the severe Leonardo da Vinci considered them as useful exercises.

Such was the academy founded by the Caracci; and Lodovico lived to realise his project in the reformation of art, and witnessed the school of Bologna flourishing afresh when all the others had fallen. The great masters of this last epoch of Italian painting were their pupils. Such were Domenichino, who, according to the expression of Bellori, delinea gli animi, colorisce la vita; he drew the soul and coloured life;[270] Albano, whose grace distinguishes him as the Anacreon of painting; Guido, whose touch was all beauty and delicacy, and, as Passeri delightfully expresses it, "whose faces came from Paradise;"[271] a scholar of whom his masters became jealous, while Annibale, to depress Guido, patronised Domenichino, and even the wise Lodovico could not dissimulate the fear of a new competitor in a pupil, and to mortify Guido preferred Guercino, who trod in another path. Lanfranco closes this glorious list, whose freedom and grandeur for their full display required the ample field of some vast history.

The secret history of this Academia forms an illustration for that chapter on "Literary Jealousy" which I have written in "The Literary Character." We have seen even the gentle Lodovico infected by it; but it raged in the breast of Annibale. Careless of fortune as they were through life, and free from the bonds of matrimony, that they might wholly devote themselves to all the enthusiasm of their art, they lived together in the perpetual intercourse of their thoughts; and even at their meals laid on their table their crayons and their papers, so that any motion or gesture which occurred, as worthy of picturing, was instantly sketched. Annibale catching something of the critical taste of Agostino, learnt to work more slowly, and to finish with more perfection, while his inventions were enriched by the elevated thoughts and erudition of Agostino. Yet a circumstance which happened in the academy betrays the mordacity and envy of Annibalo at the superior accomplishments of his more learned brother. While Agostino was describing with great eloquence the beauties of the Laocoon, Annibale approached the wall, and snatching up the crayons, drew the marvellous figure with such perfection, that the spectators gazed on it in astonishment. Alluding to his brother's lecture, the proud artist disdainfully observed, "Poets paint with words, but painters only with their pencils."[272]

The brothers could neither live together nor endure absence. Many years their life was one continued struggle and mortification; and Agostino often sacrificed his genius to pacify the jealousy of Annibale, by relinquishing his palette to resume those exquisite engravings, in which he corrected the faulty outlines of the masters whom he copied, so that his engravings are more perfect than their originals. To this unhappy circumstance, observes Lanzi, we must attribute the loss of so many noble compositions which otherwise Agostino, equal in genius to the other Caracci, had left us. The jealousy of Annibale at length for ever tore them asunder. Lodovico happened not to be with them when they were engaged in painting together the Farnesian gallery at Rome. A rumour spread that in their present combined labour the engraver had excelled the painter. This Annibale could not forgive; he raved at the bite of the serpent: words could not mollify, nor kindness any longer appease, that perturbed spirit; neither the humiliating forbearance of Agostino, the counsels of the wise, nor the mediation of the great. They separated for ever! a separation in which they both languished, till Agostino, broken-hearted, sunk into an early grave, and Annibale, now brotherless, lost half his genius; his great invention no longer accompanied him—for Agostino was not by his side![273] After suffering many vexations, and preyed on by his evil temper, Annibale was deprived of his senses.


We have Royal Societies for philosophers, for antiquaries, and for artists—none for men of letters! The lovers of philological studies have regretted the want of an asylum since the days of Anne, when the establishment of an English Academy of Literature was designed; but political changes occurred which threw out a literary administration. France and Italy have gloried in great national academies, and even in provincial ones. With us, the curious history and the fate of the societies at Spalding, Stamford, and Peterborough, whom their zealous founder lived to see sink into country clubs, is that of most of our rural attempts at literary academies! The Manchester society has but an ambiguous existence; and that of Exeter expired in its birth. Yet that a great purpose may be obtained by an inconsiderable number, the history of "The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures," &c., may prove; for that originally consisted only of twelve persons, brought together with great difficulty, and neither distinguished for their ability nor their rank.

The opponents to the establishment of an academy in this country may urge, and find Bruyère on their side, that no corporate body generates a single man of genius. No Milton, no Hume, no Adam Smith, will spring out of an academical community, however they may partake of one common labour. Of the fame, too, shared among the many, the individual feels his portion too contracted, besides that he will often suffer by comparison. Literature, with us, exists independent of patronage or association. We have done well without an academy; our dictionary and our style have been polished by individuals, and not by a society.

The advocates for such a literary institution may reply, that in what has been advanced against it we may perhaps find more glory than profit. Had an academy been established in this country, we should have possessed all our present advantages, with the peculiar ones of such an institution. A series of volumes composed by the learned of England had rivalled the precious "Memoirs of the French Academy," probably more philosophical, and more congenial to our modes of thinking! The congregating spirit creates by its sympathy; an intercourse exists between its members which had not otherwise occurred; in this attrition of minds, the torpid awakens, the timid is emboldened, and the secluded is called forth; to contradict, and to be contradicted, is the privilege and the source of knowledge. Those original ideas, hints, and suggestions, which some literary men sometimes throw out once or twice during their whole lives, might here be preserved; and if endowed with sufficient funds, there are important labours, which surpass the means and industry of the individual, which would be more advantageously performed by such literary unions.

An academy of literature can only succeed by the same means in which originated all such academies—among individuals themselves. It will not be "by the favour of the MANY, but by the wisdom and energy of the FEW." It is not even in the power of royalty to create at a word what can only be formed by the co-operation of the workmen themselves, and of the great taskmaster, Time!

Such institutions have sprung from the same principle, and have followed the same march. It was from a private meeting that "The French Academy" derived its origin; and the true beginners of that celebrated institution assuredly had no foresight of the object to which their conferences tended. Several literary friends at Paris, finding the extent of the city occasioned much loss of time in their visits, agreed to meet on a fixed day every week, and chose Conrart's residence as centrical. They met for the purposes of general conversation, or to walk together, or, what was not least social, to partake in some refreshing collation. All being literary men, those who were authors submitted their new works to this friendly society, who, without jealousy or malice, freely communicated their strictures; the works were improved, the authors were delighted, and the critics were honest! Such was the happy life of the members of this private society during three or four years. Pelisson, the earliest historian of the French Academy, has delightfully described it: "It was such that, now when they speak of these first days of the Academy, they call it the golden age, during which, with all the innocence and freedom of that fortunate period, without pomp and noise, and without any other laws than those of friendship, they enjoyed together all which a society of minds, and a rational life, can yield of whatever softens and charms."

They were happy, and they resolved to be silent; nor was this bond and compact of friendship violated till one of them, Malleville, secretary of Marshal Bassompierre, being anxious that his friend Faret, who had just printed his L'Honnête Homme, which he had drawn from the famous "Il Cortigiano" of Castiglione, should profit by all their opinions, procured his admission to one of their conferences; Faret presented them with his book, heard a great deal concerning the nature of his work, was charmed by their literary communications, and returned home ready to burst with the secret. Could the society hope that others would be more faithful than they had been to themselves? Faret happened to be one of those light-hearted men who are communicative in the degree in which they are grateful, and he whispered the secret to Des Marets and to Boisrobert. The first, as soon as he heard of such a literary senate, used every effort to appear before them and read the first volume of his "Ariane." Boisrobert, a man of distinction, and a common friend to them all, could not be refused an admission; he admired the frankness of their mutual criticisms. The society, besides, was a new object; and his daily business was to furnish an amusing story to his patron, Richelieu. The cardinal-minister was very literary, and apt to be so hipped in his hours of retirement, that the physician declared, that "all his drugs were of no avail, unless his patient mixed with them a drachm of Boisrobert." In one of those fortunate moments, when the cardinal was "in the vein," Boisrobert painted, with the warmest hues, this region of literary felicity, of a small, happy society formed of critics and authors! The minister, who was ever considering things in that particular aspect which might tend to his own glory, instantly asked Boisrobert, whether this private meeting would not like to be constituted a public body, and establish itself by letters patent, offering them his protection. The flatterer of the minister was overjoyed, and executed the important mission; but not one of the members shared in the rapture, while some regretted an honour which would only disturb the sweetness and familiarity of their intercourse. Malleville, whose master was a prisoner in the Bastile, and Serisay, the intendant of the Duke of Rochefoucault, who was in disgrace at court, louldly protested, in the style of an opposition party, against the protection of the minister; but Chapelain, who was known to have no party-interests, argued so clearly, that he left them to infer that Richelieu's offer was a command; that the cardinal was a minister who willed not things by halves; and was one of those very great men who avenge any contempt shown to them even on such little men as themselves! In a word, the dogs bowed their necks to the golden collar. However, the appearance, if not the reality, of freedom was left to them; and the minister allowed them to frame their own constitution, and elect their own magistrates and citizens in this infant and illustrious republic of literature. The history of the farther establishment of the French Academy is elegantly narrated by Pelisson. The usual difficulty occurred of fixing on a title; and they appear to have changed it so often, that the Academy was at first addressed by more than one title; Académie des beaux Esprits; Académie de l'Eloquence; Académie Eminente, in allusion to the quality of the cardinal, its protector. Desirous of avoiding the extravagant and mystifying titles of the Italian academies,[275] they fixed on the most unaffected, "L'Académie Française; but though the national genius may disguise itself for a moment, it cannot be entirely got rid of, and they assumed a vaunting device of a laurel wreath, including their epigraph, "à l'Immortalité." The Academy of Petersburgh has chosen a more enlightened inscription, Paulatim ("little by little"), so expressive of the great labours of man—even of the inventions of genius!

Such was the origin of L'ACADEMIE FRANCAISE; it was long a private meeting before it became a public institution. Yet, like the Royal Society, its origin has been attributed to political motives, with a view to divert the attention from popular discontents; but when we look into the real origin of the French Academy, and our Royal Society, it must be granted, that if the government either in France or England ever entertained this project, it came to them so accidentally, that at least we cannot allow them the merit of profound invention. Statesmen are often considered by speculative men in their closets to be mightier wonder-workers than they often prove to be.

Were the origin of the Royal Society inquired into, it might be justly dated a century before its existence; the real founder was Lord Bacon, who planned the ideal institution in his philosophical romance of the New Atlantis! This notion is not fanciful, and it was that of its first founders, as not only appears by the expression of old Aubrey, when, alluding to the commencement of the society, he adds secundum mentem Domini Baconi; but by a rare print designed by Evelyn, probably for a frontispiece to Bishop Sprat's history, although we seldom find the print in the volume. The design is precious to a Grangerite, exhibiting three fine portraits. On one side is represented a library, and on the table lie the statutes, the journals, and the mace of the Royal Society; on its opposite side are suspended numerous philosophical instruments; in the centre of the print is a column on which is placed the bust of Charles the Second, the patron; on each side whole lengths of Lord Brouncker, the first president, and Lord Bacon, as the founder, inscribed Artium Instaurator. The graver of Hollar has preserved this happy intention of Evelyn's, which exemplifies what may be called the continuity and genealogy of genius, as its spirit is perpetuated by its successors.[276]

When the fury of the civil wars had exhausted all parties, and a breathing time from the passions and madness of the age allowed ingenious men to return once more to their forsaken studies, Bacon's vision of a philosophical society appears to have occupied their reveries. It charmed the fancy of Cowley and Milton; but the politics and religion of the times were still possessed by the same frenzy, and divinity and politics were unanimously agreed to be utterly proscribed from their inquiries. On the subject of religion they were more particularly alarmed, not only at the time of the foundation of the society, but at a much later period, when under the direction of Newton himself. Even Bishop Sprat, their first historian, observed, that "they have freely admitted men of different religions, countries, and professions of life, not to lay the foundation of an English, Scotch, Irish, popish, or protestant philosophy, but a philosophy of mankind." A curious protest of the most illustrious of philosophers may be found: when "the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge were desirous of holding their meetings at the house of the Royal Society, Newton drew up a number of arguments against their admission. One of them is, that "It is a fundamental rule of the society not to meddle with religion; and the reason is, that we may give no occasion to religious bodies to meddle with us." Newton would not even comply with their wishes, lest by this compliance the Royal Society might "dissatisfy those of other religions." The wisdom of the protest by Newton is as admirable as it is remarkable,—the preservation of the Royal Society from the passions of the age.

It was in the lodgings of Dr. Wilkins in Wadham College that a small philosophical club met together, which proved to be, as Aubrey expresses it, the incunabula of the Royal Society. When the members were dispersed about London, they renewed their meetings first at a tavern, then at a private house; and when the society became too great to be called a club, they assembled in "the parlour" of Gresham College, which itself had been raised by the munificence of a citizen, who endowed it liberally, and presented a noble example to the individuals now assembled under its roof. The society afterwards derived its title from a sort of accident. The warm loyalty of Evelyn in the first hopeful days of the Restoration, in his dedicatory epistle of Naudé's treatise on libraries, called that philosophical meeting THE ROYAL SOCIETY. These learned men immediately voted their thanks to Evelyn for the happy designation, which was so grateful to Charles the Second, who was himself a virtuoso of the day, that the charter was soon granted: the king, declaring himself their founder, "sent them a mace of silver-gilt, of the same fashion and bigness as those carried before his majesty, to be borne before the president on meeting days." To the zeal of Evelyn the Royal Society owes no inferior acquisition to its title and its mace:[277] the noble Arundelian library, the rare literary accumulation of the noble Howards; the last possessor of which had so little inclination for books, that the treasures which his ancestors had collected lay open at the mercy of any purloiner. This degenerate heir to the literature and the name of Howard seemed perfectly relieved when Evelyn sent his marbles, which were perishing in his gardens, to Oxford, and his books, which were diminishing daily, to the Royal Society!

The SOCIETY of ANTIQUARIES might create a deeper interest, could we penetrate to its secret history: it was interrupted, and suffered to expire by some obscure cause of political jealousy. It long ceased to exist, and was only reinstated almost in our own days. The revival of learning under Edward the Sixth suffered a severe check from the papistical government of Mary; but under Elizabeth a happier era opened to our literary pursuits. At this period several students of the Inns of Court, many of whose names are illustrious for their rank or their genius, formed a weekly society, which they called "the Antiquaries' College." From very opposite quarters we are furnished with many curious particulars of their literary intercourse: it is delightful to discover Rawleigh borrowing manuscripts from the library of Sir Robert Cotton, and Selden deriving his studies from the collections of Rawleigh. Their mode of proceeding has even been preserved. At every meeting they proposed a question or two respecting the history or the antiquities of the English nation, on which each member was expected, at the subsequent meeting, to deliver a dissertation or an opinion. They also "supped together." From the days of Athenæus to those of Dr. Johnson, the pleasures of the table have enlivened those of literature. A copy of each question and a summons for the place of conference were sent to the absent members. The opinions were carefully registered by the secretary, and the dissertations deposited in their archives. One of these summonses to Stowe, the antiquary, with his memoranda on the back, exists in the Ashmolean Museum. I shall preserve it with all its verbal ærugo.



"The place appointed for a conference upon the question

followinge ys att Mr. Garter's house, on Frydaye the 2nd. of

this November, being Al Soule's daye, at 2 of the clocke in

the afternoone, where your oppinioun in wrytinge or otherwise

is expected.

"The question is,

"Of the antiquitie, etimologie, and priviledges of parishes

in Englande.

"Yt ys desyred that you give not notice hereof to any, but

such as haue the like somons."

Such is the summons; the memoranda in the handwriting of Stowe are these:—

[630. Honorius Romanus, Archbyshope of Canterbury, devided his province into parishes; he ordeyned clerks and prechars, comaunding them that they should instruct the people, as well by good lyfe, as by doctryne.

760. Cuthbert, Archbyshope of Canterbury, procured of the Pope, that in cities and townes there should be appoynted church yards for buriall of the dead, whose bodies were used to be buried abrode, & cet.]

Their meetings had hitherto been private; but to give stability to them, they petitioned for a charter of incorporation, under the title of the Academy for the Study of Antiquity and History, founded by Queen Elizabeth. And to preserve all the memorials of history which the dissolution of the monasteries had scattered about the kingdom, they proposed to erect a library, to be called "The Library of Queen Elizabeth." The death of the queen overturned this honourable project. The society was somewhat interrupted by the usual casualties of human life; the members were dispersed or died, and it ceased for twenty years. Spelman, Camden, and others, desirous of renovating the society, met for this purpose at the Herald's-office; they settled their regulations, among which, one was "for avoiding offence, they should neither meddle with matters of state nor religion." "But before our next meeting," says Spelman, "we had notice that his majesty took a little mislike of our society, not being informed that we had resolved to decline all matters of state. Yet hereupon we forbore to meet again, and so all our labour's lost!" Unquestionably much was lost, for much could have been produced; and Spelman's work on law terms, where I find this information, was one of the first projected. James the First has incurred the censure of those who have written more boldly than Spelman on the suppression of this society; but whether James was misinformed by "taking a little mislike," or whether the antiquaries failed in exerting themselves to open their plan more clearly to that "timid pedant," as Gough and others designate this monarch, may yet be doubtful; assuredly James was not a man to contemn their erudition!

The king at this time was busied by furthering a similar project, which was to found "King James's College at Chelsea;" a project originating with Dean Sutcliff; and zealously approved by Prince Henry, to raise a nursery for young polemics in scholastical divinity, for the purpose of defending the Protestant cause from the attacks of catholics and sectaries; a college which was afterwards called by Laud "Controversy College." In this society were appointed historians and antiquaries, for Camden and Haywood filled these offices.

The Society of Antiquaries, however, though suppressed, was perhaps never extinct; it survived in some shape under Charles the Second, for Ashmole in his Diary notices "the Antiquaries' Feast," as well as "the Astrologers'," and another of "the Freemasons'."[278] The present society was only incorporated in 1751. There are two sets of their Memoirs; for besides the modern Archæologia, we have two volumes of "Curious Discourses," written by the Fathers of the Antiquarian Society in the age of Elizabeth, collected from their dispersed manuscripts, which Camden preserved with a parental hand.

The philosophical spirit of the age, it might have been expected, would have reached our modern antiquaries; but neither profound views, nor eloquent disquisitions, have imparted that value to their confined researches and languid efforts, which the character of the times, and the excellence of our French rivals in their "Academie," so peremptorily required. It is, however, hopeful to hear Mr. Hallam declare, "I think our last volumes improve a little, and but a little! A comparison with the Academy of Inscriptions in its better days must still inspire us with shame."

Among the statutes of the Society of Antiquaries there is one which expels any member "who shall, by speaking, writing, or printing, publicly defame the society." Some things may be too antique and obsolete even for the Society of Antiquaries! and such is this vile restriction! It compromises the freedom of the republic of letters.


It is generally supposed that where there is no QUOTATION, there will be found most originality. Our writers usually furnish their pages rapidly with the productions of their own soil: they run up a quickset hedge, or plant a poplar, and get trees and hedges of this fashion much faster than the former landlords procured their timber. The greater part of our writers, in consequence, have become so original, that no one cares to imitate them; and those who never quote, in return are seldom quoted!

This is one of the results of that adventurous spirit which is now stalking forth and raging for its own innovations. We have not only rejected AUTHORITY, but have also cast away EXPERIENCE; and often the unburthened vessel is driving to all parts of the compass, and the passengers no longer know whither they are going. The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by QUOTATION.

It seems, however, agreed, that no one would quote if he could think; and it is not imagined that the well-read may quote from the delicacy of their taste, and the fulness of their knowledge. Whatever is felicitously expressed risks being worse expressed: it is a wretched taste to be gratified with mediocrity when the excellent lies before us. We quote to save proving what has been demonstrated, referring to where the proofs may be found. We quote to screen ourselves from the odium of doubtful opinions, which the world would not willingly accept from ourselves; and we may quote from the curiosity which only a quotation itself can give, when in our own words it would be divested of that tint of ancient phrase, that detail of narrative, and that naïveté which we have for ever lost, and which we like to recollect once had an existence.

The ancients, who in these matters were not, perhaps, such blockheads as some may conceive, considered poetical quotation as one of the requisite ornaments of oratory. Cicero, even in his philosophical works, is as little sparing of quotations as Plutarch. Old Montaigne is so stuffed with them, that he owns, if they were taken out of him little of himself would remain; and yet this never injured that original turn which the old Gascon has given to his thoughts. I suspect that Addison hardly ever composed a Spectator which was not founded on some quotation, noted in those three folio manuscript volumes which he previously collected; and Addison lasts, while Steele, who always wrote from first impressions and to the times, with perhaps no inferior genius, has passed away, insomuch that Dr. Beattie once considered that he was obliging the world by collecting Addison's papers, and carefully omitting Steele's.

Quotation, like much better things, has its abuses. One may quote till one compiles. The ancient lawyers used to quote at the bar till they had stagnated their own cause. "Retournons à nos moutons," was the cry of the client. But these vagrant prowlers must be consigned to the beadles of criticism. Such do not always understand the authors whose names adorn their barren pages, and which are taken, too, from the third or the thirtieth hand. Those who trust to such false quoters will often learn how contrary this transmission is to the sense and the application of the original. Every transplantation has altered the fruit of the tree; every new channel the quality of the stream in its remove from the spring-head. Bayle, when writing on "Comets," discovered this; for having collected many things applicable to his work, as they stood quoted in some modern writers, when he came to compare them with their originals, he was surprised to find that they were nothing for his purpose! the originals conveyed a quite contrary sense to that of the pretended quoters, who often, from innocent blundering, and sometimes from purposed deception, had falsified their quotations. This is an useful story for second-hand authorities!

Selden had formed some notions on this subject of quotations in his "Table-talk," art. "Books and Authors;" but, as Le Clerc justly observes, proud of his immense reading, he has too often violated his own precept. "In quoting of books," says Selden, "quote such authors as are usually read; others read for your own satisfaction, but not name them." Now it happens that no writer names more authors, except Prynne,[279] than the learned Selden. La Mothe le Vayer's curious works consist of fifteen volumes; he is among the greatest quoters. Whoever turns them over will perceive that he is an original thinker, and a great wit; his style, indeed, is meagre, which, as much as his quotations, may have proved fatal to him. But in both these cases it is evident that even quoters who have abused the privilege of quotation are not necessarily writers of a mean genius.

The Quoters who deserve the title, and it ought to be an honorary one, are those who trust to no one but themselves. In borrowing a passage, they carefully observe its connexion; they collect authorities to reconcile any disparity in them before they furnish the one which they adopt; they advance no fact without a witness, and they are not loose and general in their references, as I have been told is our historian Henry so frequently, that it is suspected he deals much in second-hand ware. Bayle lets us into a mystery of author-craft. "Suppose an able man is to prove that an ancient author entertained certain particular opinions, which are only insinuated here and there through his works, I am sure it will take him up more days to collect the passages which he will have occasion for, than to argue at random on those passages. Having once found out his authorities and his quotations, which perhaps will not fill six pages, and may have cost him a month's labour, he may finish in two mornings' work twenty pages of arguments, objections, and answers to objections; and consequently, what proceeds from our own genius sometimes costs much less time than what is requisite for collecting. Corneille would have required more time to defend a tragedy by a great collection of authorities, than to write it; and I am supposing the same number of pages in the tragedy and in the defence. Heinsius perhaps bestowed more time in defending his Herodes infanticida against Balzac, than a Spanish (or a Scotch) metaphysician bestows on a large volume of controversy, where he takes all from his own stock." I am somewhat concerned in the truth of this principle. There are articles in the present work occupying but a few pages, which could never have been produced had not more time been allotted to the researches which they contain than some would allow to a small volume, which might excel in genius, and yet be likely not to be long remembered! All this is labour which never meets the eye. It is quicker work, with special pleading and poignant periods, to fill sheets with generalising principles; those bird's-eye views of philosophy for the nonce seem as if things were seen clearer when at a distance and en masse, and require little knowledge of the individual parts. Such an art of writing may resemble the famous Lullian method, by which the doctor illuminatus enabled any one to invent arguments by a machine! Two tables, one of attributes, and the other of subjects, worked about circularly in a frame, and placed correlatively to one another produced certain combinations; the number of questions multiplied as they were worked! So that here was a mechanical invention by which they might dispute without end, and write on without any particular knowledge of their subject!

But the painstaking gentry, when heaven sends them genius enough, are the most instructive sort, and they are those to whom we shall appeal while time and truth can meet together. A well-read writer, with good taste, is one who has the command of the wit of other men;[280] he searches where knowledge is to be found; and though he may not himself excel in invention, his ingenuity may compose one of those agreeable books, the deliciæ of literature, that will outlast the fading meteors of his day. Epicurus is said to have borrowed from no writer in his three hundred inspired volumes, while Plutarch, Seneca, and the elder Pliny made such free use of their libraries; and it has happened that Epicurus, with his unsubstantial nothingness, has "melted into thin air," while the solid treasures have buoyed themselves up amidst the wrecks of nations.

On this subject of quotation, literary politics,—for the commonwealth has its policy and its cabinet-secrets,—are more concerned than the reader suspects. Authorities in matters of fact are often called for; in matters of opinion, indeed, which perhaps are of more importance, no one requires any authority. But too open and generous a revelation of the chapter and the page of the original quoted has often proved detrimental to the legitimate honours of the quoter. They are unfairly appropriated by the next comer; the quoter is never quoted, but the authority he has afforded is produced by his successor with the air of an original research. I have seen MSS. thus confidently referred to, which could never have met the eye of the writer. A learned historian declared to me of a contemporary, that the latter had appropriated his researches; he might, indeed, and he had a right to refer to the same originals; but if his predecessor had opened the sources for him, gratitude is not a silent virtue. Gilbert Stuart thus lived on Robertson: and as Professor Dugald Stewart observes, "his curiosity has seldom led him into any path where the genius and industry of his predecessor had not previously cleared the way." It is for this reason some authors, who do not care to trust to the equity and gratitude of their successors, will not furnish the means of supplanting themselves; for, by not yielding up their authorities, they themselves become one. Some authors, who are pleased at seeing their names occur in the margins of other books than their own, have practised this political management; such as Alexander ab Alexandro, and other compilers of that stamp, to whose labours of small value we are often obliged to refer, from the circumstance that they themselves have not pointed out their authorities.

One word more on this long chapter of QUOTATION. To make a happy one is a thing not easily to be done.[281] Cardinal du Perron used to say, that the happy application of a verse from Virgil was worth a talent; and Bayle, perhaps too much prepossessed in their favour, has insinuated, that there is not less invention in a just and happy application of a thought found in a book, than in being the first author of that thought. The art of quotation requires more delicacy in the practice than those conceive who can see nothing more in a quotation than an extract. Whenever the mind of a writer is saturated with the full inspiration of a great author, a quotation gives completeness to the whole; it seals his feelings with undisputed authority. Whenever we would prepare the mind by a forcible appeal, an opening quotation is a symphony preluding on the chords whose tones we are about to harmonise. Perhaps no writers of our times have discovered more of this delicacy of quotation than the author of the "Pursuits of Literature;" and Mr. Southey, in some of his beautiful periodical investigations, where we have often acknowledged the solemn and striking effect of a quotation from our elder writers.


Nearly six centuries have elapsed since the appearance of the great work of Dante, and the literary historians of Italy are even now disputing respecting the origin of this poem, singular in its nature and in its excellence. In ascertaining a point so long inquired after, and so keenly disputed, it will rather increase our admiration than detract from the genius of this great poet; and it will illustrate the useful principle, that every great genius is influenced by the objects and the feelings which occupy his own times, only differing from the race of his brothers by the magical force of his developments: the light he sends forth over the world he often catches from the faint and unobserved spark which would die away and turn to nothing in another hand.

The Divina Commedia of Dante is a visionary journey through the three realms of the after-life existence; and though, in the classical ardour of our poetical pilgrim, he allows his conductor to be a Pagan, the scenes are those of monkish imagination. The invention of a VISION was the usual vehicle for religious instruction in his age; it was adapted to the genius of the sleeping Homer of a monastery, and to the comprehension, and even to the faith of the populace, whose minds were then awake to these awful themes.

The mode of writing visions has been imperfectly detected by several modern inquirers. It got into the Fabliaux of the Jongleurs, or Provençal bards, before the days of Dante; they had these visions or pilgrimages to Hell; the adventures were no doubt solemn to them—but it seemed absurd to attribute the origin of a sublime poem to such inferior, and to us even ludicrous, inventions. Every one, therefore, found out some other origin of Dante's Inferno—since they were resolved to have one—in other works more congenial to its nature; the description of a second life, the melancholy or the glorified scenes of punishment or bliss, with the animated shades of men who were no more, had been opened to the Italian bard by his favourite Virgil, and might have been suggested, according to Warton, by the Somnium Scipionis of Cicero.

But the entire work of Dante is Gothic; it is a picture of his times, of his own ideas, of the people about him; nothing of classical antiquity resembles it; and although the name of Virgil is introduced into a Christian Hades, it is assuredly not the Roman, for Dante's Virgil speaks and acts as the Latin poet could never have done. It is one of the absurdities of Dante, who, like our Shakspeare, or like Gothic architecture itself, has many things which "lead to nothing" amidst their massive greatness.

Had the Italian and the French commentators who have troubled themselves on this occasion known the art which we have happily practised in this country, of illustrating a great national bard by endeavouring to recover the contemporary writings and circumstances which were connected with his studies and his times, they had long ere this discovered the real framework of the Inferno.

Within the last twenty years it had been rumoured that Dante had borrowed or stolen his Inferno from "The Vision of Alberico," which was written two centuries before his time. The literary antiquary, Bottari, had discovered a manuscript of this Vision of Alberico, and, in haste, made extracts of a startling nature. They were well adapted to inflame the curiosity of those who are eager after anything new about something old; it throws an air of erudition over the small talker, who otherwise would care little about the original! This was not the first time that the whole edifice of genius had been threatened by the motion of a remote earthquake; but in these cases it usually happens that those early discoverers who can judge of a little part, are in total blindness when they would decide on a whole. A poisonous mildew seemed to have settled on the laurels of Dante; nor were we relieved from our constant inquiries, till il Sigr. Abbate Cancellieri at Rome published, in 1814, this much talked-of manuscript, and has now enabled us to see and to decide, and even to add the present little article as an useful supplement.

True it is that Dante must have read with equal attention and delight this authentic vision of Alberico; for it is given, so we are assured by the whole monastery, as it happened to their ancient brother when a boy; many a striking, and many a positive resemblance in the "Divina Commedia" has been pointed out; and Mr. Gary, in his English version of Dante, so English, that he makes Dante speak in blank verse very much like Dante in stanzas, has observed, that "The reader will, in these marked resemblances, see enough to convince him that Dante had read this singular work." The truth is, that the "Vision of Alberico" must not be considered as a singular work—but, on the contrary, as the prevalent mode of composition in the monastic ages. It has been ascertained that Alberico was written in the twelfth century, judging of the age of a manuscript by the writing. I shall now preserve a vision which a French antiquary had long ago given, merely with the design to show how the monks abused the simplicity of our Gothic ancestors, and with an utter want of taste for such inventions, he deems the present one to be "monstrous." He has not told us the age in which it was written. This vision, however, exhibits such complete scenes of the Inferno of the great poet, that the writer must have read Dante, or Dante must have read this writer. The manuscript, with another of the same kind, is in the King's library at Paris, and some future researcher may ascertain the age of these Gothic compositions; doubtless they will be found to belong to the age of Alberico, for they are alike stamped by the same dark and awful imagination, the same depth of feeling, the solitary genius of the monastery!

It may, however, be necessary to observe, that these "Visions" were merely a vehicle for popular instruction; nor must we depend on the age of their composition by the names of the supposititious visionaries affixed to them: they were the satires of the times. The following elaborate views of some scenes in the Inferno were composed by an honest monk who was dissatisfied with the bishops, and took this covert means of pointing out how the neglect of their episcopal duties was punished in the after-life; he had an equal quarrel with the feudal nobility for their oppressions: and he even boldly ascended to the throne.

"The Vision of Charles the Bald, of the places of punishment, and the happiness of the Just.[282]

"I, Charles, by the gratuitous gift of God, king of the Germans, Roman patrician, and likewise emperor of the Franks;

"On the holy night of Sunday, having performed the divine offices of matins, returning to my bed to sleep, a voice most terrible came to my ear; 'Charles! thy spirit shall now issue from thy body; thou shalt go and behold the judgments of God; they shall serve thee only as presages, and thy spirit shall again return shortly afterwards.' Instantly was my spirit rapt, and he who bore me away was a being of the most splendid whiteness. He put into my hand a ball of thread, which shed a blaze of light, such as the comet darts when it is apparent. He divided it, and said to me, 'Take thou this thread, and bind it strongly on the thumb of thy right hand, and by this I will lead thee through the infernal labyrinth of punishments.'

"Then going before me with velocity, but always unwinding this luminous thread, he conducted me into deep valleys filled with fires, and wells inflamed, blazing with all sorts of unctuous matter. There I observed the prelates who had served my father and my ancestors. Although I trembled, I still, however, inquired of them to learn the cause of their torments. They answered, 'We are the bishops of your father and your ancestors; instead of uniting them and their people in peace and concord, we sowed among them discord, and were the kindlers of evil: for this are we burning in these Tartarean punishments; we, and other men-slayers and devourers of rapine. Here also shall come your bishops, and that crowd of satellites who surround you, and who imitate the evil we have done.'

"And while I listened to them tremblingly, I beheld the blackest demons flying with hooks of burning iron, who would have caught the ball of thread which I held in my hand, and have drawn it towards them, but it darted such a reverberating light, that they could not lay hold of the thread. These demons, when at my back, hustled to precipitate me into those sulphureous pits; but my conductor, who carried the ball, wound about my shoulder a double thread, drawing me to him with such force, that we ascended high mountains of flame, from whence issued lakes and burning streams, melting all kinds of metals. There I found the souls of lords who had served my father and my brothers; some plunged in up to the hair of their heads, others to their chins, others with half their bodies immersed. These yelling, cried to me, 'It is for inflaming discontents with your father, and your brothers, and yourself, to make war and spread murder and rapine, eager for earthly spoils, that we now suffer these torments in these rivers of boiling metal.' While I was timidly bending over their suffering, I heard at my back the clamours of voices, potentes potenter tormenta patiuntur! 'The powerful suffer torments powerfully;' and I looked up, and beheld on the shores boiling streams and ardent furnaces, blazing with pitch and sulphur, full of great dragons, large scorpions, and serpents of a strange species; where also I saw some of my ancestors, princes, and my brothers also, who said to me, 'Alas, Charles! behold our heavy punishment for evil, and for proud malignant counsels, which, in our realms and in thine, we yielded to from the lust of dominion.' As I was grieving with their groans, dragons hurried on, who sought to devour me with throats open, belching flame and sulphur. But my leader trebled the thread over me, at whose resplendent light these were overcome. Leading me then securely, we descended into a great valley, which on one side was dark, except where lighted by ardent furnaces, while the amenity of the other was so pleasant and splendid, that I cannot describe it. I turned, however, to the obscure and flaming side; I beheld some kings of my race agonised in great and strange punishments, and I thought how in an instant the huge black giants who in turmoil were working to set this whole valley into flames, would have hurled me into