The World's Greatest Books, Vol X

Part 3 out of 6

reminding him that his illustrious predecessor had conquered the
admiration of mankind but never won their love, commending him not to
extend the direct action of the royal power to matters which did not
require it, advising him not to govern too much, and exhorting him to
abolish military slavery; that is to say, the obligation then imposed on
every Prussian to serve as a soldier from the age of eighteen to sixty
or more, which forced men to go to the battle-field like cattle to the

In the same remarkable document Mirabeau raises his voice against the
harsh laws which arbitrarily deprived Prussians of freedom to leave the
country. The tyrannical prohibition of emigration excited his vehement
protest, and he proceeded also to denounce to the new king the right of
seizing the property of deceased foreigners, and demanded for burghers
the freedom of purchasing the estates of nobles. He urged Frederick
William to abolish the prerogatives claimed by nobles and the helotism
of all who were not noble, and suggested that judges should be appointed
for life and justice rendered free of expense.

_III.--For King and People_

It was chiefly the meeting of the notables which had hastened Mirabeau's
return to Paris. He felt that his proper place was in the centre of the
great events announced and begun by this convocation. After the
undignified and inglorious prodigality of the previous reign, which had
laid the foundation of serious financial vicissitudes, the young King
Louis XVI. had brought with him to the throne the private virtues of a
good and honest man, but not the qualities of a sovereign.

Though economic to excess himself, he nevertheless suffered to exist and
even to increase around him those dilapidations which at last ruined the
resources of the state. He had no confidence in himself, and Mirabeau
respectfully reproached him with his fatal timidity. Nothing was done
either to increase revenue or diminish expenditure.

The possessors of privilege and representatives of personal interest,
the courtiers, the great lords, and the parliaments strenuously resisted
all reforms and then drove from office the best intentioned, the most
virtuous, and the ablest ministers whom the young king, in the sincerity
of his patriotism, had chosen on his accession, in deference to public
feeling. Among these ministers were Malesherbes, Turgot, Necker, and

Mirabeau returned to Paris on January 27, 1787. He at once published
that famous "Address to the Notables," in which he denounced the whole
corrupt system of finance and in which he demanded local provincial
administrations. This and his "Denunciation of Stock-jobbing" made great
impression on the public mind.

Nevertheless, the "Denunciation" displeased the government, and the
author was much persecuted. He learned that he was to be arrested and
sent, not to the Bastille, but to a remote provincial fortress, where he
would have been lost to public notice. So he escaped from Paris to
Liege, whence he again attacked the administration of Calonne and the
policy of Necker, declaring that loans should have been effected on
methods less onerous for the state.

His exile from Paris was of brief duration, for friends intervened. But
Mirabeau returned only to renew and intensify his attacks. He remained,
however, only for a short time, for on May 24, 1787, he set out on a
third journey to Prussia, in order to complete his great work on the
"Prussian Monarchy." Returning to France, he reached Paris in September.
Five months had elapsed since the assembling of the notables. The
eloquent Leominie de Brienne, Archbishop of Toulouse, had been the most
brilliant figure in the conclave. The first assembly broke up on July
27, 1787. Though gathered by the privileged orders, patriotism had
raised its voice within it, and the archbishop, as prime minister, had
failed to direct the new current aright.

Mirabeau disapproved of what had taken place in his absence, and
declined to be employed by the administration, but he offered to
undertake any foreign mission in the exercise of the king to which he
might be appointed. The application was unsuccessful. The crisis
approached nearer and nearer. Archbishop Brienne passed rapidly from
violence to weakness. Mirabeau refused to countenance his plans for
contracting a new loan of 420 millions. The king was resisted by an
almost unanimous opposition, headed by the Duke of Orleans, and the loan
was refused at a memorable sitting.

Mirabeau exhorted the government to announce in precise and solemn terms
the convocation of the States-General in 1789, that bankruptcy might be
averted and the national honour saved. Said he: "The year in which the
king assembles the nation will be the finest in his life. Everybody
knows that he has been deceived, and could not help being so, and
everybody will do justice to his intentions. The assembled nation has a
right to vote a tax. In future the nation alone will raise up its
political fortunes."

Mirabeau saw that the nation ought to be trusted. He strenuously
contended for a policy in accordance with this conviction. But he
indefatigably continued his literary labours, sending forth pamphlet
after pamphlet, one against the prison system in vogue, another
demanding the liberty of the Press, in which he extolled the example of
England. He became increasingly impatient with the ineptitude of the
government, for the affairs of the state were lapsing into desperate
disorder, and the public discontent was being steadily aggravated.

The aim of Mirabeau was at one and the same time to support the monarchy
and to subvert the influences by which the throne was environed. He was
solicitous of securing popular freedom, but regarded the monarchy as the
only form of rule suitable for France in that age, and was led to adopt
that peculiar statesmanship identifying the royal interest with the
popular cause. Though ready to give his life for the people, he did not
hesitate to risk his popularity by his fidelity to the throne.

_IV.--President of the National Assembly_

The immediate causes of the Revolution were now in full operation.
Mirabeau, attempting to practise his own doctrine of the freedom of the
Press, turned journalist and brought out a gazette. The famous National
Assembly opened on May 5, 1789. He then entered on a career of immense
political energy, beginning by issuing a stirring and eloquent "Address
to the French People." This was especially a reply to a reactionary
protest on the part of the clergy.

Soon there were disturbances everywhere. The Bastille was stormed by the
furious Parisians and demolished. Just at this time Mirabeau lost his
father, and the event overwhelmed him with grief. He refused to stand
for election as mayor of Paris. But he brought about a constitutional
organisation of the municipality, and delivered a splendid series of
orations on various abuses, such as plural voting, iniquitous
monopolies, etc. Yet he proved his studious moderation by strenuously
declaiming against the famous "Declaration of the Rights of Man,"
pronouncing it inopportune and perilous. His heroic harangues provoked
disorder in his audience dangerous to himself. But his courage was
dauntless, for even when the king and his chief minister abandoned the
royal prerogative, Mirabeau defended it.

Throughout the terrible events of 1789 Mirabeau was consistent as a
loyalist and as a patriot. But disappointment awaited his generous
illusions, for the vacillation of the king rendered the outlook

At the end of January, 1791, he was appointed president of the National
Assembly, which, during the stormy period of its existence during
twenty-one months, had already had forty-two presidents.

He exercised his functions with consummate skill, but the end of his
wonderful life was at hand. He had been in weak health from the very
first sittings of the Assembly, his condition causing constant anxiety
to his intimate friends and his admirers. He was depressed by sad
presentiments, and was in constant apprehension of assassination, for it
was well-known that there were plots against his life. After a brilliant
oration, the great tribune went home exhausted, and, indeed, dying.

One of his last experiences was a pathetic interview with Talleyrand,
with whom he had often crossed swords in debate. His weakness dated from
February, 1788, when he was attacked with violent internal pains, and
was bled to such an extent by a surgeon that he never recovered his
wonderful natural vitality. After much suffering, endured with the most
heroic fortitude, he passed away as if in sleep, with a sweet smile on
his features. France mourned the loss of the greatest orator that had
ever graced her tribune. His funeral was celebrated at St. Genevieve
with splendid ceremonial. The verdict of those best qualified to judge
was that Mirabeau was the most remarkable man of the eighteenth century,
and that his premature death, soon after the outbreak of the Revolution,
led to the overthrow of a monarchy which he alone could have saved.

* * * * *


Life of Byron

Thomas Moore, the Irish poet, was born in Dublin on May 28,
1779, was educated at Trinity College, and studied for the Bar
at the Middle Temple. At twenty-one years of age he published
a translation of Anacreon, and his reputation was further
established by his love-poems, under the pseudonym of Thomas
Little, in 1801. He received in 1803 an official post in
Bermuda, but entrusted his duties there to a substitute, by
whose defalcations he was later embarrassed. He was married at
thirty-one to a beautiful and amiable actress, Bessy Dyke, and
lived very happily for most of his life in Wiltshire, but with
an interval of a few years in Paris. In 1835 he received a
literary pension of L300, to which a Civil List pension of
L100 was added in 1850. He died on February 25, 1852.
Undoubtedly, Moore's most important contribution to prose
literature was his "Letters and Journals of Lord Byron,"
published in 1830, six years after the poet's death; as
payment he received L4,200. Although the work was frankly and
even severely criticised in many quarters, it did a great deal
to put Byron right with public opinion. Certainly no literary
contemporary was better fitted to write the biography of his
friend than Moore, who, moreover, had been marked for this
work by a free gift of Byron's own memoirs.

_I.--Ancestors and Early Days_

It has been said of Lord Byron that he was prouder of being a descendant
of those Byrons of Normandy, who accompanied William the Conqueror into
England, than of having been the author of "Childe Harold." The remark
is not altogether unfounded, for the pride of ancestry was a feature of
his character; and justly so, for his line was honourably known on the
fields of Cressy, Bosworth, and Marston Moor; and in the faithful
royalist, Sir John Biron, afterwards Lord Biron, throughout the Civil

In 1784, the father of the poet, Captain John Byron, nephew of the fifth
Lord Byron, with the sole object of relieving his debts, married, as his
second wife, Miss Catherine Gordon, a wealthy lady of illustrious
Scottish ancestry. Her fortune was swallowed up, and she was reduced to
L150 a year, before she gave birth, on January 22, 1788, in Holles
Street, London, to her first and only child, George Gordon Byron. The
boy was somewhat deformed, one of his feet being twisted.

In 1790, we find the unhappy parents living in separate lodgings in
Aberdeen; and this estrangement was followed by complete separation, the
worthless Captain Byron proceeding to France, where he died in the
following year. The mother, a woman of the most passionate extremes,
sent the boy to day school and grammar school. His schoolmates remember
him as lively, warm-hearted, and more ready to give a blow than to take
one. To summer excursions with his mother in the Highlands the poet
traces his love of scenery and especially of mountainous countries; and
he refers many years after, still with keen feeling, to a little girl,
Mary Duff, for whom, in his eighth year, he cherished a consuming
attachment. So early were his sensibilities dominant.

On the death, in 1794, of the grandson of the old lord, little George
stood in immediate succession to the peerage; in May, 1798, the fifth
Lord Byron died at Newstead Abbey, and the boy's name was called in
school with the title "Dominus." The Earl of Carlisle was appointed his
guardian in chancery, and in the same summer, Lord Byron, in his
eleventh year, took possession, with his mother, of the seat of his
ancestors. The next year Mrs. Byron was placed on the Civil List for a
pension of L300 a year. Removing to London, she placed George at school
with Dr. Glennie at Dulwich, but thwarted the progress of his education
with her fondness and self-will, until Lord Carlisle gave up all hope of
ruling her. It was at this period that a boyish love for Margaret
Parker, his cousin, who died shortly after, led Byron into the practice
of verse.

From 1801 to 1805, from thirteen years of age to seventeen, George was
at Harrow, where he sat beside Peel, the future statesman. This period
of ardent friendship with his fellows includes also the romantic
affection, in 1803, for Miss Chaworth, heiress of Annesley, near
Newstead, who looked on her admirer as the mere schoolboy that he was.
Leaving Harrow with the reputation of an idler who would never learn,
Byron was entered at Trinity College, Cambridge, in October, 1805. His
vacations were spent with his mother at Southwell, and her explosions of
temper, in which she would throw poker and tongs, alienated him
increasingly. In vacation and in term alike he read with extraordinary
avidity and variety, wrote a great deal of verse, and in November, 1806,
printed a small volume of poems for private circulation.

He was a frank and vivid correspondent; his letters to Miss Pigot, of
Southwell, and others, are full of the liveliest descriptions of the
Cambridge days. At this time Byron was painfully shy of new faces, and
perpetually mortified on account of his poverty. He rose, and retired to
rest, very late. He was very fond of the exercises of swimming, riding,
shooting, fencing, and sparring; greatly devoted to his dogs, delighted
in music, and was known as remarkably superstitious. Of his charity and
kindheartedness there was no end. Always conscious of his deformity, and
terribly afraid of becoming corpulent, he was sedulously careful of his
person and dress.

"Hours of Idleness," Byron's first published volume, came out while he
was at the university, and was received by the "Edinburgh Review" with a
contempt which stung him to the quick. With intervals of dissipation in
London and at Brighton, Byron threw himself, at Newstead, into the
preparation of a satirical revenge, training himself for it by a deep
study of the writings of Pope. After his coming of age, in 1809, he went
up to London with his satire, and on March 13 took his seat in the House
of Lords. A few days later "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers" was the
talk of the town. Wild festivities at Newstead followed its publication,
and on July 2 Byron sailed from Falmouth in the Lisbon packet.

_II.--The Poet Finds Himself_

Lord Byron was absent from England for two years, and in the solitude of
his nights at sea and in his lone wanderings through Greece he had
leisure and seclusion to look within himself, and there catch the first
glimpses of his glorious mind. His deep passion for solitude grew to
full power; the varied excitement of his travels invigorated his
character and stored his imagination with impressions, and his inborn
sadness rose from a querulous bitterness to the grandeur of his later

His letters show him on Parnassus, where a flight of eagles seemed an
omen of his destiny; at Athens, where he lodged with the mother of the
"Maid of Athens"; standing among the ruins of Ephesus and the mounds of
Troy; swimming the Hellespont in honour of Leander; at Constantinople,
where the prospect of the Golden Horn seemed the fairest of all; at
Patras, in the woeful debility of fever; and again at Athens, making
acquaintance with Lady Hester Stanhope and "Abyssinian" Bruce. Through
all these varied scenes his mind was brooding on the verses of the
"Childe Harold."

On Byron's return to England, in July, 1811, that poem was placed in Mr.
Murray's hands, and thus was laid the foundation of a long connection
between author and publisher. Mrs. Byron died on August 1. With all her
faults she had loved her son deeply, and he could at least look back
upon dutiful and kindly behaviour to her. It was in November that I
first had the pleasure of meeting the poet at dinner, and what I chiefly
remarked was the nobleness of his air, his beauty, the gentleness of his
voice and manner, and his marked kindness. From our first meeting our
acquaintance quickly ripened into friendship.

On February 27, 1812, a day or two before the appearance of "Childe
Harold," Byron made the first trial of his eloquence in the House of
Lords, and it was on this occasion that he made the acquaintance of Lord
Holland. The subject of debate was the Nottingham Frame-breaking Bill.
Workmen were rioting and wrecking because their labour had been
displaced by the introduction of machinery, and Byron's view was that
"we must not allow mankind to be sacrificed to improvements in
mechanism"--"the maintenance of the industrious poor is of greater
consequence than the enrichment of monopolists"--"I have seen the state
of these miserable men, and it is a disgrace to a civilised country."
The speech was well received. The impression produced two days later by
Byron's "Childe Harold" was as instantaneous as it has proved deep and
lasting. Even the dashes of scepticism, with which he darkened his
strain, served only to heighten its success. The Prince Regent had the
poet presented to him, and the author of "Marmion" offered his praise.
In the following May appeared the wild and beautiful fragment, "The
Giaour." This new offspring of his genius was hailed with wonder and
delight, and on my rejoining him in town this spring, I found an intense
enthusiasm for Byron throughout the literary and social world. But his
mind was already turning to freedom and solitude, and his third and last
speech in the House of Lords was made in June.

_III.--Byron's Unfortunate Marriage_

Byron's restlessness is reflected throughout his "Journal," which he
began at this time. He had dreams of living in the Grecian Islands and
of adopting an Eastern manner of life; but in December, 1813, when "The
Bride of Abydos" was published, he was still feverishly dissipating
himself in England.

A significant entry in the "Journal" says: "A wife would be the
salvation of me," and Lord Byron became a suitor for the hand of Miss
Milbanke, a relative of Lady Melbourne. His proposal was not at first
accepted, but a correspondence ensued between them, and in September,
1814, after the appearance of "The Corsair" and "Lara," they became
formally affianced. I was much in his society at this time, and was
filled with foreboding anxieties, which the unfortunate events that
followed only too fully justified. At the end of December he set out for
Seaham, the seat of Sir Ralph Milbanke, the lady's father, and on
January 2, 1815, was married. On March 8, he wrote to me from Seaham:
"Bell is in health, and unvaried good-humour and behaviour."

Lord Byron's pecuniary embarrassments now accumulated upon him, and just
a year after his marriage, and shortly after the birth of their
daughter, I received a letter which breathed a profound melancholy, due
partly to his difficulties, but more, I thought, to a return of the
restless and roving spirit. I replied: "Do tell me you are happier than
that letter has led me to fear, and I shall be satisfied." It was only a
few weeks later that Lady Byron adopted the resolution of parting from
him. She had left London in January on a visit to her father, and Byron
was to follow her. They had parted in the utmost kindness; she wrote him
a letter, full of playfulness and affection, on the road; but
immediately on her arrival her father wrote to acquaint Lord Byron that
she would return to him no more. At the time when he had to stand this
unexpected shock, his financial troubles, which had led to eight or nine
executions in his house within the year, had arrived at their utmost;
and at a moment when, to use his own expression, he was "standing alone
on his hearth, with his household gods shivered around him," he was also
doomed to receive the startling intelligence that the wife who had just
parted with him in kindness, had parted with him for ever.

I must quote from a letter he wrote me in March: "The fault was not in
my choice, unless in choosing at all; for I do not believe--and I must
say it in the very dregs of all this bitter business--that there ever
was a better, or even a brighter, a kinder, or a more amiable and
agreeable being than Lady Byron. I never had any reproach to make her
while with me. Where there is blame, it belongs to myself, and if I
cannot redeem, I must bear it."

_IV.--Wanderings and Work_

On April 25, 1816, being now twenty-eight years of age, Byron took final
leave of England, and sailed with two servants for Ostend. His route, by
Flanders and the Rhine, may be traced in his matchless verses. He
settled in Geneva, where he met Shelley and Mrs. Shelley; they boated on
the lake and walked together, and Byron's susceptible mind was deeply
influenced by his mystical companion. We may discover traces of that
vague sublimity in the third canto of "Childe Harold," and traces also
of Mr. Wordsworth's mood which Byron absorbed from Shelley's favourite

From November, 1816, his letters are dated from Venice. "This has always
been, next to the East, the greenest island of my imagination, and it
has not disappointed me." They are considerably taken up with love
affairs of an irregular kind, and contain also many vivid pictures of
Venetian society and manners. "Manfred" was completed in 1817, and was
followed by the fourth canto of "Childe Harold." Margarita Cogni was the
reigning favourite of Byron's unworthy harem at this time; and his poem
of "Don Juan," now begun, most faithfully and lamentably reflects every
whim and passion that, like the rack of autumn, swept across his mind.

But April, 1819, brought a revulsion against all this libertine way of
living, and brought also the dawn of the only real love of his whole
life. Lord Byron had first met the Countess Guiccioli in the autumn of
1818, when she made her appearance, three days after her marriage, at
the house of the Countess Albrizzi, in all the gaiety of bridal array,
and the first delight of exchanging a convent for the world. She has
given her impressions of their meeting: "His noble and exquisitely
beautiful countenance, the tone of his voice, his manners, the thousand
enchantments that surrounded him, rendered him so superior a being to
any whom I had hitherto seen, that it was impossible he should not have
left the most profound impression upon me."

In June, Byron joined her at Ravenna, and for the next three years
remained devotedly attached to her. She struck me, during our first
interview, when I visited them at La Mira, as a lady not only of a style
of beauty singular in an Italian, as being fair-complexioned and
delicate, but also as being highly intelligent and amiable.

A letter to me from Pisa, dated August 27, 1822, has a mournful
interest: "We have been burning the bodies of Shelley and Williams on
the seashore. You can have no idea what an extraordinary effect such a
funeral pile has, with mountains in the background and the sea before."
Another, of November 17, to Lady Byron, shows that if the author of it
had not right on his side, he had at least most of those good feelings
which generally accompany it. "I have to acknowledge the receipt of
Ada's [their daughter's] hair; this note will reach you about her
birthday.... We both made a bitter mistake; but now it is over, and
better so.... I assure you that I bear you now no resentment
whatever.... Whether the offence has been solely on my side, or
reciprocal, or on yours chiefly, I have ceased to reflect on any but two
things--that you are the mother of my child, and that we shall never
meet again."

Byron was thirty-five years old when from his exile at Genoa he turned
his eyes to Greece, where a spirit was now rising such as he had imaged
forth in dreams of song, but hardly could have dreamed that he should
have lived to see it realised. He longed to witness, and very probably
to share in, the present triumphs of liberty on those very fields where
he had gathered for immortality such memorials of the liberty of the
past. Lord Byron was in touch with the committee concerned with Grecian
liberty in May, 1823, and two months later sailed with his party on July

Arriving at Cephalonia he made a journey to Ithaca for a few days. His
confidence in the Greek cause was soon clouded; the people were grossly
degenerate, and he saw that the work of regeneration must be slow. To
convince the government and the chiefs of the paralysing effect of their
dissensions, to inculcate the spirit of union, to endeavour to humanise
the feelings of the belligerents on both sides, so as to take from the
war the character of barbarism--these, with the generous aid of his
money, were the objects of his interference.

At length the time for action arrived, and, leaving Cephalonia, Byron
landed at Missolonghi on January 4, 1824. He was welcomed with all
honour, and at the end of the month received a formal commission from
the government as commander of the expedition against Lepanto, a
fortified town. This design was a failure, and Byron occupied himself
with the fortification of Missolonghi, and with the formation of a
brigade for the next campaign.

But his health had lately been giving way; he was living in little
better than a swamp; and one day, after exposure to a heavy shower, he
was seized with acute pains. On April 11, the illness, now recognised as
rheumatic fever, increased, and on the 19th he was no more. The funeral
took place in the Church of St. Nicholas, Missolonghi, on April 22, and
the remains were carried to England on the brig Florida, and buried,
close to those of his mother, in the village church of Hucknall.

_V.--A Bewildering Personality_

Can I clear away some of the mists that hang round my friend, and show
him as worthy of love as he was of admiration? The task is not an easy
one. In most minds some one influence governs, from which all secondary
impulses are found to radiate, but this pivot of character was wanting
to Lord Byron. Governed at different moments by totally different
passions, and impelled sometimes, as in his excess of parsimony in
Italy, by springs of action never before developed in his nature, he
presents the strangest contradictions and inconsistencies, a bewildering
complication of qualities.

So various, indeed, were his moral and intellectual attributes, that he
may be pronounced to have been not one, but many. It was this multiform
aspect that led the world to compare him with a medley host of
personages: "within nine years," as he playfully records, "to Rousseau,
Goethe, Young, Aretino, Timon of Athens, Dante, Petrarch, Satan,
Shakespeare, Buonaparte, Tiberius, AEschylus, Sophocles, Euripides,
Harlequin, Henry VIII., Mirabeau, Michael Angelo, Diogenes, Milton,
Alfieri, and many others."

But this very versatility, which renders it so difficult to fix the
fairy fabric of his character, is itself the clue to whatever was most
dazzling in his might, or startling in his levity, or most attractive or
most repellent in his life and genius. A variety of powers almost
boundless, and a pride no less vast in displaying them; an unusual
susceptibility and an uncontrolled impetuosity--such were the two great
sources of all that varied spectacle of his life--unchecked feeling and
dominant self-will.

Great versatility of power will hardly be found without a tendency to
versatility of principle. Byron was fully aware, not only of this
characteristic quality of his nature, but also of its danger to
singleness of character; and this consciousness had the effect of
keeping him in a general line of consistency, throughout life, on
certain great subjects, and helped him to preserve unbroken the greater
number of his personal attachments. But, except in some few respects, he
gave way to his versatile humour without scruple or check; and it was
impossible but that such a range of will and power should be abused. Is
it to be wondered at that in the works of one thus gifted and carried
away we should find, without any design of corrupting on his side, evil
too often invested with a grandeur which belongs intrinsically but to

Nay, it will be found that even the strength and impressiveness of
Byron's poetry is sometimes injured by a capricious and desultory
quality due to this very pliancy of mind. It may be questioned whether a
concentration of his powers would not have afforded a grander result. It
may be that, if Lord Byron had not been so actively versatile, he would
have been, not less wonderful, but more great.

Again, this love of variety was one of the most pervading weaknesses,
not only to his poetry, but of his life. The pride of personating every
kind of character, evil as well as good, influenced his ambition and his
conduct; and to such a perverse length did he carry this fancy for
self-defamation that, if there was any tendency to mental derangement,
it was in this point that it manifested itself. I have known him more
than once, as we have sat together, to throw out dark hints of his past
life with an air of gloom and mystery designed to awaken interest; and I
have little doubt that, to produce effect at the moment, there is hardly
any crime so dark or so desperate of which, in the excitement of acting
upon the imaginations of others, he would not have hinted that he had
been guilty. It has sometimes occurred to me that the occult cause of
his lady's separation from him may have been nothing more, after all,
than some imposture of this kind, some dim confession of undefined

But the over-frankness with which he uttered every chance impression of
the moment was by itself enough to bring his character unfavourably
before the world. Which of us could bear to be judged by the unnumbered
thoughts that course like waves of the sea through our minds and pass
away unuttered and even unowned by ourselves? To such a test was Byron's
character, throughout his life, exposed.

Yet, to this readiness in reflecting all hues, whether of the shadows or
lights of our variegated existence, Lord Byron owed his personal
fascination. His social intercourse was perfectly charming, because
whoever was with him occupied for the moment all his thoughts and
feelings. Even with the casual acquaintance of the hour his heart was on
his lips, ready to give away every secret of his life.

To my assertion that "at no time of his life was Lord Byron a confirmed
unbeliever" it has been objected that his writings prove the direct
contrary. But this is to confuse the words "unbeliever" and "sceptic,"
the former of which implies decision of opinion, and the latter only
doubt. Many passages in his "Journal" show doubt strongly inclined to
belief. "Of the immortality of the soul it appears to me there can be
little doubt." "I have often been inclined to materialism in philosophy,
but could never bear its introduction into Christianity, which appears
to me essentially founded upon the soul." Here are doubt and unrest, but
not unbelief.

And so I conclude my labours, undertaken at the wish of my friend, and
leave his character to the judgement of the world. Let it be remembered
that through life, with all his faults, he never lost a friend; that
those about him in his youth, whether as companions, teachers, or
servants, remained attached to him to the last; that the woman to whom
he gave the love of his maturer years idolises his name; and that, with
a single unhappy exception, those who were brought into relations of
amity with him have felt towards him a kind regard in life, and retain a
fondness for his memory.

* * * * *


Life and Times of St. Bernard

James Augustus Cotter Morison, English essayist and historian,
was born in London on April 20, 1832, and was the son of the
inventor and proprietor of "Morison's Pills." His first years
were spent in Paris, where he laid the foundation of his
intimate knowledge of the French people. After graduating at
Oxford, he wrote for the "Saturday Review" and other papers,
and in 1863 brought out his "Life and Times of Saint Bernard."
His other chief work is entitled "The Service of Man: an Essay
towards the Religion of the Future," published in 1886. He had
projected an historical study of France under Louis XIV., but
never completed it. He died on February 26, 1888. Morison was
a Positivist, and had many friends in that group, and his rich
mind and genial temper endeared him to several of the leading
literary men of his time, such as George Meredith, Mark
Pattison and Matthew Arnold.

_I.--The Early Days of a Useful Life_

Saint Bernard was born in 1091, and died in 1153. His life thus almost
coincides with the central portion of the Middle Ages. He saw the First
and Second Crusades, the rising liberties of the communes, and the
beginnings of scholasticism under Abelard. A large Church reformation
and the noblest period of monasticism occurred in his day, and received
deep marks of his genius.

He was the son of Tesselin, a wealthy feudal baron of Burgundy,
remarkable for his courage, piety, justice and modesty. Alith, his
mother, was earnest, loving and devout, and full of humility and
charity. His earliest years were passed amid the European fervour of the
First Crusade; and as he grew from boyhood into youth--at which time his
mother died--he made choice of the monastic profession. His friends
vainly tried to tempt him aside into the pursuit of philosophy; but his
commanding personal ascendancy brought his brothers and friends to
follow him instead into the religious life. Having assembled a company
of about thirty chosen spirits, he retired into seclusion with them for
six months, and then, in 1113, at the age of twenty-two, led them within
the gates of Citeaux.

This community, founded fifteen years before, and now ruled by Stephen
Harding, an Englishman from Dorsetshire, was exceedingly austere,
keeping Saint Benedict's rule literally. Here Bernard's uncompromising
self-mortification, and his love of, and communion with, Nature, showed
themselves as the chief characteristics of his noble spirit. "Believe
me," he said to a pupil, "you will find something far greater in the
woods than you will in books; stones and trees will teach you that which
you will never learn from masters." The arrival of Bernard and his
companions was a turning-point in the history of Citeaux; and the
monastery had to send out two colonies, to La Ferte and Pontigny, and in
1115 a third, under Bernard himself, to Clairvaux. Here, in a deep
umbrageous valley, traversed by a limpid stream, the thirteen pioneers
built a house little better than a barn. Their privations were great.
Beech-nuts and roots were at first their main support; but soon the
sympathy of the surrounding country brought sufficiency for their frugal
needs. Bernard was consecrated Abbot of Clairvaux by the Bishop of
Chalons, the renowned William of Champeaux, with whom he established a
deep friendship.

His labours, anxieties and austerities had well-nigh brought Bernard to
the grave, when the good bishop, finding him inflexible, went to
Citeaux, and, prostrating himself before Stephen Harding, begged and
obtained leave to direct and manage Bernard for one year only. The young
abbot obeyed his new director absolutely, and lived in a cottage apart
from the monastery "at leisure for himself and God, and exulting, as it
were, in the delights of Paradise."

William of St. Thierry and other chroniclers, telling of Clairvaux at
this time, are fervid in their reverence and praise. "Methought I saw a
new heaven and a new earth" ... "the golden age seemed to have revisited
the world" ... "as you descended the hill you could see it was a temple
of God; the still, silent valley bespoke the unfeigned humility of
Christ's poor. In this valley full of men, where one and all were
occupied with their allotted tasks, a silence, deep as that of night,
prevailed. The sounds of labour, or the chants of the brethren in the
choral service, were the only exceptions. The order of this silence
struck such a reverence even into secular persons that they dreaded
breaking it even by pertinent remarks."

Saint Benedict's rule had reference only to a single religious house;
but Abbot Stephen of Citeaux united in one compact whole all the
monasteries which sprang from the parent stock of Citeaux, and
established an organised system of mutual supervision and control. A
general chapter was held annually in September, and every Cistercian
abbot whose monastery was in France, Italy or Germany was bound to
attend every year; those from Spain, every two years; those from
Ireland, Scotland, Sicily and Portugal, every four years; those from
Norway, every five years; and those from Syria and Palestine, every
seven years. The "Charter of Charity," promulgated by this chapter for
the guidance of the Cistercian Order, is a brief but pregnant document,
which quite explains its success.

_II.--A Great Preacher and Essayist_

About 1119, Bernard, who had resumed the duties of abbot, began the
career of literary and ecclesiastical activity--the wide and impassioned
correspondence, the series of marvellous sermons--which have won for him
the title of the Last of the Fathers. His early essays are vigorous, but
lack judgement and skill; they are stiff and rhetorical, and far removed
from the tender poetry of his later writings. Three years later we find
Bernard credited with many miracles, narrated by William of St. Thierry,
who afterwards retired to become a monk at Signy, where he wrote his
record of the saint. It was then regarded as natural that a man of
eminent piety should work miracles; and we ought to accept these
stories, in their native crudity and simplicity, not as true, but as
significant. Belonging to the time, as much as feudal castles and mail
armour do, they form part of a picture of it.

With the exception of a visit to La Grande Chartreuse, and of another to
Paris, where he preached the "true philosophy" of poverty and contempt
of the world to the schools distracted by scholastic puzzles, Bernard
remained a secluded monk of a new and humble Order. But already, in his
thirty-fifth year, the foundations had been laid of that authority which
enabled him to quell a widespread schism, to oppose a formidable
heretic, and to give the strongest impulse to the Second Crusade. His
power was growing, chiefly by his voluminous correspondence. He wrote to
persons of all classes on all subjects; his letters afford to the
historian a wide repertory of indubitable facts, and show what was the
part played at that time by the spiritual power--that of a divine
morality and superior culture coming into conflict with, and strong
enough to withstand, a vigorous barbarism. These epistles are full of
commonsense and clear, practical advice, and often give us a glimpse of
the human, as distinct from the ascetic, element in monastic life. They
show how men could pass pleasant and thoughtful days amid the barbarism
of the time.

The feudal fighting, plundering and slaying seemed to spectators of that
time, and doubtless to Bernard also, as fixed and unalterable, part of
the nature of things. Louis VI., King of France, had spent his life in a
succession of sieges, forays and devastations, as one feudal lord among
others often more powerful than he. But generally he was in the right,
and his enemies in the wrong; he generally fought for justice and mercy,
and they for power and for plunder. The feudal aristocracy was now at
the zenith of its power, and the peasant was oppressed by injustice,
taxation and forced labour. Only the Church, and she only on grand
occasions, could stand up for the poor; but now the royal power made
common cause with Church and poor, and was rewarded by a gain in extent
and in influence. Yet even Louis, whose whole life showed respect for
the spiritual power, had some disagreement with the Bishop of Paris and
with the Archbishop of Sens, so that the two ecclesiastics placed the
kingdom under interdict, and fled to Citeaux. Thence Bernard, with an
astonishing tone of authority, called upon his king to do justice; and
Louis was on the point of restoring the stolen property. Pope Honorius,
however, sent letters to the king, raising the interdict, and thereupon
Bernard turned his fearless indignation upon the supreme pontiff
himself. "We speak with sadness; the honour of the Church has been not a
little blemished in the time of Honorius."

The same intrepidity is shown in Bernard's controversy with the monks of
Cluny, an abbey of pre-eminent power and moral authority, so that Louis
had called it the "noblest member of his kingdom." Pontius, its abbot,
having fallen into ways of pride and extortion, had been induced from
Rome to resign his abbacy, and to promise a pilgrimage to the Holy Land;
but soon afterwards he fell upon the monastery with an armed force, and
ruled there like a robber chieftain. This scandalous outrage was soon
reported at Rome, and the sacrilegious usurper was excommunicated and
banished. Bernard seized the moment when laxity of observance of the
rule had produced its bitterest fruit to break out in remonstrances and
warnings, as well to his own Cistercians as to the Cluniacs, on the
decline of the genuine monastic spirit. The invective of what he calls
his "Apology" spares neither the softness, nor the ostentation, nor the
avarice, of religious houses. It condemns even their stately
sanctuaries. "The walls of your church are resplendent, but the poor are
not there." It recalls the erring monasteries to real mortification. In
another early treatise, "The Degrees of Humility and of Pride," the
modes of pride are exhibited forcibly, and with not a little humour.
Curiosity, thoughtless mirth, mock humility, and other symptoms of the
protean vice are painted by a master.

But Bernard's period of retirement was drawing to a close; he was
becoming indispensable to his contemporaries. In 1128 he was called to
the Council of Troyes, at which the Order of Knights Templars was
founded, and wrote a treatise in praise of the "new warfare," called the
"Exhortation to the Knights of the Temple." He was brought, again, to
the council convened by Louis VI. at Etampes to decide between the
claims of the rival Popes in the Papal schism. The council opened by
unanimous consent that Bernard's judgement should decide their views;
and without hesitation he pronounced Innocent II. the lawful Pope, and
Peter Leonis, or Anacletus II., a vain pretender. He bore the same
testimony, in the presence of Innocent, before Henry I. of England, at
Chartres, and before Lotharius, the German Emperor, at Liege. The Pope
visited Clairvaux, where he was moved to tears at the sight of the
tattered flock of "Christ's poor," then presided at the Council of
Rheims, 1131, and continued his journey into Italy, still accompanied by
the Abbot of Clairvaux. Bernard, convinced that the cause of Innocent
was the cause of justice and religion, set no bounds to his advocacy of
it in letters to kings, bishops and cities. Such was now the fame of his
sanctity that on his approach to Milan the whole population came out to
meet him.

He returned to Clairvaux in 1135, where he found the community all
living in Christian amity, and again retired to a cottage in the
neighbourhood for rest and reflection. "Bernard was in the heavens,"
says Arnold of Bonnevaux; "but they compelled him to come down and
listen to their sublunary business." The buildings were too small for
their constantly growing numbers, and a convenient site had been found
in an open plain farther down the valley. Bishops, barons and merchants
came to the help of the good work; and the new abbey and church rose

To Bernard's forty-fifth year belong the "Sermons on the Canticles." In
the auditorium, or talking-room of the monastery, the abbot, surrounded
by his white-cowled monks, delivered his spiritual discourses. A strange
company it was: the old, stooping monk and the young beginner, the lord
and the peasant, listening together to the man whose message they
believed came from another world.

_III.--St. Bernard and the Second Crusade_

In the meanwhile, the affairs of the Papacy had not improved--Innocent
was still an exile from his see. Worst of all, the monastery of Monte
Casino, the head and type of Western monarchism, had declared for
Anacletus, the anti-Pope; and in 1137 Bernard set out for Italy, visited
Innocent at Viterbo, and proceeded to Rome. As he advanced, Anacletus
was rapidly deserted by his supporters, and shortly afterwards solved
the difficulty by his death. So ended the schism; and Bernard left Rome
within five days after finishing his work. With broken health and
depressed spirits he returned to Clairvaux. His brother Gerard, who had
shared his journey, died soon after they reached home; and Bernard's
discourse on that event is one of the most remarkable funeral sermons on
record. The monk had not ceased to be a loving and impassioned man.

Towards the end of 1139, the heresies of Peter Abelard, brought to his
notice by William of St. Thierry, called the Abbot of Clairvaux again
into public controversy. He implored Pope and cardinals to stay the
progress of a second Arius. Abelard was at this time sixty-one years
old, Bernard's senior by twelve years, and was without a rival in the
schools. The two men were such that they could not but oppose one
another; they looked at the shield from opposite sides; reconciliation,
however desirable, could be only superficial. Bernard met Abelard, and
"admonished him secretly." He well knew to what epoch this subtle mind,
with its "human and philosophic reasons," was about to lead; his quick
ear caught the distant thunder-roll of free inquiry. The heresies of
Peter de Bruis and the rebellion of Arnold of Brescia had already marked
the beginning of the great change. At last Bernard unwillingly yielded
to Abelard's challenge to a public dispute at Sens; but his speech had
hardly begun when Abelard rose in his place, refused to hear more, and
appealed to Rome. He never reached Rome, but remained a penitent monk at
Cluny, reconciled to his great antagonist.

Bernard was fifty-five years of age, and old for his years, when the
Pope delegated to him the office of preaching the Second Crusade. Pale
and attenuated to a degree which seemed almost supernatural, his
contemporaries discovered something in the mere glance of his eyes which
filled them with wonder and awe. When his words of love, aspiration and
sublime self-sacrifice reached their ears, they were no longer masters
of themselves or of their feelings. A great meeting had been convened by
Pope and king at Vezelay, on Easter, 1146. Bernard, attended by the
king, spoke from a platform erected on a hill; there was a shout of
"Crosses! Crosses!" and the preacher scattered a sheaf of these badges
among the people. The spiritual mind of Europe had spoken through
Bernard, and now the military mind spoke through Louis VII. He called
upon France to destroy the enemies of God. Then Bernard preached the
Crusade through France and Germany, welcomed everywhere by almost
unparalleled enthusiasm and attended by miraculous signs.

Bernard was shortly to die; but he had first to bear the trial of being
reviled as the author of the calamities which had overtaken the Crusade.
Why had he preached it and prophesied success if this was to be the
event? A murmur of wrath against him was heard from the broad population
of Europe. It was during this dark time that he began his largest
literary work, the five books "De Consideratione," addressed to his
disciple, Eugenius III., a powerful and elaborate plea against the
excessive centralization of all administration and decisions into the
hands of the Papal Court. Bernard called this period "the season of
calamities." He discovered that his secretary had been forging his name
and used his authority to recommend men and causes most unworthy of his
patronage. His health was such that he could take no solid food; sleep
had left him; his debility was extreme. Pope Eugenius died in July,
1153; and Bernard had no wish to stay behind. "I am no longer of this
world," he said; and on August 20 he passed away.

* * * * *


Life of Richard Cobden

In an age when many have gained the double distinction of
eminence in statesmanship and in letters, the name of Lord
Morley stands out as that of a man so illustrious in both
provinces that it is hard to decide in which he has earned the
greater fame. We are here concerned with him as a brilliant
English man of letters. The "Life of Cobden" was published in
1881, when John Morley was in the height of his literary
activity. Born at Blackburn on December 24, 1838, and educated
at Cheltenham and Oxford, he had entered journalism, had
edited the "Pall Mall Gazette" and the "Fortnightly Review,"
and had followed up his first book--a monograph on Burke--by a
remarkable study of Voltaire, and by his work entitled "On
Compromise." Political preoccupations drew him somewhat away
from literature after 1881; but in 1901 he published his book
on Cromwell, which was followed two years later by the
monumental "Life of Gladstone."

_I.--On the Road_

Heyshott is a hamlet in a sequestered corner of West Sussex, not many
miles from the Hampshire border. Here, in an old farmhouse, known as
Dunford, Richard Cobden was born on June 3, 1804. His ancestors were
yeomen of the soil, and, it is said, with every appearance of truth,
that the name can be traced in the annals of the district as far back as
the fourteenth century.

Cobden's father, a man of soft and affectionate disposition, but wholly
without the energy of affairs, met with financial disaster in 1814, and
relatives charged themselves with the maintenance of his dozen children.
Richard was sent by his mother's brother-in-law, a merchant in London,
to a school in Yorkshire. Here he remained for five years, a grim and
desolate time, of which he could never afterwards endure to speak. In
1819 he was received as a clerk in his uncle's warehouse in Old Change;
and at the age of twenty-one he was advanced from the drudgery of the
warehouse to the glories of the road. What made the life of a traveller
specially welcome to Cobden was the gratification that it offered to the
master-passion of his life, an insatiable desire to know the affairs of
the world.

In 1826, his employer failed, and for some months Cobden had to take
unwelcome holiday. In September he found a situation, and again set out
on the road with his samples of muslin and calico prints. Two years
afterwards, in 1828, he and two friends determined to begin business on
their own account. They arranged with a firm of Manchester
calico-printers to sell goods on commission; and so profitable was the
enterprise that in 1831 the partners determined to print their own
goods, and took an old factory at Sabden in Lancashire.

Cobden's imagination was struck by the busy life of the county with
which his name was destined to be so closely bound up. "Manchester," he
writes with enthusiasm, "is the place for all men of bargain and
business." His pen acquires a curiously exulting animation as he
describes the bustle of its streets, the quaintness of its dialect, the
abundance of its capital, and the sturdy veterans with a hundred
thousand pounds in each pocket, who might be seen in the evening smoking
clay pipes and calling for brandy-and-water in the bar-parlours of
homely taverns. He prospered rapidly in this congenial atmosphere; but
it is at Sabden, not at Manchester, that we see the first monument of
his public spirit--a little stone school-house, built as the result of
an agitation led by him with as much eager enthusiasm as he ever threw
afterwards into great affairs of state.

Between 1833 and 1836 Cobden's character widened and ripened with
surprising quickness. We pass at a single step from the natural and
wholesome egotism of the young man who has his bread to win to the wide
interests and generous public spirit of the good citizen. His first
motion was towards his own intellectual improvement, and early in life
he perceived that for his purposes no preparation could be so effective
as that of travel. In 1833 and 1834 he visited the Continent; in 1835,
the United States; and in 1836 and 1837 he travelled to Egypt, the
Levant, and Turkey.

In the interval between the two latter journeys he made what was
probably his first public speech, at a meeting to further the demand of
a corporation for Manchester. The speech is described as a signal
failure. "He was nervous," says the chronicler, "confused, and in fact
practically broke down, and the chairman had to apologise for him."

He was much more successful in two pamphlets he published at this time,
"England, Ireland, and America," and "Russia," in which he opened the
long struggle he was to wage against the restriction of commerce, and
the policy of intervention in European feuds. It is no strained
pretension to say that already Richard Cobden, the Manchester
manufacturer, was fully possessed of the philosophic gift of feeling
about society as a whole, and thinking about the problems of society in
an ordered connection.

_II.--The Corn Laws_

In 1837, Cobden was invited to become candidate for the borough of
Stockport. Although he threw himself into the struggle with all his
energy, on the day of election he was found to be at the bottom of the
poll. Four years later he was returned for Stockport by a triumphant
majority. But in 1841 he was no longer a rising young politician; he had
become the leading spirit of a national agitation.

In October, 1838, a band of seven men met at an hotel in Manchester, and
formed a new Anti-Corn-Law Association. They were speedily joined by
others, including Cobden, who from this moment began to take a prominent
part in all counsel and action. The abolition of the duties on corn was
the single object of Cobden's political energy during the seven years
that followed, and their destruction was the one finished triumph with
which his name is associated.

After the rejection in the following year by a large majority of Mr.
Villiers' motion that the House of Commons should consider the act
regulating the importation of corn, the association developed into a
League of Federated Anti-Corn-Law Associations in different towns and
districts. The repealers began the work of propagandism by sending out a
band of economic missionaries, who were not long in discovering how
hardly an old class interest dies. In many districts neither law nor
equity gave them protection. The members of the league were described in
the London Press as unprincipled schemers, as commercial and political
swindlers, and as revolutionary emissaries, whom all well-disposed
persons ought to assist the authorities in putting down.

Before he entered Parliament, Cobden re-settled his business by entering
into partnership with his brother Frederick, and married (May, 1840) a
young Welsh lady, Miss Catherine Ann Williams. In Parliament Cobden was
instantly successful. His early speeches produced that singular and
profound effect which is perceived in English deliberative assemblies
when a speaker leaves party recriminations, abstract argument, and
commonplaces of sentiment, in order to inform his hearers of telling
facts in the condition of the nation.

But Cobden's parliamentary work was at this time less important than his
work as an agitator. If in one sense the Corn Laws did not seem a
promising theme for a popular agitation, they were excellently fitted to
bring out Cobden's peculiar strength. It was not passion, but
persuasiveness, to which we must look for the secret of his oratorical
success. Cobden made his way to men's hearts by the union which they saw
in him of simplicity, earnestness, and conviction, with a singular
facility of exposition. Then men were attracted by his mental alacrity,
by the instant readiness with which he turned round to grapple with a
new objection.

His patience in acquiring and shaping matter for argument was surpassed
by his inexhaustible patience in dealing with the mental infirmities of
those whom it was his business to persuade. He was wholly free from the
unmeasured anger against human stupidity which is itself one of the most
provoking forms of that stupidity.

_III.--Cobden and Bright_

In the autumn of 1841, Cobden and Bright made that solemn compact which
was the beginning of an affectionate and noble friendship that lasted
without a cloud or a jar until Cobden's death.

"On the day when Mr. Cobden called upon me," said Bright, "I was in the
depths of grief, I might almost say of despair; for the light and
sunshine of my house had been extinguished. All that was left on earth
of my young wife, except the memory of a sainted life and of a too brief
happiness, was lying still and cold in the chamber above us. Mr. Cobden
called upon me as a friend, and addressed me, as you might suppose, with
words of condolence. After a time he looked up, and said, 'There are
thousands of houses in England at this moment where wives, mothers, and
children are dying of hunger. Now,' he said, 'when the first paroxysm of
your grief is past, I would advise you to come with me, and we will
never rest till the Corn Law is repealed.' I accepted his invitation."

Although the agitation for repeal was in Cobden's mind only a part of
the broad aims of peace and social and moral progress for which he
strove, he was too practical to put forth his thoughts on too many
subjects at once. He confined his enthusiasm to repeal until repeal was
accomplished. But his efforts left him no time to attend to his own
business, which was falling to pieces under the management of his
brother Frederick. In the autumn of 1845 he felt compelled to give up
his work as an agitator on account of his private affairs, but Bright
and one or two friends procured the money that sufficed to tide over the

The cause was now on the eve of victory. The autumn of 1845 was the
wettest in the memory of man. For long the downpour never ceased by
night or by day; it was the rain that rained away the Corn Laws. The bad
harvest and the Irish potato famine brought the long hesitation of Sir
Robert Peel to an end. Soon after the opening of the session of 1846, he
announced his proposals.

The repeal of the Corn Laws was to be total, but not immediate. For
three years there was to be a lowered duty on a sliding scale, and then
the ports were to be opened entirely. "Hurrah! Hurrah!" wrote Cobden to
his wife on June 26, "the Corn Bill is law, and now my work is done!"

_IV.--In the Cause of Peace_

Cobden was now absent from England for fourteen months, travelling on
the Continent. His reception was everywhere that of a great discoverer
in a science which interests the bulk of mankind much more keenly than
any other, the science of wealth. People looked on him as a man who had
found out a momentous secret. He had interviews with the Pope, with
three or four kings, with ambassadors, and with all the prominent
statesmen. He never lost an opportunity of speaking a word in season.
They were not all converted, but they all listened to him; and they all
taught him something, whether they chose to learn anything from him in
return or not.

On his return he joined with Bright in an agitation for financial and
parliamentary reform. While he believed in an extension of the franchise
as a means of attaining the objects he had in view, he was essentially
an economical, a moral, and a social reformer. He was never an
enthusiast for mere reform in the machinery. He made it his special
mission to advocate financial reform, and left the advocacy for
franchise extension very largely to his colleague.

Retrenchment was the keynote of the financial reform urged by Cobden;
and retrenchment involved the furtherance of international peace and the
reduction of British armaments by means of the abandonment of the policy
of intervention in European disputes and the policy of "clinging to
colonies," with the consequent expenditure upon colonial defence. From
1846 to 1851 Lord Palmerston was at the Foreign Office, and was
incessantly active in the affairs of half the countries of Europe. To
this policy of interference Cobden offered resolute opposition. He was
especially energetic in protesting against the lending to Austria and
Russia of money that was in effect borrowed to repay the cost of the
oppressive war against Hungary. It is impossible not to admire the
courage, the sound sense, and the elevation with which Cobden thus
strove to diffuse the doctrine of moral responsibility in connection
with the use of capital.

In 1852, a Protectionist Ministry under Lord Derby came into power, and
the Anti-Corn Law League was revived. The danger, however, soon passed
away; the Derby Ministry made no attempt to interfere with freedom of
trade, and ere the year ended gave place to the Aberdeen Ministry.
Cobden's policy of peace and retrenchment, however, became more and more
unpopular. Cobden's urgent feeling about war was not in any degree
sentimental. He opposed war because war and the preparation for it
consumed the resources which were required for the improvement of the
temporal condition of the population. But in the inflamed condition of
public opinion his arguments were powerless.

The invasion panic of 1853 was followed in 1854 by the Crimean War, and
in opposing that war Cobden and Bright found themselves absolutely

"The British nation," said Lord Palmerston, "is unanimous in this
matter. I say unanimous, for I cannot reckon Cobden, Bright, and Co. for
anything." His estimate was perfectly correct; Cobden and Bright had the
whole world against them. The moral fortitude, like the political
wisdom, of these two strong men, stands out with a splendour that
already recalls the great historic types of statesmanship and

_V.--Cobden as Treaty-Maker_

In 1857, Cobden was compelled to retire for a time from politics. He
vigorously opposed the Chinese War, and succeeded in defeating Lord
Palmerston's Government in the House of Commons. Lord Palmerston, with
his usual acuteness and courage, at once dissolved parliament, and in
the General Election his victory was complete. The Manchester School was
routed. Cobden, who contested Huddersfield, was heavily beaten; and at
Manchester itself Bright was at the bottom of the poll. Cobden went to
his home at Dunford, in Sussex, and remained there nearly two years.
Once more he was afflicted with financial trouble. An unfortunate land
speculation at Manchester, and certain investments in American
railroads, had again brought him into difficulties, from which he was
ultimately rescued by a munificent gift of L40,000 from subscribers
whose names he never knew.

The General Election of 1859 was held while Cobden was absent in the
United States, and on his return he found that he had been chosen member
for Rochdale. To his surprise, he also received from his old enemy,
Palmerston, an offer of the Presidency of the Board of Trade. Cobden,
who had consistently refrained from accepting any office, courteously

But he was none the less able to render a great service to the new
Government. Mr. Bright, in a parliamentary speech, incidentally asked
why, instead of lavishing the national substance in armaments, they did
not go to the French Emperor and attempt to persuade him to allow his
people to trade freely with ours. The idea of a commercial treaty
occurred to M. Chevalier on reading the speech, and he wrote in this
sense to Cobden, who was strongly impressed by the notion. He opened his
mind to Gladstone, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer; and, as the
outcome, Cobden went to Paris in the autumn of 1859 as unofficial
negotiator of a treaty.

The negotiation was long and tedious. Cobden had to convert the emperor
to his views, and to await the reconciliation of the various French
interests that were opposed to freedom of trade. It was not until
November, 1860, that Cobden's labours were concluded. England cleared
her tariff of protection, and reduced the duties which were retained for
revenue on the two French staples of wine and brandy. France, on her
part, replaced prohibition by a series of moderate duties.

Palmerston offered Cobden a choice between a baronetcy and a Privy
Councillorship as a reward for his services. He replied begging
permission most respectfully to deny himself the honour. "An
indisposition to accept a title," he wrote, "being in my case rather an
affair of feeling than of reason, I will not dwell further on the

_VI.--The Last Days of Cobden_

When Cobden returned to England his public position had more than
recovered the authority and renown which had been seriously impaired by
his unpopular attitude on the Russian war. But he and Bright were soon
involved in an almost angrier conflict than before with the upper and
middle classes, on account of their championship of the North in the
American Civil War.

The remaining years of his life were largely spent in systematic
onslaughts upon the policy of Lord Palmerston, and in opposition to
military expenditure. It was with the purpose of resisting a Canadian
fortification scheme that he made his last journey to London in March,
1865. On his arrival he was seized by a sharp attack of asthma;
bronchitis supervened, and it became evident that he would not recover.
On the morning of Sunday, April 2, Bright took his place by the side of
the dying man. As the bells were ringing for the morning service the
mists of death began to settle heavily on his brow, and his ardent,
courageous, and brotherly spirit soon passed tranquilly away.

He was buried by the side of his son in the little churchyard at
Lavington, on the slope of the hill among the pine-woods. "Before we
left the house," Bright has told us, "standing by me, and leaning on the
coffin, was his sorrowing daughter, one whose attachment to her father
seems to have been a passion scarcely equalled among daughters. She
said, 'My father used to like me very much to read to him the Sermon on
the Mount. His own life was, to a large, extent, a sermon based upon
that best, that greatest of all sermons. His was a life of perpetual

* * * * *



Samuel Pepys, author of the incomparable "Diary," was born
either in London or at Brampton, Huntingdonshire, on February
23, 1632-3, son of John Pepys, a London tailor. By the
influence of the Earl of Sandwich, he was entered in the
public service. Beginning as a clerk in the Exchequer, he was
soon transferred to the Naval Department, and rose to the high
office of secretary to the Admiralty. His services were
interrupted for a time, on the baseless suspicion that he was
a Catholic, during the panic about the supposed "Popish Plot,"
but he was returned to his charge, and held it until the
accession of William and Mary. Pepys was a man of very wide
interests. He was a member of parliament, and became president
of the Royal Society. He was an accomplished musician and a
keen critic of painting, architecture, and the drama. But it
is as a connoisseur of human nature that Pepys is known
to-day. The "Diary" extended over the ten years, January,
1659-60, to May, 1669; it closed when he was thirty-seven
years old, and he lived thirty-four years afterwards. The
manuscript, written in shorthand, fills six volumes, which
repose at Magdalene College, Cambridge. It was deciphered in
1825, when it was published as "Memoirs of Samuel Pepys,
comprising his Diary from 1659 to 1669, deciphered by the Rev.
J. Smith, and a Selection of his Private Correspondence,
edited by Lord Braybrooke." Pepys died on May 26, 1703.

_I.--"God Bless King Charles"_

_January_ 1, 1659-60. Blessed be God, at the end of last year I was in
very good health, without any sense of my old pain, but upon taking of
cold. I lived in Axe Yard, having my wife and servant, Jane, and no
other in family than us three.

The condition of the state was thus: the Rump, after being disturbed by
my Lord Lambert, was lately returned to sit again. The officers of the
army all forced to yield. Lawson still lies in the river, and Monk is
with his army in Scotland. The New Common Council of the City do speak
very high; and had sent to Monk their sword-bearer, to acquaint him with
their desires for a free and full parliament, which is at present the
desires, and the hopes, and the expectations of all. My own private
condition very handsome, and esteemed rich, but indeed very poor;
besides my goods of my house, and my office, which at present is
somewhat certain.

_March 9, 1660._ To my lord at his lodging, and came to Westminster with
him in the coach; and I telling him that I was willing and ready to go
with him to sea, he agreed that I should. I hear that it is resolved
privately that a treaty be offered with the king.

_May 1._ To-day I hear they were very merry at Deal, setting up the
king's flag upon one of their maypoles, and drinking his health upon
their knees in the streets, and firing the guns, which the soldiers of
the castle threatened, but durst not oppose.

_May 2._ Welcome news of the parliament's votes yesterday, which will be
remembered for the happiest May-day that hath been many a year to
England. The king's letter was read in the house, wherein he submits
himself and all things to them. The house, upon reading the letter,
ordered L50,000 to be forthwith provided to send to his majesty for his
present supply. The City of London have put out a declaration, wherein
they do disclaim their owning any other government but that of a king,
lords, and commons.

_May 3._ This morning my lord showed me the king's declaration to be
communicated to the fleet. I went up to the quarter-deck with my lord
and the commanders, and there read the papers; which done, the seamen
did all of them cry out, "God bless King Charles!" with the greatest joy
imaginable. After dinner to the rest of the ships quite through the

_May 11._ This morning we began to pull down all the state's arms in the
fleet, having first sent to Dover for painters to come and set up the
king's. After dinner we set sail from the Downs, but dropped anchor
again over against Dover Castle.

_May 12._ My lord gave order for weighing anchor, which we did, and
sailed all day.

_May 14._ In the morning the Hague was clearly to be seen by us. The
weather bad; we were sadly washed when we come near the shore, it being
very hard to land there.

_May 23._ Come infinity of people on board from the king to go along
with him. The king, with the two dukes and Queen of Bohemia, Princess
Royal, and Prince of Orange, come on board, where I, in their coming in,
kissed the king's, queen's, and princess's hands, having done the other
before. Infinite shooting of the runs, and that in a disorder on
purpose, which was better than if it had been otherwise. We weighed
anchor, and with a fresh gale and most happy weather we set sail for

_May 24._ Up, and made myself as fine as I could, with the stockings on
and wide canons that I bought at Hague. Extraordinary press of noble
company, and great mirth all day.

_May 25._ By the morning we were come close to the land, and everybody
made ready to get on shore. I spoke to the Duke of York about business,
who called me Pepys by name, and upon my desire did promise me his
future favour. The king went in my lord's barge with the two dukes, and
was received by General Monk with all love and respect at his entrance
upon the land of Dover. The shouting and joy expressed by all is past

1660-1661. At the end of the last and the beginning of this year, I do
live in one of the houses belonging to the Navy Office, as one of the
principal officers; my family being myself, my wife, Jane, Will Hewer,
and Wayneman, my girl's brother. Myself in constant good health, and in
a most handsome and thriving condition. Blessed be God for it. The king
settled, and loved of all.

_II.--The Plague_

_July 31, 1665._ I ended this month with the greatest joy that I ever
did any in my life, because I have spent the greatest part of it with
abundance of joy, and honour, and pleasant journeys, and brave
entertainments, and without cost of money. We end this month after the
greatest glut of content that ever I had, only under some difficulty
because of the plague, which grows mightily upon us, the last week being
about 1,700 or 1,800 of the plague. My Lord Sandwich at sea with a fleet
of about one hundred sail, to the northward, expecting De Ruyter, or the
Dutch East India fleet.

_August 8._ To my office a little, and then to the Duke of Albemarle's
about some business. The streets empty all the way now, even in London,
which is a sad sight. To Westminster Hall, where talking, hearing very
sad stories. So home through the City again, wishing I may have taken no
ill in going; but I will go, I think, no more thither. The news of De
Ruyter's coming home is certain, and told to the great disadvantage of
our fleet; but it cannot be helped.

_August 10._ To the office, where we sat all morning; in great trouble
to see the bill this week rise so high, to above 4,000 in all, and of
them above 3,000 of the plague. Home to draw over anew my will, which I
had bound myself by oath to dispatch by to-morrow night; the town
growing so unhealthy that a man cannot depend upon living two days.

_August 12._ The people die so that now it seems they are fain to carry
the dead to be buried by daylight, the nights not sufficing to do it in.
And my lord mayor commands people to be within at nine at night, that
the sick may have liberty to go abroad for air. There is one also dead
out of one of our ships at Deptford, which troubles us mightily. I am
told, too, that a wife of one of the grooms at court is dead at
Salisbury, so that the king and queen are speedily to be all gone to
Milton. So God preserve us!

_August 16._ To the Exchange, where I have not been in a great while.
But, Lord! how sad a sight it is to see the streets empty of people, and
very few upon the 'Change. Jealous of every door that one sees shut up
lest it should be the plague; and about two shops in three, if not more,
generally shut up.

_August 22._ I walked to Greenwich, in my way seeing a coffin with a
dead body therein, dead of the plague, which was carried out last night,
and the parish have not appointed anybody to bury it; but only set a
watch there all day and night, that nobody should go thither or come
thence, this disease making us more cruel to one another than we are to

_August 25._ This day I am told that Dr. Burnett, my physician, is this
morning dead of the plague, which is strange, his man dying so long ago,
and his house this month open again. Now himself dead. Poor, unfortunate

_August 30._ I went forth and walked towards Moorfields to see (God
forgive my presumption!) whether I could see any dead corpse going to
the grave. But, Lord! how everybody looks, and discourse in the street
is of death and nothing else, and few people going up and down, that the
town is like a place distressed and forsaken.

_September 3 (Lord's Day)._ Up; and put on my coloured silk suit very
fine, and my new periwig, bought a good while since, but durst not wear,
because the plague was in Westminster when I bought it; and it is a
wonder what will be the fashion after the plague is done as to periwigs,
for nobody will dare to buy any hair, for fear of the infection, that it
has been cut off the heads of people dead of the plague. My Lord
Brouncker, Sir J. Minnes, and I up to the vestry at the desire of the
justices of the peace, in order to the doing something for the keeping
of the plague from growing; but, Lord! to consider the madness of the
people of the town, who will, because they are forbid, come in crowds
along with the dead corpses to see them buried.

_September 6._ To London, to pack up more things; and there I saw fires
burning in the streets, as it is through the whole city, by the lord
mayor's order.

_September 14._ To the Duke of Albemarle, where I find a letter from my
Lord Sandwich, of the fleet's meeting with about eighteen more of the
Dutch fleet, and his taking of most of them; and the messenger says they
had taken three after the letter was sealed, which being twenty-one, and
those took the other day, is forty-five sail, some of which are good,
and others rich ships. Having taken a copy of my lord's letter, I away
toward the 'Change, the plague being all thereabouts. Here my news was
highly welcome, and I did wonder to see the 'Change so full--I believe
two hundred people. And, Lord! to see how I did endeavour to talk with
as few as I could, there being now no shutting up of houses infected,
that to be sure we do converse and meet with people that have the plague
upon them. I spent some thought on the occurrences of this day, giving
matter for as much content on one hand and melancholy on another, as any
day in all my life. For the first, the finding of my money and plate all
safe at London; the hearing of this good news after so great a despair
of my lord's doing anything this year; and the decrease of 500 and more,
which is the first decrease we have yet had in the sickness since it
begun. Then, on the other side, my finding that though the bill in
general is abated, yet in the City within the walls it is increased; my
meeting dead corpses, carried close to me at noonday in Fenchurch

One of my own watermen, that carried me daily, fell sick as soon as he
had landed me on Friday last, when I had been all night upon the water,
and is now dead of the plague. And, lastly, that both my servants, W.
Hewer and Tom Edwards, have lost their fathers of the plague this week,
do put me into great apprehension of melancholy, and with good reason.

_November 15._ The plague, blessed be God! is decreased 400, making the
whole this week but 1,300 and odd, for which the Lord be praised!

_December 25 (Christmas Day)._ To church in the morning, and there saw a
wedding in the church, which I have not seen many a day, and the young
people so merry with one another, and strange to see what delight we
married people have to see these poor fools decoyed into our condition,
every man and woman gazing and smiling at them.

_December 31._ Thus ends this year, to my great joy, in this manner. I
have raised my estate from L1,300 in this year to L4,400. I have got
myself greater interest, I think, by my diligence, and my employments
increased by that of treasurer for Tangier and surveyor of the victuals.
It is true we have gone through great melancholy because of the plague,
and I put to great charges by it, by keeping my family long at Woolwich,
and myself and my clerks at Greenwich, and a maid at London; but I hope
the king will give us some satisfaction for that. But now the plague is
abated almost to nothing, and I intending to get to London as fast as I
can. To our great joy the town fills apace, and shops begin to be open

_III.--The Great Fire_

_September 2, 1666._ Some of our maids sitting up late last night to get
things ready against our feast to-day, Jane called us up about three in
the morning to tell us of a great fire they saw in the City. So I rose,
and slipped on my nightgown, and went to her window, and thought it to
be on the back side of Mark Lane at the farthest, and so went to bed
again. About seven rose again to dress myself, and there looked out at
the window, and saw the fire not so much as it was, and further off.
By-and-by Jane comes and tells me that above 300 houses have been burned
down, and that it is now burning down all Fish Street, by London Bridge.
So I made myself ready, and walked to the Tower, and there got up upon
one of the high places; and there I did see the houses at that end of
the bridge all on fire, and an infinite great fire on this and the other
side of the bridge. So down with my heart full of trouble to the
lieutenant of the Tower, who tells me that it begun this morning in the
king's baker's house in Pudding Lane.

So I down to the waterside, and there got a boat, and through bridge,
and there saw a lamentable fire. Everybody endeavouring to remove their
goods, and flinging into the river, or bringing them into lighters that
lay off; poor people staying in their houses till the very fire touched
them, and then running into boats or clambering from one pair of stairs
by the waterside to another. And among other things, the poor pigeons, I
perceive, were loth to leave their houses, but hovered about the windows
and balconies till they burned their wings and fell down. Having staid,
and in an hour's time seen the fire rage every way, and nobody, to my
sight, endeavouring to quench it, I to White Hall, and there up to the
king's closet in the chapel, where people come about me, and I did give
them an account which dismayed them all, and word was carried in to the

So I was called for, and did tell the king and Duke of York what I saw,
and that unless his majesty did command houses to be pulled down,
nothing could stop the fire. They seemed much troubled, and the king
commanded me to go to my lord mayor from him and command him to spare no
houses, but to pull down before the fire every way. Meeting with Captain
Cocke, I in his coach, which he lent me, to Paul's, and there walked
along Watling Street, as well as I could, every creature coming away
loaded with goods to save, and here and there sick people carried away
in beds. At last met my lord mayor in Canning Street, like a man spent.
To the king's message, he cried, like a fainting woman, "Lord! what can
I do? I am spent; people will not obey me. I have been pulling down
houses; but the fire overtakes us faster than we can do it." So I walked
home, seeing people almost all distracted, and no manner of means used
to quench the fire. The houses, too, so very thick thereabouts, and full
of matter for burning, as pitch and tar in Thames Street, and warehouses
of oil and wines and brandy.

Soon as I dined, I away, and walked through the City, the streets full
of people, and horses and carts loaden with goods. To Paul's Wharf,
where I took boat, and saw the fire was now got further, both below and
above bridge, and no likelihood of stopping it. Met with the king and
Duke of York in their barge. Their order was only to pull down houses
apace; but little was or could be done, the fire coming so fast. Having
seen as much as I could, I away to White Hall by appointment, and there
walked to St. James's Park, and there met my wife, and Creed and Wood
and his wife, and walked to my boat; and upon the water again, and to
the fire, still increasing, and the wind great. So near the fire as we
could for smoke, and all over the Thames you were almost burned with a
shower of fire-drops.

When you could endure no more upon the water, we to a little ale-house
on the Bankside, and there stayed till it was dark almost, and saw the
fire grow; and as it grew darker, appeared more and more, and in corners
and upon steeples, and between churches and houses, as far as we could
see up the hill of the City, in a most horrid, malicious, bloody flame,
not like the fine flame of an ordinary fire. We stayed till, it being
darkish, we saw the fire as only one entire arch of fire from this to
the other side of the bridge, and in a bow up the hill for an arch of
above a mile long; it made me weep to see it. The churches, houses, and
all on fire and flaming at once; and a horrid noise the flames made, and
the cracking of houses at their ruin. So home with a sad heart.

_IV.--Of the Badness of the Government_

_April 26, 1667._ To White Hall, and there saw the Duke of Albemarle,
who is not well, and do grow crazy. Then I took a turn with Mr. Evelyn,
with whom I walked two hours; talking of the badness of the government,
where nothing but wickedness, and wicked men and women command the king;
that it is not in his nature to gainsay anything that relates to his
pleasures; that much of it arises from the sickliness of our ministers
of state, who cannot be about him as the idle companions are, and
therefore he gives way to the young rogues; and then from the negligence
of the clergy, that a bishop shall never be seen about him, as the King
of France hath always; that the king would fain have some of the same
gang to be lord treasurer, which would be yet worse.

And Mr. Evelyn tells me of several of the menial servants of the court
lacking bread, that have not received a farthing wages since the king's
coming in. He tells me that now the Countess Castlemaine do carry all
before her. He did tell me of the ridiculous humour of our king and
knights of the Garter the other day, who, whereas heretofore their robes
were only to be worn during their ceremonies, these, as proud of their
coats, did wear them all day till night, and then rode in the park with
them on. Nay, he tells me he did see my Lord Oxford and Duke of Monmouth
in a hackney coach with two footmen in the park, with their robes on,
which is a most scandalous thing, so as all gravity may be said to be
lost among us.

_V.--The End of the Diary_

_November 30, 1668._ My wife after dinner went the first time abroad in
her coach, calling on Roger Pepys, and visiting Mrs. Creed and my cousin
Turner. Thus endeth this month with very good content, but most
expenseful to my purse on things of pleasure, having furnished my wife's
closet and the best chamber, and a coach and horses that ever I knew in
the world; and I am put into the greatest condition of outward state
that ever I was in, or hoped ever to be. But my eyes are come to that
condition that I am not able to work. God do His will in it!

_December 2._ Abroad with my wife, the first time that ever I rode in my
own coach, which do make my heart rejoice and praise God. So she and I
to the king's playhouse, and there saw "The Usurper," a pretty good
play. Then we to White Hall; where my wife stayed while I up to the
duchess, to speak with the Duke of York; and here saw all the ladies,
and heard the silly discourse of the king with his people about him.

_December 21._ To the Duke's playhouse, and saw "Macbeth." The king and
court there, and we sat just under them and my Lady Castlemaine. And my
wife, by my troth, appeared, I think, as pretty as any of them; I never
thought so much before, and so did Talbot and W. Hewer. The king and
Duke of York minded me, and smiled upon me; but it vexed me to see Moll
Davis in the box over the king and my Lady Castlemaine, look down upon
the king, and he up to her. And so did my Lady Castlemaine once; but
when she saw Moll Davis she looked like fire, which troubled me.

_May 31, 1669._ Up very betimes, and continued all the morning examining
my accounts, in order to the fitting myself to go abroad beyond sea,
which the ill-condition of my eyes and my neglect hath kept me
behindhand in. Had another meeting with the Duke of York at White Hall
on yesterday's work, and made a good advance; and so being called by my
wife, we to the park, Mary Batelier and a Dutch gentleman, a friend of
hers, being with us. Thence to "The World's End," a drinking house by
the park; and there merry, and so home late.

And thus ends all that I doubt I shall ever be able to do with my own
eyes in the keeping of my journal, having done now so long as to undo my
eyes almost every time that I take a pen in my hand; and therefore
resolve, from this time forward to have it kept by my people in
longhand, and must be contented to set down no more than is fit for them
and all the world to know. And so I betake myself to that course, which
is almost as much as to see myself go into my grave; for which, and all
the discomforts that will accompany my being blind, the good God prepare
me! S.P.

* * * * *



Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, or Pliny the Younger, was
born in 62 A.D. at Novum Comum, in the neighbourhood of Lake
Como, in the north of Italy. His family was honourable,
wealthy, and able, and his uncle, Pliny the Elder, was the
encyclopaedic student and author of the famous "Natural
History." On his father's death, young Pliny, a boy of nine,
was adopted by the elder Pliny, educated in literary studies
and as an advocate, and was a notable pleader before his
twentieth year. Through a succession of offices he rose to the
consulship in the year 100, and afterwards continued to hold
important appointments. He was twice married, but left no
children. The date of his death is unknown. The "Letters of
Pliny the Younger" are valuable as throwing light upon the
life of the Roman people; but they are also models of Latin
style, and have all the charm of their author's upright,
urbane, and tolerant character. His epistle to the Emperor
Trajan with regard to the Christians is of peculiar interest.

_To Cornelius Tacitus_

You will certainly laugh, and well may you laugh, when I tell you that
your old friend has turned sportsman, and has captured three magnificent
boars. "What," you say, "Pliny?" Yes, I myself, though without giving up
my much loved inactivity. While I sat at the nets, you might have found
me holding, not a spear, but my pen. I was resolved, if I returned with
my hands empty, at least to bring home my tablets full. This open-air
way of studying is not at all to be despised. The activity and the scene
stimulate the imagination; and there is something in the solemnity and
solitude of the woods, and in the expectant silence of the chase, that
greatly promotes meditation. I advise you whenever you hunt in future to
take your tablets with you as well as your basket and flask. You will
find that Minerva, as well as Diana, haunts these hills.

_To Minucius Fundanus_

When I consider how the days pass with us at Rome, I am surprised to
find that any single day taken by itself is spent reasonably enough, or
at least seems to be so, and yet when I add up many days together the
impression is quite otherwise. If you ask anyone what he has been doing
to-day, he will tell you perhaps that he has been attending the ceremony
of a youth's coming of age; he has assisted at a wedding, been present
at the hearing of a lawsuit, witnessed a will, or taken part in a
consultation. These occupations seem very necessary while one is engaged
in them; and yet, looking back at leisure upon the many hours we have
thus employed, we cannot but consider them mere frivolities. Looking
back especially on town life from a country retreat, one is inclined to
regret how much of life has been spent in these wretched trifles.

This reflection is one which often occurs to me at my place at
Laurentum, when I am immersed in studies or invigorating my bodily
health. In that peaceful home I neither hear nor say anything which
needs to be repented of. There is no one there who speaks evil of
anyone; and I have not to complain of any man, except sometimes of
myself when I am dissatisfied with my work. There I live undisturbed by
rumours, free from the vicissitudes of hope and fear, conversing only
with myself and my books. What a true and genuine life it is; what a
delightful and honest repose--surely more to be desired than the highest
employments. O sea and solitary shore, secret haunt of the Muses, with
how many noble thoughts have you inspired me! Do you then, my friend,
take the first opportunity of leaving the noisy town with all its empty
pursuits, and devote your days to study or leisure. For, as Attilius
well says, it is better to have nothing to do than to be doing of

_To Septicius Clarus_

How did it happen, my friend, that you failed to keep your engagement to
dine with me? I shall expect you to repay me what I spent on the
festival--no small sum, I can assure you. I had prepared for each of us,
you must know, a lettuce, three snails, two eggs, and a barley cake
served with sweet wine and snow; the snow most certainly I shall charge
to your account, as it melted away. There were olives, beetroots,
gourds, onions, and a hundred other dainties. You would also have heard
a comedian, or the reading of a poem or a lute-player, or even if you
had liked, all three, such was my liberality. But luxurious delicacies
and Spanish dancing girls at some other house were more to your taste. I
shall have my revenge of you, depend upon it, but I won't say how.
Indeed, it was not kind thus to mortify your friend--I had almost said
yourself; for how delightfully we should have passed the evening in
jests and laughter, and in deeper talk! It is true you may dine at many
houses more sumptuously than at mine but nowhere will you find more
unconstrained gaiety, simplicity and freedom. Only make the experiment,
and if you do not ever afterwards prefer my table to any other, never
favour me with your company again.

_To Avitus_

It would be a long story, and of no great importance, if I were to tell
you by what accident I dined lately with a man who, in his own opinion,
entertained us with great splendour and economy, but in my opinion with
meanness combined with extravagance. He and a few of his guests enjoyed
some very excellent dishes indeed, but the fare placed before the rest
of the company was of the most inferior kind. There were three kinds of
wine in small bottles, but it was not intended that the guests should
take their choice at all. The best was for himself and for us; another
vintage was for his friends of a lower order--for you must know he
divides his friends into classes--and the third kind was for his own and
his guests freed-men. My neighbor noticed this, and asked me if I
approved of it. "Not at all," I said.

"What then," said he, "is your custom in entertaining?"

"Mine," said I, "is to offer the same fare to everybody. I invite my
friends to dinner without separating them into classes. Everyone who
comes to my table is equal, and even my freed-men are then my guests
just as much as anyone else."

He asked me if I did not find this very expensive. I assured him that it
was not so at all, and that the whole secret lay in drinking no better
wine myself that I gave to others. If a man is wise enough to moderate
his own luxury, he will not find it very expensive to entertain all his
visitors on equal terms. Restrain your own tastes if you would really
economise. This is a better way of saving expense than making these
insulting distinctions between guests.

It would be a pity if a man of your excellent disposition should be
imposed upon by the immoderate ostentation which prevails at some tables
under the guise of frugality. I tell you of this as an example of what
you ought to shun. Nothing is to be more avoided than this preposterous
association of extravagance and meanness--defects which are unpleasant
enough when found separately, but are particularly detestable when

_To Baebius Macer_

I am glad to hear that you are so great an admirer of my Uncle Pliny's
works as to wish to have a complete collection of them. You will wonder
how a man so much occupied as he was could find time to write so many
books, some of them upon very difficult subjects. You will be still more
surprised when you hear that for a considerable time he practised at the
bar, that he died in his fifty-sixth year, and that from the time of his
retirement from the bar to his death he was employed in some of the
highest offices of state, and in the immediate service of the emperors.
But he had a very quick intelligence, an incredible power of
application, and an unusual faculty of doing without sleep. In summer he
used to begin to work at midnight; in winter, generally at one in the
morning, or two at the latest, and often at midnight. But he would
often, without leaving his studies, refresh himself by a short sleep.
Before daybreak he used to wait upon the Emperor Vespasian, who also was
a night worker, and after that attended to his official duties. Having
taken a light meal at noon, after the custom of our ancestors, he would
in summer, if unoccupied, lie down in the sun, while a book was read to
him from which he made extracts and notes. Indeed he never read without
making extracts; he used to say that no book was so bad as not to teach
one at least something. After this reading he usually took a cold bath,
then a light refreshment, and went to sleep for a little while. Then, as
if beginning a new day, he resumed his studies until dinner, when a book
was again read to him, upon which he would make passing comments. I
remember once, when his reader had pronounced a word wrongly, someone at
the table made him repeat it again; upon which my uncle asked his friend
if he had not understood it. He admitted that the word was clear enough.
"Why did you stop him then?" asked my uncle; "we have lost more than ten
lines by this interruption of yours." Even so parsimonious was he of
every moment of time! In summer he always rose from dinner by daylight,
and in winter as soon as it was dark; this was an invariable law with

Such was his life amidst the noise and bustle of the city; but when he
was in the country his whole time, without exception, was given to study
except when he bathed. And by this exception I mean only the time when
he was actually in the bath, for all the time when he was being rubbed
and dried he was read to, or was himself dictating. Again, when
travelling he gave his whole time to study; a secretary constantly
attended him with books and tablets, and in winter wore very warm gloves
so that the cold weather might not interrupt my uncle's work; and, for
the same reason, when in Rome, he was always carried in a chair. I
remember he once reproved me for going for a walk, saying that I might
have used the hours to greater advantage; for he thought all time was
lost which was not given to study. It was by this extraordinary
application that he found time to write so many volumes, besides a
hundred and sixty books of extracts which he left me, written on both
sides in an extremely small hand, so that their number might be reckoned
considerably greater.

_To Cornelius Tacitus_

I understand you wish to hear about the earthquake at Misenum. After my
uncle had left us on that day, I went on with my studies until it was
time to bathe; then I had supper and went to bed. But my sleep was
broken and disturbed. There had been many slight shocks, which were very
frequent in Campania, but on this night they were so violent that it
seemed as though everything must be overthrown. My mother ran into my
room, and we went out into a small court which separated our house from
the sea. I do not know whether to call it courage or rashness on my
part, as I was only eighteen years old; but I took up Livy and read and
made extracts from him. When morning came the light was faint and
sickly; the buildings around us were tottering to their fall, and there
was great and unavoidable danger in remaining where we were. We resolved
to leave the town. The people followed us in consternation, and pressed
in great crowds about us on our way out. Having gone a good distance
from the house, we stood still in the midst of a dreadful scene. The
carriages for which we had sent, though standing upon level ground, were
being thrown from side to side, and could not be kept still even when
supported by large stones. The sea appeared to roll back upon itself,
driven from its shores by the convulsive movements of the earth; a large
portion of the sea-bottom was uncovered, and many marine animals were
left exposed. Landward, a black and dreadful cloud was rolling down,
broken by great flashes of forked lightning, and divided by long trains
of flame which resembled lightning but were much larger.

Soon afterwards the clouds seemed to descend and cover the whole surface
of the ocean, hiding the island of Capri altogether and blotting out the
promontory of Misenum. My mother implored me earnestly to make my
escape, saying that her age and frame made it impossible for her to get
away, but that she would willingly meet her death if she could know that
she had not been the cause of mine. But I absolutely refused to forsake
her, and seizing her hand I led her on. The ashes now began to fall upon
us, though as yet in no great quantity. I looked back and saw behind us
a dense cloud which came rolling after us like a torrent. I proposed
that while we still had life we should turn out of the high road, lest
she should be trampled to death in the dark by the crowd.

We had scarcely sat down when darkness closed in upon us, not like the
darkness of a moonless night, or of a night obscured by clouds, but the
darkness of a closed room where all the lights have been put out. We
heard the shrieks of women, the cries of children, and the shouts of
men; some were calling for their children, others for their parents,
others for their husbands or wives, and recognising one another through
the darkness by their voices. Some were calling for death through very
fear of death; others raised their hands to the gods; but most imagined
that the last eternal night had come, and that the gods and the world
were being destroyed together. Among these were some who added imaginary
terrors to the real danger, and persuaded the terror-stricken multitude
that Misenum was in flames. At last a glimmer of light appeared which we
imagined to be a sign of approaching flames, as in truth it was; but the
fire fell at a considerable distance from us, and again we were immersed
in darkness. A heavy shower of ashes now rained upon us, so that we were
obliged from time to time to shake them off, or we should have been
crushed and buried in the heap. I might congratulate myself that during
all this horror not a sigh or expression of fear escaped me, if it had
not been that I then believed myself to be perishing with the world
itself, and that all mankind were involved in the same calamity--a
miserable consolation indeed, but a powerful one.

At last this dreadful darkness was dissipated by degrees like a cloud of
smoke; real day returned, and even the sun appeared, though very faintly
as he appears during an eclipse. Everything before our trembling eyes
was changed, being covered over with white ashes as with deep snow. We
returned to Misenum, where we refreshed ourselves as well as we could
and passed an anxious night between hope and fear. There was more fear
than hope, however; for the earthquake still continued and many crazy
people were running about predicting awful horrors.

You must read my story without any view of writing about it in your
history, of which it is quite unworthy; indeed, my only excuse for
writing it in a letter is that you have asked for it.

_To Calpurnia, His Wife_

It is incredible how impatiently I wish for your return, such is the
tenderness of my love for you, and so unaccustomed are we to separation.
I lie awake great part of the nights thinking of you; and in the day my
feet carry me of their own accord to your room at the hours when I used
to see you, but not finding you there I go away as sorrowful and
disappointed as an excluded lover. The only time when I am free from
this distress is when I am in the forum busy with the lawsuits of my
friends. You may judge how wretched my life is when I find my repose
only in labour and my consolation in miseries and cares.

_To Germinius_

You must very well know the kind of people who, though themselves slaves
to every passion, are mightily indignant at the vices of others, and
most severe against those whom they most closely resemble. Surely
leniency is the most becoming of all virtues, even in persons who have
least need of anyone's indulgence. The highest of all characters, in my
estimation, is that of a man who is as ready to pardon human errors as
though he were every day himself guilty of them, and who yet abstains
from faults as though he never forgave them. Let us observe this rule,
both in our public and in our private relations--to be inexorable to
ourselves, but to treat the rest of the world with tenderness, including
even those who forgive only themselves. Let us always remember the
saying of that most humane and therefore very great Thrasea: "He who
hates vices, hates mankind."

Perhaps you will ask who it is that has moved me to these reflections?
There was a certain person lately--But I will tell you of that when we
meet. No; on second thoughts I will not tell you even then, lest by
condemning him and exposing his conduct I should be violating the
principle which I have just condemned. So, whoever he is, and whatever
he may be, the matter shall remain unspoken; since to expose him would
be of no advantage for the purpose of example; but to hide his fault
will be of great advantage to good nature.

_To the Emperor Trajan_

It is my rule, to refer to you all matters about which I have any doubt.
For who can be more capable of removing my scruples or of instructing my

I have never been present at any trials of Christians, and am,
therefore, ignorant of the reasons for which punishment is inflicted, as
well as of the examinations which it is proper to make of their guilt.
As to whether any difference is usually made with respect to the ages of
the guilty, or whether no distinction is to be observed between the
young and the old; whether repentance entitles them to a pardon, or
whether it is of no advantage to a man who has once been a Christian
that he has ceased to be one; whether the very profession of
Christianity unattended by any criminal act, or only the crimes that are
inherent in the profession are punishable--in all these points I am very

In the meantime, the method which I have observed towards those who have
been brought before me as Christians is this. I have interrogated them
as to whether they were Christians; if they confessed I repeated the
question twice again, adding threats at the same time; and if they still
persevered I ordered them to execution. For I was persuaded that
whatever the nature of their opinions might be, their pertinacity and
inflexible obstinacy ought certainly to be punished. Others also were
brought before me possessed by the same madness, but as they were Roman
citizens I ordered them to be sent to Rome. As this crime spread while
it was actually under prosecution, many fresh cases were brought up. An
anonymous paper was given me containing a charge against many persons.
Those who denied that they were Christians, or that they had ever been
so, repeated after me an invocation to the gods, offered wine and
incense before your statue, which for this purpose I had ordered to be
placed among the statues of the gods, and even reviled the name of
Christ; and so, as it is impossible to force those who are really
Christians to do any of these things, I thought it proper to dismiss
them. Others who had been accused confessed themselves at first to be
Christians, but immediately afterwards denied it; and others owned that
they had formerly been of that number, but had now forsaken their error.
All these worshipped your statue and the images of the gods, at the same
time reviling the name of Christ.

They affirmed that the whole of their guilt, or their error, had been as
follows. They met on a stated day before sunrise and addressed a form of
invocation to Christ as to a God; they also bound themselves by an oath,
not for any wicked purpose but never to commit thefts, robberies, or
adulteries, never to break their word, nor to deny a trust when they
should be called upon to deliver it up. After this had been done they
used to separate, and then reassemble to partake in common of an
innocent meal. They had desisted, however, from this custom, after the
publication of my edict, by which, in accordance with your orders, I had
forbidden fraternities to exist. Having received this account I thought
it all the more necessary to make sure of the real truth by putting two
slave-girls, who were said to have taken part in their religious
functions, to the torture; but I could discover nothing more than an
absurd and extravagant superstition.

I have, therefore, adjourned all further proceedings in the affair in
order to consult with you. It appears to be a matter highly deserving
your consideration, especially as very many persons are involved in the
danger of these prosecutions; for the inquiry has already extended and
is likely further to extend to persons of all ranks and ages, and of
both sexes. This contagious superstition is not confined to the cities
only, but has spread its infection among the villages and country
districts as well; and it seems impossible to cure this evil or to
restrain its progress. It is true that the temples which were once
almost deserted have lately been frequented, and that the religious
rites which had been interrupted are again revived; and there is a
general demand for animals for sacrificial victims, which for some time
past have met with few purchasers. From all this it is easy to imagine
what numbers might be reclaimed from this error if pardon were granted
to those who may repent of it.

* * * * *


Political Testament

Armand Jean du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu, the great French
cardinal-statesman, was born in Paris on September 5, 1585, of
a noble family, and was at first educated for the profession
of arms, but entered the Church in order to become Bishop of
Lucon in 1606. Having come up to Paris to make his way in the
world, he was appointed almoner to the young queen Anne of
Austria, and rose in 1616 to be Secretary of State for War and


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