The World's Greatest Books, Vol X
Part 5 out of 6
Mademoiselle de Silly, an amiable and cultivated young lady whose
actions were ruled by principles rather than by feelings, came to live
at Saint-Louis, and I was soon attached to her with all the ardour of a
girl's affection; her tastes became mine, and I used to read all day
beside her. She was then studying the philosophy of Descartes, and I
became absorbed in questions of that kind to the neglect of everything
else, until, fearing lest they might disturb my faith, I resolutely
banished them from my mind.
I was about fourteen years old when the convent of Saint-Louis fell into
great poverty owing to a famine which was desolating France, and the
disaffection of the nuns was centred on me as a chief cause of
unnecessary expense. Their complaints came to the archbishop of Rouen,
and abbess had difficulty in keeping me with her. My helpless condition
began to force itself on my attention; and I realised that if the abbess
were to die I was alone and without support in the world.
An unexpected event now drew me closer to Mademoiselle de Silly. Her
mother, having come to Rouen, took her home to Silly, and invited me to
accompany her. I accepted joyfully, and spent several months in the
solitary and melancholy old castle. The Marquis was extremely
economical, the Marquise very devout, and we saw few people. One visitor
from the neighborhood, however, attracted me strongly; and as he came
often and stayed long, my friend and I agreed that one of us had pleased
him. When he had declared his affection, and it was not for me, I
learned what jealousy is--a kind of horror like that of falling down
through a fathomless abyss.
During the next visit to Silly in the following year the son of the
house arrived, and at first kept very much to himself and to his books.
But having heard his sister and myself complaining of these unsociable
ways, he frankly confessed his fault and amended it, and from that day
we spent every hour together. His mind and his manner was infinitely
agreeable; and in my successive visits to Silly we formed a delightful
friendship which was never interrupted by more ardent feelings.
_Thrown on the World_
At length my dear abbess fell so dangerously ill that I saw I was about
to lose her; and I became desolately aware that I owed her all, and that
her death would not only leave me absolutely helpless, but would also
deprive me of my best friend. I never knew anyone else so abundant in
goodness, with so much sweetness, attention for others and forgetfulness
of self, nor with such exact regard for every duty. Her death came soon,
and it was evident that neither her sister nor I could remain at the
convent. Several generous helpers came forward with offers of support,
but in my uncertain position I judged it better to refuse them all. I
was resolved to suffer any misery and servitude rather than sacrifice my
independence, and only accepted a small loan sufficient to take me to
I was soon in the great city, looking out for a situation as children's
governess; fortunately, I had a taste for that occupation, and imagined
that taste for it meant talent. I had a sister, in the household of the
Duchess de La Ferte, and found her very amiable and helpful. With her
assistance I went to board at a cheap rate in the convent of the
Presentation, and she succeeded in inspiring her mistress with so
elevated an idea of my attainments that the Duchess soon afterwards sent
for me. After showing me off as a prodigy of learning to all her
friends, the Duchess de La Ferte, a voluble and enthusiastic woman,
conceived a violent affection for me, and projected innumerable schemes
for my advancement, which ended in my being received into her own
household as her secretary.
I should have been delighted with this position if I had not remembered
how my sister, who had gone there as her favourite, had fallen to the
situation of chambermaid, and if I had not realised that my mistress's
affection would probably be as short-lived as it was intemperate. It
proved to be so indeed; it was succeeded by a hatred as violent as her
attachment had been; and after subjecting me to every indignity she
finally disposed of me by placing me in the household of the Duchess of
Maine, at Sceaux.
Here I inhabited a tiny room, without windows or fireplace, and so low
that it was impossible to stand upright. I was given sewing to do, but
my first piece of work proved my incapacity, and my extremely
short-sight made me equally helpless in waiting on the Duchess. I was
astonished at the patience with which she bore my awkwardness, but my
fellow-servants, with whom I was most unpopular, were less merciful. The
hard and thankless existence, so different from anything which I had
been accustomed, threw me into a profound depression, until I began to
cherish the idea of taking leave of life.
But gradually my situation altered for the better. Her Serene Highness
the Duchess began to take notice of me, and became accustomed to speak
to me and to take interest and pleasure in my replies. She had now
succeeded in raising her family to rank equal to her own, and by a
famous edict her children and their descendants had been brought within
the succession to the crown. Her delight in amusements and in pageants
was now at its highest, and it happened that the Abbe de Vaubrun,
designing a spectacular piece in honor of Night, confided to me the task
of writing and delivering an epilogue in that character. My stage-fright
spoiled my elocution, but from that day I was entrusted with the
organisation of these magnificent entertainments, and the last of them
was entirely designed and written by myself. By this means I came to
take a quite different place in the household.
King Louis XIV. had been failing for some time, though every one
pretended not to notice it; and the Duchess of Maine, ever anxious for
the greatness of her family, was very eager to know his testamentary
intentions. Enough was ascertained, by the help of Madame de Maintenon,
to show that the King's dispositions were in favour of the Duke of
Orleans, and the mistake was made of confiding to the Duke his future
advantage. As the illness progressed, a council of regency was formed
with the Duke of Orleans at its head, and when the King died the Duke
was appointed Regent by Parliament, and the Duke of Maine was entrusted
with the education of the young King.
The Duchess of Maine, who had come up to Paris for this anxious time,
suffered a good deal from insomnia, and now called me in to read to her
every night. But there was more conversation than reading, and she
poured out to me in entire confidence all her secrets, projects,
complaints and regrets. This touching confidence made me very deeply
attached to her; and when she and her husband removed to the Tuilleries
to superintend the King's education, they took me with them.
In defence of the interests of her family in the succession to the
Crown, which were threatened by the Duke of Orleans, Cardinal Polignac
and others undertook the preparation of a very learned memoir, based on
a great mass of historical and legal precedents; the Duchess threw
herself into the most laborious researches to assist them, and I was set
to study ancient volumes and to correspond with all kinds of
authorities. The great work was finished at last; it was a fine,
well-written production; but it did not repay the trouble it had cost.
The question was decided against the family of Maine, the edict
conferring on them the succession to the Crown was revoked, and the rank
of princes of the blood was taken from them.
It is impossible to describe the sorrow of my mistress at this sudden
overthrow of the fortunes of her family. She was wholly unable to
acquiesce in it, and her illtreatment in France suggested to her the
idea of seeking help from the King of Spain. The Baron de Walef, who was
going to that court, undertook to represent her case there, and the
Duchess of Maine held secret interviews with the Spanish ambassador in
Paris. Several other persons became implicated in these intrigues; the
Duchess became more deeply compromised than she had at first intended;
and her interests became interwoven with other chimerical projects,
including the restoration of the Pretender in England. These movements
became known to the Duke of Orleans, and my mistress's intrigues were
soon brought to an end.
On December 9, 1718, we were informed that the house of the Spanish
Ambassador was surrounded by troops, and a day or two later we learned
that our arrest, on the charge of inciting to revolution, might be
expected at any moment. On the 29th, we were awakened early in the
morning to find the house full of soldiers; the Duchess was carried off
to imprisonment at Dijon, and the Duke of Maine was immured in the
citadel of Dourlans in Picardy.
_In the Bastille_
I was taken in a carriage with three musketeers, to a little bridge
before a wall, and delivered to the governor of the Bastille, who sent
me to a large empty room, the walls of which were covered with charcoal
drawings executed by former prisoners. A little chair was brought me, a
bundle of wood was lighted on the hearth, one small candle was fixed to
the wall, and I heard half a dozen locks and bolts closing the door that
shut me off from mankind. The first hour, which I spent gazing at my
crackling fire, was the most desolate of all my imprisonment.
Then the governor appeared, with my attendant Mademoiselle Rondel; I was
rejoiced to find that she was to relieve my solitude, and to hear from
her that she had managed to hide all my papers after my capture. Our
room was presently furnished with beds, table and chairs; on the
following day we were given books and a pack of cards; our meals were
tolerable, and except for our captivity we were comfortable enough.
The two judges charged with the interrogation of the prisoners in our
affair, of whom there seemed to be a considerable number, came daily,
and held their interviews in a room immediately below ours; so that
Rondel could see through the window one of our acquaintances after
another being brought across the court to be examined. My time did not
come for many days, and I spent long hours racking my brain for the
answers which I ought to give. The fear of the questions by torture
began to force itself on my mind; and though I thought I could face pain
or even death I was doubtful whether I should be able to keep silence
under that dreadful ordeal.
After these weeks of suspense I was called before the judges, and was
asked whether the Duchess of Maine had not great confidence in me and
whether I had not been aware of her treasonable correspondence and
intrigues. The line I took was to represent my services to my mistress
as having been of a very humble nature; I insisted that I knew nothing
of her private affairs, and had seen and heard nothing that could at all
compromise her loyalty to the Government. This appeared to satisfy them
for the present, and after enquiring whether I was well treated in
prison they dismissed me.
I did not suffer from ennui in the Bastille; I devised for myself many
little occupations; and soon a surreptitious correspondence with the
Chevalier de Menil, who had been imprisoned for participation in our
affair, gave interest to the days. We were even permitted occasional
interviews by favour of one of the subordinate officials, and before we
regained our liberty I had promised to be his wife.
The Regent at last became anxious to bring to an end the whole episode
of the Duchess of Maine's intrigue; but he wished first to secure a full
admission of guilt from the principal actors in it. The Duchess was
promised her complete liberty if she would send him a frank confession
in writing, which should be seen by no one but himself. Finding herself
in a position to secure the freedom of all those whom she had
imperilled, she sent the Duke of Orleans the required paper, in which
she disclosed everything in detail and with entire sincerity.
I was examined again without making any disclosure, but after receiving
the written command of the Duchess I wrote out a declaration of all that
I knew and was a few days later set at liberty, after two years of
captivity. I went down at once to Sceaux, where I was affectionately
received by my mistress.
Returning to Paris two days later, to fetch my things from the Bastille,
I called at the Convent of the Presentation, and found in the parlour
the Chevalier de Menil. I was astonished at his manner, no less than by
what he said; it was evidently that his only desire was to break his
engagement with me. I realised that the man was without honour or
kindness, and yet it was difficult to detach my affections from him.
It was about a year later that M. Dacier was introduced to me, after the
death of his wife, by the Duchess de La Ferte, and an ardent desire for
liberty from my condition of servitude led me to accept his proposal of
marriage, subject only to be the permission of my Duchess. This she was
reluctant to give, and the matter was still under discussion when we
heard of M. Dacier's sudden death.
The rest of my life, though it has been a long one, contains little of
interest. I found myself without any object to live for, and a strange
deadness of feeling came over me, harder to bear than illness or death.
I had a distaste for existence and a horror of the world, and desired
nothing more than to hide myself away. A little pension had been secured
for me; my mistress had fallen dangerously ill; I wished to leave Sceaux
in order to run away from a new attachment which was gaining power over
me; and the thought of entering a Carmelite house became a settled
project. But I was refused even this last refuge; the prioress deciding
that I had no vocation for the religious life.
I spent several years without coming to any harmony either with myself
or with fortune. Several offers of marriage were made to me, but I could
not bring myself to accept any of them, until a sudden fancy for the
sweet simplicities of country life led me to agree to a marriage with M.
A few days after my marriage I heard of the death of the Duchess of
Maine. I never knew a more perfectly reasonable woman. She was all
feeling; even her thoughts were really sentiments; she was lively
without moodiness, impassioned without violence, always animated; sweet
and sensible. There was a vivid warmth about her, that made her a
perfectly gracious friend.
* * * * *
Life of William Pitt
The biographer of Pitt was a grandson of the Lord Mahon,
afterwards Earl of Stanhope, who married, in 1774, the great
statesman's eldest sister. Philip Henry Stanhope was born at
Walmer on January 30, 1805, and entered the House of Commons
as Lord Mahon in 1831. He took a prominent part in the
foundation of the National Portrait Gallery, and the
Historical Manuscripts Commission, and the promotion of
successful archaeological investigations on the site of Troy.
His literary labours were considerable and important. Chief
among them were the "History of England from the Peace of
Utrecht to the Peace of Versailles," the "History of Queen
Anne's Reign," and the "Life of the Right Honourable William
Pitt." The last named, published in 1861-2, is one of the most
authoritative of political biographies, compiled with a
gravity and care characteristic of its author, and of abiding
value as a standard book of reference for one of the greatest
personalities and one of the most stirring periods of English
history. Earl Stanhope died on December 24, 1875.
_I.--The Boy Statesman_
William Pitt, the elder, afterwards Earl of Chatham, married in 1754
Lady Hester Grenville. William Pitt, their second son, was born on May
28, 1759, at Hayes, near Bromley, in Kent.
In his boyhood, from the earliest years, William Pitt evinced to all
around him many tokens of intellectual promise and ambition; but his
parents were frequently distressed by his delicate health. It was no
doubt on this account that he was not sent to any public or private
school. Lord Chatham was extremely careful of the education of his
family; and, without any disparagement to young William's tutor, it was
certainly from his father that he profited most.
William was at fourteen so forward in his studies that he was sent to
Cambridge, commencing his residence at Pembroke Hall in October 1773.
His health at this period gave cause for great alarm. A serious illness
at Cambridge, however, proved a turning-point; for long afterwards he
enjoyed fairly good health. Early hours, daily exercise on horseback,
and liberal potations of port wine--his elixir of strength at this time,
although it helped in later years to undermine his constitution--made
him far stronger after his illness than before it.
In 1778, after the death of his father, he was entered at Lincoln's Inn,
and was called to the Bar in 1780. But he had little opportunity of
practising as a barrister, for his parliamentary ambitions were soon
fulfilled. In the autumn of 1780 he was an unsuccessful candidate for
Cambridge University; but through the influence of Sir James Lowther he
was returned in the same year for Appleby, and took his seat in the
Commons on January 23, 1781.
Lord North was still at the head of affairs, and the Opposition
consisted of two parties: the aristocratic Whigs, whose leader was the
Marquis of Rockingham, but whose true guiding spirit was Charles James
Fox; and a smaller band of the old adherents of Lord Chatham, under Lord
Shelburne. To this party Pitt, as a matter of course, attached himself.
His first speech was made on February 26, in support of Burke's bill for
economical reform. He completely fulfilled the high expectations that
had been formed of the son of so illustrious a father. Not only did he
please, it may be said that he astonished the House.
Two speeches later in the session confirmed the distinction of the young
orator. In 1782, after a long series of Opposition attacks, Lord North
resigned; but in the new arrangements Pitt was not included. He had
determined that he would serve his sovereign as a cabinet minister, or
not at all. For a time he devoted his efforts, without success, to the
reform of the representation of the House of Commons. But in July 1782
Lord Rockingham died; there was a cabinet split, due to a quarrel
between Fox and Shelburne; the latter became First Lord of the Treasury,
and Pitt, at the age of twenty-three, was offered and accepted the post
of Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The newly-formed ministry was soon exposed to hot attacks by the
coalition of the parties of Fox and North, and Pitt, in attacking this
"baneful alliance," made one of the greatest speeches of his career. But
the ministry was defeated; Lord Shelburne resigned; and the king,
advised by Shelburne, invited Pitt to become Prime Minister. After
anxious consideration he refused.
The Fox and North coalition now assumed office. This union of extremes
was unpopular in the country, although powerful in parliamentary
strength. Pitt tried once more to pass a measure of parliamentary
reform; and during the recess he paid a visit to France--the one foreign
journey of his life.
When parliament resumed its sittings, in the autumn of 1783, Fox's India
Bill was passed by the Commons, but rejected by the Lords. The king, who
was vehemently opposed to the bill, demanded the resignation of Fox and
North, and on December 19 invited Pitt, now aged twenty-four, to become
Prime Minister. This time the invitation was not refused.
Pitt had great difficulty in forming a cabinet, and was the only cabinet
minister in the Commons. His main support in that house was Henry
Dundas, treasurer of the navy--his life-long friend. On facing
parliament at the opening of 1784, Pitt's purpose was to delay a
dissolution until the coalition's unpopularity in the country had
reached its height, and with this end he patiently endured defeat after
defeat. In March he deemed that the right moment had come, and his
judgement was rewarded at the General Election by a triumphant majority.
Pitt was Chancellor of the Exchequer as well as First Lord of the
Treasury, and during the years of peace that followed, his successes
were largely financial. He established a series of financial reforms
that not only increased the favour in which his ministry was held, but
undoubtedly enabled the country to bear the terrible strain that was
afterwards to be placed upon it. In his attempt to adjust commercial
relations with Ireland he was less successful; he was obliged, besides,
to abandon his schemes of parliamentary reform, and his exertions, in
concert with his friend Wilberforce, to destroy the slave traffic ended
in disappointment--even although in this he had the hearty support of
his rival, Fox.
Young as he was, and victorious as he had become, he was never tempted
to presume upon his genius, or relax in his application. He allowed
himself but little holiday. He spent a good deal of such time as he
could spare at Holwood, a property he had bought near Bromley; and
occasional visits to Brighton, and to his mother's residence at Burton
Pynsent, in Somersetshire, made up the greater part of his travels.
_II.--The Regency Problem_
Not only had Pitt's administration rehabilitated English finances; it
had gained for England a strong measure of European support. In 1788
there was concluded what was virtually a triple defensive alliance with
Prussia and Holland; and with France herself, should she be willing to
remain at peace, there was a treaty of commerce to engage her in more
But towards the end of the year Pitt was confronted with what seemed a
certainty of loss of office. King George III., after a long period of
ill health, was found to be definitely suffering from mental alienation.
A regency became necessary, and the person clearly marked out for the
office was the Prince of Wales. But the prince was the political
associate of Fox, and there was no doubt that his first step on
accession to power would be the dismissal of Pitt.
Pitt saw the prospect before him, and did not attempt to shirk it. But
he did propose certain restrictions on the regency in order that the
king, should he recover his reason, might without difficulty resume his
When parliament assembled in December, Fox declared boldly that the
prince had as much right to assume sovereignty during the king's
incapacity as he would have in the event of the king's death. Pitt,
exulting in his rival's indiscreet departure from Whig principles,
retorted that the assertion of such a right, independent of the decision
of the two houses, was little less than treason to the constitution.
Fox's attitude was unpopular, and Pitt's resolutions, and the Regency
Bill that followed, were carried through the Commons.
Towards the end of February, the third reading of the Regency Bill was
impending in the Lords. Pitt had proposed that the difficulty about
procuring the royal assent to the measure should be overcome by
empowering the chancellor by a joint vote of both houses to put the
Great Seal to a commission for giving the assent. But this expedient was
unnecessary. By February 22 the king was completely recovered. The
Regency Bill fell to the ground, and all the hopes which the Opposition
had reared upon it.
The day of thanksgiving for the king's recovery is regarded by Lord
Macaulay as the zenith in Pitt's political life. "To such a height of
power and glory," he says, "had this extraordinary man risen at
twenty-nine years of age. And now," he adds, perhaps less justly, "the
tide was on the turn."
_III.--The Struggle with France_
Pitt was able to declare, in the session that preceded the dissolution
of 1790, that "we are adding daily to our strength, wealth, and
prosperity," and, as a result of the elections, his parliamentary
majority was more than confirmed.
But symptoms of the coming stress were already manifest. The minister
was anxiously watching the course of the revolution in France; and,
while far from sharing the enthusiasm of Fox for the new principles, he
did not endorse the fierce hostility of Burke.
"I cannot regard with envious eyes," he said, "any approximation in
neighbouring states to those sentiments which are the characteristics of
every British subject."
But the development of events soon made it clear that the new France had
become a danger to the peace of Europe. As long as possible Pitt avoided
war, which was ultimately forced upon him in 1793 by France's attack
upon Holland, to which we were bound by treaty obligations.
From that time, until the peace in 1802, English naval enterprises were
generally successful, and English military enterprises generally failed.
Pitt has often been blamed for the faults of his country's generals; but
it is assuredly true that he did all that a civilian could do to secure
success in the field.
The heavy cost of the war, increased as it was by the subsidies paid to
Austria, and afterwards to Russia, compelled an entire departure from
Pitt's old financial methods. Each year brought an increase of taxation
and an increase of debt; and at the beginning of 1797 the directors of
the Bank of England, in dire perplexity, told Pitt that the state, for
all his expedients, was threatened with insolvency. Pitt did not falter.
An order in council was issued, suspending cash payments at the bank.
Thus was established a gigantic system of paper credit, giving us power
to cope with no less gigantic foes. Cash payments were not resumed until
Pitt had not only to cope with enemies without, but with sedition
within. Societies formed for propagating the principles of the
revolution advocated the subversion of the constitution under the
pretence of parliamentary reform; the populace, angered by the
privations caused by the clearness of food, listened readily to the
agitators; riots were frequent, but the most mischievous form taken by
sedition was that of armed conspiracy. Against these evils Pitt
contended by royal proclamations, prosecutions, and, above all, by the
suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. In his firm suppression of disorder
Pitt was loyally supported by large majorities in both houses, and the
country generally was on his side. But his domestic policy, his foreign
policy, and his finance were unsparingly attacked by Fox and a small
band of devoted followers--followers who did not abate in their
resolution when their leader, weary of the unequal conflict, retired for
a time from public life.
In the busy and anxious year 1796, there was a report that Pitt was on
the point of marriage. During his short intervals of leisure at Holwood,
he often visited his neighbour, Lord Auckland, at Beckenham, and was
much attracted by Lord Auckland's eldest daughter, the Hon. Eleanor
Eden. This strong attachment did not proceed to a proposal and a
marriage. Pitt wrote to Lord Auckland avowing his affection, but
explaining that in the circumstances of pecuniary difficulty in which he
was involved, he would not presume to make the lady an offer. Lord
Auckland acknowledged the explanation as adequate, and thus honourably
ended the only "love-passage" in the life of Pitt.
Considering that Pitt's income as minister was L6,000 a year, and that
he derived an additional L3,000 a year from the Lord Wardenship of the
Cinque Ports, his pecuniary troubles may seem hard to explain. He had no
family, and no expensive tastes. But he was so intent upon the national
exchequer that he neglected his private accounts, with the consequence
that he was plundered by his domestics. His expenses were not checked,
and his debts continued to grow.
In the year 1800 Pitt was able to achieve a momentous change in the
affairs of Ireland. The chronic discontent of that country, largely due
to the resentment of the Catholics at their exclusion from the rights of
citizenship, had been fanned by the importation of revolutionary ideas;
and there were hopes, once or twice on the point of realisation, of a
French invasion of the island. In 1798 a rebellion broke out, but was
suppressed with promptness, and, it must be added, in many instances
with cruelty. But to Pitt the suppression of the insurrection was only
the first part of his duty. He thought that to revert to the old system
would be a most shallow policy. A new, and comprehensive, and healing
method must be tried--an Act of Union, which should raise the minds of
Irishmen from local to imperial aims--which should blend the two
legislatures, and, if possible, also the two nations, in one.
In 1800 the project was fulfilled--not without fierce resistance in the
Irish Parliament, and not without a certain distribution of favours to
those for whose support the government was anxious; although the
allegations made on this subject seem to be exaggerated. Having
accomplished the union, Pitt laid plans for a further reform which led,
early in the following year, to his retirement from office.
He proposed the emancipation of the Catholics by the substitution of a
political for the religious test of fitness for citizenship. Although
the Anglican bishops and clergy and many laymen were strongly opposed to
Catholic emancipation, Pitt would probably have been able to carry his
scheme had it not been for royal antagonism. The king believed,
erroneously but passionately, that by consenting to such a measure he
would violate his coronation oath.
His majesty expressed his opinions on the subject so publicly and so
vehemently that on January 31, 1801, Pitt felt compelled to ask leave to
resign unless he were allowed to pursue his course on the Catholic
question. The king required the abandonment of the scheme, and on
February 3 Pitt resigned office. Thus abruptly ended his renowned
administration of more than seventeen years.
The new Prime Minister was Mr. Addington, formerly Speaker of the
Commons. Several of Pitt's colleagues remained in the ministry, although
others withdrew from it; and Pitt himself gave general support to the
government--support which was offered with especial warmth, and
possessed especial value, during the hotly criticised peace negotiations
with the First Consul Bonaparte in 1801 and 1802. Although Pitt had been
obliged when in office to refuse several inadequate offers of peace, he
had always been prepared to end the war under honourable conditions. The
distinction of ending the war did not fall to his share; but his
services were not forgotten. On May 7, 1802, the House of Commons
carried by overwhelming numbers a motion, "That the Right Hon. William
Pitt has rendered great and important services to his country, and
especially deserves the gratitude of this house." And on May 28, 1802,
Pitt's birthday, more than 800 persons assembled at a memorable banquet
in honour of "the pilot that weathered the storm."
Until the renewal of war in 1803 Pitt took little-part in public
affairs. Most of his time was spent at Walmer Castle, with occasional
visits to Bath for the sake of his health, which had been uncertain
since an attack of serious illness in 1797. He remained in constant
communication with his political friends, and sometimes during the
earlier part of his retirement aided the ministry with his advice. But
with the progress of time he found himself less and less able to support
Addington and his colleagues.
In May 1803 the uneasy peace came to an end. The constant aggressions of
Bonaparte and his dominating tone made friendly relations impossible.
There was a widespread feeling in the country that now that the storm
had recommenced the old pilot should be called to the helm. Pitt
returned to the Commons after the declaration of war, and forcibly
criticised some of the financial and defensive measures of the ministry.
In 1804 the ministry showed itself wholly unequal to the strain upon it;
and the situation was complicated by a temporary return of the king's
malady. Pitt not only renewed his opposition to Addington, but made it
plain that he was prepared to take part in a strong and comprehensive
administration, including even Fox, that should be formed to rescue the
crown and country from the dangers to which they were exposed under the
A series of combined attacks was directed against the government during
the month of April. Although Addington was not defeated in the Commons,
he saw his majority steadily diminish; and on April 26 he resolved to
resign. On the 30th, the Lord Chancellor intimated to Pitt his majesty's
desire to receive the plan of a new administration.
_V.--The Last Ministry_
The king's opposition made the inclusion of Fox in the new ministry
impossible. His hostility to Fox, however, was not simply on political
grounds; he believed him to be responsible for the excesses of the
Prince of Wales. Pitt was in consequence obliged to be content with a
restricted choice of ministers, and had to face a powerful opposition in
parliament. Addington was persuaded to join the ministry early in 1805.
During the summer of 1804 Bonaparte and his host lay menacingly at
Boulogne, awaiting that command of the channel "for six hours," which
the great warrior recognised as essential to his plans. Meanwhile, Pitt
laboured to form another coalition, and, at the cost of heavy subsidies,
was successful. Russia, Austria, and Sweden joined in the league against
Napoleon; Prussia still hesitated.
In the summer of 1805 Napoleon was again at Boulogne, but his plan of
invasion was wrecked by the failure of the French fleet to reach the
Channel. When Napoleon learned that the fleet had gone south, and that
the attack upon England had been thwarted, he straightway marched his
army to mid-Europe. Pitt had staked everything on the new coalition, and
the surrender of the Austrians at Ulm was news of the utmost bitterness
to him. But a splendid corrective came soon afterwards in the crowning
naval victory of Trafalgar. Although the nation's feelings were divided
between joy at the triumph and grief at the death of the illustrious
victor, Pitt's popularity, which had been somewhat uncertain, was
enormously enhanced by the event. The Lord Mayor proposed his health as
"the saviour of Europe."
Pitt's reply was nearly as follows: "I return you many thanks for the
honour you have done me, but Europe is not to be saved by any single
man. England has saved herself by her exertions, and will, I trust, save
Europe by her example." With only these two sentences the minister sat
down. They were the last words that Pitt ever spoke in public.
He was suffering much at this time from gout, and his general health was
undermined by anxiety. In December he journeyed to Bath, and at Bath
there reached him the news of the destruction of his coalition at
Austerlitz. The battle was the cause of his death. He was struck down by
a severe internal malady and he was in a state of extreme debility when
on January 11, 1806, he returned home to the house he had taken on
Putney Heath. It is said that as he passed along to his bedroom, he
observed a map of Europe hanging on the wall, upon which he turned to
his niece and mournfully said: "Roll up that map. It will not be wanted
these ten years."
For a few days the doctors had hopes that he might recover, but on the
22nd it became evident that he could not live for twenty-four hours.
Early in the morning of the 23rd he died.
"At about half-past two," wrote the Hon. James Hamilton Stanhope, who
was at his bedside, "Mr. Pitt ceased moaning, and did not make the
slightest sound for some time. Shortly afterwards, in a tone I never
shall forget, he exclaimed: 'Oh, my country! How I love my country!'
From that time he never spoke or moved, and at half-past four expired
without a groan or struggle. His strength being quite exhausted, his
life departed like a candle burning out."
* * * * *
ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY
The Life of Thomas Arnold, D.D.
Arthur Penrhyn Stanley was born at Alderley Rectory, Cheshire,
on December 13, 1815. He was educated at Rugby under Arnold,
and at Oxford, where Tait, the future Archbishop of
Canterbury, was his tutor. Entering holy orders, he was
appointed select preacher in 1845; became Canon of Canterbury
in 1851; and in 1863 succeeded Trench as Dean of Westminster.
He died on July 18, 1881, and by Queen Victoria's commands his
remains were laid beside those of his wife, Lady Augusta
Bruce, in Henry VII.'s Chapel, Westminster. Of all his works,
perhaps his most important contribution to English literature
is the "Life of Arnold," which was published two years after
the death of the famous master of Rugby. To the task of
writing the book Stanley devoted all his energies, steering
clear, however, of any attempt to form an opinion of his own
upon Arnold's life and character, while achieving a result
that not only assured his own position at Oxford, but brought
him well into the front rank of contemporary writers. The
religious animosity at Oxford was uncongenial to Stanley, and
it was only the prospect of Dr. Arnold occupying the Chair of
Modern History that reconciled him to his surroundings.
_I.--Youth and Early Manhood_
Thomas Arnold, seventh child and youngest son of William and Martha
Arnold, was born June 13, 1795, at East Cowes, Isle of Wight, where his
father was collector of customs. His early education was undertaken by a
sister; and in 1803 he was sent to Warminister School, in Wiltshire. In
1807 he went to Winchester, where, having entered as a commoner and
afterwards become a scholar of the college, he remained till 1811. In
after life he always cherished a strong Wykehamist feeling, and, during
his headmastership at Rugby, often recurred to his knowledge there first
acquired, of the peculiar constitution of a public school.
He was then, as always, of a shy and retiring disposition; but his
manner as a child, and till his entrance at Oxford, was marked by a
stiffness and formality, the very reverse of the joyousness and
simplicity of his later years. He was unlike those of his own age, with
pursuits peculiar to himself; and the tone and style of his early
letters are such as might have been produced by living chiefly with his
elders, and reading, or hearing read, books suited to a more advanced
age. Both as boy and young man he was remarkable for a difficulty in
early rising amounting almost to a constitutional infirmity; and though
in after life this was overcome by habit, he often said that early
rising was a daily effort to him.
The beginning of some of his later interests may be traced in his
earlier amusements and occupations. He never lost the recollection of
the impression produced upon him by the excitement of naval and military
affairs, of which he naturally saw and heard much by living at Cowes in
the time of the Napoleonic war; and with his playmates he would sail
rival toy fleets or act the battles of the Homeric heroes with
improvised spears and shields. He was extremely fond of ballad poetry,
and his earliest compositions all ran in that direction. At Winchester
he was noted for his forwardness in history and geography; and there
also he gave indications of that mnemonic faculty which in later years
showed itself in minute details, extending to the exact state of the
weather on particular days, or the exact words or passages he had not
seen for twenty years. The period of his home and school education was
too short to exercise much influence on his after life, but he always
looked back upon it with tenderness.
In 1811 he was elected a scholar of Corpus Christi College, Oxford; in
1814 he took a first class in classics; in 1815 he was made a Fellow of
Oriel; and he gained the Chancellor's prizes for the Latin and English
essays in 1815 and 1817. During his later time at Oxford he took private
pupils and read extensively in the libraries. Meanwhile, he had been led
gradually to fix on his future life course. In December, 1818, he was
ordained deacon and next year settled at Laleham, where, in August,
1820, he married Mary Penrose, daughter of the rector of Fledborough,
At Laleham he remained for nine years, coaching private pupils for the
universities. Here were born six of his nine children; the youngest
three, besides one who died in infancy, were born at Rugby. During this
period an essential change and growth of Arnold's character became
manifest. The warm feelings of his youth gave place to the fixed
earnestness and devotion which henceforth took possession of him. His
former indolent habits, his morbid restlessness and occasional weariness
of duty, indulgence of vague schemes without definite purpose,
intellectual doubts as to accepted religious beliefs--all seem to have
vanished for ever.
It was now that the religious aspect of his character came to be
emphasised. In common acts of life, public and private, the depths of
his religious convictions very visibly appeared. And while it is
impossible to understand his religious belief except through the
knowledge of his life and writings on ordinary subjects, it is
impossible on the other hand, to understand his life and writings
without bearing in mind how vivid was his realisation of those truths of
religion on which he most habitually dwelt. It was this which enabled
him to undertake labours which, without such a power, must have crushed
or enfeebled the spiritual growth which in him they seemed only to
foster. His letters at this time show better than anything else how he
was, though unconsciously to himself, maturing for the arduous duties he
afterwards undertook. It was now, too, that he first became acquainted
with Niebuhr's "History of Rome," which revolutionised his views of
history, and, later, served as a model for his own "History of Rome."
_II.--Headmaster of Rugby_
Arnold was not without his visions of ambition and extensive influence
from the first, but he liked Laleham, and always looked back with fond
regret to his time there. "I have always thought," he wrote in 1823,
"with regard to ambition, that I should like to be _aut Caesar aut
nullus;_ and as it is pretty well settled for me that I shall not be
Caesar, I am quite content to live in peace as _nullus_." But the fates
had ordered it otherwise. Friends had long been urging him to seek a
larger sphere of usefulness; and when, in August, 1827, the
headmastership of Rugby became vacant, he applied for the post.
He had himself little hope of success. The testimonials he sent in were
few, but all spoke strongly of his qualifications. Among them was a
letter from Dr. Hawkins, the future Provost of Oriel, in which the
prediction was made that if Arnold were elected he would change the face
of education throughout the public schools of England. The impression
produced upon the trustees by this letter and by the other testimonials
was such that Arnold was immediately appointed. In June, 1828, he
received priest's orders; in April and November of the same year took
his degrees of B.D. and D.D., and in August entered on his new office.
The post was in many respects suited to his natural tastes--to his love
of tuition, which had now grown so strongly upon him that he declared
sometimes that he could hardly live without such employment; to the
vigour and spirits which fitted him rather to deal with the young than
the old; to the desire of carrying out his favourite ideas of uniting
things secular with things spiritual, and of introducing the highest
principles of action into regions comparatively uncongenial to their
reception. He had not, however, accepted it without grave doubts about
his fitness. In a private letter he says:
I confess that I should very much object to undertake a charge
in which I was not invested with pretty full discretion.
According to my notions of what large schools are, founded on
all I know and all I have ever heard of them, expulsion should
be practised much oftener than it is. Now, I know that
trustees, in general, are averse to this plan, because it has
a tendency to lessen the numbers of the school, and they
regard quantity more than quality. In fact, my opinions on
this point might, perhaps, generally be considered as
disqualifying me for the situation of master of a great
school; yet I could not consent to tolerate much that I know
is tolerated generally, and, therefore, I should not like to
enter on an office which I could not discharge according to my
own views of what is right.
At Rugby, Arnold from the first maintained that in the actual working of
the school he must be completely independent, and that the remedy of the
trustees, if they were dissatisfied, was not interference, but
dismissal. It was on this condition that he took the post; and any
attempt to control either the administration of the school or his own
private occupations he felt bound to resist as a duty not only to
himself but the master of every foundation school in England. The
remonstrances which he encountered, particularly from his fixed
determination always to get rid of unpromising subjects, were vehement
and numerous; but he repeatedly declared that on no other conditions
could he hold his appointment, or justify the existence of the public
school system in a Christian country.
"My object," he wrote, just before taking up duty, "will be, if
possible, to form Christian men, for Christian boys I can scarcely hope
to make; I mean that, from the natural imperfect state of boyhood, they
are not susceptible of Christian principles in their full development
upon their practice, and I suspect that a low standard of morals in many
respects must be tolerated amongst them, as it was on a larger scale in
what I consider the boyhood of the human race."
This is the keynote of his whole system. As he put it, what he looked
for in the school was, first, religious and moral principles; second,
gentlemanly conduct; and third, intellectual ability. Intellectual
training was never for a moment underrated, but he always thought first
of his charges as schoolboys who must grow up to be Christian men. His
education, in short, "was not based upon religion, but was itself
_religious_." For cleverness as such, Arnold had no regard. "Mere
intellectual acuteness," he used to say, "divested as it is, in too many
cases, of all that is comprehensive and great and good, is to me more
revolting than the most helpless imbecility, seeming to be almost like
the spirit of Mephistopheles." Often when this intellectual cleverness
was seen in union with moral depravity, he would be inclined to deny its
A mere plodding boy was, above all others, encouraged by him. At Laleham
he had once got out of patience, and spoken sharply to a pupil of this
kind, when the pupil looked up in his face and said, "Why do you speak
angrily, sir? Indeed, I am doing the best that I can." Years afterwards
he used to tell the story to his children, and said, "I never felt so
much ashamed in my life--that look and that speech I have never
forgotten." And though it would, of course, happen that clever boys,
from a greater sympathy with his understanding, would be brought into
closer intercourse with him, this did not affect his feeling of respect,
and even of reverence, for those who, without ability, were
distinguished for high principle and industry. "If there be one thing on
earth which is truly admirable, it is to see God's wisdom blessing an
inferiority of natural powers where they have been honestly, truly and
_III.--As Teacher and Preacher_
Arnold had always been painfully impressed by the evils of the public
school system, according to which a number of boys are left to form an
independent society of their own, in which the influence they exert over
each other is far greater than that exerted by the masters. He writes,
Of all the painful things connected with my employment,
nothing is equal to the grief of seeing a boy come to school
innocent and promising, and tracing the corruption of his
character from the influence of the temptations around him, in
the very place which ought to have strengthened and improved
it. But in most cases those who come with a character of
positive good are benefited; it is the neutral and indecisive
characters which are apt to be decided for evil by schools, as
they would be, in fact, by any other temptation.
This very feeling led him to catch with eagerness at every means by
which the trial might be shortened or alleviated. He believed that the
change from childhood to manhood might be hastened without prematurely
exhausting the faculties of body and mind; and it was on this principle
that he chiefly acted. He desired the boys to cultivate true manliness
as the only step to something higher. He treated them as gentlemen, and
appealed and trusted to their common sense and conscience.
Lying to the masters he made a grave offence. He placed implicit
confidence in a boy's assertion, and then, if a falsehood were
discovered, punished it severely. In the higher forms any attempt at
further proof of an assertion was immediately checked. "If you say so,
that is quite enough; of course, I believe your word"; and there grew up
in consequence a general feeling that "it was a shame to tell Arnold a
lie: he always believed you." Few scenes can be recorded more
characteristic of him than when, in consequence of a disturbance, he had
been obliged to send away several boys, and when, in the midst of the
general spirit of discontent which this excited, he stood in his place
before the assembled school and said, "It is _not_ necessary that this
should be a school of three hundred, or one hundred, or of fifty boys;
but it is necessary that it should be a school of Christian gentlemen."
Arnold's method of teaching was founded on the principle of awakening
the intellect of every individual boy. Hence it was his practice to
teach by questioning. As a general rule, he never gave information,
except as a kind of reward for an answer, and often withheld it
altogether, or checked himself in the very act of uttering it, from a
sense that those whom he was addressing had not sufficient interest or
sympathy to receive it. His explanations were at short as
possible--enough to dispose of the difficulty and no more; and his
questions were of a kind to call the attention of the boys to the real
point of every subject and to disclose to them the exact boundaries of
what they knew or did not know. With regard to the younger boys, he
said: "It is a great mistake to think that they should _understand_ all
they learn; for God has ordered that in youth the memory should act
vigorously, independent of the understanding--whereas a man cannot
usually recollect a thing unless he understands it."
At Rugby he made it an essential part of the headmaster's office to
preach a sermon every Sunday in the school chapel. "The veriest
stranger," he said, "who ever attends service in this chapel does well
to feel something more than common interest in the sight of the
congregation here assembled. But if the sight so interests a mere
stranger, what should it be to ourselves, both to you and to me?" More
than either matter or manner of his preaching was the impression of
himself. Even the mere readers of his sermons will derive from them the
history of his whole mind, and of his whole management of the school.
But to his hearers it was more than this. It was the man himself, there
more than in any other place, concentrating all his various faculties
and feelings on one sole object, combating face to face the evil which,
directly or indirectly, he was elsewhere perpetually struggling.
His personal interest in the boys was always strong. "Do you see," he on
one occasion said to an assistant-master who had recently come, "those
two boys walking together? I never saw them together before; you should
make an especial point of observing the company they keep; nothing so
tells the changes in a boy's character."
_IV.--Influence of the Great Teacher_
But the impression which Arnold produced upon the boys was derived not
so much from any immediate intercourse or conversation with them as from
the general influence of his whole character, displayed consistently
whenever he appeared before them. This influence, with its consequent
effects, was gradually on the increase during the whole of his stay.
From the earliest period, indeed, the boys were conscious of something
unlike what they had been taught to imagine of a schoolmaster, and by
many a lasting regard was contracted for him. In the higher forms, at
least, it became the fashion, so to speak, to think and talk of him with
pride and affection. As regards the permanent effects of his whole
system, it may be said that not so much among his own pupils, or in the
scene of his actual labours, as in every public school throughout
England is to be sought the chief and enduring monument of Arnold's
headmastership at Rugby.
Of Arnold's general life at Rugby there is no need to say much; for
although the school did not occupy his whole energies, it is almost
solely by his school work that he is remembered. He took a not
unimportant part in the political and theological discussions of his
time, and various literary enterprises also engaged his attention. In
theology he entertained very broad views. One great principle he
advocated with intense earnestness was that a Christian people and a
Christian Church should be synonymous. That use of the word "Church"
which limits it to the clergy, or which implies in the clergy any
particular sacredness, he entirely repudiated.
He was convinced that the founders of our constitution in Church and
State did truly consider them to be identical; the Christian nation of
England to be the Church of England; the head of that nation to be, for
that very reason, the head of the Church. This view placed him in
antagonism to the High Church party; but, as a matter of fact, he
neither belonged, nor felt himself to belong, to any section of the
English clergy. Politically, he held himself to be a strong Whig; but
that he was not, in the common sense of the word, a member of any party
is shown by the readiness with which all parties alike, according to the
fashion of the time, claimed or renounced him as an associate.
Arnold did not like the flat scenery of Warwickshire He described
himself as "in it like a plant sunk in the ground in a pot." His
holidays were always spent away from Rugby, either on the Continent, or,
in later years, at his Westmoreland home, Fox How, a small estate
between Rydal and Ambleside, which he purchased in 1832. He was just
about to leave Rugby for Fox How when his life was mournfully and
suddenly ended by an attack of angina pectoris, on June 12, 1842. Only
the year before he had been appointed by Lord Melbourne Regius Professor
of Modern History at Oxford.
Arnold's principal works are six volumes of sermons, a three-volume
edition of Thucydides, the Oxford "Lectures on Modern History," and the
three-volume "History of Rome," which, by his unfortunate death, was
broken off at the Second Punic War. To the last-named he looked as the
chief monument of his historical fame.
* * * * *
Life of Queen Elizabeth
Agnes Strickland, born in London on August 19, 1796, with her
sister Elizabeth began in 1840 the publication of the immense
series of historical biographies of which the "Lives of the
Queens of England" formed the first and most important group.
In that group the "Elizabeth" is recognised as holding the
highest rank. It is an essentially feminine study of one of
the most remarkable of women; not a history, for historical
events are treated as of infinitely less importance than
picturesque personal details and miscellaneous gossip, but
presenting altogether an admirable picture of the outward
seeming of those spacious days, and a discriminating and
judicious portrait of the maiden queen herself. The author's
views, however, would not always be endorsed by a masculine
critic. Agnes Strickland died on July 13, 1874. The literature
relating to the life and times of Queen Elizabeth would form a
library of contemporary records. Many volumes of state papers
have been published: Camden's "Annals of Elizabeth" is the
classical account of her. Creighton's "Queen Elizabeth" and
volumes VII. to XII. of Froude's "History of England" are the
leading modern works; and no one who wishes to know anything
of the great queen can afford to neglect Hume's "Courtships of
Queen Elizabeth," which will also be found in these pages (see
_I.--The Lady Elizabeth_
Queen Elizabeth first saw the light at Greenwich Palace, where, says
Heywood, "she was born on the eve of the Virgin's nativity, and died on
the eve of the Virgin's annunciation." The christening ceremony was
gorgeous and elaborate, but, with the downfall of her mother, Anne
Boleyn, she ceased to be treated as a princess. She seems to have owed
much to the judicious training of Lady Margaret Bryan, in whose charge
she was. Later, she was associated with Prince Edward, four years her
junior; both displayed an extraordinary precocity and capacity for
On Henry's death, she resided with his widow, Catharine Parr, who
married the Lord Admiral, Thomas Seymour. That ambitious nobleman,
brother of the Protector, certainly designed, when Catharine died, to
marry Elizabeth; an intention which was among the causes of his
execution under attainder. His relations with her had already been
unduly familiar, but there was no warrant for the scandalous stories
that were repeated; and although Elizabeth all her life was naturally
disposed to an excessive freedom of manners, she now became a pattern of
decorum. But she was probably more in love with Seymour, as a girl of
fifteen, than with anyone else in after life; though, on his death, she
called him "a man of much wit and very little judgement."
Ascham is full of praises of her learning and her wide reading, both in
Greek and Latin, which is displayed somewhat pedantically in her
letters; her propriety and simplicity of apparel in these days is in
curious contrast to the extravagances of her wardrobe in later life.
Mary treated her conspicuously as a sister; she refused, however, to
abjure her Protestantism. Her position became extremely difficult, as
the French, the Spaniards, and the Protestant party each sought to
involve her in plots for their own ends. These culminated in Wyat's
rebellion. The inevitable suspicions attaching to her caused her to be
lodged in the Tower; but, in spite of the machinations of the Spanish
party and the distrust of Mary, the evidence produced failed to warrant
Yet she was kept in rigorous confinement, her life continuing to be in
danger for a month after Wyat himself had been executed. She was then
removed to Richmond, but refused to purchase liberty at the price of
marriage to a foreign prince, Philibert of Savoy--a scheme intended as a
cover for Mary's determination to marry Philip, the Prince of Spain.
Finally, she was transferred to Woodstock, where she was held a close
Policy now led her to profess acceptance of the Roman religion, but in
very ambiguous fashion. Probably it was through the intercession of
Philip--now her brother-in-law, whose policy at this time was to
conciliate the English people--that she was set at liberty and
readmitted to court at Christmas.
At the end of the next year Elizabeth was at Hatfield, under the gentle
surveillance of Sir Thomas Pope. She continued to be involved in grave
dangers by perpetual plots, in which she was far too shrewd to let
herself be implicated; and she guarded herself by a continued profession
of Romanism to the hour of her accession on her sister's death.
As the hour of Mary's death approached, there was no doubt of
Elizabeth's succession, though there was alarm as to possible
complications. On November 17, 1558, the Chancellor announced to
Parliament that Mary was dead, and Elizabeth queen. She held her first
council at Hatfield two days later, when William Cecil took his place as
her chief counsellor; on her entry into London, the position which was
to be occupied by Lord Robert Dudley, afterwards Earl of Leicester, was
The coronation, which took place in January, was a magnificent pageant,
in which Elizabeth openly courted the favour and affection of her
subjects; and it became at once apparent that the breach with Rome was
reopened. The supremacy of the crown was reasserted, the all but empty
bench of bishops was filled up with reformers; and, in answer to the
Commons, Elizabeth very clearly implied her intention of reigning a
virgin queen. She had already declined Philip of Spain's offer of his
widowed hand; and now the fact that Mary Stuart stood next in the
succession--with a better title than Elizabeth's own, if her legitimacy
were challenged--became of immense importance.
Accordingly, an express declaration of her legitimate right to the
throne was procured from Parliament. For some time pageants and popular
displays were the order of the day. But, in spite of Elizabeth's own
declarations, all her council were convinced that the safety of the
realm demanded her marriage; and suitors began to abound. Arran
appears--who now stood very near the throne of Scotland. Pickering,
Arundel, Dudley, all seemed possible aspirants. The Austrian Archduke
Charles, cousin of Philip of Spain, and Eric of Norway, were candidates.
She played with them all, and the play was made more grim by the tragic
death of Dudley's wife, Amy Robsart.
_II.--Mary Stuart and Saint Bartholomew_
The proposals for Elizabeth's own hand were now diversified by her
interest in those for the hand of the Queen of Scots; for it was of
immense importance to the Queen of England that Mary should not wed a
foreign prince who might support her claim to the English throne. Mary
professed willingness to be guided by her "sister," but was insulted by
Elizabeth's offer of her own favourite, Dudley, who was made Earl of
Leicester. Melville, the courtly Scots ambassador, had much ado to
answer Elizabeth's questions about his mistress's beauty and
accomplishments in a manner agreeable to the English queen. Mary solved
her own problem, only to create a new one, by marrying her cousin, Lord
Darnley. Elizabeth was bitterly aggrieved when a son--afterwards James
I.--was born to them. She herself continued to agitate Cecil and the
council by the favours she lavished on Leicester. But the renewed
entreaties of Parliament, that steps might be taken to secure the
succession, led to what threatened to be a serious quarrel.
Amongst these high matters, the records of her majesty's wardrobe, and
the interests of Cecil in capturing for her service a tailor employed by
Catherine de Medici, form an entertaining interlude. But tragedy was at
hand; the murder of Darnley, Mary's marriage to the murderer Bothwell,
her imprisonment at Loch Leven, Elizabeth's perturbation--for she was
sincere in her fear of encouraging subjects to control monarchs by force
of arms--was diversified by a last negotiation for her marriage with the
Archduke Charles, which broke down over his refusal to abjure his
Then came a turn of the wheel; Mary escaped from Loch Leven, her
followers were dispersed at Langside, and she fled across the Solway to
throw herself on Elizabeth's protection and find herself Elizabeth's
The Scottish queen was consigned to Bolton; an investigation was held at
York, when Mary's accusers were allowed to produce, and Mary's friends
were not allowed to test, their evidence of her complicity in Darnley's
murder. At that stage the investigations were stopped; but the Duke of
Norfolk, the head of the commission, was not deterred from pressing the
design of marrying Mary himself. Mary was placed in the charge of
Shrewsbury and his termagant spouse, Bess of Hardwick.
From this time for fifteen years, Elizabeth was perpetually playing at
proposals for her own marriage with one or other of the French King's
brothers, to keep the French court from a _rapprochement_ with Spain.
Suspicions of Norfolk's intentions led to his arrest, and this
precipitated the rising in favour of Mary under the Catholic northern
earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland; an insurrection promptly and
cruelly crushed. In the spring of 1570 the Pope issued a bull of
deposition; and the plots on behalf of Mary as Catholic claimant to the
In 1571 it appeared that Elizabeth was set on the marriage with Henry of
Anjou, nineteen years her junior, the brother who stood next in
succession to the throne of Charles IX. of France--a marriage not at all
approved by her council, and very little to Henry's own taste. It was at
this time that the conduct of negotiations in Paris was entrusted to
The relations between the queen and the Commons were exemplified by her
attempt to exclude an obnoxious member, Strickland, met by the
successful assertion of their privileges on the part of the House.
In this year the plot known as Ridolfi's was discovered, and it is to be
noted that Elizabeth herself ordered the rack to be used to extort
information. The result was condemnation of Norfolk to the block. The
recalcitrance of Henry of Anjou led to his definitely withdrawing from
his courtship, while the young Alencon became the new subject of
Elizabeth played with the new proposal, as usual, relying always on her
ability to back out of the negotiations, as in previous cases, by
demanding of her suitor a more uncompromising acceptance of
Protestantism than could be admitted. The whole affair, however, was
apparently brought to a check by the massacre of St. Bartholomew, with
the perpetration of which it seemed impossible for the most powerful of
Protestant monarchs to associate herself.
Cecil--now Lord Burleigh--would have used the occasion for the
destruction of Mary Stuart; but the device for doing so irreproachably
by handing her over to her own rebels, was frustrated--though Elizabeth
concurred--by the refusal of the Scots lords to play the part which was
assigned to them. The Alencon affair was soon in full swing again, the
young prince writing love-letters to the lady whom he had not seen.
_III.--The Hour of Mary's Doom_
Elizabeth's fondness for pageantry--partly out of a personal delight in
it, partly from a politic appreciation of its value in making her
popular--especially pageantry at some one else's expense, was
illustrated in the gorgeous doings at Kenilworth, depicted (with sundry
anachronisms) in Scott's novel.
These gaieties were the embroidery on more serious matters, for the
Netherlands had for some time been engaged in their apparently desperate
struggle with the power of Spain, and now actually invited the Queen of
England to assume sovereignty over them--an offer which she was too
acute to accept.
Yet we cannot pass over a highly characteristic incident. When the
queen's majesty had a bad toothache, the protestations of her whole
council failed to persuade her to face the extraction of the tooth, till
the Bishop of London invited the surgeon to operate first on him in her
presence, with satisfactory results. We must also record how the ugly
little Alencon, or Anjou as he was now called, arrived unexpectedly to
woo her in person, charmed her by his chivalrous audacity in doing so,
and won from her the appropriate name of "Little Frog."
Whether she really wished to marry her "frog" is extremely doubtful. She
made all the more parade of her desire to do so, since the extreme
antipathy of the council and the nation to the project would secure her
a retreat to the last. The expectation of the marriage caused the
Netherlanders to offer Anjou the sovereignty which she had rejected;
with the idea of thus securing the united support of England and France.
But when matters reached the point of negotiation for an Anglo-French
league, with the marriage as one of the articles, Elizabeth, of course,
could not be brought to a definite answer, and after long delay Anjou
found himself obliged to return to the Netherlands, neither accepted nor
rejected. His subsequent death put an end to this, her last, matrimonial
At last an English force was actually sent to help the Netherlanders,
under the command of Leicester. His conduct there led to his recall.
Another favourite stood high in the queen's good graces--Walter Raleigh.
Probably it was with a view to ousting this rival that Leicester brought
his stepson Essex into the queen's notice.
But now the hour of Mary's doom was approaching. A plot was set on foot
for the assassination of Elizabeth, into which Anthony Babington, whose
name it bears, was drawn. Walsingham, possessed of complete information
from the beginning, through his spies, nursed the plot carefully;
letters from Mary were systematically intercepted and copied till the
moment came for striking; the conspirators were arrested, and suffered
the extreme penalty of the treason laws; and Elizabeth consented to have
Mary herself at last brought to trial. She was refused counsel; the
commission condemned her. Parliament demanded the execution of the death
sentence. Elizabeth had her own misgivings.
She was afraid of the responsibility. Leicester suggested poison, but
Burleigh and Walsingham stood by the law. A special embassy of
remonstrance came from France; Mary wrote a dignified letter, not an
appeal for her life, which moved the queen to tears; protests from the
King of Scotland only aroused indignation; Elizabeth was frightened by
rumours of fresh plots and of a French invasion.
At last she signed the death warrant, brought to her by Secretary
Davison; the Chancellor's seal was attached, and the council, fearing
some evasion on Elizabeth's part, issued the commission for Mary's
execution without further reference to the queen; she was kept in
ignorance of the fact till the tragedy was completed. She was furious
with the council, but powerless against their unanimity. She could
venture to make a scapegoat of Davison, and made a vain attempt to clear
herself of responsibility in a letter to James, which failed to soothe
the burst of indignation with which the news was received in Scotland.
But the one thing she feared--a coalition of France, Spain, and
Scotland--was made impossible by the antagonisms of the former and the
weakness of the last.
Another crisis was at hand. Philip of Spain, claiming the throne of
England as a descendant of John of Gaunt, was preparing the great
Armada; Pope Sixtus V. was proclaiming a crusade against the heretic
queen. Drake sailed into Cadiz harbour, and "singed the don's whiskers,"
but the vast preparations went on. A lofty spirit animated the queen and
the people. London undertook to provide double the number of ships and
men demanded from her. The militia was gathered at Tilbury, under
Leicester. Howard of Effingham was Lord Admiral, with Drake as
vice-admiral; in the enthusiasm of the moment, Elizabeth bestowed
knighthood on a valorous lady, Mary, the wife of Sir Hugh Cholmondeley.
A report that the Armada had been destroyed by a gale, which actually
drove it into Corunna for repairs, caused Elizabeth, with her usual
parsimony, to order four great vessels to be dismantled; Howard retained
them instead, at his own charges. On July 19, 1588, the Armada was
sighted off the Lizard, and for eighteen days the naval heroes were
grappling with that "invincible" fleet. Elizabeth herself visited the
camp at Tilbury, rode through the lines, wearing a corselet and a
farthingale of amazing dimensions, while a page bore her helmet, and
addressed her soldiers in stirring words.
The victory was celebrated by medals bearing the device of a fleet in
full sail, with the words _Venit, vidit, fugit_ ("it came, it saw, it
fled"), and of the dispersal by fireships with the words, _Dux femina
facti_ ("a woman led the movement").
_IV.--Elizabeth's Closing Years_
The defeat of the Armada was followed by an expedition to Lisbon, to
wrest Portugal from Spain; owing to inadequate equipment it failed,
after a promising beginning, the Portuguese lending no help. Essex
managed to escape from court and join the expedition, messengers
ordering him to return being too late. For this he was forgiven; but
when he secretly married the widow of Sidney, and daughter of
Walsingham, Elizabeth was furiously angry.
Not Essex, but Norris was sent to command a force dispatched to the aid
of Henry of Navarre, who was now fighting for the crown of France.
Essex, however, was subsequently sent, at Henry's own request. His
absence was utilised by Burleigh to secure the advancement of his own
astute son, Robert Cecil, who secured the royal favour by the ingenuity
of his flattery.
When Essex finally returned from France, he was received with the utmost
favour; but in the interval he had been transformed into an intriguing
politician. Parliament, which had not been called for four years, met in
1593, and there was an immediate collision with the Crown. Elizabeth's
tone was much more despotic than of old. Petitions for the settlement of
the succession were met by the arbitrary imprisonment of Wentworth and
Essex favoured the popular party, but had not the courage to head it; he
was moved not by patriotism, but by jealousy of the Cecil ascendancy.
The queen, when she had passed the age of sixty, was as determined as
ever to pose as a youthful beauty, and her courtiers had no reluctance
in assuming the tone of despairing lovers. No one played this part more
persistently than Raleigh, who, when relegated to the Tower for
marrying, proclaimed his misery, not at being separated from his bride,
but at being shut out of the radiant presence of the queen.
Essex and Raleigh were associated in two expeditions, one directed with
complete success against Cadiz, the other being a complete failure. The
Burleigh faction succeeded in getting for Raleigh whatever credit there
was in both cases, though Essex was better entitled to it.
But it was Ireland that wrought the ruin of Essex. A dispute in the
council on the subject caused the queen to box the favourite's ears,
which caused him to retire in resentment for many months. Soon after his
return to court, he brought upon himself his own appointment to the
lord-deputyship of Ireland. His conduct there displeased her; from her
scolding letters, he concluded that his enemies in the council were
undermining his position in his absence. He deserted his post, hurried
to London, and burst, travel-stained as he was, into Elizabeth's
chamber. For the moment she appeared disposed to forgive him, but was
not long in deciding that his insolence must be punished, and he was
placed in confinement.
So he continued for about a year, in spite of appeals to the queen. The
adverse party in the council had the predominance. At last, however, he
was granted a degree of liberty, and Francis Bacon tried to conciliate
Elizabeth towards her former favourite. But the unfortunate man allowed
his resentment to carry him into dangerous courses. His house became a
rendezvous of the discontented. Finally, a futile attempt on his part to
raise the citizens of London in his favour consummated his ruin. He was
soon a prisoner; his condemnation was now a foregone conclusion;
Elizabeth signed the warrant with fingers which did not tremble; and, to
the universal astonishment, the favourite was executed.
Elizabeth's meeting with her last parliament displays in a marked degree
the tact which never deserted her when she thought fit to employ it.
Their protest against the practice of monopolies, instead of rousing her
ire, brought from her a notably gracious promise to redress the
grievances complained of. This was in 1601. In the next year, when she
became sixty-nine, there was no relaxation in her gaieties; but under
the surface, Elizabeth was old and sad.
Her popularity had never been the same since the death of Essex; and the
memory of the man she had cherished and finally sent to his doom,
well-deserved as that was, was a perpetual source of grief to her. In
March 1603, she was stricken with her last fatal illness. Yet she would
not go to bed. At last she gave in; she knew herself dying long before
she admitted it.
It was uncertain whether even in her last moments she would acknowledge
the right of any successor to her throne, but a gesture was interpreted
as favouring the King of Scots. Finally, she sank into a sleep from
which she never awoke. So passed away England's Elizabeth.
* * * * *
Journal to Stella
The "Journal to Stella," which extends over the years 1710 to
1713, was first published in 1766 and has often been
republished since. The manuscripts are preserved in the
British Museum. It was at Sir William Temple's home, Moor Park
in Surrey, that Swift came to know Esther Johnson, or
"Stella," who was fourteen years younger than himself. In 1699
Temple died, and Stella, with her friend, Rebecca Dingley,
came to Ireland at Swift's request. Their relation has been
made a great mystery. It will perhaps always be doubtful
whether he was nominally married to her secretly; the evidence
is on the whole against the existence of such a bond. But to
the further question--why did he not take her to live as his
wife--a sufficient reply may be found in his abnormal nature.
In the "Journal" the word "Presto" refers to Swift himself
(see FICTION); "MD" to Stella.
LONDON, Sept. 9, 1710.
I got here last Thursday, after five days' travelling, weary the first,
almost dead the second, tolerable the third, and well enough the rest;
and am now glad of the fatigue, which has served for exercise; and I am
at present well enough. The Whigs were ravished to see me, and would lay
hold on me as a twig while they are drowning, and the great men making
me their clumsy apologies, etc. But my Lord Treasurer received me with a
great deal of coldness, which has enraged me so, I am almost vowing
revenge. I have not yet gone half my circle; but I find all my
acquaintance just as I left them. Everything is turning upside down;
every Whig in great office will, to a man, be infallibly put out; and we
shall have such a winter as hath not been seen in England.
The Tatler expects every day to be turned out of his employment; and the
Duke of Ormond, they say, will be Lieutenant of Ireland. I hope you are
now peaceably in Presto's lodgings; but I resolve to turn you out by
Christmas; in which time I shall either have done my business, or find
it not to be done. Pray be at Trim by the time this letter comes to you;
and ride little Johnson, who must needs be now in good case. I have
begun this letter unusually, on the post-night, and have already written
to the Archbishop; and cannot lengthen this. Henceforth I will write
something every day to MD, and make it a sort of journal; and when it is
full, I will send it, whether MD writes or no; and so that will be
pretty: and I shall always be in conversation with MD, and MD with
Presto; and so farewell.
LONDON, NOV. 11, 1710.
I dined to-day in the City, and then went to christen Will Frankland's
child; Lady Falconbridge was one of the godmothers; this is a daughter
of Oliver Cromwell, and extremely like him by the picture I have seen.
My business in the City was to thank Stratford for a kindness he has
done me. I found Bank stock fallen thirty-four to the hundred, and was
mighty desirous to buy it. I had three hundred pounds in Ireland, and I
desired Stratford to buy me three hundred pounds in Bank stock and that
he keep the papers, and that I would be bound to pay him for them; and,
if it should rise or fall, I should take my chance and pay him interest
in the meantime. I was told money was so hard to get here, and no one
would do this for me. However, Stratford, one of the most generous men
alive, has done this for me: so that three hundred pounds cost me three
hundred pounds and thirty shillings. This was done a week ago, and I can
have five pounds for my bargain already. I writ to your Mother to desire
Lady Giffard would do the same with what she owes me, but she tells your
mother she has no money. I would to God, all you had in the world was
there. Whenever you lend money, take this rule, to have two people
bound, who have both visible fortunes; for they will hardly die
together; and, when one dies, you fall upon the other, and make him add
another security. So, ladies, enough of business for one night. Paaaaast
twelve o'clock; nite, nite deelest MD. I must only add, that, after a
long fit of rainy weather, it has been fair two or three days, and is
this day grown cold and frosty; so you must give poor little Presto
leave to have a fire in his chamber morning and evening too; and he will
do as much for you. Shall I send this to-morrow? Well I will, to oblige
MD. 'Tis late, so I bid you good-night.
CHELSEA, June, 1711.
I went at noon to see Mr. Secretary at his office, and there was Lord
Treasurer; so I killed two birds, etc., and we were glad to see one
another and so forth. And the Secretary and I dined at Sir William
Wyndam's, who married Lady Catherine Seymour, your acquaintance, I
suppose. There were ten of us at dinner. It seems, in my absence, they
had erected a Club, and made me one; and we made some laws to-day, which
I am to digest and add to, against next meeting. Our meetings are to be
every Thursday. We are yet but twelve; Lord Keeper and Lord Treasurer
were proposed; but I was against them, and so was Mr. Secretary, though
their sons are of it, and so they are excluded; but we design to admit
the Duke of Shrewsbury. The end of our Club is to advance conversation
and friendship, and to reward deserving persons with our interest and
recommendation. We take in none but men of wit or men of interest; and
if we go on as we begin, no other Club in this town will be worth
talking of. This letter will come three weeks after the last, so there
is a week lost; but that is owing to my being out of town.
Well, but I must answer this letter of our MD's. Saturday approaches,
and I han't written down this side. Oh, faith, Presto has been a sort of
lazy fellow: but Presto will remove to town this day se'night: the
Secretary has commanded me to do so: and I believe he and I shall go
some days to Windsor, where he will have leisure to mind some business
we have together. To-day our Society (it must not be called a Club)
dined at Mr. Secretary's: we were but eight. We made some laws, and then
I went to take my leave of Lady Ashburnham, who goes out of town
Steele has had the assurance to write to me that I would engage my Lord
Treasurer to keep a friend of his in an employment. I believe I told you
how he and Addison served me for my good offices in Steele's behalf; and
I promised Lord Treasurer never to speak for either of them again.
We have plays acted in our town; and Patrick was at one of them, oh, oh.
He was damnably mauled one day when he was drunk, by a brother-footman,
who dragged him along the floor on his face, which looked for a week
after as if he had the leprosy, and I was glad enough to see it. I have
been ten times sending him back to you; yet now he has new clothes and a
laced hat, which the hatter brought by his orders, and he offered to pay
for the lace out of his wages.
I must rise now and shave, and walk to town, unless I go with the Dean
in his chariot at twelve: and I have not seen that Lord Peterborough
yet. The Duke of Shrewsbury is almost well again, but what care you? You
do not care for my friends. Farewell, my dearest lives and delights: I
love you better than ever, if possible, as hope saved, I do, and ever
will. God almighty bless you ever, and make us happy together! I pray
for this twice every day; and I hope God will hear my poor hearty
prayers. Remember, if I am used ill and ungratefully, as I have formerly
been, 'tis what I am prepared for, and I shall not wonder at it. Yet I
am now envied, and thought in high favour, and have every day numbers of
considerable men teasing me to solicit for them. And the Ministry all
use me perfectly well; and all that know them say they love me. Yet I
can count upon nothing, nor will, but upon MD's love and kindness. They
think me useful; they pretended they were afraid of none but me, and
that they resolved to have me; they have often confessed this: yet all
this makes little impression on me--Pox of these speculations! They give
me the spleen; a disease I was not born to. Let me alone, sirrahs, and
be satisfied: I am, as long as MD and Presto are well. Little wealth,
and much health, and a life by stealth: that is all we want; and so
farewell, dearest MD; Stella, Dingley, Presto, all together; now and for
ever all together. Farewell again and again.
LONDON, July, 1711.
I have just sent my 26th, and have nothing to say, because I have other
letters to write (pshaw, I began too high) but to-morrow I will say
more, and fetch up this line to be straight This is enough at present
for two dear saucy naughty girls.
Morning. It is a terrible rainy day. Patrick lay out all last night, and
is not yet returned: faith, poor Presto is a desolate creature; neither
servant, nor linen, nor anything.
I was at Court and Church to-day: I am acquainted with about thirty in
the drawing-room, and I am so proud I make all the Lords come up to me;
one passes half an hour pleasant enough. We had a dunce to preach before
the queen to-day, which often happens. Windsor is a delicious situation,
but the town is scoundrel. The Duke of Hamilton would needs be witty,
and hold up my train as I walked upstairs. It is an ill circumstance
that on Sundays much company always meet at the great tables. The
Secretary showed me his bill of fare, to encourage me to dine with him.
"Poh," said I, "show me a bill of company, for I value not your dinner."
In my conscience. I fear I shall have the gout. I sometimes feel pains
about my feet and toes: I never drank till within these two years, and I
did it to cure my head. I often sit evenings with some of these people,
and drink in my turn; but I am resolved to drink ten times less than
before; but they advise me to let what I drink be all wine, and not to
put water in it. Tooke and the printer stayed to-day to finish their
affair. Then I went to see Lord Treasurer, and chid him for not taking
notice of me at Windsor. He said he kept a place for me yesterday at
dinner, and expected me there; but I was glad I did not go, because the
Duke of Buckingham was there, and that would have made us acquainted;
which I have no mind to.
I have sent a noble haunch of venison this afternoon to Mrs. Vanhomrigh;
I wish you had it sirrahs. I dined gravely with my landlord, the
Secretary. The queen was abroad to-day to hunt; but finding it disposed
to rain, she kept in her coach, which she drives herself, and drives
furiously, like Jehu, and is a mighty hunter, like Nimrod. Dingley has
heard of Nimrod, but not Stella, for it is in the Bible. Mr. Secretary
has given me a warrant for a buck; I can't sent it to MD. It is a sad
thing, faith, considering how Presto loves MD, and how MD would love
Presto's venison for Presto's sake. God bless the two dear Wexford
There was a drawing-room to-day at Court; but so few company, that the
queen sent for us into her bedchamber, where we made our bows, and stood
about twenty of us round the room, while she looked at us round with her
fan in her mouth, and once a minute said about three words to some that
were nearest to her, and then she was told dinner was ready, and went
LONDON, Dec. 1, 1711.
To-morrow is the fatal day for the Parliament meeting, and we are full
of hopes and fears. We reckon we have a majority of ten on our side in
the House of Lords; yet I observe Mrs. Masham a little uneasy. The Duke
of Marlborough has not seen the queen for some days past; Mrs. Masham is
glad of it, because she says he tells a hundred lies to his friends of
what she says to him: he is one day humble, and the next day on the high
This being the day Parliament was to meet, and the great question to be
determined, I went with Dr. Freind to dine in the City, on purpose to be
out of the way, and we sent our printer to see what was our fate; but he
gave us a most melancholy account of things. The Earl of Nottingham
began and spoke against a peace, and desired that in their address they
might put in a clause to advise the queen not to make a peace without
Spain; which was debated, and carried by the Whigs by about six voices:
and this has happened entirely by my Lord Treasurer's neglect, who did
not take timely care to make up his strength, although every one of us
gave him caution enough. Nottingham has certainly been bribed. The
question is yet only carried in the Committee of the whole House, and we
hope when it is reported to the House to-morrow, we shall have a
This is a day that may produce great alterations and hazard the ruin of
England. The Whigs are all in triumph; they foretold how all this would
be, but we thought it boasting. Nay, they said the Parliament should be
dissolved before Christmas, and perhaps it may: this is all your d----d
Duchess of Somerset's doings. I warned them of this nine months ago, and
a hundred times since. I told Lord Treasurer I should have the advantage
of him; for he would lose his head, and I should only be hanged, and so
carry my body entire to the grave.
I was this morning with Mr. Secretary: we are both of opinion that the
queen is false. He gave me reasons to believe the whole matter is
settled between the queen and the Whigs. Things are now in a crisis, and
a day or two will determine. I have desired him to engage Lord Treasurer
to send, me abroad as Queen's Secretary somewhere or other, where I will
remain till the new Ministers recall me; and then I will be sick for
five or six months, till the storm has spent itself. I hope he will
grant me this; for I should hardly trust myself to the mercy of my
enemies while their anger is fresh.
Morning. They say the Occasional Bill is brought to-day into the House
of Lords; but I know not. I will now put an end to my letter, and give
it into the post-house with my own fair hands. This will be a memorable
letter, and I shall sigh to see it some years hence. Here are the first
steps towards the ruin of an excellent Ministry; for I look upon them as
certainly ruined; and God knows what may be the consequence.--I now bid
my dearest MD farewell; for company is coming, and I must be at Lord
Dartmouth's office by noon. Farewell, dearest MD; I wish you a merry
Christmas; I believe you will have this about that time. Love Presto,
who loves MD above all things a thousand times. Farewell again, dearest
LONDON, Dec. 20, 1711.
I was with the Secretary this morning, and, for aught I can see, we
shall have a languishing death: I can know nothing, nor themselves
neither. I dined, you know, with our Society, and that odious Secretary
would make me President next week; so I must entertain them this day
se'night at the Thatched House Tavern: it will cost me five or six
pounds; yet the Secretary says he will give me wine.
Saturday night. I have broken open my letter, and tore it into the
bargain, to let you know that we are all safe: the queen has made no
less than twelve Lords to have a majority; nine new ones, the other
three peers' sons; and has turned out the Duke of Somerset. She is
awaked at last, and so is Lord Treasurer: I want nothing now but to see
the Duchess out. But we shall do without her. We are all extremely
happy. Give me joy, sirrahs. This is written in a coffee-house.
LONDON, Feb. 26, 1712.
I was again busy with the Secretary. I dined with him, and we were to do
more business after dinner; but after dinner is after dinner--an old
saying and a true, "much drinking, little thinking." We had company with
us, and nothing could be done, so I am to go there again to-morrow.
To-day in the morning I visited upwards: first I saw the Duke of Ormond
below stairs, and gave him joy of being declared General in Flanders;
then I went up one pair of stairs, and sat with the duchess; then I went
up another pair of stairs, and paid a visit to Lady Betty; and then
desired her woman to go up to the garret, that I might pass half an hour
with her, for she was young and handsome, but she would not.
Tell Walls that I spoke to the Duke of Ormond about his friend's
affairs. I likewise mentioned his own affair to Mr. Southwell. But oo
must not know zees sings, zey are secrets; and we must keep them flom
nauty dallars. I was with Lord Treasurer to-day, and hat care oo for
zat? Monday is parson's holiday, and oo lost oo money at cards; ze
devil's device. Nite, nite, my two deelest logues.
LONDON, April 6, 1713
I was this morning at the rehearsal of Mr. Addison's play, called
"Cato," which is to be acted on Friday. There were not above half a
score of us to see it. We stood on the stage, and it was foolish enough
to see the actors prompted every moment, and the poet directing them;
and the drab that acts Cato's daughter, in the midst of a passionate
part, calling out "What's next?" I went back and dined with Mr. Addison.
Nothing new to-day; so I'll seal up this to-night. Pray write soon....
Farewell, deelest MD, MD, MD. Love Presto.
* * * * *
LYOF N. TOLSTOY
Childhood, Boyhood, Youth
Childhood (1852), Boyhood (1854), and Youth
(1855-57)--Tolstoy's first literary efforts--may be regarded
as semi-autobiographical studies; if not in detail, at least
in the wider sense that all his books contain pictures more or
less accurate of himself and his own experiences. No plot runs
through them; they simply analyse and describe with
extraordinary minuteness the feelings of a nervous and morbid
boy--a male Marie Bashkirtseff. They are tales rather of the
developments of the thoughts, than of the life of a child,
with a pale background of men and events. The distinct charm
lies in the sincerity with which this development is
August 12, 18--, was the third day after my tenth birthday anniversary.
Wonderful presents had been given me. My tutor, Karl Ivanitch, roused me
at seven by striking at a fly directly over my head with a flapper made
of sugar paper fastened to a stick. He generally spoke in German, and in
his kindly voice exclaimed, "Auf, Kinder, auf; es ist Zeit. Die Mutter
ist schon im Saal." ("Get up, children, it is time. Your Mother is
already in the drawing-room.")
Dyadka Nikolai, the valet of us children, a neat little man, brought in
the clothes for me and Volodya, who was imitating my sister's governess,
Marya Ivanova, in mocking, merry laughter. Somewhat sternly presently
Karl Ivanitch called from the schoolroom to know if we were nearly ready
to begin our lessons.
In the schoolroom, on one shelf was our promiscuous assortment of books,
on another, the still more miscellaneous collection which our dear old
tutor was pleased to call his library. I remember that it included a
German treatise on cabbage gardens, a history of the Seven Years' War,
and a work on hydrostatic. Karl Ivanitch spent all his spare time in
reading his beloved books, but he never read anything beyond these and
the Northern Bee. After early lessons our tutor conducted us downstairs
to greet Mamma.
She was sitting in the parlour, in front of the samovar, pouring out
tea. To the left of the divan was the old English grand piano, on which
my dark-complexioned sister, Liubotchka, eleven years old, was painfully
practising Clementi's exercises. Near her Marya Ivanova, with scowls on
her face, was loudly counting, and beating time with her foot. She
frowned still more disagreeably at Karl as he entered, but he appeared
to ignore this and kissed my mother's hand with a German salutation.
After mutually affectionate greetings Mamma told us to go to our father
and to ask him to come to her before he went to the threshing floor.
We found Papa angrily discussing business affairs with Yakov Mikhailof,
the chief concern being apparently about money from Mamma's estate at
Khabarovka, her native village. A large sum was due to the council, and
Yakov pleaded that it would be difficult to raise it from the sale of
hay and the proceeds of the mill. "For example," said he, "the miller
has been twice to ask me for delay, swearing by Christ the Lord that he
has no money. What little cash he had he put into the dam."
Yakov was a serf, and was a most devoted and assiduous man, excessively
economical in managing his master's affairs, and constantly worried
himself over the increase of his master's property at the expense of
that of his mistress.
For some days we had been expecting something unusual, from preparations
which we saw going on for some journey, but an announcement from Papa at
length surprised us terribly. He greeted us one morning with the remark
that it was time to put an end to our idleness, and that as he was going
that evening to Moscow, we were to go with him and to live there with
our grandmother, Mamma remaining on the estate with the girls.
My thoughts were mingled, for I was very grieved for the sake of Mamma,
yet I felt pleasure at the idea that we were grown up. For poor Karl
Ivanitch I was extremely sorry, as he would be discharged. On my way
upstairs I saw Papa's favourite greyhound, Milka, basking in the
sunshine on the terrace, and ran out, kissed her on the nose and
caressed her, saying, "Farewell, Milotchka. We shall never see each
other again." Then, altogether overcome with emotion, I burst into
My father was a chivalrous character of the last century, who regarded
with contempt the people of the present century. His two chief passions
were cards and women. He was tall and commanding, bald, with small eyes
ever twinkling vivaciously, and a lisping utterance. He knew how to
exercise a spell over people of every grade, and in the highest society
he was held in great esteem. He seemed born to shine in his brilliant
position, and was an expert in the management of all things that could
conduce to comfort and pleasure.
A lover of music, he sang to his own piano accompaniment operatic songs,
but had no liking for Beethoven's sonatas and other scientific
compositions. His principles grew more fixed as years rolled on; he
judged actions as being good or bad accordingly as they procured him
happiness and pleasure, or otherwise; he talked persuasively; and he
could represent the same deed as either an innocent piece of playfulness
or of abominable villainy.
Happy days of childhood that can never be recalled! What memories I yet
cherish of them. I see Mamma just as plainly as when she so long since
was talking to some one at the tea-table, while I, in my high chair,
grew drowsy. Presently she stroked my hair with her soft hand, saying,
"Get up, my darling, it is time to go to bed. Get up, my angel."
I spring up and embrace her, and exclaim, "Dear, dear Mamma, how I love
you!" With her sad and fascinating smile she places me on her knees, is
silent awhile, and then speaks. "So you love me very much? Love me
always and never forget me. If you lose your Mamma, Nikolinka, you will
not forget her?"
She kisses me still more lovingly, and I cry with tears of love and
rapture flooding my face, "Oh, do not say that, my darling, my precious
one." Will that freshness, that happy carelessness, that thirst for love
which made life's only requirements, ever return? Where are those pure
tears of tenderest emotion? The angel of consolation came and wiped them
away. Do the memories alone abide?
About a month after we had removed to Moscow, Grandmamma received a
visit from Princess Kornakova, a woman of forty-five, with disagreeable
gray-green eyes, but sweetly curved lips, bright red hair, and
insalubrious face. In spite of these peculiarities her aspect was noble.
I took a dislike to her because I found from her talk that she was given
to beating her own children, and thought that other people's children,
especially boys, needed to be whipped.
Another visitor was Prince Ivan Ivanitch, distinguished for his noble
character, handsome person, splendid bravery and extraordinary good
fortune. He belonged to a powerful family, and lived in accordance with
principles of the strictest religion and morality. Though somewhat
reserved and haughty, in demeanour, he was full of kindly feeling.
Prince Ivan Ivanitch was a highly cultured man of most versatile
accomplishments. Our Grandmamma was evidently delighted to see him, and
his magnificent aspect and her liking for him inspired me with unbounded
admiration and reverence.
He asked why Mamma had not come to Moscow. "Ah," was the reply, "she
would have come if possible, but they have no income this year."
"I do not understand," replied the Prince. "Her Khabarovka is a
wonderful estate, and it must always bring in a fine revenue."
"I will tell you," said Grandmamma, sadly. "It seems to me that all the
pretexts are made simply to enable him to live a gay life here, while
she, angel of goodness that she is, suspects nothing. She believes him
This conversation should not have been overheard by me, but, having
overheard it, I crept out of the room.
On the 16th of April, nearly six months later, serious news came from
Mamma. She wrote to Papa that she had contracted a chill, which had
caused a fever, that this was over, but had left her in such utter
weakness that she would never rise from her bed again, although those
about her were not aware of such a condition. She wished him to come to
her at once and to bring her two boys with him. She prayed that God's
holy will might be done.
On April 25th we reached our Petrovskoe home. Papa had been very sad and
thoughtful during the journey. We at once learned from the steward that
Mamma had not left her room for six days. I shall never forget what I
saw when we entered Mamma's room. She was unconscious. Her eyes were
open, but she saw nothing. We were led away. Mamma soon passed away.
She was dead, the funeral obsequies took place, and then our life went
on much as before. We rose, had our repasts, and retired to rest at the
same hours. Three days after the funeral the whole household removed to
Moscow. Grandmamma only learned what had happened when we arrived, and
her grief was terrible. She lay unconscious for a week, and the doctor
feared for her life, for she would not eat, speak, or take medicine.
When she recovered somewhat, her first thought was of us children. She
cried softly, spoke of Mamma, and tenderly caressed us.
On our arrival in Moscow a change had taken place in my views of things.
My sentiment of reverence for Grandmamma had changed to one of sympathy.
As she covered my cheeks with kisses I realised that each kiss expressed
the thought "She is gone; I shall never see her more." Papa had very
little to do with us in Moscow, coming to us only at dinner time, and
lost much in my eyes, with his ostentatious dress, his stewards, his
clerks, and his hunting and business expeditions.
Between us and the girls also an invisible barrier seemed to rise. We
were proud of our trousers and straps, and they of their petticoats,
which increased in length. Their showier Sunday dress made it manifest
that we were no longer in the country. But soon commenced a period of my
life of which it is difficult to trace a record. Rarely during memories
of it do I find moments of the genuine warmth of feeling which so
frequently illumined the earliest years of my life.
Vivid is the recollection of Volodya's entrance at the university. He
was barely two years my senior in age. The day of his first examination
arrived, and he presented a handsome appearance in his blue uniform with
brass buttons and lacquered boots. The examination lasted ten days, and
Volodya, having passed brilliantly, returned on the last day no longer
in blue coat and grey cap, but in student uniform, with blue embroidered
collar, three-cornered hat, and a gilt dagger by his side. Joy and
excitement reigned in the whole household. For the first time since
Mamma's death, Grandmamma drank champagne, and weeps with joy as she
looks at Volodya, who henceforth rode in his own equipage, receives
friends in his own rooms, smokes tobacco, goes to balls.
But soon another incident happened which is engraven on memory. The dear
old Grandmamma was growing daily weaker, and one morning the
announcement thrilled us that she was dead. Again, the house was full of
mourning. In a few months I should be preparing to enter the university.
I was by degrees emerging from my boyish moods, with the exception of
one--a tendency to metaphysical dreaminess, which was fated to do me
much injury in after years.
At this period an intimacy commenced between me and a very remarkable
man, Prince Dmitri Nekhliudoff. He was a tall and commanding figure,
with an extraordinary intellect. Whenever he found me alone, we seated
ourselves in some secluded corner and found mutual delight in
metaphysical discussions. With ecstasy in those moments I soared higher
and higher into the realms of thought. This strange friendship grew. We
agreed to confess everything to each other, and thus we should really
know each other and not be ashamed; but, in order that we should not be
in any fear of strangers, we vowed never to say anything to anybody else
about each other. And we kept the vow. As may be imagined, the influence
of my friend over me was greater than mine over him. I adopted his
fervent ideas, which included lofty aspirations for the reformation of
I was nearly sixteen, and from that time I date the beginning of youth.
Under various professors I studied, though by no means willingly, to
prepare for the university. At length, on April 16, I went for the first
time to the great hall of the university. For the first time in my life
I wore a dress coat. The bright hall was filled with a brilliant crowd
of hundreds of young men in gymnasium costumes and dress coats, stately
professors moving freely about among the tables. On that day I was
examined in history and answered questions in Russian history in
brilliant style, for I knew the subject well. I received five marks.
Similar success rewarded my efforts at the examination in mathematics,
for the professor told me I had answered even better than was required,
and on this occasion I received five points.
Everything went splendidly till I came to the Latin examination. The
Latin professor was spoken of in accents of terror, for he had the
reputation of taking a fierce delight in plucking candidates. My success
so far had made me feel proudly confident, and as I could translate
Cicero and Horace without the lexicon and was proficient in Zumpt's
Grammar, I thought I might equal the rest. But not so. The professor
amicably passed one of my young acquaintances, although the youth was
palpably deficient in his answers. I afterwards learned that he was the
When my turn came, immediately afterwards, the professor turned on me in
truly savage demeanour. "That is not it; that is not it at all,"
exclaimed he. "This is not the way to prepare for higher education. You
only want to wear the uniform and to boast of being first."
The demeanour of this professor so affected me that my confusion was
complete. I only received two marks, and the injustice so depressed me
that I lost all ambition and allowed the remaining examinations to
proceed without making any effort. I made up my mind that it was unwise
to aim at being first, and I resolved to adhere to this sentiment in the
My father married again. He was forty-eight when he took Avdotya
Epifanova as his second wife. She was a beautiful woman, whom Mamma used
to call Dunitchka. But I had suspected nothing until Papa actually
announced to us that he was going to marry her. The wedding was to take
place in a fortnight. I and Volodya returned to Moscow at the beginning
of September, and on the following day I went to the university for my
It was a magnificent, sunny day, and as I entered the auditorium I felt
lost in the throng of gay youths flitting about through the doors and
among the corridors. Belonging to no particular group I felt isolated,
and then even angry, and I remember in my heart that this first day was
a dismal occasion for me. I looked at the professor with an ironical
feeling, for he commenced his lecture with an introduction which, to my
mind, was without sense. I decided at this first lecture that there was
no need to write down everything that each professor said, and to this
principle I adhered.
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