Page images
PDF
EPUB

corded it is true; but one (Tiernan) is a mere boy, and the crime of the other is not marked by any feature of criminality that would call for our particular reprobation, any more than the circumstances of crime might seem to demand.”

LI. AN ACCOUNT OF THE DEATH OF BACON, BY A CONTEMPORARY,

My Lord Chancellor Bacon is lately dead of a long languishing weakness: he died so poor that he scarce left money to bury him, which, though he had a great wit, did argue no great wisdom; it being one of the essential properties of a wise man to provide for the main chance. I have read that it had been the fortunes of all poets commonly to die beggars; but for an orator, a lawyer, and philosopher, as he was, to die so, 'tis rare. It seems the same fate befel him that attended Demosthenes, Seneca, and Cicero, (all great men,) of whom the two first fell by corruption. The fairest diamond may have a flaw in it, but I believe he died poor out of a contempt of the pelf of fortune, as also out of an excess of generosity which appeared, as in divers other passages, so once when the King had sent him a stag, he sent up for the underkeeper, and having drunk the King's health to him in a great silver-gilt bowl, he gave it him for his fee.

He wrote a pitifulletter to King James, not long before his death, and concludes, “Help me, dear sovereign lord and master, and pity me so far, that I who have been born to a bag, be not now in my age forced in effect to bear

a callet; nor that I who desire to live to study, may be driven to study to live;” which words, in my opinion, argued a little abjection of spirit, as his former letter to the Prince did of profaneness, wherein he hoped that as the Father was his Creator, the Son will be his Redeemer. I write not this to derogate from the noble worth of the Lord Viscount Verulam, who was a rare man ; a man reconditae scientiae, et ad salutem literarum natus, and I think the eloquentest that was born in this isle. They say he shall be the last Lord Chancellor, as Sir Edward Coke, was the last Lord Chief Justice of England; for ever since they have been termed Lord Chief Justices of the King's Bench: so hereafter they shall be only Keepers of the great seal, which, for title and office, are deposable; but they say the Lord Chancellor's title is indelible.”

LII. WHY GREAT PRIESTS RODE UPON MULES, AND HAD MULES, &c. IN THEIR ARMS.

“Isti magni abbates et abbatissae debent in suis armis portare leopardos, mulos, burdones, vel titiros, pro eo, quod ipsi habent et portant instrumenta episcoporum, ut mitram et crucem, ut muli, leopardi, et tales bestiae portant instrumenta generativa equorum et leonum, non tamen eis utuntur naturaliter, neque habent ipsum actum

* See Epistolae Ho-Helianae : or, Familiar Letters, Domestic and Foreign. By James Howell, Esq.; one of the clerks of his late Majesty's (Charles I.) most honourable privy council.

vel generationis exercitium.” Upton says this has also relation to the mules upon which the Popes and ecclesiastics then rode.

Upton, de studio rei militaris, quoted in Dr. Fiddes' Hist. Collect. pp. 89, 91.

[merged small][graphic]

LIII. THE WIG RIOT.

In the year 1764, owing to changes in the fashion, people gave over the use of that very artificial appendage the wig, and wore their own hair when they had any. In consequence of this, the wig-makers, who had become very numerous in London, were suddenly thrown out of work, and reduced to great distress. For some time both town and country rang with their calamities, and their complaints that men should wear their own hair instead of perruques; and at last it struck them that some legislative enactment ought to be procured in order to oblige gentlefolks to wear wigs, for the benefit of the suffering wig-trade. Accordingly they drew up a petition for relief, which, on the 11th of February 1765, they carried to St. James's to present to his Majesty George the Third. As they went processionally through the town, it was observed that most of these wig-makers, who wanted to force other people to wear them, wore no wigs themselves; and this striking the London mob as something monstrously unfair and inconsistent, they seized the petitioners, and cut off all their hair par force.

Horace Walpole, who alludes to this ludicrous petition, says, “Should one wonder if carpenters were to remonstrate, that since the peace their trade decays, and that there is no demand for wooden legs?”—Letters to the Earl of Hertford.

LIV. THE DIVINE RIGHT OF KINGS.

“May you, my Cam and Isis, preach it long,
. The right Divine of kings to govern wrong !”—Dunciad.

THE claim of the “ Divine right of kings” is very old; and, although we think we can show that those persons are in error who found it upon the authority of Holy Writ, there is mention made of it in a book probably as old as some portions of the Old Testament.

In Homer we find passim the different cases of

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Iliad, 4, 279. “The sceptre-bearing king, to whom Jupiter has given honour.”

[ocr errors]

“Deep-rooted is the anger of a king,
To whom high Jove committed hath the law,
And justice left to his distributing.”—Hobbes.

“Jove loves our chief, from Jove his honour springs;
Beware! for dreadful is the wrath of kings.”—Pope.

Pope in his preface says, that Hobbes's poetry is “too mean for criticism.” Why did his “poetry” let him omit

« PreviousContinue »