The World's Greatest Books, Vol X
Author: Various
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Soon, however, maladies made their appearance, provisions began to fail, and murmuring prevailed among the colonists. In truth, the fate of many of the young cavaliers, who had come out deluded by romantic dreams, was lamentable in the extreme. Columbus arranged for the government of the island, and set sail to explore the southern coast of Cuba, supposing it to be the extreme end of Asia. He had to contend with almost incredible perils, and was obliged to return. Had he continued for two or three days longer he would have passed round the extremity of Cuba; his illusion would have been dispelled, and a different course given to his subsequent discoveries.

During his absence from Isabella the whole island had become a scene of violence and discord. Margarite, the general left in charge of the soldiers, and Friar Boyle, the apostolical vicar, formed a cabal of the discontented, took possession of certain ships, and set sail for Spain, to represent the disastrous state of the country, and to complain of the tyranny of Columbus. The soldiers indulged in all kinds of excesses, and the Indians were converted from gentle hosts into vindictive enemies.

Meanwhile, a commissioner was sent out to inquire into the distress of the colony and the conduct of Columbus. He collected all complaints, and returned to Spain, Columbus sailing at the same time. Never did a more miserable crew return from a land of promise.

The vessels anchored at Cadiz, and a feeble train of wretched men crawled forth, emaciated by diseases. Contrary to his anticipation, Columbus was received with distinguished favour. Thus encouraged, he proposed a further enterprise, and asked for eight ships, which were readily promised; but it was not until May 1498, that he again set sail.

The Third Voyage

(May, 1498—October, 1500)

From the Cape de Verde Islands, Columbus steered to the south-west, until he arrived at the fifth degree of north latitude. The air was like a furnace, the mariners lost all strength and spirit, and Columbus was induced to alter his course to the northwest. After sailing some distance they reached a genial region with a cooling breeze and serene and clear sky. They descried three mountains above the horizon; as they drew nearer, they proved to be united at the base, and Columbus, therefore, named this island La Trinidad. He coasted round Trinidad, and landed on the mainland, but mistook it for an island. He was astonished at the body of fresh water flowing into the Gulf of Paria, and came to the conclusion that it must be the outpouring of a great unknown continent stretching to the south, far beyond the equator. His supplies were now almost exhausted, and he determined to return to Hispaniola.

He found the island in a lamentable situation. A conspiracy had been formed against his viceroy, and the Indians, perceiving the dissensions among the Spaniards, threw off their allegiance. After long negotiations Columbus was forced to sign a humiliating capitulation with the rebels. Meanwhile, every vessel that returned from the New World came freighted with complaints against Columbus. The support of the colony was an incessant drain upon the mother country. Was this compatible, it was asked, with the pictures he had drawn of the wealth of the island?

Isabella herself at last began to entertain doubts about Columbus, and the sovereigns decided to send out Don Francisco del Bobadilla to investigate his conduct. This officer appears to have been needy, passionate, and ambitious. He acted as if he had been sent out to degrade the admiral, not to inquire into his conduct. He threw Columbus into irons, and seized his arms, gold, jewels, books, and most secret manuscripts. Columbus conducted himself with characteristic magnanimity, and bore all indignities in silence. Bobadilla collected testimony sufficient, as he thought, to ensure the condemnation of Columbus, and sent him a prisoner to Spain.

The arrival of Columbus at Cadiz, in chains, produced almost as great a sensation as his first triumphant return. A general burst of indignation arose. The sovereigns sent orders that he should be instantly set at liberty, and promised that Columbus should be reinstated in all his dignities. But Ferdinand repented having invested such great powers in any subject, and especially in a foreigner. Plausible reasons were given for delaying his reappointment, and meanwhile Don Nicholas de Ovando was sent out to supersede Bobadilla.

The Fourth Voyage

(May, 1502—November, 1504)

Columbus's thoughts were suddenly turned to a new enterprise. Vasco da Gama had recently reached India round the Cape of Good Hope, and immense wealth was poured by this route into Portugal. Columbus was persuaded that the currents of the Caribbean Sea must pass between Cuba and the land which he had discovered to the south, and that this route to India would be more easy and direct than that of Vasco da Gama. His plan was promptly adopted by the sovereigns, and he sailed in May 1502, on his last and most disastrous voyage. He steered to Hispaniola, but was not permitted to land, and then coasted along Honduras and down the Mosquito Coast to Costa Rica. Here he found gold among the natives, and heard rumours of Mexico. He continued beyond Cape Nombre de Dios in search for the imaginary strait, and then gave up all attempt to find it.

Possibly he knew that another voyager, coasting from the eastward, had reached this point. He turned westward to search for the gold-mines of Veragua, and attempted unsuccessfully to found a settlement there. As his vessels were no longer capable of standing the sea, he ran them aground on Jamaica, fastened them together, and put the wreck in a state of defence. He dispatched canoes to Hispaniola, asking Ovando to send a ship to relieve him, but many months of suffering and difficulty elapsed before it came.

Columbus returned to Spain in November 1504. Care and sorrow were destined to follow him; his finances were exhausted, and he was unable, from his infirmities, to go to court. The death of Isabella was a fatal blow to his fortunes. Many months were passed by him in painful and humiliating solicitation for the restitution of his high offices. At length he saw that further hope of redress from Ferdinand was vain. His illness increased, and he expired, with great resignation, on May 20, 1506.

Columbus was a man of great and inventive genius, and his ambition was noble and lofty. Instead of ravaging the newly-found countries, he sought to found regular and prosperous enterprises. He was naturally irritable and impetuous, but, though continually outraged in his dignity, and foiled in his plans by turbulent and worthless men, he restrained his valiant and indignant spirit, and brought himself to forbear and reason, and even to supplicate. His piety was genuine and fervent, and diffused a sober dignity over his whole deportment.

He died in ignorance of the real grandeur of his discovery. What visions of glory would have broken upon his mind could he have known that he had indeed discovered a new continent! And how would his spirit have been consoled, amidst the afflictions of age and the injustice of an ungrateful king, could he have anticipated the empires which would arise in the world he had discovered; and the nations, towns, and languages, which were to revere and bless his name to the latest posterity!

* * * * *

Life of George Washington

This great historical biography was Washington Irving's principal work. It was founded chiefly upon George Washington's correspondence, which is preserved in manuscript in the archives of the United States Government. Irving worked at it intermittently for many years; and it was published in successive sections during the last years of his life, 1855 to 1859, while he was living in retirement with his nieces at Sunnyside, on the Hudson River.

The De Wessyngton family, of the county of Durham, in feudal times, produced many men of mark in the field and in the cloister, and at a later period the Washingtons were intrepid supporters of the unfortunate House of Stuart. Compromised by this allegiance, two brothers, John and Andrew, uncles of Sir Henry Washington, the gallant defender of Worcester, emigrated to Virginia in 1657, and purchased lands in Westmoreland County, by the River Potomac. John, who became military leader of the Virginians against the Indians, was great-grandfather of the illustrious George Washington.

George, born February 22, 1732, in a homestead on Bridges Creek, was the eldest son of Mary Ball, second wife of Augustine Washington. Two half-brothers, Lawrence and Augustine, survived from the first marriage; and Mary had three other sons and two daughters. George received his first education in an "old field school-house," taught by the parish sexton; but the chief influences of his boyhood were the morality of his home and the military ardour of the colonists against the Spanish and the French. Lawrence, his eldest brother, had a captaincy in the colonial regiment which fought for England in the West Indies, in 1740, and the boy's whole mind was turned to war.

His father died when he was eleven years old, and George was sent to live with his married brother Augustine. Here he attended school, was eager in the acquirement of knowledge, and became expert in all athletic exercises. He very nearly entered on a naval career, but at his mother's earnest entreaty renounced the project, and returning to school, studied land-surveying.

Lawrence, his brother, having married into the Fairfax family, George came under the notice of Lord Fairfax, owner of immense tracts of country, who was so pleased with the lad's character and accomplishments that he entrusted him with the task of surveying his possessions. At the age of sixteen George Washington set out into the wilderness, and acquitted himself so well that he was appointed public surveyor. He thus gained an intimate knowledge, and of the ways of the Indians.

The English and French governments were at this time making conflicting claims to the Ohio valley, and their agents were treating with the various Indian tribes. At length the French prepared to enforce their claim by arms, and Washington received, in 1751, a commission as adjutant-general over a military district of Virginia. In October, 1753, he was sent by Governor Dinwiddie on a mission to the French commander, from which he returned in the following January; and his conduct on this occasion, when he had to traverse great distances of unknown forest at midwinter, and to cope with the craft of white men and savages alike, marked him out as a youth fitted for the most important civil and military trusts.

Conflicts with the French

Washington was for the first time under fire in April, 1754, when he had been sent, as second in command of the colonial forces, to take charge of a fort on the Ohio. He fell in with a French party of spies, whom his small force, with Indian assistance, put to flight. His fort, named Fort Necessity, was defended by three hundred men, but was attacked in July by a greatly superior force of French and Indians, and Washington had to capitulate, marching out with the honours of war.

When it was determined, the same autumn, by the Governor and the British Secretary of State, that the colonial troops should be reduced to independent companies, so that there should no longer be colonial officers above the rank of captain, Washington, in accordance with the dawning republicism of America, resigned his commission, and settling at Mount Vernon, prepared to devote himself to agriculture. But in 1755, General Braddock was sent out to undertake energetic operations against the French, and Washington accepted the General's offer of a position on his staff.

It was now that the eminent Benjamin Franklin did such great service to the British arms by organizing transport, and listened with astonishment to Braddock's anticipations of easy victory. The young aide-de-camp also warned the English soldier in vain. On July 9 Braddock's force was utterly routed by the French and Indians, and the general himself was slain. This reverse did away with all belief, throughout the colonies, in the power of British arms, and prepared the way for the independence that was to follow.

On August 14 George Washington was appointed to the supreme command of the Virginian forces, with his headquarters at Winchester, and was occupied in the defence of a wide frontier with an insufficient force, until the expedition against Fort Duquesne in 1758, when he planted the British flag on its smoking ruins, and put an end to the French domination of the Ohio.

His marriage to Mrs. Martha Custis, a young and wealthy widow, was celebrated on January 6, 1759; he took his seat in the House of Burgesses at Williamsburg, and established himself at Mount Vernon to develop his estates. A large Virginia estate, in those days, was a little empire.

The Dawn of Independence

The definitive treaty of peace between France and England was signed at Fontainebleau in 1763; but the tranquility of the colonies was again broken by an Indian insurrection, known as Pontiac's war. Washington had no part in its suppression, but he was soon to be called again to the defence of his country.

He was in his place in the House of Burgesses on May 29, 1765, when the claims of Britain to tax the colony were first repudiated, and it was declared that the General Assembly of Virginia had the exclusive right to tax the inhabitants, and that whoever maintained the contrary should be deemed an enemy to the colony. These resolutions were the signal for general applause throughout the continent.

The repeal, in 1766, of the objectionable Stamp Act only postponed the crisis, which became acute when the port of Boston was closed by Parliament, because of the resistance of that city to the importation of East Indian tea. A General Congress of deputies from the several colonies was convened for September 5, 1773, at Philadelphia, in which Washington took part, and a Federal Union of the colonies was then established. The English commander, General Gage, struck the first blow against popular liberties, in the engagement at Lexington, April 18, 1775, and on June 15 Washington was unanimously elected commander-in-chief of the American forces.

Two days later was fought, outside Boston, the heroic battle of Bunker's Hill, and on the 21st Washington set out from Philadelphia to the seat of war, where he laid a strict siege about Boston, with a view to forcing the British to come out. An English ship having bombarded the American port of Falmouth, an act was passed by the General Court of Massachusetts, encouraging the fitting out of armed vessels to defend the coast of America, and granting letters of marque and reprisal. In October a conference of delegates was held, under Washington's presidency, of which Benjamin Franklin was a member, with regard to a new organisation of the army; and a new force of twenty-two thousand was formed, every soldier being enlisted for one year only.

Montreal had been captured by an American expedition, and Washington was now looking forward to equal success in an expedition against Quebec. He was further encouraged by the capture, by one of his cruisers, of a brigantine laden with munitions of war, including a huge brass mortar. His wife joined the camp before Boston, and the eventful year was closed with festivities.

But the gallant attempt on Quebec, in which Montgomery fell, was frustrated, and the siege of Boston dragged on uneventfully, until the Americans, in March, seized Dorchester Heights, and made the town no longer tenable. On the 17th there were in Boston Harbor seventy-eight ships and transports casting loose for sea, and twelve thousand soldiers, sailors and refugees, hurrying to embark. The flag of thirteen stripes, the standard of the Union, floated above the Boston forts, after ten tedious months of siege.

The eminent services of Washington throughout this arduous period, his admirable management by which, in the course of a few months, an undisciplined band of husbandmen became soldiers, and were able to expel a brave army of veterans, commanded by the most experienced generals, won the enthusiastic applause of the nation. A unanimous vote of thanks was passed to him in Congress.

Declaration of Independence

Despatches from Canada continued to be disastrous, and the evacuation of that country was determined on in June, 1776. The great aim of the British was now to get possession of New York and the Hudson, and to make them the basis of military operations. While danger was gathering round New York, and its inhabitants were in mute suspense and fearful anticipations, the General Congress at Philadelphia was discussing with closed doors the greatest question ever debated in America. A resolution was passed unanimously, on July 2, "that these United Colonies are, of right ought to be, free and independent States."

The fourth of July is the day of national rejoicing, for on that day the "Declaration of Independence," that solemn and sublime document, was adopted. Tradition gives a dramatic effect to its announcement. It was known to be under discussion, but the closed doors of Congress excluded the populace. They awaited, in throngs, an appointed signal. In the steeple of the state-house was a bell, bearing the portentous text from Scripture, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof." A joyous peal from that bell gave notice that the bill had been passed. It was the knell of British domination.

Washington hailed the Declaration with joy. It was but a formal recognition of a state of things which had long existed, but it put an end to all those temporizing hopes of reconciliation which had clogged the military action of the country. On July 9, he caused it to be read at the head of each brigade of the army. "The general hopes," said he, "that this important event will serve as a fresh incentive to every officer and soldier, to act with fidelity and courage, as knowing that now the peace and safety of his country depend, under God, solely on the success of our arms; and that he is now in the service of a state possessed of sufficient power to reward his merit, and advance him to the highest honours of a free country." and again: "The general hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavour so to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country."

The Winning of Independence

But the exultation of the patriots of New York was soon overclouded. British warships, under Admiral Lord Howe, were in the harbour on July 12, and affairs now approached a crisis. Lord Howe came "as a mediator, not as a destroyer," and had prepared a declaration inviting communities as well as individuals to merit and receive pardon by a prompt return to their duty; it was a matter of sore regret to him that his call to loyalty had been forestalled by the Declaration of Independence.

The British force in the neighbourhood of New York, under General Howe, brother of the Admiral, was about thirty thousand men; the Americans were only about twenty thousand, for the most part raw and undisciplined, and the sectional jealousies prevalent among them were more and more a subject of uneasiness to Washington. On August 27 the American force was defeated with great loss in the battle of Long Island, and was withdrawn from the island by a masterly night retreat; this led to the loss of New York and the Hudson River to the British. Reverse followed reverse; Washington was driven by the British arms from one point after another; many of the chief American cities were taken; and on September 26, 1777, General Sir William Howe marched into Philadelphia and thus occupied the capital of the confederacy. But Washington still maintained his characteristic equanimity. "I hope," he said, "that a little time will put our affairs in a more flourishing condition."

This anticipation was soon to be fulfilled. General Burgoyne had been advancing from the north with a large force of British and Hessian troops, but was compelled by General Gates, with a superior American force, to capitulate on October 17,1777. By this capitulation the Americans gained a fine train of artillery, seven thousand stand of arms, and a great quantity of clothing, tents, and military stores of all kinds; and the surrender of Burgoyne struck dismay into the British army on the Hudson River.

But the struggle for independence was still to continue for four years of incessant military operations, and it was not until the surrender of Yorktown, on October 19, 1781, by Lord Cornwallis, that Britain gave up hope of reducing her rebel colonies. When the redoubts of Yorktown were taken, Washington exclaimed, "The work is done, and well done!"

A general treaty of peace was signed in Paris on January 20, 1783; and in March of that year Sir Guy Carleton informed Washington that he was ordered to proclaim a cessation of hostilities by sea and land. On April 19, the anniversary of the battle of Lexington, thus completing the eighth year of the war, Washington issued a general order to the army in these terms—"The generous task for which we first flew to arms being accomplished, the liberties of our country being fully acknowledged and firmly secured, and the characters of those who have persevered through every extremity of hardship, suffering, and danger, being immortalised by the illustrious appellation of 'the patriot army,' nothing now remains but for the actors of this mighty scene to preserve a perfect, unvarying consistency of character through the very last act, to close the drama with applause, and to retire from the military theatre with the same approbation of angels and men which has crowned all their former virtuous actions."

Writing, on June 8, to the Governors of the several States, he said—"The great object for which I had the honour to hold an appointment in the service of my country being accomplished, I am now preparing to return to that domestic retirement which, it is well known, I left with the greatest reluctance; a retirement for which I have never ceased to sigh, through a long and painful absence, and in which, remote from the noise and trouble of the world, I meditate to pass the remainder of life in a state of undisturbed repose."

The Years of Peace

Washington returned to Mount Vernon on Christmas Eve, 1783, and busied himself with the care of his estates. He had never ceased to be the agriculturist; through all his campaigns he had kept himself informed of the course of rural affairs at Mount Vernon. By means of maps on which every field was laid down and numbered, he was enabled to give directions for their several cultivation, and to receive accounts of their several crops. No hurry of affairs prevented a correspondence with his agent, and he exacted weekly reports. He now read much on agriculture and gardening, and corresponded with the celebrated Arthur Young, from whom he obtained seeds of all kinds, improved ploughs, plans for laying out farmyards, and advice on various parts of rural economy.

His active day at Mount Vernon began some time before dawn. Much of his correspondence was despatched before breakfast, which took place at half-past seven. After breakfast he mounted his horse and rode off to various parts of his estate; dined at half-past two; if there was no company he would write until dark; and in the evening he read, or amused himself with a game of whist.

The adoption of the Federal Constitution opened another epoch in the life of Washington. Before the official forms of an election could be carried into operation, a unanimous sentiment throughout the Union pronounced him the nation's choice to fill the presidential chair. The election took place, and Washington was chosen President for a term of four years from March 4, 1788. An entry in his diary, on March 16, says—"I bade adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to domestic felicity; and with a mind oppressed with more anxious and painful sensations than I have words to express, set out for New York with the best disposition to render service to my country in obedience to its call, but with less hope of answering its expectations."

The weight and influence of his name and character were deemed all essential to complete his work; to set the new government in motion, and conduct it through its first perils and trials. He undertook the task, firm in the resolve in all things to act as his conscience told him was "right as it respected his God, his country, and himself." For he knew no divided fidelity, no separate obligation; his most sacred duty to himself was his highest duty to his country and his God.

His death took place on December 14, 1799, at Mount Vernon.

The character of Washington may want some of the poetical elements which dazzle and delight the multitude, but it possessed fewer inequalities and a rarer union of virtues than perhaps ever fell to the lot of one man. Prudence, firmness, sagacity, moderation, an overruling judgement, an immovable justice, courage that never faltered, patience that never wearied, truth that disdained all artifice, magnanimity without alloy.

* * * * *



Flavius Josephus was born in Jerusalem in 37 A.D. His father, Matthias, was a priest, and his mother belonged to the Asmonean princely family. So distinguished was he as a student that, at the age of twenty-six, he was chosen delegate to Nero. When the critical juncture arose for his nation, through the rebellion excited by the cruelties of Gessius Florus, the Roman procurator, Josephus was appointed governor of Galilee The insurrection proved fatal, for Vespasian by his invasion rendered resistance hopeless. Subsequently he lived in Rome, and the date of his death is unknown. The works of this writer are monumental. He wrote his vivid "Wars of the Jews" in both Hebrew and Greek. His "Antiquities of the Jews" traces the whole history of the race down to the outbreak of the great war. Scaliger, one of the acutest of mediaeval critics, declares that in his writings on the affairs of the Jews, and even on those of foreign nations, Josephus deserves more credit than all the Greek and Roman writers put together. His fidelity and veracity are as universally admitted as his direct and lucid style is generally admired. His account of his own life and career is a masterpiece in this category of literature, for it is written with blended modesty and naivete. In many passages of this "Autobiography" he does not hesitate to assume great credit for his own courage, probity, and skill, but in each case the justification is manifest, for he constantly refers to the tortuous and treacherous machinations of his virulent enemies. The "Autobiography" is from beginning to end a thrilling and wonderful romance of real life, for the hairbreadth escapes of this extraordinary man are among the most singular recitals in the whole world of adventure. The whole story is unique, as was the noble individuality of the man himself.

I.—Priest of the Blood-Royal

The family from which I, Flavius Josephus, am derived is not an ignoble one, but hath descended all along from the priests. I am not only sprung from a sacerdotal family in general, but from the first of the twenty-four courses of the Jewish priests, and I am of the chief family of that course also. With us, to be of the sacerdotal dignity is an indication of the splendour of a family. But, further, by my mother I am of the royal blood; for the children of Asmonaeus, from whom that family was derived, had both the office of the high-priesthood and the dignity of a king for a long time together.

My father Matthias, to whom I was born in the first year of the reign of Gaius Caesar, was not only eminent in Jerusalem, our greatest city, on account of his nobility, but had a higher commendation on account of his righteousness. I was brought up with my brother Matthias. As a child I gained a great reputation through my love for learning, and, when I was about fourteen years of age, was frequently asked by the high-priests and chief men of the city my opinion about the accurate understanding of points of the law.

In my twenty-sixth year I took a voyage to Rome. My object was to plead before Caesar the cause of certain excellent priests whom Felix, then procurator of Judaea, had put in bonds on a trivial pretext. I was desirous to procure deliverance for them, not only because they were of my own friends, but because I heard that they sustained their piety towards God under their afflictions, and that they simply subsisted on figs and nuts.

Our voyage was an adventurous one, for the ship was wrecked in the Adriatic Sea, and we that were in it, being about six hundred in number, swam all night for our lives. I and about eighty others were saved by a ship of Cyrene. When I had thus escaped, and was come to Puteoli, I became acquainted with an actor named Alityrus, much beloved by Nero, but a Jew by birth. Through his interest I became known to Poppaea, Caesar's wife, and having, through her, procured the liberty of the priests, besides receiving from her many presents, I returned to Jerusalem.

Now I perceived that many innovations were begun, and that many were cherishing hopes of a revolt from the Romans.

II.—The Prelude to the Great Crisis

So I retired to the inner court of the Temple. Yet I went out of the Temple again, after Menahem and the chief members of the band of robbers were put to death, and abode among the high-priests and the chief of the Pharisees. But no small fear seized upon us when we saw the people in arms, while we were not able to restrain the seditious. We hoped that Gessius Floras would speedily arrive with great forces. But on his arrival he was defeated with great loss.

The disgrace that fell upon him became the calamity of our whole nation, for it elevated the hopes of conquering the Romans on the part of those who desired war. But another cause of the revolt arose in Syria from the cruel treatment of the Jews in many cities, where they showed not the least disposition towards rebellion. About 13,000 were treacherously slain in Scythopolis, and the Jews in Damascus underwent many miseries; but of these events accounts are given in the books of the Jewish War.

I was now sent, together with two other priests, Joazar and Judas, by the principal men of Jerusalem, to Galilee, to persuade the ill men there to lay down their arms, and to teach them that it were better for us all to wait to see what the Romans would do. I came into Galilee, and found the people of Sepphoris in no small agony about their country, by reason that the Galileans had resolved to plunder it, because of their friendship with the Romans, and because they had made a league with Cestius Gallus, the president of Syria. But I quieted their fears. Yet I found the people of Tiberias ready to take arms, for there were three factions in that city.

The first faction, with Julius Capellus for the head, was composed of men of worth and gravity, and advised the city to continue in allegiance to the Romans; the second faction, consisting of the most ignoble persons, was determined for war. But as for Justus, the head of the third faction, though he pretended to be doubtful about war, yet he was really desirous of innovation, as supposing that he should gain power by the change of affairs.

By his harangues Justus inflamed the minds of many of the people, persuading them to take arms, and then he went out and set fire to the villages that belonged to Gadara and Hippos, on the border of Tiberias, and of the region of Scythopolis.

Gamala persevered in its allegiance to the Romans, under the persuasion of Philip, the son of Jacimus, who was governor of the city under King Agrippa. He reminded the people of the benefits the king had bestowed on them, and pointed out how powerful the Romans were, and thus he restrained the zeal of the citizens.

Now, as soon as I was come into Galilee, and had ascertained the state of affairs, I wrote to the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem asking for their direction. They replied that I should remain there; and that, if my fellow-delegates were willing, I should join with them in the care of Galilee. But these my colleagues, having gotten great riches from those tithes which as priests were their dues, and were given to them, determined to return to their own country. Yet when I desired them to stay to settle public affairs, they complied, and we removed from Sepphoris to Bethmanus, a village four furlongs from Tiberias, whence I sent messengers to the senate of that city, asking that the principal men should come to me.

III.—Governor of Galilee

When the chief men of Tiberias were come, I told them I was sent as a legate from the people at Jerusalem, in order to persuade them to destroy that house which Herod the tetrarch had built in Tiberias, and which, contrary to our laws, contained the figures of living creatures. I desired that they would give us leave to do so; but for a good while they were unwilling, only being overcome by long persuasion. Then Jesus, son of Sapphias, one of the leaders of sedition, anticipated us and set the palace on fire, thinking that as some of the roofs were covered with gold, he should gain much money thereby. These incendiaries also plundered much furniture; then they slew all the Greeks who dwelt in Tiberias, and as many others as were their enemies.

When I understood this state of things, I was greatly provoked, and went down to Tiberias and took care of all the royal furniture that could be recovered from such as had plundered it. Next I committed it to ten of the chief senators. From thence I and my fellow-delegates went to Gischala to John, to learn his designs, and soon discovered that he was for innovations, for he wished me to give him authority to carry off the corn that belonged to Caesar, and to lay it in the villages of Upper Galilee. Though I refused, he corrupted my colleagues with money, and so I, being out-voted, held my tongue. By various other cunning contrivances which I could not prevent, John gained vast sums of money. But when I had dismissed my fellow-delegates I took care to have arms provided and the cities fortified. My first care was to keep Galilee in peace, so I made friends of seventy of the principal men, and took them on my journeys as companions, and set them to judge causes.

I was now about thirty years of age, in which time of life it is difficult to escape from the calumnies of the envious. Yet did I preserve every woman free from injury; I despised and refused presents; nor would I take the tithes due to me as a priest. When I twice took Sepphoris by force, and Tiberias four times, and Gadara once, and when I had subdued and captured John, who had laid treacherous snares for me, I did not punish with death either him or others. And on this account I suppose it was that God, Who is never unacquainted with those that do as they ought to do, delivered me still out of the hands of my enemies, and afterwards preserved me when I fell into many perils.

At this time, when my abode was at Cana, a village of Galilee, John came to Tiberias and stirred a revolt against me, so that my life was in danger. I escaped only by fleeing down the lake in a ship to Taricheae, whence I proceeded to Sepphoris. John returned to Gischala, where he continued to cultivate bitter hatred against me. Through the machinations of himself and Simon, a chief man in Gadara, all Galilee was filled with rumours that their country was about to be betrayed by me to the Romans.

Hereby I again incurred extreme peril, but I took a bold course. Dressed in a black garment, with my sword hung at my neck, I went to face, in the hippodrome, a multitude of the citizens of Taricheae, and addressed them in such terms that, though some wished to kill me, these were overcome by the rest.

Although the multitude returned to their homes, yet the robbers and other authors of the tumult, afraid lest I might punish them, took six hundred armed men and came to burn the house where I abode. Thinking it ignoble to run away, I resolved to expose myself to danger; so I shut myself up in an upper room, and asked that one of them should be sent up to me, by whom I would send out to them money from the spoils I had taken.

When they had sent in one of their boldest, I had him whipped severely, and commanded one of his hands to be cut off and hung about his neck. In this case he was put out, and those who had sent him, affrighted at the supposition that I had more armed men about me than they had, immediately fled.

I dealt in like manner with Clitus, a young man of Tiberias, who was the author of a fresh sedition in that city. Since I thought it not agreeable to piety to put one of my own people to death, I called to Clitus himself, and said to him, "Since thou deservest to lose both thy hands for thine ingratitude to me, be thou thine own executioner, lest by refusal to do so thou undergo a worse punishment."

When he earnestly begged me to spare one of his hands, it was with difficulty that I granted it. So, in order to prevent the loss of both his hands, he willingly took his sword and cut off his own left hand; and this put an end to the sedition.

IV.—The Failure of His Foes

The people of Gamala wrote to me, asking that I would send them an armed force, and also workmen to raise up the walls of their city, and I acceded to each of their requests. I also built walls about many villages and cities in Upper and Lower Galilee, besides laying up in them much corn. But the hatred of John of Gischala grew more violent by reason of my prosperity. He sent his brother Simon to Jerusalem with a hundred armed men to induce the Sanhedrin to deprive me of my commission; but this was not an easy thing to do, for Ananus, one of the chief priests, demonstrated that many of the people bore witness that I had acted like an excellent general.

Yet Ananus and some of his friends, corrupted by bribes, secretly agreed to expel me out of Galilee, without making the rest of the citizens acquainted with what they were doing. Accordingly they sent four men of distinction down to Galilee to seek to supersede me in ruling the province.

These were to ask the people of Galilee what was their reason of their love to me. If the people alleged that it was because I was born at Jerusalem, that I was versed in the law, and that I was a priest, then they were to reply that they also were natives of Jerusalem, that they understood the law, and that two of them were priests. To Jonathan and his companion were given 40,000 drachmae out of the public money, and a large band of men was equipped with arms and money to accompany them.

But wonderful was what I saw in a dream that very night. It seemed to me that a certain person stood by me, and said, "O Josephus, put away all fear, for what now afflicts thee will render thee most happy, and thou shalt overcome all difficulties! Be not cast down, but remember that thou art to fight the Romans."

When I had seen this vision I arose, intending to go down to the plain to meet a great multitude who, I knew, would be assembled, for my friends, on my refusal had dispatched messengers all around to inform the people of Galilee of my purpose to depart. And when the great assembly of men, with their wives and children, saw me, they fell on their faces weeping, and besought me not to leave them to be exposed to their enemies.

When I heard this, and saw what sorrow affected the people, I was moved with compassion, and promised that I would stay with them, thinking it became me to undergo manifold hazards for the sake of so great a multitude. So I ordered that five thousand of them should come to me armed, and that the rest should depart to their own homes.

It was not long before Vespasian landed at Tyre, and King Agrippa with him. How he then came into Galilee, and how he fought his first battle with me near Taricheae, and how, after the capture of Jotapata, I was taken alive and bound, and how I was afterward loosed, with all that was done by me in the Jewish war, and during the siege of Jerusalem, I have accurately related in the books concerning the "Wars of the Jews."

When the siege of Jotapata was over, and I was among the Romans, I was kept with much care, by means of the great respect that Vespasian showed me. After being freed from my bonds I went to Alexandria, where I married. From thence I was sent, together with Titus, to the siege of Jerusalem, and was frequently in danger of being put to death. For the Jews desired to get me into their power to have me punished, and the Romans, whenever they were beaten, thought it was through my treachery. But Titus Caesar was well acquainted with the uncertain fortune of war, and returned no answer to the soldiers' solicitation against me.

When Titus was going away to Rome he made choice of me to sail along with him, and paid me great respect And when we were come to Rome I had great care taken of me by Vespasian, for he gave me an apartment in his own house.

When Vespasian was dead, Titus kept up the same kindness which his father had shown me, and Domitian, who succeeded, still augmented his respects to me; nay, Domitia, the wife of Caesar, continued to show me many kindnesses.

* * * * *


Life of Sir Walter Scott

John Gibson Lockhart was born in Scotland in 1794. He received part of his education at Glasgow, part at Oxford, and in 1816 he became an advocate at the Scotch bar. As one of the chief supporters of Blackwood's Magazine, he began to exhibit that sharp, bitter wit which was his most salient characteristic. In 1820 he married the eldest daughter of Sir Walter Scott, and for this reason, perhaps no one has been better qualified to write the biography of the great novelist. Lockhart's "Life of Sir Walter Scott" is a biography in the best sense of the word—one which has been ranked even with Boswell's "Johnson." It reveals to the reader the inmost personality of the man himself, and no life from first to last could better afford such complete revelation. Moreover, the "Life" was a labour of love, Lockhart himself receiving not a fraction of its very considerable proceeds, but resigning them absolutely to Scott's creditors. Published in seven volumes in 1838, in every respect it is the greatest of all Lockhart's books. Lockhart died in 1854.

Early Years

Sir Walter Scott was distantly connected with ancient families both on his father's and his mother's side. His father, Walter Scott, a Writer to the Signet in Edinburgh, was a handsome, hospitable, shrewd and religious man, who married, in 1758, Anne, eldest daughter of Dr. John Rutherford, professor of medicine in Edinburgh University. The Scotts had twelve children, of whom only five survived early youth.

The subject of this biography was born on August 15, 1771, in a house at the head of the College Wynd. He was a healthy child, but when eighteen months old was affected with a fever which left a permanent lameness in the right leg. With a view to curing this weakness he was sent to live with his paternal grandfather, at the farm house of Sandy-Knowe near Dryburgh Abbey, in the extreme south of Berwickshire.

Here, in the country air, he became a sturdy boy, and his mind was stored with the old Broder tales and songs. In his fourth year he was taken to London by sea, and thence to Bath, where he remained about a year for the sake of the waters, became acquainted with the venerable John Home, author of "Douglas," and was introduced by his uncle, Capt. Robert Scott, to the delights of the theatre and "As You Like It."

From his eighth year Scott lived at his father's house in George Square, Edinburgh. His lameness and solitary habits had made him a good reader, and he used to read aloud to his mother, Pope's translation of Homer and Allan Ramsay's "Evergreen;" his mother had the happiest of tempers and a good love of poetry. In the same year he was sent to the High School, Edinburgh, under the celebrated Dr. Adam, who made him sensible of the beauties of the Latin poets.

After his school years, the lad, who had become delicate from rapid growth, spent half a year with an aunt, Miss Janet Scott, at Kelso. He had now awaked to the poetry of Shakespeare and of Spenser, and had acquired an ample and indiscriminate appetite for reading of all kinds. To this time at Kelso he also traced his earliest feeling for the beauties of natural objects. The love of Nature, especially when combined with ancient ruins, or remains of our forefathers' piety or splendour, became his insatiable passion.

He was then sent to classes in the Faculty of Arts in Edinburgh University; and in 1785 was articled to his father and entered upon the wilderness of law. Though he disliked the drudgery of the office, he loved his father and was ambitious, and the allowance which he received afforded the pleasures of the circulating library and the theatre. His reading had now extended to the great writers in French, Spanish and Italian literature. Distant excursions on foot or on horseback formed his favorite amusement, undertaken for the pleasure of seeing romantic scenery and places distinguished by historic events.

In 1790, Scott determined, in accordance with his father's wishes, to become an advocate, and assumed the gown on July 11, 1792. His personal appearance at this time was engaging. He had a fresh, brilliant complexion, his eyes were clear and radiant, and the noble expanse of his brow gave dignity to his whole aspect. His smile was always delightful, and there was a playful intermixture of tenderness and gravity well calculated to fix a lady's eye. His figure, except for the blemish in one limb, was eminently handsome, and much above the usual stature; and the whole outline was that of extraordinary vigour, without a touch of clumsiness.

The Poet's Education

I do not know when his first attachment began; its object was Margaret, daughter of Sir John and Lady Jane Stuart Belcher, of Invermay. But after Scott had for several years nourished the dream of union with this lady, his hopes terminated in her being married to the late Sir William Forbes, of Pitsligo, a gentleman of the highest character, who lived to act the part of a generous friend to his rival throughout the distresses of 1826 and 1827.

After being admitted an advocate, Scott undertook many excursions to various parts of Scotland, gaining that intimate knowledge of the country, and its people and traditions, which appears in his poems and novels. Thus, he visited Northumberland, and made a close inspection of the battle-field of Flodden, and on another journey studied the Saxon cathedral of Hexam. During seven successive years he made raids, as he called them, into the wild and inaccessible district of Liddesdale, picking up the ancient "riding ballads" preserved among the descendants of the moss-troopers. To these rambles he owed much of the materials of his "Minstrelsy of the Border," and here he came to know Willie Elliot, the original of Dandie Dinmont. Another expedition, into Galloway, carried him into the scenery of Guy Mannering. Stirlingshire, Perthshire and Forfarshire became familiar ground to him, and the scenery of Loch Katrine especially was associated with many a merry expedition. His first appearance as counsel in a criminal court was at the Jedburgh assizes, where he helped a veteran poacher and sheep-stealer to escape through the meshes of the law.

In June, 1795, Scott was appointed one of the curators of the Advocate's Library and became an adept in the deciphering of old manuscript. His highlands and border raids were constantly suggesting inquiries as to ancient local history and legend, which could nowhere else have been pursued with equal advantage.

In the same year, a rhymed translation of Burger's "Lenore," from his pen, was shown by him to Miss Cranstoun, afterwards Countess of Purgstall, who was delighted and astonished at it. "Upon my word," she wrote in a letter to a friend, "Walter Scott is going to turn out a poet—something of a cross I think between Burns and Gray." This lady had the ballad elegantly printed in April, 1796, and Scott thus made his first appearance as an author. In October, this translation, together with that of the "Wild Huntsman," also from Burger, was published anonymously in a thin quarto by Manners and Miller, of Edinburgh. The little volume found warm favour: its free, masculine and lively style revealing the hand of a poet.


In July, 1797, Scott set out on a tour to the English lakes, accompanied by his brother John and Adam Fergusson, visiting Tweeddale, Carlisle, Penrith, Ullswater and Windermere, and at length fixing their headquarters at Gilsland, a peaceful and sequestered little watering place.

He was riding one day with Fergusson when they met, some miles away from home, a young lady on horseback, whose appearance instantly struck both of them so much, that they kept her in view until they had satisfied themselves that she was staying in Gilsland. The same evening there was a ball, at which Scott was introduced to Charlotte Margaret Carpenter.

Without the features of a regular beauty, she was rich in personal attractions; a fairy-like form; a clear olive complexion; large, deep eyes of Italian brown; a profusion of silken tresses, raven-black; her address mingling the reserve of a pretty young Englishwoman with a certain natural archness and gaiety that suited well her French accent. A lovelier vision, as all who remember her youth have assured me, could hardly be imagined, and from that hour the fate of the poet was fixed.

She was the daughter of Jean Charpentier, of Lyons, a devoted royalist, who died in the beginning of the Revolution; Madame Charpentier had died soon after bringing her children to London; and the Marquis of Downshire had become their guardian. Miss Charpentier was now making a summer excursion under the care of the lady who had superintended her education.

In an affectionate and dutiful letter Scott acquainted his mother with his purpose of marriage, and Miss Carpenter remained at Carlisle until her destiny was settled. The lady had a considerable private income, amounting to about L500 a year; the difficulties presented by the prudence and prejudices of family connections were soon overcome; and the marriage took place in St. Mary's, Carlisle, on December 24, 1797. Scott took his bride to a lodging in George Street, Edinburgh, the house which he had taken not being quite ready, and the first fortnight convinced her husband's family that she had the sterling qualities of a wife.

Their house in South Castle Street, soon after exchanged for one in North Castle Street, which he inhabited down to 1826, became the centre of a highly agreeable circle; the evenings passed in a round of innocent gaiety; and they and their friends were passionately fond of the theatre. Perhaps nowhere else could have been formed a society on so small a scale as that of Edinburgh at this time, including more of vigorous intellect, varied information, elegant tastes, and real virtue, affection and mutual confidence.

In the summer of 1798, Scott hired a cottage at Lasswade, on the Esk, about six miles from Edinburgh, having a garden with a most beautiful view. In this retreat they spent several happy summers, receiving the visits of their chosen friends from the neighbouring city, and wandering amidst some of the most romantic scenery of Scotland.

Early Poems

In February, 1799, a London Bookseller named Bell, brought out Scott's version of Goethe's tragedy, "Goetz von Berlichingen of the Iron Hand," having purchased the copyright for twenty-five guineas. This was the first publication that bore Scott's name. In March of that year he took his wife to London, and met with some literary and fashionable society; but his chief object was to examine the antiquities of the Tower and Westminster, and to make researches among the manuscripts of the British Museum. He found his "Goetz" favourably spoken of by the critics, but it had not attracted general attention.

About this time Scott wrote a play entitled "House of Aspen" which, having been read and commended by the celebrated actress, Mrs. Esten, was put in rehearsal by Kemble for the stage. But the notion was abandoned; and discovering the play thirty years after among his papers, Scott sent it to the "Keepsake" of 1829.

His return to Scotland was hastened by the news of his father's death, and his mother and sister spent the following summer and autumn in his cottage at Lasswade. This summer produced his first serious attempt in verse, "Glenfinlas," which was followed by the noble ballads, "Eve of St. John," "The Grey Brother" and "Fire-King"; and it was in the course of this autumn that he first visited Bothwell Castle, the seat of Archibald, Lord Douglas, whose wife, and her companion, Lady Louisa Stuart, were among his dearest friends through life.

During a visit to Kelso, before returning to Edinburgh for the winter, Scott renewed an acquaintance with a classfellow of his boyhood, Mr. James Ballantyne, who was now printer and editor of a weekly paper in his native town. Scott showed him some of his poems, expressed his wonder that his old friend did not try to get some bookseller's printing and suggested a collection of old Border ballads. Ballantyne printed for him a few specimens to show to the booksellers; and thus began an experiment which changed the fortunes of both Scott and Ballantyne.

Soon after the commencement of the Winter Session, the office of Sheriff-depute of Selkirkshire became vacant, and the Duke of Buccleuch used his influence with Mr. Henry Dundas, afterwards Viscount Melville, to procure it for Scott. The appointment to the Sheriff ship was made on December 16, 1799. It brought him an annual salary of L300; the duties of the office were far from heavy; the small pastoral territory was largely the property of the Duke of Buccleuch; and Scott turned with redoubled zeal to his project of editing the ballads, many of which belong to this district. In this design he found able assistants in Richard Heber and John Leyden. During the years 1800 and 1801, the "Minstrelsy" formed his chief occupation.

The duties of the Sheriffship took him frequently to Ettrick Forest, and on such occasions he took up his lodging at the little inn at Clovenford, a favourite fishing station on the road from Edinburgh to Selkirk. Here he was within a few miles of the values of Yarrow and Ettrick. On one of his excursions here, penetrating beyond St Mary's Lake, he found hospitality at the farmhouse of William Laidlaw, through whom he came to know James Hogg, a brother poet hardly conscious of his powers.

The first and second volumes of the "Minstrelsy" appeared in January, 1802, from the house of Cadell and Davies in the Strand, and formed Scott's first introduction as an original writer to the English public. Their reception greatly elated Ballantyne, the printer, who looked on his connection with them as the most fortunate event in his life. The great bookseller, Longman, repaired to Scotland soon after this, and purchased the copyright of the "Minstrelsy," including the third volume; and not long afterwards James Ballantyne set up as a printer in Edinburgh, assisted by a liberal loan from Scott.

Scott's Chief Poems

The "Edinburgh Review" was begun in 1802, and Scott soon became a contributor of critical articles for his friend Mr. Jeffrey, the elder. His chief work was now on "Sir Tristram," a romance ascribed to Thomas of Ercildoune; but "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" was making progress in 1803, when Scott made the acquaintance of Wordsworth and his sister, under circumstances described by Dorothy Wordsworth in her Journal. In the following May, he took a lease of the house of Ashestiel, with an adjoining farm, on the southern bank of the Tweed, a few miles from Selkirk; and in the same month "Sir Tristram" was published by Constable of Edinburgh. Captain Robert Scott, his uncle, died in June, leaving him the house of Rosebank near Kelso, which Scott sold for L5000.

"The Lay of the Last Minstrel" was published in the first week of 1805, and its success at once decided that literature should form the main business of Scott's life. Its design arose originally from the suggestion of the lovely Countess of Dalkeith, who had heard a wild, rude legend of Border diablerie, and sportively asked him to make it the subject of a ballad. He cast about for a new variety of diction and rhyme, and having happened to hear a recitation of Coleridge's unpublished "Christabel" determined to adopt a similar cadence. The division into cantos was suggested by one of his friends, after the example of Spenser's "Faery Queen." The creation of the framework, the conception of the ancient harper, came last of all. Thus did "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" grow out of the "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border." The publishers were Longman of London, and Constable of Edinburgh, and the author's share of profits came to L769.

It was at this time that Scott took over a third share in Ballantyne's business, a commercial tie which bound him for twenty years. Its influence on his literary work and his fortunes was productive of much good and not a little evil. Meanwhile, he entered with the zest of an active partner into many publishing schemes, and exerted himself in the interests of many authors less fortunate than himself.

With the desire of placing his financial position on a more substantial basis, Scott had solicited the office of Clerk of Session; and after some difficulties, during which he visited London and was received by the Princess of Wales, he was installed in that position on March 8, 1806, and continued to discharge its duties with exemplary regularity for twenty-five years.

The progress of "Marmion" was further interrupted by Scott's appointment as secretary to a Commission for the improvement of Scottish Jurisprudence, but the poems appeared at last in February, 1808. It received only very qualified praise from Jeffrey, but I think it may be considered on the whole Scott's greatest poem, and its popularity was from the very first extraordinary.

In April of the same year William Miller of Albemarle Street published Scott's great edition of Dryden, with a biography, in eighteen volumes; and the editor's industry and critical judgement were the subject of a laudatory article by Hallam in the "Edinburgh Review."

Scott was now engaged in a vast multiplicity of business. He was preparing an edition of Swift for Constable, establishing his own partner as a publisher in Edinburgh under the title of "John Ballantyne and Co., Booksellers," and was projecting a new periodical of sound constitutional principles, to be known as the "Quarterly Review," published by Murray in London and by Ballantyne in Edinburgh. In connection with the latter enterprise Scott and Mrs. Scott went up to London for two months in the Spring of 1809, and enjoyed the society of Coleridge, Canning, Croker, and Ellis. The first "Quarterly" appeared while he was in London, and contained three articles from his pen. At this time also he prevailed on Henry Siddons, the nephew of Kemble, to undertake the lease and management of the Edinburgh Theatre; and purchasing a share himself, became an acting trustee, and for many years took a lively concern in the Edinburgh company.

Early in May, 1810, "The Lady of the Lake" came out, like her two elder sisters, in all the majesty of quarto, at the price of two guineas, the author receiving two thousand guineas for the copyright. The whole country rang with the praises of the poet, and crowds set off to view the scenery of Loch Katrine. The critics were in full harmony with one another and with the popular voice.

The Waverley Novels

On returning, in 1810, from an excursion to the Islands of the western Scottish coast, where he had been collecting impressions for "The Lord of the Isles," Scott was searching one morning for fishing-flies in an old desk at Ashestiel, when he came across a forgotten manuscript, written and abandoned five years before. It contained the first two chapters of "Waverley." He submitted it to Ballantyne, whose opinion was on the whole against completion of the novel, and it was again laid aside.

Although his publishing venture had begun to wear a bad aspect, Scott was now in receipt of L1300 a year as Clerk of Session, and when the lease of Ashestiel ran out in May, 1811, he felt justified in purchasing, for L4000, a farm on the banks of the Tweed above Galafoot. This farm, then known as "Garty Holes," became "Abbotsford," so called because these lands had belonged of old to the great Abbey of Melrose; and in his own mind Scott became henceforth the "Laird of Abbotsford."

The last days at Ashestiel were marked by a friendly interchange of letters with Lord Byron, whose "Childe Harold" had just come out, and with correspondence with Johanna Baillie and with Crabbe. At Whitsuntide the family, which included two boys and two girls, moved to their new possession, and structural alterations on the farmhouse began.

The poem "Rokeby" appeared in January, 1813. A month or two later the crisis in the war affected credit aniversally, and many publishing firms, including that of the Ballantynes, were brought to extremity. The difficulty was relieved for a time by the sale of copyrights and much of the stock to Constable, on the understanding that the publishing concern should be wound up as soon as possible. But Scott was preparing fresh embarrassments for himself by the purchase of another parcel of land; a yet more acute crisis in the Ballantyne firm forced him to borrow from the Duke of Buccleuch; and when planning out his work for the purpose of retrieving his position he determined to complete the fragment of "Waverley."

The offer of the post of poet-laureate was made to Scott at this time, but holding already two lucrative offices in the gift of the Crown, he declined the honour and suggested that it should be given to Southey, which was accordingly done. The "Swift" in nineteen volumes, appeared in July, 1814, and had a moderate success.

"Waverley," of which Scott was to receive half the profits, was published by Constable in July, 1814, without the author's name, and its great success with the public was assured from the first. None of Scott's intimate friends ever had, or could have, the slightest doubt as to its parentage, and when Mr. Jeffrey reviewed the book, doing justice to its substantial merits, he was at no pains to conceal his conviction of the authorship. With the single exception of the "Quarterly," the critics hailed it as a work of original creative genius, one of the masterpieces of prose fiction.

From a voyage to the Hebrides with the Commissioners of the Northern Lighthouses, Scott returned in vigour to his desk at Abbotsford, where he worked at "The Lord of the Isles" and "Guy Mannering." The poem appeared in January and the novel in February, 1815. "The Lord of the Isles" never reached the same popularity as the earlier poems had enjoyed, but "Guy Mannering" was pronounced by acclamation to be fully worthy of the honours of "Waverley." In March, Scott went to London with his wife and daughter, met Byron almost daily in Murray's house, and was presented to the Prince Regent, who was enchanted with Scott, as Scott with him. A visit to Paris in July of the same year is commemorated in "Paul's Letters to His Kinsfolk." Scott's reputation had as yet made little way among the French, but the Duke of Wellington, then in Paris, treated him with kindness and confidence, and a few eminent Frenchmen vied with the enthusiastic Germans in their attentions to him.

"The Antiquary" came out early in 1816, and was its author's favourite among all his novels. The "Tales of my Landlord," published by Murray and Blackwood, appeared in December, and though anonymous was at once recognized as Scott's. The four volumes included the "Black Dwarf" and "Old Mortality." A month later followed a poem, "Harold the Dauntless." The title of "Rob Roy" was suggested by Constable; and the novel was published on the last day of 1817.

During this year the existing house of Abbotsford had been building, and Scott had added to his estate the lands of Toftfield, at a price of L10,000. He was then thought to be consolidating a large fortune, for the annual profits of his novels alone had, for several years, been not less than the cost of Toftfield.

Having been asked by the Ballantynes to contribute to the historical department of the "Annual Register," I often had occasion now to visit Scott in his house in Castle Street, where I usually found him working in his "den," a small room behind the dining parlour, in company with his dog, Maida. Besides his own huge elbow-chair, there were but two others in the room, and one of these was reserved for his amanuensis, a portrait of Claverhouse, over the chimneypiece, with a Highland target on either side and broadswords and dirks disposed star-fashion round them. A venerable cat, fat and sleek, watched the proceedings of his toaster AND Maids with dignified equanimity.


The house of Abbotsford was not completed, and finally rid of carpenters and upholsterers, until Christmas, 1824; but the first time I saw it was in 1818, and from that time onwards Scott's hospitality was extended freely not only to the proprietors and tenants of the surrounding district, but to a never-ending succession of visitors who came to Abbotsford as pilgrims. In the seven or eight brilliant seasons when his prosperity was at its height, he entertained under his roof as many persons of distinction in rank, in politics, in art, in literature, and in science, as the most princely nobleman of his age ever did in the like space of time. It is not beyond the mark to add that of the eminent foreigners who visited our Island within this period, a moiety crossed the Channel mainly in consequence of the interest in which his writings had invested Scotland, and that the hope of beholding the man under his own roof was the crowning motive with half that moiety. His rural neighbours were assembled principally at two annual festivals of sport; one was a solemn bout of salmon fishing for the neighbouring gentry, presided over by the Sheriff; and the other was the "Abbotsford Hunt," a coursing field on a large scale, including, with many of the young gentry, all Scott's personal favourites among the yeomen and farmers of the surrounding country.

Notwithstanding all his prodigious hospitality, his double official duties as Sheriff and Clerk of Session, the labours and anxieties in which the ill-directed and tottering firm of Ballantyne involved him, the keen interest which he took in every detail of the adornment of the house and estate of Abbotsford, and finally, notwithstanding obstinate and agonizing attacks of internal cramp which were undermining his constitution, Scott continued to produce rapidly the wonderful series of the Waverley Novels. "The Bride of Lammermoor," "Legend of Montrose" and "Ivanhoe" appeared in 1819, "The Monastery," "The Abbot" and "Kenilworth" in 1820, "The Pirate" in 1821, "The Fortunes of Nigel" in 1822, "Peveril of the Peak," "Quentin Durward" and "St. Ronan's Well" in 1823, and "Redgauntlet" in 1824. His great literary reputation was acknowledged by a baronetcy conferred in 1820, and by the most flattering condescensions on the part of King George IV on his visit to Edinburgh in 1822.

The End of All

Scott's Diary from November, 1825, shows dear forebodings of the collapse of the houses of Constable and Ballantyne. In a time of universal confidence and prosperity, the banks had supported them to an extent quite unwarranted by their assets or their trade, and as soon as the banks began to doubt and to enquire, their fall was a foregone conclusion. In December, Scott borrowed L10,000 on the lands of Abbotsford, and advanced that sum to the struggling houses; on January 16, 1826, their ruin, and Scott's with them, were complete. Scott immediately placed his whole affairs in the hands of three trustees, and by the 26th all his creditors had agreed to a private trust to which he mortgaged all his future literary labours.

On March 15, he left for the last time his house in Castle Street; on April 3; "Woodstock" was sold for the creditors' behoof, realising L8228; on May 15, Lady Scott died, after a short illness, at Abbotsford. "I think," writes Scott in his Diary, "my heart will break. Lonely, aged, deprived of all my family—all but poor Anne; an impoverished, embarrassed man, deprived of the sharer of my thoughts and counsels, who could always talk down my sense of the calamitous apprehensions which break the heart that must bear them alone. Even her foibles were of service to me, by giving me things to think of beyond my weary self-reflections."

An expedition to Paris, in October, to gather materials for his "Life of Napoleon." was a seasonable relief. On his return through London, the King undertook that his son, Charles Scott, then at Oxford, should be launched in the diplomatic service. The elder son, heir to the baronetcy, was now with his regiment in Ireland.

The "Life of Buonaparte" was published in June, 1827, and secured high praise from many, among whom was Goethe. It realised L18,000 for the creditors, and had health been spared him, Scott must soon have freed himself from all encumbrances. Before the close of 1829 he had published also the "Chronicles of the Canongate," "Tales of a Grandfather," "The Fair Maid of Perth" and "Anne of Geirstein," but he had been visited also by several threatenings of apoplexy, and on February 15, 1830, was prostrated by a serious attack. Recovering from this illness, Scott resigned his office as Clerk of Session, and during the rest of the year produced a great quantity of manuscript, including the "Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft," and the series of "Tales of a Grandfather" dealing with French history. April, 1831, brought with it a distinct stroke of paralysis, yet both "Castle Dangerous" and "Count Robert of Paris" were finished in the course of the year.

Sailing in October, in the "Barham," Sir Walter Scott visited Malta and Naples, and came to Rome in April, 1832. In May he set out for home by Venice, Munich and the Rhine, but his companions could hardly prevail on him to look at the interesting objects by the way, and another serious attack fell upon him at Nimeguen. He reached London on June 13, and on July 7 was carried on board the steamer for Leith, and was at Abbotsford by the 11th. Here the remains of his strength gradually declined, and his mind was hopelessly obscured.

As I was dressing on the morning of September 17, a servant came to tell me that his master had awoke in a state of composure and consciousness, and wished to see me immediately. I found him entirely himself, though in the last extreme of feebleness. "Lockhart," he said "I may have no more than a minute to speak to you. My dear, be a good man—be virtuous—be religious—be a good man. Nothing else will give you any comfort when you come to lie here." He scarcely afterwards gave any sign of consciousness, and breathed his last on September 21, in the presence of all his children.

His funeral was unostentatious but the attendance was very great. He was laid in the Abbey of Dryburgh, by the side of his wife, in the sepulchre of his ancestors.

* * * * *

The Life of Robert Burns

John Gibson Lockhart was born, a son of the manse, at Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire, on July 14, 1794. Receiving his early education in Glasgow, he went, at sixteen, with a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford. In 1816 he was called to the Scottish Bar; but literature occupied him more than law, and as early as 1819 he wrote the once popular "Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk." Next year he married Scott's eldest daughter, Sophia. Lockhart was a leading contributor to the early "Blackwood," where his fine translations of Spanish ballads first appeared, and he edited the "Quarterly Review" from 1825 to 1853. He died at Abbotsford on November 25, 1854, and was buried at Scott's feet in Dryburgh Abbey. Lockhart's forte was biography, and his "Life of Scott" ranks beside Boswell's "Johnson." The "Life of Burns" was published first in Constable's "Miscellany" in 1828, when the whole impression was exhausted in six weeks. It passed through five editions before the author's death. Though many lives of Burns have appeared since, with details unknown to Lockhart, his biography is in many respects the best we possess, and is never likely to be superseded. Even Mr. Henley is "glad to agree with Lockhart." It is this book that is the subject of Carlyle's famous essay on Burns.

I.—The Poet in the Making

Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759, in a clay cottage at Alloway, two miles south of Ayr, and near the "auld brig o' Doon." His father, William Burnes, or Burness—for so he spelt his name—was from Kincardineshire. When Robert was born he had the lease of a seven-acre croft, and had intended to establish himself as a nurseryman. He was a man of notable character and individuality, immortalised by his son as "the saint, the father, and the husband" of "The Cottar's Saturday Night." "I have met with few," said Burns, "who understood men, their manners, and their ways, equal to my father." Agnes Brown, the poet's mother, is described as a very sagacious woman, with an inexhaustible store of ballads and traditionary tales, upon which she nourished Robert's infant imagination, while her husband attended to "the weightier matters of the law."

When Burns was between six and seven, his father removed to the farm of Mount Oliphant, two miles from the Brig o' Doon. But the soil was poor, and the factor—afterwards pictured in "The Twa Dogs"—so harsh and unreasonable, that the tenant was glad to quit. In 1777 he removed about ten miles to the larger and better farm of Lochlea, in the parish of Tarbolton. Here, after a short interval of prosperity, some trouble arose about the conditions of the lease. The dispute involved William Burnes in ruin, and he died broken-hearted in February, 1784.

Meanwhile, at the age of six, Robert, with his brother Gilbert, was learning to read, write, and sum under the direction of John Murdoch, an itinerant teacher, who has left an interesting description of his pupil.

"Gilbert always appeared to me to possess a more lively imagination," says Murdoch, "and to be more of the wit, than Robert. I attempted to teach them a little church-music. Here they were left far behind by all the rest of the school. Robert's ear, in particular, was remarkably dull, and his voice untunable. It was long before I could get them to distinguish one tune from another. Robert's countenance was generally grave and expressive of a serious, contemplative, and thoughtful mind. Gilbert's face said, 'Mirth, with thee I mean to live;' and, certainly, if any person who knew the two boys had been asked which of them was the more likely to court the muses, he would never have guessed that Robert had a propensity of that kind."

When Murdoch left the district, the father himself continued to instruct the boys; but when Robert was about thirteen he and Gilbert were sent, "week about, during a summer quarter," to the parish school of Dalrymple. The good man could not pay two fees, or his two boys could not be spared at the same time from the farm!

"We lived very poorly," says the poet. "I was a dexterous ploughman for my age; and the next eldest to me was a brother [Gilbert], who could drive the plough very well, and help me to thrash the corn. A novel-writer might perhaps have viewed these scenes with some satisfaction, but so did not I." Burns's person, inured to daily toil, and continually exposed to every variety of weather, presented, before the usual time, every characteristic of robust and vigorous manhood. He says himself that he never feared a competitor in any species of rural exertion; and Gilbert, a man of uncommon bodily strength, adds that neither he, nor any labourer he ever saw at work, was equal to him, either in the cornfield or on the thrashing-floor.

Before his sixteenth year Burns had read a large amount of literature. But a collection of songs, he says significantly, "was my vade mecum. I pored over them, driving my cart, or walking to labour, song by song, verse by verse; carefully noticing the true, tender, or sublime from affectation or fustian." It was about this date that he "first committed the sin of rhyme." The subject was a "bewitching creature," a partner in the harvest field, and the song was that beginning "Once I loved a bonnie lass."

After this, though much occupied with labour and love, he found leisure occasionally to clothe the various moods of his mind in verse. It was as early as seventeen that he wrote the stanzas which open beautifully, "I dream'd I lay where flowers were springing," and also the ballad, "My father was a farmer upon the Carrick border," which, years afterwards, he used to con over with delight, because of the faithfulness with which it recalled to him the circumstances and feelings of his opening manhood. These are the only two of his very early productions in which there is nothing expressly about love. The rest were composed to celebrate the charms of those rustic beauties who followed each other in the domain of his fancy, or shared the capacious throne between them. The excursions of the rural lover form the theme of almost all the songs which Burns is known to have produced about this period; and such of these juvenile performances as have been preserved are beautiful. They show how powerfully his boyish fancy had been affected by the old rural minstrelsy of his own country, and how easily his native taste caught the secret of its charm.

In 1781, despairing of farming, he went to Irvine to learn flax-dressing with a relative. He was diligent at first, but misfortune soon overtook him. The shop where he was engaged caught fire, and he "was left, like a true poet, not worth a sixpence." Gilbert Burns dates a serious change in his character and conduct from this six months' residence in the seaport town. "He contracted," he says, "some acquaintance of a freer manner of thinking than he had been accustomed to, whose society prepared him for overleaping the bounds of rigid virtue which had hitherto restrained him."

He had certainly not come unscathed out of the society of those persons of "liberal opinions" with whom he consorted in Irvine; and he expressly attributes to their lessons the scrape into which he fell soon after "he put his hand to plough again." He was compelled, according to the then all but universal custom of rural parishes in Scotland, to do penance in church, before the congregation, in consequence of the birth of an illegitimate child. But not the amours, or the tavern, or drudging manual labour could keep him long from his true calling. "Rhyme," he says, "I had given up [on going to Irvine], but meeting with Fergusson's 'Scottish Poems,' I strung anew my wildly sounding lyre with emulating vigour." It was probably this accidental meeting with Fergusson that in a great measure finally determined the Scottish character of his poetry.

II.—The Loves of a Peasant Poet

Just before their father's death, Robert and Gilbert took the cold and ungrateful farm of Mossgiel, in the parish of Mauchline, to which the family now removed. The four years of Burns's connection with this place were the most important of his life. It was then that his genius developed its highest energies; on the works produced in these years his fame was first established, and must ever continue mainly to rest; it was then also that his personal character came out in all its brightest lights, and in all but its darkest shadows; and indeed from the commencement of this period the history of the man may be traced, step by step, in his own immortal writings.

Burns now began to know that Nature had meant him for a poet; and diligently, though as yet in secret, he laboured in what he felt to be his destined vocation. He was never more productive than at this time, when he wrote such skits on the kirk and its associates as "The Twa Herds" (pastors), "Holy Willie's Prayer," "The Holy Fair," and "The Ordination." "Hallowe'en," a descriptive poem, perhaps even more exquisitely wrought than "The Holy Fair," also belongs to the Mossgiel period, as does an even more notable effort.

Burns had often remarked to his brother that there was something peculiarly venerable in the phrase, "Let us worship God," used by a decent, sober head of a family introducing family worship. To this sentiment we are indebted for "The Cottar's Saturday Night," the hint of the plan and title of which were taken from Fergusson's "Farmer's Ingle." It is, perhaps, of all Burns's pieces, the one whose exclusion from the collection, were such a thing possible nowadays, would be the most injurious, if not to the genius, at least to the character of the man. In spite of many feeble lines and some heavy stanzas, it appears to me that even his genius would suffer more in estimation by being contemplated in the absence of this poem than of any other single performance he has left us. Loftier flights he certainly has made, but in these he remained but a short while on the wing, and effort is too often perceptible; here the motion is easy, gentle, placidly undulating.

Burns's art had now reached its climax; but it is time to revert more particularly to his personal history. In this his loves very nearly occupy the chief place. That they were many, his songs prove; for in those days he wrote no love-songs on imaginary heroines. "Mary Morison," "Behind yon hills where Lugar flows," and "On Cessnock banks there lives a lass," belong to this date; and there are three or four inspired by Mary Campbell—"Highland Mary"—the object of by far the deepest passion Burns ever knew, a passion which he has immortalised in the noblest of his elegiacs, "To Mary in Heaven."

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8     Next Part
Home - Random Browse