III.—St. Bernard and the Second Crusade
In the meanwhile, the affairs of the Papacy had not improved—Innocent was still an exile from his see. Worst of all, the monastery of Monte Casino, the head and type of Western monarchism, had declared for Anacletus, the anti-Pope; and in 1137 Bernard set out for Italy, visited Innocent at Viterbo, and proceeded to Rome. As he advanced, Anacletus was rapidly deserted by his supporters, and shortly afterwards solved the difficulty by his death. So ended the schism; and Bernard left Rome within five days after finishing his work. With broken health and depressed spirits he returned to Clairvaux. His brother Gerard, who had shared his journey, died soon after they reached home; and Bernard's discourse on that event is one of the most remarkable funeral sermons on record. The monk had not ceased to be a loving and impassioned man.
Towards the end of 1139, the heresies of Peter Abelard, brought to his notice by William of St. Thierry, called the Abbot of Clairvaux again into public controversy. He implored Pope and cardinals to stay the progress of a second Arius. Abelard was at this time sixty-one years old, Bernard's senior by twelve years, and was without a rival in the schools. The two men were such that they could not but oppose one another; they looked at the shield from opposite sides; reconciliation, however desirable, could be only superficial. Bernard met Abelard, and "admonished him secretly." He well knew to what epoch this subtle mind, with its "human and philosophic reasons," was about to lead; his quick ear caught the distant thunder-roll of free inquiry. The heresies of Peter de Bruis and the rebellion of Arnold of Brescia had already marked the beginning of the great change. At last Bernard unwillingly yielded to Abelard's challenge to a public dispute at Sens; but his speech had hardly begun when Abelard rose in his place, refused to hear more, and appealed to Rome. He never reached Rome, but remained a penitent monk at Cluny, reconciled to his great antagonist.
Bernard was fifty-five years of age, and old for his years, when the Pope delegated to him the office of preaching the Second Crusade. Pale and attenuated to a degree which seemed almost supernatural, his contemporaries discovered something in the mere glance of his eyes which filled them with wonder and awe. When his words of love, aspiration and sublime self-sacrifice reached their ears, they were no longer masters of themselves or of their feelings. A great meeting had been convened by Pope and king at Vezelay, on Easter, 1146. Bernard, attended by the king, spoke from a platform erected on a hill; there was a shout of "Crosses! Crosses!" and the preacher scattered a sheaf of these badges among the people. The spiritual mind of Europe had spoken through Bernard, and now the military mind spoke through Louis VII. He called upon France to destroy the enemies of God. Then Bernard preached the Crusade through France and Germany, welcomed everywhere by almost unparalleled enthusiasm and attended by miraculous signs.
Bernard was shortly to die; but he had first to bear the trial of being reviled as the author of the calamities which had overtaken the Crusade. Why had he preached it and prophesied success if this was to be the event? A murmur of wrath against him was heard from the broad population of Europe. It was during this dark time that he began his largest literary work, the five books "De Consideratione," addressed to his disciple, Eugenius III., a powerful and elaborate plea against the excessive centralization of all administration and decisions into the hands of the Papal Court. Bernard called this period "the season of calamities." He discovered that his secretary had been forging his name and used his authority to recommend men and causes most unworthy of his patronage. His health was such that he could take no solid food; sleep had left him; his debility was extreme. Pope Eugenius died in July, 1153; and Bernard had no wish to stay behind. "I am no longer of this world," he said; and on August 20 he passed away.
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Life of Richard Cobden
In an age when many have gained the double distinction of eminence in statesmanship and in letters, the name of Lord Morley stands out as that of a man so illustrious in both provinces that it is hard to decide in which he has earned the greater fame. We are here concerned with him as a brilliant English man of letters. The "Life of Cobden" was published in 1881, when John Morley was in the height of his literary activity. Born at Blackburn on December 24, 1838, and educated at Cheltenham and Oxford, he had entered journalism, had edited the "Pall Mall Gazette" and the "Fortnightly Review," and had followed up his first book—a monograph on Burke—by a remarkable study of Voltaire, and by his work entitled "On Compromise." Political preoccupations drew him somewhat away from literature after 1881; but in 1901 he published his book on Cromwell, which was followed two years later by the monumental "Life of Gladstone."
I.—On the Road
Heyshott is a hamlet in a sequestered corner of West Sussex, not many miles from the Hampshire border. Here, in an old farmhouse, known as Dunford, Richard Cobden was born on June 3, 1804. His ancestors were yeomen of the soil, and, it is said, with every appearance of truth, that the name can be traced in the annals of the district as far back as the fourteenth century.
Cobden's father, a man of soft and affectionate disposition, but wholly without the energy of affairs, met with financial disaster in 1814, and relatives charged themselves with the maintenance of his dozen children. Richard was sent by his mother's brother-in-law, a merchant in London, to a school in Yorkshire. Here he remained for five years, a grim and desolate time, of which he could never afterwards endure to speak. In 1819 he was received as a clerk in his uncle's warehouse in Old Change; and at the age of twenty-one he was advanced from the drudgery of the warehouse to the glories of the road. What made the life of a traveller specially welcome to Cobden was the gratification that it offered to the master-passion of his life, an insatiable desire to know the affairs of the world.
In 1826, his employer failed, and for some months Cobden had to take unwelcome holiday. In September he found a situation, and again set out on the road with his samples of muslin and calico prints. Two years afterwards, in 1828, he and two friends determined to begin business on their own account. They arranged with a firm of Manchester calico-printers to sell goods on commission; and so profitable was the enterprise that in 1831 the partners determined to print their own goods, and took an old factory at Sabden in Lancashire.
Cobden's imagination was struck by the busy life of the county with which his name was destined to be so closely bound up. "Manchester," he writes with enthusiasm, "is the place for all men of bargain and business." His pen acquires a curiously exulting animation as he describes the bustle of its streets, the quaintness of its dialect, the abundance of its capital, and the sturdy veterans with a hundred thousand pounds in each pocket, who might be seen in the evening smoking clay pipes and calling for brandy-and-water in the bar-parlours of homely taverns. He prospered rapidly in this congenial atmosphere; but it is at Sabden, not at Manchester, that we see the first monument of his public spirit—a little stone school-house, built as the result of an agitation led by him with as much eager enthusiasm as he ever threw afterwards into great affairs of state.
Between 1833 and 1836 Cobden's character widened and ripened with surprising quickness. We pass at a single step from the natural and wholesome egotism of the young man who has his bread to win to the wide interests and generous public spirit of the good citizen. His first motion was towards his own intellectual improvement, and early in life he perceived that for his purposes no preparation could be so effective as that of travel. In 1833 and 1834 he visited the Continent; in 1835, the United States; and in 1836 and 1837 he travelled to Egypt, the Levant, and Turkey.
In the interval between the two latter journeys he made what was probably his first public speech, at a meeting to further the demand of a corporation for Manchester. The speech is described as a signal failure. "He was nervous," says the chronicler, "confused, and in fact practically broke down, and the chairman had to apologise for him."
He was much more successful in two pamphlets he published at this time, "England, Ireland, and America," and "Russia," in which he opened the long struggle he was to wage against the restriction of commerce, and the policy of intervention in European feuds. It is no strained pretension to say that already Richard Cobden, the Manchester manufacturer, was fully possessed of the philosophic gift of feeling about society as a whole, and thinking about the problems of society in an ordered connection.
II.—The Corn Laws
In 1837, Cobden was invited to become candidate for the borough of Stockport. Although he threw himself into the struggle with all his energy, on the day of election he was found to be at the bottom of the poll. Four years later he was returned for Stockport by a triumphant majority. But in 1841 he was no longer a rising young politician; he had become the leading spirit of a national agitation.
In October, 1838, a band of seven men met at an hotel in Manchester, and formed a new Anti-Corn-Law Association. They were speedily joined by others, including Cobden, who from this moment began to take a prominent part in all counsel and action. The abolition of the duties on corn was the single object of Cobden's political energy during the seven years that followed, and their destruction was the one finished triumph with which his name is associated.
After the rejection in the following year by a large majority of Mr. Villiers' motion that the House of Commons should consider the act regulating the importation of corn, the association developed into a League of Federated Anti-Corn-Law Associations in different towns and districts. The repealers began the work of propagandism by sending out a band of economic missionaries, who were not long in discovering how hardly an old class interest dies. In many districts neither law nor equity gave them protection. The members of the league were described in the London Press as unprincipled schemers, as commercial and political swindlers, and as revolutionary emissaries, whom all well-disposed persons ought to assist the authorities in putting down.
Before he entered Parliament, Cobden re-settled his business by entering into partnership with his brother Frederick, and married (May, 1840) a young Welsh lady, Miss Catherine Ann Williams. In Parliament Cobden was instantly successful. His early speeches produced that singular and profound effect which is perceived in English deliberative assemblies when a speaker leaves party recriminations, abstract argument, and commonplaces of sentiment, in order to inform his hearers of telling facts in the condition of the nation.
But Cobden's parliamentary work was at this time less important than his work as an agitator. If in one sense the Corn Laws did not seem a promising theme for a popular agitation, they were excellently fitted to bring out Cobden's peculiar strength. It was not passion, but persuasiveness, to which we must look for the secret of his oratorical success. Cobden made his way to men's hearts by the union which they saw in him of simplicity, earnestness, and conviction, with a singular facility of exposition. Then men were attracted by his mental alacrity, by the instant readiness with which he turned round to grapple with a new objection.
His patience in acquiring and shaping matter for argument was surpassed by his inexhaustible patience in dealing with the mental infirmities of those whom it was his business to persuade. He was wholly free from the unmeasured anger against human stupidity which is itself one of the most provoking forms of that stupidity.
III.—Cobden and Bright
In the autumn of 1841, Cobden and Bright made that solemn compact which was the beginning of an affectionate and noble friendship that lasted without a cloud or a jar until Cobden's death.
"On the day when Mr. Cobden called upon me," said Bright, "I was in the depths of grief, I might almost say of despair; for the light and sunshine of my house had been extinguished. All that was left on earth of my young wife, except the memory of a sainted life and of a too brief happiness, was lying still and cold in the chamber above us. Mr. Cobden called upon me as a friend, and addressed me, as you might suppose, with words of condolence. After a time he looked up, and said, 'There are thousands of houses in England at this moment where wives, mothers, and children are dying of hunger. Now,' he said, 'when the first paroxysm of your grief is past, I would advise you to come with me, and we will never rest till the Corn Law is repealed.' I accepted his invitation."
Although the agitation for repeal was in Cobden's mind only a part of the broad aims of peace and social and moral progress for which he strove, he was too practical to put forth his thoughts on too many subjects at once. He confined his enthusiasm to repeal until repeal was accomplished. But his efforts left him no time to attend to his own business, which was falling to pieces under the management of his brother Frederick. In the autumn of 1845 he felt compelled to give up his work as an agitator on account of his private affairs, but Bright and one or two friends procured the money that sufficed to tide over the emergency.
The cause was now on the eve of victory. The autumn of 1845 was the wettest in the memory of man. For long the downpour never ceased by night or by day; it was the rain that rained away the Corn Laws. The bad harvest and the Irish potato famine brought the long hesitation of Sir Robert Peel to an end. Soon after the opening of the session of 1846, he announced his proposals.
The repeal of the Corn Laws was to be total, but not immediate. For three years there was to be a lowered duty on a sliding scale, and then the ports were to be opened entirely. "Hurrah! Hurrah!" wrote Cobden to his wife on June 26, "the Corn Bill is law, and now my work is done!"
IV.—In the Cause of Peace
Cobden was now absent from England for fourteen months, travelling on the Continent. His reception was everywhere that of a great discoverer in a science which interests the bulk of mankind much more keenly than any other, the science of wealth. People looked on him as a man who had found out a momentous secret. He had interviews with the Pope, with three or four kings, with ambassadors, and with all the prominent statesmen. He never lost an opportunity of speaking a word in season. They were not all converted, but they all listened to him; and they all taught him something, whether they chose to learn anything from him in return or not.
On his return he joined with Bright in an agitation for financial and parliamentary reform. While he believed in an extension of the franchise as a means of attaining the objects he had in view, he was essentially an economical, a moral, and a social reformer. He was never an enthusiast for mere reform in the machinery. He made it his special mission to advocate financial reform, and left the advocacy for franchise extension very largely to his colleague.
Retrenchment was the keynote of the financial reform urged by Cobden; and retrenchment involved the furtherance of international peace and the reduction of British armaments by means of the abandonment of the policy of intervention in European disputes and the policy of "clinging to colonies," with the consequent expenditure upon colonial defence. From 1846 to 1851 Lord Palmerston was at the Foreign Office, and was incessantly active in the affairs of half the countries of Europe. To this policy of interference Cobden offered resolute opposition. He was especially energetic in protesting against the lending to Austria and Russia of money that was in effect borrowed to repay the cost of the oppressive war against Hungary. It is impossible not to admire the courage, the sound sense, and the elevation with which Cobden thus strove to diffuse the doctrine of moral responsibility in connection with the use of capital.
In 1852, a Protectionist Ministry under Lord Derby came into power, and the Anti-Corn Law League was revived. The danger, however, soon passed away; the Derby Ministry made no attempt to interfere with freedom of trade, and ere the year ended gave place to the Aberdeen Ministry. Cobden's policy of peace and retrenchment, however, became more and more unpopular. Cobden's urgent feeling about war was not in any degree sentimental. He opposed war because war and the preparation for it consumed the resources which were required for the improvement of the temporal condition of the population. But in the inflamed condition of public opinion his arguments were powerless.
The invasion panic of 1853 was followed in 1854 by the Crimean War, and in opposing that war Cobden and Bright found themselves absolutely alone.
"The British nation," said Lord Palmerston, "is unanimous in this matter. I say unanimous, for I cannot reckon Cobden, Bright, and Co. for anything." His estimate was perfectly correct; Cobden and Bright had the whole world against them. The moral fortitude, like the political wisdom, of these two strong men, stands out with a splendour that already recalls the great historic types of statesmanship and patriotism.
V.—Cobden as Treaty-Maker
In 1857, Cobden was compelled to retire for a time from politics. He vigorously opposed the Chinese War, and succeeded in defeating Lord Palmerston's Government in the House of Commons. Lord Palmerston, with his usual acuteness and courage, at once dissolved parliament, and in the General Election his victory was complete. The Manchester School was routed. Cobden, who contested Huddersfield, was heavily beaten; and at Manchester itself Bright was at the bottom of the poll. Cobden went to his home at Dunford, in Sussex, and remained there nearly two years. Once more he was afflicted with financial trouble. An unfortunate land speculation at Manchester, and certain investments in American railroads, had again brought him into difficulties, from which he was ultimately rescued by a munificent gift of L40,000 from subscribers whose names he never knew.
The General Election of 1859 was held while Cobden was absent in the United States, and on his return he found that he had been chosen member for Rochdale. To his surprise, he also received from his old enemy, Palmerston, an offer of the Presidency of the Board of Trade. Cobden, who had consistently refrained from accepting any office, courteously declined.
But he was none the less able to render a great service to the new Government. Mr. Bright, in a parliamentary speech, incidentally asked why, instead of lavishing the national substance in armaments, they did not go to the French Emperor and attempt to persuade him to allow his people to trade freely with ours. The idea of a commercial treaty occurred to M. Chevalier on reading the speech, and he wrote in this sense to Cobden, who was strongly impressed by the notion. He opened his mind to Gladstone, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer; and, as the outcome, Cobden went to Paris in the autumn of 1859 as unofficial negotiator of a treaty.
The negotiation was long and tedious. Cobden had to convert the emperor to his views, and to await the reconciliation of the various French interests that were opposed to freedom of trade. It was not until November, 1860, that Cobden's labours were concluded. England cleared her tariff of protection, and reduced the duties which were retained for revenue on the two French staples of wine and brandy. France, on her part, replaced prohibition by a series of moderate duties.
Palmerston offered Cobden a choice between a baronetcy and a Privy Councillorship as a reward for his services. He replied begging permission most respectfully to deny himself the honour. "An indisposition to accept a title," he wrote, "being in my case rather an affair of feeling than of reason, I will not dwell further on the subject."
VI.—The Last Days of Cobden
When Cobden returned to England his public position had more than recovered the authority and renown which had been seriously impaired by his unpopular attitude on the Russian war. But he and Bright were soon involved in an almost angrier conflict than before with the upper and middle classes, on account of their championship of the North in the American Civil War.
The remaining years of his life were largely spent in systematic onslaughts upon the policy of Lord Palmerston, and in opposition to military expenditure. It was with the purpose of resisting a Canadian fortification scheme that he made his last journey to London in March, 1865. On his arrival he was seized by a sharp attack of asthma; bronchitis supervened, and it became evident that he would not recover. On the morning of Sunday, April 2, Bright took his place by the side of the dying man. As the bells were ringing for the morning service the mists of death began to settle heavily on his brow, and his ardent, courageous, and brotherly spirit soon passed tranquilly away.
He was buried by the side of his son in the little churchyard at Lavington, on the slope of the hill among the pine-woods. "Before we left the house," Bright has told us, "standing by me, and leaning on the coffin, was his sorrowing daughter, one whose attachment to her father seems to have been a passion scarcely equalled among daughters. She said, 'My father used to like me very much to read to him the Sermon on the Mount. His own life was, to a large, extent, a sermon based upon that best, that greatest of all sermons. His was a life of perpetual self-sacrifice.'"
* * * * *
Samuel Pepys, author of the incomparable "Diary," was born either in London or at Brampton, Huntingdonshire, on February 23, 1632-3, son of John Pepys, a London tailor. By the influence of the Earl of Sandwich, he was entered in the public service. Beginning as a clerk in the Exchequer, he was soon transferred to the Naval Department, and rose to the high office of secretary to the Admiralty. His services were interrupted for a time, on the baseless suspicion that he was a Catholic, during the panic about the supposed "Popish Plot," but he was returned to his charge, and held it until the accession of William and Mary. Pepys was a man of very wide interests. He was a member of parliament, and became president of the Royal Society. He was an accomplished musician and a keen critic of painting, architecture, and the drama. But it is as a connoisseur of human nature that Pepys is known to-day. The "Diary" extended over the ten years, January, 1659-60, to May, 1669; it closed when he was thirty-seven years old, and he lived thirty-four years afterwards. The manuscript, written in shorthand, fills six volumes, which repose at Magdalene College, Cambridge. It was deciphered in 1825, when it was published as "Memoirs of Samuel Pepys, comprising his Diary from 1659 to 1669, deciphered by the Rev. J. Smith, and a Selection of his Private Correspondence, edited by Lord Braybrooke." Pepys died on May 26, 1703.
I.—"God Bless King Charles"
January 1, 1659-60. Blessed be God, at the end of last year I was in very good health, without any sense of my old pain, but upon taking of cold. I lived in Axe Yard, having my wife and servant, Jane, and no other in family than us three.
The condition of the state was thus: the Rump, after being disturbed by my Lord Lambert, was lately returned to sit again. The officers of the army all forced to yield. Lawson still lies in the river, and Monk is with his army in Scotland. The New Common Council of the City do speak very high; and had sent to Monk their sword-bearer, to acquaint him with their desires for a free and full parliament, which is at present the desires, and the hopes, and the expectations of all. My own private condition very handsome, and esteemed rich, but indeed very poor; besides my goods of my house, and my office, which at present is somewhat certain.
March 9, 1660. To my lord at his lodging, and came to Westminster with him in the coach; and I telling him that I was willing and ready to go with him to sea, he agreed that I should. I hear that it is resolved privately that a treaty be offered with the king.
May 1. To-day I hear they were very merry at Deal, setting up the king's flag upon one of their maypoles, and drinking his health upon their knees in the streets, and firing the guns, which the soldiers of the castle threatened, but durst not oppose.
May 2. Welcome news of the parliament's votes yesterday, which will be remembered for the happiest May-day that hath been many a year to England. The king's letter was read in the house, wherein he submits himself and all things to them. The house, upon reading the letter, ordered L50,000 to be forthwith provided to send to his majesty for his present supply. The City of London have put out a declaration, wherein they do disclaim their owning any other government but that of a king, lords, and commons.
May 3. This morning my lord showed me the king's declaration to be communicated to the fleet. I went up to the quarter-deck with my lord and the commanders, and there read the papers; which done, the seamen did all of them cry out, "God bless King Charles!" with the greatest joy imaginable. After dinner to the rest of the ships quite through the fleet.
May 11. This morning we began to pull down all the state's arms in the fleet, having first sent to Dover for painters to come and set up the king's. After dinner we set sail from the Downs, but dropped anchor again over against Dover Castle.
May 12. My lord gave order for weighing anchor, which we did, and sailed all day.
May 14. In the morning the Hague was clearly to be seen by us. The weather bad; we were sadly washed when we come near the shore, it being very hard to land there.
May 23. Come infinity of people on board from the king to go along with him. The king, with the two dukes and Queen of Bohemia, Princess Royal, and Prince of Orange, come on board, where I, in their coming in, kissed the king's, queen's, and princess's hands, having done the other before. Infinite shooting of the runs, and that in a disorder on purpose, which was better than if it had been otherwise. We weighed anchor, and with a fresh gale and most happy weather we set sail for England.
May 24. Up, and made myself as fine as I could, with the stockings on and wide canons that I bought at Hague. Extraordinary press of noble company, and great mirth all day.
May 25. By the morning we were come close to the land, and everybody made ready to get on shore. I spoke to the Duke of York about business, who called me Pepys by name, and upon my desire did promise me his future favour. The king went in my lord's barge with the two dukes, and was received by General Monk with all love and respect at his entrance upon the land of Dover. The shouting and joy expressed by all is past imagination.
1660-1661. At the end of the last and the beginning of this year, I do live in one of the houses belonging to the Navy Office, as one of the principal officers; my family being myself, my wife, Jane, Will Hewer, and Wayneman, my girl's brother. Myself in constant good health, and in a most handsome and thriving condition. Blessed be God for it. The king settled, and loved of all.
July 31, 1665. I ended this month with the greatest joy that I ever did any in my life, because I have spent the greatest part of it with abundance of joy, and honour, and pleasant journeys, and brave entertainments, and without cost of money. We end this month after the greatest glut of content that ever I had, only under some difficulty because of the plague, which grows mightily upon us, the last week being about 1,700 or 1,800 of the plague. My Lord Sandwich at sea with a fleet of about one hundred sail, to the northward, expecting De Ruyter, or the Dutch East India fleet.
August 8. To my office a little, and then to the Duke of Albemarle's about some business. The streets empty all the way now, even in London, which is a sad sight. To Westminster Hall, where talking, hearing very sad stories. So home through the City again, wishing I may have taken no ill in going; but I will go, I think, no more thither. The news of De Ruyter's coming home is certain, and told to the great disadvantage of our fleet; but it cannot be helped.
August 10. To the office, where we sat all morning; in great trouble to see the bill this week rise so high, to above 4,000 in all, and of them above 3,000 of the plague. Home to draw over anew my will, which I had bound myself by oath to dispatch by to-morrow night; the town growing so unhealthy that a man cannot depend upon living two days.
August 12. The people die so that now it seems they are fain to carry the dead to be buried by daylight, the nights not sufficing to do it in. And my lord mayor commands people to be within at nine at night, that the sick may have liberty to go abroad for air. There is one also dead out of one of our ships at Deptford, which troubles us mightily. I am told, too, that a wife of one of the grooms at court is dead at Salisbury, so that the king and queen are speedily to be all gone to Milton. So God preserve us!
August 16. To the Exchange, where I have not been in a great while. But, Lord! how sad a sight it is to see the streets empty of people, and very few upon the 'Change. Jealous of every door that one sees shut up lest it should be the plague; and about two shops in three, if not more, generally shut up.
August 22. I walked to Greenwich, in my way seeing a coffin with a dead body therein, dead of the plague, which was carried out last night, and the parish have not appointed anybody to bury it; but only set a watch there all day and night, that nobody should go thither or come thence, this disease making us more cruel to one another than we are to dogs.
August 25. This day I am told that Dr. Burnett, my physician, is this morning dead of the plague, which is strange, his man dying so long ago, and his house this month open again. Now himself dead. Poor, unfortunate man!
August 30. I went forth and walked towards Moorfields to see (God forgive my presumption!) whether I could see any dead corpse going to the grave. But, Lord! how everybody looks, and discourse in the street is of death and nothing else, and few people going up and down, that the town is like a place distressed and forsaken.
September 3 (Lord's Day). Up; and put on my coloured silk suit very fine, and my new periwig, bought a good while since, but durst not wear, because the plague was in Westminster when I bought it; and it is a wonder what will be the fashion after the plague is done as to periwigs, for nobody will dare to buy any hair, for fear of the infection, that it has been cut off the heads of people dead of the plague. My Lord Brouncker, Sir J. Minnes, and I up to the vestry at the desire of the justices of the peace, in order to the doing something for the keeping of the plague from growing; but, Lord! to consider the madness of the people of the town, who will, because they are forbid, come in crowds along with the dead corpses to see them buried.
September 6. To London, to pack up more things; and there I saw fires burning in the streets, as it is through the whole city, by the lord mayor's order.
September 14. To the Duke of Albemarle, where I find a letter from my Lord Sandwich, of the fleet's meeting with about eighteen more of the Dutch fleet, and his taking of most of them; and the messenger says they had taken three after the letter was sealed, which being twenty-one, and those took the other day, is forty-five sail, some of which are good, and others rich ships. Having taken a copy of my lord's letter, I away toward the 'Change, the plague being all thereabouts. Here my news was highly welcome, and I did wonder to see the 'Change so full—I believe two hundred people. And, Lord! to see how I did endeavour to talk with as few as I could, there being now no shutting up of houses infected, that to be sure we do converse and meet with people that have the plague upon them. I spent some thought on the occurrences of this day, giving matter for as much content on one hand and melancholy on another, as any day in all my life. For the first, the finding of my money and plate all safe at London; the hearing of this good news after so great a despair of my lord's doing anything this year; and the decrease of 500 and more, which is the first decrease we have yet had in the sickness since it begun. Then, on the other side, my finding that though the bill in general is abated, yet in the City within the walls it is increased; my meeting dead corpses, carried close to me at noonday in Fenchurch Street.
One of my own watermen, that carried me daily, fell sick as soon as he had landed me on Friday last, when I had been all night upon the water, and is now dead of the plague. And, lastly, that both my servants, W. Hewer and Tom Edwards, have lost their fathers of the plague this week, do put me into great apprehension of melancholy, and with good reason.
November 15. The plague, blessed be God! is decreased 400, making the whole this week but 1,300 and odd, for which the Lord be praised!
December 25 (Christmas Day). To church in the morning, and there saw a wedding in the church, which I have not seen many a day, and the young people so merry with one another, and strange to see what delight we married people have to see these poor fools decoyed into our condition, every man and woman gazing and smiling at them.
December 31. Thus ends this year, to my great joy, in this manner. I have raised my estate from L1,300 in this year to L4,400. I have got myself greater interest, I think, by my diligence, and my employments increased by that of treasurer for Tangier and surveyor of the victuals. It is true we have gone through great melancholy because of the plague, and I put to great charges by it, by keeping my family long at Woolwich, and myself and my clerks at Greenwich, and a maid at London; but I hope the king will give us some satisfaction for that. But now the plague is abated almost to nothing, and I intending to get to London as fast as I can. To our great joy the town fills apace, and shops begin to be open again.
III.—The Great Fire
September 2, 1666. Some of our maids sitting up late last night to get things ready against our feast to-day, Jane called us up about three in the morning to tell us of a great fire they saw in the City. So I rose, and slipped on my nightgown, and went to her window, and thought it to be on the back side of Mark Lane at the farthest, and so went to bed again. About seven rose again to dress myself, and there looked out at the window, and saw the fire not so much as it was, and further off. By-and-by Jane comes and tells me that above 300 houses have been burned down, and that it is now burning down all Fish Street, by London Bridge. So I made myself ready, and walked to the Tower, and there got up upon one of the high places; and there I did see the houses at that end of the bridge all on fire, and an infinite great fire on this and the other side of the bridge. So down with my heart full of trouble to the lieutenant of the Tower, who tells me that it begun this morning in the king's baker's house in Pudding Lane.
So I down to the waterside, and there got a boat, and through bridge, and there saw a lamentable fire. Everybody endeavouring to remove their goods, and flinging into the river, or bringing them into lighters that lay off; poor people staying in their houses till the very fire touched them, and then running into boats or clambering from one pair of stairs by the waterside to another. And among other things, the poor pigeons, I perceive, were loth to leave their houses, but hovered about the windows and balconies till they burned their wings and fell down. Having staid, and in an hour's time seen the fire rage every way, and nobody, to my sight, endeavouring to quench it, I to White Hall, and there up to the king's closet in the chapel, where people come about me, and I did give them an account which dismayed them all, and word was carried in to the king.
So I was called for, and did tell the king and Duke of York what I saw, and that unless his majesty did command houses to be pulled down, nothing could stop the fire. They seemed much troubled, and the king commanded me to go to my lord mayor from him and command him to spare no houses, but to pull down before the fire every way. Meeting with Captain Cocke, I in his coach, which he lent me, to Paul's, and there walked along Watling Street, as well as I could, every creature coming away loaded with goods to save, and here and there sick people carried away in beds. At last met my lord mayor in Canning Street, like a man spent. To the king's message, he cried, like a fainting woman, "Lord! what can I do? I am spent; people will not obey me. I have been pulling down houses; but the fire overtakes us faster than we can do it." So I walked home, seeing people almost all distracted, and no manner of means used to quench the fire. The houses, too, so very thick thereabouts, and full of matter for burning, as pitch and tar in Thames Street, and warehouses of oil and wines and brandy.
Soon as I dined, I away, and walked through the City, the streets full of people, and horses and carts loaden with goods. To Paul's Wharf, where I took boat, and saw the fire was now got further, both below and above bridge, and no likelihood of stopping it. Met with the king and Duke of York in their barge. Their order was only to pull down houses apace; but little was or could be done, the fire coming so fast. Having seen as much as I could, I away to White Hall by appointment, and there walked to St. James's Park, and there met my wife, and Creed and Wood and his wife, and walked to my boat; and upon the water again, and to the fire, still increasing, and the wind great. So near the fire as we could for smoke, and all over the Thames you were almost burned with a shower of fire-drops.
When you could endure no more upon the water, we to a little ale-house on the Bankside, and there stayed till it was dark almost, and saw the fire grow; and as it grew darker, appeared more and more, and in corners and upon steeples, and between churches and houses, as far as we could see up the hill of the City, in a most horrid, malicious, bloody flame, not like the fine flame of an ordinary fire. We stayed till, it being darkish, we saw the fire as only one entire arch of fire from this to the other side of the bridge, and in a bow up the hill for an arch of above a mile long; it made me weep to see it. The churches, houses, and all on fire and flaming at once; and a horrid noise the flames made, and the cracking of houses at their ruin. So home with a sad heart.
IV.—Of the Badness of the Government
April 26, 1667. To White Hall, and there saw the Duke of Albemarle, who is not well, and do grow crazy. Then I took a turn with Mr. Evelyn, with whom I walked two hours; talking of the badness of the government, where nothing but wickedness, and wicked men and women command the king; that it is not in his nature to gainsay anything that relates to his pleasures; that much of it arises from the sickliness of our ministers of state, who cannot be about him as the idle companions are, and therefore he gives way to the young rogues; and then from the negligence of the clergy, that a bishop shall never be seen about him, as the King of France hath always; that the king would fain have some of the same gang to be lord treasurer, which would be yet worse.
And Mr. Evelyn tells me of several of the menial servants of the court lacking bread, that have not received a farthing wages since the king's coming in. He tells me that now the Countess Castlemaine do carry all before her. He did tell me of the ridiculous humour of our king and knights of the Garter the other day, who, whereas heretofore their robes were only to be worn during their ceremonies, these, as proud of their coats, did wear them all day till night, and then rode in the park with them on. Nay, he tells me he did see my Lord Oxford and Duke of Monmouth in a hackney coach with two footmen in the park, with their robes on, which is a most scandalous thing, so as all gravity may be said to be lost among us.
V.—The End of the Diary
November 30, 1668. My wife after dinner went the first time abroad in her coach, calling on Roger Pepys, and visiting Mrs. Creed and my cousin Turner. Thus endeth this month with very good content, but most expenseful to my purse on things of pleasure, having furnished my wife's closet and the best chamber, and a coach and horses that ever I knew in the world; and I am put into the greatest condition of outward state that ever I was in, or hoped ever to be. But my eyes are come to that condition that I am not able to work. God do His will in it!
December 2. Abroad with my wife, the first time that ever I rode in my own coach, which do make my heart rejoice and praise God. So she and I to the king's playhouse, and there saw "The Usurper," a pretty good play. Then we to White Hall; where my wife stayed while I up to the duchess, to speak with the Duke of York; and here saw all the ladies, and heard the silly discourse of the king with his people about him.
December 21. To the Duke's playhouse, and saw "Macbeth." The king and court there, and we sat just under them and my Lady Castlemaine. And my wife, by my troth, appeared, I think, as pretty as any of them; I never thought so much before, and so did Talbot and W. Hewer. The king and Duke of York minded me, and smiled upon me; but it vexed me to see Moll Davis in the box over the king and my Lady Castlemaine, look down upon the king, and he up to her. And so did my Lady Castlemaine once; but when she saw Moll Davis she looked like fire, which troubled me.
May 31, 1669. Up very betimes, and continued all the morning examining my accounts, in order to the fitting myself to go abroad beyond sea, which the ill-condition of my eyes and my neglect hath kept me behindhand in. Had another meeting with the Duke of York at White Hall on yesterday's work, and made a good advance; and so being called by my wife, we to the park, Mary Batelier and a Dutch gentleman, a friend of hers, being with us. Thence to "The World's End," a drinking house by the park; and there merry, and so home late.
And thus ends all that I doubt I shall ever be able to do with my own eyes in the keeping of my journal, having done now so long as to undo my eyes almost every time that I take a pen in my hand; and therefore resolve, from this time forward to have it kept by my people in longhand, and must be contented to set down no more than is fit for them and all the world to know. And so I betake myself to that course, which is almost as much as to see myself go into my grave; for which, and all the discomforts that will accompany my being blind, the good God prepare me! S.P.
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PLINY THE YOUNGER
Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, or Pliny the Younger, was born in 62 A.D. at Novum Comum, in the neighbourhood of Lake Como, in the north of Italy. His family was honourable, wealthy, and able, and his uncle, Pliny the Elder, was the encyclopaedic student and author of the famous "Natural History." On his father's death, young Pliny, a boy of nine, was adopted by the elder Pliny, educated in literary studies and as an advocate, and was a notable pleader before his twentieth year. Through a succession of offices he rose to the consulship in the year 100, and afterwards continued to hold important appointments. He was twice married, but left no children. The date of his death is unknown. The "Letters of Pliny the Younger" are valuable as throwing light upon the life of the Roman people; but they are also models of Latin style, and have all the charm of their author's upright, urbane, and tolerant character. His epistle to the Emperor Trajan with regard to the Christians is of peculiar interest.
To Cornelius Tacitus
You will certainly laugh, and well may you laugh, when I tell you that your old friend has turned sportsman, and has captured three magnificent boars. "What," you say, "Pliny?" Yes, I myself, though without giving up my much loved inactivity. While I sat at the nets, you might have found me holding, not a spear, but my pen. I was resolved, if I returned with my hands empty, at least to bring home my tablets full. This open-air way of studying is not at all to be despised. The activity and the scene stimulate the imagination; and there is something in the solemnity and solitude of the woods, and in the expectant silence of the chase, that greatly promotes meditation. I advise you whenever you hunt in future to take your tablets with you as well as your basket and flask. You will find that Minerva, as well as Diana, haunts these hills.
To Minucius Fundanus
When I consider how the days pass with us at Rome, I am surprised to find that any single day taken by itself is spent reasonably enough, or at least seems to be so, and yet when I add up many days together the impression is quite otherwise. If you ask anyone what he has been doing to-day, he will tell you perhaps that he has been attending the ceremony of a youth's coming of age; he has assisted at a wedding, been present at the hearing of a lawsuit, witnessed a will, or taken part in a consultation. These occupations seem very necessary while one is engaged in them; and yet, looking back at leisure upon the many hours we have thus employed, we cannot but consider them mere frivolities. Looking back especially on town life from a country retreat, one is inclined to regret how much of life has been spent in these wretched trifles.
This reflection is one which often occurs to me at my place at Laurentum, when I am immersed in studies or invigorating my bodily health. In that peaceful home I neither hear nor say anything which needs to be repented of. There is no one there who speaks evil of anyone; and I have not to complain of any man, except sometimes of myself when I am dissatisfied with my work. There I live undisturbed by rumours, free from the vicissitudes of hope and fear, conversing only with myself and my books. What a true and genuine life it is; what a delightful and honest repose—surely more to be desired than the highest employments. O sea and solitary shore, secret haunt of the Muses, with how many noble thoughts have you inspired me! Do you then, my friend, take the first opportunity of leaving the noisy town with all its empty pursuits, and devote your days to study or leisure. For, as Attilius well says, it is better to have nothing to do than to be doing of nothing.
To Septicius Clarus
How did it happen, my friend, that you failed to keep your engagement to dine with me? I shall expect you to repay me what I spent on the festival—no small sum, I can assure you. I had prepared for each of us, you must know, a lettuce, three snails, two eggs, and a barley cake served with sweet wine and snow; the snow most certainly I shall charge to your account, as it melted away. There were olives, beetroots, gourds, onions, and a hundred other dainties. You would also have heard a comedian, or the reading of a poem or a lute-player, or even if you had liked, all three, such was my liberality. But luxurious delicacies and Spanish dancing girls at some other house were more to your taste. I shall have my revenge of you, depend upon it, but I won't say how. Indeed, it was not kind thus to mortify your friend—I had almost said yourself; for how delightfully we should have passed the evening in jests and laughter, and in deeper talk! It is true you may dine at many houses more sumptuously than at mine but nowhere will you find more unconstrained gaiety, simplicity and freedom. Only make the experiment, and if you do not ever afterwards prefer my table to any other, never favour me with your company again.
It would be a long story, and of no great importance, if I were to tell you by what accident I dined lately with a man who, in his own opinion, entertained us with great splendour and economy, but in my opinion with meanness combined with extravagance. He and a few of his guests enjoyed some very excellent dishes indeed, but the fare placed before the rest of the company was of the most inferior kind. There were three kinds of wine in small bottles, but it was not intended that the guests should take their choice at all. The best was for himself and for us; another vintage was for his friends of a lower order—for you must know he divides his friends into classes—and the third kind was for his own and his guests freed-men. My neighbor noticed this, and asked me if I approved of it. "Not at all," I said.
"What then," said he, "is your custom in entertaining?"
"Mine," said I, "is to offer the same fare to everybody. I invite my friends to dinner without separating them into classes. Everyone who comes to my table is equal, and even my freed-men are then my guests just as much as anyone else."
He asked me if I did not find this very expensive. I assured him that it was not so at all, and that the whole secret lay in drinking no better wine myself that I gave to others. If a man is wise enough to moderate his own luxury, he will not find it very expensive to entertain all his visitors on equal terms. Restrain your own tastes if you would really economise. This is a better way of saving expense than making these insulting distinctions between guests.
It would be a pity if a man of your excellent disposition should be imposed upon by the immoderate ostentation which prevails at some tables under the guise of frugality. I tell you of this as an example of what you ought to shun. Nothing is to be more avoided than this preposterous association of extravagance and meanness—defects which are unpleasant enough when found separately, but are particularly detestable when combined.
To Baebius Macer
I am glad to hear that you are so great an admirer of my Uncle Pliny's works as to wish to have a complete collection of them. You will wonder how a man so much occupied as he was could find time to write so many books, some of them upon very difficult subjects. You will be still more surprised when you hear that for a considerable time he practised at the bar, that he died in his fifty-sixth year, and that from the time of his retirement from the bar to his death he was employed in some of the highest offices of state, and in the immediate service of the emperors. But he had a very quick intelligence, an incredible power of application, and an unusual faculty of doing without sleep. In summer he used to begin to work at midnight; in winter, generally at one in the morning, or two at the latest, and often at midnight. But he would often, without leaving his studies, refresh himself by a short sleep. Before daybreak he used to wait upon the Emperor Vespasian, who also was a night worker, and after that attended to his official duties. Having taken a light meal at noon, after the custom of our ancestors, he would in summer, if unoccupied, lie down in the sun, while a book was read to him from which he made extracts and notes. Indeed he never read without making extracts; he used to say that no book was so bad as not to teach one at least something. After this reading he usually took a cold bath, then a light refreshment, and went to sleep for a little while. Then, as if beginning a new day, he resumed his studies until dinner, when a book was again read to him, upon which he would make passing comments. I remember once, when his reader had pronounced a word wrongly, someone at the table made him repeat it again; upon which my uncle asked his friend if he had not understood it. He admitted that the word was clear enough. "Why did you stop him then?" asked my uncle; "we have lost more than ten lines by this interruption of yours." Even so parsimonious was he of every moment of time! In summer he always rose from dinner by daylight, and in winter as soon as it was dark; this was an invariable law with him.
Such was his life amidst the noise and bustle of the city; but when he was in the country his whole time, without exception, was given to study except when he bathed. And by this exception I mean only the time when he was actually in the bath, for all the time when he was being rubbed and dried he was read to, or was himself dictating. Again, when travelling he gave his whole time to study; a secretary constantly attended him with books and tablets, and in winter wore very warm gloves so that the cold weather might not interrupt my uncle's work; and, for the same reason, when in Rome, he was always carried in a chair. I remember he once reproved me for going for a walk, saying that I might have used the hours to greater advantage; for he thought all time was lost which was not given to study. It was by this extraordinary application that he found time to write so many volumes, besides a hundred and sixty books of extracts which he left me, written on both sides in an extremely small hand, so that their number might be reckoned considerably greater.
To Cornelius Tacitus
I understand you wish to hear about the earthquake at Misenum. After my uncle had left us on that day, I went on with my studies until it was time to bathe; then I had supper and went to bed. But my sleep was broken and disturbed. There had been many slight shocks, which were very frequent in Campania, but on this night they were so violent that it seemed as though everything must be overthrown. My mother ran into my room, and we went out into a small court which separated our house from the sea. I do not know whether to call it courage or rashness on my part, as I was only eighteen years old; but I took up Livy and read and made extracts from him. When morning came the light was faint and sickly; the buildings around us were tottering to their fall, and there was great and unavoidable danger in remaining where we were. We resolved to leave the town. The people followed us in consternation, and pressed in great crowds about us on our way out. Having gone a good distance from the house, we stood still in the midst of a dreadful scene. The carriages for which we had sent, though standing upon level ground, were being thrown from side to side, and could not be kept still even when supported by large stones. The sea appeared to roll back upon itself, driven from its shores by the convulsive movements of the earth; a large portion of the sea-bottom was uncovered, and many marine animals were left exposed. Landward, a black and dreadful cloud was rolling down, broken by great flashes of forked lightning, and divided by long trains of flame which resembled lightning but were much larger.
Soon afterwards the clouds seemed to descend and cover the whole surface of the ocean, hiding the island of Capri altogether and blotting out the promontory of Misenum. My mother implored me earnestly to make my escape, saying that her age and frame made it impossible for her to get away, but that she would willingly meet her death if she could know that she had not been the cause of mine. But I absolutely refused to forsake her, and seizing her hand I led her on. The ashes now began to fall upon us, though as yet in no great quantity. I looked back and saw behind us a dense cloud which came rolling after us like a torrent. I proposed that while we still had life we should turn out of the high road, lest she should be trampled to death in the dark by the crowd.
We had scarcely sat down when darkness closed in upon us, not like the darkness of a moonless night, or of a night obscured by clouds, but the darkness of a closed room where all the lights have been put out. We heard the shrieks of women, the cries of children, and the shouts of men; some were calling for their children, others for their parents, others for their husbands or wives, and recognising one another through the darkness by their voices. Some were calling for death through very fear of death; others raised their hands to the gods; but most imagined that the last eternal night had come, and that the gods and the world were being destroyed together. Among these were some who added imaginary terrors to the real danger, and persuaded the terror-stricken multitude that Misenum was in flames. At last a glimmer of light appeared which we imagined to be a sign of approaching flames, as in truth it was; but the fire fell at a considerable distance from us, and again we were immersed in darkness. A heavy shower of ashes now rained upon us, so that we were obliged from time to time to shake them off, or we should have been crushed and buried in the heap. I might congratulate myself that during all this horror not a sigh or expression of fear escaped me, if it had not been that I then believed myself to be perishing with the world itself, and that all mankind were involved in the same calamity—a miserable consolation indeed, but a powerful one.
At last this dreadful darkness was dissipated by degrees like a cloud of smoke; real day returned, and even the sun appeared, though very faintly as he appears during an eclipse. Everything before our trembling eyes was changed, being covered over with white ashes as with deep snow. We returned to Misenum, where we refreshed ourselves as well as we could and passed an anxious night between hope and fear. There was more fear than hope, however; for the earthquake still continued and many crazy people were running about predicting awful horrors.
You must read my story without any view of writing about it in your history, of which it is quite unworthy; indeed, my only excuse for writing it in a letter is that you have asked for it.
To Calpurnia, His Wife
It is incredible how impatiently I wish for your return, such is the tenderness of my love for you, and so unaccustomed are we to separation. I lie awake great part of the nights thinking of you; and in the day my feet carry me of their own accord to your room at the hours when I used to see you, but not finding you there I go away as sorrowful and disappointed as an excluded lover. The only time when I am free from this distress is when I am in the forum busy with the lawsuits of my friends. You may judge how wretched my life is when I find my repose only in labour and my consolation in miseries and cares.
You must very well know the kind of people who, though themselves slaves to every passion, are mightily indignant at the vices of others, and most severe against those whom they most closely resemble. Surely leniency is the most becoming of all virtues, even in persons who have least need of anyone's indulgence. The highest of all characters, in my estimation, is that of a man who is as ready to pardon human errors as though he were every day himself guilty of them, and who yet abstains from faults as though he never forgave them. Let us observe this rule, both in our public and in our private relations—to be inexorable to ourselves, but to treat the rest of the world with tenderness, including even those who forgive only themselves. Let us always remember the saying of that most humane and therefore very great Thrasea: "He who hates vices, hates mankind."
Perhaps you will ask who it is that has moved me to these reflections? There was a certain person lately—But I will tell you of that when we meet. No; on second thoughts I will not tell you even then, lest by condemning him and exposing his conduct I should be violating the principle which I have just condemned. So, whoever he is, and whatever he may be, the matter shall remain unspoken; since to expose him would be of no advantage for the purpose of example; but to hide his fault will be of great advantage to good nature.
To the Emperor Trajan
It is my rule, to refer to you all matters about which I have any doubt. For who can be more capable of removing my scruples or of instructing my ignorance?
I have never been present at any trials of Christians, and am, therefore, ignorant of the reasons for which punishment is inflicted, as well as of the examinations which it is proper to make of their guilt. As to whether any difference is usually made with respect to the ages of the guilty, or whether no distinction is to be observed between the young and the old; whether repentance entitles them to a pardon, or whether it is of no advantage to a man who has once been a Christian that he has ceased to be one; whether the very profession of Christianity unattended by any criminal act, or only the crimes that are inherent in the profession are punishable—in all these points I am very doubtful.
In the meantime, the method which I have observed towards those who have been brought before me as Christians is this. I have interrogated them as to whether they were Christians; if they confessed I repeated the question twice again, adding threats at the same time; and if they still persevered I ordered them to execution. For I was persuaded that whatever the nature of their opinions might be, their pertinacity and inflexible obstinacy ought certainly to be punished. Others also were brought before me possessed by the same madness, but as they were Roman citizens I ordered them to be sent to Rome. As this crime spread while it was actually under prosecution, many fresh cases were brought up. An anonymous paper was given me containing a charge against many persons. Those who denied that they were Christians, or that they had ever been so, repeated after me an invocation to the gods, offered wine and incense before your statue, which for this purpose I had ordered to be placed among the statues of the gods, and even reviled the name of Christ; and so, as it is impossible to force those who are really Christians to do any of these things, I thought it proper to dismiss them. Others who had been accused confessed themselves at first to be Christians, but immediately afterwards denied it; and others owned that they had formerly been of that number, but had now forsaken their error. All these worshipped your statue and the images of the gods, at the same time reviling the name of Christ.
They affirmed that the whole of their guilt, or their error, had been as follows. They met on a stated day before sunrise and addressed a form of invocation to Christ as to a God; they also bound themselves by an oath, not for any wicked purpose but never to commit thefts, robberies, or adulteries, never to break their word, nor to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up. After this had been done they used to separate, and then reassemble to partake in common of an innocent meal. They had desisted, however, from this custom, after the publication of my edict, by which, in accordance with your orders, I had forbidden fraternities to exist. Having received this account I thought it all the more necessary to make sure of the real truth by putting two slave-girls, who were said to have taken part in their religious functions, to the torture; but I could discover nothing more than an absurd and extravagant superstition.
I have, therefore, adjourned all further proceedings in the affair in order to consult with you. It appears to be a matter highly deserving your consideration, especially as very many persons are involved in the danger of these prosecutions; for the inquiry has already extended and is likely further to extend to persons of all ranks and ages, and of both sexes. This contagious superstition is not confined to the cities only, but has spread its infection among the villages and country districts as well; and it seems impossible to cure this evil or to restrain its progress. It is true that the temples which were once almost deserted have lately been frequented, and that the religious rites which had been interrupted are again revived; and there is a general demand for animals for sacrificial victims, which for some time past have met with few purchasers. From all this it is easy to imagine what numbers might be reclaimed from this error if pardon were granted to those who may repent of it.
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Armand Jean du Plessis, Duc de Richelieu, the great French cardinal-statesman, was born in Paris on September 5, 1585, of a noble family, and was at first educated for the profession of arms, but entered the Church in order to become Bishop of Lucon in 1606. Having come up to Paris to make his way in the world, he was appointed almoner to the young queen Anne of Austria, and rose in 1616 to be Secretary of State for War and for Foreign Affairs. He received the cardinal's hat in 1622, and for a period of eighteen years, from 1624 to 1642, he was, in everything but name, the Majesty of France. His mind was bold, unscrupulous, remorseless, and inscrutable. Yet it was always noble—the minister who sent so many to the scaffold could truly say that in his vast labours he had but one pleasure, to know that so many honest folk slept in security while he watched night after night. He was a friend to literature, was founder of the Academy, and was himself a considerable author in history and theology. His greatest work, "Testament Politique du Cardinal de Richelieu," which was published in 1764, and in which is embodied his counsel in statecraft, is a literary achievement of no small importance, exhibiting as it does not only a political acumen of a very high order but an acute faculty for literary expression. Richelieu died on December 4, 1642.
At the time when your majesty admitted me to your counsels and confided to me the direction of public affairs I may say with truth that the Huguenots divided the state with your majesty, the great families behaved as though they had no sovereign, and the governor of provinces as if they had been sovereigns themselves. Every man took his own audacity to be the measure of his merit, so that the most presumptious were considered the wisest, and proved often the most fortunate. Abroad the friendship of France was despised. At home private interests were preferred to the general advantage. The dignity of the throne had so far declined, through the fault of my predecessors in office, that it was almost unrecognisable. To have continued to entrust to their hands the helm of the state would have led to irremediable disaster; yet, on the other hand, too swift and too great a change would have been fraught with dangers of its own. In that emergency the wisest considered that it was hardly possible to pass without shipwreck through the reefs and shoals, and there were many who had foretold my fall even before your majesty had raised me to power.
Yet, knowing what kings may do when they make good use of their power, I was able to promise your majesty that your prudence and firmness, with the blessing of God, would give new health to this kingdom. I promised to devote all my labours, and all the authority with which I might be clothed, to procuring the ruin of the Huguenot party, to humbling the pride of the great, to reducing all your subjects to their duty, and to elevating your majesty's name among foreign nations to its rightful reputation.
I asked, to that end, your majesty's entire confidence, and assured you that my policy would be the direct contrary of that of my predecessors, inasmuch as, instead of removing the queen, your mother, from your majesty's counsels, I would leave nothing undone to promote the closest union between you, to the great advantage and honour of the kingdom.
The success which has followed the good intentions which it has pleased God to give me for the administration of this state will justify, to the ages to come, the constancy with which I have pursued this design—that the union which exists between your majesties in nature, may be completed also between you in grace. And if, after many years, this purpose by the malice of your enemies, has been defeated, it is my consolation to remember how often your majesty has been heard to say that when I was working most for the honour of the queen, your mother, she was conspiring for my ruin.
Letters are one of the greatest ornaments of states, and their cultivation is necessary to the commonwealth. Yet it is certain that they should not be taught indiscriminately to every one. A nation whose every subject should be educated would be as monstrous as a body having eyes in every part; pride and presumption would be general, and obedience almost disappear.
Unrestrained trade in knowledge must banish that trade in merchandise to which states owe their wealth; ruin husbandry, the true mother and nurse of peoples; and destroy our source of soldiery, which springs up in rustic ignorance rather than from the forcing-ground of culture and the sciences. It would fill France with half-taught fellows, minds formed only to chicane, men who might ruin families and trouble public peace, but could not be of any service to the state. There would be more people capable of doubts than capable of resolving them; more intelligences fitted to oppose than to defend the truth.
Indeed, when I consider the great number who make a profession of teaching, and the crowds of children who are taught, I seem to see an infinite multitude of weaklings and diseased, who, having no other desire than to drink pure water for their healing, are urged by an inordinate thirst to drink all that is offered them, though it is mostly impure and often poisoned, whereby their thirst and their malady are equally aggravated.
Two principal evils arise from the great number of colleges established in every district: there are not sufficient worthy teachers to supply them; and many children of little aptitude are compelled by their parents to study. In the result, almost all the pupils leave with but a smattering of learning, some because they have been badly taught, others because they have been incapable of more. The remedy that I propose is this. Let the colleges in all towns which are not of metropolitan rank be reduced to two or three classes, sufficient to raise the young out of gross ignorance, such as is harmful even to those who are destined for military service or for trade. Then, before the children are determined to any special line of life, two are three years will reveal their dispositions and their capacities; and the more promising children, who will then be sent on to the metropolitan colleges, will succeed far better; for they will have minds suited for education and will be placed in the hands of the best teachers.
Finally, let care be taken that the colleges shall not all come under the same hands. The universities, on the one hand, the Jesuits on the other, tend towards a monopoly of education. Let their emulation increase their virtues and efficiency; but let neither party be deprived of the instruction of youth; let neither secure a monopoly.
Of the Nobility
The nobility, which is one of the principal nerves of the state, may contribute much to its consolidation and power, but it has been for some time past greatly depreciated by the large number of officials whom the misfortunes of our age have raised up to its prejudice. It must be supported against the enterprises of people of that kind, whose wealth and pride overwhelmed the nobles, who are rich only in courage.
But as the nobility must be defended from their oppressors, so also must they be strictly prevented from oppressing those who are below them, whom God has armed to labour but not to self-defence. Uncompromisingly justice must ensure security, under shelter of your laws, to the least and feeblest of your subjects.
Those nobles who do not serve the state are a charge upon it; and, like a paralysed limb, are a burden where they should be a defence and a comfort. As men of gentle birth should be well treated so long as they deserve it, so they should be checked severely when they are found wanting to the obligations of their birth; and I have no hesitation in advising that those who have so degenerated from the virtues of their fathers as to avoid the service of the crown with their swords and with their lives, deserve to be degraded from their hereditary honours and advantages, and should be reduced to take part in bearing the burdens of the people.
Of the Disorders of Justice
It is much easier to recognise the defects of justice than to prescribe the remedy. Certain it is that they have arrived at such a point that they could hardly be graver; yet I know that it is your majesty's desire that the administration of justice should be as pure as the imperfections and corruptions of mankind will permit.
In the opinion of the great majority of the people, the sovereign remedy consists in suppressing venality, in doing away with the hereditary principle in judicial offices, and in giving their positions gratuitously to men of such well-known probity and capacity that not even envy itself can contest their merit. But as it would be difficult to follow this counsel at any time, and is quite impossible to follow it here and now, it is useless to propose means calculated to secure that end.
Although it is always dangerous to hold a view which others do not share, I must boldly say that in my opinion, in the present state of affairs and in any that one can foresee, it is better to suffer venality and hereditary offices to continue than to change, from top to bottom, your majesty's judicial establishment. The present abuses are great; but I believe that a system under which the offices of justice should be appointed by nomination by the king would lead to even greater abuses. The distribution of these important charges would, in effect, depend on the favour and intrigue of the courtiers who might at the time have most power with the king, or on whose reports he must base his nominations.
Certainly venality and heredity in this matter are evils, but they are evils of long standing. We have only to look back to the reigns of St. Louis, when offices were already paid for, and of the great Francis, who erected the principle into a regular traffic, to see that so inveterate a custom is not easily to be eradicated. Our aim should be to turn the minds of men gently and continuously to better ways, and not to pass suddenly from one extreme to the other. The architect whose skill is able to correct the weakness of an ancient building, and to bring it into some degree of symmetry without first pulling it down, deserves far greater praise than the man who must throw it into ruins in order to construct something entirely new. It is difficult to change the established order without changing the hearts of those who possess it, and it is often prudent to weaken one's remedies in order that they may have the greater effect.
To the Officers of Finance
These form a class of men who are prejudicial to the state, yet are necessary to and we can only hope to reduce their power within tolerable limits. At present, their excesses and irregularities are intolerable; and it is impossible that they should further increase their wealth and their power without ruining the state, and themselves with it.
I do not advise the general confiscation of their gains, although the excessive wealth which they amass in a short time, easily proved by the difference between their possessions on entering office and what they own at present, must often be the result of thefts and extortions. Confiscation may be made, in its turn, the greatest of injustice and violence. Yet I do not think that anyone could complain if the more flagrant offenders were chastised. Otherwise, they will, as I have said, ruin the kingdom, which bears on its face the marks of their frauds.
The gold with which they have gorged themselves has opened to them alliances with the most ancient families, whose blood and character are thereby so far debased that their representatives resemble their ancestors no more in the generosity of their motives than they do in the purity of their features.
I can advise nothing but a great reduction in the number of these officials, a reform which might be easily accomplished; and the appointment, in times to come, only of substantial men, of character and position suitable to this responsibility. As for the plan of squeezing these financiers like a sponge, or of making treaties and compositions with them, it is a remedy worse than the disorder; it is as much as to teach them that peculation is their business and their right.
Of the People
All statesmen agree that if the people were in too easy a condition it would be impossible to restrain them within the limits of their duty. Having less knowledge and cultivation than those in other ranks of the state, they would not easily follow the rules prescribed by reason and by law, unless bound thereto by a certain degree of necessity.
Reason does not permit us to exempt them from all taxation, lest, having lost the symbol of their subjection, they should forget their legitimate condition, and, being free from tribute, should think themselves free from obedience also.
Mules accustomed to a load suffer more from a long rest than they do from work; but, on the other hand, their work must be moderate and the load proportionate to their strength. So it is with the taxation of the people, which becomes unjust if it is not moderated at the point at which it is useful to the public.
There is a sense in which the tribute which kings draw from the people returns to the people again, in the enjoyment of peace and in the security of their life and possessions; for these cannot be safeguarded unless contribution be made to the state. I know of several princes who have lost their kingdoms and their subjects by letting their strength decay through fear of taxing them; and subjects have before now fallen into servitude to their enemies, through wishing too much liberty under their natural sovereign. The proportion between the burden and the strength of those who have to support it ought to be even religiously observed; a prince cannot be considered good if he draws more than he ought from his subjects; yet the best princes are not always those who never levy more than is necessary.
Reason and Government
Man, having been made a rational creature, ought to do nothing except by reason; for, otherwise he acts against nature, and so against the Author of nature. Again, the greater a man is, and the higher his position, the more strictly is he bound to follow reason. It follows that if he is sovereignly rational, he is bound to make reason reign; that is to say, it is his duty to make all those who are under his authority revere and obey reason religiously. Love is the most potent motive for obedience; and it is impossible that subjects should not love their prince if they know that reason is the guide of all his actions.
Since reason should be the guide of princes, passion, which is of all things the most incompatible with reason, should be allowed no influence on their actions. Passion can only blind them; make them take the shadow for the substance; and win for them odium in the place of affection.
Government requires a masculine virtue and an immovable firmness; for softness exposes those in whom it is found to the machinations of their enemies. Though there have been notable exceptions, their softness and their passions have generally made women unfit for rule.
Public Interests First
The public advantage should be the single object of the king and his counsellors, or should at least be preferred to every private interest. It is impossible to estimate the good which a prince and his ministers may do if they religiously follow this principle, or to estimate the disasters which must fall upon the state whose public interests are ruled by private considerations. True philosophy, the Christian law, and the art of statesmanship, unite to teach this truth.
The prosperity which Spain has enjoyed for several centuries has been due to no other cause than that her council has consistently preferred the interests of the state to all others, and most of the calamities which have visited France have been due to the preference of private advantage.
It is easy for princes to consent to the general regulations of their state, because in making them they have only reason and justice before their eyes, and men willingly embrace reason and justice when there are no obstacles to turn them from the right path. But when occasions arise for putting these regulations into practice, we do not find that princes always show the same firmness, for then the interests of factions and of minorities are pressed upon them; pity, sympathy, favour, and importunities solicit them and oppose their just designs; and they have not always strength enough to conquer themselves and to despise these partial considerations, which ought to have no weight at all in the affairs of the commonwealth.
It is on these occasions that they must gather up all their strength against their weakness, and remember that God has placed them there to safeguard the public interest.
The Power of Kingship
Power is one of the most necessary conditions of the greatness of kings and of the happiness of their government, and those who have to do with the conduct of a state should omit nothing which may enhance the authority of their master and the respect in which he is held by all the world.
As goodness is the object of love, power is the cause of fear; and fear, founded in esteem and reverence, makes dutiful conduct the interest of every subject, and warns all foreigners not to offend a prince who can harm them if he will.
I have said that the power of which I speak must be founded on esteem, and I will add that if it be otherwise founded it is dangerous in the extreme. Princes are never in a more perilous position than when they are the objects of hatred or aversion rather than of a reasonable fear.
That kingly power which causes princes to be feared with esteem and love, includes within it different elements of power; it is a tree with several branches, which draw their nourishment from common Stock. Thus, the prince must be powerful by his reputation. Secondly, by a reasonable number of soldiers, continually maintained. Thirdly, by a notable reserve, in gold, in his coffers, ready for the unforeseen occasions which arise when least expected. And, lastly, by the possession of the hearts of his people. If the finances be considerately adjusted on the principles which I have advised the people will find entire relief, and the king will base his power on the possession of the hearts of his subjects. They will know that they are his care, and their own interests will lead them to love him.
The kings of old thought so highly of this foundation of kingship that some of them held it worthier to be King of the French than King of France. Indeed, this nation was in old time illustrious for passionate attachment to its princes; and under the earlier kings, until Philip the Fair, the treasure of hearts was the sole public treasure that was maintained in this kingdom.
I know that we cannot judge of the present altogether by the past, and that what was good in one century is not always possible in another. Yet, though the treasure of hearts may not suffice to-day, it is quite certain that without it the treasure of gold is almost worthless; without that treasure of hearts we shall be bankrupt in the midst of abundance.
The Whole Duty of Princes
In conclusion, as kings are obliged to do many more things as sovereigns than they do in their private capacity, they are liable to be guilty of far more faults by omission than those of which a private person could be guilty by commission. Considered as men, they are subject to the same faults as all other men; but considered as charged with the welfare of the public, they are subject also to many duties which they cannot omit without sin.
If princes neglect to do all that they can to rule the various orders of their state; if they are careless in the choice of good advisers, or despise their salutary counsels; if they fail to make their own example a speaking voice; if they are idle in the establishment of the reign of God, and of reason, and of justice; if they fail to protect the innocent, to reward public services, and to chastise the guilty and disobedient; if they are not solicitous to foresee and to provide for the troubles which may arise, or to turn aside, by careful diplomacy, the storms which darken the horizon; if favour rather than merit dictates their choice of ministers for the high offices of the kingdom; if they do not immovably establish the state in its rightful power; if they do not on all occasions prefer public interests to private interests; then, however upright their life may otherwise be, they will be found far more guilty than those who actively transgress the commandments and the laws of God. And if kings or magistrates make use of their power to commit any injustice or violence which they cannot commit as private persons, they commit a king's or a magistrate's sin, which has its source in their authority, and one for which the King of Kings will doubtless demand a searching account on the day of judgement.
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JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU
Rousseau's "Confessions" were written in England at Wootton, in Staffordshire, where he had taken refuge after his revolutionary ideas incurred the displeasure of the authorities in France. They were first published in 1782. From this refuge he was pursued from place to place by his delusions through miserable years, until he died, near Paris, on July 2, 1778. In no circumstances or relation of his life was Rousseau a pleasant spectacle. The "Confessions," unexpurgated, are often revolting to any sane mind, and have been proved to be untrustworthy even as a record of fact. But almost incredible baseness was coupled with extraordinary gifts, and it is impossible to overestimate Rousseau's influence upon the modern world, and upon its literature and its whole point of view and way of thinking. (Rousseau, biography: see FICTION.)
I am undertaking a task for which there is no example, and one which will find no imitator. It is to exhibit a man in the whole truth of nature; and the man whom I shall reveal is myself. Myself alone; for I verily believe I am like no other living man. In this book I have hidden nothing evil and added nothing good; and I challenge any man to say, having unveiled his heart with equal sincerity, "I am better than he."
I was born at Geneva in 1712, son of Isaac Rousseau, watchmaker, and of Susanne, his wife. My birth, the first of my misfortunes, cost my mother her life, and I came into the world so weakly that I was not expected to live. My father's sister lavished on me the tenderest care, and he, disconsolate, loved me with extreme affection.
Like all children, but even more than others, I felt before I thought; and my consciousness was first awakened by reading stories with my father. Sometimes we read together until the birds were singing in the morning light. These tales gave me a most precocious insight into human passions, and the confused emotions which swept through me brought with them the queerest and most romantic views of life. But when I was seven we came to the end of my mother's old stock of romances, and we fell back on Bossuet, Moliere, Plutarch, Ovid, and the like. Plutarch went far to cure me of novels; indeed, his "Lives" were the means of forming that free and republican spirit, intolerant of servitude, which has been my torment. To my aunt, who knew endless songs, and used to chant them with a sweet, tiny thread of a voice, I owe my passion for music.
These, then, were my first affections. These formed that heart of mine, so proud yet so tender; they fashioned that effeminate yet untamable character, which has ever drifted between weakness and virtue. For I have been in contradiction with myself, in such a way that abstinence and fruition, pleasure and wisdom, have escaped me equally.
My father having left Geneva, I remained under the care of my uncle Bernard, and was placed, with his son of my own age, in the house of M. Lambercier, protestant minister at Bossey, to learn all the trivialities that are called education. Here I gained my keen love of country pleasures, and tasted, with my cousin, the delights of simple friendship. But a cruel punishment for a fault which I had not committed, put an end to my childish simplicity, and soon I left Bossey without regret. There followed two or three years of indolence at Geneva.
After a brief and luckless trial of a notary's office I was apprenticed to an engraver, a petty tyrant, whose injustice taught me to lie and to steal. Restless, dissatisfied, and in perpetual terror of my master's savagery, I here reached my sixteenth year. But one day, finding the city gates closed on my return from a country excursion, I determined, rather than face the inevitable thrashing, to seek my fortune in the unknown world.
Madame de Warens
How fair were the illusions of freedom and of the future! I asked little—only a manor where I should be the favourite of the lord of the land, his daughter's lover, her brother's friend, and protector of the neighbourhood. I roamed the countryside, sleeping at nights in hospitable cottages, and on arriving at Confignon I called, out of curiosity, on M. de Ponteverre, the parish priest. He gave me a dinner which convinced me, even more than his arguments, of the advantages of the catholic faith; and I was willing enough to set off, with his introduction, to Annecy. Here I was to seek Mme. de Warens, a recent convert, who was in receipt of a pension from the King of Sardinia. I was assured that her benevolence would support me for the present. Three days later I was at Annecy.
This introduction fixed my character and destiny. I was now in my sixteenth year, doubtless of engaging though not striking appearance; I had the timidity of a loving nature, always afraid of giving offence; and I was quite without knowledge of the world or of manners. I arrived on Palm Sunday, 1728. Mme. de Warens had left the house for church; I ran after her, saw her, spoke to her—how well do I remember the place, so often in later days wet with my tears and covered with kisses!
I saw an enchanting form, a countenance full of graciousness, a dazzling colour, blue eyes beaming kindness; you may imagine that my conversion was from that moment decided. Smiling, she read the good priest's letter, and sent me back to the house for breakfast.
Louise Eleonore de Warens, daughter of a noble family of Vevai, in the Vaud country, had early married M. de Warens, of Lausanne. The marriage was childless and otherwise unfortunate; and the young wife, exasperated by some domestic difficulty, had abandoned her husband and her country, and crossing the lake, had thrown herself at the feet of the king. He took her under his protection, gave her a moderate pension, and for fear of scandal sent her to Annecy, where she renounced her errors at the Convent of the Visitation.
She had been six years at Annecy when I met her, and was now twenty-eight years of age. Her beauty was still in its first radiance, and her smile was angelic. She was short of stature, but it was impossible to imagine more beautiful features or hands. Her education had been very desultory; she had learned more from lovers than from teachers. She had a strong taste for empirical medicine and for alchemy, and was always compounding elixirs, tinctures and balms, some of which she regarded as valuable secrets. So it was that charlatans, trading on her weakness, made her consume, amid drugs and furnaces, a talent and a spirit which might have distinguished her in the highest societies. Yet her loving and sweet character, her compassion for the unhappy, her inexhaustible goodness and her open and gay humour never changed; and even when old age was coming on, in the midst of poverty and varied misfortunes, her inward serenity preserved to the end the charming gaiety of her youth. All her mistakes arose from a restless activity which demanded incessant occupation. She thirsted, not for intrigues, but for enterprises.
Well, the first sight of Mme. de Warens inspired me not only with the liveliest attachment, but with an entire trust which was never disappointed. Her presence filled my whole being with peace and confidence.
Three Years in Turin
My situation was discussed with the Bishop, and it was decided that I should go to Turin and remain for a time at an institution devoted to the instruction of catechumens. Thither I went, regarding myself as the pupil, the friend, and almost the lover, of Mme. de Warens. The great doors closed upon me, and here I was instructed for several weeks in very indifferent company. At length, having been received into the church, I found myself in the street with twenty francs in my pocket, and the counsel that I should be a good Christian.
I took a lodging in Turin, and was presently introduced, by the kindness of my hostess, to the service of a countess. But this lady died shortly afterwards, and I left her house bearing with me lasting remorse for an atrocious action: I had accused a fellow-servant of a theft which I had myself committed, and thus may very well have caused the poor child's ruin.
Returning to my old lodging, I spent my days in wandering about town, often offending the public by my depravities. But I had kept certain acquaintances made during my situation with the countess, and one of these, a M. Gaime, whom I sometimes visited, gave me most valuable instructions in the principles of morals. He was a priest, and one of the most honest men I have known. I had cherished false ideas of life; he gave me a true picture of it, and showed me that happiness depends only on wisdom, and that wisdom is to be found in every rank. He used to say that if everyone could read the hearts of others, most would wish to descend in the social scale. This M. Gaime is the original, in large part, of my vicar of Savoy.
Then followed a new situation in the house of the Count de Gouvon, where, nominally a footman, I was soon treated more as a pupil or even as a favourite. His son, a priest, did his best to teach me Latin, and I have since realised that it was the purpose of this noble family, who had considerable political ambition, to train a talented dependent who might serve them in offices of great responsibility. But my fatal inconstancy frustrated this good fortune, my flagrant disobediences led to my dismissal, and presently I was on the road to Geneva with a gay lad from thence who had found me out in Turin.