« PreviousContinue »
the weaving of worsted stockings by an engine of his contrivance. He was a Sussex man born, or else lived there. He was a poor curate, and, observing how much pains his wife took in knitting a pair of stockings, he bought a stocking and a half, and observed the contrixance of the stitch, which he designed in his loom, which (though some of the instruments of the engine be altered) keeps the same to this day. He went into France, and there died before his loom was made there. So the art was not long since in no part of the world but England. Oliver, Protector, made an act that it should be felony to transport this engine. This information I took from a weaver (by this engine), in Pear-poole Lane, 1656. Sir J. Hoskyn, Mr. Stafford Tyndale, and I, went purposely to see it.-AUBREY'S MSS.
Saint BARTHOLOMEW.— The deputies of the reformed religion, after the massacre that was upon St. Bartholomew's day, treated with the king and queen-mother, and some other of the council for a peace. Both sides were agreed upon the articles. The question was, upon the security of performance. After some particulars propounded and rejected, the queen-mother said, “Why, is not the word of a king sufficient security ?" One of the deputies answered, “No, by St. Bartholomew, madam.”— Bacon.
THE AGE BEFORE NEWSPAPERS.—I am so put to it for something to say, that I would make a memorandum of the most improbable lie that could be invented by a viscountess-dowager; as the old Duchess of Rutland does when she is told of some strange casualty, “ Lucy, child, step into the next room and set that down.”—“ Lord, Madam!” says Lady Lucy, “it can't be true!"_“ Oh, no matter, child; it will do for news into the country next post.”-HRACE WALPOLE.
BURNING OF WICKLIFFE'S BODY BY ORDER OF THE COUNCIL OF CONSTANCE. — Hitherto [A. D. 1428] the corpse of John Wickliffe had quietly slept in his grave about forty-one years after his death, till his body was reduced to bones, and his bones almost to dust. For though the earth in the chancel of Lutterworth, in Leicestershire, where he was interred, hath not so quick a digestion with the earth of Aceldama, to consume flesh in twenty-four hours, yet such the appetite thereof, and all other English graves, to leave small reversions of a body after so many years. But now such the spleen of the Council of Constance, as they not only cursed his memory as dying an obstinate heretic, but ordered that his bones (with this charitable caution,
if it may be discerned from the bodies of other faithful people) be taken out of the ground, and thrown far off from any Christian burial. In obedience hereunto, Richard Fleming, Diocesan of Lutterworth, sent bis officers (vultures with a quick sight scent at a dead carcass) to ungrave him. Accordingly to Lutterworth they came, Sumner, Commissary, Official, Chancellor, Proctors, Doctors, and their servants, (so that the remnant of the body would not hold out a bone amongst so many hands,) take what was left out of the grave, and burnt them to ashes, and cast them into Swift, a neighbouring brook, running hard by. Thus this brook has conveyed his ashes into Avon, Avon into Severn, Severn into the narrow seas, then into the main ocean; and thus the ashes of Wickliffe are the emblem of his doctrine, which now is dispersed all the world over.-FULLER. Church History.
Och Clo.—The other day I was what you would call floored by a Jew. He passed me several times crying for old clothes in the most nasal and extraordinary tone I ever heard. At last I was so provoked, that I said to bim, “Pray, why can't you say old clothes' in a plain way as I do now?” The Jew stopped, and looking very gravely at me, said in a clear and even fine accent, “Sir, I can say old clothes as well as you can; but if you had to say so ten times a minute, for an hour together, you would say Och Clo as I do now;” and so he marched off. I was so confounded with the justice of his retort, that I followed and gave him a shilling, the only one I had.-COLERIDGE. Table Talk.
MERCIFUL LAW.—The book of deposing king Richard the Second, and the coming in of Henry the Fourth, supposed to be written by Doctor Hayward, who was committed to the Tower for it, had much incensed Queen Elizabeth; and she asked Mr. Bacon, being then of her learned council, “ Whether there were any treason contained in it?” Mr. Bacon intending to do him a pleasure, and to take off the queen's bitterness with a merry conceit, answered, “No, Madam, for treason I cannot deliver opinion that there is any, but very much felony." The queen apprehending it gladly, asked, “How, and wherein ?” Mr. Bacon answered, “ Because he has stolen many of his sentences and conceits out of Cornelius Tacitus."--Bacon.
PARLIAMENTARY DESPATCH.-Mr. Popham, when he was Speaker, and the lower house had sat long, and done in effect nothing; coming one day to Queen Elizabeth, she said to him, “Now, Mr. Speaker, what has passed in the lower house?” He answered, “If it please your Majesty, seven weeks."—Bacon.
OPINIONS.—Charles the Fifth, when he abdicated a throne, and retired to the monastery of St. Juste, amused himself with the mechanical arts, and particularly with that of a watchmaker. He one day exclaimed, “ What an egregious fool must I have been to have squandered so much blood and treasure, in an absurd attempt to make men think alike, when I cannot even make a few watches keep time together.”— COLTON. Lacon.
12.–SPEECH AT PLYMOUTH IN 1823.
CANNING. (GEORGE CANNING belongs to our country's history. He was born in 1770, and died in 1827.]
Mr. Mayor and Gentlemen, I accept with thankfulness, and with greater satisfaction than I can express, this flattering testimony of your good opinion and good-will. I must add, that the value of the gift itself has been greatly enhanced by the manner in which your worthy and honourable Recorder has developed the motives which suggested it, and the sentiments which it is intended to convey.
Gentlemen, your Recorder has said very truly, that whoever, in this free and enlightened state, aims at political eminence, and discharges political duties, must expect to have his conduct scrutinized, and every action of his public life sifted with no ordinary jealousy, and with no sparing criticism; and such may have been my lot as much as that of other public men. But, gentlemen, unmerited obloquy seldom fails of an adequate, though perhaps tardy, compensation. I must think myself, as my honourable friend has said, eminently fortunate, if such compensation as he describes, has fallen to me at an earlier period than to many others; if I dare flatter myself (as his partiality has flattered me), that the sentiments that you are kind enough to entertain for me, are in unison with those of the country; if, in addition to the justice done me by my friends, I may, as he has assured me, rely upon a candid construction, even from political opponents.
But, Gentlemen, the secret of such a result does not lie deep.
It consists only in an honest and undeviating pursuit of what one conscientiously believes to be one's public duty-a pursuit which, steadily continued, will, however detached and separate parts of a man's conduct may be viewed under the influence of partialities or prejudices, obtain for it, when considered as a whole, the approbation of all honest and honourable minds. Any man may occasionally be mistaken as to the means most conducive to the end which he has in view; but if the end be just and praiseworthy, it is by that he will be ultimately judged, either by his contemporaries or by posterity.
Gentlemen, the end which I confess I have always had in view, and which appears to me the legitimate object of pursuit to a British Statesman, I can describe in one word. The language of modern philosophy is wisely and diffusely benevolent; it professes the perfection of our species, and the amelioration of the lot of all mankind. Gentlemen, I hope that my heart beats as high for the general interest of humanity—I hope that I have as friendly a disposition towards other nations of the earth, as any one who vaunts his philanthropy most "highly; but I am contented to confess, that in the conduct of political affairs, the grand object of my contemplation is the interest of England.
Not, Gentlemen, that the interest of England is an interest which stands isolated and alone. The situation which she holds forbids an exclusive selfishness; her prosperity must contribute to the prosperity of other nations, and her stability to the safety of the world. But, intimately connected as we are with the system of Europe, it does not follow that we are therefore called upon to mix ourselves on every occasion, with a restless and meddling activity, in the concerns of the nations which surround us. It is upon a just balance of conflicting duties, and of rival, but sometimes incompatible, advantages, that a government must judge when to put forth its strength, and when to husband it for occasion yet to come.
Our ultimate object must be the peace of the world. That object may sometimes be best attained by prompt exertions-sometimes by abstinence from interposition in contests which we cannot prevent. It is upon these principles, that, as has been most truly observed by my worthy friend, it did not appear to the government of this country to be necessary that Great Britain should mingle in the recent contest between France and Spain.
Your worthy Recorder has accurately classed the persons who would have driven us into that contest. There were undoubtedly among them those who desired to plunge this country into the difficulties of war, partly from the hope that those difficulties would overwhelm the administration ; but it would be most unjust not to admit that there were others who were actuated by nobler principles and more generous feelings, who would have rushed forward at once from the sense of indignation at aggression, and who deemed that no act of injustice could be perpetrated from one end of the universe to the other, but that the sword of Great Britain should leap from its scabbard to avenge it. But as it is the province of law to control the excess even of laudable passions and propensities in individuals, so it is the duty of government to restrain within due bounds the ebullition of national sentiment, and to regulate the course and direction of impulses which it cannot blame. Is there any one among the latter class of persons described by my honourable friend (for to the former I have nothing to say) who continues to doubt whether the government did wisely in declining to obey the precipitate enthusiasm which prevailed at the commencement of the contest in Spain? Is there anybody who does not now think, that it was the office of government to examine more closely all the various bearings of so complicated a question, to consider whether they were called upon to assist a united nation, or to plunge themselves into the internal feuds by which that nation was divided—to aid in repelling a foreign invader, or, to take part in a civil war? Is there any man that does not now see what would have been the extent of burdens that would have been cast upon this country? Is there any one who does not acknowledge that, under such circumstances, the enterprise would have been one to be characterized only by a term borrowed from that part of the Spanish literature with which we are most familiar-Quixotic; an enterprise, romantic in its origin, and thankless in the end ?
But while we thus control even our feelings by our duty, let it not be said that we cultivate peace, either because we fear, or because we are unprepared for, war; on the contrary, if eight months ago the government did not hesitate to proclaim that the country was prepared