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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.

James Watson (Radical)
21 September 1799 – 29 November 1874

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James Watson

James Watson was born at Malton, North Yorkshire. His father died when he was only a year old. His mother, who was a Sunday school teacher, taught him to read and write. Around the year of 1811, she returned to domestic service in the household of a clergyman, who had paid for James’s schooling and tuitions for a brief period. He had worked there as under-gardener, in the stables and as house-servant, and he read widely. From about 1817 Watson was with his mother in Leeds, where he became a warehouseman.

Watson was converted to freethought and radicalism by public readings from William Cobbett and Richard Carlile. He spread literature and helped with a subscription on behalf of Carlile. Carlile was sentenced in 1821 to three years’ imprisonment for blasphemy, and Watson went up to London in September 1822 to serve as a volunteer assistant in his Water Lane bookshop. In January 1823 Carlile’s wife, having completed her own term of imprisonment, took a new shop at 201 Strand, and Watson moved there as a salesman; salesman after salesman was arrested. In February 1823 Watson was charged with selling a copy of Elihu Palmer’s Principles of Nature to a police agent, spoke in his own defence, and was sent to Coldbath Fields Prison for a year.

In prison he read David Hume, Edward Gibbon, and Johann Lorenz von Mosheim’s Ecclesiastical History, and developed his anti-Christian and republican opinions. In 1825 he trained as a compositor, and was employed in printing Carlile’s The Republican; and went into business on his own. He was in poverty at times, and in 1826 caught cholera. Recovering, he became an Owenite, and in 1828 he was storekeeper of the “First Co-operative Trading Association” in London, in Red Lion Square.

In 1831 Watson set up as a printer and publisher. He became a champion of the right to free expression of opinion. Julian Hibbert, an admirer, died in January 1834 and left him a legacy, with which Watson enlarged his printing plant. He started by printing the life and works of Tom Paine, and these volumes were followed by Mirabaud’s System of Nature and Volney’s Ruins. Later he printed Lord Byron’s Cain and The Vision of Judgment, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Queen Mab and The Masque of Anarchy, and Clark on the Miracles of Christ. These book were printed, corrected, folded, and sewed by Watson himself, and issued at one shilling or less per volume. He cared for the appearance of his books, on which he lost money.

In 1832 Watson was arrested, but escaped imprisonment, for organising a procession and a feast on the day the government had ordained a “general fast” on account of the cholera epidemic. In February 1833 he was summoned at Bow Street for selling Henry Hetherington’s Poor Man’s Guardian, and was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment at Clerkenwell. His shop was near Bunhill Fields; he then moved first to City Road, and in 1843 to 5 Paul’s Alley.

He married Eleanor Byerley, on 3 June 1834, and two months later was arrested and imprisoned for six months for having circulated Hetherington’s unstamped paper, ironically entitled The Conservative. He had come under the observation of the government as a leader of the meeting of trade unions in April of that, in favour of the action of the Dorchester labourers. This was his last imprisonment, though he continued to issue books banned by the government.

In June 1837 Watson was on the committee appointed to draw up the bills embodying the Chartist demands. He was opposed to the violence of some of the agitators, and, on the other hand, to the overtures made to Whig partisans, whom he denounced. He was averse to “peddling away the people’s birthright for any mess of cornlaw pottage”.

Watson corresponded with Giuseppe Mazzini, and in 1847 joined his Peoples’ International League. In 1848 he was one of the conveners of the first public meeting to congratulate the French Revolution of 1848.

An untaxed and absolutely free press became his main object in later years. He died at Burns College, Hamilton Road, Lower Norwood, on 29 November 1874, and was buried in Norwood cemetery. A grey granite obelisk erected by friends commemorated his “brave efforts to secure the rights of free speech”. A photographic portrait was in the Memoir by William James Linton.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Bowdler
11 July 1754 – 24 February 1825

Thomas Bowdler was born at Box, near Bath, Somerset, the youngest son of the six children of Thomas Bowdler (c. 1719–1785), a banker of substantial fortune, and his wife, Elizabeth, née Cotton (d. 1797), the daughter of Sir John Cotton of Conington, Huntingdonshire. Bowdler studied medicine at the universities of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, where he took his degree in 1776, graduating with a thesis on intermittent fevers. He spent the next four years in travelling in continental Europe, visiting Germany, Hungary, Italy, Sicily and Portugal. In 1781 he caught a fever in Lisbon from a young friend whom he was attending through a fatal illness. He returned to England in broken health, and with a strong aversion to his profession. In 1781 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) and a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians (LRCP), but he did not continue to practise medicine. He devoted himself instead to the cause of prison reform. Bowdler was a strong chess player and once played eight recorded games against the best chess player of the time, François-André Danican Philidor, who was so confident of his superiority that he played with handicaps. Bowdler won twice, lost three times, and drew three times.

Bowdler’s first published work was Letters Written in Holland in the Months of September and October, 1787 (1788), which gave his eye-witness account of the Patriots’ uprising. In 1800 Bowdler took a lease on a country estate at St Boniface, on the Isle of Wight, where he lived for ten years. In September 1806, when he was 52, he married Elizabeth Frevenen or Trevennen, the widow of a naval officer. The marriage was unhappy, and after a few years Bowdler and his wife lived apart. They had no children. After the separation, the marriage was never referred to by the Bowdler family, and in the biography of Bowdler by his nephew, Thomas Bowdler, there is no mention of Bowdler’s ever marrying.

In 1807 the first edition of the Bowdlers’ The Family Shakspeare was published, in four small volumes. From 1811 until his death in 1825, Bowdler lived at Rhyddings House, overlooking Swansea Bay, from where he travelled extensively in Britain and continental Europe. In 1815 he published Observations on Emigration to France, With an Account of Health, Economy, and the Education of Children, a cautionary work propounding his view that English invalids should avoid French spas and go instead to Malta. In 1818 Bowdler published an enlarged edition of The Family Shakspeare, which had considerable success. By 1827 the work had gone into its fifth edition. In his last years, Bowdler prepared an expurgated version of the works of the historian Edward Gibbon, which was published posthumously in 1826. His sister Jane Bowdler (1743–1784) was a poet and essayist, and another sister Henrietta Maria Bowdler (Harriet) (1750–1830) collaborated with Bowdler on his expurgated Shakespeare.

Bowdler died in Swansea at the age of 70 and was buried there, at Oystermouth. He bequeathed donations to the poor of Swansea and Box. His large library, consisting of unexpurgated volumes collected by his ancestors Thomas Bowdler (1638–1700) and Thomas Bowdler (1661–1738), was donated to the University of Wales, Lampeter. In 1825 Bowdler’s nephew, also called Thomas Bowdler, published his Memoir of the Late John Bowdler, Esq., to Which Is Added, Some Account of the Late Thomas Bowdler, Esq. Editor of the Family Shakspeare.

In Bowdler’s childhood, his father had entertained his family with readings from Shakespeare. Later, Bowdler realised that his father had been omitting or altering passages he felt unsuitable for the ears of his wife and children. Bowdler felt it would be worthwhile to publish an edition which might be used in a family whose father was not a sufficiently “circumspect and judicious reader” to accomplish this expurgation himself.

In 1807 the first edition of the Bowdlers’ The Family Shakspeare was published, in four duodecimo volumes, containing 24 of the plays. In 1818 the second edition was published. Each play is preceded by an introduction where Bowdler summarises and justifies his changes to the text. According to his nephew’s Memoir, the first edition was prepared by Bowdler’s sister, Harriet, but both were published under Thomas Bowdler’s name, probably because a woman could not then publicly admit that she understood Shakespeare’s racy passages. By 1850 eleven editions had been printed. The spelling “Shakspeare”, used by Bowdler, and also by his nephew Thomas in his memoir of the older man, was changed in later editions in the mid-19th century to “Shakespeare”.

The Bowdlers were not the first to undertake such a project, but, despite being considered a negative example by some, their editions made it more acceptable to teach Shakespeare to wider and younger audiences. The poet Algernon Charles Swinburne said, “More nauseous and foolish cant was never chattered than that which would deride the memory or depreciate the merits of Bowdler. No man ever did better service to Shakespeare than the man who made it possible to put him into the hands of intelligent and imaginative children.” Bowdler’s commitment not to augment Shakespeare’s text was in contrast with the practice of some earlier editors and performers. Nahum Tate as Poet Laureate had rewritten the tragedy of King Lear with a happy ending. In 1807 Charles Lamb and Mary Lamb published Tales from Shakespeare for children with synopses of 20 of the plays, seldom quoting the original text.

Some examples of alterations made by Bowdler’s edition:

  • In Hamlet, the death of Ophelia was referred to as an accidental drowning, omitting the suggestions that she may have intended suicide.
  • In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth’s famous cry “Out, damned spot!” was changed to “Out, crimson spot!”
  • “God!” as an exclamation is replaced with “Heavens!”
  • In Henry IV, Part 2, the prostitute Doll Tearsheet is omitted entirely; the slightly more reputable Mistress Quickly is retained.
  • The Family Shakespeare, Volume One, The Comedies, ISBN 0-923891-95-1
  • The Family Shakespeare, Volume Two, The Tragedies, ISBN 0-923891-98-6
  • The Family Shakespeare, Volume Three, The Histories, ISBN 0-923891-99-4
  • The Family Shakspeare, in which nothing is added to the original text; but those words and expressions are omitted which cannot with propriety be read aloud in a family by Thomas Bowdler in 10 volumes, Facsimile reprint of 2nd edition, revised, in 1820, Eureka Press, 2009. ISBN 978-4-902454-16-1

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Edward Craggs-Eliot 1st Baron Eliot
8 July 1727 – 17 February 1804

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Edward Craggs-Eliot

Edward Craggs-Eliot 1st Baron Eliot was born to Richard Eliot and Harriot Craggs, the illegitimate daughter of the Privy Counsellor and Secretary of State, James Craggs and Hester Santlow, the noted actress.

In 1742, he matriculated at St Mary Hall, Oxford but did not graduate. During 1747–1748, he travelled in Continental Europe, principally the Dutch Republic, Germany and Switzerland. On 19 November 1748 he succeeded his father. From 1748–1768 he was Member of Parliament for St Germans, Cornwall, the place of his family estate Port Eliot. In succession, he became Member of Parliament (MP) for Liskeard (1768–1774), for St Germans (1774–1775), and for Cornwall (1775–1784).

In 1751, Edward was appointed Receiver General of the Duchy of Cornwall. From 1760 until 1776, Edward was one of the eight Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, and in 1775 he again became Receiver General of the Duchy. However, in 1776 he notably voted against the employment of Hessian Troops, and resigned from the Board of Trade and Plantations, and from the government.

On 13 January 1784 he raised to the peerage as Baron Eliot, of St Germans in the County of Cornwall, and he took his seat in the House of Lords on 2 February 1784. In 1789 he changed his surname from Eliot to Craggs-Eliot, presumably to prevent the extinction of the Craggs surname. However, his children generally used the surname Eliot.

Eliot was an acquaintance of Dr Samuel Johnson and a patron of Sir Joshua Reynolds.

Edward married on 25 September 1756 at St James’ Church, Westminster, to Catherine Elliston (September 1735 – 23 February 1804), daughter of Captain Edward Elliston and Catherine Gibbon, the aunt of Edward Gibbon, with four children:

  1. Edward James Eliot (9 August 1757 – September 1757)
  2. Edward James Eliot (24 August 1758 – 20 September 1797)
  3. John Eliot, 1st Earl of St Germans (30 September 1761 – 17 November 1823)
  4. William Eliot, 2nd Earl of St Germans (1 April 1767 – 19 January 1845)

Eliot died at his Port Eliot estate on 17 February 1804, and was buried at St Germans, Cornwall

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Madame Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein
22 April 1766 – 14 July 1817

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Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein

(DWW-Note that Madame de Staël is obviously not British, but she is important to the period of the Regency and the opposition to Napoleon and France)

Madame Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein was born in Paris, France. Her father was the prominent Swiss banker and statesman Jacques Necker, who was the Director of Finance under King Louis XVI of France. Her mother was Suzanne Curchod, hostess of one of the most popular salons of Paris, where figures such as Buffon, Marmontel, Melchior Grimm, Edward Gibbon, the Abbé Raynal, and Jean-François de la Harpe were frequent guests. Mme Necker wanted to educate her daughter according the principles of J.J. Rousseau and to endow her with the intellectual education and Calvinist discipline instilled in her by her own Protestant pastor father. Yet she habitually brought Germaine as a young child to sit at her feet in her salon, where the sober intellectuals took pleasure in stimulating the brilliant child. This exposure occasioned a breakdown in adolescence, but the seeds of a literary vocation had been sown irrevocably.

During the next few years after Jacques Necker’s dismissal from office, they resided in 1784 in Coppet at Château Coppet, her father’s estate on Lake Geneva, which she later would make famous. They returned to the Paris region in 1785, and Mlle Necker continued to write miscellaneous works, including a three-act romantic drama, Sophie, written in 1786, and a five-act tragedy, Jeanne Grey, written in 1787. Both plays were published in 1790.

Soon Germaine’s parents became impatient for her to marry; and they are said to have objected to her marrying a Roman Catholic, which, in France, considerably limited her choice. There is a legend that William Pitt the Younger thought of her. The somewhat notorious lover of Julie de Lespinasse, Guibert, a cold-hearted coxcomb of some talent, certainly paid her addresses.

Finally, she married Baron Erik Magnus Staël von Holstein, who was first an attaché of the Swedish legation, and then minister. For a great heiress and a very ambitious girl, the marriage did not seem brilliant, but Staël had fortune and her husband standing. A singular series of negotiations secured from the king of Sweden a promise of an ambassadorship for 12 years and a pension in case of its withdrawal, and the marriage took place on 14 January 1786 in the chapel of the embassy.

The husband was 37, the wife 20. Mme de Staël was accused of extravagance. This was a mere legal formality, however, and on the whole the marriage seems to have been acceptable to both parties, neither of whom had any affection for the other. The baron obtained money and his wife obtained, as a guaranteed ambassadress of a foreign power of consideration, a much higher position at court and in society than she could have secured by marrying almost any Frenchman, without the inconveniences which might have been expected had she married a Frenchman superior to herself in rank.

Then in 1788 (a year prior to the French Revolution) she appeared as an author under her own name with Letters on the works and character of J.J. Rousseau. This fervid panegyric, written for a limited number of friends, demonstrated evident talent but little in the way of critical discernment. She was at this time, and indeed generally, enthusiastic for a mixture of Rousseauism and constitutionalism in politics. Her novels were bestsellers and her literary criticism was highly influential. When she was allowed to live in Paris she greatly encouraged any political dissident from Louis’s regime. She exulted in the meeting of the estates general on 4 and 5 May.

Her first child, a boy, was born in 1790 the week before Necker finally left France in unpopularity and disgrace; and the increasing disturbances of the Revolution made her privileges as ambassadress very important safeguards. She visited Coppet once or twice, but for the most part in the early days of the revolutionary period she was in Paris taking an interest in, and attending the Assembly, and holding a salon on the Rue du Bac, attended by Talleyrand, Abbé Delille, Clermont-Tonnerre, and Gouverneur Morris.

At last, the day before the September massacres (1792), she fled, befriended by Manuel and Tallien. Her own account of her escape is, as usual, so florid that it provokes the question whether she was really in any danger. Directly it does not seem that she was; but she had generously strained the privileges of the embassy to protect some threatened friends, and this was a serious matter.

She then moved to Coppet Castle, and there gathered round her a considerable number of friends and fellow-refugees, the beginning of the salon which at intervals during the next 25 years made the place so famous. However, in 1793 she made a long visit to England, and established a connection with other emigrants: Talleyrand, Narbonne, Montmorency, Jaucourt and others. There was not a little scandal about her relations with Narbonne; and this Mickleham sojourn (the details of which are known from, among other sources, the letters of Fanny Burney) has never been altogether satisfactorily accounted for.

In the summer, she returned to Coppet and wrote a pamphlet on the queen’s execution. The next year, her mother died at Beaulieu Castle, and the fall of Robespierre opened the way back to Paris. Her husband (whose mission had been in abeyance and who was in Holland for three years) was accredited to the French republic by the regent of Sweden; his wife reopened her salon and for a time was conspicuous in the motley and eccentric society of the Directory. She also published several small works, the chief being the essays Sur l’influence des passions “On the influence of passions” (1796), and Sur la litérature considérée dans ses rapports avec les institutions sociales (1800).

It was during these years that Mme de Staël was of chief political importance. Narbonne’s place had been supplanted by Benjamin Constant, whom she first met at Belle van Zuylen in 1794, and who had a very great influence over her, as in return she had over him. Both personal and political reasons threw her into opposition to Bonaparte. Her own preference for a moderate republic or a constitutional monarchy was quite sincere, and, even if it had not been so, her own character and Napoleon’s were too much alike in some points to admit of their getting on together. For some years, she was able to alternate between Coppet and Paris without difficulty, though not without knowing that the First Consul disliked her. In 1797 she, as above mentioned, separated formally from her husband. In 1799, he was recalled by the king of Sweden, and in 1802 he died, duly attended by her. Besides a daughter (Gustavine, 1787–1789) who died in infancy and the eldest son Auguste Louis (1790–1827), they had two other children – a son Albert (1792–1813), and a daughter Albertine (1797–1838), who afterwards married Victor, 3rd duc de Broglie. The paternity of these children is uncertain.

The date of the beginning of what Mme de Staël’s admirers call her duel with Napoleon is not easy to determine. Judging from the title of her book Dix annees d’exil (“Ten years of exile”), it should be put at 1804; judging from the time at which it became pretty clear that the first man in France and she who wished to be the first woman in France were not likely to get on together, it might be put several years earlier. Napoleon said about her, according to the Memoirs of Mme. de Remusat, that she “teaches people to think who never thought before, or who had forgotten how to think.”

It displeased Napoleon that Mme de Staël should show herself recalcitrant to his influence. But it probably pleased Mme de Staël to quite an equal degree that Napoleon should apparently put forth his power to crush her and fail. Both personages had a curious touch of theatricality. If Mme de Staël had really desired to take up her struggle against Napoleon seriously, she need only have established herself in England at the peace of Amiens, but she lingered on at Coppet. There, she was shadowed by Napoleon’s spies due to her tendency to defy Napoleon’s orders, firstly that she keep away from Paris, and later out of France altogether, leaving her restless and lonely in rural Switzerland and constantly yearning after her beloved Paris.

In 1802, she published the first of her noteworthy books, the novel Delphine, in which the femme incomprise was in a manner introduced to French literature, and in which she and not a few of her intimates appeared in transparent disguise. In the autumn of 1803, she returned to Paris. Had she not made her anxiety about exile so public, it remains unclear whether Napoleon would have exiled her; but, as she began at once appealing to all sorts of persons to protect her, he seems to have thought it better that she should not be protected. She was directed not to reside within 40 leagues of Paris, and after considerable delay she determined to go to Germany.

She journeyed, in company with Constant, by Metz and Frankfurt to Weimar, and arrived there in December. There she stayed during the very long winter and then went to Berlin, where she made the acquaintance of August Wilhelm Schlegel, who afterwards became one of her intimates at Coppet. Thence she travelled to Vienna, where, in April, the news of her father’s dangerous illness and shortly of his death (8 April) reached her.

She returned to Coppet, and found herself its wealthy and independent mistress, but her sorrow for her father was deep and certainly sincere. She spent the summer at the chateau with a brilliant company; in the autumn she journeyed to Italy accompanied by Schlegel and Sismondi, and there gathered the materials of her most famous work, Corinne, whose main protagonist was inspired by the Italian poet Diodata Saluzzo Roero.

She returned in the summer of 1805, and spent nearly a year in writing Corinne; in 1806 she broke the decree of exile and lived for a time undisturbed near Paris. In 1807 Corinne, the first aesthetic romance not written in German, appeared. It is in fact, what it was described as being at the time of its appearance, a picaresque tour couched in the form of a novel. The famous quote, “Tout comprendre rend très-indulgent”, commonly translated as “To know all is to forgive all”, is found in Corinne, Book 18, chapter 5.
The publication was taken as a reminder of her existence, and the police of the empire sent her back to Coppet. She stayed there as usual for the summer, and then set out once more for Germany, visiting Mainz, Frankfurt, Berlin and Vienna. She was again at Coppet in the summer of 1808 (in which year Constant broke with her, subsequently marrying Charlotte von Hardenberg, niece of Karl August von Hardenberg) and set to work at her book, De l’Allemagne. It took her nearly the whole of the next two years, during which she did not travel much or far from her own house.

She had bought property in America and thought of moving there, but she was determined to publish De l’Allemagne in Paris. Straining under French censorship, she wrote to the emperor a provoking and perhaps undignified letter. Napoleon’s mean-spirited reply to her letter was the condemnation of the whole edition of her book (ten thousand copies) as not French, and her own exile from the country.

She retired once more to Coppet, where she was not at first interfered with, and she found consolation in a young officer of Swiss origin named Albert de Rocca, twenty-three years her junior, whom she married privately in 1811. The intimacy of their relations could escape no one at Coppet, but the fact of the marriage (which seems to have been happy enough) was not certainly known till after her death. They had one son, Louis-Alphonse de Rocca (1812–1842), who would marry Marie-Louise-Antoinette de Rambuteau, daughter of Claude-Philibert Barthelot de Rambuteau.

The operations of the imperial police in regard to Mme de Staël are rather obscure. She was at first left undisturbed, but by degrees the chateau itself became taboo, and her visitors found themselves punished heavily. Mathieu de Montmorency and Mme Récamier were exiled for the crime of seeing her; and she at last began to think of doing what she ought to have done years before and withdrawing herself entirely from Napoleon’s sphere. In the complete subjection of the Continent which preceded the Russian War this was not so easy as it would have been earlier, and she remained at home during the winter of 1811, writing and planning. On 23 May she left Coppet almost secretly, and journeyed through Bern, Innsbruck and Salzburg on her way to Vienna. There she obtained an Austrian passport to the frontier, and after some fears and trouble, receiving a Russian passport in Galicia, she at last escaped from Napoleon’s omnipotent eyes and far reach.

She journeyed slowly through Russia and Finland to Sweden, making a stay at Saint Petersburg, spent the winter in Stockholm, and then set out for England. Here she received a brilliant reception and was much lionized during the season of 1813. She published De l’Allemagne in the autumn, was saddened by the death of her second son Albert, who had entered the Swedish army and fell in a duel brought on by gambling, undertook her Considérations sur la révolution française, and when Louis XVIII had been restored returned to Paris.

She was in Paris when the news of Napoleon’s landing arrived and at once fled to Coppet, but a singular story, much discussed, is current of her having approved Napoleon’s return. There is no direct evidence of it, but the conduct of her close ally Constant may be quoted in its support, and it is certain that she had no affection for the Bourbons. In October, after Waterloo, she set out for Italy, not only for the advantage of her own health but for that of her second husband, Rocca, who was dying of consumption.

Her daughter married Duke Victor de Broglie on 20 February 1816, at Pisa, and became the wife and mother of French statesmen of distinction. The whole family returned to Coppet in June, and Lord Byron now frequently visited Mme. de Staël there. Despite her increasingly ill-health she returned to Paris for the winter of 1816-1817, and her salon was much frequented. A warm friendship sprang up between Mme. de Staël and the Duke of Wellington, whom she had first met in 1814, and she used her influence with him to have the size of the Army of Occupation greatly reduced. But she had already become confined to her room if not to her bed. She died on 14 July, and Rocca survived her little more than six months. Her deathbed conversion to Roman Catholicism surprised many, including Wellington, who remarked that while she was greatly afraid of death he had thought her incapable of believing in the afterlife.

Auguste Comte included Madame de Staël in his Calendar of Great Men. In a book with the same name, Comte’s disciple Frederic Harrison wrote about Staël and her works: “In Delphine a woman, for the first time since the Revolution, reopened the romance of the heart which was in vogue in the century preceding. Comte would daily recite the sentence from Delphine, ‘There is nothing real in the world but love.’ [Pos. Pol. iv. 44). Our thoughts and our acts, he said, can only give us happiness through results: and results are not often in our own control. Feeling is entirely within our power; and it gives us a direct source of happiness, which nothing outside can take away.” Her works, Harrison wrote, “precede the works of Scott, Byron, Shelley, and partly of Chateaubriand, their historical importance is great in the development of modern Romanticism, of the romance of the heart, the delight in nature, and in the art, antiquities, and history of Europe.”

Works

  • Delphine, 1803 edition.
  • Journal de Jeunesse, 1785
  • Sophie ou les sentiments secrets, 1786 (published anonymously in 1790)
  • Jane Gray, 1787 (published in 1790)
  • Lettres sur les ouvrages et le caractère de J.-J. Rousseau, 1788
  • Éloge de M. de Guibert
  • À quels signes peut-on reconnaître quelle est l’opinion de la majorité de la nation?
  • Réflexions sur le procès de la Reine, 1793
  • Zulma : fragment d’un ouvrage, 1794
  • Réflexions sur la paix adressées à M. Pitt et aux Français, 1795
  • Réflexions sur la paix intérieure
  • Recueil de morceaux détachés (comprenant : Épître au malheur ou Adèle et Édouard, Essai sur les fictions et trois nouvelles : Mirza ou lettre d’un voyageur, Adélaïde et Théodore et Histoire de Pauline), 1795
  • De l’influence des passions sur le bonheur des individus et des nations, 1796
  • Des circonstances actuelles qui peuvent terminer la Révolution et des principes qui doivent fonder la République en France
  • De la littérature dans ses rapports avec les institutions sociales, 1799
  • Delphine, 1802
  • Épîtres sur Naples
  • Corinne ou l’Italie, 1807
  • Agar dans le désert
  • Geneviève de Brabant
  • La Sunamite
  • Le capitaine Kernadec ou sept années en un jour (comédie en deux actes et en prose)
  • La signora Fantastici
  • Le mannequin (comédie)
  • Sapho
  • De l’Allemagne, 1810/1813
  • Réflexions sur le suicide, 1813
  • De l’esprit des traductions
  • Considérations sur les principaux événements de la Révolution française, depuis son origine jusques et compris le 8 juillet 1815, 1818 (posthumously)

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Richard Hurd
13 January 1720 – 28 May 1808

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Richard Hurd

Richard Hurd was born at Congreve, in the parish of Penkridge, Staffordshire, where his father was a farmer. He was educated at Brewood Grammar School and at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He took his B.A. degree in 1739, and in 1742 he proceeded M.A. and became a fellow of his college. In the same year he was ordained deacon, and given charge of the parish of Reymerston, Norfolk, but he returned to Cambridge early in 1743. He was ordained priest in 1744. In 1748 he published some Remarks on an Enquiry into the Rejection of Christian Miracles by the Heathens (1746), by William Weston, a fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge.

He prepared editions, which won the praise of Edward Gibbon, of the Ars poetica and Epistola ad Pisones (1749), and the Epistola ad Augustum (1751) of Horace. A compliment in the preface to the edition of 1749 was the starting-point of a lasting friendship with William Warburton, through whose influence he was appointed one of the preachers at Whitehall in 1750. In 1765 he was appointed preacher at Lincoln’s Inn, and in 1767 he became archdeacon of Gloucester.

In 1768, he proceeded D.D. at Cambridge, and delivered at Lincoln’s Inn the first Warburton lectures, which were published later (1772) as An Introduction to the Study of the Prophecies concerning the Christian Church. He became bishop of Lichfield and Coventry in 1774, and two years later was selected to be tutor to the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York. In 1781 he was translated to the see of Worcester. He lived chiefly at Hartlebury Castle, where he built a fine library, to which he transferred Alexander Pope’s and Warburton’s books, purchased on the latter’s death.

He was extremely popular at court, and in 1783, on the death of Archbishop Cornwallis, the king pressed him to accept the primacy, but Hurd, who was known, says Madame d’Arblay, as “The Beauty of Holiness,” declined it as a charge not suited to his temper and talents, and much too heavy for him to sustain. He died, unmarried, on 28 May 1808.

He bequeathed his library to his successors as bishop, and it remains at Hartlebury Castle, but its fate remains uncertain, now that the castle has ceased to be used as the bishop’s residence.

Hurd’s Letters on Chivalry and Romance (1762) retain a certain interest for their importance in the history of the romantic movement, which they did something to stimulate. They were written in continuation of a dialogue on the age of Queen Elizabeth included in his Moral and Political Dialogues (1759) Two later dialogues On the Uses of Foreign Travel were printed in 1763. Hurd wrote two acrimonious defences of Warburton On the Delicacy of Friendship (1755), in answer to John Jortin and a Letter (1764) to Dr Thomas Leland, who had criticized Warburton’s Doctrine of Grace. He edited the Works of William Warburton, the Select Works (1772) of Abraham Cowley, and left materials for an edition (6 vols., 1811) of Addison. His own works appeared in a collected edition in 8 vols. 1811.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Lady Diana Spencer
1734–1808

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Diana Spencer

Diana was the daughter of the Honourable Elizabeth Trevor and Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough. Her siblings were George, Charles, and Elizabeth. She was raised at Langley Park, Buckinghamshire, where she was introduced to art at an early age. Joshua Reynolds, an artist, was a family friend.

She married Frederick St John, 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke in 1757, and from 1762–1768 was Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Charlotte. She became widely known as ‘Lady Di’ (as did her namesake in the early 1980s).

Bolingbroke was notoriously unfaithful. In February 1768 he petitioned for divorce on grounds of adultery. Within two days of it being granted by Parliament she married Topham Beauclerk of Old Windsor. They had four children:

  • Anne (did not survive infancy)
  • Elisabeth Beauclerk
  • (Anne) Mary Day Beauclerk, twin of Elisabeth. married 1797 Franz Raugraf Jenison von Walworth
  • Charles George Beauclerk.

Their circle of friends included Samuel Johnson, Georgiana Cavendish — who maintained a glittering salon — Edward Gibbon, David Garrick, Charles Fox, James Boswell and Edmund Burke.

Beauclerk illustrated a number of literary productions, including Horace Walpole’s tragedy The Mysterious Mother, the English translation of Gottfried August Bürger’s Leonora (1796) and The Fables of John Dryden (1797). After 1785 she was one of a circle of women, along with Emma Crewe and Elizabeth Templetown, whose designs for Josiah Wedgwood were made into bas-reliefs on jasper ornaments.

Her husband died in 1780 and, due to restricted finances, she began to lead a more retired life. She died in 1808 and was buried in Richmond.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Richard Porson
25 December 1759 – 25 September 1808

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Richard Porson

Richard Porson was an English classical scholar. He was the discoverer of Porson’s Law; and the Greek typeface Porson was based on his handwriting.

He was born at East Ruston, near North Walsham, in Norfolk, the eldest son of Huggin Person, parish clerk. His mother was the daughter of a shoemaker from the neighboring village of Bacton. He was sent first to the village school at Bacton, kept by John Woodrow, and afterwards to that of Happisburgh kept by Mr Summers, where his extraordinary powers of memory and aptitude for arithmetic were soon discovered.

His literary skill was partly due to the efforts of Summers, who long afterwards stated that during fifty years of scholastic life he had never come across boys so clever as Porson and his two brothers. He was well grounded in Latin by Summers, remaining with him for three years. His father also took pains with his education, making him repeat at night the lessons he had learned in the day. He would frequently repeat without making a mistake a lesson which he had learned one or two years before and had never seen in the interval.

When Porson was eleven, the curate of East Ruston, Mr Hewitt, took charge of his education. Porson had already made great progress in mathematics. Hewitt brought him to the notice of John Norris of Witton Park, who sent him to Cambridge to be examined by James Lambert, the two tutors of Trinity College, Cambridge (Thomas Postlethwaite and Collier), and the mathematician George Atwood, then assistant tutor; the result was so favourable that Norris decided to provide for his education. Porson was entered at Eton College in August 1774.

Porson did not care for Eton, but he was popular there; and two dramas he wrote for performance were remembered. His memory was noticed; but he seems not to have lived up to expectations, as his composition was weak, and he fell behind through gaps in his knowledge.

He went to Eton too late to have any chance of a scholarship at King’s College, Cambridge. In 1777 his patron John Norris died; but contributions from Etonians helped fund his maintenance at the university, and he found a new patron in Sir George Baker, then president of the College of Physicians.

With Baker’s help Porson entered Trinity College, Cambridge, as a pensioner in 1778, matriculating a month later. What first set his mind towards literary criticism was the gift by the headmaster of Eton.

He became a scholar of Trinity in 1780, won the Craven university scholarship in 1781, and took his degree of BA in 1782, as third senior prime, obtaining soon afterwards the first Chancellor’s Medal for classical studies. The same year he was elected a fellow of Trinity, an unusual appointment for a junior bachelor of arts, under a regulation which lasted until 1818. Porson graduated MA in 1785.

His first appearance in print was in a short notice of C. G. Schütz’s Aeschylus in Paul Henry Maty’s Review, written in 1783. This review contains several other essays by him. He also began a correspondence with David Ruhnken, requesting fragments of Aeschylus that Ruhnken had come across in his collection of unpublished lexicons and grammarians, and sending Ruhnken his restoration of a corrupt passage in the Supplices .

The Cambridge press was proposing a new edition of Thomas Stanley’s Aeschylus, and the editorship was offered to Porson; but he declined.

In 1786, a new edition of Thomas Hutchinson’s Anabasis of Xenophon was called for, and Porson was asked by the publisher to supply notes, which he did in conjunction with Walter Whiter. These are a good example of the terse style of Latin notes he practised.

The following year Porson wrote his Notae breves ad Toupii emendationes in Suidam. These first made Porson’s name known as a scholar, and carried his fame beyond England.

During 1787 he wrote three letters on John Hawkins’s Life of Johnson for the Gentleman’s Magazine, which were reprinted by Thomas Kidd in his Tracts and Criticisms of Porson, and in a volume of Porson’s Correspondence. They are specimens of dry humour, and allude to English dramatists and poets.

In the same periodical, appeared the Letters to Archdeacon Travis, against George Travis, on the debated Biblical verse called the Comma Johanneum (1 John 5:7). Edward Gibbon’s verdict on the book was that it was “the most acute and accurate piece of criticism since the days of Bentley.” But it was then the unpopular side: the publisher is said to have lost money on the book; and one of his early friends, Mrs Turner of Norwich, cut down a legacy she had left Porson to £30 on being told that he had written a book against Christianity.

After 1787 Porson continued to contribute to the leading reviews, writing in the Monthly Review the articles on Joseph Robertson’s Parian Chronicle, Thomas Edwards’s Plutarch on Education, and Richard Payne Knight’s Essay on the Greek Alphabet. He gave assistance to William Beloe in one or two articles in the British Critic, and probably wrote also in the Analytical Review and the Critical Review.

In 1792 his fellowship ceased to be tenable by a layman; and Porson decided not to take holy orders. Porson was without means of support. A subscription was, however, got up among his friends to provide an annuity; Cracherode, Cleaver Banks, Burney and Samuel Parr took the lead, and enough was collected to produce about £100 a year. He accepted it on the condition that he should receive the interest during his lifetime, and that the principal should be returned to the donors at his death. When this occurred, part of the sum was used to found the Porson Prize in 1816 at Cambridge, and remainder was devoted to the foundation of the Porson Scholarship, first awarded in 1855.

He continued chiefly to reside in London, having chambers in Essex Court, Temple—occasionally visiting his friends, such as Joseph Goodall at Eton College and Samuel Parr at Hatton, Warwickshire. It was at Goodall’s house that the Letters to Travis were written.

At Hatton, in the evenings, he would collect the young men of the house about him, and pour forth from memory torrents of literature. In 1792 the Regius Greek Professorship at Cambridge became vacant and Porson was elected without opposition, and he held the chair until his death. The duties then consisted in taking a part in the examinations for the university scholarships and classical medals. It was said he wished to give lectures; but lecturing was not in fashion in those days.

He worked mainly on the tragedians, Aristophanes, Athenaeus, and the lexicons of Suidas, Hesychius and Photius.

In 1795 there appeared from Foulis’s press at Glasgow an edition of Aeschylus in folio, printed with the same type as the Glasgow Homer, without a word of preface or anything to give a clue to the editor. Many new readings were inserted in the text with an asterisk affixed, while an obelus was used to mark many others as corrupt. It was at once recognized as Porson’s work; he had superintended the printing of a small edition in two octavo volumes, still without the editor’s name.

Soon after this, in 1797, appeared the first instalment of what was intended to be a complete edition of Euripides–an edition of the Hecuba.

His work did not escape attack. Gilbert Wakefield had published a Tragoediarum delectus; and, conceiving himself to be slighted, as there was no mention of his work in the new Hecuba, he wrote a diatribe extemporalis against it.

Gottfried Hermann of Leipzig had also written a work on Greek metres, and issued an edition of the Hecuba, in which Porson’s theories were attacked. Porson at first took no notice of either, but went on with his Euripides, publishing the Orestes in 1798, the Phoenissae in 1799 and the Medea in 1801, the last printed at the Cambridge press, and with the editor’s name on the title page.

But there are many allusions to his antagonists in the notes; and in the Medea he holds Hermann to scorn by name in caustic language.

Porson lived six years after the second edition of the Hecuba was published, but he put off the work. He found time, however, to execute his collation of the Harleian manuscript of the Odyssey, published in the Grenville Homer in 1801, and to present to the Society of Antiquaries his conjectural restoration of the Rosetta Stone.

In 1806, when the London Institution was founded in the Old Jewry, he was appointed principal librarian with a salary of £200 a year and a suite of rooms; and thus his latter years were made easy as far as money was concerned.

Among his most intimate friends was James Perry, the editor of the Morning Chronicle; and he married Perry’s sister, Mrs Lunan, in November 1796. Porson then drank less; but she died a few months after her marriage, and he returned to his chambers in the Temple and his old habits. Perry’s friendship induced him to spend his time in writing for the Morning Chronicle.

For some months before his death he had appeared to be failing: his memory was not what it had been, and he had some symptoms of intermittent fever; but on 19 September 1808 he was seized in the street with a fit of apoplexy, and after partially recovering died on the 25th. He was buried in Trinity College, close to the statue of Newton, at the opposite end of the chapel to where rest the remains of Bentley.

His library was divided into two parts, one containing the transcript of the Gale Photius, his books with his notes, and some letters from foreign scholars, was bought by Trinity College for 1000 guineas.

Works:

  • Notae in Xenophontis anabasin (1786)
  • Appendix to Toup (1790)
  • Letters to Travis (1790)
  • Aeschylus (1795, 1806)
  • Euripides (1797–1802)
  • collation of the Harleian manuscript of the Odyssey (1801)
  • Adversaria (Monk and Blomfield, 1812)
  • Tracts and Criticisms (Kidd, 1815)
  • Aristophanica (Dobree, 1820)
  • Notae in Pausaniam (Gaisford, 1820)
  • Photii lexicon (Dobree, 1822)
  • Notae in Suidam (Gaisford, 1834)
  • Correspondence

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