Born: Cardinal Pole, 1500, Stoverton Castle; Peter Camper, anatomist, 1722, Leyden.
Died: David I, King of Scots, 1153, Carlisle; Jacques de Molay, Grand Master of the Templars, burnt at Paris, 1310; Jules Hardouin Mansard, architect of Versailles, 1708; Catherine Cockburn, poetess, 1749; William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, 1778, Hayes; Spencer Percival, English minister, assassinated, 1812, London; Madame Recamier, 1849.
Feast Day: St. Mammertus, Archbishop of Vienna, 477. St. Maieul, abbot of Cluni, 994.
ASSASSINATION OF MR. SPENCER PERCIVAL
A weak ministry, under a premier of moderate abilities, Mr. Spencer Percival, was broken up, May 11, 1812, by the assassination of its chief. On the evening of that day, Mr. Percival had just entered the lobby of the House of Commons, on his way into the house, when a man concealed behind the door shot him with a pistol. He staggered forward with a slight exclamation, and fell expiring. The incident was so sudden, that the assassin was at first disregarded by the bystanders. He was at length seized, and examined, when another loaded pistol was found upon him. He remained quite passive in the hands of his captors, but extremely agitated by his feelings, and when some one said, 'Villain, how could you destroy so good a marl, and make a family of twelve children orphans?' he only murmured in a mournful tone, 'I am sorry for it.' It was quickly ascertained that he was named John Bellingham, and that a morbid sense of some wrongs of his own alone led to the dreadful deed. His position was that of an English merchant in Russia: for some mercantile injuries there sustained he had sought redress from the British government; but his memorials had been neglected.
Exasperated beyond the feeble self-control which his mind possessed, he had at length deliberately formed the resolution of shooting the premier, not from any animosity to him, against which he loudly protested, but 'for the purpose,' as he said, 'of ascertaining, through a criminal court, whether his Majesty's ministers have the power to refuse justice to [for] a well-authenticated and irrefutable act of oppression committed by their consul and ambassador abroad.' His conduct on his trial was marked by great calmness, and he gave a long and perfectly rational address on the wrongs he had suffered, and his views regarding them. There was no trace of excitable mania in his demeanour, and he refused to plead insanity. The unhappy man, who was about forty-two years of age, met his fate a week after the murder with the same tranquillity. He probably felt death to be a kind relief from past distresses, for it was his own remark on his trial, 'Sooner than suffer what I have suffered for the last eight years, I should consider five hundred deaths, if it were possible for human nature to endure them, far more to be preferred.' He had left a wife of twenty years, with a babe at her breast, in St. Petersburg, waiting to be called to England when his affairs should be settled. A more affecting image of human misery can scarcely be conceived.
It has often been stated that Mr. John Williams of Scorrier House, near Redruth, in Cornwall-a man noted through a long life for his vigorous practical talents as a miner and mining speculator-had a dream representing the assassination of Mr. Percival on the night after its occurrence, when the fact could not be known to him by any ordinary means, and mentioned the fact to many persons during the interval between the dream and his receiving notice of its fulfilment. In a book of old world matters, it may be allowable to give such particulars of this alleged affair as can be gathered, more particularly as it is seldom that such occurrences can be stated on evidence so difficult to be dealt with by incredulity. It maybe remarked that, unlike many persons who are supposed or alleged to have had such revelations, Mr. Williams never made any secret of his story, but freely related every particular, even to individuals who meant to advert to it in print. This a minute account of it found its way into the Times of 28th August 1828, and another was furnished to Dr. Abercrombie, and inserted by him in his Inquiries Concerning the Intellectual Powers; being directly drawn, he tells us, by an eminent medical friend of his own; 'from the gentleman to whom the dream occurred.' This latter account has been republished in a work by Dr. Clement Carlyon, formerly a Fellow of Pembroke College, who states that he had more than once heard the particulars from Mr. Williams's own lips. Finally, Mr. Hill, a barrister, and grandson of Mr. Williams, communicated to Dr. Carlyon a narrative which he drew up from the words of his grand-father, agreeing in all essential respects with the other recitals.
According to Dr. Abercrombie's account, which Dr. Carlyon mainly follows:
Mr. Williams dreamt that he was in the lobby of the House of Commons, and saw a small man enter, dressed in a blue coat, and white waistcoat. Immediately after, he saw a man dressed in a brown coat with yellow basket buttons draw a pistol from under his coat and discharge it at the former, who instantly fell, the blood issuing from a wound a little below the left breast.
According to Mr. Hill's account, 'he heard the report of the pistol, saw the blood fly out and stain the waistcoat, and saw the colour of the face change.'
Dr. Abercrombie's recital goes on to say:
he saw the murderer seized by some gentlemen who were present, and observed his countenance, and on asking who the gentleman was who had been shot, he was told it was the Chancellor. (Mr Percival was at the time Chancellor of the Exchequer.) He then awoke, and mentioned the dream to his wife, who made light of it.
We now pursue the more detailed narrative of the Times:
Mrs. Williams very naturally told him it was only a dream, and recommended him to be composed, and go to sleep as soon as he could. He did so, and shortly after, again awoke her, and said that he had the second time had the same dream; whereupon she observed he had been so much agitated by his former dream, that she supposed it had dwelt on his mind, and begged of him to try to compose himself and go to sleep, which he did. A third time the vision was repeated; on which, notwithstanding her entreaties that he would be quiet, and endeavour to forget it, he arose, it being then between one and two o'clock, and dressed himself. At breakfast, the dreams were the sole subject of conversation: and in the forenoon Mr. Williams went to Falmouth, where he related the particulars of them to all of his acquaintance that he met. On the following day, Mr. Tucker, of Tremanton Castle, accompanied by his wife, a daughter of Mr. Williams, went to Scorrier House about dusk.
Immediately after the first salutations, on their entering the parlour, where were Mr. Mrs. and Miss Williams. Mr. Williams began to relate to Mr. Tucker the circumstances of his dream: and Mrs Williams observed to her daughter, Mrs Tucker, laughingly, that her father could not even suffer Mr. Tucker to be seated before he told him of his nocturnal visitation: on the statement of which, Mr. Tucker observed that it would do very well for a dream to have the Chancellor in the lobby of the House of Commons, but he could not be found there in reality; and Mr. Tucker then asked what sort of a man he appeared to be, when Mr. Williams minutely described him; to which Mr. Tucker replied, 'Your description is not that of the Chancellor, but it is certainly that of Mr. Percival, the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and although he has been to me the greatest enemy I ever met with through life, for a supposed cause which. had no foundation in truth. (or words to that effect), I should be exceedingly sorry, indeed, to hear of his being assassinated, or of injury of the kind happening to him.
Mr. Tucker then inquired of Mr. Williams if he had ever seen Mr. Percival, and was told that he had never seen him; nor had ever even written to him, either on public or private business; in short, that he never had any-thing to do with him, nor had he ever been in the lobby of the House of Commons in his life. Whilst Mr. Williams and Mr. Tucker were still standing, they heard a horse gallop to the door of the house, and immediately after Mr. Michael Williams, of Treviner, (son of Mr. Williams, of Scorrier), entered the room, and said that he had galloped out from Truro (from which Scorrier is distant seven miles), having seen a gentleman there who had come by that evening's mail from London, who said that ho had been in the lobby of the House of Commons on the evening of the 11th, when a man called Bellingham had shot Mr. Percival; and that, as it might occasion some great ministerial changes, and might affect Mr. Tucker's political friends, he had come as fast as he could to make him acquainted with it, having heard at Truro that he had passed through that place on his way to Scorrier. After the astonishment which this intelligence created had a little subsided, Mr. Williams described most particularly the appearance and dress of the man that he saw in his dream fire the pistol, as he had before done of Mr. Percival.
About six weeks after, Mr. Williams, having business in town, went, accompanied by a friend, to the House of Commons, where, as has been already observed, he had never before been. Immediately that he came to the steps at the entrance of the lobby, he said, 'This place is as distinctly within my recollection in my dream as any in my house,' and he made the same observation when he entered the lobby. He then pointed out the exact spot where Bellingham stood when he fired, and which Mr. Percival had reached when he was struck by the ball, and when and how he fell. The dress both of Mr. Percival and Bellingham agreed with the description given by Mr. Williams, even to the most minute particulars.
It is worthy of remark that Mr. Williams died in April 1841, after the publication of the two accounts of his dream which are here quoted, and no contradiction of the narrative, or of any particular of it, ever appeared. He is described in the obituary of the Gentleman's Magazine, as a man in the highest degree estimable. 'His integrity,' says this record, 'was proof against all temptation and above all reproach.'
Jeanne Francoise Julia Adelaide Bernard, Madame Recamier, was born on the 4th of December 1777. French memoirs record the histories of many remarkable women, who have exercised no unimportant influence on the times in which they lived; and among these, Madame Recamier, not by any means one of the least remarkable, appears to have been in some respects almost unique. It is difficult to explain the source of her influence, which was so universal, which was exercised alike over princes and people, which drew politicians and generals, artists and savans, willingly captive to the feet of a woman during fully half a century.
Madame Roland was a woman of indomitable spirit; Madame de Stael was a writer; many French beauties have reigned by a very bad kind of influence; but Madame Recamier had none of' these recommendations. She never professed any political opinions decidedly; she was not a writer, nor remarkably witty, nor even high-born, nor yet licentious. But she was beautiful; and to this beauty she united a certain mysterious charm of placid and kind demeanour, a sweet natural manner, a dignified obsequiousness, which. made all love her, because she seemed to love them. It was this artful simplicity which made her beauty all-powerful; it was this which made the populace follow after her in the streets of Lyons, where she was born; and this which drew unhappy Marie Antoinette to take notice of a child in a crowd.
A writer in Fraser's Magazinedraws up a rough list of Madame Recamier's most distinguished admirers. 'There are crowned heads without number; first and foremost, he who was to be Napoleon I; then Bernadotte, the future King of Sweden; the prince, afterwards King, of Wurtemberg; the Hereditary Grand-Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; the Prince of Bavaria; our Prince of Wales; the Dukes of Beaujolais and Montpensier, brothers of Louis Philippe; and last, not least, Prince Augustus of Prussia. . . Next we find more than crowned heads: Wellington, Metternich, Duke Mathieu de Montmorency, Benjamin Constant, Canova, Ballanche, and Chateaubriand:' -truly, conquests enough. for one woman, and she but a notary's daughter!
Madame Recamier's influence over Napoleon is interesting. The first time he saw her was on a singular occasion. He was delivering his brief and pithy rejoinder to an address presented to him on his return from Italy in 1797, when he observed all eyes suddenly turned from him to another-Madame Recamier had stood up to gain a better sight of the general, and her beauty at once drew all eyes upon her; but so severe, she relates, was the look he directed towards her, that she resumed her seat in confusion. The only other occasion on which Napoleon personally encountered her was at his brother Lucien's house. It was then that Fouche whispered in her ear, 'The First Consul thinks you charming.' Napoleon endeavoured to be placed next to her at dinner; but, failing in this, he called out to Cambaceres, the second consul, who had proved on this occasion more fortunate than his comrade, 'Ah! ah! citizen consul, close to the prettiest, eh!' A speech which affords a fair specimen of Napoleon's delicacy. After dinner, he endeavoured to open a conversation with her by saying, 'So you like music, madame,' but was interrupted by Lucien. The great man saw her no more. In after years she declined to figure at his court, and fell a victim to his jealousy, and, amongst other indignities, received an order of exile.
It is natural to pass from Napoleon to our own Duke of Wellington is said rather to have been enchanted than favourably received, and Madame Recamier's biographer, Madame Lenormant, charges him with want of good taste on one occasion. The latter statement remains altogether unsubstantiated; and for the former, it is quite plain that the fair dame tried her arts on the honest soldier. A specimen of his letters to her will be interesting for its novel French, as well as for being much more like a despatch than a love-letter.
Paris, le 20 Octobre, 1814.
J'etais tout bier Ala chasse, madame, et je n'ai re cu votre billet et les Evros qua la nuit, quand c'etait trop tard pour vous repondre. J'esperais quo mon jugement serait guide par lc votre dans ma lecture des lettres de Mademoiselle Espinasse, et je desespere de pouvoir le former moi-mLme. Je vous suis bien oblige pour la pamphlPte de Madame de Staël.
Votre ties obeissaut et fidel serviteur, 'WELLINGTON.'
But, however much Madame Recamier coveted. and did her best to retain, the admiration of all admirers, she undoubtedly bestowed her best affections on Chateaubriand. She became, when they were both growing old, his champion, his priestess, and his nurse. Attachment to him was, latterly, the only merit which. won her favour. He was devoted to her, in spite of all his selfishness, in spite of all his morbid sentimentality, with genuine and enduring, if somewhat romantic affection; and when his wife died, he offered her his hand, though she was almost blind, and he on the brink of the grave. This was in 1847; the old man died in 1848, and Madame Recamier in 1849. She had the good sense to refuse a proposal so absurd, but nursed him to the last, with great kindness and self-denial; and when we remember that this Platonic attachment was of thirty years' standing, we cannot refuse to be moved by the last melancholy scenes.
It may sound strange to say that Madame Recamier's life was praiseworthy for its purity and devotion, when we remember that she was a married woman: but, whether or not we approve, we have to bear in mind the difference between French and English customs in respect of marriage. She was married to M. Recamier, who was a wealthy banker, when he was forty-two and she sixteen; and though he always remained a father to her, he was in no sense her husband, except in the legal sense. Here was the error: it was too much to expect a beautiful girl to refuse the world's admiration, or not to have her head turned by the devotion of princes. Indeed, such self-command seems never to have been contemplated. When Lucien Bonaparte, who, by the way, is not set down in the list, paid his passionate addresses to her, M. Recamier recommended her to seem to encourage him, lest she should give some dangerous offence. At another time she even wrote to her husband to ask him to consent to a divorce, in order that she might marry Prince Augustus of Prussia, who had proposed to her; and he did not absolutely refuse, though he expostulated. It is curious, but certainly consistent, to find that the husband's failure in business, and loss of fortune, was afterwards considered sufficient reason for a separation. But there was not the least disagreement; he continued to dine with her daily, till he died in 1830.
Of all her admirers, Canova, whom she intruded herself upon in 1813, pleases us most. He behaved like a sensible man and an artist. He was devoted in a good practical way, lending her his pleasant villa. He showed his admiration of her beauty not unbecomingly, and with no affectation. He did not talk such silly nonsense as Chateaubriand, who was always in such a vein as this: 'I fear I shall not be able to see you at half-past five, and yet I have but this happiness in the whole world;' or, 'Je no vis que quand je crois que je ne vous quitterai de ma vie;' but he quietly carved out of the marble an exquisite bust of the beauty; and when she had the bad taste not to be pleased with it, put it as quietly aside, only, when she was gone, to wreath the brow with bays, and expose it as 'Beatrice.' Surely it was the beauty he loved, and not the woman. So can beauty rule the great and the mean, the artist and the clown.
It is this same beauty that has spread the praise of Madame Recamier through the length and breadth of the world; it is this same beauty which has buried in oblivion many an error such a woman must have been guilty of; which blinds the eyes of biographers. 'Fleeting, transient, evanescent,' pleads the writer before quoted-'such are the terms invariably applied to beauty by the poet; a fatal gift, more sadly still says the moralist; and the wisdom of nations embodied in a popular adage vainly strives to persuade each succeeding generation that those alone are handsome who act handsomely; yet who dare deny the lasting influence of beauty? Even athwart the silent gulf which separates the living from the dead its pleadings are heard. Prove but that a woman was beautiful, and scarcely a historian remains impartial. Surely the charm which was sufficient to throw a halo round a Cleopatra, and better than her royal robes to hide the blood-stains on the life of a Mary Stuart, may procure forgiveness for the venial weaknesses which, in this country, will prevent the apotheosis of a Recamier.'
AN EARLY NORTHERN EXPEDITION
The discoveries and conquests of the Spaniards and Portuguese in South America and India had greatly narrowed the limits of English maritime enterprise, when the discovery of North America by Sebastian Cabot suggested another and shorter route to the El Dorado of the East. 'Why,' it was naturally asked, 'should there not be a passage leading to the westward in the northern part of the great American continent, like that of Magellan in the southern?' The subject having been canvassed for some years, at last took a practical shape, and a company was formed under the name of The Mystery, Company, and fellowship of the Merchant Advent loses, for the Discovery of Unknown lands.
Two hundred and forty shares of £25 each were rapidly subscribed, and the first three ships fitted out by the Merchant Adventurers weighed anchor at Deptford on the 11th of May 1553, and dropped down the Thames, their destination being to discover a way to China by a north-east passage. Great things being expected from the expedition, the day was made one of general rejoicing. As the ships passed Greenwich, where the court was then held, the courtiers came running out on the terraces of the palace, while the common people stood thick upon the shores below. The privy councillors, as became their dignity, merely looked out of the windows; but those of lesser degree crowded the battlements and towers. 'The ships discharged their ordnance, shooting off their great pieces after the manner of war, and of the sea, so that the tops of the hills sounded, and the valleys gave an echo, while the mariners shouted in such sort that the sky rang again.' It was a very triumph in all respects. 'But,' as the describer of the scene, the tutor of the royal pages, writes, 'alas! the good King Edward, by reason of his sickness, was absent from this show; and, not long after the departure of these ships, the lamentable and most sorrowful accident of his death followed.'
Cabot drew out the instructions for the conduct of this expedition, being too far advanced in years to take command of it in person. Many bold adventurers offered their services for this important post; but the Company of Merchants made greatest account of one Sir Hugh Willoughby, both by reason of his goodly personage, as also for his singular skill in war, so that they made choice of him for general of the voyage.'
Willoughby, about three years previous, had acquired considerable fame by his long-sustained defence of Lauder Castle, in Berwickshire, against the French and Scots. Though suffering the greatest privations, he and a handful of brave men held the castle till peace was proclaimed; and this circumstance most probably pointed him out to the Company as one whose courage, foresight, and fertility in resources, under the most trying circumstances, peculiarly fitted him for the command of their expedition. Richard Chancellor, the second in command, was recommended to the Company by Sir Henry Sidney, as a man whom he knew most intimately from daily intercourse, and one in the highest degree fitted for carrying out their purpose.
Cabot's instructions did not relate to the scientific part of the voyage alone, but took cognizance of the minutest details of discipline. Thus one clause directs:-'That no blaspheming of God, or detestable swearing, be used in any ship, nor communication of ribaldry, filthy tales, or ungodly talk be suffered in the company of any ship: neither dieing, tabling, carding, nor other devilish games to be frequented, whereby ensueth not only poverty to the players, but also strife, variance, brawling, fighting, and oftentimes murder, to the destruction of the parties and provoking of God's wrath and sword of vengeance. Prayers, too, were to be said in each ship night and morning, but the explorers were not to attempt to force their religion upon any strange people they might discover; and they were to bear with any religious rites such people might have. The instructions conclude by assuring the explorers of their great likelihood of succeeding in the enterprise, adducing the examples of the Spaniards and Portuguese, who had, to the great wealth of their nations, discovered lands in places previously considered uninhabitable 'for extremities of heats and colds, and yet, when tried, found most rich, well-peopled, temperate, and so commodious that all Europe hath not the like.'
The three ships were respectively named the Edward Bonadventure, the Bona Esperanza, and the Bona Confulentia. Soon after sailing, at a consultation among the captains, Wardhuus in Norway was appointed as their place of rendezvous. A gale in the North Sea occasioned the separation thus foreseen and provided for; but they never met again. Willoughby, with the Bona Esperanza and Bona Confidentia, steering northwards, discovered Nova Zembla, and from thence was buffeted by opposing winds to the coast of Lapland. Here he anchored in a bay near the mouth of a river now called by the Russians the Varsina, merely intending to wait for a favourable wind to pursue his voyage; but extremely cold weather setting in, he resolved to winter there. This we learn from the last entry in his journal, written about the beginning of October, in the following words:
Thus remaining in this haven the space of a week, and seeing the year far spent, and also very evil weather-as frost, snow, hail, as though it had been the deep of winter-we thought best to winter there. Wherefore, we sent out three men south-south-west, to search if they could find people, who went three days' journey, but could find none; after that we sent other three westward, four days' journey, which also returned without finding people. Then sent we three men south-east, three days' journey, who in like sort returned without finding of people, or any similitude of habitation.
The English at that time had no idea of the severity of a northern winter; and, consequently, the discovery ships were unprovided with the means of guarding against it. The crews of the two ships, six merchants, two surgeons, and Sir Hugh Willoughby, in all about seventy men, were frozen to death, about the same time as Sir Hugh's grand-niece, Lady Jane Grey, and many others of his relations, died on the scaffold. By a signature of Willoughby, attached to his will, it is known that he and some others were alive in January 1554, and may have been rejoiced by a glimpse of the sun at midday; but what a scene of horror it shone upon! Such as the poet only can depict:
Who here entangled in the gathering ice,
Take their last look of the descending sun;
While, full of death, and fierce with ten-fold frost,
The long, long night, incumbent o'er their heads,
Falls horrible! Such was the Briton's fate,
As with first prow (what have not Britons dared!)
He for the passage sought, attempted since
So much in vain, and seeming to be shut
By, jealous Nature with eternal bar.
In these fell regions, in Arzina caught,
And to the stony deep his idle ship
Immediate seal'd, he with his hapless crew,
Each full exerted at his several task,
Froze into statues; to the cordage glued
The sailor, and the pilot to the helm.
When the gale by which Chancellor, in the Edward Bonadventure, was separated from the other ships, had moderated, he made the best of his way to the rendezvous at -Wardhuus, where he waited some time for Willoughby; but the latter not arriving, and the season being far advanced, he determined to push on by himself. From this course he was earnestly dissuaded by some 'friendly Scottish men,' whom, to his great surprise, he found at this distant and inhospitable place. But we are not surprised to find Scotchmen there at that time, for the marriage of James III with the daughter of Christian of Denmark opened up an early communication between Scotland and the extreme north of Europe. And among the Russian archives there is a notice of one David. Coken (probably Cochran), a Scotch herald in the service of John, King of Denmark, who visited Russia, by way of the White Sea, three different times previous to 1502, half a century before it was known in England, by the result of Chancellor's voyage, that Russia could be reached in that direction. Chancellor, however, did not listen to the 'friendly Scottish-men,' 'being steadfastly and immutably determined to bring that to pass which he had undertaken to do, or die the death.' 'So,' to use the words of his chronicler, 'he sailed so far that he came at last to the place where he found no night at all, but a continual light and brightness of the sun shining on the mighty sea; and having the benefit of this perpetual light for certain days, at length it pleased God to bring him into a certain great bay, which was one hundred miles or thereabouts over.' This was the White Sea. Soon after he met with some fishermen, from whom he learned that the adjacent country was called Moscovy, and that 'one Juan Vasiliwich ruled far and wide in those places.'
Wintering his ship near the mouth of the Dwina, Chancellor proceeded to Moscow, where he was well received by the Czar; and in the following summer he returned to England as a great discoverer, equal to Columbus or Vasco de Gama. 'Will it not,' says old Hakluyt, 'be in all posterity as great a renown to our English nation to have been the first discoverers of a sea beyond the North Cape, and a convenient pas-sage into the great empire of Russia, as for the Portuguese to have found a sea beyond the Cape of Good. Hope, and consequently a passage to the East Indies; or for the Italians and Spaniards to have discovered unknown lands many hundred leagues westward of the Pillars of Hercules?'
In the spring of 1555, some Laplanders found Willoughby's ships uninjured, with their crews still frozen. The news being conveyed to the Czar, he ordered them to be brought to the Dwins, and their cargoes preserved under seal for the benefit of their English owners. On Chancellor's second voyage to Russia, which immediately succeeded the first, he learned the recovery of these ships; and on his third voyage he brought out men to man and bring them to England. Sailors believe that there are what they term unlucky ships, and the fate of these would almost warrant the idea. In 1556, the three ships of the original expedition sailed from Russia, bound to England. Chancellor, in the Edward Bonadventure, returning from his third voyage, bringing with him a Russian ambassador and suite, and the Bona Esperanza and Bona Confidentia, rescued from the ice to be the agents of another disaster. Not one of the three reached England. The Edward Bonadventure was lost on the coast of Aberdeenshire; Chancellor, his son, and most of his crew perished, but the ambassador was miraculously saved. The Bona Confidentia was lost, with all her crew, on the coast of Norway; and the Esperanza was swallowed up by the ocean, time and place unknown.
Mr. Beyer, an eminent linendraper at the end of Paternoster Row, where it adjoins to Cheapside-who died on the 11th of May 1791, at the ripe age of ninety-eight-is reported upon tolerable authority to have undergone in his earlier days the adventure which Cowper has depicted in his ballad of 'John Gilpin.' It appears from Southey's life of the poet, that, among the efforts which Lady Austen. from time to time made to dispel the melancholy of Cowper, was her recital of a story told to her in her childhood of an attempted but unlucky pleasure-party of a London linendraper ending in his being carried past his point both in going and returning, and finally brought home by his contrarious beast without ever having come in contact with his longing family at Edmonton. Cowper is said to have been extremely amused by the story, and kept awake by it a great part of the ensuing night, during which he probably laid the foundations of his ballad embodying the incidents. This was in October 1782.
Southey's account of the origin of the ballad may be consistent with truth; but any one who candidly reads the marriage adventure of Commodore Trunnion, in Peregrine Pickle, will be forced to own that what is effective in the narration previously existed there.