Born: John Selden, lawyer and politician, 1584, Salvington, Sussex; George Whitefield, celebrated preacher, 1714, Bell Inn, Gloucester; Elizabeth Carter, distinguished literary lady, 1717, Deal; Chrétien Guillaume Lamoignon de Malesherbes, minister and defender of Louis XVI, 1721, Paris; Bernard, Comte de Lacépède, eminent naturalist, 1756, Agen; Jane Austen, novelist, 1775, Steventon, Hampshire; Carl Maria Von Weber, composer of Der Freischütz, 1786, Eutin, in Holstein.
Died: Sir William Petty, eminent political economist, 1687, Westminster; Abbe Desfontaines, translator of Virgil and Horace, 1745; Thomas Pennant, naturalist, 1798, Downing, Flintshire; Antoine Franqois de Fourcroy, distinguished French chemist, 1809; Rev. Samuel Lee, orientalist, 1852, Barley, Herts; Wilhelm Grimm, writer of fairy tales, &c., 1859, Berlin; William Bosville, Esq, 1813, Gunthwaite.
Feast Day: St. Ado, archbishop of Vienne, confessor, 875. St. Alice or Adelaide, empress of Germany, 999.
SIR WILLIAM PETTY
In the small town of Romsey or Rumsey, in Hampshire, William Petty, the son of a humble tradesman, was born in 1623. Like Franklin, the boy took great delight in watching artificers working at their various occupations, and when little more than twelve years of age, he acquired a facility and dexterity in handling tools, which proved of great advantage to him in after-life. At the age of fifteen, having mastered all the education afforded by the grammar-school of Rumsey, Petty proceeded to the college of Caen, in Normandy. An orphan, without patrimony or patron, the young student took a small venture of English goods with him to France, and during the four years he remained at college there, he supported himself by engaging in trade. Josiah Wedgewood used to say, that there was no pleasanter occupation than making money by honourable industry; and Petty always alleged that making money was the very best kind of employment to keep a man out of mischief.
Having acquired French, mathematics, astronomy, and navigation, Petty returned to England and entered the sea-service; but being reproved for not reporting a certain landmark he was ordered to look out for, he discovered, for the first time, that he was near-sighted, and, in consequence, determined to abandon the sea. In the very curious auto-biographical preamble Petty attached to his will, we learn that when he gave up the sea-service, his whole fortune consisted of sixty pounds. Having chosen medicine as his future profession, he went and studied at Leyden, Utrecht, Amsterdam, and Paris. At the last place he devoted his attention particularly to anatomy, the subsequently celebrated Hobbes being his class-fellow. Petty, during this sojourn on the continent, supported and educated a younger brother named Anthony, and was sometimes so reduced, that in Paris he is said to have lived for two weeks on three penny-worth of walnuts. His ingenuity and industry extricated him from such difficulties, and he very probably exercised his favourite method of keeping out of mischief; for when he and his brother returned to England, after a three years' absence, and all charges of travel, subsistence, and education, for two persons had been paid, Petty's sixty pounds, instead of being diminished, had increased to seventy.
He then invented an instrument for double writing, which seems to have been merely a copying machine. Four years afterwards, he obtained the degree of Doctor of Medicine. His seventy pounds were then reduced to twenty-eight; but being appointed to the professorship of anatomy at Oxford, and the Readership of Gresham College, in two more years he was worth four hundred pounds. And then, being appointed physician to the army in Ireland, with an outfit of one hundred pounds, he went to that country with five hundred pounds at his command, and a salary of one pound per day, in addition to which he soon acquired a private practice of four hundred pounds per annum.
The tide which bore him to fortune, was the appointment of physician to the army in Ireland. This, however, was no mere lucky accident. Petty, by hard industry, rigid economy, and great ingenuity, had prepared himself to take advantage of such a flood, to swim and direct his course upon it at pleasure, not to be swept away by it. His reputation as a man of great ability obtained the appointment. A contemporary writer tells us, that ' the war being nearly ended in Ireland, many endeavours were used to regulate, replant, and reduce that country to its former flourishing condition, as a place most wanting such contrivancesas tended to the above-mentioned ends, and for which Dr. Petty had gained some reputation in the world.'
The state of Petty's money-affairs, previous to and on his arrival in Ireland in 1652, as above detailed, are taken from his will, and we find, from the same document, that by undertaking contracts, speculating in mines, ships, and timber, making advantageous bargains,' and ' living within his income,' in the course of thirty-five years, he had increased his store to a fortune of £15,000 per annum.
Petty is best known by his admirable survey of Ireland. Soon after his arrival in that country, observing that the admeasurement and division of the forfeited estates, granted to the Cromwellian soldiery, was very much mismanaged, he applied and obtained a contract for the execution of this important work, which he performed not more for his own advantage than that of the public. The maps of this survey, comprising a large proportion of the kingdom, were all drawn by Petty, and entitled by him the 'Down Survey,' from the trivial, though in one sense important, reason, that all was laid down on paper. And, considering the time and circumstances in which these maps were executed, their accuracy is surprising, and they continue to be referred to as trustworthy evidence in courts of law even at the present day.
The changes of governments and parties, appeared rather to have contributed to the success in life, than to the discomfiture of this remarkable man. He was secretary to Henry Cromwell, when lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and sat in Richard Cromwell's parliament, as member for West Looe, in Cornwall; yet, at the Restoration, he received the honour of knighthood from Charles II. That model of an English gentleman, Evelyn, who knew Petty well, thus speaks of him:
The map of Ireland, made by Sir William Petty, is believed to be the most exact that ever yet was made of any country. There is not a better Latin poet living, when he gives himself that diversion; nor is his excellence less in council and prudent matters of state; but he is so exceeding nice in sifting and examining all possible contingencies, that he adventures at nothing that is not demonstration. There were not in the whole world his equal, for a superintendent of manufacture and improvement of trade, or to govern a plantation. If I were a prince, I should make him my second councillor at least. He was, with all this, facetious and of easy conversation, friendly and courteous, and had such a faculty of imitating others, that he would take a text and preach, now like a grave orthodox divine, then falling into the Presbyterian way, then to the fanatical, the Quaker, the monk, the friar, the popish priest, with such admirable action, and alteration of voice and tone, as if it were not possible to abstain from wonder, and one would swear to hear several persons, or forbear to think he was not in good earnest an enthusiast, and almost beside himself; then he would fall out of it into a serious discourse; but it was very rarely he would be prevailed on to oblige the company with this faculty, and that only amongst intimate friends.
Petty invented a double-bottomed ship, and patented inventions for the improvement of carriages, cannon, and pumps. During all those occupations, he found time to write treatises on statistics and political economy, being one of the first to elevate the latter study to the rank of a science. His Political Anatomy of Ireland gives the first authentic account of the population of that country, and affords valuable information of its state towards the close of the seventeenth century. He clearly foresaw the great advantages of a union between England and Ireland, and of a free commercial intercourse between the two kingdoms. His treatise on Taxes and Contributions is far in advance of his time, and in this work is first demonstrated the now universally recognised doctrine, that the labour required for the production of commodities alone determines their value. In his Quantulumcunque (a treatise on money), he condemns laws regulating the rate of interest, observing that there might just as well be laws to regulate the rate of exchange; and he exposes the then prevailing fallacy, that a country might be drained of cash by an unfavourable balance of trade.
Petty, in that remarkable document, his will, spews that he well understood the true principles of political economy as respects mortuary charities; clearly foreseeing the many evils that have since arisen from injudicious bequests. He says:
As for legacies to the poor, I am at a stand; as for beggars by trade and election, I give them nothing; as for impotents by the hand of God, the public ought to maintain them; as for those who have no calling nor estate, they should be put upon their kindred; as for those who can get no work, the magistrates should cause them to be employed, which may be well done in Ireland, where is fifteen acres of improvable land for every head; prisoners for crimes, by the king; for debts, by their prosecutors; as for those who compassionate the sufferings of any object, let them relieve themselves by relieving such sufferers-that is, give them alms pro re nata, and for God's sake, relieve the several species above mentioned, if the above-mentioned obligees fail in their duties. Where-fore, I am contented that I have assisted all my poor relations, and put many in a way of getting their own bread, and have laboured in public works, and by inventions have sought out real objects of charity; and I do hereby conjure all who partake of my estate, from time to time, to do the same at their peril. Nevertheless, to answer custom, and to take the surer side, I give £20 to the most wanting of the parish, in which I may die.
He further concludes his will with the following profession of his religious opinions:
I die in the profession of that faith, and in the practice of such worship, as I find established by the laws of my country; not being able to believe what I myself please, nor to worship God better than by doing as I would be done unto, and observing the laws of my country, and expressing my love and honour of Almighty God by such signs and tokens as are understood to be such by the people with whom I live, God knowing my heart, even without any at all; and thus begging the Divine Majesty to make me what he would have me to be, both as to faith and good works, I willingly resign my soul into his hands, relying only on His infinite mercy, and the merits of my Saviour, for my happiness after this life, where I expect to know and see God more clearly than by the study of the Scriptures, and of his works, I have hitherto been able to do. Grant me, 0 Lord, an easy passage to thyself, that as I have lived in thy fear, I may be known to die in thy favour, Amen.
Petty died on the 16th of December 1687, and was interred beside his humble parents at Rumsey; a flat stone in the church pavement, cut by an illiterate workman, records
HERE LAYES SIR WILLIAMPETTY
He left three children; his eldest son, Charles, was created Baron Shelburne by William III, and, dying without issue, was succeeded by his younger brother, Henry, created Viscount Dunkeron, and Earl of Shelburne. Henry was succeeded by a sister's son, who adopted his name and arms, and the noble family of Lansdowne, seemingly inheriting the talents with the estates, have ever proved themselves worthy namesakes and representatives of Sir William Petty.
WILHELM GRIMM'S MARRIAGE
The renowned literary co-partnership, known as the 'Brothers Grimm,' was, on 16th December 1859, dissolved by the death of the younger member of the firm. The present year (1863) has witnessed the death of the surviving elder brother, Jacob Grimm; and in the decease of these two eminent men, Germany has been deprived of the two greatest philologers and critical archaeologists which even she can boast of The learning and industry of the brothers was only surpassed by the beautiful simplicity and affection which characterised their progress and mutual intercourse through life. An interesting epitome of their history, as well as some curious circumstances connected with the marriage of Wilhelm Grimm, are given in a letter which lately appeared in the columns of a widely-circulated newspaper, from its Prussian correspondent. The story, from its piquancy, merits being preserved, and we accordingly quote it as follows:
From morn till night they [ Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm] worked together in contiguous rooms for nearly sixty years. United in literary labour, they never separated socially. A librarian's office, or a professorship, conferred upon one of them, was never accepted until an analogous post had been created for the other. William installed Jacob in the library of Marburg, Jacob drawing William after him to the university of Gottingen. They lived in the same house, and it is more than a fable they intended to marry the same lady; or rather they intended not. The story is, that an old aunt, taking commiseration on the two elderly bachelors, and apprehensive of the pecuniary consequences of their students' life, resolved to provide them with partners fit to take care of them after her death.
After great reluctance, the two philological professors were brought to see the sense of the plan. They agreed to marry, but on this condition, that one of them should be spared, and the wife of the other obliged to look after the finances and linen of both. A young lady being produced, the question of who should be the victim was argued for many an hour between the unlucky candidates. Nay, it is even alleged that the publication of one of their volumes was delayed full eight days by the matrimonial difference. At length Jacob, being the elder, was convinced of his higher duty to take the leap. But he had no idea how to set to work, and ingratiate himself with the lady. Half from a desire to encourage his brother, and half from a wish to take some share of the burden, William offered to come to the rescue in this emergency, and try to gain favour with the future Mrs. Grimm.
Then Cupid interfered, and took the matter into his own hands. The lady being a lovely girl of twenty-two, distinguished by qualities of heart and head, proved too many for the amateur. She had been entirely ignorant of the honours intended for her, and the fraternal compact to which she had given occasion; and it is, perhaps, for this very reason that, falling in love with her resolute antagonist, she so changed the feelings of the latter as to convert him into a slave and admirer before the end of the week.
Then arose a difficulty of another but equally delicate nature. Over head and ears in love, William dared not make a clean breast of it to the fair lady. In his conscience he accused himself of felony against his brother. He had broken their agreement; he had robbed him of his bride. He felt more like a villain than ever he did in his life. But heaven knew what it did in furnishing him with an old aunt. Stepping in at the right moment, and acquainting Jacob with what had been going on before his eyes, this useful creature cut the Gordian-knot in a trice. So far from getting into a fury, and hating his brother for what he could not help, Jacob was barbarous enough to declare this the most joyous tidings he had ever received. So William was married, Jacob making off for the Harz, and roving about among the hills and vales with the feelings of an escaped convict. The marriage was happy. Of the two sons resulting from it, the younger, a poet of great promise, many years after married the second daughter of Bettina von Arnim. After, as before it, the two brothers continued to keep house together.
In further reference to the Brothers Grimm, who, as is well known, have acquired great popularity with juvenile readers by their collection of fairy tales and legends, the following amusing anecdote may here also be introduced. It is related in the Athenaeum, for 1859, and is given on the authority of Jacob Grimm himself. A little girl of about eight years old, evidently belonging to an upper-class family, called one day at Dr. Grimm's house, and desired to see the 'Herr Professor.' The servant shewed her into the study, where Dr. Grimm received her, and inquired, with great kindness, what she had to say to him. The little maiden, looking very earnestly at the professor, said:
'Is it thou who hast written those fine Märchen' [fairy tales]?
'Yes, my dear, my brother and I have written the Haus Märchen.'
'Then thou hast also written the tale of the clever little tailor, where it is said, at the end, who will not believe it must pay a thaler' [dollar]?
'Yes, I have written that too.'
Well, then, I do not believe it, and so, I suppose, I have to pay a thaler; but as I have not so much money now, I'll give thee a groschen [about three-halfpence] on account, and pay the rest by and by.'
The professor, as may be expected, was highly amused with this combination of childish simplicity and conscientiousness. He inquired the name of his little visitor, and took care that she reached home in safety. Doubtless also the kind old man must have felt ever afterwards something like a paternal affection for the tiny critic, who had thus taken so warm an interest in one of his own bantlings.
A CONVIVIAL ENTHUSIAST OF THE OLD SCHOOL
December 16th, 1813, died at his house, in Welbeck Street, William Bosville, of Gunthwaite, Esq., at the age of sixty-nine; in some respects a notable man. According to the report of his grand-nephew, the Rev. John Sinclair, in the memoirs of his father, Sir John Sinclair, he shone as an eccentric habitue of London during a large part of the reign of George III. 'My grand-uncle's exterior,' says Mr. Sinclair, 'consisted of the single-breasted coat, powdered hair and queue, and other paraphernalia, of a courtier in the reign of George II; but within this courtly garb was enclosed one of the most ultra-liberal spirits of the time. He assembled every day at his house, in Welbeck Street, a party of congenial souls, never exceeding twelve in number, nor receiving the important summons to dinner a single moment after five o'clock... . A slate was kept in the hall, on which any intimate friend. (and he had many) might inscribe his name as a guest for the day... . He scarcely ever quitted the metropolis; he used to say that London was the best residence in winter, and that he knew no place like it in summer. But though he seldom really travelled, he sometimes made imaginary journeys. He used to mention, as a grave fact, that he once visited the Scilly Isles, and attended a ball at St. Mary's, where he found a young lady giving herself great airs, because her education had received a 'finish' at the Land's End.
Another of his stories was that, having been at Rome during the last illness of Clement XIV, he went daily to the Vatican, to ascertain what chance he had of enjoying the spectacle of an installation. The bulletins, according to my uncle's playful imagination, were variously expressed, but each more alarming than its predecessor. First, 'his Holiness is very ill; next, 'his Excellency is worse;' then, 'his Eminence is in a very low state;' and at last, the day before the pope expired, came forth the startling announcement, 'his Infallibility is delirious.' This pleasant original occasionally coined anecdotes at the expense of his own guests, and related them to their face, for the amusement of the company. Parson Este was once editor of a paper called the World; and Bosville alleged of him, before a large party, that one day a gentleman in deep mourning came to him at the office, requesting the insertion of a ready-made panegyric upon his brother, who had died. a few days before. 'No!' answered the reverend editor; 'your brother did not choose to die in our newspaper, and that being the case, I can find no room for eulogies upon him.'
It was a favourite saying of Bosville, which my father borrowed from him, when he wanted to give encouragement to a diffident friend, 'Il faut risquer quelque chose.' The origin of this catch-word was a story told by Bosville of a party of French officers, each of whom outvied the rest in relating of himself some wonderful exploit. A young Englishman, who was present, sat with characteristic modesty in silence. His next neighbour asked him why he did not contribute a story in his turn, and, being answered, 'I have done nothing like the feats that have been told us,' patted him on the back, and said with a significant look:
Eh, Bien, monsieur, il faut risquer quelque chose.
[Bosville] wished his dinner-parties to be continued to the very last. His health declined, and his convivial powers deserted him; but the slate hung as usual in the hall, and he felt more anxiety than ever that the list of guests upon it should not fail of its appointed number ... Even during his last hours, when he was confined to his chamber, the hospitable board was regularly spread below. He insisted upon reports from time to time of the jocularities calling forth the laughter which still assailed his ear; and on the very morning of his decease, gave orders for an entertainment punctually at the usual hour, which he did not live to see.
Though, as Mr. Sinclair informs us above, his grand-uncle clung most pertinaciously to the metropolis and rarely quitted it to any distance, there was, nevertheless, a series of country excursions which he long continued to make with great regularity. We allude to the famous Sunday-parties given by John Horne Tooke to his friends at his mansion at Wimbledon. Among the numerous guests who, on the first day of the week, might be seen ascending the hill from Putney, or crossing Wimbledon Common, to their host's residence, Mr. Bosville was one of the most constant; and we are informed by Mr. Stephens, in his Life of Horne Tooke, that for 'many years a coach-and-four, with Mr. Bosville and two or three friends, punctually arrived within a few minutes of two o'clock; and, after paying their respects in the parlour, walked about an hour in the fine gardens, with which the house was, all but on one side, surrounded. At four, the dinner was usually served in the parlour looking on the common.' To such festive reunions, presided over by the great wit and bon vivant of the day, Mr. Bosville's own parties seem to have borne a close resemblance, though doubtless his social and conversational powers paled before those of the author of The Diversions of Purley.
ABOLITION OF THE PASSPORT-SYSTEM IN FRANCE
A wise and liberal measure adopted by the emperor of the French, in 1861, had the effect of drawing public attention to an international system which travellers had ample reason to remember with bitterness. This was the system of passports - 'that ingenious invention,' as a writer in the Quarterly Review, in 1855, characterised it, 'for impeding the tourist and expediting the fugitive.' From early times, sovereigns claimed the right of prohibiting, if they chose, the entrance into their dominions of the subjects of another sovereign; and of equally prohibiting the exit of their own subjects. Hence, when states were at peace, the sovereigns adopted a plan of permitting the relaxation of this rule, through the medium of their respective ambassadors or representatives. Hall, in his Chronicle, adverts to these sovereign rights in the reign of Edward IV; and the rules are known to have been very strict in the times of Elizabeth and James I. Passports are a very ancient institution. It is mentioned by some of the old monkish chroniclers as an achievement on the part of King Canute, that he obtained free passes for his subjects through various continental countries, on their pilgrimages to the shrines of the Apostles Peter and Paul at Rome.
Each pilgrim was furnished with a document in the nature of a passport, called Tracturia de Itinere Peragenda. The general form of these documents was as follows:
I [here comes the name of the person granting the passport], to our holy and apostolic and venerable fathers in Christ, and to all kings, bishops, abbots, priests, and clerks in every nation of Christendom, who devote themselves to the service of the Creator, in monasteries, in cities, in villages, or in hamlets. Be it known to you that this our brother [here comes the name of the person holding the passport] and your servant, has obtained permission from us to proceed on a pilgrimage to the Church of St. Peter, your father, and to other churches, to pray for his soul's sake, for yours, and for ours. Therefore do we address this to you, begging that you will, for the love of God and of St. Peter, give him hospitable treatment, aiding, consoling, and comforting him-affording to him free ingress, egress, and regress, so that he may in safety return to us. And for so doing, may a fitting reward be bestowed on you, at the last day, by Him who lives and reigns for ever!
This was something more than a passport, however, seeing that it entreated hospitality for the pilgrims. Those perplexing people, the Chinese, who have anticipated us in so many things, had a passport-system nearly a thousand years ago. The Abbé Renaudot, in his translation of the Travels of Ebn Wahab, in the tenth century, gives the following passage:
If a man travel from one place to another, he must take two passes with him-the one from the governor, the other from his deputy or lieutenant. The governor's pass permits him to set out on his journey, and takes notice of the name of the traveller and of those of his company; the age and family of the one and the other. And this is done for the information of the frontier places, where these two passes are examined; for whenever a traveller arrives at any of them, it is registered: 'That such a one, the son of such a one, of such a family, passed through this place on such a day,' &c.
The reason assigned by the Arabian traveller for this custom is the following: 'By this means they prevent any one from carrying off the money or effects of other persons, or their being lost.' It is not difficult to see that a system of registry, by which the movements and location of the subjects of a sovereign could be known, may be made applicable to some useful purposes; but when nations have advanced in civilisation, when their trading transactions bring them more and more into correspondence, the system becomes an impediment, productive of far more harm than good.
The Moniteur, the official French newspaper, contained the following announcement on the 16th of December 1860:
The Emperor has decided that after the 1st of January next, and by reciprocity, the subjects of her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland coming into France, shall be admitted and allowed to travel about without passports. The Minister of the Interior will give instructions to his agents to see this matter carried out.
It had been long known that the Emperor's personal opinions were opposed to the passport-system, and that he had only waited for the current of French thought to flow in the same direction as his own. A leading article in the Times, two clays afterwards, forcibly depicted the evils of the system which has thus been happily abolished:
The passport-system was a standing annoyance to British subjects in France. It involved the two things which Englishmen detest most-vexations stoppages for the sake of small exactions, and constant liability to official interference. You might seldom experience the actual evil, but you never got rid of the risk. At any hour of the day or night, on any pretence, or on no pretence, you might be required to produce your 'papers,' like a suspicious-looking vessel on the high-seas; and, if this manifest of your person and purposes did not satisfy the inquirer, you were liable to detention and imprisonment at his discretion. It was a right of search in the most offensive form, hanging over the traveller at every stage of his journey. At the best, you could never escape molestation or fine. You might compound with a commissionaire, and be quit of the job for a two-franc piece and a couple of hours' delay; but that much was inevitable, and, as it might recur at every town you came to, you were never safe. Above all-and this was the most exasperating feature in the case-the system placed you, as a matter of course, under the notice and control of the police, from the first moment of your arrival in the country, to the moment of your departure. The very filet of your travelling was regarded as a proceeding requiring justification. You had to clear yourself of a primâ facie case against you, and the passport was your ticket-of-leave. Unluckily, it was impossible to insure the completeness of this precious document. No man could ever take it for granted that his passport was in perfect order; and, consequently, he was always at the mercy of the police, who, from whim, suspicion, zeal, or spite, might deal with him as they chose, on no other warrant than some alleged defect in the cabalistic form of the passport. Passports were to police agents what the confessional is to the Romish priesthood-the instrument of power and action.
If this mode of keeping out the unoffending had the effect of keeping out offenders also, something might be said in its favour; but this is precisely what it did not do. 'None knew this better than the police themselves. They understood perfectly that all the fish they pretended to catch, slipped always, and, as a matter of course, through their meshes. We think we may defy any one to produce an instance of a conspirator, male-factor, or other evil-minded person who was arrested upon the evidence of his passport. On the contrary, as the police were bound, by the conditions of their own system, to take the shewing of the passport as conclusive, and as the papers of these gentry were invariably in order, the disguise proved exceedingly convenient to them. Except for their passports, they might have had to give some account of themselves, but these documents saved them all trouble and risk together. There they were, stamped and ticketed as lawful travellers by the police themselves, bearing the police-mark, and covered by the police certificate. As they had taken excellent care to observe every formality, there was nothing to be done with them; and the weight of the system consequently fell on the unsuspecting victims, whose very innocence had prevented them from providing against its snares.' The truth is, that a swarm of officials lived and prospered upon the profits of the system; and as the destruction of those gains would be equivalent to the destruction of a profession, all those who practised the profession had a strong reason for maintaining the system, and staving off reform as long as possible. Hence the oft-repeated assertions that the passport-system was the palladium, the aegis, the shield of good government.
The probabilities are, that other governments will, one by one, abandon the absurd restrictions which have thus been abolished by France.