Born: Sir Robert Walpole (Earl of Orford), eminent statesman, 1676, Houghton, Norfolk; Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, 1819.
Died: Lopez Felix de la Vega, Spanish poet and dramatist, 1635, Madrid; Lord George Sackville, commander and statesman, 1785; Christopher Christian Sturm, author of the Reflections, 1786; Elizabeth Chudleigh, Duchess of Kingston, 1788, France; Karl Theodor Körner, martial lyrist, killed, 1813; Dr. Adam Clarke, eminent divine and author, 1832, Haydon Hall, Middlesex; Louis Philippe, ex-king of France, 1850, Claremont, Surrey.
Feast Day: St. Zephyrinus, pope and martyr, 219. St. Gelasinus, martyr, 297. St. Genesius (a comedian), martyr, end of 3rd century. St. Genesius of Arles, martyr.
LOPE DE VEGAS EIGHTEEN HUNDRED PLAYS
Lope de Vega, or more fully Lope Felix de Vega-Carpio, may be said to enjoy the distinction of having been the most fertile of all authors of imaginative literature. Born at Madrid in 1562, he was so precocious that, if we are to believe his disciple and biographer, Montalvan, he dictated poetry at five years old, before he could write. At seventeen, while in the university of Alcala, he wrote his dramatic romance of Dorothea, in which he depicted himself as one of the characters, leading a wild and dissolute life. Now a poet, now a soldier, now a courtier, now an adventurer, Lope appeared under various aspects-one of which was that of a subordinate officer in the far-famed Armada, which made a vain attempt to invade England. But wherever he was, and whatever other work he was engaged in, he always contrived to write poems and plays.
After many more fluctuations in position, he became an ecclesiastic in 1609, and officiated in daily church-offices for the rest of his life. It will serve to illustrate the tone of moral and social life in Spain, at that time, that Lope de Vega not only continued to pour forth plays with amazing rapidity, but that some of them were very licentious in character. Poems, too, appeared in almost equal abundance: some sacred, some immoral; some based upon his own ideas, some in imitation of Dante, Petrarch, Tasso, or Boccaccio. The words seemed to flow almost spontaneously from his pen; for not only are his works almost incredibly numerous, but some of them are very long. One, called Gatomachia, or the Battle of the Cats-in which two cats quarrel and fight about a third-consists of no less than 2500 verses, 'rather long,' as one of his biographers admits, 'for a badinage.'
If his chief productions had not been dramas, he would still have been one of the most prolific poets ever known; but his plays far outnumbered his poems, and were the means of giving something like nationality to the Spanish drama. In 1603, when forty-one years of age, he found that his dramatic compositions reached the number of 341; it swelled to 483 in 1609, about 800 in 1618, nearly 900 in 1619, 1070 in 1624, and 1800 at the time of his death (August 26, 1635). According to ordinary experience, this would be almost incredible; but we mast believe that the dramas were mostly very short. Montalvan, one of the biographers of Lope de Vega, states that, while at Toledo, Lope wrote five dramas in a fortnight; and that half a morning was often enough for him to produce an entire act of a play.
It is asserted that every one of these 1800 plays was acted in his lifetime. No less than 500 of them have been printed, and occupy a place among the literature of Spain. Some of them are interludes, or short farces in prose; but the greater number are comedies in verse, mostly in three portions or acts. Of no other writer can it be said that his printed plays fill twenty-six quarto volumes (published between 1609 and 1647); and yet that his unpublished plays were nearly thrice as many. Lope de Vega gave that tone to the Spanish drama, brilliant but immoral, which has been made so familiar to the public by the various forms of Don Juan and the Barber of Seville.
THE DUCHESS OF KINGSTON
As an example of the adventuress, amid several notabilities of a like kind, in the earlier half of the reign of George III, Elizabeth Chudleigh, Duchess of Kingston, is prominently distinguished. She was the daughter of Colonel Chudleigh, a gentle-man of good family in Devonshire, who, through his friendship with Mr. Pulteney, obtained for his daughter the post of maid of honour to the Princess of Wales, mother of George III. Her natural talents and attractions were here cultivated and developed, and the charms of her manners and conversation soon surrounded her with a host of distinguished and enthusiastic admirers.
One of the most conspicuous of these was the Duke of Hamilton, who made her an offer of his hand, and was accepted. Circumstances, however, prevented their immediate union; the parties agreed to hold themselves as engaged, and the duke set out on a tour on the continent, from which he regularly corresponded with Miss Chudleigh. In the meantime, Captain Hervey, son of the Earl of Bristol, came forward as a suitor, under the auspices of Miss Chudleigh's aunt, Mrs. Hanmer, who is said to have intercepted the Duke of Hamilton's letters, and otherwise exerted her influence to the utmost with her niece, to induce her to discard him for the captain. A volatile and impetuous disposition, guided apparently by no high or abiding principle, induced Miss Chudleigh, without much difficulty, to receive Hervey's addresses, and they were privately married at Lainston, near Winchester. This ill-advised step proved the foundation of all her subsequent perplexities.
Fearing the effects of his father's anger, Captain Hervey dared not venture to acknowledge his marriage, and his wife had to endure all the inconveniences which a woman must submit to, who is placed in such a position. She seems almost immediately after the conclusion of the match, to have repented of her precipitancy. Indifference was followed by positive aversion, and though one son was born of the union, who soon quitted the world, as he had entered it, in secrecy and obscurity, a lasting estrangement took place between the parents.
Captain Hervey, whose jealousy was violently excited by the attentions paid to his wife as Miss Chudleigh, gradually changed his line of conduct, and threatened to proclaim their marriage to the public, whilst she became only more determined to find some pretext for its legal dissolution. With this view, she is said to have gained access to the register in which her wedding was recorded, and destroyed the evidence of it, by tearing out the leaf. The officiating clergyman was now dead. But not long afterwards, her husband succeeded, by the death of his father, to the earldom of Bristol, upon which a revulsion took place in her crooked policy, and she contrived, by bribing the officiating clerk, to get her marriage reinserted in the same register from which she had previously torn the record. So far for the first acts of this singular drama.
From the aristocratic circles amid which Miss Chudleigh reigned as queen, the Duke of Kingston now stepped forth, and proffered her his hand. He appears to have possessed many good qualities, being mild and unassuming in his manners, the very reverse of his mistress, whose love of admiration had been the great occasion of her errors. There can be no doubt that an illicit intercourse had subsisted for some time betwixt them; but the duke's attachment to her seems to have been sincere.
The Earl of Bristol had now himself become desirous of severing his nuptial tics, and he therefore was readily induced to concur in a process of jactitation of marriage in the ecclesiastical courts, which, by an adroit suppression of evidence, terminated in a decree of nullification. The path being thus, in their opinion, cleared, the union of the duke and Miss Chudleigh was publicly solemnised. For some years the duchess basked in all the sunshine of wealth and exalted position, when at last her husband died. By his will the duke was found to have devised his estates to one of his younger nephews, excluding the heir at law, and bequeathing to his wife the enjoyment of the rents of the property during her life.
The duchess being aware of the contents of the will, and of certain restrictions which had been imposed on her marrying again, had endeavoured, though ineffectually, to procure before the duke's death the execution of a more favourable deed. The elder nephew, whose claims to the succession had been ignored, resolved to dispute the validity of his uncle's will. Through information received from a Mrs. Cradock, who had been one of the witnesses to the marriage of Miss Chudleigh with Captain Hervey, and had afterwards, as she deemed, been rather shabbily treated by the duchess, he instituted against the latter an indictment for bigamy. She had previously to this quitted the kingdom for the continent, but on receiving intelligence of these proceedings, deemed it prudent to return to England, to avoid an outlawry.
The trial commenced on 15th April 1776, before the House of Peers, in Westminster Hall, which was filled by a distinguished audience, including Queen Charlotte and several members of the royal family. The evidence of the marriage with Captain Hervey having been produced, and the whole matter carefully sifted, the peers unanimously found the duchess guilty of bigamy, with the exception of the Duke of Newcastle, who pronounced her guilty 'erroneously but not intentionally.' The consequences of this sentence would have been the issuing of a writ Ne exeat regno to prevent her quitting the country, but before it could be completed, she contrived to escape to Calais, from which she never returned.
The heirs of the Duke of Kingston, having thus succeeded in nullifying his marriage, now endeavoured to get his will set aside; but in this they were thoroughly unsuccessful. The duchess was left to the undisturbed enjoyment of her large income, which she dissipated in the indulgence of all sorts of luxury. She had already purchased a house at Calais, but it was inadequate to her ideas of splendour, and she accordingly entered into terms for the purchase of another at Montmartre, in the suburbs of Paris. A dispute with the owner of this property gave rise to a litigation, during the dependence of which she made a journey to St. Petersburg, and there entered into some speculations connected with the distilling of brandy. She subsequently returned to France, and became the purchaser of a fine domain in the neighbourhood of Paris, belonging to a brother of Louis XVI, the reigning sovereign.
The investment proved a good one, the immense number of rabbits on the property furnishing a most lucrative return. As much as 300 guineas is said to have been realized by her from this source alone in the first week of her possession. But the end was now approaching. In the midst of this temporal prosperity, intelligence was one day brought her, that judgment had been pronounced against her in the suit regarding the house at Montmartre. So great an agitation was produced on her by this news, that she ruptured a blood. vessel, and was obliged to confine herself to her bed. In the course of a few days she seemed to rally, and insisted on getting up and having herself dressed. Her attendant vainly endeavoured to dissuade her, and she then called for a glass of Madeira, which she drank, and insisted on a second being brought. This also she drank off, and then said she should like to lie down. Having stretched herself on a couch, she soon appeared to fall asleep, and remained in this state for some time, when her servants felt an unusual coldness in her hands, and on examining more closely, found that she had passed away. Such was her end, to die among strangers in a foreign land-a fitting termination, perhaps, to her chequered and singular career.
One circumstance in connection with the Duchess of Kingston ought not to be passed over in silence. We allude to her well-known fracas with Samuel Foote. That celebrated wit and dramatist, who derived a considerable portion of his fame from the personalities which he introduced into his literary lucubrations, produced a farce, entitled A Trip to Calais, in which he brought forward the duchess under the title of 'Lady Kitty Crocodile.' His procedure in this transaction reflects little credit either on his character as a man or policy as a schemer. The duchess would have willingly paid him a handsome sum to withdraw the piece; but, in the hopes of obtaining a larger consideration, he out-maneuvered himself; whilst she, by her interest with parties in power, contrived to have the representation of the play interdicted by the lord-chamberlain, and also its publication, for the time at least, prevented.
BATTLE OF CRECY-WERE CANNON FIRST EMPLOYED THERE?
This extraordinary conflict, to which the English for ages looked back as they have latterly looked back to Waterloo, was fought on the 26th of August 1346, in an angle of ground lying between the river Somme and the sea, in Picardy. Edward III had invaded France, in pursuit of his imagined right to the throne, and for some weeks conducted his small army along the valley of the Seine, in considerable danger from the much larger one of Philip, the French king. At length he made a stand on a favourable piece of ground at the village of Crecy, and awaited in calmness and good order the precipitate and disorderly attack of the opposite host. By virtue of coolness and some hard fighting, he gained the battle, and was able to destroy an immense number of the enemy. The prowess shewn on the occasion by his son the Black Prince, and other particulars of the well-fought field, are generally familiar to the readers of English history.
It is said there is still to be seen upon the field a tower-like wind-mill, which existed at the time of the action, and marking the station of the English king.'
There is a doubtful statement, to the effect that cannon were first used in military encounter at the Battle of Crecy. It must be considered as liable to great doubt. Our own chroniclers make no allusion to such a circumstance; neither is it mentioned in the ordinary copies of Froissart, although his account of the battle is remarkably ample and detailed. It has been surmised that only some comparatively recent French writers have introduced the assertion into their narratives, as a sort of excuse for the panic which the troops of King Philip exhibited on the occasion.
On the other hand, there appears to be a manuscript copy of Froissart, preserved at Amiens, from which the present emperor of France has quoted the following passage in his work on artillery: 'Et li Angles descliqu'erent aucuns canons qu'il avaient en la bataille pour esbahir les Genevois.' And it is alleged that Villani, a contemporary Italian writer, states that cannon were used by the English at Crecy. If these statements are correct, we may consider it established that artillery-though probably of a very simple and portable kind-were first employed on this interesting occasion.
THE MARRIAGE OF THE ARTS
On Sunday, the 26th of August 1621, a comedy, entitled Technogamia, or the Marriage of the Arts, written by Barton Holiday, M. A., of Christ's Church, Oxford, was performed by students of the same college, before James I at Woodstock. As a typical specimen of the allegorical piece of the olden time, this drama is not unworthy of notice. The dramatis personæ; consist of Polites, a magistrate; Physica, and her daughter Astronomia; Ethicus, with his wife Economa; Geographicus, a traveller, with his servant Phantastes; Logicus, and his servant Phlegmaticus; Grammaticus, a schoolmaster, and his usher Choler; Poeta, and his servant Melancholia; Medicus, and his servant Sanguis; Historia; Rhetorica; Geometres; Arithmetica; Musica; Causidicus; Magus, and his wife Astrologia; Physiognomus and Cheiromantes, two cheating gipsies. All these are attired in goodly and appropriate fashion. Astronomia, for instance, wearing 'white gloves and pumps, an azure gown, and a mantle seeded with stars; on her head a tiara, bearing on the front the seven stars, and behind stars promiscuously; on the right side, the sun; on the left, the moon.' Astronomia is the brilliant heroine of the play-the heaven to which Geographicus aspires to travel, of which Geometres endeavours to take the measure, in which Poeta desires to repose. On the other hand, Arithmetica has a more natural passion for Geometres, and Historia anxiously wishes to be united to Poeta. Grammaticus, in an amorous mood, solicits Rhetorica, whose flowers bloom only for Logicus.
These conflicting attachments cause great confusion in the commonwealth of learning; each of the enamoured personages endeavouring to obtain the object of his or her affections. Polites assists Geographicus; Magus employs his occult art in favour of Geometres; while the Nine Muses, as in duty bound, assist Poeta. Polites can with difficulty keep the peace. The gipsies, Physiognomus and Cheiromantes, pick Poeta's pocket, but find nothing therein but a copy of Anacreon and a manuscript translation of Horace. Physiognomus is appropriately branded on the face, that all men may know him to be a rogue; and Cheiromantes receives the same punishment on the hand; and the two, with Magus and Astrologia, who had attempted to strangle Astronomia, are justly banished the commonwealth of the Sciences. Then Geographicus, discharging his servant Phantastes, marries Astronomia; Grammaticus espouses Rhetorica; Melancholia obtains the hand of Musica, and takes Phantastes into his service; Logicus, old and heartless, being left without a mate, becomes an assistant to Polites; and thus peace and harmony is restored among the Sciences. There is considerable ingenuity displayed in the invention of this plot, the dialogue is witty, and the professors of the sciences represented are humorously satirised.
One would have supposed, that the pedantic spirit of James would have been delighted with this production, but such was not the case. Anthony h Wood tells us that the king 'offered several times to withdraw, but being persuaded by some of those that were near him to have patience till it were ended, lest the young men should be discouraged, [he] adventured it, though much against his will.' And the Cambridge students, pleased that the Oxford drama did not interest the king, produced the following epigram:
'At Christ-church marriage, played before the king, Lest these learned mates should want an offering, The king, himself, did offer-What, I pray? He offered twice or thrice to go away.'
It is not difficult to perceive what it was that displeased the king. Phlegmaticus was dressed 'in a pale russet suit, on the hack whereof was represented one filling a pipe of tobacco, his hat beset round about with tobacco-pipes, with a can of drink hanging at his girdle.' He entered, exclaiming: 'Fore Jove, most meteorological tobacco! Pure Indian! not a jot sophisticated; a tobacco-pipe is the chimney of perpetual hospitality. Fore Jove, most metropolitan tobacco.' And then, rather unphlegmatically, he broke out into the following song:
Tobacco's a Musician,
And in a pipe delighteth;
It descends in a close,
Through the organs of the nose,
With a relish that inviteth.
This makes me sing, So ho, so ho, boys,
Ho, boys, sound I loudly;
Earth ne'er did breed
Such a jovial weed,
Whereof to boast so proudly.
Tobacco is a Lawyer,
His pipes do love long cases;
When our brains it enters,
Our feet do make indentures;
While we seal with stamping paces,
This makes me sing, &c.
Tobacco's a Physician,
Good both for sound and sickly;
'Tis a hot perfume,
That expels cold rheum,
And makes it flow down quickly.
This makes me sing, &c.
Tobacco is a Traveller,
Come from the Indies hither;
It passed sea and land,
Ere it came to my hand,
And 'scaped the wind and weather,
This makes me sing, &c.
Tobacco is a Critic,
That still old paper turneth,
Whose labour and care,
Is as smoke in the air,
That ascends from a rag when it burneth.
This makes me sing, &c.
Tobacco's an Ignis-fatuus,
A fat and fiery vapour,
That leads men about,
Till the fire be out,
Consuming like a taper.
This makes me sing, &c.
Tobacco is a Whiffler,
And cries huff snuff with fury,
His pipe's his club and link,
He's the wiser that does drink;
Thus armed I fear not a fury.
This makes me sing, So ho, so ho, boys,
Ho, boys, sound I loudly;
Earth ne'er did breed
Such a jovial weed,
Whereof to boast so proudly.
The royal author of the Counterblast to Tobacco must have felt himself insulted by such a song. Ben Jenson was wiser, when, in his Gipsies' Meta-morphosis, he abused 'the devil's own weed,' in language totally unpresentable at the present day; and the delighted monarch ordered the filthy, slangy, low play, to be performed three several times in his kingly presence.
THE LAST OF THE ARCTIC VOYAGERS
The nation has given £20,000 in prizes to the gallant men who have solved (so far as it is yet solved) the problem of the North-West Passage-that is, a navigable channel from the Atlantic to the Pacific round the northern margin of America. There were twenty-two attempts made to discover such a passage in the sixteenth century, twenty in the seventeenth, and twenty-one in the eighteenth -nearly the whole of these sixty-three attempts being made by natives of this country, and most of them without any material aid from the government.
In the present century, the regular arctic expeditions, planned and supported by the government, began in 1817; and during the next forty years, Parry, John Ross, James Ross, Back, Franklin, Lyons, Beecher, Austin, Kellett, Osborne, Collinson, M'Clure, Rae, Simpson, M'Clintock, and other gallant men, made those discoveries which cost the nation more than a million sterling, besides many valuable lives. Sir John Franklin headed one of the expeditions; and his stay being strangely protracted, ships were sent out in search of him year after year. Captain M'Clure did not obtain any information concerning poor Franklin's fate; but he made such discoveries as justify us in asserting that a North-West Passage is found. So far back as 1745, parliament offered a reward of £20,000 to the discoverer of the much-coveted passage; this reward was never paid or claimed, and its offer was with-drawn in 1828; but Parry and John Ross each received £5000, in recognition of what they had done-leaving to the country to reward other discoverers as it might choose.
The reasons why Captain (afterwards Sir Robert) M'Clure may be considered as having practically solved the problem, may be stated in a few words. In 1850, Captains M'Clure and Collinson were sent out in the Investigation and the Enterprise, to assist in searching for Sir John Franklin and his hapless companions. They proceeded by the Pacific to Behring's Strait, and thence worked their way eastward to the frozen regions. Collin-son's labours were confined chiefly to such open water as could be found close to the American shores; but M'Clure pushed forward in a more northern route. What he endured during four years, mostly in regions where no civilised man had ever before been, his narrative must tell-so far as any narrative can do justice to such labour. He returned to England from Davis's Strait in the autumn of 1854. True, he had to leave his ship behind him, hopelessly locked in among mountains of ice; and he had to walk and sledge over hundreds of miles of ice to reach other ships which had entered the frozen regions in the opposite direction; but still he had water under him all the way; and he was thus the first commander of a vessel who really made the passage.
A 'navigable' passage it certainly was not, in the proper meaning of the term, but still it solved the main problem. In 1855, a committee of the House of Commons investigated the matter, and decided that a grant of £10,000 should be made for this discovery-making, with the £5000 given to Parry, and a sum of equal amount to John Ross, a total of £20,000; equivalent to that which, more than a century earlier, had been offered for the discovery of this North-West Passage. Parliament and the government agreeing to this, the £10,000 was paid to the hardy explorers in August 1855-£5,000 to Captain M'Clure himself, and £5000 to his officers and crew.
This was entirely distinct from the reward given -not for the discovery of the North-West Passage -but for any authentic tidings of the fate of Sir John Franklin. After an enormous sun had been spent in fitting out expeditions for the last-named purpose, the government offered £20,000 to any one who should 'discover and effectually relieve the crews of H. M. ships Erebus and Terror' (those which Franklin commanded); £10,000 to any one who 'should give such intelligence as might lead to the succour of the crews of those ships;' and £10,000 to any person who should, 'in the judgment of the Board of Admiralty, first succeed in ascertaining the fate of those crews.'
The first and second of these prizes were never earned, for the hapless men were never seen alive by any of their countrymen in time for succour to be afforded them; but the third prize was given in 1856 to Dr. Rae, who, by a daring overland journey from the Hudson Bay Company's Settlements, found circumstantial, though not unmistakable evidences of the deplorable deaths of Franklin and some of his companions. In 1858 and 1859, Captain M'Clintock completed the investigation, and rendered certain that which Dr. Rae had shewn to be probable; but as the £10,000 had been appropriated, it required a second grant from parliament (£6000) to make a suitable recognition of Captain M'Clintock's eminent though mournful services.