Born: Louis XII ('the Just') of France, 1462, Blois; Charles IX of France, 1550, St. Germain; Charles XII of Sweden, 1682.
Died: Jean Rotrou, most eminent French dramatist before Corneille, 1650; Christian Heinecken, prodigy of precocious learning, 1725, Lübeck; Abbe de Chaulieu, French poet, 1740; Nicholas Tindal, historian, 1774, Greenwich Hospital; Dr. William Dodd, executed at Tyburn, 1777; Runjeet Singh, chief of Lahore, 1839, Lahore; John Murray, eminent publisher, 1843, London.
Feast Day: St. John of Moutier and Chinon, priest and confessor, 6th century; St. Ladislas I, King of Hungary, confessor, 1095.
Christian Heinecken, one of the most remarkable beings recorded in the history of mankind, was born of respectable parentage, at Lubec, in 1721. If he had come into the world during the dim and distant ages of antiquity, we might have set down the whole story as a myth, and thus dismissed it as unworthy of consideration. But the comparatively late period of his birth, and the unimpeachable character of the numerous witnesses that testify to his extraordinary precocity, leave us no alternative from belief and wonder. He spoke, we are told, and spoke sensibly too, within a few hours after his birth; when ten months old, he could converse on most subjects; when a year old he was perfect in the Old Testament, and in another short month he mastered the New. When two and a half years old, he could answer any question in ancient or modern history or geography. He next acquired Latin and French, both of which he spoke with great facility at the Court of Denmark, to which he was taken in his fourth year. His feeble constitution prevented him from being weaned until he was five years old, when He died in consequence of this necessary change of diet.
Some German savans, and one Frenchman, have written learned disquisitions in the attempt to explain on natural principles this wonderful precocity; but the result of their lucubrations has only been to prove that it is utterly inexplicable.
THE UNFORTUNATE DR. DODD
The son of a Lincolnshire vicar-educated at Cambridge-possessed of talents and a hand some person-witty and agreeable-Dodd might be said to have a good start in life. With something of the ballast of common sense and a decent degree of probity, he ought to have been a successful man. Wanting these, it is instructive to see what came of him. In 1751, at twenty-two years of age, he is found in London, without a profession or an income, yet indulging in all the enjoyments he had a mind for. When his father heard that he had married a gay, penniless girl, and furnished a house (it was, by the by, in Wardour-street), he came up to town in a state of alarm. What was to be done? The church was, in those days, simply looked on as a profession. The elder Dodd had no scruples any more than his son. It was decreed that William should take orders.
The step was, in a worldly point of view, successful. Dodd had from nature a showy oratorical power, and he cultivated it by the most careful study of the arts of elocution. Accordingly, in a succession of metropolitan cures, he shone out as a popular preacher of the highest attraction. George III made him his chaplain in ordinary, and he was appointed tutor to the future Earl of Chesterfield. Meanwhile Dr. Dodd and his wife lived in extravagant style, and were in perpetual pecuniary straits. They set up a coach, and took a country-house at Ealing. The doctor worked hard for the booksellers, and as he lacked leisure for original thought, he played the plagiary with considerable vigour. He took pupils at high fees, and neglected them. He drew a lottery ticket for £1000, but the money only seduced him into new depths of waste. Had he only possessed an ordinary share of worldly wisdom, riches and advancement in the church would certainly have been his portion; but goaded by his necessities, and impatient for preferment, he was foolish enough, in 1774, to address an anonymous letter to the Lord Chancellor Apsley's wife, offering 3000 guineas if by her assistance Dr. Dodd was appointed to St. George's, Hanover-square, then vacant. The letter was at once traced to him, complaint was made to the king, and he was dismissed with disgrace from his office of chaplain to his majesty. The newspapers teemed with satire and invective over his simony, and Samuel Foote turned the transaction into a farce at the Haymarket.
Covered with shame, he retired for a time to the Continent, and on his return resumed preaching in London, and seemed in a fair way to recover his lost popularity, when he committed his last fatal act. Importuned by creditors, he forged a bond on his old pupil, now Lord Chesterfield, for £4200. By a curious train of circumstances the fraud was detected. Dodd was arrested, brought to trial, and sentenced to death. Powerful exertions were made for his pardon. Curiously enough, in 1772, a highwayman who had stopped Dodd's coach and shot at him was captured, and on Dodd's evidence was hanged; whereon he preached and published a sermon, entitled The Frequency of Capital Punishments inconsistent with Justice, Sound Policy, and Religion. Petitions with upwards of 20,000 signatures were addressed to the king. A cry was raised for his respite, for the credit of the clergy; but it was answered that if the honour of the clergy was tarnished, it was by Dodd's crime, and not by his punishment. Dodd appealed to Dr. Johnson for his intercession, and Johnson, though he knew little of Dodd, bestirred himself on his behalf with all the energy of his tender heart. He drew up a petition of Dr. Dodd to the king, and of Mrs. Dodd to the queen; wrote The Convict's Address to his Unhappy Brethren, a sermon which Dodd delivered in the chapel of Newgate; also Dr. Dodd's last solemn Declaration, and various other documents and letters to people in power; all without effect.
The king had an inclination to mercy; but the year before Daniel and Robert Perreau, wine-merchants, had been executed for forgery; and he was plainly told, 'If your majesty pardon Dr. Dodd, you will have murdered the Perreaus.' The law was therefore allowed to take its course, and on the 27th of June 1777, Dodd was conveyed, along with another malefactor, in an open cart, from Newgate to Tyburn, and there hanged in the presence of an immense crowd. As soon as his body was cut down, it was hurried to the house of Davies, an undertaker, in Goodgestreet, Tottenham Court Road, where it was placed in a hot bath, and every exertion made to restore life, but in vain.
Within the past century no name has been more frequent on the title-pages of first-rate books than that of John Murray; and few perhaps are aware that one reason of its long continuance arises from the fact that there has been a dynasty of three John Murrays.
The founder of the house was John MacMurray, who was born in Edinburgh about 1745, and commenced life in the Marines. In 1768 Lieut. MacMurray growing tired of his profession, bought for £400 the stock and goodwill of Paul Sandby, bookseller, 32 Fleet Street, opposite St. Dunstan's Church, and close to Falcon Court, the site of the office of Wynkyn de Worde, whose sign was the Falcon. He was anxious to secure his friend Falconer, the author of The Shipwreck, as a partner; but Falconer declined, and the following year lost his life in the wreck of the 'Aurora,' off the African coast. Dropping the prefix of Mac, as Scotsmen were not then popular in London, Murray contrived, with much diligence, to improve and extend the business he had purchased. At the end of twenty-five years, in 1793, he died, leaving his trade, under executors, to his son John, at that time a minor of fifteen, having been born in the house over the Fleet Street shop on the 27th November 1778.
John II was educated at the best schools his father could find; among others at the High School of Edinburgh, and at Dr. Burney's at Gosport, where he lost an eye by the writing-master's penknife accidentally running into it. For a time young Murray had for a partner Samuel Highley, a long-tried assistant of his father's; but feeling hampered by his associate's slow and cautious ways, he obtained a dissolution of the connexion in 1803-Highley moving off a few doors to carry on bookselling, and leaving Murray to his more hazardous adventures as a publisher.
One of his earliest and greatest projects was the Quarterly Review. To George Canning, in 1807, he wrote-'There is a work entitled the Edimburgh Review, written with such unquestionable talent, that it has already attained an extent of circulation not equalled by any similar publication. The principles of this work are, however, so radically bad, that I have been led to consider the effect which such sentiments, so generally diffused, are likely to produce, and to think that some means equally popular ought to be adopted to counteract their dangerous tendency.. . Should you, sir, think the idea worthy of encouragement, I should with equal pride and willingness engage my arduous exertions to promote its success; but as my object is nothing short of producing a work of the greatest talent and importance, I shall entertain it no longer if it be not so fortunate as to obtain the high patronage which I have thus, sir, taken the liberty to solicit. Permit me, sir, to add, that the person who thus addresses you is no adventurer, but a man of some property, inheriting a business that has been established for nearly a century.'
Canning was willing, and other helpers were found. On the 1st February 1809 the first number of the Quarterly Review appeared, and its success was instant and decisive, the circulation quickly rising to 12,000 copies. The Review was the origin of Mr. Murray's eminent fortune. It brought around him such a galaxy of genius as no publisher before or since has had at his service. In 1812 he removed from under the shadow of Temple Bar to a western position in Albemarle Street, where his drawing-room became the resort in London of Scott, Byron, Campbell, Heber, D'Israeli, Canning, Hallam, Croker, Barrow, Madame de Stael, Crabbe, Southey, Belzoni, Washington Irving, Lockhart, and many more, remembered and forgotten. Murray's life-long distinction was his masterly enterprise, his fine combination of liberality with prudence, and his consummate literary and commercial tact. His transactions were the admiration and despair of lesser men.
An intimate alliance of business and friend-ship subsisted for a time between Murray and the Ballantynes and Constable of Edinburgh. Constable gave Scott £1000 for the copyright of Marmion before it was written, of which Murray took a fourth; and when Scott was in his difficulties he gracefully made him a present of his share. Murray published The Tales of my Landlord, and the secret of the Great Unknown was manifest to him from the beginning. He early foresaw the result of the reckless trading of John Ballantyne, and, after repeated warnings, finally broke off connexion with him. Happy would it have been for Scott had he taken the same course.
Mr. Murray made Lord Byron's acquaintance in 1811, and gave him £600 for the first two cantos of Childe Harold, while the poet's fame was unestablished, thus shewing in a most happy instance that independent perception of literary talent which may be said to be the highest gift of the great publisher. It is understood that by Mr. Murray's aid and advice the poet profited largely. Hearing in 1815 that he was in pecuniary difficulties, Murray sent him a draft for £1500, promising another for the same amount in the course of a few months, and offering to sell his copyrights if necessity required. From first to last he paid Byron £20,000 for his poems. Byron playfully styled him 'the Anak of stationers,' and presented him with a handsome Bible, with the text 'Now Barabbas was a robber,' altered to Barabbas was a publisher.' Byron gave Moore his Autobiography, and Murray lent Moore £2000 on the security of the manuscript; and when Moore repaid the hard cash in order to destroy the memoir, Murray made up the loss by giving Moore £1000 for his life of Byron.
When Crabbe came to town in the summer of 1817, he was soon a visitor of Murray's, whom he describes as a much younger and more lively man than he had imagined. For his Poems Murray offered the amply generous sum of £3000. It will scarcely be believed that Crabbe had friends so insensible to the publisher's liberality, and so inconceivably foolish, as to think this sum too little. Having, by their advice, opened negotiations with another firm, the simple-minded poet was alarmed to find a very much smaller price put upon his verses. In great anxiety, and fearful that he had lost what was to him a fortune, he wrote, saying he was willing to accept his offer. Receiving no answer, he persuaded Rogers and Moore to go to Albemarle Street and diplomatize for him. To his delight, their intervention proved unnecessary. 'Oh, yes,' said Murray, when they had described their errand, 'I have heard from Mr. Crabbe, and looked on the matter as quite settled.'
Southey was one of Murray's regular and most industrious workmen. In 1810 he wrote an article on Nelson for the Quarterly. Murray offered him £100 to expand it for separate publication, and Southey turned out his perspicuous and famous Life of Lord Nelson. At a later date he received a further sum of £200 to revise the work as a volume of the Family Library. This is only one out of many instances which might be recorded in illustration of Murray's generosity.
Washington Irving was another of his authors. He gave £200 for the Sketch Book, which he increased to £400 when it proved successful. For Bracebridge Hall he paid £1000, for the Chronicles of Granada £2000, and for the Life of Columbus £3000. He wished to secure Irving's services as editor of a monthly magazine at £1000 a year; but the American could not endure the thought of permanent residence out of his own country.
In 1826, seduced by others more sanguine than himself, he started The Representative, a daily newspaper, price sevenpence, edited by Mr. Benjamin Disraeli, and intended to rival The Times. It was a complete failure, and was stopped at the end of six months, with a loss to Mr. Murray of £20,000. It was the solitary serious miscalculation of his life.
On the 27th of June 1843, Mr. Murray closed his arduous and honourable career at the age of sixty-five, and was succeeded by his son John Murray III, who to this day maintains undimmed the glory of his father's house, as publisher of the best books by the best authors.
REVIVALS AFTER SUS. PER. COLL.
The efforts made for the restoration of the forfeited life of poor Dodd remind us that reanimation after hanging is far from being an uncommon event.
On the 16th August 1264, Henry III granted a pardon to a woman named Inetta de Balsham, who, having been condemned to death for harbouring thieves, hung on a gallows from nine o'clock of a Monday to sunrise of Thursday, and yet came off with life, as was testified to the king by sufficient evidence.
Dr. Plot, who quotes the original words of the pardon, surmises that it might have been a case like one he had heard of from Mr. Obadiah Walker, Master of University College, being that of a Swiss who was hung up thirteen times without effect, life being preserved by the condition of the wind-pipe, which was found to be by disease converted into bone.
Dr. Plot relates several cases of the resuscitation of women after hanging, and makes the remark that this revival of life appears to happen most frequently in the female sex. One notable case was that of a poor servant girl named Anne Green, who was condemned to death, at Oxford in 1650 for alleged child-murder, although her offence could only be so interpreted by superstition and pedantry. This poor woman, while hanging, had her legs pulled, and her breast knocked by a soldier's musket; she was afterwards trampled on, and the rope was left unslackened around her neck. Yet, when in the hands of the doctors for dissection, she gave symptoms of life, and in fourteen hours was so far well as to be able to speak. Eager inquiries were made as to her sensations from the moment of suspension; but she remembered nothing she came back to life like one awakening out of a deep sleep. This poor woman obtained a pardon, was afterwards married, and had three children.
A second female malefactor, the servant of a Mrs. Cope, at Oxford, was hanged there in 1658, and kept suspended an unusually long time, to make sure of the extinction of life; after which, being cut down, her body was allowed to fall to the ground with a violence which might have been sufficient to kill many unhanged persons. Yet she revived. In this case the authorities insisted on fulfilling their imperfect duty next day. Plot gives a third case, that of Marjory Mausole, of Arley, in Staffordshire, without informing us of its date or any other circumstances.
On the 2nd of September 1721, a poor woman named Margaret Dickson, married, but separated from her husband, was hanged at Edinburgh for the crime of concealing pregnancy in the case of a dead child. After suspension, the body was inclosed in a coffin at the gallows' foot, and carried off in a cart by her relatives, to be interred in her parish churchyard at Musselburgh, six miles off. Some surgeon apprentices rudely stopped the cart before it left town, and broke down part of the cooms, or sloping roof of the coffin,-thus undesignedly letting in air. The subsequent jolting of the vehicle restored animation before it had got above two miles from the city, and Maggy was carried home a living woman, though faint and hardly conscious. Her neighbours flocked around her in wonder; a minister came to pray over her; and her husband, relenting under a renewed affection, took her home again. She lived for many years after, had several more children creditably born, and used to be pointed out in the streets of Edinburgh, where she cried salt, as Half-hanget Maggy Dickson.
The instances of men reviving after hanging are scarcely less numerous than those of females. In 1705, a housebreaker named Smith being hung up at Tyburn, a reprieve came after he had been suspended for a quarter of an hour. He was taken down, bled, and revived. One William Duell, duly hanged in London in 1740, and taken to the Surgeons' Hall to be anatomized, came to life again, and was transported. At Cork a man was hanged in January 1767 for a street robbery, and immediately after carried to a place appointed, where a surgeon made an incision in his windpipe, and in about six hours recovered him. The almost incredible fact is added, that the fellow had the hardihood to attend the theatre the same evening. William Brodie, executed in Edinburgh, October 1788, for robbing the excise-office, had similar arrangements made for his recovery. It was found, however, that he had had a greater fall than he bargained for with the hangman, and thus the design was frustrated.
On the 3rd of October 1696, a man named Richard Johnson was hanged at Shrewsbury, He had previously, on a hypocritical pretence, obtained a promise from the under-sheriff that his body should be laid in his coffin without being stripped. He hung half an hour, and still showed signs of life, when a man went up to the scaffold to see what was wrong with him. On a hasty examination, it was found that the culprit had wreathed cords round and under his body, connected with a pair of hooks at his neck, by which the usual effect of the rope was prevented, the whole of this apparatus being adroitly concealed under a double shirt and a flowing periwig. On the trick being discovered, he was taken down, and immediately hanged in an effectual manner.
It may be remarked, as helping to account for the great number of recoveries from hanging, that in former days a criminal was allowed to slide or slip gently from a ladder, so as to have very little fall; and consequently, as a rule, he suffered only asphyxia, and not a breaking of the vertebral column. In the mode followed nowadays, hanging is a process very effectual for its end, so as to make resuscitation almost impossible.