Born: Jacopo Sannazaro, Italian poet, 1458, Naples; Joseph I, Emperor of Germany, 1678, Vienna.
Died: Theodosius the Younger, Roman emperor, 450, Constantinople; Pope Innocent VIII, 1492; Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, beheaded on Tower Hill, 1540; John Speed, historical writer, 1629, Cripplegate, London; Richard Corbet, bishop of Norwich, humorous poet, 1635; Abraham Cowley, metaphysical poet, 1667, Chertsey, Surrey; Conyers Middleton, philosophical and historical author, 1750, Hildersham; George Bubb Dodington, intriguing politician, 1762; William Wynne Ryland, eminent engraver, executed for forgery, 1783; Maximilian Isidore Robespierre, terrorist autocrat, guillotined at Paris, 1794; Guiseppe Sarti, musical composer, 1802, Berlin; Sultan Salim III, assassinated at Constantinople, 1808; Andoche Junot, Duc d'Abrantes, Bonapartist general, 1813, Montpelier; Marshal Mortier, Bonapartist general, killed at Paris by Fieschi's 'infernal machine,' 1835; John George Lambton, Earl of Durham, Liberal statesman, 1840, Cowes, Isle of Wight; Joseph Bonaparte, ex-king of Spain, 1844, Florence; John Walter, proprietor and conductor of The Times newspaper, 1847, London; Charles Albert, ex-king of Sardinia, 1849, Oporto.
Feast Day: Saints Nazarius and Celsus, martyrs, about 68. St. Victor, pope and martyr, 201. St. Innocent I., pope and confessor, 417. St. Sampson, bishop and confessor, about 564.
Among the highest sums ever paid for poetical composition, must be included the 6000 golden crowns, given by the citizens of Venice to Sannazaro, for his six eulogistic lines on their city, thus translated by John Evelyn, the amiable author of Sylva.
Neptune saw Venice on the Adria stand
Firm as a rock, and all the sea command,
Think'st thou, O Jove!' said he, 'Rome's walls excel?
Or that proud cliff, whence false Tarpeia fell?
Grant Tyber best, view both; and you will say,
That men did those, gods these foundations lay.
Howel's lines on the 'stupendous site and structure' of London Bridge, are evidently imitations of Sannazaro's on Venice:
When Neptune from his billows London spied,
Brought proudly thither by a high spring-tide,
As through a floating wood, he steered along,
And dancing castles clustered in a throng;
When he beheld a mighty bridge give law
unto his surges, and their fury awe,
When such a shelf of cataracts did roar,
As if the Thames with Nile had changed her shore;
When he such massy walls, such towers did eye,
Such posts, such irons upon his back to lie;
When such vast arches he observed,
That might Nineteen Rialtos make, for depth and height;
When the cerulean god these things surveyed,
He shook his trident, and astonished said:
'Let the whole earth now all her wonders count,
This bridge of wonders is the paramount!'
THOMAS CROMWELL, EARL OF ESSEX
English history boasts of two great men who bore the name of Cromwell, each of whom was the instrument of a great revolution, not only political, but which affected the whole frame of society. The first of these men, Thomas Cromwell, is said to have been the son of a blacksmith at Putney, who, having saved money, became, according to some, a brewer; or, according to others, a fuller. His son Thomas received a tolerable school education, after which he spent some years on the continent, and made himself master of several foreign languages. His original occupation appears to have been of a mercantile character, but he turned soldier, served in Italy under the Constable Bourbon, and was present in 1527 at his death and the sack of Rome. He afterwards resumed his original calling of a merchant, and, returning to England, embraced the profession of the law. He soon attracted the attention of Cardinal Wolsey, who made him his solicitor, and employed him as his chief agent in the dissolution of the monasteries, which the pope had abandoned to the powerful minister for the foundation of colleges.
On Wolsey's fall, Cromwell accompanied him in his retirement to Esher; but he was soon tired of inactivity, and he went back to court, determined to push his own fortunes. As far as is known, he never deserted his old master, but spoke eloquently in his defence in the House of Commons, of which he was a member, and where his talents for business were highly commended. Cromwell now made his way into the royal favour, which he secured by his bold and able counsels in the king's final breach with Rome, and he soon became the principal and confidential minister of the crown.
To Cromwell, indeed, more than to anybody else, we owe the dissolution of the monasteries, and the establishment of the Reformation in England; and these great measures were carried through entirely by his great abilities, courage, and perseverance. Of course the whole hatred of the Catholic party was directed against him; but he was strong in the king's favour, and was raised rapidly to wealth and honours. The estates of the dissolved monasteries contributed towards the former; and, besides holding some of the highest and most lucrative offices of state, he was raised to the peerage in 1536 under the title of Baron Cromwell of Okeham, and three years afterwards he was created Earl of Essex, having been invested with the order of the Garter, and advanced to the office of lord-high chamberlain of England. This great man eventually experienced the fate of most of Henry's confidential ministers, who were overloaded with favours so long as they pleased him, but the first loss of confidence was but a step to the scaffold. He was actively instrumental in promoting the marriage with Anne of Cleves, and the king, disappointed in his wife, wreaked his vengeance upon his minister. Archbishop Cranmer pled for him in vain, and Cromwell was committed to the Tower on the 10th of June 1540, attainted, after the mere shadow of a trial, of high treason, and beheaded on the 28th of July.
A nephew of Cromwell, Sir Robert Williams, obtained court-favour through his means, and assumed his name. He received a grant from the crown of the lands of the dissolved monasteries in Huntingdonshire, and established his family at Hinchinbroke, in that county. He was the great-grandfather of Oliver Cromwell, the Protector.
Richard Corbet, successively bishop of Oxford and Norwich, was one of the most eminent English poets of his day. Born in the reign of Elizabeth, his wit and eloquence recommended him to the favour of James, and his advancement in the church was commensurate with his abilities. Benevolent, generous, and spirited in his public character-amiable and affectionate in private life-he deservedly enjoyed the patronage of the great, the applause and estimation of the good. The following lines, found written on the fly-leaf of a volume of Corbet's poems, convey an excellent idea of his general character
If flowing wit, if verses writ with ease,
If learning void of pedantry can please;
If much good-humour joined to solid sense,
And mirth accompanied with innocence,
Can give a poet a just right to fame,
Then Corbet may immortal honour claim;
For he these virtues had, and in his lines
Poetic and heroic spirit shines;
Though bright, yet solid, pleasant but not rude,
With wit and wisdom equally imbued.
Be silent, Muse, thy praises are too faint,
Thou want'st a power, the prodigy to paint,
At once a poet, prelate, and a saint.
The 10th Thermidor was the revolutionary name for the day (the 28th July 1794) which brought the termination of the celebrated Reign of Terror. While pressing dangers from foreign invaders and internal enemies surrounded the Revolution, the extreme party, headed by Robespierre, Barrere, St. Just, &c., had full sway, and were able to dictate numberless atrocities, under pretence of consulting the public safety. But when the Revolution became comparatively safe, a reaction set in, and a majority in the Convention arrayed themselves against the Terrorists. A struggle of two days between the two parties produced the arrest of Robespierre, Couthon, St. Just, Lebas, and a younger brother of Robespierre; and finally, in the afternoon of the 28th, these men, with some others, their accomplices, mounted the scaffold to which they had, during eighteen months, consigned so many better men. Robespierre died at the age of thirty-five.
It is undoubted that many of the most frightful outrages on humanity have been perpetrated, not in wanton malignity, or from pleasure in inflicting pain, but in the blind fervour of religious and patriotic feeling. We do not charge St. Paul with cruelty when, as Saul, he went about 'breathing threatenings and slaughter,' and 'making havoc of the church.' St. Dominic, who led on the massacre of the Albigenses, is said to have been a kindly man, but for a heretic he had no more heart than a stone. Indeed, the catalogue of persecutors contains, some of the noblest names in history.
Had Robespierre himself not been sent as deputy from Arras to Paris, he probably would have lived a useful citizen, respected for his probity, benevolence, and intelligence. 'When an enterprising spirit in Arras set up a Franklin lightning-conductor, there arose a popular outcry against his impiety. 'What! shall we rend the very lightnings from the hand of God?' exclaimed the terrified people. Robespierre defended Science against Superstition, and won a verdict for the innovator. He was appointed a judge in the Criminal Court of Arras, but he actually resigned his office rather than sentence a murderer to death.
In Paris, he dwelt with Madame Duplay, who idolised her lodger. His evenings he occasionally spent in conversation with her and her daughter; sometimes he read them a play from Racine, and sometimes took them to the theatre, to see some favourite tragedy. Once he proposed to leave the house, saying: 'I compromise your family, and my enemies will construe your children's attachment to me into a crime.' 'No, no,' replied Duplay, 'we will die together, or the people will triumph.'
Similar testimonies of esteem come from others who knew Robespierre privately; yet we cannot suppose he ever commanded any deeper feeling in any human breast than respect. He had no geniality; his virtues were all severe; he was a Puritan and Precisian, and perhaps the most perfect type of the fanatic to be found in biography. As Mr. G. H. Lewes, in his Life and Correspondence of Robespierre, observes:
All that is great and estimable in fanaticism-its sincerity, its singleness of purpose, its exalted aims, its vigorous consistency, its disdain of worldly temptations-all may be found in Robespierre; and those who only contemplate that aspect of the man will venerate him. But there is another aspect of fanaticism, presenting narrow-mindedness, want of feeling, of consideration, and of sympathy; unscrupulousness of means, pedantic wilfulness, and relentless ferocity; and whose contemplates this aspect also, will look on Robespierre with strangely mingled feelings of admiration and abhorrence.'
It was the intense unity and energy of his character that carried Robespierre so quickly to power. His mind was small but single; not any of its force was wasted. When he first spoke in the Assembly, he was laughed at; but, said Mirabeau, with the prescience of genius: 'That man will do somewhat; he believes every word he says.' It is to be remembered that he ran the career by which he is infamous in the short space of five years; he arrived in Paris as deputy from Arras in 1789, and was guillotined in 1794.
Robespierre's person was in striking correspondence with his mind. He was little, lean, and feeble. His face was sharp; his forehead good, but narrow, and largely developed in the perceptive organs; his mouth was large, and the lips thin and compressed; his nose was straight and small, and very wide at the nostrils. His voice was hoarse in the lower, and discordant in the higher, tones, and when in a rage, it seemed to change into a howl. He was bilious, and his complexion livid, and thus Carlyle, in his French Revolution, always marks him out as 'the sea-green.'
His wants were few and his habits simple. For money he had as little desire as necessity; and at his death his worth in cash was no more than £8. Thus as easily as justly did he win his title of 'The Incorruptible.' He drank nothing but water; his only excess was in oranges; these he ate summer and winter with strange voracity, and never did his features relax into such pleasantness as when his mouth was engrossed in one. His lodgings with Duplay were very humble; his bed-room and study were one apartment. There might be seen a bedstead, covered with blue damask and white flowers, a table, and four straw-bottomed chairs. The walls were studded with busts and portraits of himself; and two or three deal-shelves contained the few books he cared to read, and his manuscripts carefully written, and with many erasures. On the table there usually lay a volume of Racine or Rousseau, open at the place he was reading. He went to bed early, rising in the night to write. His recreation was a solitary walk in the Champs Elysèes, or about the environs of Paris, with his great dog Brount, who nightly kept guard on the mat at his master's door. A striking picture might be made of the lean, anxious, bilious, precise tribune, playing with his colossal mastiff.
Considering the extent of his infamy, there are singularly few anecdotes preserved of Robespierre. Mr. Lewes describes, in the words of a certain M. Legrand, who was living in Paris in 1849, an interview with Robespierre, at which you are puzzled whether to laugh or shudder. 'M. Legrand,' writes Mr. Lewes, 'boasts of his acquaintance with Robespierre, whom he regards as the best abused man of his acquaintance. To him Robespierre was a very agreeable man in society. He only thinks of him in that light. The Reign of Terror is a sort of nightmare-he no longer thinks of it. There is one story he always tells, and I regret that I must spoil it in the telling, wherein so much of the effect depends upon the gesture and the quiet senile tone of voice; but such as it is, it will, I think, amuse the reader.
' M. Legrand speaks- 'I recollect one time being at Lebas . . . . where he went very often . I heard a noise upon the stairs. 'Stop,' cried I. I thought it was that farceur (jester) Robespierre .... for he was very merry in society [This epithet of farceur is very piquant]. In fact, it was he. He came into the parlour . . . . I go up to him, and say: 'Citizen, you know . . . . or you ought to know . . . . that M. Legrand, my kinsman-alas! he is condemned, and tomorrow morning . . . [Here a very significant gesture imitative of the guillotine completes the sentence] . . . . A man, citizen, whose innocence is certain! for whom I can answer as for myself! And the life of an innocent man, citizen, it is of some account!' Then he answers me: 'Let us see, let us see, what is your business?' (for he was very agreeable in society-M. de Robespierre). I tell him the tale; then he asks me, 'At what hour does your friend die?' (for he was very agreeable in society-M. de Robespierre). 'Citizen,' I reply, 'at nine o'clock precisely! '-'At nine o'clock! that is unfortunate! for you know I work late; and as I go to bed late, I rise late. I am much afraid I shall not be up in time to save your friend . . . . but we shall see, we shall see I' .... (for he was very agreeable in society-M. de Robespierre). [After a snort pause the old gentleman continues.] It appeared . . that M. de Robespierre had worked very hard that night; for my poor friend! [Here again he makes the guillotine gesture]. It is all the same! I am sure that if he had not worked so late, he would have saved my poor friend; for he was very agreeable in society-M. de Robespierre.
MARSHAL MORTIER: FIESCHI'S INFERNAL MACHINE
It was on the 28th July 1835, that this infernal machine was discharged, with intent to destroy the French king, Louis Philippe, as he rode along the lines of the National Guard, on the Boulevard du Temple, accompanied by his three sons and suite. The machine consisted of twenty-five barrels, charged with various species of missiles, which were fired simultaneously by a train of gunpowder. The king and his sons escaped; but Marshal Mortier, Duc de Treviso, was shot dead, and many other persons were dangerously wounded. Such were the circumstances under which one of Napoleon's marshals, after escaping the perils of the battle-field, perished in a time of peace, in the streets of the capital, while in the service, suite, and favour of a king of the Orleans branch of the Bourbons! It is as an introduction to some little known facts of his earlier life, that we have thus briefly stated the circumstances of his death.
Biography, like history, is at times written after a strange fashion. Like the fabled shield, gold on one side and silver on the other, not only the colouring but the facts of a life seem to depend on the stand-point of the writer. Before us lies a little publication of the year 1813, professing to give An interesting Account of Buonaparte and his Family; with the Original Name, Pedigree, and present Title of the Marshals and Generals who fought his Battles in Spain, Portugal, Russia, Germany, chiefly extracted from the Literary Panorama, with Additions to the present Time, by the Editor. Some idea may be formed of the character of this brochure, from the fact that it charges most of the family of Napoleon, and many of his marshals and generals, with the foulest crimes; as murder, incest, adultery, forgery, wholesale robberies, &c. In an introductory note, its editor says: 'Nor perhaps will it be believed that Brissot, who dethroned Louis XVI, had been employed in a printing office in London, at the rate of 30s. per week, as corrector of the press!' We have not elsewhere seen this statement, and of course cannot pronounce it either true or false. But if true, it is noteworthy that Brissot was not the only one of those bespattered with abuse by the editor' aforesaid, who passed some time in England. This is what he writes on the subject of our sketch:
'Marshal Mortier, Duke of Treviso, was clerk to a merchant at Dunkirk, Mr. James Bell, now of Angel Court, Throgmorton Street, London, who took him to Alicante, at £25 per annum. There he learned the Spanish language, and behaved remarkably well. He then left his situation at the beginning of the French revolution, and went back to France, where he was made a sergeant in the National Guard. He committed great depredations in Hanover. The Duchess of Treviso is an inn-keeper's daughter.'
Looking at most of the other portraits in this wretched picture-gallery, it seems clear that the limner had not been able to find any of his darker hues with which to smear the character of Mortier. But, leaving this statement with the expression of a doubt as to its veracity in two or three important features, we turn to a much more pleasing sketch from another English pen.
In that amusing book, entitled Music and Friends, by the late Mr. Gardiner, of Leicester, the author gives the following account of a visit he made to Paris in July 1802:
'One of my first objects in Paris was to be present at the fete on the 14th of July, the anniversary of the revolution, and for this purpose my friend, Mr. Cape, procured one a letter of introduction to General Mortier from Mr. Sylvester, of Manchester, with whom. Mortier had served his clerkship as a merchant. On my arrival I found the general was commander of the city, residing at the Etat Major, what we should call the Horse Guards of Paris. . . . I had received a note from General Mortier, afterwards Duke of Treviso, to dine with him, and bring my friend. This was very agreeable to me, as Mr. Fichet spoke the language like a native. My friend was overjoyed at the thoughts of this visit, and was in a hundred perplexities how he should dress for the occasion.
The first article laid out was an embroidered shirt that cost twelve guineas, with loads of rings, chains, and trinkets. When attired, I confess we did not look as if we belonged to the same species. Having driven to the Etat Major, we were received by a file of soldiers at the gate, who presented arms. We were ushered into the drawing-room, and introduced to the general, to Madame Mortier, another lady, and the general officers, Menou, Soult, and Lefevre. The coats of these warriors were covered with gold upon the arms from the shoulder to the wrist; you could scarcely see the scarlet cloth for oak-leaves and acorns wrought in gold. When we had sat down to dinner, I noticed two vacant places at table, which were soon filled up by the sergeant and corporal upon guard, who had just received us at the door.
This was one of the outward signs of liberty and equality; they behaved well, and retired just before the dessert was brought in. We had an elegant dinner; some things surprised me-the eating of ripe melon to boiled. beef, and drinking sixteen sorts of wine at dinner. A fine embroidered garcon was incessantly bawling in my ear some new sort he had upon his tray. I satisfied him by tasting all, and it was well I did so, for you get no wine afterwards. My friend was the admiration of the ladies, and had the whole of their conversation-a sort of small-talk in which he greatly excelled. For my part, I was compelled to be silent, not having that enviable fluency; and my taciturnity excited the attention of Menou, who asked me 'What the English thought of the French?'
Mortier, who spoke our language perfectly, was kind enough to be my interpreter, and I replied: 'We thought them a fine gallant nation, great in science and in arms.' This produced a smile of satisfaction, and was probably the first sentiment of the kind they had heard from an Englishman. 'We have the same opinion of you,' replied the Egyptian general; 'you are as great upon sea as we are upon land. What folly is this fighting! Could we but agree, the world might be at peace; England and France could govern Europe. What do you think of the Consul?' continued he. 'Why, we think him rather an ambitious gentleman; we have a notion that he will not long be satisfied with being Prime Consul, but will declare himself sole Consul; and, if you wish for my private opinion, I think shortly he will make himself king? 'The general turned round with a supercilious smile, and addressing himself to the company, said the credulity of the English was a proverb all over Europe.'
From this narrative, it appears that Mr. Gardiner had not been introduced to Mortier before July 1802, and that it is only on hearsay that he states that the marshal had been a clerk in the establishment of a Manchester merchant, named Sylvester. This is an error, which the present writer is enabled to correct. In the year 1786, an academy was established in Manchester, entitled the Manchester Academy, chiefly in connection with the Presbyterian or Unitarian denomination of dissenters. Its principal was the Rev. Thomas Barnes, D.D., then the senior minister of the Manchester Presbyterian Chapel, Cross Street. Its tutor for the Belles-Lettres, &c., was Mr. Lewis Loyd, then a dissenting minister, who preached at Dob Lane Chapel, Failsworth, about three miles from Manchester. He subsequently married Miss Jones, the daughter of a Manchester banker, and became a partner in the since well-known firm of Jones, Loyd, & Co., of London and Manchester. His son, Samuel Jones Loyd, was, a few years ago, elevated to the peerage by the title of Lord Overstone. When it is added that the mathematical tutor at the Manchester Academy, at the same period, was Dr. Dalton, afterwards so celebrated for his chemical discoveries, and especially for what has been termed the law of definite proportions, or the atomic theory-enough has been said to shew that this provincial academical institution of the last century was worthy of its high reputation.
Some years ago, the writer had several conversations on the subject of this academy, its principal, its tutors, and alumni, with a venerable survivor of the latter body, the late John Moore, Esq., F.L.S., in whose words is the following too brief account of the subject of this notice: 'Another student of the Manchester Academy, whose military talents advanced him to high rank in the service of his country, was the celebrated Marshal Mortier. He was the son of a merchant at Lyons, who, being desirous that his son should acquire an insight into the English methods of manufacturing and of doing business, sent him over to Manchester, and he was placed in the academy, but some time before I entered it. It has been erroneously stated that Mortier was a clerk in the house of Messrs Sylvester & Co., and Colonel Sylvester (of the volunteers) has been mentioned in connection with him. But it was the colonel's brother with whom Mortier was intimate, and there was no commercial connection whatever-nothing but personal friend-ship between them. It is supposed, however, that Mortier was, for a short time, in more than one Manchester house; not, however, as a clerk, but as a young gentleman seeking to obtain information as to their modes of doing business. Mortier did not remain long in Manchester, but returned to France when the war broke out. He joined the army, where his military talents led to his rapid rise, now a matter of history. It is to his honour that, learning, after he had risen to a high military rank and position, that his old friend James Sylvester was in embarrassed circumstances, he wrote to him; intimating that he could never forget his friendship while in Manchester, and (it is believed) sent him some very substantial present, to enable him to improve his fortunes.'
From another friend in Manchester, the writer derived the following interesting anecdote of Mortier: 'I knew a young man named Wild, in the volunteers-a very modest, shy lad; but he afterwards joined the army, rose by merit, and became lieutenant. He was with the British army in Spain, where he was appointed adjutant of the 29th Regiment, and was in that slaughtering affair -I think Salamanca-where Colonel White was shot; Wild being wounded at the same time. Colonel White became delirious from the effects of the wound, and as he was being carried to the rear, he began singing. The Duke of Wellington, passing at the time, stopped, and when he saw poor White's condition, tears came into the eyes of the man who has been called 'The Iron Duke.'
Subsequently, Wild being at an outpost, was taken prisoner with some of his men, by the French troops, and they were marched up the country. The officers were very civil to Wild, and, as it was their custom to march at the head of their men, in order to avoid the dust, they invited him to join them. After some days' march they reached head-quarters, and on reporting themselves, received the honour of an invitation to dine with Marshal Mortier, then commanding a garrison town. The invitation contained the words: 'Bring your English prisoner with you.' Poor Wild was in no plight to dine with a marshal of France; but his captors were most considerately kind. One lent him a shirt; another some other article of attire; and by their courteous aid he found himself at length presentable. The dinner was recherche, everything en grand regle; and at length, after coffee, the guests rose to retire. The marshal requested them to leave their prisoner with him; and when the French oflicers had withdrawn, Wild was astonished to hear himself addressed in plain English: 'Well, and where do you come from?' His reply was, 'From beyond Rochdale, in Lancashire.' 'Well; and how's Dick Crompton?' In this familiar style Mortier chatted with his astonished guest, naming Smithy-door and other well-remembered localities, and appearing much amused to learn that his old acquaintance, Dick Crompton, was then town-major of Lisbon.
After a pleasant conversation on Lancashire men and places, Wild was reconducted to his quarters, and remained some time in prison. He succeeded, with the aid of a kindly girl, in effecting his escape, and long rambled about the country, under great risks, till at length, by the aid of friendly contrabandistas, he made his way back to the head-quarters of the British army. After attaining a captaincy he was placed on half-pay; returned to Manchester; took the White Lion Inn, Long Millgate; and subsequently went to keep what were then called Tinker's Gardens (afterwards Vauxhall Gardens), Collyhurst. He married a very beautiful girl, who did not assist him in the inn; all went wrong; and poor Wild was taken as a debtor to Lancaster Castle. Hearing a bell ring in the evening, he asked what it was, and was told it was the time for the prisoners to be locked up. He fell down, and expired on the spot. Dick Crompton became Captain Crompton, and on my telling him about Mortier asking after him, he said, 'Oh, I knew Mortier very well in Manchester.''
JOHN WALTER, OF 'THE TIMES'
The perfection of literary success involves the conjunction of the man of letters with the man of business. Next to the author is the publisher, who carries the author's wares to market, and suggests to him what ought to be produced, and indicates what can be sold. A publisher is often a mere seller of books irrespective of their contents, but it must be obvious that for the due fulfilment of his functions, a taste for and delight in literature are essential. It was through a happy union of business tact with literary taste that the House of Murray was crowned with honour and fortune; and the same truth we find illustrated with equal brilliancy in the story of the House of Walter.
As there have been three John Murrays, there have been three John Walters-father, son, and grandson. John Walter, the father, was born in 1739, and was known as the ' logographic printer.' He held a patent for Logography, or the art of printing with entire words, and their roots and terminations, in addition to the use of types for single letters; and persevered with his scheme through much opposition and many difficulties. In joke it used to be said that his orders to the typefounder ran in this fashion: 'Send me a hundredweight of type made up in separate pounds, of heat, cold, wet, dry, murder, fire, dreadful, robbery, atrocious outrage, fearful calamity, alarming explosion, honourable gentleman, loud cheers, gracious majesty, interesting female,' and so on. He brought out, in 1785, The Daily Universal Register, the title of which he changed on the 1st of January 1788, to (world-famous name!) The Times. The heading of the early numbers was as follows: The Times, or Daily Universal Register, printed Logographically. Its price was 3d. For many years The Times existed in quiet equality with its daily brethren; now and then falling into trouble from actions at law through incautious writing. In 1790, Mr. Walter was fined £200 for a couple of libels on the Prince of Wales, and the Dukes of York and Clarence, but was released from Newgate at the end of sixteen months by the intercession of the Prince of Wales. John Walter I. died in 1812.
It was under John Walter II, born in 1784, that The Times rose to the place of the first newspaper in the world. Whilst yet a youth, in 1803, he became joint-proprietor and sole manager of The Times, and very soon his hand became manifest in the vigour and independence of its politics, and the freshness of its news. Free speech, however, had its penalties. The Times denounced the malpractices of Lord Melville, and the government revenged itself by withdrawing from the Walters the office of printers to the Customs, which had been held by the family for eighteen years. During the war between Napoleon and Austria in 1805, the desire for news was intense. To thwart The Times, the packets for Walter were stopped at the outports, whilst those for the ministerial journals were hurried to London. Complaint was made, and the reply was given that the editor might receive his foreign papers as a favour; meaning thereby that if the government was gracious to The Times, The Times should be gracious to the government; but Walter would accept no favours on such terms. Thrown on his own resources, he contrived, by means of superior activity and stratagem, to surpass the ministry in early intelligence of events.
The capitulation of Flushing, in August 1809, was announced by The Times two days before the news had arrived through any other channel. In the editorship of the paper he spared neither pains nor expense. The best writers were employed; and wherever a correspondent or a reporter displayed marked ability, he was carefully looked after, and his faculty utilised. Correspondents were posted in every great city in the world, and well-qualified reporters were dispatched to every scene of public interest. The debates in parliament, law proceedings, public meetings, and commercial affairs were all reported with a fulness and accuracy which filled readers with wonder. What a visionary could scarcely dare to ask, The Times gave. To other journals, imitation alone was left. They might be more consistent politicians, but in the staple of a newspaper, to be nearly as good as The Times was their highest praise.
The public were not slow to appreciate such service, and to reward The Times with a yearly increase of circulation. Next to Mr. Walter's desire to occupy its columns worthily, was his anxiety to print it off so rapidly as to be able to meet any demand. The hand-press was of course inadequate. As early as 1804, he assisted Thomas Martyn, an ingenious compositor, in devising a new machine, and only gave up when he had exhausted his available funds. Shortly after, Frederick Köenig, a German, came to England with some novel ideas about printing, which met the approval of two or three enterprising London tradesmen; and after several years of patient and expensive experiment, Köenig and his patrons were gratified by success. Mr. Walter gave an order for two of Köenig's machines, to be worked by a steam-engine. The Times' pressmen were enraged at the innovation, and Mr. Walter had actually to set up the new apparatus in adjoining premises, to be safe from their violence. On the 29th November 1814, a memorable day, The Times was printed for the first time by steam-power. The number impressed per hour was 1100. Improvement on improvement followed on Köenig's invention, until at this day 15,000 sheets of the Times are printed off in a single hour!
Mr. Walter acquired a noble fortune through his enterprise, and purchased a fine estate in Berkshire, for which county he was returned as member of parliament in 1832; he resigned his seat in 1837, in consequence of a difference with his constituents on the question of the new Poor Law. He died on the 28th July 1847, at his house in Printing House Square, Blackfriars, the scene of his labours and triumphs.
Mr Walter was succeeded by his son, John Walter III, born in 1818. He has sat in the House of Commons, as member for Nottingham, since 1847, and under his care The Times has flourished in undiminished vigour.