Born: Euripides, tragic dramatist, 480 B. C., Salamis; Cneius Pompeius, Magnus (Pompey the Great), 106 B. C.; Jacques Necker, financier to Louis XVI, 1734, Geneva; William Hutton, miscellaneous writer, 1723, Derby.
Died: St. Jerome of Aquileia, father of the church, 420; Emperor Rodolph I, 1291; Isabella of Bavaria, queen of Charles VI of France, 1435, Paris; Sir Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, poet, murdered, 1628; John Rein-hold Patkul, Livonian statesman, broken on the wheel, 1707; John Dollond, optician, 1761; George Whitefield, celebrated preacher, 1770, Newbury Port, New England; Thomas Percy, bishop of Dromore, author of Reliques of Ancient English, Poetry, 1811; Auguste Comte, philosophical writer, 1857, Paris.
Feast Day: St. Jerome, of Aquileia, doctor of the church, 420. St. Gregory, apostle of Armenia, and bishop, beginning of 4th century. St. Honorius, archbishop of Canterbury, confessor, 653.
Biography records scarcely a finer instance of industry and economy leading their possessor out of the most unpropitious circumstances to affluence and honour, than the story of William Hutton, the Birmingham stationer. His father was a wool-comber, and a dissipated character. William was born in Derby in 1723, and, at the age of seven, was set to earn his living in the Derby silk-mill, and, being too small for his business, he had to move about on a pair of high pattens. In his fifteenth year, he went to Nottingham, and served a second apprenticeship at the stocking frame, by which, on reaching manhood, he found he could not maintain himself. For amusement, he commenced to practise bookbinding, and, growing expert, resolved to make it his trade. He took a shop at Southwell, fourteen miles from Nottingham, at a rent of 20s. a year, and there resorted every Saturday, the market-day. He used to leave Nottingham at five in the morning, carrying a burden of three pounds' weight to thirty, opened shop at ten, dined on bread and cheese and half a pint of ale, took from 1s. to 6s., shut up at four, and trudged home in the dark, arriving at Notting-ham by nine. Southwell was a poor place, and in 1750 he determined to try Birmingham, and engaged half a shop in Bull Street at 1s. a week. In Birmingham, he found three booksellers, Aris, Warren, and Wollaston; but he 'judged from the number and intelligence of the inhabitants, that there might be room for a fourth, and hoped that, as an ant, he might escape the envy or notice of the three great men.'
Five shillings a week covered all his expenses-food, lodging, washing, and dress, and at the end of the first year he had saved £20. He then ventured to move into a house at £8 a year, and business began to grow rapidly upon him. By and by he relinquished bookselling for stationery, and opened a paper-warehouse, the first ever seen in Birmingham. He made a good marriage; he speculated in lands and houses, sometimes gaining and sometimes losing; he built a country-house and set up a carriage, and was duly recognised as a substantial citizen. He was elected an overseer of the poor and to other civic offices, and as a Commissioner of the Court of Requests he was preeminently useful.
The Court of Requests was a tribunal for the recovery of small debts, where equity was administered by the common-sense of an unpaid magistrate, and at the trifling cost of a summons. Hutton did his duty as judge with extraordinary assiduity. 'The Court of Requests,' he writes, 'soon became my favourite amusement. I paid a constant attendance, which engrossed nearly two days a week of my time. That my government was not arbitrary will appear. from two facts: I never had a quarrel with a suitor, nor the least difference with a brother-commissioner. I attended the Court nineteen years. During that time more than a hundred thousand causes passed through my hands! a number possibly beyond what ever passed the decision of any other man. I have had 250 in one day.' Hutton published a collection of cases, with his decisions, in the Court of Requests, and they afford vivid evidence of high judicial faculty, and of a wide and shrewd knowledge of human nature.
In 1781, Hutton made his appearance as an author, in the publication of a History of Birmingham. 'I took up the pen,' he says, 'and that with fear and trembling, at the advanced age of fifty-six, a period at which most authors lay it down.' He spared no pains to make his book a good one: Pleased as a fond parent with this History, as my first literary offspring, I may be said, while in manuscript, to have had the whole by heart. Had a line been quoted, I could have followed it up through the chapter. Frequently, while awake in the night, I have repeated it in silence for two or three hours together without adding or missing a word.' His success with Birmingham tempted him on to other works, such as a History of Derby, The Roman Wall, The Battle of Bosworth Field, and some poetry. 'Having commenced,' he writes, 'I drove the quill thirty years, in which time I published fourteen books.'
Hutton suffered a severe affliction in 1791. The Church-and-King mob, who sacked and burned Priestley's house and chapel, served Hutton in the same style. His warehouse, his stock-in-trade, and country-house at Bennett's Hill, were all destroyed. Hutton was not, like Priestley, a keen politician; his words were always well considered and pacific; but he was a dissenter, he frequented the Unitarian meeting-house, and among the rabble there were probably not a few who bore him no good-will for his judgments in the Court of Requests. The sufferers from the riot had great difficulty in recovering their losses from the Hundred. Hutton laid his claim for £6736, and was awarded only £5390; and others fared even worse. This harsh usage somewhat soured his temper. He confesses:
The cruel treatment I had met with totally altered my sentiments of man. I had considered him as designed to assist and comfort his species; to reduce the rough propensities of his nature, and to endeavour after perfection, though he could not reach it; but the experience convinced me that the nature of the human species, like that of the brute creation, is to destroy each other. I therefore determined to withdraw from all public business, to spend the small remainder of existence with my little family, and amuse myself with the book and the pen.
Hutton's nature was too vigorous to remain long under such morbid impressions, and though he continued to be suspected and distrusted as a Jacobin, neither his activity nor his enjoyment of life was seriously affected. He resigned his business as stationer to his son, but he could find little satisfaction away from the warehouse, and every morning, for many years, he walked from Bennett's Hill to town, and spent the day with the same assiduity as when making his fortune. He was a great pedestrian, and his feats, when an old man, were the surprise and alarm of his friends. In his seventy-seventh year, on the 4th July 1800, he set out on foot from Birmingham to make a survey of the Roman Wall. His daughter accompanied him as far as Penrith, riding on a pillion behind a servant, meeting her father in the evening at some appointed inn. He marched from the Solway along the line of the wall to Wallsend, and then back again from Newcastle to Carlisle:
'having,' he says, 'crossed the kingdom twice in one week and six hours, melted with a July sun, and without a drop of rain. By easy marches I arrived at Birmingham, 7th August, after a loss on my part of perhaps one stone weight by perspiration, a lapse of thirty-five days, and a walk of 601 miles.' His daughter describes his manner of walking as ' a steady saunter, by which he got over the ground at the rate of full two miles and a half in an hour. The pace he went did not even fatigue his shoes. He walked the whole 600 miles in one pair, and scarcely made a hole in his stockings.'
William Hutton closed his useful and, on the whole, happy life on the 20th September 1815, at the advanced age of ninety-two. He left an autobiography, giving minute particulars of his habits and career, and in many respects it is not unworthy of a place alongside Franklin's.
REV. GEORGE WHITEFIELD
Whitefield was the most effective pulpit orator of last century, and perhaps of any century. He was thoroughly in earnest, and shrank from none of the toils and privations incident to what he thought his path of duty. His voice excelled both in melody and compass. e had a good figure and a fine countenance, and his gestures were always appropriate and full of grace. Franklin, who heard him frequently, learned to distingiush easily between his sermons newly composed, and those which he had often preached in the course of his travels. 'His delivery of the latter,' he says, 'was so improved by frequent repetition, that every accent, every emphasis, every modulation of the voice was so perfectly well turned and well placed, that, without being interested in the subject, one could not help being well pleased with the discourse; a pleasure of much the same kind which one receives from an excellent piece of music.'
Whitefield was born in 1714, at the Bell Inn, in the city of Gloucester. He gave his boyhood a very bad character after the common practice of eminent pietists. His mother was early left a widow, and as soon as George was able, he assisted her in the public-house, and in the end 'put on his blue apron and his snuffers [scoggers or sleeves], washed mops, cleaned rooms, and became a professed and common drawer.
This drudgery was a condition of necessity, not of choice. He had been at a grammar-school, his fine voice had been so praised that he had been tempted to try the stage, and his religious feelings impelled him to the service of the church. Hearing how cheaply a young man might live at Oxford as a servitor, he entered the university at the age of eighteen in that capacity. The students called Methodists, because they lived by rule and method, were then exciting great attention, and Whitefield's heart yearned towards them, and after a while he passed into their fellow-ship, and rivalled the most ardent in devotion and austerity.
'God only knows,' he writes, 'how many nights I have lain upon my bed groaning under what I felt. Whole days and weeks have I spent in lying prostrate on the ground in silent or vocal prayer.'
He chose the worst food, and affected mean apparel; he made himself remarkable by leaving off powder in his hair, when every one else was powdered, because he thought it unbecoming a penitent; and he wore woollen gloves, a patched gown, and dirty shoes, as visible signs of humility. He would kneel under the trees in Christ's Church, walk in silent prayer, shivering the while with cold, till the great bell summoned him to his college for the night. He kept Lent so strictly that, except on Saturdays and Sundays, his only food was coarse bread and sage-tea, without sugar. The end was, that before the termination of the forty days, he had scarcely strength enough left to creep up stairs, and was under a physician for many weeks.
He was ordained deacon in 1736, and after several engagements as curate, sailed for Georgia at the invitation of Wesley. At the end of a year he returned to England, to solicit subscriptions for an orphan-house he had established in Savannah, and which continued to be one of the chief cares of his life. His eloquence was in nothing more apparent than in the ease with which he drew money from the unwilling and indifferent. From a London audience he once took a thousand pounds, then considered a prodigious subscription. Prudence in the person of Franklin could not resist his persuasive appeals. Franklin disapproved of the orphan-house at Savannah, thinking Philadelphia the proper place for its erection, and he says:
I silently resolved he should get nothing from me. I had in my pocket a handful of copper money, three or four silver dollars, and five pistoles in gold. As he proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give the copper; another stroke of his oratory made me ashamed of that, and determined me to give the silver; and he finished so admirably, that I emptied my pocket wholly into the collector's dish, gold and all.
Whitefield's life was spent as a travelling-preacher. He generally made a yearly round through England and Scotland, and went several times to Ireland. He repeatedly visited America, and traversed the whole extent of the British possessions there. Wherever he appeared, crowds flocked to listen to him. In London, he sometimes preached early in the morning, and in the dark and cold of winter the streets near the chapel used to be thronged with eager listeners bearing lanterns in their hands. When he took his departure from a place, he was usually followed by a troop of weeping disciples. In Bristol, especially, the fervour he awakened was extraordinary. There, the churches being closed against him, he commenced preaching in the fields to the savage colliers of Kingswood.
His first open-air sermon was preached on the afternoon of Saturday, 17th February 1739, upon a mount, in a place called Rose Green, to an audience of about two hundred. He repeated the experiment, and enormous congregations grew around him. The deep silence of his rude auditors was the first proof that he had impressed them, and soon he saw white gutters made by the tears which plentifully fell down their black cheeks-black as they came out of their coal-pits. 'The open firmament above me,' says he, 'the prospect of the adjacent fields, with the sight of thousands and thousands, some in coaches, some on horseback, and some in the trees, and at times all affected and drenched in tears together; to which sometimes was added the solemnity of the approaching evening, was almost too much. for, and quite overcame me.'
The triumphs of many popular preachers have been confined to the vulgar, but the cultivated, and even the sceptical, confessed Whitefield's power. Hume, Chesterfield, and Bolingbroke heard him with surprise and admiration; and the Countess of Huntingdon, who made him her chaplain, introduced him to the highest circles of rank and fashion. He cast his lot among the Methodists, but his aim was to preach the gospel, and not to build up a sect. With Wesley he differed on the question of freewill-Wesley being an Arminian, and White-field a Calvinist; but Whitefield, though steadfast in his opinions, was not disposed to waste his energy in wrangling with his able coadjutor. Whitefield by eminence was a preacher; Wesley was more than a preacher-he was a first-rate administrator, and the great religious organization which bears his name is the attestation of his peculiar genius.
Like Wesley, Whitefield entertained some odd notions about marriage, which, as little in the one case as the other, contributed to happiness. While he was in America in the spring of 1740, he applied to two of his friends, a Mr. D. and Mrs. D., to ask if they would give him their daughter to wife, at the same time telling them, that they need not be afraid of sending him a refusal, 'for I bless God,' said he, 'if I know anything of my own heart, I am free from that foolish passion which the world calls love. I write, only because I believe it is the will of God, that I should alter my state; but your denial will fully convince me that your daughter is not the person appointed by God for me. But I have sometimes thought Miss E. would be my helpmate, for she has often been impressed upon my heart.' The proposal came to nothing, and the following year he was married in England to Mrs. James of following year a widow, who was between thirty and forty, and, by his own account, neither rich nor beautiful, but having once been gay, was now ' a despised follower of the Lamb.' They had one child, who died in infancy, and their union was not full of pleasantness. They did not live happily together, and 'her death in 1768 set his mind much at rest.'
Whitefield died in America, at Newbury Port, near Boston, on Sunday morning, 30th September 1770, at the age of fifty-six.
A CONTEST FOR PRECEDENCE
Sir John Finett, master of ceremonies to the two first monarchs of the Stuart dynasty that sat on the throne of England, wrote a curious work, entitled Choice Observations touching the Reception and Precedence of Foreign Ambassadors. This book, though to us, at the present day, merely an amusing account of court squabbles and pretensions to precedence, was a very important treatise in the ideas of its author; who, if he had lived a little earlier, might have passed as the prototype of Polonius. One great difficulty, never settled in Finett's life-time, was the placing of the French and Spanish ambassadors, each claiming precedence of the other.
James I, on some public festivals, solved the problem by inviting neither of them; but this could not always be done, and so, for many years, the principal courts of Europe were disturbed by unseemly broils between the representatives of France and Spain. At last, the long struggle came to a crisis, formal complaints and courtly protocols being supplemented by swords and pistols; and the battle, which settled the much-disputed point, was fought in the streets of London.
In September 1661, an ambassador from Sweden was expected to arrive at the court of Whitehall. The etiquette and custom then used on the arrival of an ambassador, was for the king's barge to meet him at Gravesend, and convey him up the river to Tower-wharf. He was then received in the king's carriage, his own carriage following next in order, and after that the carriages of the other ambassadors, according to their national precedence. On this occasion, the Marquis d'Estrade, the French ambassador, determined that his carriage should follow next to the Swede's, and the Baron de Batteville, the Spanish ambassador, having made an exactly similar determination, preparations were made for a contest. And, as the populace of London might readily be expected to take part in the fray, the ambassadors applied to King Charles, who, very complaisantly, issued a proclamation, forbidding any Englishman, under penalty of death, from interfering with the quarrel; the ambassadors promising, on their parts, that firearms should not be used.
The 30th of September, the day appointed for the Swedish envoy's reception, having arrived, Tower-hill was crowded with an immense number of the lower classes, anxious to witness the fight; while a strong body of horse and foot guards were posted in the same locality, to prevent any action on the part of the spectators. The hour appointed for the ambassador to land was three o'clock in the afternoon; but the Spanish carriage, guarded by fifty men, armed with swords, was on the wharf five hours earlier, thus obtaining an advantageous position. The French carriage, arriving a little later than its Spanish rival, did not acquire so good a position; it was better guarded, however, being accompanied by one hundred men on foot, and fifty on horseback, most of the latter, in defiance of the arrangement made with the king, being armed with pistols and carabines. All was quiet, till the Swedish ambassador, having landed and been received in the king's carriage, was driven off, his own carriage following. A desperate struggle then commenced.
The Spaniards forming across the road to bar the passage of the French, the latter fired a volley, and charged their opponents, sword in hand, yet, in spite of their superior numbers, were bravely repulsed by the cool courage of the Spaniards. Three horses, the postilion, and coachman of the French carriage having been killed, the ambassador's son, who alone occupied it, alighted, and though then severely wounded, drew his sword, stimulating his followers to fresh exertions, but in vain; the Spanish carriage had by this time driven off, next in order to that of the Swede, and the point of precedency, so stoutly contended for, was won and lost. The fight, however, did not cease. For so far, it had been confined to Tower-wharf; now it was extended to Tower-hill. There an outlying detachment of the French were posted, who, rushing on the Spanish carriage, attempted to cut the traces; but were foiled through iron chains, covered with leather, having been prudently provided, instead of the usual traces, for this particular occasion. The Spaniards soon beat this party off, and proceeded on their way without further molestation. Half an hour afterwards, the crest-fallen French, having repaired damages, followed, with only two horses in their carriage.
As each party carried off its own killed and wounded, the amount of casualties could not be accurately ascertained. Rugge, in his curious manuscript, estimates the number of killed at twelve, the wounded at forty. Among the spectators, one Englishman, a poor plasterer, was killed by a shot through the head, and several others were wounded. The bystanders would willingly have taken an active part against the French, if they had not been prevented, by the proclamation and presence of the troops. Pepys did not see the fight, but, after it was over, being, as he says, 'in all things curious,' he 'ran through all the dirt, and the streets full of people, and saw the Spanish coach go by, with fifty drawn swords to guard it, and our soldiers a shouting for joy, strange to see how all the city did rejoice, and indeed we do all naturally love the Spaniards, and hate the French.' He then went to the French embassy to see how they bore their defeat, and tells us they all 'looked like dead men, and not a word among them but shake their heads.'
When tidings of the affray reached Paris, Louis XIV became extremely indignant, publicly declaring that he would make war upon Spain, if his right of precedence were not conceded in every court of Europe. He at once dismissed the Spanish ambassador from France, and recalled his own ambassador from Madrid. After considerable diplomacy, Louis gained all that he demanded. In the March of the following year, the Marquis of Fuentes was sent from Spain to Paris, in the character of ambassador extraordinary, to formally renounce the long contested point of precedency. At a grand reception, held at Versailles, Fuentes, in the presence of the Pope's Nuncio, and twenty-six envoys from the various courts of Europe, declared that his master, the king of Spain, had given orders to all his ambassadors to abstain from any kind of rivalry with those of France. Louis, then addressing the foreign ministers, desired them to communicate this declaration to their respective courts. On which the Dutch envoy drily remarked, that he had heard of embassies tendering obedience to the pope, but he had never before known of such from one crowned head to another.
Louis caused a medal to be struck in commemoration of the important event. One side bears the monarch's head, on the other, Louis is represented standing on the dais of his throne, before him is Fuentes, in the humble attitude of one who apologises, the Nuncio and other ambassadors standing round. The motto is 'Its PRAECEDENDI ASSERTUM, CONFITENTE HISPANORUM ORATORE,' which may be translated-The right of precedence confirmed by the avowal of Spain.
THE REVOLUTION OF 1399
The 30th of September 1399, marks an epoch of some moment in English history-the transference of the crown from the House of Plantagenet to that of Lancaster. On the previous day, a deputation from the Lords and Commons had waited on King Richard II, then a prisoner in the Tower, and had obtained from him a formal renunciation of the throne, in favour of his cousin, Henry of Bolingbroke, who a few weeks before had landed from exile at Ravenspur, in Yorkshire, and in an astonishingly short time made himself master of the kingdom.
At the time of Henry's landing, Richard was absent on an expedition to Ireland, and for some time remained in ignorance of what was transpiring at home. On receiving intelligence of Henry's alarming progress, he despatched at once the Earl of Salisbury with an army, but this nobleman after disembarking at Conway, soon found himself deserted by all his forces; and Richard, on landing a few days afterwards at Milford Haven, was soon placed in a similar predicament. Deserted on all hands, the unfortunate monarch was at last compelled to surrender himself to the Earl of Northumberland, and meet at the castle of Flint his cousin Henry. He was then conducted as a prisoner to Chester, from which he was afterwards transferred to the Tower; and then, on 29th September, he received the deputation from parliament already mentioned.
The following day, his renunciation of the crown was formally ratified, and himself formally deposed. Whilst this procedure was going on, Henry of Bolingbroke, Duke of Hereford, remained seated in his usual place near the throne, which was empty, and covered with cloth of gold. As soon as eight commissioners had proclaimed the sentence of deposition, he rose, approached the throne, and having solemnly crossed himself, said:
In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I, Henry of Lancaster, challenge this realm of England, because I am descended by right line of blood from the good lord King Henry III, and through that right, that God of his grace had sent me, with help of my kin and of my friends, to recover it; the which realm was in point to be undone for default of government and undoing of the good laws.
He then knelt for a few minutes in apparent devotion on the steps of the throne on which he subsequently took his seat, being conducted thither by the archbishops of Canterbury and York.
Though a manifest usurpation, the seizure of the crown by Henry IV seems to have been fully in accordance with the will of the English nation, which was disgusted with the corrupt and imbecile administration of Richard II. The vigorous government of Henry and his son, the chivalrous Henry V, may almost appear a vindication of their wisdom in this change of dynasty. But the terrible wars of the Roses, and the miserable end of Bolingbroke's unhappy grandson, Henry VI, amply avenged the wrongs of the Plantagenet family. However we may reverence the ability of Henry IV, and excuse his usurpation of the crown, a dark cloud must ever rest on his memory in connection with the unfortunate Richard II, who was mysteriously murdered by Henry's orders in Pontefract Castle, a short time after his deposition.