Born: William III, king of England, 1650, Hague; James Montgomery, poet, 1771, Irvine, Ayrshire.
Died: John Benbow, British admiral, 1702, Jamaica; Charles Churchill, satirical poet, 1765, Boulogne-sur-Mer; Josiah Tucker, D.D, dean of Gloucester, political economist, 1799; Paul Delaroche, celebrated painter, 1856, Paris.
Feast Day: Saints Vitalis and Agricola, martyrs, about 304. St. Joannicius, abbot, 845. St. Clarus, martyr, 894. St. Brinstan, bishop of Winchester, 934. St. Emeric, Hungarian prince, 11th century. St. Charles Borromeo, cardinal, archbishop of Milan, and confessor, 1584.
On this day was honoured St. Emeric, the pious son of the pious St. Stephen, king of Hungary in the eleventh century. Emeric was a very promising man, both as a prince and an apostle of Christianity; and he might have attained greater eminence if he had not been carried off by death in the lifetime of his father. As it is, this somewhat obscure Hungarian saint has been a person of some consequence in the world, for from his name has come that of one of the great divisions of the earth. Through his celebrity, his name became a popular one: it was conferred, in the fifteenth century, in the Italian form of Amerigo, upon an Italian surnamed Vespucci. Vespucci did the world some service in extending the knowledge of the continent which Columbus had discovered; and by a strange current of circumstances, this continent came to be recognised by the name America, in honour of Signor Vespucci. When St. Stephen was choosing a name for his first-born son, how little could he have imagined that the one he chose was to be the parent of the noted word America!
In an article on surnames derived from. Christian names, which appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine for July 1772, Amory and Emery are set down as derived from Emeric.
Benbow occupies a place in the naval literature of England which is likely to be permanent. Not because he was a better admiral than many who have lived in later days, but because he had much of that personal daring which is so dear to popular notions. A coarse rough man he was, anything but a gentleman in external demeanour; and, as we shall see, this roughness had something to do with the disaster which cost him his life. Sea story-tellers and sea song-writers, however, are never frightened by such characteristics. Benbow's last fight figures in the Deeds of Naval Daring. Dibdin, in his song of Jervis for Ever, begins
You've heard, I s'pose, the people talk
Of Benbow and Boscawen,
Of Anson, Pococke, Vernon, Hawke,
And many more then going.
The immediate object of the song is to praise Jervis, whose great victory in Dibdin's day earned for him the earldom of St. Vincent; but the name of Benbow occurs in this and many other sea-songs as that of an unquestioned hero of old times. Born in 1650, he entered the naval service so early that almost his whole life was spent on ship-board; and he was known generally as a rough and ready officer to whom nothing came amiss. On one occasion, when a naval service of some peril was suggested for an aristocratic officer, whose friends expressed apprehension of the result, the king (William III) laughingly replied: 'Send for honest Benbow.' The enterprise which is especially associated with Benbow's name was the following.
During the war with France in 1702, Admiral Ducasse, with a French squadron of five large ships, threatened one of our West India Islands. Benbow sailed after him with seven ships, and overtook him on the 19th of August. On giving the signal for his ships to engage, there was soon evidence that something was wrong; the ships held back, and Benbow was unable to commence his fight with the enemy. It afterwards appeared that Benbow's offensive manners had led to a rupture between him and most of his captains; and that those officers took the indefensible course of shewing their hostility just when the honour of the country demanded their prompt obedience to orders. Next morning the admiral again put forth the signal to advance; but five out of the seven ships were three or four miles astern of him, as if the captains had agreed that they could not assist him. Vexed and irritated, but undaunted as usual, Benbow went into action, two ships against five, and maintained the contest during the whole day. His one coadjutor, the Ruby, becoming disabled, he sent that ship to Jamaica to refit.
Again he signalled to the five captains, and received some equivocal excuse that the enemy were too strong, and that he had better not attack them. Left still more to his own resources, he renewed the fight on the 21st with one ship, the Breda, against five. Three different times did Benbow in person board the French admiral's ship, and three times was he driven back. He received a severe wound in the face, another in the arm, and his right leg was shattered by a chain-shot. Still the heroic man would not give in. He caused his cot to be brought up upon deck; and there he lay, giving orders while his shattered limbs were bleeding. When one of his lieutenants expressed regret at the leg being broken, Benbow replied:
I am sorry for it too; but I had rather have lost them both than have seen the dishonour brought upon the English nation. But-do you hear?-if another shot should take me off, behave like brave men, and fight it out.
At this time, all the other English ships being inactive and at a distance, most of the French ships concentrated their fire on the Breda; and Benbow was only just able to extricate her, and sail to Jamaica. Admiral Ducasse knew very well that his squadron had been saved through the disgraceful conduct of Benbow's captains, and he was too true a sailor to regard it in any but the proper light. He sent the following letter to Benbow:
Sir - I had little hope on Monday last but to have supped in your cabin; but it pleased God to order it otherwise, and I am thankful for it. As for those cowardly captains who deserted you, hang them up; for, by God, they deserve it! Yours, &c., DUCASSE.
When Benbow reached Jamaica, he ordered the captains into arrest, and caused a court-martial to be held on them, under the presidency of Rear-Admiral Whetstone. Captain Hudson, of the Pendennis, died before the trial; Captains Kirby and Wade were convicted and shot; Captain Constable was cashiered and imprisoned. Two others had signed a paper engaging not to fight under the admiral; but there were extenuating circumstances which led to their acquittal. One of these two was Captain Walton of the Ruby; he had signed the paper when drunk (naval captains were often drunk in those days); but he repented when sober, and rendered good service to the admiral. He was the officer who, sixteen years afterwards, wrote a despatch that is regarded as the shortest and most fitting in which a naval victory was ever announced:
CANTERBURY, OFF SYRACUSM,
16th August 1718.
SIR-We have taken and destroyed all the Spanish ships and vessels that were upon the coast; the number as per margin. Yours, &c.,
To Sir George Byng, Commander-in-chief.'
Poor Benbow sank under his mortification. The evidence elicited at the court-martial was sufficient to shew that he was not to blame for the escape of the French squadron; but the rough sailor could not bear it; the disgrace to the nation fretted him, and increased the malignancy of his wounds; he dragged on a few weeks, and died on November 4. No monument, we believe, records the, fame of 'Old Benbow;' his deeds are left to the writers of naval song and story.
A short life, a busy, and a notorious, was Churchill's. In a day he found himself famous; for less than four years, from 1761 to 1764, he was one of the most prominent figures in London, and then he died.
The son of a clergyman, he was born in Westminster in 1731, and was destined by his father for his own profession. Educated at Westminster school, he had for companions Warren Hastings; two poets, William Cowper and Robert Lloyd; and two dramatists, George Colman and Richard Cumberland. Ere Churchill was out of his boyhood he marred his life: at the age of seventeen, he married a girl within the rules of the Fleet. For the church he had no inclination, but in addition to pleasing his father, it was now necessary for him to earn a living for himself and family. As soon, therefore, as he was of canonical age, he was ordained and entered on a country curacy; and, as he says, 'prayed and starved on forty pounds a year.'
In 1758, his father died, and out of respect for his memory, his parishioners elected his son to succeed him. At the age of twenty-seven, Churchill returned to London, and was installed as curate and lecturer of St. John the Evangelist, Westminster. There he had a better income, but in his duties he had no joy or even satisfaction. He wrote, and wrote truly:
I kept those sheep,
Which, for my curse, I was ordain'd to keep,
Ordaiu'd, alas! to keep through need, not choice...
Whilst sacred dulness ever in my view,
Sleep at my bidding crept from pew to pew.
In London, Churchill met his school-fellow Robert Lloyd, who was serving as usher in Westminster school. Lloyd was a wild fellow, and was as sick of the drudgery of his calling as was Churchill of his. To literary tastes, they both united a passion for conviviality, and together committed many excesses. Mrs. Churchill, it is said, was as imprudent as her husband. Their free style of life soon involved them in pecuniary difficulties, and Churchill had to settle with his creditors for 5.s. in the pound. About the same time, Lloyd threw up his situation as usher, and resolved to seek his living in authorship, and Churchill determined to follow his example.
He first tried his fortune with two poems, with which no bookseller would have anything to do, but he was not to be beaten. For two months he closely attended the theatres, and made the leading actors the theme of a critical and satirical poem, entitled The Rosciad. No bookseller would buy it, even for five guineas; but not to be baffled this time, Churchill printed it at his own expense. In March 1761, the Rosciad appeared anonymously as a shilling pamphlet, and a few days sufficed to prove that ' a hit' had been made. Who was the author, became the problem of the town. The poor players ran about like so many stricken deer. The reviewers were busy with guesses as to the authorship, and, in self-defence, Colman disowned it, and Lloyd disowned it.
Churchill soon put an end to the mystery. In an advertisement, he announced himself as the satirist, and promised a second poem, An Apology Addressed to the Critical Reviewers. The Apology struck as great terror among the authors as the Rosciad among the actors. On every side he was assailed in Churchilliads, Anti-Rosciads, and such like. In a few months, it is asserted, he cleared a thousand pounds. The money he used well. To his wife, from whom he was now separated, he made a handsome allowance; every man from whom he had borrowed money he repaid with interest; and his creditors, to their glad surprise, received the remaining fifteen shillings in the pound.
His habits now became openly licentious. He doffed the clerical costume, and walked abroad in a blue coat with metal buttons, a gold-laced waistcoat, a gold-laced hat and ruffles. He seduced a young woman, and lived with her as his wife. His parishioners remonstrated, and he resigned his curacy. He published Night, a poem, as an apology for his nocturnal orgies, maintaining, as if any excuse could be entertained for his own misdemeanours, that open licentiousness was better than hypocrisy. Night was followed by The Ghost, a satire on the Cock-Lane spirit-rappings, in which Dr. Johnson, who had called Churchill a shallow fellow, was ridiculed as Pomposo.
Satire is a dangerous business. Little Pope had a tall Irishman to attend him when he published the Dunciad, but Churchill was well able to take care of himself. Of himself he wrote:
Broad were his shoulders, Vast were his bones, his muscles twisted strong, His face was short, but broader than 'twas long ... . His arms were two twin oaks, his legs so stout, That they might bear a mansion-house about, Nor were they, look but at his body there, Design'd by fate a much less weight to bear.
He stalked about the streets with a bludgeon, and parties who had met to devise retaliation, and who were observed talking loud against the ' atirical Parson' in the Bedford Coffee-house, quietly dispersed when a brawny figure appeared, and Churchill, drawing off his gloves with a particularly slow composure, called for a dish of coffee and the Rosciad.
John Wilkes was in those days at the outset of his career, when it was hard to tell whether he was a patriot or a knave. He sought Churchill's acquaintance, and they became fast friends. Lord Bute was ruler of England under the young king, George III, and a popular cry arose that the revenue had become the prey of Scotchmen. Under the inspiration of Wilkes, Churchill commenced a satire on Scotland, and as he advanced with the work, Wilkes praised it exultingly. 'It is personal, it is poetical, it is political,' cried the delighted demagogue. 'It must succeed!'
In January 1763, the Prophecy of Famine appeared. It conveyed a thoroughly Cockney idea of Scotland, but in spite, or perhaps because, of its extravagance, it was intensely popular, and spread dismay among the ranks of Scottish place-hunters. It was a new seal of Churchill's power, and his exuberant delight took an odd form. 'I remember well,' says Dr. Kippis, 'that Churchill dressed his younger son in a Scottish plaid, like a little Highlander, and carried him everywhere in that garb. The boy being asked by a gentleman with whom I was in company, why he was clothed in such a manner? answered with great vivacity: 'Sir, my father hates the Scotch, and does it to plague them!''
Churchill was associated with Wilkes in the publication of the North Briton, and when, in consequence of No. 45 charging the king with falsehood, a general warrant was issued for the apprehension of its authors, printers, and publishers, Churchill was included. He chanced to call on Wilkes whilst he was debating with the officers who had come to arrest him. With much presence of mind, Wilkes addressed him as Mr. Thomson, saying:
Good-morrow, Mr. Thomson. How does Mrs. Thomson do today? Does she dine in the country?
Churchill was sharp enough to take the hint. He thanked Wilkes, said Mrs. Thomson then waited for him, that he had only come to ask how Mr. Wilkes was, and took his leave. He hurried home, secured his papers, and retired to the country, whither no attempt was made to follow him.
To Hogarth's pencil, Churchill owes somewhat of his fame. Hogarth had published a caricature of Wilkes with his squint, by which the demagogue is better known to posterity than by all the busts and pictures by which his admirers sought to glorify his name. Churchill thereon addressed An Epistle to William Hogarth, which appeared in July 1763, and which Garrick described as 'the most bloody performance of my time.' Ere the month was out, Hogarth took his revenge in a shilling print, entitled 'The Bruiser, C. Churchill (once the Rev.), in the character of a Russian Hercules, regaling himself after having killed the monster Caricatura, that so sorely galled his virtuous friend, the heaven-born Wilkes.'
All who have turned over Hogarth, will remember the bear in torn clerical bands, and with paws in ruffles, holding a pot of porter and a knotted club with Eyes and North triton graven over it, and a pub dog treating his poems with gross indignity.
Whatever Churchill wrote, sold, and sold for good prices, and he kept publishing pamphlet after pamphlet as occasion moved him. He wrote hastily, and not a little of his work was common-place and mean, but ever and anon occurred a line or a passage of extraordinary vigour and felicity; and for these he will probably be read as long as English literature endures.
A sudden desire to see Wilkes induced Churchill to set off for Boulogne in October 1764. On the 29th of that month he was seized there with fever. Feeling the hand of death was on him, he sat up in bed and dictated a brief will, leaving to his wife an annuity of £60, and another of £50 to the girl he had seduced, and providing for his two boys. On the 4th of November he died. His body was brought over to Dover, where in the Church of St. Martin it lies buried. The news of his death reached Robert Lloyd as he was sitting down to dinner. He sickened, and thrust away his plate untouched. ' I shall follow poor Charles,' was all he said, as he went to the bed from which he never rose again. Churchill's favourite sister, Patty, to whom Lloyd was betrothed, sank next under the double blow, and in a few weeks joined her brother and lover. Thus tragically ended Churchill's brief and boisterous career.
MARRIAGE OF WILLIAM AND MARY
Not the least important of the collateral causes, which led to the downfall of the Stuart dynasty in these kingdoms, was the marriage of William Prince of Orange to his fair cousin, the Princess Mary of York, on the 4th of November 1677. William arrived in England on the 19th of October previous, to seek the hand of the princess, and conclude a treaty with England, by which the war between France and Holland could be terminated, and peace restored to Europe. Charles II was in favour of the marriage; his brother James, the bride's father, was not: both, however, were equally anxious to commit the prince to a treaty before the nuptials were solemnised. But the wise hero of Nassau would not speak of politics till he saw the princess, nor enter into any engagement until the marriage was finally settled.
Such being his determination, little time was wasted in diplomacy. Whatever dark forebodings the Duke of York might have entertained, were overruled by the king; and the royal pair were married in St. James's Palace, then the residence of the duke, at nine o'clock on a quiet Sunday evening; a passage leading from the bedroom of the princess being fitted up as a temporary chapel for the occasion. The royal etiquette of the day permitted few spectators; those present were the king and queen, the Duke of York and his young wife Mary of Modena, with their pages and personal attendants.
Compton, bishop of London, performed the ceremony, the king giving away the bride. On the question being asked, 'Who giveth this woman?' Charles exclaimed, 'I do;' a reply not to be found in the matrimonial service of the church. At the words, 'With all my worldly goods I thee endow,' William, in accordance with the Dutch custom, placed a handful of gold coin on the prayer-book, at which the king cried out to the bride: 'Pick it up-pick it up! it is all clear gain!'
Immediately after the ceremony, the royal party received the congratulations of the chief officers of state and foreign ambassadors; and at eleven o'clock the bride and bridegroom retired to rest. All the absurd and indelicate wedding-customs of the olden time were observed on this occasion: the cake was eaten, the bride-posset drunk, the stocking thrown, and the curtain drawn, the last by the king himself, who, as he did it, shouted, 'St George for England!' Indeed, the marriage of the Third George with Queen Charlotte, was the first royal wedding in this country at which those customs, 'more honoured in the breach than in the observance,' were finally dispensed with.
This 'Protestant Alliance,' as it was termed, diffusing a general satisfaction over the land, was celebrated with great rejoicing. At Edinburgh, the Duke of Lauderdale announced the welcome intelligence from the Cross, which was hung with tapestry, and decorated with arbours formed of many hundreds of oranges. Then the duke, several of the nobility, the lord provost and civic magistrates, drank the healths of the royal family; the conduits ran with wine, and sweetmeats were thrown among the crowd; while the guns of the castle thundered in unison with the huzzas of the populace.
William was anxious to return to Holland immediately after his marriage, the more so because small-pox had broken out in St. James's Palace, and his wife's beloved sister, the Princess Anne, was lying dangerously ill of it. But the queen's birth-day falling on the 15th of November, he was induced to wait for the festivities of that occasion, intended to be celebrated with extra pomp on account of the wedding. On the evening of that day, the following Epithalamium, composed by Waller, was sung by the royal musicians before the assembled company at Whitehall.
As once the lion honey gave,
Out of the strong such sweetness came
A royal hero, no less brave,
Produced this sweet, this lovely dame.
To her, the prince that did oppose
Such mighty armies in the field,
And Holland from prevailing foes
Could so well free himself, does yield.
Not Belgia's fleet (his high command),
Which triumphs where the sun does rise;
Not all the force he leads by land,
Could guard him from her conqu'ring eyes.
Orange with youth experience has;
In action young, in council old:
Orange is what Augustus was
Brave, wary, provident, and bold.
On that fair tree, which bears his name,
Blossoms and fruit at once are found;
In him we all admire the same,
His flowery youth with wisdom crowned.
An easterly wind, much against his inclination, detained William in London four days longer. On the morning of the 19th November, the wind veering to the westward, immediate advantage was taken of the change. At the last moment, previous to her departure, the Princess of Orange took leave of Queen Catherine. Seeing her niece in tears, the queen, by way of consolation, said: 'When I came hither from Portugal, I had not even seen King Charles.' To which the princess replied: 'Remember, however, you came to England, but I am going out of it.'
The king, Duke of York, and a large party, taking boats at Whitehall, accompanied the newly-married couple to Erith, where they all dined; then travelling by land to Gravesend, the prince and princess went on board the yacht provided to convey them to Holland. Nat Lee, the more than half-crazy dramatist, saw the embarkation, which he thus describes:
I saw them launch; the prince the princess bore, While the sad court stood crowding on the shore. The prince still bowing on the deck did stand, And held his weeping consort by the hand, Which waving oft, she bade them all farewell, And wept, as if she would the briny ocean swell.
The wind again becoming unfavourable, William landed at Sheerness, and, accompanied by his bride and four attendants, made an excursion to Canterbury. Here he put up at an inn, and his cash falling short, he despatched his favourite Bentinck to the mayor and corporation, requesting a supply of money. The municipal authorities were taken by surprise. Strongly suspecting that the self-styled royal party were impostors, some of the council advised their immediate arrest and committal to prison; others, with more prudence, recommended less stringent measures; but all agreed not to part with one farthing of money; and so the evasive reply was given to Bentinck, that the corporation had no funds at disposal. In the meantime, Dean Tillotson of the Cathedral, the sharp-witted son of a shrewd Yorkshire clothier, heard of the strange affair, and making his way to the inn, saw and recognized the princess. Rushing back to the deanery, he collected all his ready money and plate, and returning to the inn, presented it to the prince. Twelve years afterwards, when William and Mary were king and queen of England, this service of the far-seeing dean was not forgotten. He was made Clerk of the Closet to their majesties, and soon after consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury.
The dean's interposition made a magical change in the state of affairs. The suspicious landlord, who had been inconveniently pressing his foreign guests for the amount of his bill, became in a moment the most obsequious of mortals. The gentlemen of Kent, now knowing who it was they had among them, crowded with their congratulations, and more substantial presents, to the prince and princess. William remained at the inn four days longer, and then left for Margate, where he embarked on the 28th of November; and after a short but stormy passage, the only lady on board unaffected by sea-sickness being the princess, he arrived safely in Holland.