Born: Theophilus Bonet,
eminent Genevese physician, 1620; Jean Barbeyrac,
eminent jurist, 1674, Beziers; General Andrew Jackson,
Died: Julius Cæsar,
assassinated, B.C. 44, Rome; Thomas Lord Chancellor
Egerton, 1617, Dodleston, Cheshire; Sir Theodore
Mayerne, physician to James I and Charles I, 1655,
Chelsea; John Earl of Loudon, Chancellor of Scotland,
1663; the Rev. Dr. Thomas Franklin, eminent Greek
scholar, 1784, London; Admiral John Jervis, Earl St.
Vincent, 1823, Stone; John Liston, comic actor, 1846;
Otto Kotzebue, navigator, 1846; Cardinal Mezzofanti,
extraordinary linguist, 1849; Captain Sir Samuel
Brown, civil engineer, 1852.
St. Abraham, hermit of Mesopotamia, and his niece, St.
Mary, 4th century. St. Zachary, Pope, 752. St.
Leocritia, of Cordova, virgin, martyr, 859.
LONGHNGS THE KNIGHT
One would suppose that the
medieval legendaries were very hardset for saints, if
we judge by the strange names which are sometimes
introduced in their lists. A very slight ground was
sufficient for building a legend, as may be instanced
by a saint who, in the old calendars, especially the
English and German calendars, was commemorated on this
day. The Evangelists St. Matthew and St. Mark,
describing the crucifixion, tell us that a centurion
who was on guard saw the signs which attended the
death of the Saviour, and became converted, and
exclaimed, 'Truly this man was the Son of God;' and St.
John adds how, while Christ still remained on the
cross, 'one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his
side, and forthwith came thereout blood and water.'
The mediæval ecclesiastics
made one individual of these two persons, and gave him
the name of Longinus, more usually written in mediæval
French, Longinas or Longis, and in old English Longeus,
under which he was one of the most popular personages
of mediaeval legend. He was said to have been blind
(how a blind man came to be made a centurion is not
quite clear); when ordered by Pontius Pilate to pierce
our Saviour's side with his spear, the blood,
according to the story, ran down into his eyes, and
restored him miraculously to sight, which was partly
the cause of his conversion to Christianity.
He now associated with
the Apostles, becoming an active 'soldier of the
faith,' and distinguishing himself by the fervency of
his zeal. He was thus, in the twenty-eighth year of
his age, living at Cæsarea of Cappadocia, when
information of his behaviour was carried to the
prefect or governor, Octavius, who immediately
summoned him to his presence. When questioned,
Longinus told the prefect his name, said that he was a
Boman soldier, of the province of Isauria, and
acknowledged that he was a zealous follower of Christ.
After some discussion on the relative merits of
Christianity and paganism, Longinus was commanded to
worship the idols, and eat of the sacrifice offered to
them, but he refused; whereupon the tormentors or
executioners (quæstionarii) were ordered to cut
off his tongue and knock out his teeth.
He long bears this and other
outrages with great fortitude; but at length he
proposes a curious sort of compromise, to which
Octavius consents. It had been shewn, said Longinus,
how little all the torments of the pagans affected
him, but now, if he might have leave, he would
undertake to break all their idols and overcome their
gods, it being made a condition that, if he were
successful, the pagans should desert their idols, and
believe in the true God; but if their gods were able
to do him any injury, he would become a pagan.
Longinus immediately broke to pieces the idol,
overthrew his altars and all his marble statues, and
spilt all the offerings,' and the devils who dwelt in
them fled, but they were arrested by Longinus, who
chose to obtain some information from them. The demons
acknowledged that his was the greatest God.
He asked them further how they
came to dwell in the idols, and they said that they
came to seek comfortable places of refuge, and,
finding beautiful images of stone, on which the name
of Christ had not been invoked, nor the sign of the
cross made, they immediately took possession of' them,
as well as of the people of the neighbourhood, who
were equally unprotected; and now that he had driven
them out, they supplicated him to let them go where
they would, and begged not to be 'precipitated into
the abyss.' This is a very curious illustration of the
mediæval notion of the nature of the heathen idols.
When the citizens heard this revelation, they set up a
great shout of joy, and, as soon as the devils were
driven out of them, they all embraced the Christian
faith. This, however, did not save the saint from
martyrdom; for Octavius, terrified lest the emperor
should punish him and the city for its apostasy from
the imperial faith, caused the head of Longinus to be
cut off, and then repented, and became a Christian
himself. 'These things,' says the legend, 'were
acted in the city of Cæsarea of Cappadocia, on the
Ides of March, under Octavius the prefect.' The legend
is found in mediæval manuscripts in Latin and in other
The circumstances under which
the ideas were developed, that led to the production
of noted works in literature or art, would, if it were
possible to collect them, form a remarkable history,
affording strange illustrations of the multifarious
phases presented by the human mind. Fancy, for
instance, a learned professor and doctor of
jurisprudence, compelled by fate to reside with a
gambling mother-in-law, and to sit for hours listening
to the wearisome conversation of a party of old women
playing at cards; and yet improving the occasion, by
mentally laying the foundation of the most elaborate
work on gaming that ever has been written. These were
exactly the circumstances which gave origin to
Barbeyrac's celebrated Traité de Jeu.
Barbeyrac was a native of
France; but, being a Calvinist, was compelled by the
revocation of the edict of Nantes to take refuge in
Switzerland. He became professor of law at Lausanne,
and subsequently at Gröningen; and published many
works on jurisprudence, besides a translation of
Tillotson's Sermons. But the work on which his
reputation is founded, and by which he is known at the
present day, is his treatise on gaming, dedicated to
Ann Princess of Orange, eldest daughter of George II,
the textbook for all who wish to study the subject.
The Traité de Jeu abounds in
the most recondite learning. The first of its four
books contains arguments to prove that gaming is not
inconsistent with natural laws, morality, or religion.
In the second book the author applies these arguments
specifically to the various kinds of games that have
been played at different periods in the history of the
world. The third book states the limitations under
which the previous arguments are to be considered; and
the fourth enumerates the various abuses of gaming.
Finally, he comes to the rather startling conclusion
that gambling is not in itself immoral or illegal, and
that it is nowhere, directly or indirectly, forbidden
in the Holy Scriptures.
Barbeyrac starts with the
undeniable proposition that man is essentially a
worker, his whole existence depending upon labour;
consequently God had designed that man should be
employed in works of usefulness for himself and
others. But, as man cannot work without rest, food,
and relaxation, the Deity had expressly sanctioned all
those requirements, by the mere act of creating man a
working animal—the evil consisting in the abuse, not
in the use of those indispensable requisites.
There are persons, however,'
says Barbeyrac, 'who unreasonably suppose that use and
abuse cannot be separated; and who, forming to
themselves strange mystical notions of virtue and
piety, would persuade us that every kind of diversion
and amusement, being neither more nor less than the
consequences of man's fallen nature, is unworthy of
rational creatures. Such persons may be above the
common limits of human nature, in a sphere of
perfection unattainable by the great mass of mankind.
Still, they ought to allow those, who cannot arrive at
such a high degree of perfection, to follow in low
humility the path which nature and providence have
pointed out to them, to enjoy their opinions in peace,
and their consciences devoid of scruple.'
'I maintain,' he continues,
'as an irrefragable principle, that, for the sake of
relaxation, man may indulge in such amusements as are
free from vice. This being admitted, if a person takes
pleasure in playing at cards or dice, there is no
reason why he may not amuse himself in that manner,
quite as innocently as in painting, dancing, music,
hunting, or any other similar diversions. The question
then arises, whether the game be played for nothing,
or for a stake of value. In the first case, it is a
mere relaxation, bearing not the slightest semblance
of criminality; with regard to the second, there can
be no evil in it, looking at the matter generally,
without taking into consideration peculiar
circumstances. For, if I am at liberty to promise and
give my property, absolutely and unconditionally, to
whomsoever I please, why may I not promise and give a
certain sum, in the event of a person proving more
fortunate or more skilful than I, with respect to the
result of certain contingencies, movements, or
combinations, on which we had previously agreed? And
why may not this person honestly avail himself of the
result, either of his skill, or of a favourable
concurrence of fortuitous circumstances, on the issue
of which I had voluntarily contracted an obligation?
And though but one of the parties gains an advantage,
yet there is nothing contrary to strict equity in the
transaction, the terms having been previously agreed
on by both. Every person, being at liberty to
determine the conditions on which he will concede a
right to another, may make it dependent on the most
chance circumstances. A fortiori, then, a per. son may
fairly and honestly avail himself of these winnings,
when he has risked on the event as much as he was
likely to gain. In fact, gaming is a contract, and in
every contract the mutual consent of the parties is
the supreme law; this is an incontestable maxim of
Many of Barbeyrac's arguments
and quotations are taken from our old Puritan writers,
who admitted that a kind of gambling, under the
designation of lots, was sanctioned by the Scriptures;
though only to be used to decide matters connected
with religion and the church. The able authoress of
Silas Marner has shewn us something of the working of
this lot system, though it certainly is more a kind of
divination than gambling.
To conclude, Barbeyrac's
arguments must be considered as a series of clever
paradoxes, written by a learned philosopher
unacquainted with the world and the manifold wickednesses of its ways. Though
we may certainly
employ our time better, there can be no great harm in
a friendly game of whist or backgammon; but the
undeniable vice and folly of gambling has received and
ever will receive the direct condemnation of all good
men, able to form an opinion on the matter.
SIR THEODORE MAYERNE
Collectors of heads, for such
is the ghastly phrase used by the cognoscenti to
indicate engraved portraits, fancy themselves
fortunate when they can obtain a folio engraving,
representing a jolly-looking, well-kept individual,
apparently of not more than sixty summers, holding a
skull in the left hand, and bearing the following
'Theodore Turquet de Mayerne,
knight, aged eighty-two years, by birth a Frenchman,
by religion a Protestant; in his profession a second
Hippocrates; and what has seldom happened to any but
himself, first physician to three kings; in erudition
unequalled, in experience second to none, and as the
result of all these advantages, celebrated far and
If the inscription stated that
Mayerne had been physician to four kings, it would be
nearer the mark, for he really served in that capacity
Henry IV of France, James I, Charles I, and Charles
II, of England. He was born at Geneva, in 1573, and
named Theodore after his god-father, the celebrated
reformer Beza. He studied at Montpelier, and soon
after taking his degrees, received the appointment of
physician to Henry IV; but, his profession of
Protestant principles being a bar to his advancement
in France, he came to England, and was warmly received
by James the First. His position in the history of
medical science is well defined, by his being among
the earliest practitioners who applied chemistry to
the preparing and compounding of medicines. His skill
and celebrity enabled him to acquire a large fortune,
and to live unmolested and respected during the
terrible convulsions of the civil war. Though a noted
bon vivant, he attained the advanced age of eighty-two
years, dying in 1655, at his own house in Chelsea, a
favourite place of residence among the physicians of
the olden time. The immediate cause of his death he
attributed to drinking bad wine with a convivial
party, at a tavern in the Strand. Good wine,' he used
to say, 'is slow poison: I have drunk it all my
lifetime, and it has not killed me yet; but bad wine
is sudden death.'
In hours of relaxation,
Mayerne applied his chemical knowledge to the
improvement of the arts of painting and cookery, in
both of which he was no mean proficient, as an
amateur. The famous artist Petitot owed the perfection
of his colouring in enamel to Mayerne's experiments,
and the best cookery book of the period was written by
the learned physician himself. Indeed it is not
generally known how much cookery is indebted to
medicine. Mayerne, in the seventeenth, Hunter and Hill
in the eighteenth, and Kitchiner in the nineteenth
century, have given to the world the best cookery
books of their respective eras. Indeed, in ancient
times, cookery was specifically considered as an
important branch of the healing art; the word curare,
among the Romans, signifying to dress a dinner, as
well as to cure a disease. Mayerne's cookery-book
bears the high sounding title of Archimagirus Anglo-Gallicus,
and the following specimen of its contents will
testify that it well merited its appellation. The
jolly physician often participated in the
hospitalities of my Lord Mayor, and the great
commercial guilds and companies; so, as a fitting
token of his gratitude, he named his clief-d'aeuvre,
the first and principal recipe in his book,
A City of
Take eight marrow bones,
eighteen sparrows, one pound of potatoes, a quarter
of a pound of eringoes, two ounces of lettuce
stalks, forty chesnuts, half a pound of dates, a
peck of oysters, a quarter of a pound of preserved
citron, three artichokes, twelve eggs, two sliced
lemons, a handful of pickled barberries, a quarter
of an ounce of whole pepper, half an ounce of sliced
nutmeg, half an ounce of whole cinnamon, a quarter
of an ounce of whole cloves, half an ounce of mace,
and a quarter of a pound of currants. Liquor when it
is baked, with white wine, butter, and sugar.'
Some half-a-dozen years ago,
with very slight alterations—only adopted after deep
consultation, to suit the palates of the present day—a
pie was made from the above recipe, which gave
complete satisfaction to the party of connoisseurs in
culinary matters, who heartily and merrily par-took of
This celebrated linguist, born
at Bologna, in 1774, was the son of a carpenter, and
was intended for the same occupation, had not a priest
observed the remarkable intelligence of the boy, and
had him educated for the priesthood, when he acquired,
before the completion of his university career, the
Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Spanish, French, German,
and Swedish languages. At the early age of twenty-two,
he was appointed professor of Arabic in the
university, and next of Oriental languages; but
through political changes, he lost both these
appointments, and. was for some years reduced to great
distress. Meanwhile, Mezzofanti made his
all-engrossing pursuit the study of languages. One of
his modes of study was calling upon strangers at the
hotels of Bologna, interrogating them, making notes of
their communications, and taking lessons in the
pronunciation of their several languages. 'Nor did all
this cost me much trouble,' says Mezzofanti; 'for,
inaddition to an excellent memory, God had gifted me
with remarkable flexibility of the organs of speech.'
He was now reinstated in his appointments; and his
attainments grew prodigious. Mr.
Stewart Rose, in
1817, reported him as reading twenty languages, and
speaking eighteen. Baron Each, in 1820, stated the
number at thirty-two. Lord Byron, about the same time,
described him .as 'a walking polyglot, a monster of
languages, and a Briareus of parts of speech.' In
1831, he settled in Rome, accepted a prebend in the
church of St. Mary Major, which he exchanged for a
canonry in St. Peter's; he was next appointed keeper
of the Vatican library, and in 1838 was elevated to
Mezzofanti's residence at Rome
gave a new impulse to his linguistic studies.
Guido Gorres, the eminent German scholar, writes of
him, in 1841, he is familiar with all the European
languages; and by this I understand not only the
ancient classical tongues, and the modern ones of the
first class, such as the Greek and Latin, or the
Italian, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and
English; his know-ledge extends also to languages of
the second class, viz., the Dutch, Danish, and
Swedish, to the whole Selavonic family, Russian,
Polish, Bohemian, or Czechish, to the Servian, the
Hungarian, the Turkish, and even to those of the third
and fourth classes, the Irish, the Welsh, the
Wallachian, the Albanian, the Bulgarian, and the
Illyrian. Even the Romani of the Alps, and the Lettish,
are not unknown to him; nay, he has made himself
acquainted with Lappish. He is master of the languages
which fall within the Indo-Germanic family, the
Sanscrit and Persian, the Koordish, the Georgian, the
Armenian; he is familiar with all the members of the
Semitic family, the Hebrew, the Arabic, the Syriac,
the Samaritan, the Chaldee, the Sabaic, nay, even with
the Chinese, which he not only reads, but speaks.
Among the Hamitic languages, he knows Coptic,
Ethiopic, Abyssinian, Amharic, and Angolese.' He is
described as invariably speaking in each language with
the precision, and in most cases with the fluency of a
native. His pronunciation, his idiom, his vocabulary,
were alike unexceptionable; even the familiar words of
every-day life, and the delicate turns of
conversational speech, were at his command. He was
equally at home in the pure Parisian of the Faubourg
St. Germain and in the Provencal of Toulouse. He could
accommodate him-self to the rude jargon of the Black
Forest, or to the classic vocabulary of Dresden.
Cardinal Wiseman, the friend
of Mezzofanti, has thus spoken of his extraordinary
power of acquiring and remembering a number of
languages—that is, knowing them thoroughly,
grammatically, and familiarly, so as to speak each
with its own accentuation, read it with facility and
point, express himself technically through its medium,
and, above all, write a familiar note in it. Of this
power, says Dr. Wiseman, no one, perhaps, over attained
such pre-eminence in philology, and no one could have
made a more noble use of the wonderful gift entrusted
to him to improve. His labours were in the prisons, in
which he found confined natives of every habitable
country—Croats, Bulgarians, Wallachians, Bohemians,
Hungarians, Poles, Lithuanians. As may be supposed, in
a provincial city in Italy there was but small chance
that any of these should meet with priests of their
Cardinal Mezzofanti was moved
with a burning desire to converse with them and offer
them the consolations of religion. He set himself to
work, and in a few days was able to speak with them
readily and fluently. Cases have been Known of persons
coming to this extraordinary man for confession, but
speaking only some out-of-the-way language which
debarred them from intercommunication with all priests
within their reach. On such occasions Cardinal Mezzofanti would request a delay of three weeks,
during which time he would so completely master the
language, however difficult, that he could apprehend
the most minute particulars communicated to him. At
the age of fifty he was thoroughly versed in fifty
languages, and before his death the number he knew
must have amounted to seventy or eighty. Of these, it
must be added, he was acquainted with all the
varieties of dialect, provincialisms, and patois. He
would detect the particular county in England from
which a person came, or the province in France, and
was conversant not only with the grammar, but with the
literature of all those nations. By a Portuguese he
was once, to his (Cardinal Wiseman's) own knowledge,
taken for a countryman; and on another occasion he was
similarly mistaken for an Englishman.
He could write a note or an
apology (perhaps, after all, the greatest test)
without an error in form, language, style, or title of
address of his correspondent, and would turn his
sentences without ever losing sight of the little
niceties, idioms, and peculiarities which form the
distinctive characteristics of a language. His method
of studying a language was to take the grammar and
read it through, after which he was its master. He
used to say he had never forgotten anything he had
ever read or heard. Cardinal Wise-man states that he
one day met Mezzofanti hurrying away, as he said, to a
Propaganda— 'What are you going to do there?' 'To
teach the Californians their language.' 'How did you
learn Californian?' 'They taught me, but they had no
grammar; I have made a grammar, and now 1 am going to
teach them to read and write it.' —(Lectures on the
Phenomena of Memory, 1857.)
Mezzofanti died on the 15th of
March 1849; and was buried in the church of St.
Onofrio, beside the grave of Torquato Tasso.
CAPTAIN SIR SAMUEL
Many nations in past times
sought to find how a bridge might so be constructed
that the weight of the roadway, instead of resting
upon arches of masonry, or on a rigid iron or wooden
framework, might be supported by the tension of ropes
or chains. Kircher described a bridge of chains which
the Chinese constructed many centuries ago in their
country. Turner, in his Account of Bootan or Bhotan in
India, describes several very ingenious bridges
devised by the natives for crossing the ravines which
intersect that mountainous country. One is a bridge
consisting of a number of iron chains supporting a
matted platform; another is formed of two parallel
chains, around which creepers are loosely twisted,
with planks for a roadway suspended; while a third is
formed of two rattan or osier ropes, encircled by a
hoop of the same material: the passenger propelling
himself by sitting in the hoop, holding a rope in each
hand, and making the hoop slide along. Some of the
rude bridges constructed by the natives in South
America, such as that at Taribita, consist each of a
single rush rope, on which a kind of carriage is
swung, and drawn along by another rope held by a
person on the bank. At Apurima the natives have
constructed a bridge nearly 400 feet long, by 6 feet
wide, by placing two bark ropes parallel, and
interweaving cross-pieces of wood from one to the
Of an actual iron suspension
bridge, the first made in Europe seems to have been
one over the Tees near Middleton, constructed rather
more than a century ago. Two chains were stretched in
a nearly straight line, steadied by inclined ties from
the banks below; and the roadway (only a narrow path
for foot-passengers) was supported immediately by the
chains. In 1816, a little bridge was constructed over
Gala Water in Scotland, made chiefly of wire, at the
orders of a manufacturer named Richard Lees; and
another of similar kind was soon afterwards
constructed across the Tweed at King's Meadows, near
Peebles, with a platform four feet wide resting on the
wires. It was about that date, or a little earlier,
that Captain Brown made an important advance in the
construction of chain bridges, by changing altogether
the form of the links. Instead of making them short
and circular or oval, he made them several feet long,
with eyes drilled at each end, and connecting them
with short links and bolt-pieces. Every main link, in
fact, consisted of a series of flat bars, pivoted at
the ends to each other and to the adjacent links. He
also devised an ingenious mode of removing a defective
link without disturbing the continuity of the chain.
These two capital inventions laid the basis for the
plans of most of the great suspension bridges since
constructed, including Brown's Bridge over the Tweed
at Berwick, Brown's Trinity Pier at New-haven near Leith, Telford's beautiful Kenai and Conway bridges,
Brown's Chain-pier at Brighton, Tierney Clark's bridge
at Hammersmith, Brown's bridge at Montrose, and the
grandest suspension bridge, perhaps, ever
constructed—that built by Mr. Tierney Clark over the
Danube at Pesth. It was no small merit in an engineer
to render such works possible.
'It is possible,' says a
living author, 'to be a very great man, and to be
still very inferior to Julius Cæsar, the most complete
character, so Lord Bacon thought, of all antiquity.
Nature seems incapable of such extraordinary
combinations as composed his versatile capacity, which
was the wonder even of the Romans themselves. The
first general--the only triumphant politician—inferior
to none in eloquence —comparable to any in the
attainments of wisdom, in an age made up of the
greatest commanders, states-men, orators, and
philosophers that ever appeared in the world—an author
who composed a perfect specimen of military annals in
his travelling carriage—at one time in a controversy
with Cato, at another writing a treatise on punning,
and collecting a set of good sayings—fighting and
making love at the same moment, and willing to abandon
both his empire and his mistress for a sight of the
Fountains of the Nile. Such did Cæsar appear to his
The assassination of Cæsar on
the Ides of March, a. c. 44, was immediately preceded
by certain prodigies, which it has greatly exercised
the ingenuity of historians and others to attempt to
First, on the night preceding
the assassination, Cæsar dreamt, at intervals, that he
was soaring above the clouds on wings, and that he
placed his hand within the right hand of Jove. It
would seem that perhaps some obscure and half-formed
image floated in Cæsar's mind of the eagle, as the
king of birds,—secondarily, as the tutelary emblem
under which his conquering legions had so often obeyed
his voice; and thirdly, as the bird of Jove. To this
triple relation of the bird, the dream covertly
appears to point. And a singular coincidence is traced
between the dream and a circumstance reported to us,
as having actually occurred in Rome, about twenty-four
hours before Cæsar's death. A little bird, which by
some is represented as a very small kind of sparrow,
but which, both to the Greeks and Romans, was known by
a name implying a regal station (probably from the
audacity which at times prompted it to attack the
eagle), was observed to direct its flight towards the
senate-house, consecrated by Pompey, whilst a crowd of
other birds were seen to hang upon its flight in close
pursuit, towards Pompey's Hall. Flight and pursuit
were there alike arrested; the little bird-king was
overtaken by his enemies, who fell upon him as so many
conspirators, and tore him limb from limb.
The other prodigies were:
dream of Cæsar's wife, Calphurnia, that their house
had fallen in, that he had been wounded by assassins,
and had taken refuge in her bosom.
- The arms of
Mars, deposited in Cæsar's house, rattled at night.
- The doors of the room wherein he slept flew open
- The victims and birds were
- Solitary birds appeared in the Forum.
- There were lights in the sky, and nocturnal noises.
- Fiery figures of men were seen; a flame issued from
the hand of a soldier's slave without hurting him.
- After the murder of Cæsar, it was remembered that the
attendant removed his gilded chair from the
senate-room, thinking that he would not attend the
The last words of Cæsar, as he
fell before the blows of his assassins, have become
proverbial, being generally given as 'Et tu, Brute!'
(And thou too, Brutus!)—certainly a most natural
expression on seeing a youthful and beloved friend
among those prepared to shed his blood. There is,
however, a doubt as to the words used by Cesar. They
have been given as composed of the Greek language,
express a doubt if he was heard to utter any
expression at all after the stabbing began, or did
anything more than adjust his mantle, in order that,
when fallen, the lower part of his person might be
OF REMARKABLE PERSONS
It may amuse the reader, in
connection with the preceding matter, to glance over a
small collection of the final expressions of
remarkable persons, as these are communicated by
biographers and historians. In most instances, the
authorities are given, along with such explanations as
may be presumed to be necessary.
SOCRATES: 'Krito, we owe a
cock to AEsculapius; discharge the debt and by no
means omit it.'—Grote. - To a friend, when about to
drink the cup of poison.
Mohomet: 'Oh Allah! be it
so—among the glorious associates in Paradise!' —
Irving's Life of Mohomet.
SIR HUGH PERCY: 'I have saved
the bird in my bosom.' - Sir Hugh, fighting
unsuccessfully for Henry VI. at Hedgely Moor, April
1464, used this expression on feeling himself mortally
wounded, in reference to the faith he had pledged to
his unfortunate sovereign, while so many deserted him.
COLUMBUS: 'In means tuas,
Domino, commendo spiritum mourn.'
PIZARRO: 'Jesu!' - At that
moment he received a wound in the throat, and,
reeling, sank on the floor, while the swords of Rada
and several of the conspirators were plunged into his
body. "Jesu!" exclaimed the dying man, and, tracing a
cross with his finger on the bloody floor, he bent
down his head to kiss it, &c.'—Prescott.
KING JAMES V OF SCOTLAND: 'It
Came with a lass, and it will go with one! - Alluding
to the intelligence brought to him, that his wife was
delivered of a daughter, the heiress of the crown, and
to the fact of the crown having come into his family
by the daughter of King Robert Bruce.
CARDINAL BEATON: (assassinated
1546). 'Fy, fy, all is gone!' - 'And so he (James
Melvin) stroke him twyse or thrise trowght him with a
stog sweard; and so he fell; never word heard out of
his mouth; but "I am a preast, I am a preast: fy, fy,
all is gone! "' - Knox's .Hist. Reformation in Scot.,
edit. 1846, i. 177.
TASSO: 'Into thy hands, 0
Lord!'—Wiffen's Life of Tasso.
CHARLES V: 'Ay, Jesus!'—Stirling's
Cloister Life of Charles V.
FERRAR, BISHOP OF St. DAVID'S.
March 30, 1555: 'If I stir through the pains of my
burning, believe not the doctrine I have taught.' - On
being chained to the stake at Carmarthen Cross/
JOHN KNOX: 'Now it is
come.' - M' Crie's Life of John Knox.
DR. DONNE: 'Thy will be done.'
- 'He lay fifteen days earnestly expecting his hourly
change, and in the last hour of his last day, as his
body melted away, and vapoured into spirit, his soul
having, I verily believe, some revelation of the
beatific vision, he said, "I were miserable if I might
not die; " and after those words, closed many periods
of his faint breath by saying often, " Thy kingdom
come, thy will be done! "'—Walton's Life of Dr Donne.
GEORGE HERBERT: 'And now,
Lord—Lord, now receive my soul!'
RALEIGH: Why dost thou not
strike? Strike, man!' GROTIUS. 'Be serious.' - To the
executioner, who was pausing'
ROBERT CECIL, FIRST EARL OF
SALISBURY, Minister to James I. 'Ease and pleasure
quake to hear of death; but my life, full of cares and
miseries, desireth to be dissolved.' - It may be
remarked that Lord Salisbury died when, to all
appearance, at the summit of earthly glory.
DUKE OF BUCIKINGHAM: 'Traitor,
thou hast killed me!' - To the assassin Felton.
CHARLES I: 'Remember!' - To
Bishop Juxon, on the scaffold; supposed to refer to a
message to his son, commanding him to forgive his
enemies and murderers.
CROMWELL: 'It is not my design
to drink or sleep, but my design is to make what haste
I can to be gone.' Followed by a few pious
ejaculations. - Carlyle's Cromwell.
CHARLES II: 'Don't let poor
Nelly starve.' - Referring to his mistress, Nell Gwynne
WILLIAM III: 'Can this last
long?' - To his physician. (This is not an uncommon
death-bed expression. A lady, a victim by burning to a
preposterous fashion of dress now in vogue, and who
survived the accident a few hours, was heard to
breathe, 'Shall I be long in dying?)
LOCKE: 'Cease now.' - To Lady
Marsham, who had been reading the Psalms to him.
POPE: 'There is nothing that
is meritorious but virtue and friendship, and, indeed,
friendship itself is but a part of virtue.'
GENERAL WOLFE: 'What, do they
run already? then I die happy.' - Alluding to the
intelligence given him as he lay wounded on the field,
that the French were beaten.
'WILLIAM, DUKE OF CUMBERLAND:
'It is all over.' (' On the 30th of October ,
his Royal Highness was playing at picquet with General
Hodgson. He grew confused and mistook the cards. The
next day he recovered enough to appear at Court, but
after dinner was seized with a suffocation, and
ordered the window to be opened. One of his valets de
chamubre who was accustomed to bleed him, was called,
and prepared to tie up his arm; but the Duke said, "It
is too late!—it is all over!" and expired.'—Walpole's
Hem. of Reigns of George III)
HAYDN: 'God preserve the
HALLER: 'The artery ceases to
MADAME DE POMPADOUR, 1764:
'Un moment, Monsieur le Curé, nous nous en irons ensemble.' - To the cure of the Madeleine, who had
called to see her, and was taking his leave, as she
seemed just about to expire.
EARL OF CHESTERFIELD: 'Give
Dayrolles a chair.' - Upon the morning of his decease,
and about half an hour before it happened, Mr.
Dayrolles [a friend] called upon him to make his usual
visit. When he had entered the room, the valet de
chambre opening the curtains of the bed, announced Mr.
Dayrolles to Lordship. The Earl just found strength in a faint voice to say, "Give Deyrolles a chair". These were the last words he was heard to speak. They were
characteristic, and were remarked by the very able and attentive physician then in the room [Dr. Warren] "His good breeding" said that gentleman, "only quits him with his
life." Maty's Memoirs of Philip Earl of
SIR JOHN MOORE: 'Stanhope,
remember me to your sister.' - Addressed to one of his
aides-de-camp, the Hon. Captain Stanhope, son of the
Earl of Stanhope. The person referred to was the
celebrated Lady Hester Stanhope. - Life of Sir John
Moore, by his brother, James Carrick Moore.
DR. ADAM, Rector of the High
School of Edinburgh,1809: 'It grows dark, boys; you
may go.' - The venerable teacher thought he was
exercising his class in Buchanan's Psalms, his usual
practice on a Monday. The delirium ended with these
DE STAEL: 'I have loved God,
my father, and liberty.'
NAPOLEON: 'Mon dieu - La Nation Française - Tête d'armée.' - 'He expired at length
without pain and in silence, during a convulsion of
the elements, on the night of the 5th of May 1821. The
last words he stammered out were Army and France, but
it could not be ascertained whether it was a dream,
delirium, or adieu.' - Lamartine.
JOHN ADAMS, SECOND PRESIDENT
OF THE UNITED STATES: 'Thomas Jefferson still
survives.' - Adams died on the 4th July 1826, the
fiftieth anniversary of the declaration of
Independence. As he found his end approaching at so
interesting a crisis, he reflected that there would
yet remain the writer of that famous document, his
associate in so many trying scenes. He was in reality
mistaken in the point of fact, for Jefferson at a
distant part of the country had died that morning.
THOMAS JEFFERSON: 'I resign my
soul to God, my daughter to my country.'
BYRON: 'I must sleep now.'
TALMA: 'The worst of all is
that I cannot see.'
GEORGE IV 'Watty, what is this?
It is death, my boy—they have deceived me.' - To his
page, Sir Wathen Waller, who was assisting him on a
seat when the last qualm came.
SIR WALTER SCOTT: 'God bless
you all!' - To his family, surrounding his death-bed.
SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH: 'Happy.' - Upon our inquiring how he felt, he said he was "happy." Life by his Son.'
GOETHE: 'More light!' - 'His
speech was becoming less and less distinct. The last
words audible were, More light! The final darkness
grew apace, and he whose eternal longings had been for
more light, gave a parting cry for it, as he was
passing under the shadow of death.' - G. II. Lewes's
Life of Goethe.
EDWARD IRVING: 'If I die, I
die unto the Lord. Amen!' — Oliphant's Life of Edward
CHARLES MATHEWS: 'I am ready.'
- 'I approached him,' says his widow biographer, 'and,
kissing his head, said, "I want you to go to bed now."
He closed the Bible which he had been reading; and,
looking up at me, replied meekly, "I am ready." "I am
ready!" memorable words! —they were his last, and they
recurred to me as I was taken from him in a twofold
sense, and ought in some degree to have tempered the
anguish of the time.'
EARL OF ELDON: 'It matters not to me, where I am going, whether the weather be cold or hot.'
DR. FRANKLIN: 'A dying man can
do nothing easy.' - To his daughter, who had advised
him to change his position in bed, that he might
breathe more easily. These are the last words recorded
in his biography; but they were pronounced a few days
before his decease.
DR. WILLIAM HUNTER: 'If I had
strength enough. to hold a pen, I would write how easy
and pleasant a thing it is to die.'
GOLDSMITH: 'It then occurred
to Dr. Turton to put a very pregnant question to his
patient. " Your pulse," he said, " is in greater
disorder than it should be, from the degree of fever
you have. Is your mind at ease?" "No, it is not," was
Goldsmith's melancholy answer. They are the last words
we are to hear him utter in this world.' - Forster's
Life and Times of Oliver Goldsmith.
FONTENELLE: 'Jo ne souffre
pas, mes amis, mais je sens une certaine difficulte
d'etre.' (I do not suffer, my friends; but I feel a
certain difficulty of existing.)
THURLOW: 'I'm shot if I don't
believe I'm dying.'
JOHNSON: 'God bless you, my
dear.' - To Miss Morris, a friend's daughter, who came
to him at the last to ask his blessing.
GIBBON: 'Mon Dieu, mon Dieu!'
MARAT: 'A moi, ma chère!'
(Help, my dear!) - To his waiting maid, on feeling
himself stabbed in his bath by Charlotte Corday.
MADAME ROLAND: 'Oh, Liberty,
how many crimes are committed in thy name!' -
Addressed to the statue of Liberty, at her execution.
MIRABEAU: 'Let me die to the
sounds of delicious music.'
GAINSBOROUGH: 'We are all
going to heaven, and Vandyke is of the company.' - A.
Cunningham's Lives of Painters.
BURNS: That scoundrel, Matthew
Penn!' - The solicitor who had written to him about a
debt, and inspired the poor poet with fears of a jail.
WASHINGTON: 'It is well.'
NELSON. 'I thank God I have
done my duty.' WILLIAM PITT. 'Oh my country! how I
leave my country!'
WILLIAM PITT - There was long a doubt
as to the last words of Mr. Pitt. The Earl of
Stanhope, in his Life of the great minister (1862),
gave them from a manuscript left by his lordship's
uncle, the Hon. James H. Stanhope, as, 'Oh my country!
how I love my country! ' But his lordship afterwards
stated in a letter in the Times, April 26, 1862, that,
on re-examination of the manuscript,—a somewhat
obscure one,—no doubt was left on his mind that the
word ' love' was a mistake for ' leave.' The
expression, as now in this manner finally
authenticated, is in a perfect and most sad conformity
with the state of the national affairs at the time
when Mr. Pitt was approaching his end. A new
coalition, which England had with great difficulty and
at vast expense formed against Napoleon, had been
dashed to pieces by the prostration of Austria; and
Pitt must have had the idea in his mind that his hardly now a stay against that prodigious power remained. It was indeed generally believed that the overthrow of the
coalition was what brought him to his end.
PRINCESS CHARLOTTE: 'You make
me drunk. Pray leave me quiet. I find it affects my
head.' - To her medical attendants, who had been
administering brandy, hot wine, and sal volatile.—Raikes's
Correspondence with the
Duke of Wellington.
PROFESSOR EDWARD FORBES: 'My
own wife.' - To Mrs. Forbes, who inquired as he was
dying if he still knew her.—Memoir of Edward Forbes by
George Wilson, &c.
It is remarkable how few of
these last words of noted persons express what may be
called the ruling passion of the life—contrary to
And you, brave Cobham, to
the latest breath,
Shall feel your ruling passion strong in death;
Such in those moments as in all the past,
"Oh, save my country, Heaven! "shall be your last.'
In many instances the matter
referred to is trivial, in some surprisingly so. In
others, there is only an allusion to what was passing
at the moment. In few is there any great thought. Some
express only the enfeebled mind. Perhaps the most
striking is that of Dr Adam of the Edinburgh High
School, for it reveals in fact what dying is—a
darkening and fading away of the faculties. There is,
however, this general lesson to be derived from the
expressions of the dying, that there is usually a
calmness and absence of strong sensation of any kind
at the last moment. On this point, we quote a short
passage from the Quarterly Review.
The pain of dying must be
distinguished from the pain of the previous disease;
for when life ebbs, sensibility declines. As death is
the final extinction of corporeal feelings, so
numbness increases as death comes on. The prostration
of disease, like healthful fatigue, engenders a
growing stupor—a sensation of subsiding softly into a
coveted repose. The transition resembles what might be
seen in those lofty mountains, whose sides exhibiting
every climate in regular gradation, vegetation
luxuriates at their base, and dwindles in the approach
to the regions of snow, till its feeblest
manifestation is repressed by the cold. The so-called
agony can never be more formidable than when the brain
is the last to go, and the mind preserves to the end a
rational cognizance of the state of the body. Yet
persons thus situated commonly attest that there are
few things in life less painful than the close.
"If I had strength enough to
hold a pen," said. William Hunter, "I would write how
easy and delightful it is to die." "If this be dying,"
said the niece of Newton, of Olney, "it is a pleasant
thing to die;" "the very expression," adds her uncle,
"which another friend of mine made use of on her
death-bed a few years ago." The same words have so
often been uttered under similar circumstances, that
we could fill pages with instances which are only
varied by the name of the speaker. " If this be
dying," said Lady Glenorchy, "it is the easiest thing
imaginable. "I thought that dying had been more
difficult," said Louis XIV. "I did not suppose it was
so sweet to die," said Francis Saurez, the Spanish
theologian. An agreeable surprise was the prevailing
sentiment with them all. They expected the stream to
terminate in the dash of the torrent, and they found
it was losing itself in the gentlest current. The whole
of the faculties seem sometimes concentrated on the
placid enjoyment. The day Arthur Murphy died, he kept
repeating from Pope:
"Taught half by
reason, half by mere decay,
To welcome death, and calmly pass away."
'Nor does the calm partake of
the sensitiveness of sickness. There was a swell in
the sea the day Collingwood breathed his last upon the
element which had been the scene of his glory. Captain
Thomas expressed a fear that he was disturbed by the
tossing of the ship. "No, Thomas," he replied, "I am
now in a state in which nothing in this world can
disturb me more. I am dying; and am sure it must be
consolatory to you, and all who love me, to see how
comfortably I am coming to my end."'
Under the 15th March 1735, the
Gentleman's Magazine records— 'John Parry,
Esq., of Carmarthenshire, (married) to a daughter of
Walter Lloyd, Esq., member for that county; a fortune
of £8,000.' It seems to us indecorous thus to trumpet
forth a little domestic particular, of no importance
to any but the persons concerned; but it was a regular
custom in the reign of George II, and even
There is scarcely a single
number of the magazine here quoted which does not
include several such announcements, sometimes
accompanied by other curious particulars. For example,
in 1731, we have—'Married, the Rev. Mr. Roger Waina,
of York, about twenty-six years of age, to a
Lincolnshire lady, upwards of eighty, with whom he is
to have £8,000 in money, £300 per annum, and a
coach-and-four during life only.' What would now be
matter of gossip in the locality of the marriage was
then deemed proper information for the whole
community. Thus, in March 1735, the Gentleman's
Magazine gives this annonce— 'The Earl of Antrim,
of Ireland, to Miss Betty Pennefeather, a celebrated
beauty and toast of that kingdom.' It is to be feared
that Miss Betty Pennefeather was without fortune;
otherwise it would have been sure to be stated, or at
least alluded to.
Towards the end of the
century, such announcements were given with less
glaring precision. Thus in the Gazette of
January 5th, 1789, we find— 'Sunday sénnight, at St.
Aulkman's Church, Shrewsbury, A. Holbeche, Esq., of
Slowley Hill, near Coleshill, in this county, to Mrs.
Ashby, of Shrewsbury, a very agreeable lady, with a
good fortune.' On the 2nd of January 1792—'Yesterday,
at St. Martin's Church, William Lucas, Esq., of Holywell, in Northampton-shire, to Miss Legge, only
daughter of the late Mr. Francis Legge, builder, of
this town; an agreeable young lady, with a handsome
fortune.' And on the 29th of October 1798—'A few days
ago, at St. Martin's. Church, in this town, Mr.
William Barnsley, of the Soho, to Miss Sarah Jorden,
of Birmingham Heath; an agreeable young lady, with a
genteel fortune.' In other cases, where possibly the
bride was penniless, her personal qualifications alone
were mentioned; as this, in April 1783—[' MARRIED] on
Saturday last, Mr. George Donisthorpe, to the
agreeable Mrs. Mary Bowker, both of this town.'
One of the latest notices of
the kind occurs in Axis's Birmingham Gazette, of July
14, 1800, being that of the Right Hon. Mr. Canning,
Under Secretary of State, to Miss Scott, sister to the
Marchioness of Titchfield, 'with £100,000 fortune.'