Hallam, Henry (DNB00)
|←Hallahan, Margaret Mary||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 24
HALLAM, HENRY (1777–1859), historian, born at Windsor on 9 July 1777, was the only son of John Hallam, canon of Windsor (1775–1812) and dean of Bristol (1781–1800), a man of high character, and well read in sacred and profane literature. The Hallams had long been settled at Boston in Lincolnshire, and one member of the family was Robert Hallam [q. v.], bishop of Salisbury. Later members had been on the puritan side. Hallam's mother, a sister of Dr. Roberts, provost of Eton, was a woman of much intelligence and delicacy of feeling. He was a precocious child, read many books when four years old, and composed sonnets at ten. He was at Eton from 1790 to 1794, and some of his verses are published in the 'Musæ Etonenses' (1795). He was afterwards at Christ Church, Oxford, and graduated B.A. in 1799. He was called to the bar, and practised for some years on the Oxford circuit. His father, dying in 1812, left him estates in Lincolnshire, and he was early appointed to a commissionership of stamps, a post with a good salary and light duties. In 1807 he married Julia, daughter of Sir Abraham Elton, bart., of Clevedon Court, Somerset, and sister of Sir Charles Abraham Elton [q. v.] His independent means enabled him to withdraw from legal practice and devote himself to the study of history. After ten years' assiduous labour he produced in 1818 his first great work, 'A View of the State of Europe during the Middle Ages,' which immediately established his reputation. (A supplementary volume of notes was published separately in 1848.) 'The Constitutional History of England from the Accession of Henry VII to the Death of George II followed in 1827. Before the completion of his next work he was deeply affected by the death of his eldest son, Arthur Henry (see below). 'I have,' he wrote, 'warnings to gather my sheaves while I can my advanced age, and the reunion in heaven with those who await me.' He fulfilled his purpose by finishing (The Introduction to the Literature of Europe during the 15th, 16th, and 17th Centuries,' published in 1837-9. During the preparation of these works he lived a studious life, interrupted only by occasional travels on the continent. He was familiar with the best literary society of the time, well known to the whig magnates, and a frequent visitor to Holland House and Bowood. His name is often mentioned in memoirs and diaries of the time, and always respectfully, although he never rivalled the conversational supremacy of his contemporaries, Sydney Smith and Macaulay. He took no part in active political life. As a commissioner of stamps he was excluded from parliament, and after his resignation did not attempt to procure a seat. He gave up the pension of 500l. a year (granted according to custom upon his resignation) after the death of his son Henry, in spite of remonstrances upon the unusual nature of the step. Though a sound whig, Hallam disapproved of the Reform Bill (see Moore's Diaries, vi. 221), and expressed his grave fears of the revolutionary tendency of the measure to one of the leading members of the reform cabinet, in presence of the Duc de Broglie (Mignet). His later years were clouded by the loss of his sons. His domestic affections were unusually warm, and he was a man of singular generosity in money matters. Considering his high position in literature and his wide acquaintance with distinguished persons, few records have been preserved of his life. But he was warmly loved by all who knew him, and his dignified reticence and absorption in severe studies prevented him from coming often under public notice. John Austin was a warm friend, and Mrs. Austin was asked to write his life, but declined the task as beyond her powers (Mrs. Ross, Three Generations of Englishwomen, ii. 118, &c.). During the greater part of his life he lived in Wimpole Street, the ‘long, unlovely street’ mentioned in Lord Tennyson's ‘In Memoriam,’ and for a few years before his death in Wilton Crescent. He died peacefully, after many years of retirement, on 21 Jan. 1859. His portraits by Phillips (in oil) and by G. Richmond (in chalk) show a noble and massive head.
Hallam was treasurer to the Statistical Society, of which he had been one of the founders, a very active vice-president of the Society of Antiquaries, honorary professor of history to the Royal Society, and a foreign associate of the Institute of France. In 1830 he received one of the fifty-guinea medals given by George IV for historical eminence, the other being given to Washington Irving.
Hallam seems to have published very little besides his three principal works. Byron, in ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,’ sneers at ‘classic Hallam, much renowned for Greek.’ A note explains that Hallam reviewed Payne Knight in the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ and condemned certain Greek verses, not knowing that they were taken from Pindar. The charge was exaggerated, and the article probably not by Hallam (see Gent. Mag. 1830, pt. i. p. 389). The review of Scott's ‘Dryden’ in the number for October 1808 is also attributed to him. At a later period he wrote two articles upon Lingard's ‘History’ (March 1831) and Palgrave's ‘English Commonwealth’ (July 1832) (see Macvey's Napier's Correspondence, p. 73). A character by him of his friend Lord Webb Seymour is in the appendix to the first volume of Francis Horner's ‘Memoirs.’
Hallam's works helped materially to lay the foundations of the English historical school, and, in spite of later researches, maintain their position as standard books. The ‘Middle Ages’ was probably the first English history which, without being merely antiquarian, set an example of genuine study from original sources. Hallam's training as a lawyer was of high value, and enabled him, according to competent authorities, to interpret the history of law even better in some cases than later writers of more special knowledge. Without attempting a ‘philosophy of history,’ in the more modern sense, he takes broad and sensible views of facts. His old-fashioned whiggism, especially in the constitutional history, caused bitter resentment among the tories and high churchmen, whose heroes were treated with chilling want of enthusiasm. Southey attacked the book bitterly on these grounds in the ‘Quarterly Review’ (1828). His writings, indeed, like that of some other historians, were obviously coloured by his opinions; but more than most historians he was scrupulously fair in intention and conscientious in collecting and weighing evidence. Without the sympathetic imagination which if often misleading is essential to the highest historical excellence, he commands respect by his honesty, accuracy, and masculine common sense in regard to all topics within his range. The ‘Literature of Europe,’ though it shows the same qualities and is often written with great force, suffers from the enormous range. Hardly any man could be competent to judge with equal accuracy of all the intellectual achievements of the period in every department. Weaknesses result which will be detected by specialists; but even in the weaker departments it shows good sound sense, and is invaluable to any student of the literature of the time. Though many historians have been more brilliant, there are few so emphatically deserving of respect. His reading was enormous, but we have no means of judging what special circumstances determined his particular lines of inquiry.
Hallam had eleven children by his wife, who died 25 April 1846. Only four grew up, Arthur Henry, Ellen, who died in 1837 (the deaths of these two are commemorated in a poem by Lord Houghton), Julia, who married Captain Cator (now Sir John Farnaby Lennard), and Henry Fitzmaurice. He had one sister, who died unmarried, leaving him her fortune.
Hallam, Arthur Henry (1811–1833), was born in Bedford Place, London, on 1 Feb. 1811. He showed a sweet disposition, a marked thoughtfulness, and a great power of learning from his earliest years. In a visit to Germany and Switzerland in 1818 he mastered French and forgot Latin. A year later he was able to read Latin easily, took to dramatic literature, and wrote infantile tragedies. He was placed under the Rev. W. Carmalt at Putney, and after two years became a pupil of E. C. Hawtrey [q. v.], then assistant-master at Eton. Though fairly successful in his school tasks, he devoted himself chiefly to more congenial studies, becoming thoroughly familiar with the early English dramatists and poets. He wrote essays for the school debating societies, showing an increasing interest in philosophical and political questions. He contributed some papers to the Eton ‘Miscellany’ in the early part of 1827. In the following summer he left the school, and passed eight months with his parents in Italy. He became so good an Italian scholar as to write sonnets in the language, warmly praised by Panizzi as superior to anything which could have been expected from a foreigner. He was much interested in art, and especially loved the early Italian and German schools. Returning to England in June 1828, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, as a pupil of Whewell in the following October. He disliked mathematics, and had not received the exact training necessary for success in classical examination. His memory for dates, facts, and even poetry was not strong. He won the first declamation prize at his college in 1831 for an essay upon the conduct of the Independent party during the civil war, and in the following Christmas delivered the customary oration, his subject being the influence of Italian upon English literature. He had won another prize for an essay upon the philosophical writings of Cicero. (The last two appear in his ‘Remains.’) At Cambridge he formed the intimacy with Tennyson made memorable by the ‘In Memoriam’ (issued in 1850).
He left Cambridge after graduating in 1832, and entered the Inner Temple, living in his father's house. He took an interest in legal studies, and entered the chambers of a conveyancer, Mr. Walters of Lincoln's Inn. His health had improved, after some symptoms of deranged circulation. In 1833 he travelled with his father to Germany. While staying at Vienna he died instantaneously on 15 Sept. 1833, from a rush of blood to the head, due to a weakness of the heart and the cerebral vessels. He was buried on 3 Jan. 1834, in the chancel of Clevedon Church, Somersetshire, belonging to his maternal grandfather, Sir A. Elton. A touching memoir written by his father was privately printed in 1834, with a collection of remains. They go far to justify the anticipations cherished by his illustrious friends. After a schoolboy admiration for Byron, he had become a disciple of Keats, of Shelley, whose influence is very marked, and finally of Wordsworth, whom he might have rivalled as a philosophical poet. He was, however, diverging from poetry to metaphysics, and looking up to Coleridge as a master. His powers of thought are shown in the essay upon Cicero, while his remarkable knowledge of Dante is displayed in an able criticism of Professor Rossetti's ‘Disquisizione sullo spirito antipapale,’ chiefly intended as a protest against the hidden meaning found in Dante's writings by Rossetti. Hallam had begun to translate the ‘Vita Nuova.’ A criticism (first published in the ‘Englishman's Magazine,’ 1831) of Tennyson's first poems is also noteworthy for its sound judgment and exposition of critical principles.
Hallam, Henry Fitzmaurice (1824–1850), named after his godfather, Lord Lansdowne, was born on 31 Aug. 1824, was educated at Eton from 1836 to 1841, and won the Newcastle medal. In October 1842 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, won a scholarship on his first trial at Easter, 1844, and won the first declamation prize (upon ‘The Influence of Religion on the various Forms of Art’) in his third year; graduated as ‘senior optime’ and second chancellor's medallist in January 1846, and left Cambridge at Christmas following. He had founded the ‘Historical’ debating club in his first year, belonged to the society generally known as ‘The Apostles,’ and occasionally spoke at the Union, and especially distinguished himself in defence of the Maynooth grant. He was called to the bar in Trinity term, 1850, and joined the midland circuit. He travelled with his family in the summer to Rome, was taken ill from feebleness of circulation, and died of exhaustion at Siena on 25 Oct. 1850. He was buried by the side of his brother, mother, and sister (Ellen) on 23 Dec. at Clevedon. A brief account of him by his friends, H. S. Maine and Franklin Lushington, showing that he was as much beloved as his brother, was privately printed soon after his death, and was added to the reprint of his brother's ‘Remains’ in 1853. The volume was published in 1863.[The writer has to thank Sir J. F. Lennard, bart., of Wickham Court, Kent, son-in-law of Henry Hallam, and Mrs. Robbins and Mrs. Brookfield, daughters of Sir C. A. Elton, and nieces of Mrs. Hallam, for information very kindly given. The best account of Hallam's life and estimate of his historical writings is the ‘Notice historique’ by Mignet, read before the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques on 3 Jan. 1862. Mignet had received information from the family.]