Life of William, Earl of Shelburne/Volume 2/Chapter 9
Of the great measures proposed by Pitt in the period which elapsed between his accession to power and the outbreak of the French Revolution, there was hardly one which cannot be shown to have had an origin in the brief period when Shelburne was at the head of the Treasury. If Pitt in 1785 proposed to complete the Irish commercial reforms begun in 1780 by North, it was Shelburne who, in the latter year when in opposition and in 1782 when in office, had declared that the American and African trade must be opened to Ireland, and colonial produce be allowed to be reshipped from that country to any part of Great Britain. If Pitt understood the urgent necessity of controlling the monopoly of the East India Company, so did Shelburne. If Pitt in 1785 introduced sweeping reforms into the public offices, it was Shelburne who in 1782 originated these measures. The sinking fund, whatever the advantages or disadvantages of it may have been, was as much if not more the idea of Shelburne than of Pitt. When the latter in 1787 introduced the commercial treaty with France, he was only carrying into effect the ideas which Shelburne had put forward in 1782 as those which ought to govern the relations between the two countries. It is not intended by these remarks to detract from the greatness of Pitt. His Administration from 1783 to the French Revolution must remain entitled to the praise of having first carried into effect the great economic principles which in more recent times have so entirely changed the face of Europe. Shelburne may however justly claim to have been his precursor. "Vous m'apprenez la nouvelle du monde la plus intéressante," writes Morellet to him at this period; "en me disant que vos principes sur la liberté du commerce et de la communication des nations se répandent et s'accréditent parmi vos négociants et vos manufacturiers et jusque dans votre capitale, où l'esprit de monopole a étè, je crois, plus dominant qu'en aucun autre lieu de l'Europe. Il m'est bien clair que ce progrès dans les lumières de votre nation est dû à vous-même. M. Smith et quelquefois le Doyen Tucker chez vous les ont bien saisies, ces vérités, mais ils n'ont fait que les mettre dans les livres et vous les avez mises dans le monde."
The speech which Lord Lansdowne delivered on the French treaty may be perhaps considered his ablest effort, and will bear comparison with the speech made by Pitt on the same occasion. "Is the old commercial system to be changed as totally erroneous, and should France for any political reason make an exception in this change, were," he said in reply to the Bishop of Llandaff, "the two great questions before the House. The first required very little discussion. Truth had made its own way. Commerce, like other sciences, had simplified itself. There was no science that had not done so. A right reverend prelate had said that our commercial system required no alteration, which, with great submission, he thought could not be said of anything; and, if the question was put to him, he believed he would not say it of the Church. It was unnecessary to define the progress of the change. A great minister in Holland first opened the eyes of modern Europe upon commercial subjects. Men of letters in different countries contributed their aid to develop and extend the principles of free trade. Ministers of the first eminence in a neighbouring country adopted and pushed them still further, more or less, as suited their different views of considering the subject. The old calculations so much dwelt upon by the reverend prelate, gradually became exploded; and the idea of estimating the balance of each trade was given up."
He then proceeded to ridicule the notion that France had always been inimical to England, and alluded in support of his position to the conduct of Queen Elizabeth, Cromwell, and Sir Robert Walpole, who had all valued the French alliance. He acknowledged that William III. had adopted a very different system, but, he said, as there might be spots in the sun, it must be allowed, with all possible admiration of King William, that his foreign politics did not make the brightest part of his character as an English King, for his conduct was entirely governed by his aversion to Louis XIV.
To those who argued that France was our natural enemy and never could be otherwise, he replied, that the circumstances were entirely changed since the time of William III. England, he said, had no natural enemy, except the powers that kept 300,000 men under arms, maintained for the sake of conquests, and not for defence; they were the enemies of mankind, and merited that all Europe should join against them. He then proceeded to condemn the partition of Poland and the conduct of the Northern Powers.
After thus pronouncing on the policy of the measure, he proceeded to criticize some or the details, amongst which he specified the choice of the articles on which the French import duties were to be lowered, but he confessed that in making these observations he was bound to recollect the expression of the Duke of Marlborough: "I find many very ready to say what I ought to have done when a battle is over; but I wish some of these persons would come and tell me what I ought to do before the battle." Notwithstanding these expressions, he was accused of having spoken on both sides of the question. "I am accused," he thereupon retorted, "of speaking on both sides, because I have not from friendship towards the Ministers, forborne to state my objections to many parts of the measure under discussion; and because I have not, in complaisance to the Opposition, withheld my tribute of applause to the principle. The fact is, that throughout life I have stood aloof from parties. It constitutes my pride and my principle, to belong to no faction, but to approve every measure on its own ground, free from all connection. Such is my political creed."
The debates on the French Treaty did not end without his becoming involved in a violent controversy with one of his former colleagues. He had observed that some representation ought to have been made during the negotiation of the treaty, on the fortifications in the course of erection at Cherbourg. The Duke of Richmond, Master-General of the Ordnance, then declared that England had nothing more to do with Cherbourg than France had to do with Portsmouth or Plymouth. Lord Lansdowne replied that he did not think it at all probable that the French would object to our fortifying our coast, since in the event of an invasion they would take possession of the fortresses as advantageous posts. Roused by this sarcasm, the Duke of Richmond accused him of having approved those very fortifications in 1782, and appealed to Mr. Pitt in support of his statement, while Lord Lansdowne produced a letter from the Duke of Richmond himself as evidence on the other side. The altercation was renewed several nights in succession, and became so acrimonious, that it put an end to the friendship of the two illustrious disputants, who it was even reported were about to have a duel. The general wish of the Whigs was that they should fight, that one should be shot, and the other hanged for it. No encounter however ensued, and Lord Lansdowne retired to the "woods" from which, as he assured the House of Lords, "he was just come," without having to add another duel to his exploits against Colonel Fullarton.
In these "woods" he now generally remained for the greater part of the year, avoiding London and Parliament. His relations with the Government were naturally delicate, from the relative positions of Pitt and himself. With the Opposition he refused to hold any communication. They made it a principle, he said, to oppose everything right or wrong, and thereby to stifle and mislead public opinion. Faction was however the weapon most natural to a party which, while professing to be more liberal than the Government, was in reality behind the time on all the great questions of the day.
Under these circumstances it was only natural that Lord Lansdowne should prefer the society he gathered around him at Bowood and the occupations of country life to the game of politics in London. He at the same time kept up a busy correspondence, both at home and abroad, chiefly on economic subjects, to which he was now turning his attention in an increasing degree. Morellet kept him informed of all that was passing in France, Arthur Lee of the state of affairs in America, and Orde of events in Ireland; while Baring and Jekyll supplied the latest commercial and political news from London.
One effect of the study of the principles of political economy was to convince him more and more that the terrible condition of the rural poor, especially in his own neighbourhood, was in no small degree owing to the very laws intended for their relief. "I have long been mortified," he wrote to a friend, "to see the state of the poor in my own neighbourhood, and for some years past have given the state of them a great deal of my attention and observation. I am persuaded that whatever measure is adopted, the present poor rate should be immediately limited, and a plan prescribed for its gradual extinction. There should be total suppression of ale houses, except where it is necessary for the accommodation of travellers. There are no ale houses in France. What a difference must this make in the prices of all manufactures, public morals, and police. The clubs or friendly societies should be encouraged by all possible means. There might be a parish holiday or festival once a year, with music or any other attraction, and upon the same day throughout England.
"Courts of Conscience should be abolished and a power of arrests for small sums taken away, as well as all fees. Surely some County or Parish Court, which would be still better, might be planned if not revived, to do the business allotted to Courts of Conscience, without fee or reward; or if there must be any, let it be by way of salary from the parish or county.
"It is a shocking consideration that the public prisons should be nurseries of vice and infamy instead of places of reform and contrition, and an idea not to be endured that any officers of the Crown, much less judges, should owe any emolument directly or indirectly to such a source, or that it should cost so much as it does to bring any criminal to justice.
"I have no opinion of hospitals.
"A separate Act might be passed relative to the education of children. To give the children of the poor two or three years daily education and eight or ten years Sunday education, which would consist in nothing more than in inculcating the simplest of the simple principles of the Gospel, namely, public obedience, the duties and affections of domestic life, and contentment, under the doctrine of future rewards and punishments. It were to be wished that the clergy would for their own honour, as well as for the sake or public order and decency, lend themselves roundly to this part, from the bishops downward; but I despair of this and am apprehensive it might endanger the scheme, if it was so much as hinted; I conceive there can be no great difficulty nor expense, from the calculations I have made in my own neighbourhood, to effect it perhaps better without them.
"What I most desire is that no half measures may be pursued. If ale houses are only in part abolished, if the seeds of the old system are let remain, if a faint establishment is made for education, &c., it will only make things worse, and add expense to experiment. I find what is wanting among us on almost all plans is an honest executive, and I would rather see any one of these heads fairly tried, than the whole faintly attempted."
In order to assist the spread of correct views on this and other economic subjects, especially among the middle and manufacturing classes, which he said were sure to govern England in the long run, Lord Lansdowne at this period interested himself in the publication of an English translation of Condorcet's Life of Turgot. He considered Turgot a great character, even if not a great statesman as he was generally thought to be, and was especially captivated with his idea of establishing certain fixed and fundamental principles of Law, Commerce, Morality, and Politics, comprehensive enough to embrace all religions and countries. He could not however agree with Turgot that the excellence of Monarchy consisted in the power it possessed of changing the laws without regard to popular prejudices; believing that the ulterior evils which spring from all summary exercises of power, outweigh the immediate advantages of the reforms so carried; nor could he with Turgot consent to regard an armed foreign intervention as in the abstract ever justifiable. A country which is oppressed would, he thought, be the better for righting herself, and working out her own political salvation; England had done without foreign assistance against George III., and America, he considered, might have dispensed with the aid of France. Under the influences of these sentiments he proposed to establish a newspaper called the Neutralist, which should be above party, and devoted to the advocacy of free trade doctrines; and he begged Price to abandon his theological wrangles, and leaving the Doctors of Divinity and the Archbishops "to die by their own hands," to devote the rest of his life to crying down war and preaching up peace. If sovereigns, he said, are offended with each other, let them fight single-handed without involving the people in their silly quarrels; kings had different interests, but the people throughout the world had but one interest, if properly understood. The rights of neutrals, contrary to the views he had formerly held, he wished to see carried to the furthest point possible. To the mere introduction of the principle of Free Ships, Free Goods, he indeed objected, and stated as much in Parliament during the discussion of the French Treaty. In his opinion it went either too far or not far enough. If war were declared, the English carrying trade, likely under free trade principles to be the greatest of the world, would, he foresaw, be at once transferred to neutral flags; while the country would at the same time be deprived of those advantages which as a belligerent she had enjoyed under the old rule of the Consolato del Mare. He therefore regretted that Pitt in his French Treaty had not gone further, and followed the example of the treaty which had been recently negotiated by Franklin between the United States and Prussia, under the terms of which even the merchant vessels of belligerents were exempted from capture.
Nor were these the only subjects on which the views of Lord Lansdowne were far in advance of those of his contemporaries. In the conversation already quoted with Pitt he is found pointing out to the Minister the impossibility of placing the finances of the country on a really satisfactory basis in keeping with the newest financial ideas, without having recourse to an income tax, and in a letter to Dr. Price he enlarges upon the necessity of more attention being given in education to modern as compared with ancient languages, and of shortening the length of the vacations of the English universities and of introducing public examinations. Prejudices however like other mortals Lord Lansdowne had, and of one in particular, notwithstanding all his philosophy, he never could free his mind. This was his hatred of the Scotch. "I can scarce conceive," he writes to Price in words almost worthy of Dr. Johnson when dictating on the same subject, "a Scotchman capable of liberality, and capable of impartiality. That nation is composed of such a sad set of innate cold-hearted impudent rogues that I sometimes think it a comfort that when you and I shall walk together in the next world (which I hope we shall as well as in this) we cannot possibly then have any of them sticking to our skirts. In the meantime it's a melancholy thing that there is no finding any other people that will take pains, or be amenable even to the best purposes."
Amongst other visitors at Bowood at this period were Mirabeau and Romilly. Lord Lansdowne's attention had been called to Romilly partly by the praises of Mirabeau, partly by a pamphlet on the Rights and Duties of Juries, which Romilly had published during the proceedings against the Dean of St. Asaph's, and by the desire of making acquaintance with Romilly's friend Dumont, at that time the pastor of a Protestant church at St. Petersburg, whom he intended to engage to come to England to undertake the education of his younger son Henry, "wishing to attempt a new line of education with him."
"I was received by Lord Lansdowne," says Romilly, "in the most flattering manner. From that time he anxiously cultivated my acquaintance and my friendship; and to that friendship I owe, that I ever knew the affectionate wife who has been the author of all my happiness." The friendship thus formed was still further increased by the answer written by Romilly to Madan's Thoughts on Executive Justice; the author of which, starting from the maxim that the certainty of punishment is more efficacious than its severity, went on to advocate the propriety of rigidly enforcing the whole penal code of England, in every instance and in all its barbarity. Mirabeau relates that Lord Lansdowne told him that he wished convicted criminals could be examined with a view to a philosophical study of their characters. "We govern men," he said, "and we do not know them; we do not even endeavour to know them." Lord Lansdowne wished to bring Romilly into Parliament, and spoke of him to Morellet as the successor of Dunning in his confidence.
Of Mirabeau while at Bowood, Romilly has preserved a curious anecdote. "He was fond," he says, "of bitter controversies in conversation with celebrated men. He wrote me a letter while I was on circuit in 1785, in which he gave me a very detailed account of a dispute which he supposed himself to have had with Gibbon, the historian, at Lord Lansdowne's table, in which he expressed himself with so much violence, that he seems in some degree to admit that he was to blame. The most extraordinary circumstance however is, that he never had any such dispute with Gibbon, and that at the time when he supposed it to have taken place, Gibbon was actually residing at Lausanne."
A very different figure from Romilly or Mirabeau was frequently to be seen in their company. This was John Britton, the Aubrey of the eighteenth century. He used himself to relate how he came to Bowood, from Chippenham, a town which it is to be hoped has recovered from the terrible condition in which the antiquary describes it; for there he says owing to party spirit "friendships were turned into enmities, and families were separated from and divided against each other; discord and enmity pervaded the whole population, and it was painful for a peace-loving person to visit any of their houses, and to find nothing but back-biting and scandal." The amiable inhabitants of this pleasant town had solemnly warned Britton against ever going near the owner of Bowood, who they declared was "high, stern, and haughty" to strangers. Britton accordingly started, as he says, with a full recognition of the embarrassed situation of Goldsmith in his interview with the Duke of Newcastle, and was agreeably surprised to find the exact reverse of what he had been led to expect. He was told to stay, provided with all the books and maps and plans he wanted, and on leaving was presented with a copy of Andrew and Drury's large survey of Wiltshire, and asked to repeat his visit. It was owing, he says, to the encouragement he then received that his great work, The Beauties of Wiltshire, was undertaken. On returning to Chippenham he found that in consequence of his hospitable reception he was in future to be himself included in the abuse so freely levelled at his host.
Britton has left some account of the large picture gallery which then existed at Bowood, and he mentions that he was informed by Lord Lansdowne, that he had purposely added to it a large number of the works of English painters in order to encourage art, and that with the same object he had advocated the adornment of the interior of St. Paul's with appropriate sculptures by modern artists. Of the disfigurement of Westminster Abbey by monuments, Lord Lansdowne had a very keen appreciation, but he appears to have hoped for better things. He fortunately did not live to see the figure of Mr. Perceval blocking up one of the finest windows, or that of William Pitt with his two legs straddling apart, in order to enable the economic Nollekens to hew the marble for the head, from between the legs of the statue.
Of the art collections made by Lord Lansdowne, the gallery of ancient statuary at Lansdowne House now alone remains. Gavin Hamilton, the painter and antiquary, had commenced excavations in the neighbourhood of Rome, as a speculation. The violence of barbarian invaders, and in a still greater degree the bigotry of Christian iconoclasts, had caused the overthrow and partial destruction of the statues which, themselves the spoils of Egypt and of Greece, it had been the pride of the conquerors of the world to make the adornment of their temples and public places. Gavin Hamilton set to work assiduously to recover whatever had escaped the combined ravages of time and religious fury. His first researches were made in 1769 upon the site of Hadrian's Tiburtine villa, now called the Pantanello, where some excavations had already been made by Signer Lolli for the benefit of Cardinal Polignac and the King of Prussia. "They began at a passage to an old drain cut in the tufa, where they found an exit to the water of Pantanello, after having worked some weeks by lamplight and up to the knees in stinking mud, full of toads, serpents, and other vermin." Undeterred by these difficulties, and assisted by the knowledge of one of M. Lolli's workmen, they pushed on to a new spot in the same vicinity. "It is difficult," says Hamilton, writing to Mr. Townley, "to account for the contents of the place, which consisted of a vast number of trees cut down and thrown into this hole, probably from despite, as having been part of some sacred grove intermixed with statues, &c., all of which have shared the same fate." The Egyptian statues had evidently been the object of special ill-treatment. Nevertheless, as many as fiftyseven pieces of statuary, in a greater or less degree of preservation, were discovered. Among these are the statues of Cincinnatus, of Paris, the groups of Cupid and Psyche, the Antinous, the bust of a victor in the Olympic games, the Antinous as an Egyptian deity, the statue of Pudicitia, the head of a Muse, two Egyptian idols in black marble, and a bas-relief of the same material, now at Lansdowne House.
In 1771 Gavin Hamilton extended his researches to the Tenuta of San Gregorio, then the property of Cardinal Chigi, commonly called Tor Colombaro, near the Appian way. Two places were selected, one supposed to have been a temple of Domitian, the other a villa of Gallienus. The first valuable discovery at the latter was the M. Aurelius, larger than life, and the statue, formerly named Antinous and Meleager, but now recognized as a replica of the Mercury of the Vatican and pronounced by Canova to be superior to it.
Encouraged by these results, Gavin Hamilton extended his researches further to Grotto Ferrata at Albano and to Monte Cagnolo—the latter of which two sites he esteemed one of the richest mines of antiques ever opened in the neighbourhood of Rome—to Prima Porta at Monte Rotondo, to Nemi, and elsewhere in the same neighbourhood. In nearly every case success rewarded his efforts. He is next heard of in 1772 at Porta Marina, near Ostia, working on the site of some ancient Thermae Maritimae, and among other ancient statues he then discovered a torso which he restored as Diomede carrying off the Palladium, and sold to Lord Shelburne. This statue is however in reality a duplicate of Myron's Discobolus, similar to that in the Townley Collection, now at the British Museum. An estate at Roma Vecchia belonging to the Hospital of San Giovanni Laterano was the next scene of his labours. Here was found the Aesculapius, the size of life, now at Lansdowne House.
Gavin Hamilton was not free from the imputation resting on other professional collectors of antiques, of having made up statues, and his letters contain more than one frank admission on the subject. It is said that even Nollekens was in the habit of furnishing torsos with heads and limbs, staining them with tobacco-water, and selling them for enormous sums; and there appears to be a suspicion that the head of the statue of Marcus Aurelius at Lansdowne House belonged to another and inferior statue found by Hamilton near the same spot at Tor Colombaro.
Hamilton died in 1797 at Rome. His decease is said to have been occasioned by anxiety of mind and fear of robbery by the French army of occupation.
Another well-known figure in Bowood society was the Dutch physician Ingenhousz. At what period he came to England is not clear. It is probable that his introduction to Shelburne was through Priestley or Franklin. He soon became a regular habitué of Bowood. Apart from his writings and discoveries, Ingenhousz deserves to be recollected as one of the first scientific men of the day, who devoted his attention to the overthrow of the delusions existing in the popular mind on the subject of health. He is said to have anticipated the saying attributed to an eminent modern statesman, that dirt is matter in the wrong place. Those who now mourn over the slow progress made in these matters, may at least console themselves by reflecting that schoolmasters no longer believe it to be wholesome to inhale the air which has passed through the lungs of their pupils, and do not close the windows, in order purposely to facilitate that operation. Shelburne used to say that he always believed Bentham to be the most good-natured man in the world till he had made an acquaintance with Ingenhousz. The social charms of the learned physician were not however shared by his wife, who seems to have been a second Xantippe. This ill-matched pair had been for some time living apart, when some of the guests at Bowood forged a letter announcing that Mme. Ingenhousz would shortly arrive at the house. Her husband at once took steps towards leaving it himself, and was only prevented from actually departing, by a frank confession on the part of the authors of the letter.
The odd personal appearance of the doctor, and the strange tongue which he spoke, gradually caused him to be looked upon as "uncanny" by the country folk who lived around. When late at night the lamp was still seen to be burning in the little room beyond the library overlooking the terrace at Bowood, then the peculiar sanctum of Ingenhousz and still known as "the Laboratory," the inhabitants of the village which then existed on the opposite hill whispered to one another that the learned doctor was sitting up in the company of the Father of Evil and plotting the destruction of mankind.
Ingenhousz was especially celebrated as an operator of inoculation against small-pox; and an uncertain story would even connect him with the discovery of vaccination. According to this story he was the real discoverer, and either careless of fame, or unaware of the importance of his own achievement, he communicated it to Jenner without reserving any rights. The two doctors, so the story proceeds, went over to a farmhouse called Pinhills near Calne, and there succeeded in persuading a female farm servant to allow herself to be vaccinated. This servant used to relate how her friends expected her to have swollen suddenly or fallen down dead, as a punishment for trusting herself to the experiments of the strange foreigner. None of these fatal consequences however ensued; the farm servant lived to a very advanced old age; the experiment succeeded, and the success of vaccination was assured. Such is the story. Credat Judaeus Apella.
Ingenhousz died at Bowood. He was going to leave it for fear of giving trouble in his last illness. Lord Lansdowne said he should not end his days in an inn, and induced him to stay.
The figure however which is most indissolubly connected with Bowood at the end of the last century is that of Jeremy Bentham. Four years after the publication of the Fragment on Government, Shelburne happened to read the work and determined to make the acquaintance of the author, and in July 1780 called on him in his chambers in Lincoln's Inn. "The visit to Lincoln's Inn produced one to Shelburne House, and that one of some weeks to Bowood." The acquaintance thus formed soon ripened into friendship, and Bentham became an almost constant inmate of Bowood. "Of esteem not to speak of affection," he says, "marks more unequivocal one man could not receive from another, than, in the course of about twelve years, I received from Lord Shelburne. Though not its existence, my attachment to the great cause of mankind received its first development in the affections I found in that heart, and the company I found in that house. Amongst the friendships it gave me, was Dumont's; one that it helped to form, was Romilly's. … By Lord Mansfield I was disappointed; at Lord Shelburne's I was indemnified; at Ken Wood, I should have been mortified and disgusted; at Bowood I was caressed and delighted. … Lord Shelburne raised me from the bottomless pit of humiliation he made me feel I was something."
Bentham has left an amusing account of his nervousness on arriving, of his anxiety to persuade Mr. Alexander Popham to convoy him to the house; of his attempts to get rid of the company of a chambermaid who was travelling in the same coach; and how one of his earliest exploits was to assist in carrying off to bed a drunken German servant, who at a late hour of the night had deposited his carcase in the housekeeper's room, instead of in his own. At Bowood Bentham found a large society, including many of the leading men of the day; but the sketches of their characters which he has left are unfortunately too much disfigured by his own prejudices to be of much interest. They all seemed to him wanting in the great elements of statesmanship; always engaged in discussing what was; never what ought to be. A due appreciation of the Fragment on Government was at this period the one unfailing test of merit with Bentham, and it may be doubted if the favourable opinion he formed of Lord Shelburne did not as entirely depend on the approval of that work expressed by his host, as the opposite estimate he made of Dunning and Camden, to both of whom the Fragment had been attributed, was due to their neglect of it. Bentham too was very easily offended, and very suspicious. He was, for example, perpetually haunted with the idea that his friends were plotting to marry him to one of their relations. Camden seems one day to have told him in joke that he played on the violin too loud, and another day that he ate too much, and Bentham took these observations for serious insults. Another day Barré told him that he had got into a scrape with the lawyers by publishing the Theory of Morals and Legislation, which was written at Bowood, and Bentham imagined at once that the Colonel had a dark design in making this observation. His host asked him on another occasion, "What it was Mr. Bentham could do for him," and Mr. Bentham at once saw in the remark the evidence of another dark design. This is how he describes his first meeting with Dunning. "It was one evening after dinner that he made his appearance. He came fresh from Bristol, of which city he was Recorder. I found him standing in a small circle, recounting his exploits. They were such as, when associated with the manner in which he spoke of them, and the feelings that sat on his countenance, brought up to me Lord Chief Justice Jefferies. He had been the death of two human beings: he looked and spoke as if regretting there had not been two thousand. Upon my approach, the scowl that sat on his brow seemed more savage than before. The cause I had not at that time any suspicion of: the effect was but too visible. As I came up, he was wiping his face: the weather was warm, and he had in various ways been heated. It was the tail only of a sentence that I heard. It appeared to me incorrect: I expressed a hope that it was so. Subdued and respectful (I well remember) was my tone; for, notwithstanding the freedom to which no member of the Bar could have been unaccustomed—the temerity, such as it was, was by no means unaccompanied with the fear of giving offence. The scowl was deeper still: he made no answer: he took no further notice of me." Dunning was indeed very ugly; his contemporaries said his ugliness was such that no artist less experienced than Sir Joshua Reynolds could give adequate expression to it; but on Bentham the scowl of Dunning produced no temporary effect; years after, when Dunning was dead, he continued to depreciate his memory and to describe as "a narrow-minded man and a mere lawyer" the illustrious statesman whom Sir William Jones delighted to honour, and of whom Lord Lansdowne, himself not given to the use of unnecessary compliments in his writings, whatever may have been the case in his conversation, has left the following character:—
"He had the peculiar characteristic of a great man, intuition. Like Shakespeare and Milton, nature hid nothing from him. He had the greatest power of reasoning which can be conceived, and such a habit of it, that he could not slight a cause, no more than an able artist could suffer a piece of work to go imperfect from his hands. He could not pass a link in the chain, and had such a faculty of arrangement that he would take an absolute chaos of matter, and return it to you in an instant so clear and distinct, as of itself to present a proper judgment without need of discussion. His speeches at the bar were sometimes long (in Parliament he was always short), and tried the attention of his hearers, in an age indisposed to close investigation of any sort, much more to mathematical demonstration, without which his accurate mind could not be content in any cause which admitted of it. It was no want of neatness nor of wit, two qualities which he possessed in such a superior degree, that upon many occasions they appeared to be his strength. One proof of the former, among a multitude which remain, is the famous Resolution of the House of Commons relative to the Power of the Crown which he dictated, after a long professional attendance, in a few words comprehending everything, pleasing everybody, and commanding the union of all within and without doors. His wit, in which, as Sir W. Jones says, no mortal ever surpassed him, was not more surprising than his perfect command of it. He never suffered it to interfere with his argument, nor ever sought to shine or to captivate, when he could convince. His professional knowledge was universally acknowledged. All parties allowed him to be at the head of the bar. His industry, his liberality, his acuteness added to his capacity, procured him the personal confidence, reverence and attachment of almost all the great families, who always found him no less a gentleman than he was a lawyer. The only doubt was whether he excelled most at Equity or Common Law. There was none as to anybody's coming up to him in either. The fact is well known of the present Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, beginning a law argument in the absence of Mr. Dunning, but upon hearing him Hemm in the course of it, his tone so visibly changed that there was not a doubt in any part of the House of the reason of it.
"He had the most undaunted courage of body and mind, of which innumerable proofs must remain among the profession, from the daily instances he gave of it, in fighting up his own way against the frowns and arts of Lord Mansfield the cause of many a poor client against that judge's partiality and caprice, and the Law of England itself against the various novelties which Lord Mansfield's vanity and unconstitutional principles made him perseveringly attempt, which Mr. Dunning as perseveringly resisted. His presence of mind never failed him. His mind furnished him with resources on all occasions. His sagacity to distinguish and his spirit to seize an occasion showed itself in the advantage he took in conjunction with Mr. Barre to move Lord Chatham's public funeral and the provision for his family. He certainly had from nature great ambition, but his pride and his principle set him so far above it, that it may be safely affirmed, that no man living or dead, knew the object of it. His peerage was forced upon him, because he felt it a momentary deviation from his profession to accept the Duchy of Lancaster till the King's Bench became vacant, not being satisfied with the precedent of Lord Lechmere, and not at all regarding the late advancement of others of the profession to that dignity, and what influenced him still more, because he thought he could be of more use to his friends in the House of Commons. He refused for a course of years the first situations from motives of principle and friendship. This last, however great his other qualities, was in truth the predominant feature of his character. In the various occurrences of life, it required the whole force of his reason to keep this within the bounds of wisdom. The progress of his fortune as well as the habits of his profession connected him with many, not one of whom he ever forsook. There was no sacrifice he was not ready to make to any of his connections, no fatigue which he would not undergo, no risk which he would not run. The Greatest Person in the kingdom said he never knew friendship till he knew him. The most obscure connection he had cannot say he slighted him, or suffered a slight to pass upon him absent or present.
"His character would not be human without some shades. He was used to say of himself that he loved and hated in the extreme. He certainly had very little mercy on those who excited his contempt by any tendency to meanness, mischief, or malignity, while he scarce could be induced to allow a fault in those he loved. He carried this so far that he always retained a strong prejudice on the side of such causes as he once maintained. His excessive habit of business made even relaxation after a short time burdensome to him, and at intervals tiresome, which joined to the sensibility of his character made his temper sometimes difficult. He said of himself that he was an Epicurean not a Stoic, and that he did not devote more time to the society of his friends, than Sir Matthew Hale did to writing in another profession, which belonged to a different class of men to inculcate. He perhaps spared himself as little in his pleasures as in his business, and might by this means have contributed to break up a constitution which naturally was not a very strong one. If these shades existed in his character, there were only these; and in fact they do not deserve the name, for they were the overflowings of his talents, and the result of his virtues. His eminence, his hospitality, his power of protection, necessarily attracted adulation, in which line none went such lengths, even so as to nauseate his most intimate friends, as one gentleman of his profession, who owed him the greatest obligations, and—such malignity is there to be found in human nature—has been supposed to be the author of the single reflection which has attempted to be cast on his memory. This regarded the amount of his fortune, and went so far as to insinuate that he acquired part of it by playing in the public funds, than which nothing could have been more inconsistent with his character or with the whole tenor of his life, which made it impossible. This scandalous report is however happily refutable beyond the possibility of malice, by the inspection of Mr. Child's books, which are open to anybody, where the progress of his fortune clearly appears, as well as the whole disposition of it from time to time, and only leaves a lesson behind it to great men in future, to beware of sycophants. To do his rivals justice, they have joined in doing honour to his memory, and one false voice excepted, his character is likely to transmit itself by unanimous consent to posterity, as that of the first lawyer of his age, the warmest friend, a most dutiful son (which he proved by continual respectful attentions to his father, who died only a few years before him), an affectionate brother (which appears by a long correspondence, which I suppose is preserved, as well as by his will), a tender husband, and a most illustrious citizen."
It is pleasant to turn from the sketches which exhibit the weak side of Bentham's character to the epigrammatic sentences in which he describes the less eminent visitors, who were probably not expected to have views on the Fragment of Government. There was, for example, Lady Mary Bayntun, "cultivated ," and notwithstanding her ancestry—she was the daughter of Lord Coventry by his marriage with the beautiful Miss Gunning—"as dowdy as a country girl, and as ugly as a horse"; and Edward Poore, a lawyer and fellowstudent of Bentham at Oxford, so pompous and affected in his language as to describe rubbish as "quisquillious matter"; and Sir J. Long, "a little stiff-rumped fellow, who knew nothing except persons." Then there was Captain Blankett, the friend of Admiral Keppel, "one of the most wrong-headed fellows," says Bentham, "I think I ever met with; putting in his oar on every occasion, talking , and spoiling every discussion that is started." "Mr. Tongue," he goes on, "is an insipid insignificant man, who lives at Bristol. I could perceive no other bond of connection than the circumstance of his once having rented a house about a mile from Lord Shelburne's which his Lordship has just pulled down." "General Johnson is a neighbour of Lord Shelburne's: he is Equerry to the King and has been in waiting. He is an old man, is deaf at times, and has got the nickname (so I learned by accident) of 'Old Sulky'; he travels in a leather conveniency of the same name."
Of the character of his host the notices are naturally frequent in Bentham's letters. "The master of Bowood," he says, "to judge from everything I have seen yet, is one of the pleasantest men to live with that ever God put breath into: his whole study seems to be to make everybody about him happy—servants not excepted; and in their countenances one may read the effects of his endeavours. In his presence they are as cheerful as they are respectful and attentive; and when they are alone you may see them merry, but at all times as quiet as so many mice. To such a poor devil as I they are as respectful and attentive as if I were a lord. It would please you to see how attentive he is upon all occasions to keep out of sight every idea of protection—everything that would give me to understand that he looked upon it as a favour done me to introduce me to great people." "His manner was generally calm." "The only instances of fire I have seen him exhibit," says Bentham, "have been when he has been declaiming about politics; yet though I frequently oppose him, and scarce ever join with him, he takes it all in the best part imaginable."
Some passages in the philosopher's letters however go far to explain the imputations of insincerity which pursued Lord Shelburne through life. "There was a prodigious deal of ambiguity," he says, "in the general tenor of his language on party subjects; whether genuine or affected I cannot be certain. I rather believe it genuine, because I find it the same on subjects in which party has nothing to do. He used frequently to say, 'Tell me what is right and proper—tell me what a man of virtue would do in this matter.' I told him that Balak, the son of Zippor, wanted Balaam to prophesy, who answered, 'That which the Lord puts into my mouth will I prophesy'; and that was the answer I made. There was artifice in him, but also genuine good feelings."
Lord Shelburne was prone to suspicion. Bentham, though quite unaware of his own failings in that respect, soon found out this defect in others. "Lord Shelburne," he says, "had a wildness about him, and conceived groundless suspicions about nothing at all. I remember going to ride out with one of his servants, and being accosted by some man, whom I spoke to out of pure civility; and on mentioning it to Lord Shelburne he seemed to think I was deserving of suspicion. About the last time I was at his house I mentioned something about Count Woronzof, and he fancied I had been sent by Woronzof to communicate it. He asked me what he could do for me. I told him 'nothing'; and he found this so different to the universal spirit of those about him, as to endear me to him.
"Yet there was about him a good deal of sympathy; a curious mixture, too, of what was natural and what was factitious. He had a sort of systematic plan for gaining people. I was quite surprised to find the interest he had shown towards me. The particulars did not immediately occur to my thoughts, nor did I immediately gather up the threads of them till long afterwards. He had a way of talking in fits and starts. His mind seemed always in a state of agitation with the passion of ambition and the desire of splendour. His head was not clear. He felt the want of clearness. He had had a most wretched education, and a foolish father and mother, of whose management of him he always talked with horror. When I once spoke to him of the family mausoleum he refused to show it to me; for he said it was associated with such disgraceful recollections. He took much pains to consult particular men. I remember going with him to Warwick Castle for a week. There came a man from Birmingham, a man of great eminence, whom he had sent for, to get all manner of details in relation to some branch of political economy." Bentham considered him to be in politics a man in advance of his time. "He did not talk," he says, "in the pride of ancestry. What endears his memory to me is, that though ambitious of rising, he was desirous of rising by means of the people. He was really radically disposed. He had quarrelled with the Whig aristocracy, who did not do him justice; so he had a horror of the clan, and looked towards them with great bitterness of feeling. That bitterness did not break out in words, though of him they spoke most bitterly."
The second Lady Shelburne did not follow the example of her predecessor in keeping a diary; but the letters of Bentham to his father to a certain extent fill the place of one, in giving a description of the daily life of the house of which Lady Shelburne was the mistress, and of the Society gathered around her. But let Bentham speak for himself:—
"Where shall I begin?—Let me see—the first place by common right, to the ladies. The ideas I brought with me respecting the female part of this family, are turned quite topsy-turvy, and unfortunately they are not yet cleared up. I had expected to find in Lady Shelburne, a Lady Louisa Fitzpatrick, sister of an Earl of Ossory, whom I remember at school: instead of her I find a lady who has for her sister a Miss Caroline Vernon: is not this the maid of honour, the sister to Lady G.? the lady who was fond of Lord C., and of whom he was fond? and whom he quitted for an heiress and a pair of horns? Be they who they may, the one is loveliest of matrons, the other of virgins: they have both of them more than I could wish of reserve; but it is a reserve of modesty rather than of pride. The quadrupeds, whom you know I love next, consist of a child a year old, a tiger, a spaniel, formerly attached to Lady Shelburne—at present to my Lord—besides four plebeian cats, who are taken no notice of, horses, &c., and a wild boar. The four first I have commenced a friendship with, especially the first of all, to whom I am body coachman extraordinary, en titre d'office. Henry (for that is his name), for such an animal, has the most thinking countenance I ever saw; being very clean, I can keep him without disgust, and even with pleasure, especially after having been rewarded, as I have just now, for my attention to him, by a pair of the sweetest smiles imaginable from his mamma and aunt. As Providence hath ordered it, they both play on the harpsichord, and at chess. I am flattered with the hopes of engaging with them, before long, either in war or harmony—not to-day—because whether you know it or not, it is Sunday. I know it having been paying my devotions—our church, the hall—our minister, a sleek young parson, the curate of the parish our saints, a naked Mercury, an Apollo in the same dress, and a Venus de Medicis—our congregation, the two ladies, Captain Blankett, and your humble servant, upon the carpet by the minister—below the domestics, . Among the former I was concerned to see poor Mathews the librarian, who I could not help thinking had as good a right to be upon the carpet as myself.
"Of Lord Fitzmaurice I know nothing, but from his bust and his letters: the first bespeaks him a handsome youth, the latter an ingenious one. He is not sixteen, and already he writes better than his father. He is under the care of a Mr. Jervis, a dissenting minister, who has had the care of him since he was six years old. He has never been at any public school of education. He has now for a considerable time been travelling about the kingdom that he may know something of his own country before he goes to others, and be out of the way of adulation."
"Tuesday, August 28th.
"I have just been playing billiards with Lady Shelburne. Miss Vernon looked on, but would not play, saying she had never played before. There is an event for you. By-and-by I shall come to telling you every time I buckle my shoe. I almost despair of getting them to do the harpsichord. To-morrow, however, the house I hope will be clear; and then perhaps I shall have some chance. The chess and the billiards were her own proposal: the harpsichord I must beg and pray for."
"Friday, August 31st.
"I do what I please, and have what I please. I ride and read with my lord, walk with a dog, stroke the leopard, draw little Henry out in his coach, and play at chess and billiards with the ladies. My lord's custom is to read to them after tea, when they are at work; and now nothing will serve him but, in spite of everything I can say, he will make them hear my driest of all dry metaphysics. He takes the advantage of my being here to read it in my presence, that I may explain things. This has gone on for several evenings."
"Sept. 15th, 1781.
"Will. Pitt you know for certain; in his conversation there is nothing of the orator—nothing of that hauteur and suffisance one would expect; on the contrary, he seems very good-natured, and a little raw. I was monstrously frightened at him, but when I came to talk with him, he seemed frightened at me; so that if anything should happen to jumble us together, we may perhaps be good pax; which however is not very likely: for I don't know very well what ideas we are likely to have in common. After beating Miss Vernon, I have just been beating him at chess; an inglorious conquest, as he is scarce so much in my hands as I am in yours."
"Lord Shelburne values himself much on his friends, and on their mutual fidelity. With Alderman Townshend, he says, he has been connected twenty-two years; with Lord Camden twenty-one; with Dunning eighteen; and with Elliot, I think he added sixteen. Elliot brought in seven members, he says the last time. Gibbon he brought in for private friendship; though as it turned out, much to his regret. Elliot offered, he says, to take his recommendation for some of them; but, at that time, he neglected the offer through despondency."
"Wednesday, Sept. 19th, 1781.
"Barré loves to sit over his claret, pushes it about pretty briskly, and abounds in stories that are well told and very entertaining. He really seems to have a great command of language; he states clearly and forcibly; and upon all points, his words are fluent and well chosen."
"On Monday Lord Dartrey left us. It was he that pushed the bottle about, and not Colonel Barré. I beg the Colonel's pardon. … You can't imagine what a reserve there is in the manners of this house, and how little there has been of gallantry towards Miss V. in the behaviour of all the men that have been here, young and old, so far as I have had occasion to observe.
"On Saturday there dined with us a Mrs. Johns. Mrs. Johns was a sort of dependant of Lord Shelburne's first wife; lives gratis in a little house of my lord's close by; is a Methodist; comes a-begging to great people for money to give in charity; is a conversable woman, who has seen the world, and has court connections. She has distributed money for the Queen; and though she has the dress and appearance of an upper servant, has had correspondence with all manner of great people, and could be made use of occasionally to put news about."
"Sept. 30th, 1781.
"After dinner, while the gentlemen are still at their bottle, I steal away to the library, where I meet Lady Shelburne, and wait on her to her dressing-room: there we have music of some kind or other, unless there happen to be ladies in the house who are not musically disposed. When the gentlemen leave the dining-room, or if the weather permit of it, have done walking, we meet them again in the library to drink coffee; after which, unless Lady Shelburne wants me to make one at whist, it is absolutely necessary I should be in readiness to play at chess with Miss Fox, whose cavaliere servente I have been ever since she came here from Warwick Castle in exchange for Miss Vernon."
It was on occasions such as those when Lord Dartrey was passing the bottle, and Barré was in full spirits, that attempts would be made by the guests to extract from their host the secret of the authorship of Junius, which he was supposed to possess. To an attempt of this character Lord Lansdowne once replied by saying that he knew the secret as much as did the servant who stood behind his chair. This happened to be a negro (possibly the boy whose baptism is mentioned in the first Lady Shelburne's diary), known in the household by the name of Jacko. Thenceforward he went by the appellation of Junius. Some years afterwards it began to be reported, to the astonishment of the literary world, that a handsome gravestone stood in Calne churchyard, bearing the inscription "Here lies Junius." The great secret it was now thought was about at length to be revealed. The mighty unknown was the person lying underneath the gravestone in Calne churchyard. An inquiry was set on foot; Lord Lansdowne himself was appealed to, but the tombstone was not to be found. It appeared that the vicar had caused it to be removed, for the person who slept beneath was only the black servant, and the stone itself had been surreptitiously introduced into the churchyard by some person of waggish propensities.
It was through Lord Lansdowne that the acquaintance between Bentham and Dumont was formed. The first notice of Dumont occurs in Bentham's works in 1788. Romilly had sent the former some of Bentham's works the MSS. of which were in French, under the title of "." Dumont offered to rewrite portions, and superintend the publication of the whole, saying that the author was worthy of serving the cause of liberty. Shortly afterwards Dumont was invited to Bowood and became a constant visitor. For a long time a room in the house was known by his name.
Amongst other persons of whom Bentham formed an unfavourable opinion was Priestley, whom he accused of being cold and assuming, and of pretending to have made discoveries which were no discoveries at all. Their acquaintance however did not originate at Bowood, for in 1781 the connection which has been described in a previous chapter was terminated. During his residence at Bowood, Priestley had exercised a general supervision over the care and education of Lord Fitzmaurice and Mr. William Petty, who were being brought up under the immediate care of Mr. Jervis, a Nonconformist minister. Mr. William Petty died in 1778, and Lord Fitzmaurice was now growing up. To the former Priestley was peculiarly attached. He speaks of him as having made attainments in knowledge far beyond anything he had known at his age. In connection with his death, a story is told which is not an unfair instance of the manner in which ghost stories, and the evidence for them, are invented.
It came to be asserted that the ghost of Mr. Petty had appeared to Mr. Alsop, a Calne doctor, on the night of his decease. Mr. Petty, so the story ran, caught cold, and was being attended by Mr. Alsop, whose treatment promised a favourable result. Towards evening however the symptoms becoming decidedly worse, the family were alarmed, and Mr. Jervis sent for Mr. Alsop. It was night before this gentleman reached Bowood; but the moon showed every object clearly. Mr. Alsop had passed through the lodge gate, and was proceeding to the house, when to his astonishment, he saw his patient coming towards him, in all the buoyancy of childhood, restored apparently to health and vigour. "I am delighted, my dear lord," he exclaimed, "to see you; but for heaven's sake go immediately within doors; it is death to you to be here at this time of night." The child made no reply, but turning round was quickly out of sight. Mr. Alsop, unspeakably surprised, hurried to the house. Here all was distress and confusion, for Mr. Petty had expired a few minutes before Mr. Alsop reached the portico. The funeral was directed to take place at Wycombe in the vault which contained the remains of Mr. Petty's mother, and was to halt at two specified places on the two nights on which it would be on the road. Mr. Jervis and Dr. Priestley attended the body. On the first day of their journey the latter, who had hitherto said little on the subject of the appearance to Mr. Alsop, suddenly addressed his companion, with considerable emotion, in nearly these words: "There are some very singular circumstances connected with this event, Mr. Jervis; and a most remarkable coincidence between a dream of the late Mr. Petty, and our present mournful engagement. A few weeks ago, as I was passing by his room one morning, he called me to his bedside. 'Doctor,' said he, 'what is your Christian name?' 'Surely,' said I, 'you know it is Joseph.' 'Well, then,' replied he, in a lively manner, 'if you are a Joseph, you can interpret a dream for me, which I had last night. I dreamed, Doctor, that I set out upon a long journey; that I stopped the first night at Hungerford, whither I went without touching the ground; that I flew from thence to Salt Hill, where I remained the next night; and arrived at High Wycombe on the third day; where my dear mamma, beautiful as an angel, stretched out her arms, and caught me within them.' 'Now!' continued the Doctor, 'these are precisely the places where the child's corpse will remain on this and the succeeding night before we reach his mother's vault, which is finally to receive it.'"
It will be observed that the above story consists of two parts: the dream of Mr. Petty, as related by Dr. Priestley; and the appearance to Mr. Alsop. Putting aside several minor inaccuracies in the narrative of the Rev. Richard Warner, Rector of Great Chalfield, Wilts, on whose authority it rests, such as the age of Mr. Petty when he died, and the character of his illness, it appears from the statements of Mr. Jervis himself that neither he nor Dr. Priestley attended the funeral, that no communication of the nature mentioned above was ever made to Mr. Jervis by Dr. Priestley, and that the latter never saw Mr. Petty during his last illness. As regards the appearance to Mr. Alsop, it appears to depend on a statement made by Joseph Townsend to Mr. Warner. Townsend however did not state from whom he received it. But the story, says Mr. Warner, is confirmed "by a voucher scarcely to be resisted, the indisputably true report of Dr. Alsop's viva voce declaration on his death-bed." Mr. Warner however does not state who received this declaration, nor on what evidence it is to be received as "indisputably true," while Mr. Jervis himself never heard of it nor of the story, till many years after. There is something ludicrous in a ghost story being fathered upon Joseph Townsend, the utilitarian friend of Bentham, and on Priestley, who at this time was engaged on his Disquisitions relating to Matter and Spirit, the object of which was to prove that man is purely material, and that the only reason he has to hope for immortality lies in the evidence of the resurrection of Christ.
During the whole time that Priestley was at Bowood his literary activity never ceased. Oratory, Criticism, Metaphysics, Moral Philosophy, and Theology, all successively engaged his active pen. It being probable that the Disquisitions relating to Matter and Spirit would be unpopular, and might be a means of bringing odium on Lord Shelburne, "several attempts," he says, "were made by his friends, though none by himself, to dissuade me from persisting in it. But being as I thought engaged in the cause of important truth, I proceeded without regard to any consequences, assuring them that this publication should not be injurious." The result was a friendly controversy with Dr. Price, but none with Lord Shelburne. While however busy with theological controversy, Priestley also continued those scientific researches which have given him an enduring fame. It was while at Calne that he made the discovery of oxygen, although he himself never recognized the full importance of his own discovery in its bearing on the phenomena of combustion. "Lord Shelburne," he writes, "encouraged me in my philosophical inquiries, and allowed me 40l. per annum for expenses of that kind, and was pleased to see me make experiments to entertain his guests and especially foreigners. The greatest part of the time that I spent with him I passed with much satisfaction, his Lordship always behaving to me with uniform politeness and his guests with respect."
It has been seen that in 1779 Lord Shelburne had married a second time. The intimate position occupied by Priestley in what since 1771 was a bachelor household, became difficult of adjustment in altered circumstances, especially as his occupation as tutor was at an end. Priestley himself began at this time to think that he observed marks of dissatisfaction on the part of Lord Shelburne, who finally intimated to Dr. Price that he wished to give his friend an establishment in Ireland. "This," says he, "gave me an opportunity of acquainting him that if he chose to dissolve the connection, it should be on the terms expressed in the writings which we mutually signed when it was formed, in consequence of which I should be entitled to an annuity of an hundred and fifty pounds, and then I would provide for myself, and to this he readily acceded. He told Dr. Price that he wished our separation to be amicable, and I assured him that nothing should be wanting on my part to make it truly so. When I left him, I asked him whether he had any fault to find with my conduct, and he said none. His Lordship's enemies have insinuated that he was not punctual in the payment of my annuity; but the contrary is true."
It is probable that the marks of dissatisfaction which Priestley thought he could detect were not personal, and that the real reason of their separation was that already stated. This view finds confirmation in Shelburne in 1783 having wished Priestley to resume his position at Bowood, in order probably to superintend the education of Lord Henry Petty.
In 1789 Lady Lansdowne died. During her last illness Benjamin Vaughan and Bentham were the only persons permitted to see her. "I write to you," says Lord Lansdowne, shortly after the event, in a letter to Lord Cornwallis, "in the midst of affliction for the loss of Lady Lansdowne. Though I was taught to expect it, long before it happened, I cannot help being excessively stunned by it. I am fighting up against the effects of it, as well as I can, by riding and quiet with a mixture of society which Miss Vernon and Miss Fox, who are so good as to continue the same habits as when Lady Lansdowne was living, are so good as to afford me." Lady Lansdowne left one son, the Lord Henry Petty, whom, as a child, Bentham drew out in his coach, and in after years prided himself on having prevented being sent to Oxford, a place, he said, "where perjury was daily practised." Notwithstanding his unfavourable opinion of that university, an anecdote he used to tell in connection with it is worth preserving. When at Oxford with Lord Wycombe, Canning, then a freshman, was pointed out to him by Lord Lansdowne as a youth likely to become the Prime Minister of England.
- Morellet to Shelburne, July 9th, 1785. Lettres de Morellet, xliv. 209 (edited by the present author, Paris, 1898).
- For an account of this speech see Rutland Papers, iii. 376. Hist. MSS. Commission Reports. Daniel Pulteney to the Duke of Rutland, March 2nd, 1787. Wraxall, Posthumous Memoirs, ii. 266.
- In the opinion of Monsieur W. H. de Beaufort the allusion to the great Minister in Holland probably refers to the porto franco of the Stadtholder William IV., or to John de Witt, to whom was attributed the part authorship of de la Court's Interest van Holland, with regard to the chapters on trade.
- The speeches of Lord Lansdowne on the Irish Commercial Propositions, and the French Treaty, are given in the Parliamentary History, xxv. 855; xxvi. 554, 574.
- Life and Letters of Sir G. Elliot, i. 134. See, too, Wraxall, Posthumous Memoirs, ii. 45.
- The Courts of Conscience or of Requests were the local Courts for the recovery of small debts constituted under special Acts of Parliament previous to the general establishment of County Courts.
- The following extract from the books of the Baptist chapel in Calne is interesting in connection with the above passage:—"1785. August 20th.—William, Marquis of Lansdowne, intending to encourage the clothworkers' club in this town, sent for me on the subject. At his request I drew up a new set of articles, which his Lordship approved. He subscribed £20 to their stock, and commenced a subscriber of £20 a year, besides an annual present of a fat ox to be divided among the members at Christmas. He also gave a club-room to hold their meetings in. The articles being accepted, the club was removed from the 'White Hart' Inn to the room (thus newly) appointed; their yearly feast, a great occasion of idleness and drunkenness, was abolished, and all needless parade at funerals was suppressed. His Lordship also proposed instituting certain charity schools in the town and neighbourhood, and desired me [the minister of the congregation] to engage teachers and superintend the schools. But the clergy opposed his Lordship's intentions, lest the children should become Dissenters, although it was engaged that the children of Church people should go to Church with their parents." Compare the remarks of Bentham on the opposition of the clergy of the Established Church to Education and the ideas of Lancaster, Works, ii. 420, 468.
- See the remarks of De Tocqueville, Ancien Régime, ii., xv., on the views of the French economists of the time on the subject of liberty, and Comte, Positive Philosophy, ii. 72.
- A closer examination of the actual words of this treaty may however render it doubtful whether the treaty went as far as Lord Lansdowne supposed, though it has often been quoted to the same effect since.
- Lord Lansdowne to Morellet, May 22nd, 1785. October 11th, 1786. September 9th, 1787. Lord Lansdowne to Price, September 21st, November 22nd, November 29th, 1786. Parl. Hist. xxvii. 874.
- Lord Lansdowne to Price, November 29th, 1786.
- Lord Lansdowne to Morellet, May 22nd, 1785.
- Life of Romilly, i. 85. As to the proceedings against the Dean of St. Asaph's, see infra, p. 379.
- Life of Romilly, i. 315.
- Ibid. i. 87, 320. Lord Lansdowne to Morellet, 1789.
- Life of Romilly, i. 85.
- Bowood, by John Britton.
- Pettigrew's Life of Lettsom, ii. 228. A letter on sepulchral decorations by Lord Lansdowne to the Committee appointed for the erection of a monument to the memory of John Howard is to be found in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1791 (pt. i. 395-396), and is printed in the Appendix.
- Dallaway's Anecdotes, 365.
- Both of these statues are at Lansdowne House.
- Life of Nollekens, 11.
- Dallaway's Anecdotes, 372.
- The date of Hamilton's death is wrongly given in Bryan's Dictionary, where it appears as 1775. The date also of the excavations subsequent to those at Monte Cagnolo is given in Dallaway as 1792. This is a misprint for 1772. The catalogue of the Ancient Marbles at Lansdowne House by Mr. A. H. Smith, based on the work of Dr. Adolf Michaelis on the Ancient Marbles of Great Britain, contains the original documents relating to the collection, which were published by the present author in the Academy in 1878.
- A chapter in one of Ingenhousz's works is devoted to combating this notion. The doctrine which Ingenhousz combated is set forth in Dr. Campbell's Hermippus Redivivus, mentioned by Boswell on July 1st, 1763, and March 15th, 1776; Life of Johnson, edited by George Birkbeck Hill, i. 417, ii. 427.
- Shelburne to Bentham, 1790.
- A Life of Ingenhousz has been published by Dr. Wiesner (Carl Kónegen, Vienna). Of his death, Elizabeth, Lady Holland, speaks as follows in her Journal (edited by the Earl of Ilchester): "Poor Doctor Ingenhousz is gone for ever: he died last week at Bowood. Lord Lansdowne, with his warm benevolence to those to whom he is attached, afforded him every friendly comfort to the last. He did not shun the sight of a dying man, although at his time of life the spectacle is but painful to contemplate, as it brings to mind a crisis that cannot be far distant."—Journal, ii. 16.
- Bentham, Works, i. 249.
- Bentham, i. 248; x. 114. Kenwood was the country seat of Lord Mansfield. The quotations which follow—except where otherwise stated—are gathered from Bentham's Works, x., edited by Sir John Bowring, who had the use of the correspondence between Bentham and Lord Lansdowne.
- Bentham, Works, x. 89, 90, 99, and C. M. Atkinson, Jeremy Bentham, ch. iii.
- Bentham, Works, i. 250.
- Ibid. i. 249, 251.
- Ibid. i. 250.
- Autobiography of Mme. Piozzi, i. 349, ed. 1861.
- Bentham, Works, x. 236.
- Sir W. Jones' Works, iv. 577.
- See supra, pp. 54-56. The resolution stated: "That the influence of the Crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished."
- Lord Loughborough.
- The allusion is to Sir Matthew Hale's writings on Theology: The Nature of Religion and other works.
- Mr. John Lee, Solicitor-General in the Administration of Lord Rockingham, who distinguished himself during the debates of 1782 and 1783 by the violence of his attacks on Lord Shelburne and his friends, is here alluded to.
- Lansdowne House MSS. Lord Ashburton was succeeded by his son, on whose decease in 1823 the title became extinct; but it was revived in 1835 in favour of Alexander Baring, the second son of Sir Francis Baring, whose sister had married John Dunning. He was the negotiator of the Treaty in regard to the Maine Boundary between Great Britain and the United States of America, of the 9th August 1842, known as the "Ashburton Treaty."
- Bentham, Works, x. 92, 96, 116.
- Ibid. x. 113.
- Ibid. x. 114.
- This was Mr. Garbett.
- See Bentham's Works, x. 92, 99, 103, 116.
- Lady Evelyn Leveson, Countess of Upper Ossory, mother of Lady Shelburne and Lord Ossory, the correspondent of Walpole, had contracted a second marriage with Mr. Richard Vernon, and became the mother of Miss Henrietta Vernon who had married the Earl of Warwick, Miss Caroline Vernon who married 'Bobus' Smith in August 1797, and Miss Elizabeth Vernon. They are celebrated in Walpole's poem, "The Three Vernons." Walpole's Works, iv. 388, ed. 1798.
- Alluding to the two younger Miss Vernons and Miss Fox, Bentham wrote on another occasion: "When these three Dianas get together the ice becomes even colder; they are like snow, salt-petre, and sal-ammoniac." Works, x. 267.
- Lord Henry Petty, afterwards third Marquis of Lansdowne.
- Bentham, Works, x. 90.
- Ibid. x. 96.
- Bentham, Works, x. 97.
- Ibid. x. 100.
- Bentham, Works, x. 101.
- Ibid. x. 104.
- Ibid. x. 106.
- Ibid. x. 107.
- The Hon. Caroline Fox, daughter of Stephen 2nd Lord Holland, born November 3rd, 1767, died March 12th, 1845, was Lord Lansdowne's niece. Of Miss Fox, Bentham remained the cavaliere servente for many years. It is even said that he proposed to her, and was refused. It is also said that Miss Fox, none the less, retained to her last days a feeling something more than that of ordinary for her early admirer. She lived till 1845, a constant guest at Bowood during all that long period; and it was to Bowood and those she had known there that her mind wandered back in her last illness. She was a strong Liberal, and in her old age used to compare the politics of her later and her younger days, to the disadvantage of the former. She left by will a sum of money to found a school in Kensington, and directed that no clergyman should ever have any exclusive control over it. See Jeremy Bentham—His Life and Works, by Charles M. Atkinson, iii. 49-51.
- As to the claims of Col. Barré, Dunning, and Lachlan Macleane to be considered Junius, see the Papers of a Critic, by the late Mr. Charles Dilke. As to Lord Lansdowne's supposed knowledge of the secret, see a letter in the Morning Chronicle of December 29th, 1770: "Your Lordship will hardly believe there is a man in England who does not believe you to be the author. … Mr. Dunning and that archfiend Col. Barré will perhaps claim the honour; but, my lord, they are to be looked upon in the same light as the carpenter and mason employed by Sir Christopher Wren."
- Vol. I. p. 396.
- Bentham, Works, x. 184, 185.
- Ibid. x. 571.
- See Vol. I. p. 434.
- Rutt, Life of Priestley, i. 201.
- See a pamphlet on this subject by Mr. Jervis himself, "Remarks on some passages in the Literary Recollections of the Rev. Richard Warner, Rector of Great Chalfield, Wilts," where the story as given above first appeared.
- He was Rector of Pewsey.
- Rutt's Life of Priestley, i. 203.
- Ibid. i. 201, 206.
- Rutt's Life of Priestley, i. 207. Priestley to Shelburne, May 11th, 1779.
- See Rutt's Life of Priestley, i. 207. Talleyrand in his Memoirs mentions having met Priestley at Lansdowne House in 1793-1794 (Mémoires, ii. 226), after the destruction of his house and property at Birmingham. See infra, p. 385.
- Cornwallis Correspondence, ii. ch. vi.
- Bentham, Works, x. 88.
- Ibid. x. 221.