Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 54.djvu/171

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.




research. The articles had, however, shown considerable historical knowledge as well as literary power. He had partly recovered strength, and was anxious for employment. In June 1849 he was appointed to the regius professorship of modern history at Cambridge, vacant by the death of William Smyth (1765–1849) [q. v.] He delivered a course of lectures upon the history of France during the summers of 1850 and 1851, which were published in 1852, and were warmly praised by De Tocqueville and other competent persons. Another severe illness in the summer of 1850 had forced him to spend a winter abroad; and these lectures were the last work to which he could apply his full power. From 1855 to 1857 he held a professorship at the East India College, Haileybury, which had been sentenced to extinction. He continued to lecture at Cambridge, but the history school then held a very low position; and residence was superfluous. He passed the last years of his life chiefly in London. In 1859 his health showed serious symptoms, and he was ordered to Homburg. Becoming worse, he started homewards, but died at Coblentz on 14 Sept. 1859. He was buried at Kensal Green. Sir James Stephen's widow died in 1875. They had five children: Herbert Venn (1822–1846), Frances Wilberforce (1824–1825), Sir James Fitzjames [q. v.], Leslie, and Caroline Emelia.

Stephen spent his best years and highest powers in work of which it is impossible that any estimate should be formed. He was a most conscientious and energetic official, but the credit or discredit of the policy which he carried out belongs to those whom he advised. In domestic life he impressed all who knew him by his loftiness of principle. He was a man of the strongest family affections. He sacrificed his own comforts for the benefit of his children, and set before them a constant example of absolute devotion to duty. He began life as a strong evangelical, and never avowedly changed; but his experience of the world, his sympathy with other forms of belief, and his interest in the great churchmen of the middle ages led to his holding the inherited doctrine in a latitudinarian sense. He was accused of heresy, when appointed professor at Cambridge, for an 'Epilogue' to his 'Essays,' in which he suggested doubts as to the eternity of hell-fire. The 'Essays' are the work by which he is best known, and show a literary faculty to which he could never give full play. The autobiography of Sir Henry Taylor gives an interesting account of his personal character. Taylor, James Spedding, Mr. Aubrey de Vere, and Nassau Senior were his most intimate friends; but he led a recluse and rather ascetic life, and seldom went into society, A bust by Marochetti is in the National Portrait Gallery.

His works are:

  1. 'Essays in Ecclesiastical Biography,' 1849, 2 vols. 8vo; 5th edit, in 1 vol. 1867 (with life, by his son, J. F. Stephen).
  2. 'Lectures on the History of France,' 1852, 2 vols. 8vo.

[Family papers; Life by James Fitzjames Stephen prefixed to later editions of Essays; Life of Sir J. F. Stephen, by Leslie Stephen. See also Sir H. Taylor's Autobiography, 1885; Taylor's Correspondence, 1888, ed. Dowden; Macvey Napier's Correspondence, 1879.]

L. S.

STEPHEN, Sir JAMES FITZJAMES (1829–1894), judge, born at Kensington on 3 March, was the second son of Sir James Stephen (1789–1859) [q. v.] He was sent in November 1836 to the school of the Rev. Benjamin Guest at Brighton, and in April 1842 to Eton, which he attended from his father's house in Windsor. He showed from infancy remarkable thoughtfulness and independence of character, though he was not brilliant as a scholar. At Eton he was much bullied and learnt the lesson of taking his own part and resenting injustice. His dislike to the place led to his being entered at King's College, London. He lived with his uncle, Henry Venn (1796-1873) [q. v.], did well in examinations, spoke at a debating society, and was interested by F. D. Maurice's lectures. In 1847 he entered Trinity College, Cambridge. Want of accurate scholarship and of mathematical aptitude made his academical career unsuccessful. He became, however, well known at the Union, where his great rival was the present Sir W. Harcourt, and where his downright oratory earned him the nickname of the 'British Lion.' He was also a member of the 'Apostles,' where he read many papers and formed a close friendship with (Sir) Henry James Sumner Maine [q. v.], then professor of civil law. Failing to win a scholarship, he went abroad with his father in October 1850, abandoning the honours competition. At Paris he attended law courts and became interested in the contrast between French and English procedure. He took an ordinary B.A. degree in the summer of 1851. He now decided to go to the bar, in spite of his father's preference for a clerical career. He entered the Inner Temple, and was called to the bar on 26 Jan. 1854. He found the more technical part of his legal studies uncongenial, but was deeply interested in general principles of jurisprudence. At this time he formed a close friendship with