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Full text of "The case of Sir John Fastolf : and other historical studies"

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Case of Sir John Fastolf : 




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THE CASE OF 
SIR JOHN FASTOLF 



THE CASE OF 
SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

t 

AND OTHER HISTORICAL 
STUDIES 



BY 

DAVID WALLACE DUTHIE 

RECTOR OF CAISTER, GREAT YARMOUTH 



LONDON 

SMITH, ELDER, &• CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE 

1907 

[All rights reserved] 



A.^\^'^^'b 



Printed by Ballantvnk, Hanson &> Co. 
At the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh 



TO 

WILLIAM BOYD CARPENTER 

LORD BISHOP OF RIPON 
GRATEFULLY 



PREFACE 

The author is under obligation to the editors 
of " The Nineteenth Century " and " Cornhill " 
magazine for their kind permission to reprint 
the articles on " Sermons and Samuel Pepys" 
and " Chateaubriand." 

He is a debtor also to Mr. G. G. Coulton 
for the much using of his English version of 
Salimbene's autobiography as found in the 
volume " From St. Francis to Dante." 



D. WALLACE DUTHIE. 



Caister Rectory, 

Great Yarmouth. 



CONTENTS 



The Case of Sir John Fastolf . 

The Misadventures of John Payn 

The Chronicle of Salimbene 

A Seventeenth-Century Sunday 

Sermons and Samuel Pepys 

Chateaubriand and his English Neighbours 



I 

43 

74 

149 

170 

207 



THE CASE OF 
SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

We live in an age when the whitewashing 
of reputations is a recognised form of literary 
enterprise. The art of Sir Peter Lely, on 
whose canvas ladies found themselves to be 
as beautiful as they had always suspected, 
has descended to the man of letters. We 
rub our eyes before the appearing of old 
friends with faces so new that we may be 
pardoned if we boggle in the recognition of 
them. The mask of the monster has been 
taken from Tiberius, the Roman emperor, 
and lo ! a meek ascetic of singularly humane 
disposition, and puritanic propriety of morals. 
Henry VHI., Bluebeard of our schoolboy 
days, is but a henpecked husband, driven 
to severity only by intolerable domestic per- 
secutions. The tyrant and murderer has 
disappeared in Richard HI. He now stands 



2 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 
before us "an unpopular king." Machia- 
velli had long remained the embodiment of 
Satanic suggestion : we are assured, if we 
will but listen intently enough, we may hear 
the cooing of the dove above the hissing 
of the serpent. No longer, on the showing 
of his own people and his own times, is 
Borgia Simony and Unbridled Licence sitting 
on the throne of St. Peter: viewed in fairer 
perspective he is the " gentle and kindly 
affectioned Shepherd " who overcame the 
disability of being the father of a family 
by " exhibiting an illustrious example of 
paternal virtue." "Bloody Clavers" must 
henceforth be known as " Bonny Dundee " ; 
the slaughterer of the peaceable. God-fearing 
Covenanters was but the puppet of a lying 
legend, " the truth being that he was an 
honourable gentleman, of a Christian life and 
lofty ideals." A last example is at our own 
doors, where the iron visage of Cromwell, 
cleansed from the blood and tears of three 
kingdoms, and wearing an aureole from 
Chelsea, looks out from the Houses of 
Parliament, whose liberties the Protector 
despised and overthrew. 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 3 

Amidst such a wealth of vindication some 
lover of justice may well spread the mantle 
of a kindly and protecting spirit over an 
English soldier whom a few ill-considered 
words, in the crudest of Shakespearian plays, 
have impaled on the lonely peak of six 
centuries of misrepresentation and scorn. 

Sir John Fastolf is one of the great 
army of public servants whose reputations 
have suffered violence at the hands of their 
contemporaries. Unfortunate during his life- 
time, his name has borne the burden of un- 
merited contumely ever since. What do 
most people know of him? He has lain 
in the dust for nearly six hundred years, and 
the inscription upon his tomb asks the prayers 
of the passers-by for a brave knight "who 
wrought many good deeds during his mortal 
life " ; Magdalen College, Oxford, " where 
every day they are bound to make memories 
for his soul," attests his benefactions ; his 
services as a patriot are cut deeply into the 
enduring brass of his country's annals. But 
these are all forgotten matters. He is re- 
membered, because in the play of "King Henry 
VI., Part I.," the Garter is torn from his knee 



4 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

by the incensed Talbot, the king himself 
dismissing him into the outer darkness with 
the words " Stain to thy countrymen ! thou 
hear'st thy doom : Be packing, thou that 
wast a knight ; henceforth we banish thee 
on pain of death." 

Yet this was a great warrior ; a great 
statesman also, had his country but listened 
to him. Famous as a fighter in the heroic 
days of Henry V., his name was associated 
with a long series of campaigns in France 
when the English possessions in that realm 
were falling from the nerveless fingers of 
Henry's son. Under Fastolf a mere detach- 
ment of archers had put to flight an army 
in what was called the Battle of Herrings, 
conducting the convoy of provisions to which 
it owed its name in triumph into the camp. 
Knight in the train of Henry VI. on his first 
expedition across the channel : distinguished 
for his courage and resource on the field 
of Agincourt, and in the affairs at Rouen 
and Caen : Governor of Harfleur : Captain 
of Alen9on as the reward of signal bravery : 
Governor of Melans : Victor over John II., 
Duke of Alen9on, whom he captured and 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 5 

held to ransom at the Battle of Verneuil : 
Baron of Gingingle in France and Knight 
of the Garter in England : Ambassador to 
the Council of Basle ; his name was famous 
both at home and abroad. But the single 
reverse of his successful career, sustained at 
Patay, undid him. In the hour of national 
humiliation England claimed a victim. Hence- 
forth he was destined to bear the unmerited 
reputation of one who deserted his leader 
in the hour of need, and betrayed the king's 
domain. 

His friendship with Suffolk, the Jack 
Napes of political ballads and satires, brought 
him into further ill repute. When the duke's 
policy placed a French princess by Henry's 
side, surrendering at the same time the pro- 
vinces of Anjou and Maine for the sake of a 
permanent peace honourable to both countries, 
the man in the street cursed the name of 
Fastolf with that of Suffolk for untimely con- 
cessions. 

The truth is that the wholesome advice of 
Sir John was but coldly received by those who 
were in authority ; this, too, at a time when 
there was more wisdom in this man's keeping 



6 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

than in that of the whole Privy Council. 
Some of the warnings and counsels which were 
ignored have been preserved for us by William 
of Worcester, and confirm the sagacity of the 
adviser who proffered them. 

Before long the enemies of Suffolk com- 
passed his taking off. He was hacked into 
eternity by an Irish churl under conditions of 
brutality which aroused a feeling of horror 
even in those ruthless times. The era of 
the sentimental had not yet arrived. Men 
kept watch and ward over the display of 
natural emotion as against the wiles of 
the Evil One. Their souls, as well as their 
bodies, were sheathed in armour of proof. 
Yet a humble chronicler of the butchery of 
this great nobleman declares, in a letter to 
his lord, he had so blurred the writing 
with tears that he fears it would not be 
easy to decipher. 

But if one were taken, another was left. 
Fastolf remained to bear, if possible, a heavier 
burden of suspicion and neglect and to 
be ostentatiously disregarded at the king's 
council, received with clamours in the public 
streets, and driven into lawsuits with his more 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN PASTOLF 7 

powerful neighbours, who fattened their glebe 
at his expense. 

It is true he was no saint. Nor does he 
appear to have been a lovable man. Regard 
for him, apparently, was an acquired taste. 
Something in his bearing and disposition seems 
to have irritated those who were his familiars, 
so that it may be said, in a sense never 
intended by Steele, that "to love him was a 
liberal education." 

It cannot be maintained that he was 
always considerate in his treatment of his 
dependents. But if he were not easy with 
them, neither did he spare himself. From 
early youth until he came to fourscore years 
his life was a hard and a strenuous one. Is 
it cause for wonder that his concentration of 
purpose bore heavily on those to whom he 
entrusted his affairs ? He has been charged 
with the display of sinister qualities. " Hit 
is not unknown that cruell and vengible he 
hath byn ever, and for the most parte with 
aute pite and mercy." So writes his servant, 
Henry Windsor, in a confidential epistle to 
John Paston. It does not appear, however, 
that this is either a fair or a judicial opinion, 



8 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

whilst the tenor of the letter in which it is 
found does not lead us to form a high 
estimate of the man who wrote it. 

Disappointment and injustice had combined 
to sour Fastolf: the world had treated him 
badly : yet there is no real bitterness in the 
gaze with which he regards his fellows. 
Between Timon of Athens, Shakespeare's 
great misanthrope, and himself, a resemblance 
exists. Both were generals : both had done 
good service for their country. But the 
frantic pessimism and manhatred of the one, 
anathematising everything and everybody, 
when the true nature of the world's friend- 
ship is revealed to him, finds its expression 
in the other only in increased severity of 
demeanour, in a good will tempered by 
suspicion. 

The fault of his life lay in his desire for 
self-aggrandisement. He had come to re- 
gard coin more than character ; to cherish 
the ambition of perpetuating his memory in 
a noble mansion and broad acres to the 
neglect of a monument more lasting than 
brass. With advancing years the love of 
money grew upon him, and that hunger for 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 9 

land which has been the fertile parent of so 
many evils. 

Even here we must remember that he was 
but the product of his times, that we may 
not reasonably expect from him what we 
have a right to demand from the public man 
of our own day. We must bear in mind 
how the wars in France had exercised a 
fatal influence on the mood of the English 
noble. Violent and oppressive before, he 
was far worse now, for he had added to the 
lawlessness native to him a lust for gold 
and a longing for plunder born of his con- 
quests beyond the sea, the pillage of farms, 
the sack of cities, the ransom of captives. 
When we think of the greed, aggression, 
want of scruples which marked the highest 
members of the Church and State in the 
fifteenth century, we shall bear more gently 
with what was undoubtedly a blemish in the 
Lord of Caister Castle. 

In the "Paston Letters" you and I may 
see him in his habit as he lived, an old 
man, money loving, litigious, exacting, loud- 
voiced, yet a patriot, a man of honour, a 
willing and faithful servant of his king, one 



lo THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 
who preserved his own piety when the 
spiritual life of England was in decline, 
who encouraged the spread of letters when 
English literature was almost dead. 

But the tale of Fastolf's wrongs, so at 
least it may be argued, is not yet complete. 

To assert that when Shakespeare gave 
Falstaff to the world he had borrowed the 
name and distorted the character of the 
veritable knight is nowadays to write one- 
self down an ass. Any connection between 
the two is repudiated by the latest school of 
Shakespearian scholars and commentators. 
Mr. Sidney Lee, whose claim to speak with 
authority no one will be inclined to deny, 
allows that I " Shakespeare was possibly under 
the misapprehension that the military exploits 
of the historic Sir John Fastolf sufficiently 
resembled those of his own riotous knight 
to justify the employment of a corrupted 
version of his name." Beyond this he is 
not prepared to go. 

Mr. James Gairdner, in his admirable in- 
troduction to the " Paston Letters," sees no 
resemblance between the needy adventurer 
of the dramatist and the old soldier who 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF ii 

"was always seeking to increase the wealth 
that he had amassed by long years of thrift 
and frugality." 

One other from amongst the first flower of 
the critics — Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps, a writer 
both sober and candid — asserts "there is not 
any ground for believing that the character 
of Fastolf and Falstaff have any connection 
whatever with each other. Yet we find 
historians and journalists constantly giving 
countenance to this vulgar error." In 
another place he laments that "the absurd 
notion appears to be hardly yet exploded." 

" Vulgar error ! Absurd notion ! " It re- 
quires some courage to kick against such 
pricks as these. Yet hardihood and a clear 
conscience may do something. 

We know what Shakespeare's contempo- 
raries thought of the matter. Fuller, a very 
credible witness, says in his " Worthies," " I 
am sorry Sir John Fastolf is put in, to re- 
lieve his memory (Sir John Oldcastle's) in 
this base service, to be the anvil for every 
dull wit to strike upon." 

Dr. James, who died in 1638, affirms "the 
poet was putt to make an ignorant shift of 



12 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 
abusing Sir John Fastolf." In the early 
part of the seventeenth century, an unnamed 
poet uplifts his voice sorrowfully because 
"scandal has been thrown upon a name of 
honour, charactered from a wrong person, 
coward and buffoon." 

There is also a passage in Warton which 
describes how, when " the benefactions of the 
magnificent knight Sir John Fastolf yielded 
no more than a penny a week to the scholcirs 
who received the liveries, they were called by 
way of contempt, Falstaff's Buckram men." 

In spite then of the critics who have 
fleshed their satire on writers who lived so 
much nearer to Shakespeare than themselves, 
insisting — we know not for what reason, since 
the end of the world is not yet — that the 
last word in this controversy has been spoken, 
it may be affirmed there is still something 
to be said in favour of the older belief. 

What Fuller and his fellows were content 
to accept as a fact must of course be proved. 
The task is a difficult one. The result of 
an independent investigation may still be 
inconclusive. The identity between the sober 
adviser of King Henry's court and the boon 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 13 
companion of a prince engaged in the agri- 
cultural pursuit of sowing wild oats may not be 
established to a demonstration. Much, how- 
ever, that is common between them may be 
brought to the surface, and at the least another 
chapter added to the history of coincidences. 

In all that is concerned with Shakespeare 
one works in an imperfect light. The ob- 
scurity which lies about the career of the 
young man who came up from the country 
about 1585, returning to die there in 161 6, 
is only less wonderful than the genius which 
has dazzled the whole world. His life re- 
mains to-day the playground of fantastic 
theories ; the touch of assurance can be laid 
on little. Uncertainty attaches to his lineage, 
the conditions and degree of his education, 
the employments of his early manhood, the 
marvel of his scholarship, the extent of his 
authorship, even to the spelling of his name. 
His portraits and busts are unauthentic, not 
one of them having been painted or carved 
during his lifetime. After all, what remains 
to us .■* Five signatures faint with age ; a 
chance reference here and there in contem- 
porary friends and foes ; scanty details from 



14 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

registers or title-deeds or torn records ; a 
few legends of his prowess as a poacher or 
a fuddler, and some deplorable doggerel in 
the worst possible taste, which serve only 
to heighten the disparity between the man 
as thus dimly presented and the works which 
have come down to us bearing his name. 

Assuming the conventional Shakespeare, it 
may be taken as certain that the persons of 
his plays were generally founded upon his- 
torical characters, upon men and women who 
had lived and breathed. That he made the 
freest use of his models is equally certain. 
How far he could depart from the truth 
may be seen in his unworthy and detestable 
treatment of Joan of Arc. Here, unless we 
assume the work of another hand, or an 
illustr9,tion of the evils of collaboration, he 
is responsible for a travesty which makes of 
one of the noblest and most spiritual figures 
of the Middle Ages a sorceress, an unnatural 
daughter, and an abandoned woman. 

Sir John Fastolf appears in the same play, 
and has been subjected to the same kind of 
maltreatment. In the dramatist's day, the 
smart of the losses in France still rankled 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 15 

in the English heart, and Shakespeare — 
above all things an Englishman — and not 
beyond the prejudices of his kind — offers up 
the unpopular soldier on the altar of the 
ferocious sentiment known as national honour. 
What Fastolf was we know perfectly well, 
yet the author of " King Henry VI." tricks 
him out in the shameful livery of the coward 
and traitor. 

And the character of Falstaff is but a con- 
tinuation of the wrong. 

Perhaps more than any other of Shake- 
speare's puppets, Falstaff demands a prototype. 
Amidst the great multitude, thronging from 
all countries, and representing nothing less 
than the whole company of mankind, Falstaff 
is most alive. He stands out from the 
shadowy folk of the poet's imagination as a 
thing of flesh and blood. We find it im- 
possible to resist him. Through the whole 
of his scandalous adventures, through effron- 
teries, lies, and buffooneries, we are held, 
like the wedding guest, by the sense of a 
vivid, personal presence. We are his, from 
the moment he demands " Now, Hal, what 
time of the day is't, lad?" until that other 



i6 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 
moment when, for him, time in this world 
had ceased to be, and we attend that pitiful 
death-bed in the Eastcheap tavern with a 
poignancy of regret denied to other and better 
men. We can hardly convince ourselves that 
we have not known him in the body, have 
not laughed in the actual company of the 
world's greatest humourist. 

But all that is generally known of Henry 
VI.'s Privy Councillor can afford but a slender 
outline for expansion into one of the colossal 
figures of literature. Whence came the 
more precise details from which Falstaff was 
evolved? We answer, from a Norfolk squire, 
and from a bundle of family records. 

Let us conceive of the dramatist in these 
early days when he had to supplement the 
scanty endowment of letters received (pre- 
sumably) from the Grammar School at 
Stratford. Unless we adopt the glorified 
Shakespeare whom Mr. George Wyndham 
has found time, amidst the pre-occupation of 
politics, to describe, we must accept on the 
testimony of the most candid and trustworthy 
of his biographers that " the vast and various 
amount of information " which strikes us with 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 17 

amazement in his works was acquired by him 
whilst in London. Even his unparalleled gifts 
must be nourished by knowledge. His own 
mind had to be furnished before his genius 
could unfold itself in the long procession 
of poems and plays which began, and ended, 
with his residence in town. His plots — 
though transformed in his treatment of them 
— were borrowed ; he seems to have turned 
eagerly to old plays, ancient chronicles, modern 
translations, contemporary records ; anything 
in short which would equip an intellect 
ranging to and fro in quest of ideas and types. 
Frequenter of taverns himself (tradition 
especially connects him with the lyric feasts 
at the Mermaid Tavern in Broad Street, 
sung by Beaumont), the jovial haunts and 
public meeting-places in London were as 
familiar to him as to his own Falstaff. 
Here, where the currents of wit, and fashion, 
and letters met and mingled in one con- 
vivial stream, the actor and the author 
rapidly growing in reputation and personal 
esteem must have made many acquaint- 
ances. Amongst them may have been Sir 
William Paston (i 528-1 610), who stands well 



1 8 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

attested as a lover of learning and patron of 
the drama. His memory lives on in the 
cathedrals of Bath and Norwich, and in the 
Grammar School at North Walsham which 
he founded and endowed ; Gonville and 
Caius College, Cambridge, bears witness to 
his liberality and his regard for the uni- 
versity which nourished him ; Zucchero has 
preserved for us the grave and kindly fea- 
tures of the scholar and courtier. To such 
an one, instinct with the new spirit which the 
great Elizabethan age had breathed into so 
many Englishmen, nor wanting, doubtless, 
in those antiquarian tastes noteworthy in 
his descendants, everything concerning the 
memorable man into whose possessions he 
had entered must have been of interest. 

A man of letters himself, he would be 
likely to desire better acquaintance with the 
greatest man of letters of his own day. Ad- 
mitting that the two had met, it is easy to 
believe that the poet made the best use of his 
opportunities. Fastolf s was a character that 
had already figured in his early plays : here 
was an authority who could tell all that was 
to be told about him. Master of that Caister 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 19 
Castle which Sir John had built in his de- 
clining years ; great grandson of the Paston 
who had been the knight's chief agent and 
residuary legatee, the squire could speak into 
Shakespeare's ear stories of that strong, 
bizarre personality which had stamped itself 
upon one generation after another. 

But was Paston likely at his time of life 
to make many journeys to the metropolis ? 
Was he likely to desert his own fireside, with 
the many occupations of a landed proprietor, 
for the gaieties and fatigues of London ? 
True, he was no longer young, but his was 
a green old age, Shakespeare surviving him 
by six years only. Let it be borne in mind, 
also, that he had a son Clement, who in all 
likelihood was leading the life of a young 
man about town contemporaneously with the 
dramatist. This eldest son was heir not only 
to the Norfolk acres but to the history and 
legends of the memorable soldier who had 
bequeathed them to his ancestors. From 
Clement may have come the information we 
assume to have been imparted by Sir William. 
Indeed Shakespeare may well have known 
both father and son. 



20 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

Nor was oral narrative the only source 
of information. In the hall at Caister were 
stored up the family and other records now 
known as the " Paston Letters." A century 
and a half of the play and stir of English 
life lay in these parchments, private feuds, 
public broils, and the passions which contri- 
bute tragic touches to the drama of humanity ; 
there in black and white lay such revelations 
of mind and disposition as served to bring 
the dead Fastolf to life, and would make 
him stand a creature of flesh and blood 
before the eager eyes of the playwright. 
With these historic documents we cannot 
doubt Sir William to have been familiar. In 
1597 he left Caister for the fine mansion at 
Oxnead given to him by his uncle Clement 
(perhaps the most illustrious of the Paston 
line) ; and the letters may well have been 
carefully examined before this date, and pre- 
pared for removal. 

May we not surmise then — for what is 
the life of Shakespeare but one long con- 
jecture — that he knew Paston, had hear- 
kened to all that he could tell of his great- 
grandfather's friend and benefactor, and had 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 21 
supplemented the knowledge thus gained 
with the Paston correspondence which a 
fortunate acquaintance had placed at his 
disposal, either in town or country. When 
the theatres were closed in London (1593) 
owing to the plague, there is little doubt the 
dramatist was travelling with his company 
through the provinces. He may have seen 
the " Letters " then. A few phrases, occasional 
touches of local colour, a glimpse here and 
there of an uncommon individuality were stuff 
sufficient for the wonderful imagination of a 
Shakespeare to build its work of art upon. 
With these the "Letters" had supplied him: 
a supposition which seems to involve no 
heavier demands upon our credulity than 
other theories which have been seriously 
advanced. From Paston there came certain 
personal details known only to the inner 
circle of familiar friends and handed down 
from father to son : the story of one who 
had held the mirror up to fashion in his 
youth : who had lived the gay life of courts, 
and warmed himself in the favour of the 
great. The " Letters " would disclose an old 
age, severe, cold, and mercenary, in which 



22 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

its warmest congratulation assumes the form 
of "I am as glad as a man had geve me 
looo marks"; its intensest feeling is be- 
stowed upon lawsuits and reprisals ; whilst 
the offices of the Church are ardently in- 
voked if not to corrupt earthly tribunals, at 
least to advance interests which are entirely 
mundane. 

The spendthrift of one generation is the 
miser of the next, so Shakespeare, arguing 
back, may have seen in this stinting care- 
fulness only iniquity retired on a pension, 
the fit ending to a libidinous, extravagant 
manhood. In his own words, "A man can 
no more separate age and covetousness, than 
he can part young limbs and lechery." 

Yet though the character of Fastolf lent 
itself to distortion and burlesque, the real 
man in all likelihood was known to the 
author of "The Merry Wives of Windsor." 
"You are a gentleman of excellent breed- 
ing, admirable discourse, of great admittance, 
authentic in your place and person, generally 
allowed for your many war-like, court-like, 
and learned preparations." Beneath this bitter 
irony of Ford, as addressed to a rascally. 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 23 

shameless fat man, may have lain the poet's 
sober judgment of the neglected hero whose 
name Falstaff had assumed and discredited. 

Our task is now concerned with the points 
of resemblance between the true knight and 
the false. They are at least twelve in number. 

1 . Falstaff as a youth, in that happy period 
of his existence when he had no difficulty 
in seeing his own knee, and was able, if 
his own assertion is to be believed, to creep 
through an alderman's ring, is represented 
as page to the Thomas Mowbray who was 
afterwards created Earl of Nottingham and 
Duke of Norfolk. Sir John Fastolf has been 
described as in the train of that able and 
ambitious lord, the great Duke of Bedford. 
As a matter of fact he was a ward whilst 
in his minority to the Duke of Norfolk 
(the early master of "bulk Sir John"), after- 
wards passing into the service of a Prince 
of the Blood Royal, the Duke of Clarence. 

2. Both were natives of Norfolk. Fal- 
staff shows his county in his reminiscences : 
Fastolf was a member of a well-known East 
Anglican family, and was born and died in 
the parish of Caister, near Great Yarmouth. 



24 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

3. The French wars of the time of Henry 
V. and Henry VI. had given Fastolf frequent 
and abundant opportunities for distinction as a 
soldier. He had so freely availed himself of 
these, that until the dark day of Patay his 
name was joined with that of Talbot and 
others of the great captains. This was the 
reputation burlesqued by Falstaff. During 
his diverting interview with the Lord Chief- 
Justice he is made to ejaculate, "Would to 
God my name were not so terrible to the 
enemy as it is," a modest vaunt well in 
keeping with those claims for valour, alac- 
rity, and other qualities which "were not 
apparent to the casual observer." 

When he inflicts a posthumous wound 
upon Hotspur, and dragging the body of that 
splendid Englishman into the presence of the 
astonished Prince of Wales, advances a claim 
for preferment which he almost implies will 
not be honoured, " There is Percy (throwing 
the body down), if he will do me any honour, 
so ; if not, let him kill the next Percy him- 
self," he is parodying the prowess of the true 
Sir John. Him we have seen before, and 
often in the forefront of battle. He too had 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 25 

claims against the crown unrecognised, for 
his share in the ransom money of the Due 
d'Alengon remained unpaid until his dying 
day. 

4. The stigma of cowardice was fastened 
upon both. 

Larding the lean earth as he runs roaring 
on Gad's Hill ; falling at the wind of the 
Douglas's sword and shamming death ; de- 
canted into the Thames with odds and ends 
of dirty linen ; belaboured under the guise of 
the fat woman of Brentford ; author of the 
undying disquisition upon honour of which 
the conclusion is "Therefore I'll none of it"; 
Falstaff is not so much a type of cowardice 
as cowardice itself. How near he stands, 
though humour has gilded his poltroonery, to 
the man whom Talbot accused. "If Sir John 
Fastolf had not played the coward, he being 
in the vaward, placed behind with purpose to 
relieve and follow them, cowardly fled, not 
having struck one stroke." Between the man 
who answered the captain's enquiry, " What ! 
will you fly and leave Lord Talbot?" "Ay. 
All the Talbots in the world to save my life," 
and the jester who scouted honour because it 



26 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

carried with it danger of wounds and death, 
there is more than a family likeness. We 
are moved to admire the art of Shakespeare 
which makes Falstaff his own creation, alive 
with the very personality of another. 

5. Language has been strained to its utmost 
to express Falstaff's grossness of body. The 
cause of wit in others as well as in himself, 
his bulk gave occasion to some of the most 
mirth -compelling similes in the language. " A 
huge hill of flesh ; a tun of a man ; a horse 
back breaker ; a roasted Manningtree ox with 
the pudding in its belly ; " these are amongst 
the conceits with which he was pelted by his 
friends. His infirmity exposed him to the 
unkindly enquiry "How long ago, Jack, is it 
since thou sawest thine own knee ? " In 
every phase of the dramatist's art it is a 
mountain of a man that is presented to us. 
Falstaff admitted, not without a sigh, his own 
swag-bellied proportions, though he softens 
down the ribald comparisons of Prince Hal 
to "A goodly, portly man i' faith, and a 
corpulent." 

Now in the matter of this amplitude of 
form there appears to be curious corroboration 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 27 

of identity between the false knight and the 
true. Not only does a tradition still linger 
on in Caister of the brawn of the first lord 
of its castle, but an old print in the Free 
Library of Great Yarmouth tends to confirm 
it. Flaming eyes and a passionate face with 
some degree of sombre expression in it, 
surmount what is evidently — due allowance 
made for the cumbersome harness — a body 
of immense girth. 

6. To speak of the obesity of Falstaff is 
to think, by a natural association of idea, 
of the congenital thirst that nourished it. 
It was the "intolerable deal of sack" (not 
sighing and grief as he suggests) which 
blew him up like a bladder. We are left in 
darkness as to the nature of his career from 
the time when he turned his back on Clement's 
Inn until the mellow period when his years 
inclined to fifty-five, "or, by our Ladye, three 
score." It is likely that his principal occupa- 
tions lay in the London taverns "where he 
met his friends, and eluded his creditors." 
The headquarters and favourite inn was un- 
questionably the Boar's Head in Eastcheap : 
a house marked out by time-honoured stage 



2 8 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

directions as the hostelry frequented by Prince 
Hal and the roysterers who attended him. 

On this point, coincidence if nothing more 
attends our enquiry, for the Boar's Head 
Tavern in Southwark was a part of Sir 
John Fastolf's town estate. 

7. Falstaff is a master of bombast and 
strong language. 

There is a splendid, incomparable exuber- 
ance in his speech. It is impossible that any 
ordinary man should be able to equal the 
genius of his invective, but, even here, stand- 
ing afar off. Sir John Fastolf betrays some 
of the same qualities which in his double 
are made glorious. His language is testy 
and full of choler ; much heat is imparted to 
trivial matters, the fact that ten times ten 
make a hundred becoming with the old 
soldier a crushing accusation. In his corre- 
spondence he often displays a comical kind 
of fierceness, foaming at the pen. There is 
quaintness and flavour in his comparisons. 
In a letter he begs his friends to labour 
his matters, and " forget not that old shrew 
Dallyng, for he is sore at my stomach." In 
another epistle he writes, " I pray you send 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 29 
me word who darre be so hardy as to keck 
agen you in my right . . . and yff they wolle 
not dredde, ne obey that, then they shall be 
quyt by Blackbearde or Whitebearde ; that is 
to say, by God or the Devyll." There is a true 
Falstafifian ring about this pronouncement. 

8. The Law plays a prominent part in the 
lives of these two men. 

That the legal studies of Falstaff were 

serious or engrossing may not be contended. 

But his name was entered at Clement's Inn, 

and here with his friends (not reading men in 

any sense) he heard the chimes at midnight, 

lay all night in the windmill at St. George's 

Field, and to the watchword of " Hem, boys," 

laid up that store of diverting adventures 

which could have helped him but little in his 

progress towards the woolsack, though they 

raised pleasant memories amongst Robert 

Shallow and his friends many years after. 

For Falstaff in his youth, the law was indeed 

Father Antic. With the advance of Time 

its aspect became more tragic. Bully Jack 

had much ado to keep from coming within 

its toils. Its myrmidons. Fang, and the rest 

of them whose quarry was a fat man, " as 



30 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

fat as butter," were well known to him. 
Writs must have been as common as leaves 
in Vallombrosa. The Lord Chief-Justice held 
him under observation as a suspect ; nothing 
but the fickle favours of a prince kept the 
shadows of the gallows from his path. 

Litigiousness is the prevailing feature of 
Sir John Fastolfs old age. As the false 
knight had forsaken the profession of law 
for that of arms, so the true one had doffed 
his mail to assume, as far as a layman might, 
the long robe. Contentious matters fill up 
the remainder of his life. His letters breathe 
out fire and threatenings. All the techni- 
calities of a calling which existed apparently 
to confuse the issues of right and wrong 
were at his finger ends. His agents are 
constantly abjured to move quickly and 
vigorously in some action, or to see to it 
that some judge or tribunal be well affected 
towards him. He sends by the bearer eight 
writs of green wax for certain processes he 
has in Norfolk with a distringas for Sir 
John Shypton. He requires word of the 
correction and engrossing of damages. As 
the Duke of Norfolk is about to sit upon 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 31 

the oyez and terminez, Howys must labour 
to show forth his grievances. He is accused 
by the Bailly of Hykeling of forging evidence ; 
in his turn he indicts a nobleman for forging 
a false acquittance. Living, he involved his 
friends and dependents in his own broils 
and quarrels ; dead, by a strange and un- 
intentional irony, he bequeathed to his re- 
siduary legatee, John Paston, a lawsuit which 
bade fair to become interminable. 

9. Names occur which have a certain 
suggestiveness. The playful greeting, " My 
old Knight of the Castle," construed by 
most commentators into a reference to the 
Lollard Sir John Oldcastle, need have no 
such application. Indeed the epilogue to 
the play of " Henry V." denies it. Since the 
building of Caister Castle was the great 
achievement of Fastolf's later years, . the re- 
ference may well be to the lord of that 
castle. Such a territorial designation would 
have been natural and appropriate. The 
place of pride this famous mansion had, both 
in the mind of its builder and in the estima- 
tion of the Norfolk people, may easily be 
gathered from the " Paston Letters." 



32 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

Bardolph again is a word carrying with 
it local associations as well as memories of 
that too faithful servant whom his fleering 
master called "a perpetual triumph and ever- 
lasting bonfire," professing on one occasion 
to have mistaken him for an ignis fatuus, 
or ball of fire. 

The Bardolph Manor contained some of 
the best acres in the Caister estate. Lady 
Bardolph was a neighbour of Sir John who, 
at one time or another, had been largely 
concerned in her fortunes. 

lo. The mention of Bardolph brings us 
to the further consideration that both Fastolf 
and Falstaff were fortunate in securing the 
devotion of their adherents — adherents whom 
they treated none too well. 

There was a fascination about the dis- 
orderly riotous knight which claimed and 
held his hirelings. The delight of his con- 
versation must have been great : for men 
of his own kidney it was no little thing to 
be permitted a share in his jollifications, his 
drolleries, and his exploits on the highways ; 
to drink deep in that river of sack which 
seemed to flow from his heels. But there 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 33 

must have been more than all this to have 
so riveted the chain of their regard. The 
bouncing landlady — whose injuries the Lord 
Chief- Justice summed up so tersely — forgave 
him again and again. She pawns, for his 
unworthy sake, the plate from her table and 
the gown from her back ; it was her pagan 
consolations which hushed the last moments 
of the broken and harassed old man. Pistol 
and the others took much at his hands (only 
once it is on record that the cup of their 
forbearance ran over), hanging by him with 
a kind of faithfulness not often given to 
those who merit it, until at his death they 
disappeared one by one by way of the 
gallows. Bardolph above all served his 
master with a dog-like fidelity and love. 
He is much enduring though the jests 
broken upon his head goad him on occa- 
sions to fury. For his master's sake he 
considers neither shame, nor fatigue, nor 
peril. He had known Falstaff for thirty 
years as a valet knows his hero, he had 
been scurvily treated by him, yet it was 
Bardolph, when he heard that his lord was 
sped, who paid him that magnificent tribute 



34 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

of mingled attachment and profanity, "I 
would I were with him, wheresoever he 
is, whether he be in heaven or hell." All 
these men adored him and could take on 
their own lips the words which Falstaff used 
of Poins : "I have forsworn his company 
hourly any time these two-and-twenty years, 
and yet I am bewitched with the rogue's 
company. If the rascal have not given me 
medicine to make me love him, I'll be 
hanged ; it could not be else." 

It would be idle to contend that an equal 
charm dwelt in the person of Sir John Fas- 
tolf. Yet those who were the most about 
him cared the most for him. Paston, the 
country gentleman, became as a son to him, 
and served him with a whole-heartedness 
which the preoccupied old man, cumbered 
with many affairs, was ever ready to ac- 
knowledge. William of Worcester, a man 
of good family and a scholar, devoted the 
best years of his life to a service which 
brought him little profit, inspired by regard 
for an ill appreciated hero. Sir Thomas 
Howys, his agent and chaplain, was devoted 
to him though he must often have ex- 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 35 

perienced the rough side of his tongue. 
Even a humble retainer like John Payn did 
not hesitate to peril his life and jeopardise 
his goods in an attempt to secure the safety 
and comply with the orders of that master 
whose interests came before any other con- 
sideration. 

Like the retainers of Falstaff, these men 
were but ill repaid. If Paston succeeded to 
the Norfolk estate it was at best in a for- 
tuitous manner. Unless we are prepared to 
reject the solemn testimony of Parson Howys, 
Paston was the architect of his own fortunes, 
and owed the legacy which benefited him so 
little to a forged instrument. The case of 
Worcester was especially untoward. Ill re- 
warded during Fastolfs lifetime, he was 
mortified to discover that no provision had 
been made for him in that worthy's will. 
Years before, when he had asked for an in- 
crease in the pittance doled out to him, Sir 
John had expressed a hearty regret that he 
was not a priest, so that he might have re- 
warded him with a living, a form of bene- 
volence which made the least possible demand 
on one who was a patron. As for Payn, we 



36 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

find him, long after his master's death, still 
appealing for some requital for the injuries 
sustained in purse and person during Jack 
Cade's rebellion, when he took his life in his 
hand and rode into the rebel camp under 
Fastolfs instructions. Nevertheless not one 
of these men has a harsh or unkind word to 
say of the master he had served so long. 

II. The parallel is not so clearly defined, 
but on the better side, one had almost dared 
to say, the religious side, these two had 
something in common. Mingled with a certain 
sordidness and austerity there was in Sir 
John Fastolf a steadiness and integrity of 
character which earned for him the friendship 
and respect of some of the noblest men of 
his time. In a lawless age, he regarded and 
upheld the tribunals of his country ; in an 
ungodly generation he lived and died fearing 
God. He was mindful both of the claims of 
the Church and of the poor, for though he 
gave reluctantly during his lifetime he pro- 
vided for the foundation of a college in his 
mansion at Caister after his death, with a 
hospital which could shelter and maintain 
seven priests and seven poor men. His 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 37 

letters, despite their worldliness, are remark- 
able for their endings, which indicate, beyond 
the formalities of the age, a true spirit of 
piety. 

Falstafif, too, had a good angel about him, 
though no one in his senses would dream of 
asserting that he was a man of religion. 
Apart from his compelling humour, those 
who knew him seemed to have loved the 
better man who lay hidden under that great 
whimsical mass of infirmities and follies. 
Steeped to his lips in worldliness, oblivious 
of Lent or fast-day, careless of the source of 
his plunder, and one who had forgotten 
what the inside of a church was like, he 
yet displays a certain wistful attitude towards 
goodness. A deeper, stronger feeling than 
remorse seems to underlie the contrast 
which evidently rose in his mind between 
his innocent childhood, and a manhood that 
was full of drink and oaths and lust and 
cupidity. Time after time he repented in- 
continently of his sins, and thought to lead 
a new life. He was — we maintain — in 
earnest when he said, " I must give over 
this life, and I will give it over ; " in earnest 



38 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

when he longed for a fresh start so that he 
might " live cleanly as a nobleman ought." 
Moreover, he is above any serious attempt 
at hypocrisy ; amidst his manifold jestings, 
he is guiltless of irreverence. Though he 
looks out on the world with the leer of the 
satyr from amongst the leaves, never once 
does he win the laugh on that forbidden 
ground. He had forgotten Him often and 
miserably, yet it was the name of his Creator 
which trembled on his dying lips. 

12. A final resemblance lies in the neglect 
in which these two men died. 

The day when Henry V., just come to 
the crown, rode past Westminster Abbey, 
was hailed by Falstaff as the most auspicious 
in his career. It may be he saw in it the 
beginning of that happier and more virtuous 
mode of life for which he had expressed a 
longing. Yet it ended in eclipse and black 
night. Carried in disgrace to the Fleet, 
with those dreadful words " I know thee 
not, old man, fall to thy prayers" from the 
darling of his heart — his king — his love — 
sounding in his ears, Falstaff fell beneath 
the stroke. His heart was broken. For 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 39 

perhaps the first time he had been put out 
of countenance ; his inventive effronteries 
almost deserted him. The end was indeed 
drawing near when even his butt, the wit- 
less Shallow, could retort successfully upon 
him. Debt, disease, debauchery pressed 
heavily, but the fatal blow was not of them. 
" Ah, poor heart, he is so shaked of a 
burning quotidian fever," said Dame Quickly. 
Pistol and Nym diagnosed his case more 
soundly. "The king hath run bad humours 
on the knight," was the opinion of one. 
" Nym, thou hast spoken the right," quoth 
the other, in his own bombastic way; "his 
heart is fracted and corroborate." After 
this the curtain falls rapidly. Our last sight 
of Falstaff is of a man, fallen from his 
station and opportunities, dying, as he had 
lived, in a tavern, amid the noise of oaths 
and dicing, with but the poor consolations of 
a light woman to speed him through the 
Valley of the Dark Shadow. 

As Sir John Fastolf had lived a worthier 
life, so he came to a more fitting end. He 
passed away in his sick chamber at Caister 
Castle attended by the ministrations of an 



40 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

attached household, and fortified by the last 
rites of the Church. A goodly company 
followed him to his last resting-place in St. 
Benet's Abbey at Holm. But he had long 
survived his influence at court ; the phantom 
of Patay refused to be exorcised, bringing 
him averted looks until the last ; his claims 
against the Crown remained unregarded, his 
captive unransomed, his just debts unpaid. 
His letters bear witness how often, in this 
contemptuous estimate, he was set at naught, 
for whilst his more powerful neighbours were 
filching his territory, the smaller fry, like the 
parson of Stratford who fished his stanks 
and destroyed his new mills, or John Cole 
who took twenty-four swans and cygnets 
out of his waters at Dedham, were not afraid 
to encroach upon him with petty aggres- 
sions. Nevertheless his heart did not fail 
him ; he carried it stoutly until the end. 

These then are some of the reasons which 
lead us to believe that the older historians 
had some warrant for their identification of 
the two men. 

Under any circumstance the Fastolf of 
Shakespeare's play of "King Henry VI." 



THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 41 

remains an injured man, whilst Pelion has 
been piled upon Ossa if the personality of 
the great soldier and Knight of the Garter 
has been merged in that of the fat and dis- 
orderly knight. 

There are some people to whom such an 
immortality would be welcome. To find a 
reincarnation in the world's supreme embodi- 
ment of humour, the occasion of universal 
mirth ; to cheer the monotony and gladden 
the darkness of daily life with perhaps the 
brightest and wittiest spirit known to man ; 
for such a fate as this, they would be more 
than content to doff their respectability and 
pursue a deathless but mirth-inspiring way 
to the tune of the Rogue's March. 

Few, however, would find the charms of 
such posthumous glories compelling. To be 
born into a portentous state, his own yet 
not his own ; to live with his virtues de- 
pressed, his failings exaggerated almost out 
of resemblance ; to be denied the perpetual 
peace and quiet forgetfulness of the grave 
which are the rightful portion of every mortal ; 
to be paraded through the laughing centuries 
with the leer of Silenus for ever in his face. 



42 THE CASE OF SIR JOHN FASTOLF 

the grin of the ribald for ever on his lips, is 
a fate from which a man of honour and self- 
respect may well pray to be delivered. 

A generation like our own which cries 
aloud so vehemently for the truth will recog- 
nise the claim of Sir John Fastolf for re- 
habilitation ; it will not deny that his doom 
to discourtesy should be repealed. 



THE MISADVENTURES OF 
JOHN PAYN 

A FORGOTTEN incident in Jack Cade's rebellion 
deals with the fortunes of a master and his 
man. Of the master we know a great deal, 
and suspect more. He was that Sir John 
Fastolf who battered so stoutly at the French- 
men's gate in the fifteenth century, contriving 
by the irony of fate to achieve a greater 
reputation with his enemies than amongst 
those who had cause to think well of him. 

What manner of man he was, we may see in 
the " Paston Letters" ; choleric ; swearing great 
oaths ; full of grievances ; labouring to increase 
an estate swollen already to great proportions; 
hard in his dealings with his dependents, yet 
not unbeloved of them. With one of these 
retainers our narrative is concerned. 

But for his misfortunes the name of this 
faithful follower would have faded from the 
knowledge of his kind. Long after his humble 



44 MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 
unnamed fellows have been mown down by 
the scythe of Time and " blown away like thistle 
down," Payn's memory survives. He wrote a 
letter which has preserved his name and his 
mischances ; a human document in the midst 
of much that is arid and sordid in the " Paston 
Letters." 

Fortune was not blind to the omen of his 
name, and played upon it. It made of him 
the rebel malgrd lui, and visited him with 
pains and penalties not without sudden and 
terrifying glimpses of the gallows. 

Nearly a hundred years before this story 
begins England had been moved by an in- 
dignation against the social condition of 
things that could not be restrained. Wat 
Tyler had headed his Peasants' Revolt, and 
had marched to London with his sorry array, 
strong only in the number and intensity of 
their wrongs. Rags were there and wretched- 
ness and anguish ; weariness with long walk- 
ing to and fro in quest of bread ; resentment, 
long suffering, despair. But a kind word and 
ready promise from the lips of a king had 
disarmed them ; they were dismissed, some 
to their homes, some to the gallows. 



MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 45 

This time the grievances were political, 
whilst the actors in the stirring drama were 
those of better social standing. 

They dwelt in Kent, the busy manufactur- 
ing district of those days. Here John Ball, 
"the mad priest," had preached socialism in 
his songs ; here the wandering minstrels had 
sown revolutionary doctrines under the guise 
of ballads ; here the Peasants' Revolt had 
found a leader ; and here, in the fulness of 
time, a leader sprang to the head of the 
new uprising. True to his conception of 
himself as a deliverer and a king, he bore 
the name of Mortimer as though a member 
of that royal house whose fortunes were 
soon to flourish again on the English throne. 
His friends, however, knew him as Jack 
Cade, and History sees in the remarkable 
young man who promised himself a king- 
dom and his country a charter only an 
Irish adventurer. This at least may be 
asserted of him that, from the time he 
assumed his r61e until the hour his army 
melted away from him, he played his part 
with an ardour and disregard of conse- 
quences denied to any but his nation. 



46 MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 

Though he carried with him a sufficiently 
ragged reputation from the first, it was only 
when he came face to face in London town 
with his old fellow-servant Bay ley that his 
delinquencies were in danger of being tracked 
home. 

Not much is known of his earlier history. 
Crossing the Channel to enter the house- 
hold of Sir Thomas Dacre in Sussex, a murder 
of peculiar baseness had compelled him to 
escape to France, whence he returned in the 
scarlet robes of a physician and bearing the 
name of Aylmer. We can imagine his pro- 
gress as a healer : how he spread his carpet 
on the village green : with what eloquence 
and efirontery he harangued the people, 
avoiding meanwhile the severe Ordinance 
against " Meddlers with surgery and physic." 
Audacity and a dashing appearance seem to 
have rewarded him with the hand of a 
squire's daughter, so that henceforth his 
social standing is secured, and he is in 
readiness to head an enterprise which de- 
served a better leader. Yet, ambitious and 
turbulent as he was, with a career behind 
him full of dark passages, we cannot fancy 



MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 47 

that the man who inspired the rebellion, and 
carried it on at the beginning with so much 
force and spirit, was wanting in something 
noble. He had at least a righteous cause 
behind him. 

Nowhere was the misrule of the govern- 
ment of King Henry VI. more keenly felt 
than in Kent. From this country of orchards 
and pleasances came the disaffection which 
Mortimer, otherwise Jack Cade, nourished into 
actual revolt. Whit-week saw the rebellion 
in open flame ; the Kentish lanes emptying 
themselves of men with passion in their 
faces and weapons in their hands. Sussex 
shook off its drowsiness to join in the 
march : all sorts and conditions of men fell 
into the ranks. This was no mere rabble 
which grew in numbers and in determina- 
tion as it moved. Many a goodly name was 
represented there ; many a squire and yeo- 
man ; with Poynings, a gentleman of ancient 
lineage, to act as chief lieutenant. With 
the good men and true came, as was in- 
evitable, some of the baser sort. It might 
be pedlars dealing in revolutions as well as 
other wares ; or it might be itinerant church- 



48 MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 

men, pilgrims and pardoners ; or again it 
might be the minstrels who sang of liberty 
and fraternity, or outlaws, thieves, and job- 
bing workmen with ribald songs about Jack 
Napes and Harry our King; they were all 
there, all brothers in revolt. At Blackheath 
their march was stayed, and the rebels drew 
up the formidable list of their complaints. 
And here at Blackheath the first shadow of 
coming disaster fell across the fortunes of 
John Payn. 

At this critical time when rumour was at 
its wildest, and London awaited with appre- 
hension the march of the men of Kent ; when 
Henry VI. (destined to lose the golden op- 
portunity which a less deserving predecessor 
had turned to good account) was hurrying in 
timid haste to confer with his councillors : 
when Ayscough, Bishop of Salisbury, was 
being dragged from the altar at Edginton to 
be murdered in alb and stole by a band of his 
own tenants ; at this time Fastolf, the old 
soldier and Privy Councillor, was sitting in 
his house at Southwark, counting his bonds, 
or making his pen fly furiously over paper in 
commands to his friends or in wordy warfare 



MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 49 
with his enemies. With a soldier's prompti- 
tude he determined to find out, in the interests 
of the -State, what were the rebel demands. 
To this intent he summoned his trusty servant 
Payn, bidding him ride post-haste to the 
insurgent camp, and use his wits to see and 
hear all that was going on. 

A less confident man, a less devoted servant, 
might well have hesitated to launch himself 
upon an errand so encompassed with peril. 
Payn, however, displayed no hesitation. He set 
forth in haste accompanied by one attendant. 
We have nothing to guide us but surmises, 
but if he entered upon this adventure with a 
light heart, he had speedy reason to rue it. 
With the journey to Blackheath began tribula- 
tions which were to last his days. What 
befell these two as they rode on the way ; 
through what rumours they passed ; what 
were the plans that passed through the mind 
of Payn — or whether he was trusting to that 
yielding reed — the inspiration of the moment 
— of all this we are ignorant. We only 
know that so riding he came in view of his 
journey's end, and understood that his task 
had become a peril. The heath was humming 

D 



50 MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 

like a hive of angry bees. Its rural peace 
had forsaken it. Filled with a "great might 
and a strong host" it had become "a field 
dyked and staked well about as though in 
a land of war, save only that they kept order 
among them, for Jack Robyn was as good 
as John at the Noke, for all were as high 
as pigs' feet." There was time to withdraw, 
but Martyrdom beckoned him on, and the 
messenger rode forward. Courageous in war, 
as he was faithful in peace, he would fulfil 
his mission at any cost. The sight of so 
many men may have worked a revolution in 
his mind, for as he beheld a swarm of out- 
posts bearing down upon him he determined 
to save his master's property, those "two 
best" steeds. Turning in his saddle and 
with uplifted hand staying his fellow, he 
leapt from his horse, tossed over its reins, 
and shouted a hasty command which sent 
his companion homeward at a gallop with 
the led mare. When he fell into the grasp 
of his captors they were gratified only by a 
view of Sir John's horseflesh disappearing 
in a cloud of dust. 

Payn was now caught in the meshes. As 



MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 51 

he was hurried along, he could draw no 
comfortable assurance out of the tumult and 
disorder before him, which only Cade's voice 
and approved authority could quell. But 
the most disorderly held an awe of their 
captain. That formidable person may be 
viewed ranging up and down through the 
camp listening with knitted brows to the 
reports of his scouts, executing a ready 
reprisal on any who set up their opinion 
against his own, or sitting in consultation 
with Poynings and his other lieutenants. As 
yet he wears his own proper scarlet, for the 
armour in which he is to enter London still 
glitters on the person of Sir Humphrey 
Stafford, " one of the manliest of all the 
realm of England." Before him the most 
recent captive is haled, his business de- 
manded. The answer is not far to seek. 
Payn has come in order to " cheer with " 
his wife's brothers, and with sundry of his 
acquaintances, for are they not all men of 
Kent } 

But why had he made his fellow to steal 
away with the horses ? This was a discon- 
certing query. He was caught in a situation 



52 MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 

which might have tested the aplomb of a wiser 
mind than his. His action had shown panic, 
or at least an unmannerly distrust of his hosts. 
Before he could choose the particular horn of 
his dilemma, a quick eye in the crowd had 
detected his person if not his quest, a rough 
voice cried out upon him as a follower of 
Fastolf. With the word Fastolf, his fate is 
sealed, for Cade is one of those who had 
sworn to have the head of Jack Napes. 

Nor is the word more popular with the 
crowd. Save the Duke of Suffolk himself no 
one holds so sorrowful a pre-eminence in the 
hatred of his countrymen as the misjudged 
patriot of the French wars. And now the 
faithful squire has a foretaste of the bitter- 
ness of death. He is made the centre of a 
procession of ignominy. Before him goes 
the Duke of Exeter's herald, pressed into 
the rebel service and used by Cade to clothe 
his lawless proceedings with a semblance of 
justice, perhaps to impress his following. 
This man who had borne his part in royal 
pageantries and eaten at great folks' tables, 
must now grace the travesties of a led 
captain ; must now, shorn of his customary 



MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 53 

pursuivants but clad in the coat of arms of 
his royal master, make proclamation at each 
of the four quarters of the heath, with the 
oyez of his order. 

The burden of his charge is that Payn 
was sent " to spy out their power and habili- 
ments of war by the greatest traitor that was 
in England or in France, and that the said Sir 
John Fastolf had furnished his house with the 
old soldiers of Normandy and with munitions 
of war to destroy the Commons of Kent when 
they should come to South wark." When the 
circuit of the camp is completed amidst the 
revilings and execrations of an angry crowd, 
Payn is told plainly that he must lose his 
head. Forthwith he is led to the captain's 
tent, and an axe and block brought forth 
with the dreadful promptitude of those days. 
But even as he is placed in position to 
receive the fatal stroke a rush of his kins- 
folk and friends is made, with Poynings at 
their head. An excited parley ensues : Cade 
storms and menaces : swords are drawn and 
brandished to the accompaniment of the stern 
declaration of the rescuers that hundreds of 
lives should pay for the blood of Payn. Con- 



54 MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 

fronted with a determination at least equal 
to his own, Cade draws back, and Fastolf's 
emissary finds himself comparatively free. 

Before the path of his retreat is made 
open, the rebel leader requires a further 
word with him. To use the language of a 
later day, Payn must either sail under the 
skull and crossbones of a piratical flag, or 
walk the plank. The price of his liberty 
was a solemn oath that he would return to 
his master in Southwark, and then come 
back to Blackheath armed cap-a-pie to cast 
in his fortunes with the Commons of Kent. 
Payn takes the oath, a proceeding which 
excites no surprise. What is passing strange 
is that he kept it. Perhaps a solemn pledge 
meant more then than it does now. At 
any rate the easy perjuries of the courts of 
law, the casuistries of the schoolmen readily 
absolving from extorted promises, . made no 
appeal to him. Nay, more, a popular cause, 
the urging of his friends, some undoubted 
sympathies with the reforms demanded, all 
these had no power to detach him from his 
allegiance. 

Even now, with his face set homeward. 



MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 55 

he is not quit of annoyance and danger, his 
path lying through the menaces which every- 
where greet the passing of Fastolfs man. 
He finds himself in the midst of a hustle of 
knaves who make such a levy upon his purse 
that in the recital of his wrongs his other 
indignities are swallowed up by the re- 
membrance of the xxvijs. of which he was 
mulcted by these banditti. Free of the 
heath at last, the conviction must have 
settled down with the weight of lead in his 
heart that he had committed himself to an 
adventure for which he had no stomach. 

Of the advice he received from his lord 
lying in Southwark he says nothing. That 
aged warrior — whose courage no one might 
impeach — ^thought it well in the coming stress 
to be guided by his servant and secure his 
own safety. Accordingly, with his armed 
garrison, he left his house to the slender 
protection of two trusted retainers, and with- 
drew with his men to the Tower. Safe in 
his fastness, girdled by solid masonry and 
stout arms, Sir John could await with confi- 
dence the chances of the coming storm ; it 
remained for Payn to make his way back 



56 MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 
into the very heart of it with what courage 
he might. 

His return did not secure for him either 
the confidence or the good will of the mal- 
contents. He was held suspect on every 
side : Cade kept him in his tent, or near to 
his person under surveillance. Nothing but 
the unceasing vigilance of his friends pre- 
served him from the repeated attempts made 
upon his life. Payn was not a sentimen- 
talist, but one cannot read his narrative with- 
out being made aware that much wanton 
indignity was heaped upon him, that his 
purse and person were held fair game by all 
who could make an attack upon them. 

It is uncertain at what precise time his 
fortunes were joined to those of the men of 
Kent, whether before the retreat to Seven- 
oaks where the royal forces were completely 
routed, or the triumphant return to their old 
camping ground on the way to London, 
He complains that "four times before that 
time [i.e. the affair on London Bridge) I was 
carried about throughout Kent and Sussex, 
and there they would have smitten off my 
head." It is not unlikely that he lay with 



MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 57 
the rebel host beneath the threatened turrets 
of Knole high on the wooded hill of Seven- 
oaks, that he saw the conflict raging before 
him which furnished Cade with a new suit 
of armour and his men with a fresh enthu- 
siasm. Down there in the country huddled 
under a pent of boughs, or hurried from 
place to place, always watched and always 
unhappy, his sufferings were made greater 
by the wrongs done to his Kentish home 
and his household. "And in Kent there as 
my wife dwelled they took away all our mov- 
able goods that we had, and there would 
have hanged my wife and five of my children, 
and left her none other goods saving her 
kyrtyll and her smock." 

This at least is clear ; after much deadly 
skirting of peril, he found himself in the 
train of "Mortimer" after his entry into 
South wark on July ist. Though present on 
the spot, not all the events of that fateful 
week passed beneath his notice ; not the 
dramatic approach of Cade and his boastful 
cry as he struck his sword in London town, 
" Now is Mortimer lord of this city ; " not 
the execution of Lord Saye and Sele hurried 



58 MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 

into eternity by the standard in Cheap, 
untried of his peers and unshriven by his 
Church ; not the end of the unpopular tax- 
gather Crowmer, Saye's son-in-law, nor of 
the humbler victim Bayley, doomed to lose 
his head less for the guilt of necromancy 
than for the crime of knowing too much of 
the unsavoury past of Cade, his sometime 
fellow - servant ; not the interview between 
the captain with the conquering air and the 
Lord Mayor, "very much the great bow un- 
strung," when Jack touched the very limit of 
irony by issuing a proclamation in the king's 
name against robbery and extortion. 

Robbery and extortion ! these were the 
very things the citizens dreaded, not without 
reason. The first demand of the redresser 
of wrongs had been a requisition upon the 
Lombards and other foreign merchants to 
furnish him with armour and weapons, six 
horses fully equipped, and one thousand marks 
of ready money. "And if this our demand 
be not observed and done," so ran the in- 
struction, "we shall have the heads of as 
many as we can get of them." This proved 
to be the very keynote of his mission. With 



MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 59 

opportunities to plunder everywhere opening 
out before him, the predatory instincts of 
Cade and his followers could not be re- 
pressed. Good men and true were there : 
worthy descendants of the Englishmen who 
met on the field of Runnymede ; but Cade 
was surrounded also by the canaille who in 
every age conspire to pull down that which 
was immediately above, and prey upon that 
which was below. John Ball's socialism was 
in its robber and ruffian stages. 

The citizens of London were quick to 
discern this. Sympathy with the cause 
passed rapidly into distrust of the leader : 
the experiences of twenty-four hours convinced 
them that their welcome must clothe itself 
in armour and carry a sword. 

Meanwhile Payn had been engaged in the 
task of preventing the spoliation of his 
master's goods, and in watching the ravish- 
ment of his own. Had self-preservation 
been uppermost in his mind he had easily 
diverted their unwelcome attentions from 
himself to his hated lord. Sir John was 
rich : often must Payn have seen him falling 
to his accounts, examining the sureties given 



6o MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 
him by royal princes and others, to return 
them to their hiding place with the sigh 
of satisfaction which accompanies a swelling 
purse. 

But Payn's concern is all for his master, 
and his master's property. By expostulation, 
by threats, and by bribes, by exposing him- 
self to the usual menace of beheadal, he 
succeeded in saving the Southwark residence 
from being burned or pillaged. This work 
of salvage seems to have cost him " more 
than six marks in meat and drink," for he 
seems to have entertained the rioters for 
some time at his own charges. Even this 
did not abate the ill-will of his captors. 
Cade not only kept him under observation 
in his own lodging at the White Hart in 
Southwark, but robbed him of a handsome 
gown of hodden grey furred with fine beaver, 
and a brigandine — or leather coat — covered 
with blue velvet and gilt mail with leg har- 
ness. Advantage was taken of his absence 
from his own chamber in Paston's rents to 
break into his chest there, and despoil him 
of "one obligation (note of hand) of mine 
that was due unto me of £^6 by a priest of 



MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 6i 

Poules, and another obligation of a knight 
of ;^io," and a complete suit of Milan 
armour together with four gowns of greater 
or less value. 

Events in the meantime were moving 
swiftly on to Cade's discomfiture. On July 
2nd, the city gave him a welcome ; by July 
4th, sympathy had hardened into suspicion, 
suspicion to consternation and alarm. The 
Londoners saw their hearth threatened under 
dastardly strokes. Small difference did it 
make to them whether they were plundered 
under the guise of patriotism or in the name 
of open riot. Politic enough in some re- 
spects, quick to discern the advantages of 
discipline and good behaviour. Cade could 
not hold his hand when there was any 
filching to be done. One day, he emptied 
the house of an unpopular alderman — Philip 
Malpas by name — "and bare away many 
goods of his, and in particular much money 
both in silver and gold, the value of a not- 
able sum, and in specially merchandise as of 
tin, wood, madder, and alum, with a great 
quantity of woollen cloth, and many rich 
jewels, and other notable stuff of feather 



62 MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 
beds, bedding, napery, and many a rich 
cloth of Arras." The next, he acknowledged 
the hospitality received in the parish of St. 
Margaret Patten's by the barefaced robbery 
of his host. With such doings placarded 
before it, public opinion refused to be satis- 
fied with the vicarious sacrifice of one of 
his own band hanged (not unjustly) as a 
common thief. Essaying to cross London 
Bridge on Sunday — the 5th — the citizens 
closed the drawbridges and would have none 
of him. He accepted the situation without 
dismay, perceiving four hundred years in 
advance of Blucher, that London was a 
splendid city to put to the sack. He called 
his men to arms, made to himself friends 
after the manner of the unjust steward in 
the parable by breaking open the prisons 
of the King's Bench and Marshalsea, and 
forming a fresh company out of the liberated 
felons, then made to carry the metropolis by 
assault. And with this attempt begins another 
chapter in the discomfort of John Payn. 

Within the White Hart, where he was kept 
under observation, there was for several days 
no circumstance of novelty, but on Sunday 



MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 63 

evening he was drawn from his obscurity 
and driven into an unwilling and luckless 
prominence. From this point, all deadly 
earnest though they were, his enterprises 
touch upon the farcical. Through such a 
sea of contrarieties had he to steer his way 
that his fate compelled him to be loyal and 
disloyal, true to his king, and yet combatant 
in the ranks of his liege's enemies. Cade 
spared him nothing, but thrust him into the 
very forefront of the conflict. Behold him, 
then, issuing from the inn at Southwark, 
one in the great "multytude of riffe-raffe," 
of gentlemen, peasants, yeomen, thieves, and 
gaol-birds who rush townwards, following his 
leaders through the streets on the Surrey side 
with such wry face as we may fancy. The 
Bridge lies before him ; its defenders, with 
"the good old Lord Scales and Matthew 
Gough " at their head, bar the way. The 
rebels march with songs and cheering for 
Jack Mendall : silence lies on the Bridge, 
where the clamours of the pavement and the 
cries of the booths have given place to a 
sinister quiet. Torches flare here and there 
and pikes are tossing. 



64 MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 

A more confused or hazardous battle-ground 
it would be difficult to select. Along its 
parapets there are houses with pointed roofs 
whose storeys project and overhang the 
Thames. The chapel of St. Thomas a 
Becket stands in the midst ; above all the 
white turrets of the Tower look down upon 
the fighting. The shouting draws nearer 
and yet more near; soon the assault swarms 
against the causeway ; the arrows fall like 
leaves ; the defenders sally hotly over the 
drawbridge ; each side utters its cry as they 
ply their weapons. The narrow streets lead- 
ing to the Bridge vomit armed men, yet the 
citizens are hard put to it to hold their own, 
and are slowly driven back to the centre. 

For many hours together and for miles 
around the coil of battle terrifies good people 
from their slumbers or their beds. At mid- 
night a lurid flame rushes into the sky : the 
drawbridge is fired, many of its defenders 
dying where they stand, or toppling over into 
the swift stream beneath. So the conflict 
shifts from one part of the Bridge to another 
like a heavy cloud : the kennels run smoking 
red. Sometimes the smoke lifts, and you 



MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 65 

can see for a twinkling a very pale and rueful 
figure, pressing on with involuntary vigour, 
and urged into the very places he is most 
anxious to avoid. On the ebb and the flood 
of the fierce tide of battle, the rebel malgri 
lui is borne helplessly backward and forward 
like flotsam on the wave. He brandishes a 
sword with no more menace in it than the 
brand of a strolling player. But impelled as 
he is into the thick of the miUe, no histrionic 
ability can save him, and as the midsummer 
morning is dawning he is carried from the 
press grievously wounded. 

At nine o'clock it is still a drawn battle, 
but with a spell in the fighting comes the 
opportunity of the king's councillors. For 
the last time Cade holds a conference with 
those in authority ; two archbishops and a 
bishop meet him in St. Margaret's Church, 
and in the name of their sovereign promise 
a redress of grievances with an assurance 
of pardon for the Commons of Kent and 
their captain, Mortimer. 

The rebellion was at an end. The pro- 
clamation broke the wandering power of the 
rebels more than an armed force. No just 



66 MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 

cause (and their cause was just), no windy 
eloquence, could hold out against it. The 
hangman was not kept hard at work as in 
Tyler's uprising, nevertheless the means em- 
ployed were as effective as though hundreds 
had swung from the gibbets. The better 
men laid down their arms at once ; they saw 
in their continuance only work for Tower 
Hill. The baser sort, of whom there were 
an increasing number, left off fighting and 
fell to their own trade with a will. What 
had been a commando formidable with honest 
demands became a pack of thieves. 

Cade made no attempt to stop this traffic, 
but offered them an evil example. The 
serious business of reform being off his mind, 
he gave himself up joyously to his own diver- 
sions. Trusting to the pardon granted to 
" Mortimer," he made his way into the country 
plundering on every hand. The patriot 
entirely disappeared ; the freebooter stood 
confessed. He was no precisian in morals, 
as we are already aware, but by all accounts 
he was never so ill inspired as in his last 
journey out of town. His passage was 
attended by the execrations of those he had 



MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 67 

robbed, or his followers had maltreated. A 
barge, laden with his spoils, preceded him 
to Rochester : thither he came raising new 
commotions on the way. At Queenborough 
he made an attempt to capture the castle, 
but was successfully resisted by Roger 
Chamberlain. 

But he was now to discover the poor 
protection afforded by an alias. " Mortimer" 
had been amnestied, but Jack Cade was 
proclaimed. On the 12th of July a price of a 
thousand marks was set upon his head ; the 
hue and cry were raised in every direction, 
and vengeance came upon him in the person 
of the man who had succeeded to the ofifice 
of the murdered Sherifif of Kent, After 
skulking in lanes, lying perdu in the woods, 
hiding his head in any place of obscurity. 
Cade was surprised and made prisoner by 
Alexander I den. Desperately wounded in 
the struggle, he was placed in a cart, and 
breathed his last whilst the vehicle jolted on 
its way to London. The cart with the 
naked corpse in it, stopped at the door of 
the White Hart Inn that the landlady might 
identify in the poor fallen flesh her imperious 



68 MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 

guest of a week agone. So Jack Cade came 
to town again. 

After the fashion of those days, hateful 
ceremonies were enacted over the ruins of 
the sometime Mortimer, They mangled the 
heedless body, and sent it in quarters to 
the four ends of England ; the witless head 
they fastened on London Bridge, from which 
pinnacle the skull of Jack Cade grinned at 
the passers-by for many a long day. The 
great revolt was done : the hour of penalty 
and death was at hand. 

Of the men who had abandoned their 
homes and disturbed the tranquillity of the 
country, the greater number returned to 
their places in peace. Some were less fortu- 
nate. Taken — red-handed — they were sum- 
marily decapitated, head after head finding its 
resting place near that of the leader, until the 
great highway between the city and the south 
was garnished with these horrid ornaments. 

Others of the malcontents were cast into 
gaol to await their trial. Among these — 
true to the drawing of his unlucky star — was 
Payn. The malice of Cade had wrought its 
perfect work. In the "alarums — excursions — 



MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 69 
parties fighting" of the Battle of the Bridge 
Payn had played too prominent a part to be 
overlooked. We may suppose that it was 
not long before he fell into the toils ; we 
may suppose him alternately protesting to 
his foes and appealing to his friends. But 
at the end of all surmising we arrive at the 
fact that he was one of those who were not 
amnestied. Attached to the household of 
Fastolf, he was a marked man, not so much 
for his own delinquencies as for the oppor- 
tunity of striking at his lord. 

It is not unlikely that Queen Margaret 
would have welcomed any opportunity of 
confiscating the wealth of her consort's Privy 
Councillor ; it is certain that on the complaint 
of the Bishop of Rochester her prerogative 
was used, and Payn was soon lying in one 
of the prison cells so carefully emptied by 
the Captain of Kent. Neither his obscurity, 
nor his fidelity, nor a predicament beyond 
his own ordering, spared him one pang of 
the humiliation and suffering of the Marshal- 
sea, " the nursery of all manner of wicked- 
ness." That night when in his squalid 
lodging he reviewed the trouble, weariness. 



70 MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 

anxiety of his adventure ; when he beheld 
the ruin of his own fortunes and the danger 
of his lord ; when he found himself, to use 
his own words, " in fear of mine life, and 
threatened to have been hanged, drawn, and 
quartered," and under pressure " to have 
impeached my Master Fastolf of treason," 
his heart must have overflowed with bitter- 
ness, and it was only by a serious call on his 
fortitude that he refrained from despair. 

But he was not forsaken of his friends. 
Discredited as a politician, and suspected of 
sympathy with the pretensions of the Duke 
of York, Fastolf could do little to save a life 
which otherwise was forfeit and dishonoured. 
Humbler helpers at court were to serve him 
better. Certain kinsfolk of his own — yeomen 
of the crown — craved access to the king, 
and succeeded in procuring for him a charter 
of freedom. 

Payn had managed to shave the gallows, 
but not to return to the outer air a free 
man. On the Patent Roll, 30 King Henry 
VI., we trace the history of his last exploit. 
His misadventures, begun in one ignominious 
procession, were to end in another. 



MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 71 

The July of the rebellion had gone and 
given place to a midsummer more peaceful. 
It was the month in which, according to " A 
short English Chronicle," "the king went in 
to Kent to Canterbury, and sat and did great 
justice upon those that rose with the captain." 
As the royal retinue, with all its pomp and 
circumstance, passed through the southern 
shire, it was met by a lamentable crowd of 
supplicants, those, to quote the official docu- 
ment, who, after inciting a formidable rebel- 
lion against the king's peace, and shamefully 
planning certain traitorous designs against his 
Majesty's person, "influenced by a spirit of 
greater prudence, with the greatest humilia- 
tion and bare to their thighs, confessed in 
our presence the enormity of their crimes, 
and anxiously, and with a profusion of tears, 
begged for pardon from us." Amongst the 
men who thus knelt and obtained forgive- 
ness was " John Payn of Peckham, yeoman, 
otherwise called John Payn, lately of East 
Peckham, smith." Still in the clutches of 
irony, he must sue the king's clemency for 
the suffering and losses sustained in the 
king's service. 



72 MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 

Henceforth his place belongs to obscurity, 
and, as we know, to neglect. 

It would have been pleasant to record that 
Sir John out of his abundance indemnified 
him for his charges in that mission of dis- 
aster. But the name of John Payn finds no 
place in the testament which was signed 
by Howys and Paston. Like another faith- 
ful dependent, William of Worcester, Payn 
may have trusted to the deathbed disposi- 
tions of his lord, only to be disappointed 
and to be left to lament the trifling assets 
which remained to him when his visitation 
was over. 

Fastolf, though loaded with wealth and 
honours, the results of his French campaigns, 
speaks of his services as "never yet guer- 
doned or rewarded." Yet the poor un- 
rewarded veteran died possessed of sixteen 
manors, landed estates in forty-nine different 
places, and coined money to the value of 
;if 40,000 of our present currency. His 
ingratitude provided Payn with a grievance 
till the end of his days : spoiling the taste 
of his food, and mingling his drink with 
ashes. Fifteen years after the rebellion we 



MISADVENTURES OF JOHN PAYN 73 
find him rehearsing his ancient wrongs and 
claiming justice at the unlikely hands of 
Paston, the new owner of Caister Castle. 
Fastolf, cumbered to the last with estates 
and treasures which slipped from him so 
easily when he entered into the cloud, died 
in advanced old age in 1459 : Payn much 
later. So they went their ways : the master 
to the magnificent tomb in St. Benet's Abbey: 
the man, with the hurts to his fortune still 
uncured, to the old dwelling-place of his 
forefathers. 



THE CHRONICLE OF 

SALIMBENE 

This is the story of the wild Guelf and 
Ghibelline days when Italy was a bear- 
garden. We owe it to a wandering friar of 
St. Francis Assisi, who loved his order much, 
but loved paper and ink more. He was that 
Salimbene {Bene salisti — "well hast thou 
jumped ") who sprang into the clamours and 
conflict of the thirteenth century, his armour 
a frock and girdle, a pen in place of a sword. 
Not greatly distinguished above the men of 
his day, he has outlasted them by more than 
six hundred years, surviving in the tale he 
has told of his life and the people who moved 
in it. Discursive enough and remote, that 
story will keep its charm so long as it is 
true that nothing which has interested men 
and women, nothing about which they have 
ever been passionate, or expended time or 
zeal, can wholly lose its vitality. 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 75 
A comparison between this early chronicler 
and our own Samuel Pepys is almost inevi- 
table. Both are gossips ; both have frankness, 
humour, vivacity, with a keen eye to all that 
is passing around them. Their writings had 
a common fate. Through the whole of one 
century and a quarter of another the bewil- 
dered MSS. of the diarist lay dead and 
buried in his old college of Magdalen. But 
four hundred years before Pepys commenced 
his confidences the Chronicle of Salimbene 
was defying the moths, out of sight and 
almost out of mind, in the Conti Library. 
It was known to exist, that was all. Stray 
scholars consulted it ; for the rest, it was 
like to achieve the equivocal celebrity which 
springs from neglect, the celebrity Voltaire 
ascribed to Dante, " His reputation will be 
ever on the increase, because he is so little 
read." After many vicissitudes the manu- 
script found its way into the solemn wilder- 
ness of the Vatican, where its pages were 
entirely withdrawn from the gaze of the 
student. Pope after pope (it may be sup- 
posed) drew near, gave a shocked glance at 
its disclosures, threw up his hands in horror, 



76 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

and made the place of its captivity yet more 
secure. It was reserved for Leo XIII. — 
scholar and man of tolerance — to bring with 
him the day of its resurrection. 

The two writers were alike in the merci- 
less expurgation which awaited them, one for 
his indecencies, the other for his indiscretions, 
propriety hiding its face from the first, whilst 
ecclesiastical susceptibilities demanded the 
suppression of the second. So many pages 
have been cut out of Salimbene's script that 
the narrative in its integrity will never now 
be read. Scholarship in France and Germany 
has done all that is possible to make the 
friar speak with unbridled tongue, preparing 
the way in our own country for Miss Mac- 
donell's vivacious account of him in her "Sons 
of Francis," above all for Mr. Coulton's trans- 
lation of all that is of primary interest in the 
history. 

Finally, under cover of a certain coyness, 
both Pepys and Salimbene, so it may be 
asserted, intended their work to be made 
public. The diarist wrote in cipher, and left 
a key in the shorthand under cover of which 
he committed his most secret thoughts to 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 77 

paper ; Salimbene set down his records osten- 
sibly for the entertainment of his favourite 
niece, a nun of the Poor Clares, but the pains 
he declared himself to have taken to secure 
accuracy seem to tell of his hope of a wider 
circulation than a cloistered cell. Moreover 
his account of men and manners degenerated 
into a chronique scandaleuse more fitted to 
the camp than the convent. 

Salimbene made his appearance upon the 
scene at a fascinating period of history. The 
mediaeval world was passing away ; the world 
of modern thought and life was coming to 
the birth. It was an age of startling con- 
trasts, of moral monsters and sweet- natured 
saints ; of Roger Bacon anticipating modern 
enlightenment, and of St. Dominic plucking 
a sparrow alive to dislodge the foul fiend in- 
carnate in the unhappy bird ; of gloriously 
illuminated missals, and of monks who sold 
them in fragments for charms ; an age when 
gunpowder was invented and the gospel of 
peace and goodwill was most powerfully 
proclaimed ; when chivalry still rode to the 
Crusades wearing its lady's gage d'amour, and 
still came back to treat woman at her worst ; 



78 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

a time when men climbed up into heaven to 
see visions of unspeakable rapture, when they 
went down into the deepest abysses of hell, 
the hell of cruelty, lust, oppression figured 
by Dante. An epoch of the earth earthy, it 
yet refused to look on anything in a purely 
secular way. Living amidst all these miseries 
which distracted Italy in the thirteenth cen- 
tury, with strong men ever lawless, the 
well disposed grown weak and cowardly, with 
religion able neither to guide nor restrain 
Society, but only to offer " death-bed consola- 
tions to its victims" — at such an hour Salim- 
bene looked around him, not so much with 
dismay as with an ironic curiosity. 

He presents himself to us in many guises. 
A politician, he enters into the hopes and 
fears and ambitions of his day. Guelf, not 
Ghibelline, he prefers to walk under the 
shadow of the papal robe rather than cower 
beneath the skirts of the Emperor. 

A scholar, his learning displays itself in the 
many volumes he had to his credit, though 
he was unable, in the midst of incessant 
activities, to maintain an exact scholarship. 

As a theologian, he shares in the magnifi- 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 79 

cent ideals which he had seen springing 
up almost in a night only to recede as he 
gazed upon them. For him the Franciscan 
is the very marrow of faith and devotion ; 
he looks upon other religionists in much the 
same way that the actor who plays Hamlet 
may be supposed to regard the man who 
plays the cock. His were the days of the 
Pastoureaux, that host of fanatic shepherds 
which overran France designing a new 
Crusade ; of the followers of Segarello, 
crying with loud voice a hundred times 
or more " Pater, Pater, Pater " ; of Gerar- 
dino's bogus Apostles, and of many another 
visionary. Victims, one and all of them, of 
some fantastic theory, they are treated at 
length and with unaffected contempt. 

But it is as a traveller that the calling 
and election of the chronicler are made 
specially sure. On the road, in the course 
of wanderings which were to last for thirty- 
six years, he falls in with high and low, 
rich and poor, eating now of the bread 
which he had begged, now sitting at the 
banquet of popes and kings. Year by year 
we see him picking his way amongst un- 



8o THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

known peoples, eyeing with eager glance the 
food they eat, the dress they wear, the 
flowers that grow in their fields. Year by 
year, he is never at rest, this man of many 
friends, ever passing to and fro on foot 
through great cities and little whitewashed 
villages, climbing amongst folded hills or 
through rocky mountain passes, resting now 
in lonely hermitages and now in crowded 
inns. And all this with the true vaga- 
bond's instinct, that sense of the movement 
of life around him, that quickness in feeling 
and in observing that make him an all but 
perfect traveller. 

He has the wayfarer's eye for the weather 
and natural phenomena. The great frost 
and snow of January 1234, when the vines 
and fruit trees were destroyed ; the night 
forays of the starving wolves into the centres 
of population ; the frozen Po with its horse- 
men on the march ; the miraculous weather 
of 1 266, when May blossomed right through 
the year that the hosts of the Church's 
enemies might be discomfited ; the horror 
of an eclipse filling the streets of Lucca 
with distracted men and women, and the 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 8i 

wonder of it as it quenched the sun at mid- 
day till the stars could be seen, and a pale 
moon hung in the sky in form of a cross ; 
the comet of 1264, which vanished with the 
passing of Urban of unfriendly memory ; 
the immense swarms of butterflies in one 
year ; in another, the vast multitude of 
gnats which made men aweary of their 
lives with importunate bites ; the disease 
which fell upon the poultry yards in 1286, 
so that " in the city of Cremona, a single 
woman lost within a brief space forty-eight 
hens" — ^all these find a record in his pages. 
Salimbene was a native of Parma, no 
mean city. Like many another Italian town 
of its period, it bore in its face traces of the 
bloodiest passions of mankind and of its 
nobler aspirations. Flames had blackened 
it ; rams had battered it ; the weather of a 
thousand years had fretted it. Its crowded 
and narrow streets were but a collection 
of rival castles, less homes than a common 
refuge, in those dreadful days when com- 
bats raged through the city, and its walls 
were speckled all over with fellow-citizens' 

blood. From his youth Salimbene was 

r 



82 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

familiar with bloodshed. So full are his 
pages of battles, sieges, skirmishes, mas- 
sacres, and vengeance that, with Miss Mac- 
donell, we wonder in these tame days how 
any other industry could be carried on save 
forging spears and digging graves. Yet 
the outward and visible appearance of peace 
was not wanting. Salimbene's home lay 
in the shadow of the great Cathedral and 
Baptistery which dominated Parma. Here 
the fiercest and most relentless of fighters 
had received the chrism and the salt ; 
hither they came to give and take the ring 
of marriage, to receive the sacrament and 
with that solemn pledge to renounce their 
feuds and accept in amity the hands of 
their enemies. 

Small love had the chronicler for his birth- 
place. He gives us what were familiar sights 
to him, the city in alarm, the enemy at the 
gate, the bells swinging from matins till 
vespers, its beacons flaring through the night. 
He shows us the shopkeepers minding their 
wares and counting their gains, but ready 
to fly to arms, since fight they must "when 
every wind blew an enemy toward them." 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 83 

Glimpses there are, too, of the great men 
with their high - handed insolence, and of 
the populace with their rough reprisals. 
But the touch of scorn is not withheld. It 
enters into the description of his townsmen's 
ambition to get a bell which should be 
heard in the rival towns of Borgo San 
Donnino and Reggio — fourteen and seven- 
teen miles away. In spite of large outlays 
the bells were a failure ; the fourth and last 
of them "fell down from its platform and 
hurt no man, save that it cut off the foot 
of a certain young man, wherewith it had 
once spurned his own father." Bitterness 
whets his words whenever he speaks of 
the Parmese. They are a vindictive race. 
Their saying that a vengeance of thirty 
years' old is timely enough had become a 
truism, so dear was a vendetta to their 
hearts. But his severest count against them 
was their impiety and their expressed con- 
tempt for the friars. 

In Parma had lived from generation to 
generation the race of grave and dignified 
men from whom Salimbene claimed kinship. 
Amongst them were noted soldiers and jurists. 



84 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 
Some of them lay in effigy with legs crossed 
as being from the Crusades, whilst others of 
his ancestors rested their feet upon lions as 
having died in war. His own father, Guido 
di Adamo, was an old Crusader, With the 
ill-fated Baldwin, Count of Flanders, he had 
sailed for the Holy Land in an expedition 
destined neither to touch the power of the 
Syrian Sultan nor to strike one blow on the 
soil of Palestine, a failure relieved only by 
that triumphal hour when Baldwin was borne 
on the shields of his comrades into the Church 
of Sancta Sophia, there to be invested with 
the purple buskins of the Emperor of the 
East. 

Though a son of Adamo, Salimbene did 
not go by his true name. In childhood and 
youth he was known by a nickname, Ogni- 
bene (all good). Whether his father be- 
stowed upon him the name which he despised 
of a patriarch he underrated, or whether his 
reticence arose from a wish — early and vehe- 
mently expressed — to divorce himself from 
everything associated with a worldly career, 
cannot be ascertained. All that we can 
know is that he never calls himself by the 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 85 

family name. With a degree of complacency 
he gives us to understand that he was some- 
times called after Balian of Sidon, formerly 
Viceroy in the Holy Land for the Emperor 
Frederick II. This famous lord had held the 
infant at the font. Had Salimbene chosen 
a name for himself it would have been Diony- 
sius, as he was born on the f6te day of that 
saint. No portrait of his youth or manhood 
remains. We can believe that, by the grace 
of heritage, he was of a comely countenance 
like his father before him ; we may be sure 
that he was not wanting in charm of voice 
and manner. An excellent mimic and story- 
teller, he was also a musician and eloquent. 
He appears to have been of a robust frame ; 
to him was fitly addressed the remonstrance, 
at a time when the brethren were menaced 
and ill treated by marauders, "Why did ye 
not cudgel them ? " 

Portents accompanied his birth. Before 
he was a year old occurred that earthquake 
which shook the whole of Lombardy, and 
gave Salimbene occasion for a life-long re- 
sentment. Amidst the quaking of the earth, 
the roar of falling masonry, the pitiful cries 



86 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

of maimed and dying, his mother had for- 
gotten what was due to him and his sex. 
Let us hear his own description of the wrong. 
"My mother hath told me how at the time 
of the earthquake I lay in my cradle, and 
how she caught up my two sisters, one under 
each arm, for they were but babes as yet. 
So leaving me in my cradle, she ran to the 
house of her father and mother and brethren, 
for she feared (as she said) lest the Baptistery 
should fall on her, since our house was hard 
by. Whereupon I have never since loved 
her so dearly, seeing that she should have 
cared more for me, her son, than for her 
daughters." Something might have been for- 
given the poor lady for the panic and a 
woman's fear, yet Salimbene found her offence 
unpardonable. The affection which was her 
due he transferred to his grandmother, a 
dame who lived to be a hundred years old. 
With a detached air of justice he admits that 
his mother had many admirable qualities, 
being truly devout, not given to break the 
heads of her maid-servants after the fashion 
of the great ladies of Parma. She completed 
the modest cycle of her virtues by dying in 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 87 

the odour of sanctity, a professed sister of 
the Poor Clares. 

We know little of Salimbene's youth until 
he comes to fifteen years of age. We see 
him growing up amidst the lads and maids 
of the Umbrian city — brown, shy-eyed girls, 
and lanky boys stretching up into the graceful 
striplings who are still to be found there. 
We see him fascinating his little comrades 
with his winning ways, as he was in later 
days to attract the regards of his fellows from 
kings to peasants. A saving sense of humour 
displays itself in him from the beginning, 
redeeming the tendency to primness and a 
smug conceit of himself But beneath the 
cheerful exterior of the lad lay the deep re- 
ligious feeling, inherited from his race, which 
was soon to draw him with bands of iron. 
There came early to him the austere and 
serious girding of the loins of youth ; while 
still a boy he yielded himself to the ardent 
desire for withdrawal from a world that was 
out of joint. Yet he who had this fine touch 
for things spiritual did not after his conver- 
sion, to the good fortune of his readers, for- 
get the old gods. He preserved as a friar 



88 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

that interest in the great pulsating world 
around him which had marked his earlier 
days. It belongs to the quality of his mind 
to concern itself very largely with the men 
and women of the period, and it is to this 
quality that so much of freshness and fire 
in his history are owing. 

Upon the boy Salimbene the hopes of his 
house were fastened. Guido, his elder brother, 
a judge and married, was no better than a 
dead man since he had surrendered his birth- 
right for an anchorite's cell. Nicholas, the 
second of Guido's sons, had withered away 
whilst yet a child. Only Salimbene remained 
to uphold what was so dear to the heart of 
a father, the honours of the family name. 
But the youth had other designs already in- 
dicated. For one thing, he hated war like 
a Quaker. And war was ever rearing its 
horrid front before him. Before he attained 
his seventeenth year he had seen the van 
of Frederick's mighty host moving out to 
bring fire and sword into the rebel cities of 
Lombardy ; had seen the great war elephant, 
with tower and pennons on its back, thrust- 
ing its way through the terrified streets of 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 89 
Parma, with those others, camels, drome- 
daries, and leopards that the emperor used 
to astonish and affright his subjects. He 
had seen, too, the relics of battle garnishing 
the sacred walls of the Baptistery and Cathe- 
dral, and most moving of all, perhaps, had 
listened to the lamentable cry for help from 
Modena when Parma itself was incapable 
of striking a blow for her neighbour and 
friend. 

To him, therefore, sickened with the taint 
of blood, it was no great thing to yield up 
an inheritance which meant danger and the 
proof of arms. His longings to have done 
with a world in which hearts might well 
sink and faith find its eclipse, were quickened 
into determination by the tempest of revival 
which fell upon his country before he was 
thirteen. Beneath its movement the dry 
bones revived. Northern Italy seemed to be 
regenerate. Parma became changed. Rib- 
aldry and licentiousness disappeared from its 
streets, the churches were crowded with wor- 
shippers, the alms-boxes were no longer 
contemptuously disregarded. Chief amongst 
the leaders of this Alleluia came black avized 



90 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

Brother Benedict. "He was like another John 
the Baptist to behold, as one who should go 
before the Lord and make ready for Him a 
perfect people. He had on his head an 
Armenian cap, his beard was long and black, 
and he had a little horn of brass, wherewith 
he trumpeted ; terribly did his horn bray at 
times, and at other times it would make 
dulcet melody. He was girt with a girdle 
of skin, his robe was black as sackcloth of 
hair, and falling even to his feet. His rough 
mantle was made like a soldier's cloak, adorned 
both before and behind with a red cross, 
broad and long, from the collar to the foot, 
even as the cross of a priest's chasuble. 
Thus clad he went about with his horn, 
preaching and praising God in the churches 
and the open places ; and a great multitude 
of children followed him, oft-times with 
branches of trees and lighted tapers." 

Like other revivals, the Alleluia withdrew 
as suddenly as it had come, the old life re- 
turned with its seven attendant devils, and 
the populace so recently moved by the im- 
pulse of an invisible conscription turned with 
a greedier zest than ever to their feuds and 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 91 
their frivolities. Yet not in vain had the 
call come to Salimbene. It had fixed his 
destiny. Already the spell of St. Francis 
Assisi had been cast upon him. Though 
there remained only the pathetic remem- 
brance of a vanished presence, he had nour- 
ished his heart in the sayings and doings 
of the sweetest of the saints, eager to enlist 
under the banner already drawing to itself 
many of the salt of the earth. The unworld- 
liness of Francis, his unquenchable cheerful- 
ness, his love for all things great and small, 
his visions of a new heaven and a new earth, 
the very legend which told how a great 
multitude of larks flew down over the roof 
of the house where the saint lay a-dying, 
"and all flying together, wheeling and circling, 
seemed to be praising God," these things 
drew the quick and enthusiastic temper of 
the boy into a dream of spirituality that never 
quite forsook him through the disenchant- 
ments of his later years. 

It is true that many of the Franciscans, 
unsanctified of heart, had fallen from the 
simplicities and the splendour of their master's 
teaching. Enough for Salimbene that the 



92 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

ideal existed, that some were to be found 
who had not bowed the knee to Baal. 

So it befell that one night the lad of six- 
teen, with a single companion, withdrew him- 
self secretly from his father's house to throw 
himself on the protection of a convent near 
at hand. He had but to run a few hundred 
yards, yet in that short space he was to 
leave behind him for ever kith and kin, in- 
heritance, the hope of posterity, and much 
that is dearest to men. His very name was 
to be put aside. The last brother whom the 
blessed Francis had robed received him soon 
afterwards with the words, " From hencefor- 
wards be thou called no more Ognibene but 
Brother Salimbene, for thou hast well leapt, 
in that thou hast entered into a good order." 

Welcomed by the kindly monks, he was 
incontinently brought face to face with the 
rigours of his new career. He who remained 
till the end of his days a lover of good 
cheer must needs content himself with sod- 
den cabbages — a vegetable his soul abhorred. 
He swallows, but the tear stands in his 
eye. " I thought," he solemnly declares, 
"of the words of Job, 'Things which before 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 93 

my soul would not touch now through 
anguish are my meats.'" 

There were things before him, however, 
of more insistence than his bill of fare. 
Stout old Guido di Adamo was beside him- 
self with rage when he heard of the flight 
and sanctuary of his son. His devotion to 
the Church and its earthly representative 
none might gainsay, but he resented the 
loss of his son and heir, grudged him to 
what was an existence rather than a career, 
nor hesitated to make every effort (including 
piracy if we are to believe Salimbene) to 
recover him from the friars. He addressed 
an appeal to the emperor who, nothing 
loath, demanded from the head of the 
Order the return of young Adamo. The 
Franciscans, anticipating a hue and cry, re- 
moved the neophyte to Fano in the Mark 
of Ancona, some one hundred and fifty 
miles from Parma, Here his father, armed 
with Frederick's mandate, followed him, and 
here in the chapter-house before all the 
brethren ensued a dramatic scene upon 
which Salimbene loved to dwell, a scene 
in which the zeal of the convert shows to 



94 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

better advantage than the natural affection 
of the son. " For when the brethren and 
the laymen had assembled in the chapter- 
house, and many words had been bandied 
to and fro, my father brought forth the 
letter of the Minister-General, and showed 
it to the brethren. Whereupon Brother 
Jeremiah, the custode, having read it, re- 
plied to my father, 'My Lord Guido, we 
have compassion for your grief, and are 
ready to obey the letter of our father. But 
here is your son : he is of age, let him 
speak for himself. Enquire ye of him : if 
he is willing to go with you, let him go in 
God's name. But if not, we cannot do him 
violence, that he should go with you.' My 
father asked therefore whether I would go 
with him or not. To whom I answered, 
' No ; for the Lord saith, " No man putting 
his hand to the plough, and looking back, 
is fit for the kingdom of God." ' And my 
father said to me : ' Thou hast no care 
then for thine own father and mother, who 
are afflicted with divers pains for thy sake?' 
To whom I made answer, ' No care have 
I in truth, for the Lord saith, " He that 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 95 
loveth father or mother more than Me, is 
not worthy of Me." Thou, therefore, father, 
shouldst have a care for Him who, for our 
sake, hung on a tree, that He might give 
us eternal life. For He it is who saith, 
" For I came to set a man at variance 
against his father,'" &c. &c. (Matt, x. 32, 
33> 35. 36). And the brethren marvelled 
and rejoiced that I spake thus to my father. 
Then said he to the brethren, ' Ye have 
bewitched and deceived my son, lest he 
should obey me. I will complain to the 
emperor again, concerning you, and to the 
Minister-General. Yet suffer me to speak 
with my son secretly and apart ; and ye 
shall see that he will follow me without 
delay.' So the brethren suffered me to 
speak alone with my father, since they had 
some small confidence in me because of my 
words that I had even now spoken. Yet 
they listened behind the partition to hear 
what manner of talk we had : for they 
quaked as a rush quakes in the water, 
lest my father by his blandishments should 
change my purpose. And they feared not 
only for the salvation of my soul, but also 



96 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 
lest my departure should give occasion to 
others not to enter the Order. My father, 
therefore, said to me : ' Beloved son, put 
no faith in these filthy drivellers who have 
deceived thee, but come with me, and all 
that I have will I give unto thee.' And I 
answered, and spake to my father : ' Hence, 
hence, father ; the Wise Man saith in his 
Proverbs, in the third chapter, " Hinder not 
from well-doing him who hath the power : 
if thou art able, do good thyself also."' And 
my father answered, even weeping, and said 
to me, ' What then, my son, can I say to 
thy mother, who mourneth for thee day 
and night ? ' And I spake unto him : ' Say 
unto her for my part, thus saith thy son : 
" When my father and mother forsake me, 
then the Lord will take me up." ' My father, 
hearing all this, and despairing of my return, 
threw himself upon the earth in the sight 
of the brethren and the layfolk who had 
come with him, and cried, ' I commit thee 
to a thousand devils, accursed son, together 
with thy brother who is here with thee, and 
who also hath helped to deceive thee. My 
curse cleave to thee through all eternity 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 97 

and send thee to the devils of hell!' And 
so he departed, troubled beyond measure ; 
but we remained in great consolation, giving 
thanks unto God, and saying to Him, 
' Though they curse, yet bless Thou. For 
he who is blessed above the earth, let him 
be blessed in God. Amen.' So the lay- 
folk departed, much edified at my constancy." 
It is difficult to resist the conclusion that 
Salimbene smacked somewhat of the prig, 
the anguish of his father moving him as 
little as his mother's love. If the decision 
cost him some pangs, if a father's curse 
oppressed him, he had, he assures us, his 
consolations. Long after he recalls how his 
heart thrilled with unspeakable tenderness be- 
fore a vision that glorified the night following 
his great renunciation. There came to him, 
as he lay before the altar, the Blessed Virgin ; 
not she of the Sorrowful Way, but our Lady 
of Love with her bambino. She comforted 
the kneeling lad, and bade him kiss the 
Holy Child whom he had openly confessed 
before men. Much comforted by his dream, 
he enjoyed the sleep of youth and health until 
the morning with its summons to prayer. 



98 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

Thus he entered into his vocation; thus 
he commenced those studies of which he 
said on St. Gilbert's Day, forty-six years 
afterwards, that they had never ceased to 
occupy him even though he had not attained 
to the wisdom of his ancestors. Though the 
uneventful days common to those who had 
forsworn the world were not for him, yet 
his life was now to be narrowed and circum- 
scribed. At Fano were passed some of the 
happiest days of his life : it was his good 
fortune to find himself amongst brethren who 
had not been touched by the prevailing de- 
generacy. In this quiet retreat by the sea- 
shore the rules of St. Francis were still 
cherished and revered. Of the Order into 
which he had entered he was, in truth, to 
learn many things disconcerting. If it be 
true that the way to perfection is through a 
series of disgusts, Salimbene was quickly on 
the road to his apotheosis. But there is 
little doubt that time and the grim realities 
of living soon lowered his own spiritual crest. 
Never at any time a mere hireling priest, 
undoubtedly his soul had been broken in 
pieces. Nevertheless the human spirit and 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 99 

the fellowship of baser souls were too much 
for those rarefied ecstasies of which the saint 
of Assisi had given the mode. He found 
that already those who were under the in- 
junction of their founder, " I strictly forbid 
the brethren, all and single, to accept coin, 
and money in any way, whether directly or 
through a third person," had large possessions 
and an itching palm. Vowed to abstinence, 
they loved dainty dishes and choice wines ; 
summoned to penance and rigours of the 
flesh, "they spared their bodies almost as 
tenderly as the relics of saints." Already 
the humble and meek had been exalted after 
an unscriptural fashion, the hodden grey had 
burgeoned into the cardinal's red. The rival 
Cistercians, disdainful of all finery, whose 
churches lay in the hollows unturreted and 
unadorned, saw with contemptuous scorn, 
within sixty years of the death of St, 
Francis, Franciscan churches which assaulted 
the skies, reflecting their light in the gold 
and bedizenment of their decorations. Even 
Moorish palaces were added to them, that 
the testimony might be yet more plain 
that these great domed heaps, "these shin- 



100 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

ing churches, could never ape Christian 
humility." 

The difficulty of monastic rule is well dis- 
played in the career of Elias, that stark 
friar under whom Salimbene commenced his 
novitiate. If his reputation is not greatly 
forward, the fault lies at Salimbene's door. 
The chronicle abounds in stories of his 
pride and luxury. Son of a mattress-maker 
and born into a poor estate, his fortunes 
waxed so great that even men of rank 
and importance might stand in his presence 
unrecognised and without salutation. His 
haughtiness undid him. It drove him first 
from his office into alliance with Frederick 
II., excommunicate and at war with the 
pope, finally into exile at Cortona of the 
heights, where he died under the ban of His 
Holiness, eating out his heart like another 
Napoleon at St. Helena. This was no 
common man who governed an unruly com- 
munity with rod of iron, yet possessed the 
qualities of heart which endeared him to 
Francis, and made him friend and confidant 
of pope and emperor even whilst they were 
at death's grip with each other. Fallen, 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE loi 

excommunicate, and in exile, he died not 
alone. He was attended by the companion- 
ship and affection of his cook and the dozen 
friars or so whom he had in the days of his 
power specially attached to himself. 

The coarseness of the age was seen at its 
worst amongst the brethren of whom he was 
the head ; many of the stories of Salimbene 
are disgustful, and may well be kept to the 
limbo of the original manuscript. The in- 
junctions issued from time to time by those 
who held rule seem more fitted for disorderly 
schoolboys than for grown men in a sacred 
service. Little importance need be attached 
to a venial offence like sleeping in church. 
The friars, being somewhat winded with 
their singing, and a good deal wearied with 
other exercises, lay back in their stalls, and 
were presently overwhelmed by slumber. 
In his apology for the snores which broke 
in upon and drowned the mutterings at the 
altar, Salimbene deprecates the inordinate 
length of the services : " For these things 
beget sheer weariness, not only in summer, 
when we are harassed by fleas and the 
nights are short and the heat is intense, but 



I02 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

in winter also, . , . And it would be well if 
they were changed, for they are full of un- 
couth stuff, though not every man can see 
this." But what shall we say of the irre- 
verence in church ; the laughter, indecent in 
its heartiness ; the Growings over a word 
mispronounced or a reader who had lost his 
place ; the spitting on the floor ; the im- 
propriety which confused the use of the 
vestments with that of a pocket hand- 
kerchief? Out of church some, if not many, 
were gluttonous and addicted to winebibbing, 
unclean in their persons and habits, despising 
the daily bath for themselves and regarding 
it as an affectation in others, given to 
lewdness of talk. With such disciples we 
cannot wonder at the severe rule of a 
disciplinarian like Elias. 

But if the Minister-General could be harsh 
with the many, he could be indulgent to the 
few. The lad who had forsaken home and 
lands and kindred for the Lord's sake had a 
special place in his regard, therefore Salim- 
bene who had chosen his own vocation and 
held to it was permitted to choose his own 
province. He elected to pass into Tuscany. 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 103 
There were many reasons for going away : 
his love of travel ; his desire to see the 
other houses of his Order; the itch for 
information which could not be appeased by 
a permanent place of abode ; above all, his 
disquiet in Fano, where he dreaded con- 
spiracies of his father to snatch him away 
from his newly found felicities. Reminders 
of his home were not wanting to him on 
his travels. Passing through Pisa with a 
certain lay brother (whom he describes in 
uncomplimentary terms with more than a 
suspicion that the Devil carried him off in 
the end), he was compelled to beg for his 
daily bread. To shame was added mortifi- 
cation. As he was asking an alms, a cer- 
tain man of Parma whom he knew not spake 
scorpions to him. "He began to upbraid, 
saying, ' Hence, wretch, hence. Many hired 
servants in thy father's house have bread 
enough and to spare, and thou goest from 
door to door begging from those who lack 
bread of their own, whereas thou mightest 
thyself give abundantly to many poor folks. 
Thou shouldest even now be caracolling 
through the streets of Parma on thy charger, 



104 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 
and making sad folks merry with tourna- 
ments, a fair sight for the ladies and a 
solace to the minstrels. For thy father 
wasteth away with grief, and thy mother 
well-nigh despaireth of God for love of 
thee, whom she may no longer see." In 
this same city of Pisa he beheld the earth 
quaking at midnight. He heard also groan- 
ings of its people, listening in terror to a 
Franciscan brother who made the pulpit of 
the Cathedral reek with smoke from the 
nether pit what time he improved the occa- 
sion from the words, "Yet a little while — 
and I will move the heaven and the earth 
and the dry land." 

During the travels of these earlier years 
he made many friends. It is not for nothing 
that of all the figures he chose to stand for 
the life of his times, those only emerge out 
of the gloom who had stood in a personal 
relation to himself. Amidst the tale of wicked 
Italy, its delirium of lust and blood, it is 
pleasant to find the portraits of one or two 
good men and women. His good men we 
may credit, for Salimbene never mistook 
sanctimony for piety. Such an one was 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 105 
Brother Henry, the eloquent preacher, the 
kindly, generous man of God, so marvellously 
sweet of voice that " whenever nightingale 
sang in hedge or thicket it would cease at 
the voice of his song, listening most earnestly 
to him, as if rooted to the spot." Surely this 
friar is worthy of everlasting remembrance 
in that he was so courteous that "he never 
excused himself when he was asked to sing, 
pleading that he had strained his voice, or 
was hoarse, from cold or from any other 
reason." In this fellowship, too, were Brother 
Nicholas, sometime Minister of Hungary, yet 
humble beyond all men, discharging all duties 
of charity and courtesy in spite of his age 
and corpulence ; Brother Thomas of Paira, 
who reformed the Province of Tuscany and 
was a very dear friend of Salimbene. Chief 
of the Knights of the Round Table was John 
of Parma, who rose to be General of his Order. 
Upon him whose "face was that of an angel, 
gracious and ever cheerful,'' the praise of the 
chronicle is poured out. A man of extra- 
ordinary burning zeal he was, as all the world 
knew, of sound ecclesiastical sagacity, and of 
unchanging simplicity. At the head of his 



io6 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 
Order he remained a hardy, frugal brother, 
tirelessly tramping the roads, admitted like 
any other wanderer to the shelter of the 
convents "for the love of God," eating, drink- 
ing, working like the rest. Salimbene had 
even seen him cleaning the vegetables when 
on a visit. During his rule he was called 
upon to determine matters great and small, 
from affairs of high politics to the serious 
case of Guido of Massario, who snored so 
loudly o' nights with Falstafifian power, that 
Bologna was aware of it, and his convent 
could not sleep. Failing to please every- 
body, John retired from his headship with 
even more willingness than he had entered it. 
If the domestic affections had no power 
to draw Salimbene from his wanderings, there 
came a calling from his native city which 
he might not resist. Parma was besieged. 
The Ghibelline had been cast out from its 
walls. Fortune, which had long wavered 
between the rival lilies, finally turned against 
the white one, till "the name of Ghibelline 
had become as proscribed in Italy as Jacobite 
was once in Scotland, or papist in Eng- 
land, or royalist in France." The emperor, 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 107 

chagrined beyond measure at the debacle 
of his allies, had hastened to enclose his 
enemies within the toils. 

In Salimbene's pages, Frederick appears in 
the light of a special dispensation sent, like 
another Attila, to be the scourge of mankind. 
And he goes far to justify the description, if a 
tithe of the epithets showered upon him were 
deserved. Here is a bouquet culled from 
the flowers of Salimbene's rhetoric. " Fuit 
homo suspitious, qui multos libenter vituper- 
abat et confundebat ut eos posset tenere 
sub baculo ; quos volebat, exaltabat, et quos 
volebat humiliabat ; homo versipellis, callidus 
et malitiosus, et subdola vulpes, vilis et abjec- 
tus hypocrita : homo pestifer et maledictus." 

It is probable that few men have lived 
endowed with greater natural gifts, or with 
natural gifts more sedulously cultivated, than 
the last emperor of the House of Swabia. 
The "stupor mundi" of the English chroni- 
cler well befits him. He stands, like some 
Byronic hero, marked off no less by his gifts 
and achievements than by his dark and sinister 
passions. 

In these unfriendly pages we see him at 



io8 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

his worst ; his vices untempered, his enor- 
mities darkened by strokes of exaggeration 
and hatred. Yet, revile him as he will, 
Salimbene retains a lurking admiration for 
the man who could cut off a notary's thumb 
for a clerical error in spelling his name ; 
who could feed two men most excellently at 
dinner, sending them afterwards the one to 
sleep, another to the hunt, and then causing 
them to be disembowelled in his presence to 
know which had digested the better ; who was 
filled with such a lust of cruelty that he spared 
neither his intimates nor his foes, keeping 
no man's friendship, but rather boasting that 
he had never nourished a pig but that at 
the last he had its grease ; who could do all 
these things and still be the great warrior, 
statesman, lawyer, the first patron of the 
new-born speech and civilisation which grew 
up under the shadow of his Sicilian court. 
" To be brief, if he had been rightly Catholic, 
and had loved God and His Church, he 
would have had few emperors his equal in 
the world." 

A struggle between the men of the empire 
and the men of the Church was inevitable. 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 109 
Each claimed (and allowed) a world sup- 
remacy, until the forces designed in theory 
to work in harmonious co-operation appeared 
in real history as the bitterest of rivals. 
Frederick feared neither God nor man ; 
neither the armies which started up at their 
overlord's summons, nor that potent engine 
at the pope's back — the ban which blasts a 
man's soul. The pope, on his part, was 
determined to crush his formidable adversary. 
Frederick was raging " like a bear robbed 
of its whelps." From the quarrel flowed 
one of the most savage contests of which 
history has a record. How between the 
upper and the nether mill-stone the unhappy 
country in its divided allegiance was squeezed, 
we may learn from many a sad description. 

Ezzelino da Romana was a lieutenant of 
as fell a spirit as his master, jousting merrily 
with his knights around the smoking ruins in 
which he had caused 11,000 warriors of Padua 
to be burnt. "It would be too long to relate 
his cruelties, for they would fill a great book." 
War turned the countryside into a wilderness. 
So busy had men been for years in hunt- 
ing one another that the beasts of the chase 



no THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 
had grown to a monstrous degree, until the 
streets of the towns were no longer safe from 
the inroads of the wild creatures who swarmed 
around them. In the neighbourhood of 
Parma and Reggio, and Modena and Cremona, 
" men could neither plow, nor sow, nor reap, 
nor till vineyards, nor gather the vintage, 
nor dwell in the villages: more especially in 
the districts of Parma and Reggio, and Modena 
and Cremona. Nevertheless, hard by the 
town walls, men tilled the fields under guard 
of the city militia, who were mustered quarter 
by quarter according to the number of the 
gates. Armed soldiers thus guarded the 
peasants at their work all day long : for so it 
must needs be, by reason of the ruffians and 
bandits and robbers who were multiplied be- 
yond measure. For they would take men 
and lead them to their dungeons, to be ran- 
somed for money; and the oxen they drove 
off to devour or to sell. Such as would pay 
no ransom they hanged up by their feet or 
the hands, and tore out their teeth, and ex- 
torted payment by laying toads in their 
mouths, which was more bitter and loathsome 
than any death. For these men were more 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE in 

cruel than devils, and one wayfarer dreaded 
to meet another by the way as he would have 
dreaded to meet the foul fiend. For each 
ever suspected that the other would take and 
lead him off to prison, that 'the ransom of a 
man's life might be his riches.' And the 
land was made desert, so that there was 
neither husbandman nor wayfarer. For in 
the days of Frederick, and specially from the 
time when he was deposed from the empire 
(by the pope), and when Parma rebelled and 
lifted her head against him, ' the paths rested, 
and they that went by them walked through 
bye-ways.' And evils were multiplied on the 
earth ; and the wild beasts and fowls multi- 
plied and increased beyond all measure — 
pheasants and partridges and quails, hares 
and roebucks, fallow deer and buffaloes, and 
wild swine and ravening wolves. For they 
found no beasts in the villages to devour 
according to their wont ; neither sheep nor 
lambs, for the villages were burned with fire. 
Wherefore the wolves gathered together 
in mighty multitudes round the city moats, 
howling dismally for exceeding anguish of 
hunger ; and they crept into the cities by 



112 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

night and devoured men and women and 
children who slept under the porticoes or in 
waggons. Nay, at times they would even 
break through the house-walls and strangle 
the children in their cradles. No man could 
believe but if he had seen, as I have, the 
horrible deeds that were done in those days, 
both by men and by divers beasts. For the 
foxes multiplied so exceedingly that two of 
them even climbed one Lenten-tide to the 
roof of our infirmary at Faenza, to take two 
hens which were perched under the roof-tree : 
and one of them we took in that same convent, 
as I saw with mine own eyes. For this curse 
of wars invaded and preyed upon and de- 
stroyed the whole of Romagna in the days 
when I dwelt there. Moreover while I dwelt 
at Imola, a certain layman told me how he 
had taken twenty-seven great and fair cats 
with a snare in certain villages that had 
been burnt, and had sold their hides to the 
furriers : which had doubtless been house-cats 
in those villages in times of peace." 

The raising of the siege of Parma gave 
Salimbene the chance of a lifetime. Having 
stood face to face with the person and might 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 113 

of the emperor, he was now to know some- 
thing of his great protagonist. Along the 
highways swarming with thousands of his 
fellows he made his way to Lyons, mingling 
with Dominicans in black and Carmelites in 
white, with Benedictines showing white skirts 
beneath black gowns, and Cistercians of the 
magpie blend — all jostling on their way to 
their desired haven — with but little love lost 
between them. At Lyons dwelt the pope. 
Hither into the presence came Salimbene 
hot-foot, eager with his intelligence from the 
front. It was indeed with great news he 
came charged, for the repulse at Parma was 
the passing bell for the fortunes of Frederick. 
It is never a habit of our monk to diminish 
his own importance, and this characteristic 
finds scope in his description of his interview. 
Cardinals and prelates stand around his Holi- 
ness, but it is to Salimbene that all eyes are 
turned. " The bystanders were in such multi- 
tudes they lay hard on each other's shoulders 
in their eagerness to hear tidings of Parma ; 
when therefore they who stood by heard 
me end my speech thus, they marvelled, 
and in my own hearing they said to each 



H 



114 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

other, ' All the days of our life we have seen 
no friar so void of fear, and speaking so 
plainly.' " 

Already well affected to the son of his old 
friend Guido di Adamo, Innocent rewarded 
his news with a promotion, carrying with it 
the rank of preacher on earth and a halo of 
special glory in heaven. To Adamo's widow 
was accorded a gracious permission to end 
her days as a nun of the Order of the 
Poor Clares. 

From Lyons the newly made preacher 
continued his wanderings through France, 
staying in Paris seven days, and "seeing 
many a pleasant sight " ; then passing on to 
Sens, where the French brethren gladly kept 
him with them, " because I was a peaceful 
and ready youth, and because I praised their 
doings." On a second visit to Sens in 1248 
he saw St. Louis, that holy Crusader whose 
men perished at Mansuret, himself at Tunis. 
" Spare and slender, having the face of an 
angel and a mien full of grace," he came 
to the church in which the Franciscans were 
holding the assemblies of their Provincial 
Chapter not in regal pomp, but trudging 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 115 

afoot clothed in a pilgrim's habit and the 
staff and the scrip of his pilgrimage hanging 
on his neck. With him came his three 
brethren, the cardinal, and many dignitaries. 
All dined together, Easter Sunday had not 
yet come to absolve them from their absti- 
nence, but those who sat down to meat 
contrived to defy the rigours of Lent. It 
was a vast meal, and a good, as Salimbene 
can testify who ate of it ; cherries and fine 
white bread and good wine fit for a king, 
then wafers, beans cooked in milk, fish and 
lobsters, eel pies, rice with milk of almonds 
powdered with cinnamon, eels browned in 
delicious sauce, tarts, junkets, and fruits, all 
in profusion and exquisitely served. 

At Hyeres, the traveller made the acquaint- 
ance of a man at whose feet he was des- 
tined to sit for many a long day. Brother 
Hugh was a notable figure in his generation. 
Salimbene lauds him almost beyond panegyric 
as one of the greatest and most learned 
clerks in the world, and a disputant with 
whom none could argue and come off vic- 
torious. His tongue was eloquence ; his 
voice that of mighty thunder, as the sound 



ii6 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

of many waters falling from a height. Like 
John Knox, he feared the face of no man ; 
he was indeed a second Paul or Elisha. In 
after days a curious sect was to originate 
from the teaching of Salimbene's nearest 
friend. " Go into the woods," said Brother 
Hugh to two disciples seeking admission into 
his Order, "and learn to eat roots, for the 
Tribulations are at hand." His advice was 
taken literally, with the result that a number 
of his followers forsook the towns and villages, 
and roaming about the country like wild 
hermits under the name of Friars of the Sack, 
entered into competition with the other mendi- 
cants to their great disgust. 

But Hugh is better known, not as the 
father of these wandering grotesques, but as 
the exponent of Joachimism then at its height. 
Joachim, abbot and missionary, was the great 
Mystic of his century, turning in his revolt 
from the corruptions of his Church to the 
transcendentalism which has so often been the 
refuge of the purer spirits. He proclaimed 
that the reign of the Father, with its revela- 
tion in the Mosaic law, had finally passed 
away ; that the reign of the Son, with its 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 117 

manifestation in the Christian Church, was 
even then disappearing before the eyes of 
all beholders ; and that the reign of the Holy 
Ghost was about to dawn upon the earth 
with its own special revelation more perfect 
than all. With the incaution of the Prophet 
he fixed the year 1260 as the beginning of 
the new era, but that year came and went, 
bringing with it no unusual or mysterious 
significance. Many earnest seekers after 
righteousness, including Hugh and John of 
Parma, were drawn away after a system 
which seemed to fulfil the aspirations of 
longing hearts. Amongst them appears 
Salimbene, so devoted to the new theology 
that he gave many months of his labour to 
the copying of Joachim's expositions. From 
the point of view of orthodoxy, Joachimism 
with its mysticism and " illuminations " was 
justly suspect. Disgrace fell upon the Mystic 
and death ; his followers crumbled away ; 
the man who shuts his lips brooding on 
what cannot be uttered, who shuts his eyes 
that he may see the more inwardly, was to 
disappear for centuries. As the virtues of 
Salimbene did not include the constancy of 



ii8 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

the martyr, he deemed it prudent to disavow 
his sometime spiritual friends. 

On the road again he saw at Tarascon 
the body of Martha, and was permitted to 
kiss the arm of that matter-of-fact sister of 
Lazarus. Relics had a special charm for him. 
Later, he was delighted with the discovery 
of the body of the Magdalene, " whole, save 
one leg," with an epitaph which could scarce 
be read for the antiquity of the writing. 
The men of Parma thought they had found 
a treasure in the veritable toe of St. Alberto. 
They fondled and adored it, and made high 
festival with it, only to discover to their 
chagrin that it was a new clove of garlic. 
Salimbene does not hesitate to chuckle over 
their discomfiture. At Nice he received into 
his company a young religious who, after 
he had completed a missionary journey in 
Egypt, consoling the Christian captives in 
that land, gained the martyr's crown in the 
stress of eighteen divers torments all patiently 
endured. Before his translation he beheld 
strange things ; that fabulous beast the Uni- 
corn and the Balsam Vine with its miraculous 
fruits. "He brought home for the brethren 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 119 

manna in a glass vessel, and water from the 
well of St. Mary, with which alone the Balsam 
Vine can be watered so as to bear fruit." 

Though Salimbene met with no such won- 
ders as these, his visit to Vienna, commis- 
sioned to transact the business of the province, 
was not uneventful. Passing through the 
valley of the Count of Savoy he heard of 
the fall of the great mountain near Chambdry, 
"which fell one night and filled the whole 
valley ; the ruin whereof is a whole league 
and a half in breadth : under which ruin seven 
parishes are overwhelmed, and 4000 men were 
slain." In a certain church — probably that of 
Gieres by Grenoble — he found the edifice full 
of children's garments, hanging there doubt- 
less as votive offerings for healing. His 
business at Vienna completed, he was sent 
to Ferrara, where his wandering life came to 
an end for seven years. Hitherto he seems 
to have pleased himself where he should go 
and how he should spend his time. But 
discipline claimed him at last. His gifts of 
mimicry and story-telling with which he had 
enlivened so many houses in France and 
Italy were altogether quenched or restricted 



I20 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

to his brethren and familiar friends : he must 
needs address himself, for the next thirty-two 
years, passed principally in Romagna, to the 
serious tasks of the preacher and confessor, 
though one finds it difficult to believe that 
he withdrew from the world (always full of 
lure and interest to him) in the strict sense 
required by the disciplinarians of his Order. 
During this period of retirement he displayed 
his diligence in the writing of many books 
of which, unfortunately, all but one have 
perished. Once he preserved them from 
destruction by burying them underground. 
When he was no longer present to care for 
his offspring, they shared the fate common 
to so much of the literature of mediaeval 
times. 

That Salimbene kept in touch with the 
world outside his convent is shown by an ex- 
perience to which he proudly refers. About 
the year 1256 he was chosen to act as an, 
arbitrator between the cities of Bologna and 
Reggio. As a native of Parma, he was 
intimate with both, especially with Bologna, 
with its endless colonnades and fantastic 
leaning tower, its vast, unfinished churches, 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 121 

sombre with the tragedies of feud and foray. 
Whether he was successful in keeping the 
peace between this learned city and her 
rival we have no means of ascertaining. 
His mission was sufficiently disconcerting. 
In vain did the popes endeavour to keep in 
order their quarrelsome lieges. Embassies 
came and went, to ask for mediation and 
to proffer it. But however subtle had been 
the peacemaker's arrangements, his departing 
cortege was hardly out of sight of the city 
before they were blown to the winds. Once 
and again Salimbene was called upon to 
undertake the difficult task of reconcilement. 
It is likely that his bonhomie and savoir /aire 
were seen to advantage in dealing with angry 
and embittered citizens. 1258 was the year 
of the Great Plague. In the shadow of that 
visitation, a horror fell upon the land. Men, 
women, and children crept into the churches 
where the trembling people were shriven and 
blessed by the trembling priests. So fell 
was the pestilence that, before the eyes of 
the Franciscan brethren kneeling in their 
church at vespers, two of the congregation 
sickened suddenly, stiffened, and died. What 



122 THE CHRONICLE OP SALIMBENE 

this scourge could be we learn from Petrarch, 
whose own Laura, lovely and beloved, was 
to die of the black death whereunder Italy 
shuddered. " Posterity will not believe that 
there was ever a period in which the world 
remained almost entirely depopulated, houses 
empty of families, cities of inhabitants, the 
country of peasants. How will the future 
believe it when we can scarcely credit our 
own sight. We go indoors, walk through 
street after street, and find them full of dead 
and dying ; when we get home again we 
find no live thing within the house, all 
having perished between the brief interval of 
absence." This is but a confirmation of the 
doings of the plague as they appear in the 
chronicle. 

For some peaceful years Salimbene dwelt 
in Ravenna, happy in its comparative freedom 
from the usual amenities of a thirteenth- 
century Italian city, and in its opportunities 
of friendship and books. Amongst its other 
amiable qualities Ravenna was a city of good 
living ; its mayor boasted that a man might 
go farther and fare worse than in a place 
where victuals were both plentiful and cheap : 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 123 

salt, a full bowl for a poor penny ; a dozen 
boiled eggs at an inn for the same price ; 
in the season, a fat wild duck for fourpence. 
In such abundance were these last that at 
times whosoever would pluck a dozen of 
them might keep the half for his pains. 

It was here that the archbishop gave him 
the authentic corpse of Elijah as readily as 
a cast-off garment, "for he cared for wars 
more than for the relics of saints." It was 
no light thing to be in this prelate's service, 
for he had half roasted one of his menials 
on a spit, half or wholly drowned another, 
and kept a third to be eaten up by rats 
in prison. It was his custom to pace the 
court of his palace near, "singing as he 
went some antiphon in praise of the Blessed 
Virgin, and if it were summer he would 
drink at each corner, for at each corner of his 
palace he had a pitcher of choice wine, set 
in the coldest water, for he was a mighty 
drinker." 

Perhaps his drinking accounted for the 
corpulence which had well-nigh undone him. 
When Legate in Germany he had to escape 
by night under a city gate. In this strait 



124 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

nothing could have saved him but the zeal 
of the brethren, "who stood and stamped on 
all such corpulence as still stuck fast on the 
hither side, until their too solid master had 
struggled through." 

At Ravenna a boy preacher, exploited by a 
strange order of apostles, excited Salimbene's 
spleen. Let it be known that the infant phe- 
nomenon was about to hold forth, and imme- 
diately the folk, impervious to the eloquence of 
the friar himself and the recognised orators of 
the day, flocked into the cathedral churches, 
"and there was a vast congregation, and much 
gaping both of men and women." Ravenna 
gave place as an abode to Reggio and 
Montefelcone. Parma lying hard by drew 
Salimbene but seldom. For that he has a 
reason of his own. The people of his native 
city — both clergy and laity, nobles and com- 
moners — were ever neglectful of the friars, 
caring nothing for them. " And therefore 
I, Brother Salimbene, of Parma, have been 
48 years in the order of Friars Minor, yet 
would I never dwell at Parma by reason of 
the indevotion which its citizens show and 
practise towards God's servants." 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 125 

Reggio is little better, making an open 
mock and travesty of religion. At the fes- 
tival times of the Carnival, the men wore 
the solemn faces of those who mourned their 
dead ; whilst in Lent, the season of fasting 
and repentance, they indulged in a riot of 
wantonness, wearing white masks and dress- 
ing like women, gambling in the squares and 
under the porticoes, gourmandising in secret, 
nor hesitating openly to blaspheme the sacred 
name. 

But the cup of Reggio was full. In the 
year 1283, it came to blows with Modena, 
and the chronicles of Salimbene — until he 
laid down his pen for ever — are saddened 
by stories of evils which fell upon them and 
other cities in an Italy never at one and 
never at rest. 

It is horrifying to read of the evil deeds 
which were done ; how the worst passions 
which disgrace humanity were let loose, not 
against a foreign invader, but against neigh- 
bours and inoffensive peasants. In the midst of 
his telling of houses and crops, orchards and 
vineyards destroyed wholesale, of prisoners 
butchered in cold blood, the chronicler has a 



126 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

word of regret for the destruction of one par- 
ticular vineyard " which made Vernaccia wine." 

To bring some degree of quiet to the 
torn and harassed cities (involving others in 
their strife) Salimbene is invited once more 
to put on the guise of the mediator. But 
as usual the kindly offices of his fellow and 
himself were of small avail ; the last state 
of Modena was worse than the first. " I 
have little trust of peace among Lombards : 
for their peacemakings are like the boys' 
games when they lay hand above hand upon 
their knees ; and each, seeking to get the 
better of the other, withdraws his hand from 
below and strikes it upon the hand above, 
and thus each thinks to have the better." 
With such an opinion of the combatants 
Salimbene could not have been disappointed 
at the result of his mission. 

The Italy of those days was full of home- 
less and desperate men whose swords were 
ready to be fleshed in any adventure how- 
ever desperate. What brutalities these hire- 
lings inflicted upon a rural population unable 
to retreat into the security of castle and 
fortress we learn from the wars. " Once 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 127 

they took a poor man who had never 
harmed them, whom they led away captive 
to Gesso, and said to him, ' Tax thyself.' 
And when he answered that he had nought 
to give, forthwith they smote him in the 
mouth with a flint stone, with which blow 
six of his teeth were smitten out. Likewise 
also they did to many others. For some 
men's heads they bound with a cord and 
lever, and strained it with such force that 
their eyes started from their sockets and fell 
upon their cheeks ; others they bound by 
the right or left thumb only, and thus lifted 
the whole weight of their body from the 
ground ; others again they racked with yet 
more foul and horrible torments which I 
blush to relate ; others they would hang by 
the little toe of one foot, or seat them with 
their hands bound behind their back, and 
lay under their feet a pot of live coals, 
blowing with the bellows to stir them yet 
more; with others again they would bind 
the great toe of the right foot with a bow- 
string to one tooth, and then prick their 
backs with a goad that they might tear out 
their own teeth ; or they bound their hands 



128 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

and legs together round a spit (as a lamb is 
carried by a butcher), and kept them thus 
hanging on that pole all the day long, without 
food or drink ; or again, with a hard and 
rough piece of wood, they would rub and 
grate their shins until the bare bone ap- 
peared, which was a misery and sore pity 
even to behold. Many other torments they 
invented and inflicted, but these I have written 
that it may be known how some men are more 
cruel than beasts ; wherefore it is nought but 
just that they who do such things should be 
tormented with devils in hell." 

After war came plague, and with the infec- 
tion came many strange things. Strangest of 
all perhaps was the Order of the Flagellants 
which sprang directly from the terror caused 
by the Black Death. Through Modena this 
weird company marched with melancholy 
songs ; they were dressed in sombre raiment ; 
their hoods, pierced with holes, fell over 
their eyes ; flaming crosses were marked on 
back and breast ; every man carried in his 
hands a scourge bitten with nails. Halting 
here and there in the streets, they flogged 
their naked bodies until the blood ran. So 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 129 

many penitents hastened to confess their sins 
that the harassed clergy had not time for 
meals. The Golden Age seemed to have 
come again ; offences were forgiven ; repara- 
tion for wrong-doing offered ; domestic broils 
banished ; ill-gotten goods restored. The evil- 
doers were they only (being of a sceptical or 
self-righteous turn of mind) who would not 
whip themselves. At them the finger of scorn 
was pointed as at sons of Belial and children of 
the Devil, of whom a terrible end might con- 
fidently be predicted. But this piety passed 
away with the terrors that gave it birth. 

It is noteworthy that, though the mania 
of these Flagellants spread over the whole 
of Europe, it did not prevail in England. 
Once and once only these brethren of the 
Mask and Scourge visited these shores. In 
1368, a band of them, one hundred and 
twenty of them in number, arrived here in- 
tent on bringing conviction of sin with them. 
They found London in an unrepentant mood. 
Their doleful songs — the blows with which 
each man belaboured his neighbour — the 
blood streaming from the backs and shoulders 
of the brotherhood — moved the Cockneys 



130 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

to laughter rather than tears. So the Flagel- 
lants went home again. 

Though Reggio and Modena made a peace 
which lasted just as long as such pacts usually 
did — that is a few years — the burden of the 
chronicle until the end is war, bloody war. 

The feuds of Guelf and Ghibelline still 
continued ; campaigning never ceased ; " cam- 
paigning which," in the felicitous trope of 
Maurice Hewlett, "was like nothing so much 
as the bickering of street dogs in an Eastern 
town, a snarling encounter, a sudden rush, 
uproar, indiscriminate ripping and rolling, and 
then peace, when the battles were swept into 
a side alley, or fired another quarter of the 
city." Yet the faction fights which count so 
much in Salimbene's story were never so 
paralysing as the enmities between rival 
cities, nor pursued to such ravenous lengths 
as the struggle between Genoa and Pisa 
which filled his last years. Often had he 
crossed the mountain which hid mutual 
enemies from one another ; the way between 
two of the noblest seaports of Tuscany was 
a road full of memories to him, and he 
may well be believed when he asserts that 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 131 

the fate of Genoa and Pisa, "destroying 
each other from mere ambition and pomp 
and vain glory," was received with woe and 
bitter weeping by him and all true friends 
of Italy. Great was the splendour of Pisa, 
vast her palaces. In one of them, coming 
on for six centuries later, lodged Byron with 
his seven servants, five carriages, nine horses, 
a monkey, a bull-dog, a mastiff, two cats, 
three pea-fowl, and some hens. But already 
upon her had fallen the forebodings of the 
ruin described by Shelley, "the desolations 
of a city which was the cradle, and is now 
the grave, of an extinguished people." Pisa 
sent out all her inhabitants between the ages 
of twenty and sixty years, burning, plunder- 
ing, carrying off captive along the Genoese 
shores. Genoa rose to this invasion by 
calling to arms all over eighteen and under 
seventy. Grappling with her foe near the 
promontory of Corsica, she bore away such 
hosts of prisoners that for years the city 
where Ugolino agonised in the tower, and 
where Neri Capponi brayed the walls with 
his mangonels, was bereft of male inhabitants, 
and the fairest and noblest of Pisan ladies 



132 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

made pilgrimages to seek out their husbands, 
fathers, brothers, and other near male rela- 
tives. An incident in this struggle shows 
how cupidity rose superior to the dangers 
of battle. "In the first two fights 6000 
Pisans were reckoned amongst the dead and 
wounded, and while they still fought fiercely 
at sea, a man of Genoa boarded a Pisan 
vessel, and loaded himself with many plates 
of silver, and thus armed in steel and silver, 
wishing to board his own ship again, he 
missed his mark and plunged to the bottom 
like a stone, with his silver and his steel and 
perchance with many crimes upon his head." 
With the coming of 1285, Salimbene lost 
one of his dearest friends, Bernato di 
Regina, a kindly and familiar man, famous 
for his powers of mimicry, apt to imitate 
either the prattle of a child, the babbling 
talk of a gossip, or the affected periods of 
the older school of preacher. Before the 
same year drew to its close he had further 
to bewail the loss of the Lady Beatrice, his 
penitent, "a comely lady, alert and merry." 
Her gaiety was quenched by a brutal hus- 
band whose jealousy caused her to be 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 133 
smothered like another Desdemona under a 
feather bed. The husband's misfortunes — 
captivity — ruin — exile — are much insisted 
upon by Salimbene, who is never satisfied 
until his villains are overtaken by their 
proper deserts. 

The next few years are sad ones ; his 
talk is of inordinate frost and snow, of the 
decaying fortunes of the Franciscans, upon 
whom even their old allies the Cistercians 
had turned their backs ; of unprofitable 
politics and of faction fights at Parma be- 
tween certain nobles and the Prince Bishop. 

Of the exact time and manner of Salim- 
bene's decease we know nothing. Whether 
he was very ready for Death when that 
Dark Angel had pity upon him, or whether 
he was mown down astonished in the midst 
of lusty life, not yet passed on to its meri- 
dian, we may not know. Alive in 1288, a 
man of three score years and seven, he pro- 
bably passed away from a world emptied of 
all worth living for towards the end of the 
year or not long after. An unfinished sen- 
tence in his MS. shows where the pen fell 
from his relaxing fingers. 



134 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

Before we part with him we are concerned 
to know what he thought of such men of 
our English race as came in his ken, and 
of the fair sex whose society was so strin- 
gently forbidden to him. Of women he 
reproduces in his writings the estimate 
common to his day and order. At the 
same time he displays the usual disparity 
between theory and practice, for whilst the 
rules of his convent required him to know 
nothing about them, the manner of his life 
led him to be much in their society. Theo- 
retically he is a follower of St. Paul. He 
quotes with approval the hard sayings of 
that apostle concerning the sex ; he draws 
upon Holy Writ and the Fathers for scath- 
ing denunciations of the " monstrous regi- 
men " of women, an effort somewhat shorn 
of its strength when we discover that the 
quotations are derived from spurious sources. 
Though Salimbene gives his professional 
sanction to such a statement of some apocry- 
phal poet as "would'st thou know and define 
what a woman is ? She is glittering mud, a 
stinking rose, sweet poison ever leaning to- 
wards that which is forbidden her," it is 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 135 

evident that he himself suffered no dread of 
contamination. He does not seem to have 
followed — though deemed it worthy of ap- 
plause — the advice of his friend Hugh, speak- 
ing in full consistory to the pope and his 
cardinals "as he might have spoken to boys 
in school." " Moreover, flee from women, 
as far as in thee lieth, as thou would'st flee 
from serpents, never speaking with them but 
under compulsion of urgent necessity, nor 
ever look in any woman's face." Indeed 
there is a conquering air in Salimbene's 
attitude towards the other sex. He would 
have us believe that though he had not 
loved much, he had been beloved of women, 
nor was he certain that he had not been the 
cause of secret anguish to more than one 
virtuous lady in high life. Apart from the 
thousands of women whose spiritual director 
he must have been in the course of a long 
life, his friendship with some of the more 
charming of the sex seems to have been in- 
timate beyond the warranty of his vows. In 
the thirteenth century the commerce between 
the sexes was unabashed, and the parish 
priests were often the greatest offenders 



136 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

against morality and their sworn vows. The 
friars were notable exceptions to the prevail- 
ing unchastity, and the conduct of Salim- 
bene seems to have been ordered throughout 
with decorum. An air of chastened triumph 
enters into his narrative of the amorous nun, 
daughter of a cardinal and grand-daughter of 
a pope, who desired him to be her spiritual 
friend. Perceiving the dangers that lurked 
beneath this innocent proposition, he de- 
clined her advances, and referred her to the 
cold consolations of the blessed Arsenius. 

A charming personality is given to us in 
the Lady Mabel, " devoted to me and to 
all men of religion," who was "courteous, 
honest, and pious and humble," greatly loved 
of the poor, but disliked by the apothecaries 
of that day because she distilled rose water 
in an inner chamber of her palace and gave 
it to the sick. 

Another dame of high degree, and worthy 
of remembrance, is the Lady Fior d'Oliva, 
"plump and full fleshed, and my familiar 
friend and spiritual daughter." She was 
wealthy, and espoused the cause of the 
Friars Minor of Lucca in that sad hour 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 137 
when the abbess of the Clarisses stirred 
up the men of Lucca against the brethren 
and well-nigh caused their exile. This abbess 
was a woman of low degree, but of strong 
character, daughter of a Genoese baker, and 
her autocratic rule moves the chronicler to 
remark ' ' how shameful is the domination of 
women." He regards, too, with strong dis- 
favour, the doings of another abbess, the 
Lady Cecilia, niece to Pope Innocent IV. 
To her he attributes avarice and cruelty, in 
that she drove away from her door the un- 
fortunate whom her vows required her to 
succour. But the fault in his opinion lay 
in the sex rather than the individual. They 
are by nature unfitted to bear rule, " for 
woman, whensoever she may, doth take gladly 
dominion to herself, as may be seen in 
Semiramis, who invented the wearing of 
breeches." 

The hospitalities of a certain countess in 
the diocese of Auxerre provided him with 
pleasant memories at the expense of her 
husband. She gave him and another of his 
brethren on the Feast of Easter a dinner 
of twelve courses, " and if the count, her 



138 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 
husband, had not been there, then still greater 
plenty would have been served." 

One saint among women at least Salimbene 
had known. This was none other than the 
sister of Brother Hugh, and of equal piety. 
Around her body she wore the cord of 
St, Francis ; all day long she prayed in his 
church. She was often in a spiritual trance, 
so that if the friars raised her arm, she 
would keep it thus raised from morning till 
night, so absorbed was she in her thoughts 
of God. 

A heroine of a different type was that old 
woman who, when her city of Foligna was 
at war with Perugia, captured no less than 
ten of the Perugians, and drew them to prison 
with a rod of iron. 

The experiences of the Cardinal Legate 
Latino may fitly conclude Salimbene's ac- 
count of women. Constituting himself an 
authority on dress, this unpopular Legate 
entered into a sumptuary contest with the 
ladies. That he was worsted in this unequal 
combat was to be expected, though the power 
of the Keys lay behind him. He ordained 
that the long sweeping trains, more precious 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 139 

than any other part of the dress, should be 
shortened, the skirts only just touching the 
ground, or lying on it not more than a palm's 
breadth. But female ingenuity found means 
to avoid this ordinance, preached though 
it was from the pulpits, and enjoined on 
pain of excommunication. The injunction, 
" horribly grievous," that veils should be 
worn on the head fared no better. By an 
ingenious perversion of the statute the ladies 
contrived to make their appearance only 
the more seductive by wearing creations of 
silk and gold and precious stones through 
which their beauty shone with undiminished 
charm. 

The wanderings of Salimbene, which had 
often carried him on shipboard, had not led 
him across the Channel. England to him 
was Ultima Thule. Yet it finds a mention 
in his history. Had he fallen under the dis- 
pleasure of the great Elias he might per- 
force have spoken of the pleasant English 
land of his own knowing. Many a friar had 
looked upon it with unwilling eyes, for exile 
across the water was a favourite punishment 
of the Minister-General for all contumelious 



140 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

brethren. When certain ministers of the 
Provincials came under his ban, he would 
deprive them of their books and ecclesias- 
tical functions, degrading them to wear once 
more the long hood of the novice, and send- 
ing them in banishment as far as England. 

But the qualities of the sturdy Anglo- 
Saxon race commended themselves to an 
observer not without a manliness and good 
temper of his own. As they came within 
his knowledge, they seem to have displayed 
the traditional qualities of their race, the 
courage, the fearlessness of speech, the in- 
vincible love of liberty, the masterful stub- 
bornness, and sterling honesty. English to 
the backbone was Brother Stephen, " a comely 
spiritual man of most excellent counsel, and 
ready to preach daily to the clergy." How 
he preached a sermon — with the metaphor 
of an extinguished and stinking taper — to 
the confusion of a newly made bishop, Salim- 
bene goes on to record with great satisfac- 
tion. English, too, was Grossteste, Bishop 
of Lincoln, like himself no mealy-mouthed 
chronicler of the disorders of his day. 
Another Englishman, and an intimate and 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 141 

familiar friend, was found in the person of 
Brother Walter, " a truly angelic man," after- 
wards made a bishop against his will. From 
this fate the other Briton, Stephen, had barely 
escaped. Walter was one of the twelve com- 
panions or secretaries of John of Parma whom 
that unwearied pedestrian wore out in his long 
journeys from convent to convent. When 
Elias ordered certain rebellious and fastidious 
brethren to wash their own breeches, two 
such of English — or rather of Scottish — blood 
refused to obey. Indeed these men of the 
heather pushed independence so far as to 
defy spiritual censure. Ireland finds a single 
mention in one of its sons who cut off his 
right thumb in order to avoid the priesthood. 
A king of England, Edward I., was known to 
Salimbene as a Crusader : another monarch, 
Henry III., wins his regards for the courtesy 
which humbled itself to welcome John of 
Parma as an equal amidst the murmurings 
of a contemptuous court. Another story is 
not to his credit. A jester said a facetious 
but uncomplimentary thing at his master's 
expense ; Henry ordered him to be hanged 
out of hand, and the life of the fool was 



142 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 
saved only by a mock execution and his 
retirement. 

The sinister figure of the north country- 
man, Michael Scott, throws its shadow across 
the chronicle. The wizard, consulted alike 
by pope and emperor, contrived to escape 
a snare laid for him by Frederick, who 
" being one day in his palace, asked the 
astrologer how far he was from the sky." 
Receiving his answer, the emperor carried 
Scott off as if for a pleasure on a journey 
which occupied several months. Meanwhile 
his workmen were lowering the whole of his 
palace hall. " Many days afterwards, stand- 
ing in the same palace with Michael, he asked 
him, as if by the way, whether he were in- 
deed so far from the sky as he had before 
said. Whereupon he made his calculations, 
and made answer that certainly either the 
sky had been raised or the earth lowered ; 
and then the emperor knew that he spake 
truth." At a time when Salimbene was suffer- 
ing from the parsimony of some prelates who 
had offered him the indignity of inferior fare 
and a common vintage, he recalls with ad- 
miration the example of a certain king of 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 143 

England who refused to appropriate to his 
own use the only bottle of wine, but emptied 
it into the spring with the words, " Let all 
drink in common." This monarch remem- 
bered what the bishops forgot or disregarded 
that "all throats are sisters to one another." 
Wine is a theme very dear to the heart of 
our friar. Denied so many other of the 
world's delights, he rejoices in a good vin- 
tage or the rousing catch which tells of its 
merits — 

" Scorn not red — though thin it be; 
Ruddy wine shall redden thee 
So thou do not soak. 

Juice of gold and citron dye 
Doth our vitals fortify, 

Sicknesses doth choke. 

But the cursed water white 
Honest folk will interdict 

Lest it spleen provoke." 

England is worthy of approval as a land 
of lusty drinkers. " The English indeed de- 
light in drink, and make it their business to 
drain full goblets." If they pass the bounds 
of temperance at times, it is to be forgiven 
them on the score that "they are glad to 
drink good wine when they can, for they 



144 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 
have but little wine in their own country. In 
the French it is less excusable, for they have 
greater plenty. Note that it is thus written in 
verse : " Normandy for sea-fish ; England for 
corn ; Scotland for milk ; France for wine." 

We part from our author with reluctance. 
And this though we have not accepted him 
as an entirely trustworthy guide. It is asking 
too much of us to demand that we should 
receive all that he has written as a well- 
balanced judgment or as a final authority. 

His work has neither the orderliness nor 
the restraint of a true history ; it is a medley 
of things usually kept distinct, with kaleido- 
scopic views of the scandal of the day and 
transcendental theology, of "politics and confes- 
sions," of private affairs and public mischances. 
Pious texts from Scripture find themselves 
ranged side by side with ballads hot from 
the tavern, homilies with narratives that call 
up a disgustful vision of monks growing con- 
fidential over their leering stories. 

It belongs to the true historian to present 
a picture of the past, not only broad and 
glowing, but of just proportions. In this 
essential Salimbene was wanting. 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 145 

His lights are sometimes false ; his shadows 
too lurid and deep. Life was base enough in 
the span of the seventy years covered by his 
career. What men were capable of doing, 
what savagery, what intolerance, what bestial 
inhumanity, we may not refuse to acknow- 
ledge. But side by side with all these, what 
virtue, what compassion, what striving, and 
what attainment! The spirit of freedom was 
already abroad ; already there was a Renais- 
sance within the limits of the age itself 
whereby the thirteenth century anticipated 
the illumination of the fifteenth. Of this the 
chronicler has no conception. Depression 
weighs heavily upon his spirits. For him 
there are no violets in his native city ; no 
gardens of roses in his native land. The air 
is full of moral contagion ; the very souls of 
men are rotting. He recks not that side by 
side with passions that are of the earth most 
earthy, there moan and struggle the aspira- 
tions (destined one day to be fulfilled) of 
multitudes of men and women of whom the 
world is not worthy. From him it is hidden 
that beyond the delirium of lust and blood, 

beneath the welter of fire and cloud in which 

K 



146 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 
his Italy is struggling, there lies the splendour 
of a new age, that before another hundred 
years have passed away Cimabue and Giotto 
are to preach an evangel of sweetness and 
grace in their pictures, Dante is to arrest 
the attention of his countrymen with "his 
sudden and terrifying trumpet," whilst Petrarch 
is to carry them swiftly forward on the great 
humanising current of his genius. 

Nothing so well depicts the troubled seas 
on which Salimbene was voyaging than 
the topics which most engage his attention. 
Moving as are all the sights and sounds 
around him, it is not the zeal and devotion 
of his brethren, not the patriotism of humble 
men like Barisello and Asdente the cobbler 
prophet, not the heroism which was poured 
forth by many a simple seeker after right- 
eousness which move him most. No ; it is 
the incompetence and baseness of popes and 
legates, the lechery of parish priests, the 
intolerable misrule of princes and kings, the 
irreverence of the populace, and the scarlet 
tide of war. The mind of Italy, distracted 
and debauched, was wandering about in dry 
and desert places, seeking for rest and finding 



THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 147 

none. Yet evidence of better things were 
everywhere around him. Those who accept 
his presentation of the century, even in the 
act of showing that the age produced great 
infamies, must know that it produced great 
saints. 

Moreover, Salimbene loved rhetoric too 
well to be a great historian. Doubtless his 
exaggerations give a keener edge to his 
stories ; the excess of his vituperation, the 
superfluities of his abuse impart vigour to 
his descriptions of the usages of society, its 
fashions and follies and conversations ; his 
recitals of all that passes so transient yet so 
keenly pleasant or distasteful between man 
and man. With all this, they seem to 
detract from the value of his judgment. 
Beginning with the aphorism that "a writer 
of history ought to be impartial," he is at 
no pains to dissemble his partiality. Nor 
does he hesitate to deepen his shadows for 
effect. That men's vices, whether related 
by their enemies or deduced from irrespon- 
sible gossip, are, as a rule, more entertaining 
than their virtues, no one knew better than 
Salimbene. 



148 THE CHRONICLE OF SALIMBENE 

Let us accept him for what he is. Re- 
membering to how few it is given to be 
interesting, we may well receive with gratitude 
the superabundant vitality, the vividness, the 
circumstances which make his chronicle a 
source of delight and enlargement to the 
traveller who walks the ways of mediaeval 
life with the wandering friar. 



A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY 
SUNDAY 

In one of his later books, George Gissing 
has told us with a sigh of regret that the 
English Sunday is no longer what it was. 
To multitudes it is already less sacred, whilst 
a large number of people have expunged 
it from the calendar, adding, in place of it, 
another Bank Holiday to their week. 

Inclined as we may be to deplore this 
new phase, we must remember that it has 
not taken place without some reason. It 
is the natural rebound from a Sabba- 
tarianism which owed its being rather to 
the letter of Judaism than to the spirit of 
Christianity. A strong reaction has set in 
against that dismal Sunday — not far remote — 
which darkened and depressed the other six 
days with the sense of its inevitable coming. 
Our middle-aged readers will readily recall 
the day we mean ; the severe repression 



ISO A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 

of animal spirits ; the solemn deportment ; 
the sermon wandering into seventhlies and 
eighthlies ; the cold meats at one o'clock, 
and the evening meal of an equally chilly 
and unexhilarating type ; a time of heart 
searchings for children condemned to wander 
through the arid wastes of what was known 
as wholesome literature, and of frank bore- 
dom for many of their elders ; a day bereft of 
music, devoted to a sort of sanctified ennui. 

It is not without interest to see the same 
problem resolving itself in the seventeenth 
century. 

Then, as now, there was a recoil from the 
more burdensome observance of the day. 
Puritanism, which has done so much to 
renew the spiritual vitality of our race, 
failed on the side of cheerfulness and joy. 
It was deplorably lacking in humour. In its 
view the reformation of England was to 
begin with the suppression of its amuse- 
ments. Looking on mirth as the hand- 
maiden of mischief, it would have the nation 
walk softly in sackcloth and ashes. It 
enacted in its wisdom that Christmas Day 
should be observed as a fast. It overthrew 



A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 151 
the maypole ; denounced dancing ; silenced 
the bay of beagle ; turned a sour look on 
musician, poet, and dramatist ; dismantled the 
playhouse, and ranged its spectators and 
actors in the dock or at the cart-tail. 
During the Protectorate the puritanic spirit 
would fain have human nature reformed 
and restamped according to its own dismal 
pattern ; would, in short, have made this life 
a preparatory process to fit mankind for a 
smileless eternity. 

And with such a view of the week one 
can imagine that the shadows lay heavily on 
the Sunday. 

With the return of the Stuarts — those 
who had issued "The Book of Sports" as a 
Sunday Manual — came the sudden swing of 
the pendulum. The people went mad with 
joy, and clamoured for a religion shot 
through with scarlet and gold, royal colours 
in place of the sad raiment and self-denying 
ordinances of old Noll. Thus the Restora- 
tion brought with it an unrestrained gaiety, 
which overflowed the channels of a decorous 
national life and flooded England with the 
worst kind of excesses and irreverence. 



152 A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 

Sunday was in danger of falling from its 
high estate, though it would be inaccurate to 
attribute to the country at large the laxity 
and viciousness which marked the court 
under the Second Charles. 

A characteristic entry in Pepys' " Diary," 
dated November 9, 1662, enables us to see 
England with a sense of the stern Puritan eye 
still upon it. " Walked to my brother's where 
my wife is, calling at many churches, and 
called at the Temple, hearing a bit there 
too, and observing that in the streets and 
churches the Sunday is kept in appearance 
as well as I have known it at any time." 
But the pages of the same " Diary " attest the 
growing disuse and desecration of the Sunday. 
For this, by their bad example, the king and 
his court must be held largely responsible. 

The ghastly account of Charles II.'s last 
Sunday on earth is but a picture of his 
habitual disregard of the sanctities of the 
day. Much may be forgiven him for a 
certain want of gravity that was the most 
prominent trait in a character unspeakably 
frivolous, but no extenuation can be offered 
for his want of decorum in the House of God. 



A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 153 

Burnet tells us, " both at prayer and at sacra- 
ment he, as it were, took pains to satisfy the 
people that he was in no wise concerned about 
that in which he was employed." In the 
" Ailesbury Memoirs " it is recorded " it used 
to amuse him to see the maids of honour 
laugh outright at the chaplain reading at 
evensong some chapters of St. Paul about 
marriage and continency." The bill for the 
better observance of Sunday, drawn up in 
the third year of his reign, received, signi- 
ficantly enough, no royal assent, and so 
remained outside the statute law. 

For the clergy, with the exception of Bishop 
Ken, and one or two more, he had an amused 
contempt or undisguised dislike. We have 
Sir John Reresby's testimony that at a levee 
the king "took up some time in displaying 
to us the fallacy and emptiness of those who 
pretended to a fuller measure of sanctity than 
their neighbours, and pronounced them to be, 
for the most part, abominable hypocrites, and 
most arrant knaves, nor spared to introduce 
some mitred heads amongst the rest, whom 
he pretended to be none of the best, though 
their devout exterior gave them the character 



154 A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 
of saints with the crowd." Yet how should 
he judge of religion, or be able to impute 
motives to the hearts of his fellows who 
placed in the highest seat of judgment the 
man Jeffreys, who had (in the king's own 
words) " no learning, no sense, no manners, 
and more impudence than ten carted street- 
walkers," and whom he well knew to be pro- 
fane, drunken, and a bully? 

With such a cynical estimate of the minis- 
ters and sacraments of the Church, it is 
evident that Charles could have little respect 
for the due observance of the Seventh Day, 
that day which, in spite of all the abuses of 
fanaticism, had been as the very breath of 
life to thousands, and had brought with it 
an atmosphere of quiet and of peace which 
had refreshed the whole of our race. 

In Pepys we are able to study the reaction 
of which we have spoken, modified and kept 
in check by his training and better nature. 
At times the Puritan in his blood warred with 
the roystering cavalier into whose company 
he had fallen ; on the whole, he avoided the 
Scylla of a day of unwarranted gloom as well 
as the more pressing danger of the Charybdis 



A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 155 

of a Christian festival treated lightly or put 
to base uses. 

Let us accompany the annalist through the 
hours of his Sunday. The blemishes in 
Pepys' life are notorious ; his own pen gave 
them immortality. We may pass them by 
with the sobering reflection that such an 
accusing record of a man's inmost thoughts 
and most secret deeds might well affright 
the wisest and the best of us. He began 
his day well. " Read over my vows with 
great affection and to very good purpose." 
" Read over my vows as I do every Lord's 
Day, but with greater seriousness than 
ordinary " (he was at the beginning of a 
new year). But his devotions done, he had 
no scruples about applying himself diligently 
to his accounts ; Sunday was with him the 
complement of the week in more senses than 
one. He offers up a pious ejaculation on 
the altar of the proprieties, "all the morn- 
ing at home making up my accounts, God 
forgive me." Nevertheless his diary is full 
of reference to the many hours filched from 
the time of rest and worship. 

Sunday, too, was the day reserved for 



156 A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 

those drastic remedies which were a feature 
of seventeenth - century medicine. "Took 
physique this day," occurs frequently in his 
note-book. 

If the testimony of his parish priest is to 
be received, Pepys did not allow the pre- 
occupations of business to keep him from 
morning and afternoon prayer at St. Olave's, 
Hart Street, with which church he was 
officially connected. To purge him of a 
suspicion of papacy, Dr. Mills declares on 
oath amongst other things that "the said 
Mr. Pepys and his family were constant 
attendants upon the public worship of God 
and His holy ordinances." 

It is one of the peculiarities of the diarist 
that whilst he visits with indignation any ex- 
travagance on the part of his wife, he denies 
himself nothing in the matter of dress. It 
may be the paternal instinct — was not his 
father a tailor — waxed strong within him, re- 
fusing to be repressed. 

As the call of City bells sounds loudly 
through the air, Pepys issues forth in his 
bravest attire. "(Lord's Day.) This morning 
I put on my best black cloth suit, trimmed 



A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 157 

with scarlet ribbon, very neat, with my cloak 
lined with velvett, and a new beaver, which 
altogether is very noble, with my black knit 
silk canons I bought a month ago." " (Lord's 
Day.) Up and put on my new stuff suit, with 
a shoulder belt according to the new fashion, 
and the bands of my vest and tunic laced with 
silk lace of the colours of my suit ; and so very 
handsome to church." With his wife on his 
arm, " very fine in a new yellow bird's-eye 
hood, as the fashion is now," her comely face 
"very pretty, it being the first time I had 
given her leave to wear a black patch," he 
makes his way into that pew in the South 
Gallery which he had demanded from the 
Churchwardens. A stranger is already there 
whose presence he does not resent ; is she not 
" My Lady Carlisle, a very fine woman indeed 
in person".'' His entrance is at first shorn of 
its due effect, for he has no menial to precede 
him bearing his books, but the happy day is 
not far distant when a three-quarters size of 
a domestic is added to his establishment, and 
enables him to take his proper place in the 
eyes of his neighbours. Still wearing his hat 
he joins in the worship of the day. 



158 A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 

We have no evidence that the bad be- 
haviour which marked the king and many 
of his subjects in church was displayed in 
St. Olave's. The wearing of the hat during 
divine service was an ordinary custom, not 
an intentional irreverence, but elsewhere the 
clergy had to protest against such profanations 
as the playing of cards and the throwing of 
hats and garments on the Communion Table, 
the rushing in and out of church of disorderly 
people, and loud interruptions of applause or 
disapproval during the sermon. 

As a man fond of singing and with a good 
voice, Pepys shares heartily in the psalms, 
regretting the while that his means do not 
permit him to purchase " a pair of organs " 
and place them in God's House. He is en- 
tirely in sympathy with the new spirit which 
is associating worship with music : sometimes 
he deserts his own service in order to attend 
Westminster Abbey where the organ is in use, 
or the chapel at Whitehall to hear " Captain 
Cooke's new musique." " This," he continues, 
"is the first day of having vialls and other 
instruments to play a symphony between 
every verse of the anthems ; but the musique 



A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 159 

more full than it was last Sunday, and very- 
fine it is." 

Sermons in those days were regarded as the 
principal part of the service, and Pepys com- 
poses himself to listen with critical attention 
to Mr. Mills, the rector, or to an occasional 
"stranger." Very long, and often very 
tedious, these pulpit exercises drew from the 
diarist some of the most entertaining criti- 
cisms in his journal. In a sense no one 
suffered less from sermons than he. He 
found an easy remedy for tediousness and bad 
logic in a slumber which seems seldom to have 
been denied him, for which his oft-repeated 
penitence, " God forgive me," is obviously 
half-hearted. 

Evelyn complained of the preaching before 
the Restoration, " there was nothing practical 
preached or that pressed reformation of life, 
but high and speculative points and strains 
that few understood, and that left the people 
very ignorant and of no fixed principle." 
Pepys is interested in Dr. Buck's sermon 
upon "Woe unto thee, Chorazin," where he 
started a difficulty which he left to another 
time to answer about why God should give 



i6o A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 

means of grace to those people whom He 
knew could not receive them, and deny them 
to others who, He Himself confesses, if they 
had had them, would have received them, 
and they would have been effectual too. " I 
wish I could hear him explain this when he 
do come to it," but has little sympathy with 
high Calvinistic doctrine in general. The 
truth is his piety was of a practical order. 
As he sits in his pew we may see him 
nodding assent to that sermon of Mr. Gifford, 
"who showed, like a wise man, that right- 
eousness is a surer way of being rich than 
sin and villainy." Pepys was in hearty accord 
with the teaching which believed in making 
the best of both worlds. Indeed, to the 
popular Navy Secretary, virtue is so often 
its own reward, that a review of his balance 
at the bank seems to leave him with a feeling 
that he is getting on with the world better 
than a Christian ought. 

After the extemporary prayer which Puritan 
usage had introduced into the service, Pepys 
and his spouse go home for their mid-day 
meal, sometimes accompanied by their clergy- 
man and his wife, until some misunderstanding 



A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY i6i 

about a christening strained the relationship 
between the two families. 

He has many uncomplimentary references 
to the clergy ; any scandal at their expense 
finds an easy lodgment in his mind ; yet 
his own intercourse with them is friendly. 
He speaks of Richard Cumberland, Bishop 
of Peterborough, as his " old good friend " 
and " a most excellent person as any I know," 
and is ever ready to make new clerical 
acquaintances. Attentions denied him and 
freely lavished on the cloth appear, however, 
to have excited his spleen. "(Lord's Day.) 
Strange what a command he (Dr. Jacomb) 
hath got over Mrs. Turner, who was so 
careful to get him what he would after 
his preaching to drink, and he with a 
cunning gravity knows how to command 
and got it." 

On his way to and from church Pepys 
would notice the change which was coming 
over the Sunday hitherto so strictly observed. 
Ordinary travel and trading were resumed, 
though "the Bishop of London had given 
a very strict order against boats going on 
Sundays," and on September 20, 1663, ^ 



1 62 A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 

proclamation against Sunday trading was 
read in the churches. In 1690 the zeal of 
Queen Mary to repress the desecration of 
the Sunday led her to prohibit the working 
of horses and hackney carriages on the Day 
of Rest, and to station constables at the 
corner of the streets to capture all puddings 
on their way to the bakehouse. This was 
an interference with their liberty which her 
subjects resented, and rioting led to the 
suspension of the law. Public-houses, so 
lately discredited, were beginning to open 
their doors to the toper who carried his 
morning mouth in search of beer, though in 
the early period of the Restoration Pepys 
describes how he and a young friend walked 
up and down for two hours, "sometimes in 
the streets looking for a tavern, but not 
finding any open we durst not knock." Later 
we have him eating and drinking at Islington 
"at the house my father and me were wont 
to go to of old," pledging healths with boon 
companions at the Rose Tavern "until ser- 
mon done," or accompanying " friends to an 
alehouse in Drury Lane, where we drank 
together and ate toasted cakes which are very 



A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 163 
good, and had a great deal of mirth with 
the mistress of the house about them." Creed 
was a friend of Pepys and was at first both 
prim and Puritanic. But his fall from grace 
was not long delayed. After a morning spent 
together at an inn, the entry reads, "and so 
home wondering to see how things are altered 
with Mr. Creed, who twelve months ago might 
have been got to hang himself almost as soon 
as go to a drinking-house on a Sunday." 

Dinner being over, Pepys would often 
gather his household around him for sing- 
ing, or would spend an hour or two at a 
neighbour's in the same exercise. " By-and- 
by comes in my Lord Sandwich, and so we 
have great store of good music. By-and- 
by comes in my simple Lord Chandois, who 
began to sing psalms, but so dully that I 
was weary of it." His devotion to music 
leads to more of those exclamations of peni- 
tence which dropped so easily from his pen. 
"To-day, God forgive me, I strung my lute 
which I had not touched a great while before." 
"Composing some ayres, God forgive me." 

Reading shared his leisure with his lute and 
score. Sometimes it is good solid reading; 



164 A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 

Fuller or Stillingfleet or one of the mystical 
divines is his author ; sometimes it is less 
profitable. " Took physique all day, and God 
forgive me, did spend it in reading of some 
little French romances." " Reading UEscholle 
des Filles, a mighty lewd book, but yet not 
amiss for a sober man once to read over to 
inform himself in the villainy of the world." 

Responsive to the renewed summons of 
the bells, Pepys lays aside his book or 
musical instrument, or leaves his garden, 
and makes his way to St. Olave's or some 
other house of prayer for evensong. Of his 
constancy to his own parish church we can- 
not speak in the same unqualified terms as 
Dr. Mills. The divine and the diary show 
at times a serious divergence of opinion, for 
Pepys, on his own showing, had a habit of 
going from one place to another, hearing the 
organ in one church, and bits of the sermon 
in another, and seeing the array of fine 
women in a third. The service of the 
Roman Church had an especial attraction 
for him ; one day he is at York House, 
the Spanish ambassador's, hearing mass ; at 
another time, seeing the queen going to her 



A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 165 
chapel of St. James's. " I crowded in after 
her, and I got up to the room where her 
closet is, and there stood and saw the fine 
altar, ornaments, and the fryers in their 
habits, and the priests coming in with their 
fine crosses and many other fine things. I 
heard their musique too ; which may be 
good, but did not appear so to me." His 
afternoon attendances do not seem to have 
always yielded him much spiritual good, as 
his journal in many instances testifies. " At 
St. Margaret's, Westminster. Did entertain 
myself with my perspective glass up and down 
the church, by which I had the great pleasure 
of seeing and gazing at a great many fine 
women ; and what with that and sleeping, 
I passed away the time until sermon was 
done." 

Released from church, Pepys often joins 
the crowd of notables in the park. " I to 
the park and walked two or three times of 
the Pell Mell with the company about the 
king and the duke ; the duke speaking to 
me a good deal." " So I to the park, and 
there walk an hour or two, in the king's 
garden and saw the queen and the ladies 



i66 A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 

walk ; and I did steal some apples off the 
trees." That the conversation during these 
afternoon promenades with courtiers and 
officials was always profitable we will not 
undertake, but it has provided us with the 
current scandals and with many interesting 
details of the political and social life of the 
day. Strolling out of the park, Pepys wan- 
ders through the streets with a very quick 
eye to discern whatever is novel or strange. 
" Out with Captain Ferrars to Charing Cross ; 
and there at the Triumph Tavern he showed 
me some Portuguese ladys which are come 
to town before the queene. They are not 
handsome and their farthingales a strange 
dress. Many ladies and persons of quality 
come to see them. I find nothing in them 
that is pleasing ; and I see they have learnt 
to kiss and look freely up and down already, 
and I do believe will soon forget the recluse 
practice of their own country." 

Part of his time is spent in visits to his 
friends, or in receiving them in his own 
house. " To Old Street to see Sir Thomas 
Teddiman, who is very ill in bed of a fever, 
got, I believe, by the fright the parliament 



A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 167 

hath put him into of late." If the weather 
is fine he may — in defiance of the Puritan 
theory that the Lord's Day is profaned by 
any recreation — carry his wife abroad in their 
coach and enjoy a little junketing in the 
country, or it may be nearer home. " I 
carried my wife to the Lodge the first time 
this year, and there in our coach ate a cheese- 
cake and drank a tankard of milk. I showed 
her this day also first the Prince of Tuscany, 
who was in the park, and many very fine 
ladies." 

The evening finds Pepys sometimes in the 
company of his friends, more frequently in 
the bosom of his family. The confessions 
which tell of his return " foxed with drink," 
and reeking with scurrilous jests from the 
companionship of unworthy men, make pitiful 
reading, reminding us as they do of the 
youth who ten years before was " solemnly 
admonished " by the authorities of Magdalen 
College, Cambridge, "for having been scan- 
dalously overserved with drink ye night 
before." Other friends he had in whose 
society the time fled pleasantly and not un- 
profitably away. John Evelyn is one of the 



i68 A SEVENTEENTH -CENTURY SUNDAY 

most sedate figures of the Caroline age, yet 
even he could unbend of a Sunday. On 
September lo, 1665, Pepys was at Green- 
wich at the house of Sir J. Minnes, when the 
happy news arrived of a victory over the 
Dutch : " The receipt of this news did put 
us all into such an ecstasy of joy that it 
inspired into Sir J. Minnes and Mr. Evelyn 
such a spirit of mirth that in all my life I 
never met with so merry a two hours as 
our company this night was. Among other 
humours, Mr. Evelyn's repeating of some 
verses made up of nothing but the various 
acceptations of may and can, and doing it so 
aptly upon occasion of something of that 
nature, and so fast, did make us all die 
almost with laughing, and did so stop the 
mouth of Sir J. Minnes in the middle of all 
his mirth, that I never saw any man so out- 
done in all my life; and Sir J. Minnes' mirth, 
too, to see himself outdone, was the crown 
of all our mirth. In this humour we sat till 
about ten at night, and so my lord and his 
mistress home, and we to bed." 

We may well leave the diarist amidst such 
wholesome society and simple pleasantries, 



A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY SUNDAY 169 

or better still amidst the cheerful and inno- 
cent conditions of his own home life, when — 
reading and meditation and singing done — 
he gathers his household around him to in- 
voke the Divine blessing through the hours 
of the coming night, and to give thanks for 
God's g^eat gift of another day of Rest and 
Worship. 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 

With some men, nothing less than a centenary 
of their deaths will serve to remind the public 
of their names. It is true that Samuel Pepys 
departed this life just two hundred years ago, 
yet no one has owed less to the calendar 
than he, nor achieved a more fortuitous im- 
mortality. His unconscious self-revelation has 
not only produced one of the most delightful 
books in the English language, but has given 
him a place in the hearts of his countrymen 
which wiser and better men could never fill. 
In his " Diary " he has laid bare his soul, un- 
witting that one day his most secret and 
unmentionable thoughts should be torn from 
their wrappage of cipher and foreign tongues, 
that upon them his later descendants should 
pour a cool scrutiny so searching that no 
human being could hope to sustain it with 
unimpaired credit. Until the early part of the 
nineteenth century, one of the most " amazing 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 171 
and amusing" of all human documents lay- 
dead and buried in the library of his old 
college of Magdalen at Cambridge, until an 
Oxford graduate broke open the six books of 
the diarist's sepulture, and showed him alive 
and speaking. 

In these pages we have — not the unblush- 
ing revelations of a Rousseau deliberately 
untrussing his points before the common gaze 
— not the studied unconsciousness of Mon- 
taigne, writing for effect, and with an eye 
on his readers — not the posturings of Chateau- 
briand, nor the morbid dissections of Marie 
Bashkirtseff, ever hovering above herself with 
a scalpel, but Pepys himself. So real was 
the presentation, that when he ordered his 
affairs before quitting this world, he had not 
the heart to destroy it, thus contributing at 
once to his own loss of reputation, and his 
own undying renown. 

At first sight there appears to be little 
connection between Pepys and the pronounce- 
ments from a pulpit. Known to the men of 
his day as the friend of royalty and the 
dignified official, it has beea his fortune to 
exhibit the worst and most contemptible side 



172 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 

of his character to later generations. To us, 
the Fellow of the Royal Society and Secre- 
tary to the Navy is the " Dapper Dicky " of 
an improper correspondence. We are not 
impressed with his courage in the House of 
Commons, for we have seen the contemp- 
tible cowardice which could kick a servant 
maid at home. Indulging in coarse delights 
with the rabble of actors, courtiers, and 
courtesans who riot through his pages ; in- 
temperate and given to vulgar intrigues ; 
using his learning as a cloak to the more 
scandalous of his confidences ; miserly — with 
a love of money which grew upon him as 
he otherwise improved in morals, so that his 
iniquities were not abandoned but retired 
on a pension ; ostentatious, bragging of imagi- 
nary estates, and clothing himself in scarlet 
and fine linen, though his wife should go 
bare ; marked by a credulity which made his 
mind sway like a leaf in the wind before 
every breath of the • superstitious ; it is thus 
he presents himself before us, and it is in 
the light of these disclosures he is convicted 
of being a very sorry individual. 

When the facts of his life are summoned 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 173 

from the past, the awful shade of an injured 
wife moves solemnly among them. Remem- 
bering, however, that Mrs. Pepys avenged 
herself of her wrongs as only a woman can, 
we may dismiss that phantom. If he de- 
ceived and played the niggard with her, if 
he laid his hand upon her in wrath, she 
pulled his hair, and on a memorable occa- 
sion scared him from the covert of his mid- 
night blankets with the terrors of a heated 
poker. Having found him out in his infideli 
ties, she considered no usage too ill for him. 
Thereafter, until the touch of death relaxed 
the tyranny, he remained a submissive and 
henpecked man. Yet, between these two 
love was not a- wan ting. If, after their 
quarrels, one of them would always leave 
the other for ever, the dawning of the day 
seldom found them unreconciled. 

But we turn to Samuel Pepys who claims 
and deserves our respect. After all, it is 
probable that his faults were largely the 
blemishes of an early and exuberant man- 
hood, and that with the growth of years and 
reputation there came that steadiness of char- 
acter which earned for him the confidence 



174 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 
of the nation and the friendship of Evelyn 
and Dryden and Sir Isaac Newton. Let us 
recall how many signs he gave of a true 
contrition, and of a desire to walk humbly 
before his Maker ; how, remembering that 
God has an altar in every man's dwelling, 
he gathered his household around him for 
daily devotions ; how Sunday by Sunday he 
studied his good resolves upon his knees ; 
how loyal to his friends ; how generous he 
could be in his gifts ; his courage during 
the Plague when he remained at his post 
among the faithful few ; his love of the 
ennobling arts ; his delight in the converse 
of good men ; his concern for his country ; 
his splendid devotion to the duties of his 
office ; his refusal to enrich himself through 
the baser channels of official gain. To re- 
member all these things is to be aware that 
when Pepys is weighed in the balance he is 
not found wanting in many of the elements 
of a noble character. As he lived, so he 
died. Dr. Hickes, whose sincerity may not 
be gainsaid, had known him long and closely, 
and when he laid down the burden of this 
life, and passed on his way down the Valley 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 175 
of the Shadow, the dean said of his conduct 
in that solemn hour: "I never attended any 
sick person that died with so much Christian 
greatness of mind, or a more lively sense of 
immortality." 

That Pepys considered himself a com- 
petent judge of preaching is indicated by 
many of his entries. In some respects he was 
well equipped. He was a scholar and man 
of letters, quick to detect false quantities and 
a lack of good taste. He had laboured with 
current theology such as Usher's " Divinity," 
and Stillingfleet's Origines Sacra, while the 
ecclesiastical problems of the day found in him 
an eager student. He could estimate not only 
the matter but the manner of a discourse ; 
for it is on record that he himself excelled 
as a speaker, and had offered a remarkable 
vindication of his department in parliament. 

But his judgment has been called in ques- 
tion by some Church historians as that of a 
man with a prejudice against the clergy. The 
fact is, Pepys was never a good Churchman. 
The old leaven of the Puritanism in which 
he was cradled continued to work in him. 
On one side he was bitter against Noncon- 



176 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 

formity. He sneers at its preaching and 
manners. He observes with disdain the 
symptoms (grown in our day into a for- 
midable disease) of "tender consciences." 
He ridicules the exaggerated genuflections 
at court of that Presbyterian knee which 
Calamy had sworn should never bow to 
Baal. When a boat-load of dissenting divines 
are drenched off Schevling he hugs himself 
with delight. 

But at heart Pepys remained a Puritan. 
Rufile it as he will with the roaring, dissolute 
courtiers, he cannot carry his frolics with 
the true cavalier air. He is more true to 
himself in his repentances than in his cups. 
Rome remains to him the Scarlet Woman of 
the Apocalypse, whilst there is no doubt he 
thoroughly deserves the Protestant reputation 
which his wife gave him in a tender descrip- 
tion of his merits as a spiritual director. 
Ignorant of the ordinary ceremonial of his 
Church, a surplice is to him at first a fear- 
some object, and he requires to be led up 
to it as gently as a shying steed. 

Puritan, too, is the quality which made 
him that most pleasing of all personages, 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 177 

the unconscious humourist. The Common- 
wealth had endeavoured to suppress the 
gayest, happiest side of things, turning festi- 
vals into fasts, and frowning on innocent 
joys, but that flavour of character which 
we call humour refused to be extinguished. 
Only it grew slyer in expression, and learned 
to say droll things with the old family face. 
The humour of Pepys is involuntary or 
Puritanic. Who but he could have written 
down with unwinking eye the words with 
which King Charles acknowledged the gift 
of a Bible, or have recorded "the great 
satisfaction given to all " by the same 
monarch's " Proclamation against drinking, 
swearing, and debauchery".? Who but he 
could have confessed so quaintly his relief at 
the death of his annuitant, or defended his 
drinking an intoxicating liquor when under 
vow of total abstinence ? Nay, who but he 
could have reserved his most magnificent 
apostrophe to the Almighty for the occasion 
of a larger balance at the bank ? 

It is not the least of the diary's merits 
that in it we behold the religious life of the 
seventeenth century lifted out of its dark- 

M 



178 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 

ness, and made visible as on the screen of a 
magic-lantern. We behold it, moreover, with 
the eager eye of Pepys. It was a time of 
transition and revolt. Puritanism had in turn 
become a persecutor. Her sympathies lay 
not with her brethren at home, but with the 
Reformers on the Continent. She read from 
a Geneva Bible, her only authority; she 
preached in a Geneva gown, her only ritual. 
Sympathising with the views of Luther and 
Zwingli, who had, so to speak, cantonised 
Christianity, and regarding Anglicanism as 
the handmaiden of Rome, she had treated 
the rules and ceremonies and teaching of the 
Church of England as betrayals and acts 
of treason. She had scattered the clergy, 
usurped their parishes, banished the liturgy 
from houses of prayer and private dwellings. 
To her a " scandalous schoolmaster " was 
one who, amongst other such offences as 
dicing and duelling, "publicly and frequently 
read or used the Common Prayer Book." 
Religious men and women were no longer 
church people, but " professing Christians," 
a title which after all seemed to promise a 
paucity of performance. Nor had her fury 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 179 

been spent on the clergy alone, but on their 
buildings. The intemperance of zeal had 
smitten the decency and comeliness of so 
many churches that they had become houses 
of mourning rather than praise. 

From this unendurable tyranny there was 
now to be an indignant reaction. The clergy 
had gladly returned (on the whole with re- 
straint) to beloved customs and traditions, 
but the nation, in "the wildest outbreak of 
moral revolution that this country has ever 
witnessed," whirled away in the current of 
its hate all that was noblest and best in 
Puritanism. Intolerance was again met with 
intolerance, so that the flower of dissent, 
the thinkers and theologians like Howe and 
Baxter, whose presence at this juncture 
would have meant much to the well-being 
of England, were driven out into the wilder- 
ness. Many who remained behind — Inde- 
pendents, Presbyterians, and even Baptists, 
who had become rectors or vicars during 
the Commonwealth — remained only at the 
expense of their scruples, or to become 
mere traffickers in holy things. Within the 
Church itself, in this time of unrest and up- 



i8o SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 

heaval, the scum of its ecclesiastical life rose 
to the surface. Younger sons, hangers-on 
to the skirts of nobility, social derelicts, and 
the purely professional parson now came to 
the front, and clamoured for livings. At 
this period it must be confessed that the 
voice that summoned many of the labourers 
into the vineyard had a distinctly metallic 
ring. Men drew their revenue without caring 
for their flocks — and presented a terrible de- 
parture from the theory that a clergyman's 
object is essentially to minister to the needs 
of the world, and not to be paid for his 
ministry. 

But as against this view of the matter 
there remained the great mass of an earnest, 
devoted priesthood to whom much injustice 
had been done. In the cry which rose up 
against those to whom was committed the 
restoration of the due order and teaching of 
the Church, Pepys is tempted to join. In 
1 66 1 he finds the clergy "so high that all 
people do protest against their practice." 
He witnessed the consecration of an arch- 
bishop, and is moved to the reflection that 
" people did most of them look upon them 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS i8i 

(the bishops) as strange creatures, and few 
with any love or respect " ! Stillingfleet in- 
curs his strong displeasure for telling the 
truth about the death of one of the diarist's 
relatives, a truth which Pepys argues might 
well have been delayed for purposes of pro- 
bate. On the 5th of October 1662, he re- 
cords : "This day the parson has got one to 
read with a surplice on. I suppose himself 
will take it up hereafter, for a cunning 
fellow he is of any of his coate." Surely 
enough this Machiavellian plot passed on to 
its denouement on the 26th inst., when he 
" saw Mr. Mills in a surplice for the first 
time." In 1666 he "heard a young man 
play the foole upon the doctrine of Purga- 
tory," from which state of indignation he was 
happily recovered by espying Betty How- 
lett, "who is indeed mighty pretty and struck 
me mightily." He has a holy horror of 
confession. Mr. Mills's advice "to confess 
their sins when they had any weight upon 
their consciences, did vex me to hear." He 
even discerns the cloven hoof in the innocent 
practice of catechising. 

It is interesting to notice in Pepys the 



1 82 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 

shock of surprise which still attacks the 
ordinary citizen when he beholds the friend 
of his youth in Holy Orders. Few can 
bear with equanimity the change from a suit 
of uproarious tweeds to a clerical collar and 
wide-brimmed hat, from the voice that once 
cried aloud for soda-water to the decent 
tones of a proper pulpit delivery. At Cam- 
bridge he sits under Mr. Nicholas, whom he 
knew at college as a sort of Lord of Mis- 
rule, and has a poor opinion of the sermon. 
He finds in the pulpit of a City church " my 
old schoolfellow Elborough, a simple rogue, 
and yet I find him preaching a very good 
sermon and in as right a parson-like manner 
as I have heard anybody." 

Before we consider the sermons to which 
Pepys listened, we may with advantage recall 
the conditions of them. As an official of the 
Admiralty, he had his place in St. Olave's, 
Hart Street. Early in his career we find him 
"demanding a pew" from the churchwardens, 
who built for him a sort of chamber in the 
South Gallery approached by a staircase from 
without. In this abominable place of dis- 
tinction in a house where all are equal, he 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 183 
passed a great many hours to greater or less 
advantage. St, Olave's lies now with London 
pressing upon it from every side. Then it 
could breathe. Green trees and pleasant 
fields were its neighbours ; the sunshine came 
in freely where now the huddle of high walls 
bars it out. It is easy to picture one of those 
drowsy summer days which so often seem 
reflected in the diarist's description of his 
Sundays : the sleepy stillness : the soothing 
hum of Mr. Mills's voice : the restless children, 
writhing on their benches : the placid con- 
gregation : the long psalm during which the 
rattle of money is heard as the sexton 
carries round his box : the sunbeams stream- 
ing through the open windows and creeping 
along the walls, bringing out of their gloom 
the brasses of bygone worthies, the later 
memorials of London Aldermen and Floren- 
tine Capponus, and the efifigies of James 
Dean, his wife, and ten daughters all lifting 
up praying hands. 

Sometimes the rector preaches — sometimes 
his reader or a lecturer. The reader was an 
inferior kind of curate, often serving two 
churches. It was his duty to read the service. 



1 84 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 
that portion of the prayer and praise of the 
sanctuary which in some circles is still known 
as "the preliminaries," retiring at the supreme 
moment to give place to the orator who had 
reserved his energies for the pulpit. Pepys 
refers only once to a sermon of the reader, 
describing it as " boyish and young," but seems 
to have been diverted when this assistant 
priest "could not find the place in the Service 
Book for churching women, but was fain to 
change with the clerk." This functionary, too, 
was destined to furnish amusement by a per- 
formance which his successors have often 
repeated — "mighty sport to hear the clerk 
sing out of tune." 

As for the lecturer, Pepys derived little 
comfort from him. " A dull sermon of our 
young lecturer, too bad." " Our lecturer made 
a silly, sorry sermon." In many places 
parishioners of Calvinisic beliefs who were 
opposed to the teaching of the regular in- 
cumbent had been permitted, in defiance of 
constituted authority, to nominate to a lecture- 
ship and maintain any one whose teaching was 
more in accordance with their own views. 
And with such a cuckoo in the nest, one can 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 185 

imagine the sparrows had rather a bad time 
of it. 

Once a year the sexton of St. Olave's went 
his round of tax gathering. " Before sermon 
there was a long psalm and half another sung 
while the sexton gathered what the Church 
would give him for the last year." Pepys 
seems to have disliked the publicity of this 
collection, for he mentions his own five-shilling 
contribution in a way which indicates he would 
have preferred the secretive alms-bag of our 
day to the open plate of his own. Another 
source of annoyance lay in the impromptu 
orisons before and after the sermon. In the 
lieutenant's cabin of the Nazeby man-of-war, 
we find him disputing with the naval chaplain 
— " the parson for and I against extemporary 
prayers." This contention was justified on at 
least one occasion when "a vain fellow with 
a periwigg preached, and chaplain (as by his 
prayer appeared) to the Earle of Carlisle." 

As in other churches, so in St. Olave's, 
we find the comfortable habit of wearing the 
hat during the service still in vogue. So 
common was this custom, so unintentional 
in its irreverence, that Pepys is genuinely 



1 86 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 

surprised at the displeasure of " a simple fellow 
who preached against wearing of hats in 
church"; "but," adds Pepys, "I slept part of 
the sermon, till latter prayer and blessing." 
This was a solace which seems seldom to have 
been denied him. Time and again we find 
the rigours of the sermon melting away in a 
dream of fair women. 

His slumbers bring us to an important 
consideration in regard to his criticisms. It is 
manifest that at times he is wanting in fair- 
ness of judgment, that the opinions which he 
commits to paper are often hasty and uncon- 
sidered. After the custom, not unknown in our 
own day, he came to church not so much to be 
edified as to criticise : he " suffered the word 
of exhortation " in a sense never intended by 
St. Paul, or gave to it only a languid, imper- 
fect hearing. Moreover the motives which 
brought him into the sacred precincts of God's 
House were sometimes of the unworthiest. 
The curiosity which led him with a truly 
Athenian spirit into several churches in the 
course of a morning may be dismissed, but 
what shall we say for the frame of mind 
which brought him to matins during the 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 187 

intervals of an assignation where " much against 
my will stayed out the whole church in pain " 
(it was so crowded he could not get out) 
"whilst she expected me at home"? Or of 
his visit to Clerkenwell Church "only to see 
the two fayre Botelers" — or to St. Dunstan's, 
where he heard "an able sermon of the 
minister of the place," and at the same time 
laboured to corrupt " a pretty, modest maid " 
who stood by him ? The fact is, the majority 
of his destructive criticisms belong to the period 
in which his own life was at its lewdest. For 
several years his morals were thoroughly 
undermined, and no man's religion survives 
his morals. Of one hundred and seventy-one 
sermons to which he had listened, or through 
which he slept, ninety fail to merit his 
approval. The thermometer of his opinion 
ranges from "poor," "simple," "indifferent," 
"tedious," to the point below zero which "like 
a fool," "impertinent," "full of nonsense," 
"nothing worth hearing," may be supposed 
to indicate. 

But enquiry reveals the interesting fact 
that the afternoon sermon is often the de- 
linquent. So normal are the slumbers of 



1 88 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 

Pepys, one might suppose he came to 
church with the single intention of snatching 
an hour's repose from all earthly and heavenly 
cares, mistaking his capacious pew for a 
four-poster, and his clergyman (especially the 
robustious Scot, " to whose voice I am never 
to be reconciled ") for a theological Macbeth 
who murders sleep. He must be acquitted, 
however, of a deliberate surrender to an 
infirmity which has assailed most people — an 
infirmity due rather to the weakness of the 
flesh than to the perversity of the spirit. 
The afternoon is in many instances a time 
of weariness and dreariness, of doleful waste 
of effort on the part of the preacher, of 
repletion and suspended animation on the 
part of the congregation. Pepys' bill of fare 
for his mid-day meal often supplies the key 
to his afternoon repose. More fortunate 
than that little Eutychus, the boy who 
" being asleep fell from his high seat to the 
ground, and got no hurt," the annalist 
slumbered in the safe recesses of his gallery 
pew. The rector may declaim his most 
eloquent periods, "but I know not how, I 
slept most of the sermon " : a stranger may 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 189 

"preach like a fool": "a simple, bawling, 
young Scot" hold forth, or "a vain, prag- 
matical fellow preach a ridiculous, affected 
sermon " : the storm still passes harmlessly 
over his head : not even the dead in the 
churchyard without could sleep deeper. 

Further extenuation may be found in the 
length of the sermon, to which there are 
frequent references. " A Presbyterian made 
a sad and long sermon which vexed me," "a 
stranger preached a dry and long tedious 
sermon." When it is remembered that the 
Puritan sermons knew no criterion of length 
save the hour-glass, and that the minister 
was judged to be wanting in zeal and 
devotion who should not keep going for 
sixty minutes at least, it will be confessed 
that Pepys had some excuse for his annoy- 
ance. The sermons he evidently preferred 
were, "like music, sweetest in the close.'' 
He complains that at Whitehall "little Dr. 
Duport of Cambridge made a most flat, dead 
sermon, both for matter and manner of 
delivery, and very long beyond his hour, 
which made it worse." Yet Barrow preached 
on one occasion for three and a half hours, 



1 90 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 

whilst Burnet was invited by his delighted 
hearers to reverse his glass, and continue 
until its sands had again slipped through 
their course. 

He disliked, as we have seen, the ex- 
temporary prayers of the Puritans, neverthe- 
less he discovers a liking for their more 
unconventional and spontaneous speech in 
the pulpit. In an examination of writings 
by representative Churchmen and Dissenters 
he is inclined to award the palm to the 
latter on the ground that " ordinary capacities 
are more taken with cloak and laymen's 
preaching than that of the gown." Yet 
never has the pulpit eloquence of the Church 
stood so high as in the Caroline era. It 
was the age which gave birth to the golden 
sentences of Jeremy Taylor, the profound 
thought and high ethical tone of Isaac 
Barrow, the mordant wit and home truths 
driven home in a business-like manner of 
Robert South, the close reasoning of Tillot- 
son, the impassioned oratory and splendid 
imagery of Stillingfleet. If there were a 
danger on the part of the famous ecclesiastics 
of that day it was, perhaps, to regard their 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 191 

sermons less as a Divine message, which it 
is a matter of life or death to refuse, than 
as human compositions. They seemed to 
behold them, one may imagine, in all the 
majesty of sheepskin and vellum rather than 
in the lives of their contemporaries. As 
authors they were too voluminous, not 
waiting beside the waters for the Angel of 
Inspiration to come down and trouble them, 
but taking a dip every day on principle, 
often without benefit. If these holy and 
gifted men failed to touch the masses of 
their countrymen, the reason is not far to 
seek. 

Pedantry was still appreciated, and scraps 
of the learned languages, the hall-mark of a 
cultured divine as opposed to the illiterate 
tub-thumper, found a place in most pulpit 
utterances. Pepys delights to prick the 
bubble of this affection. "Our navy chap- 
lain preached a sad sermon, full of nonsense 
and false Latin." At Chatham he heard 
another "poor sermon, with a good deal of 
false Latin in it." 

Politics pressed upon the people in the 
earlier days of the "Diary," and imparted their 



192 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 

own heated atmosphere to the pulpit. There 
came a time when people complained that, 
instead of a peaceful sermon, the quiet 
seeker after righteousness was in danger of 
having "a political pamphlet thrust down 
his throat, labelled with a pious text from 
Scripture." But in the reign of the Second 
Charles this was the kind of thing that 
church-goers expected and welcomed. Mr. 
Mills made " a most excellent sermon," or 
" a very good and pungent sermon " on the 
evils of the Protectorate, and Dr. Pierce 
" with much natural eloquence preached 
against the Papists," with the approval of at 
least one of their hearers. At Whitehall 
Dr. Creighton " railed bitterly against John 
Calvin, and his brood the Presbyterians, and 
against the present term now in use of 
' tender consciences.' He ripped up Hugh 
Peters (calling him an execrable skellum)," 
and this diatribe is recorded as "a most 
admirable, learned, honest, and severe sermon, 
yet comicall." 

Something must be forgiven Dr. Creighton, 
whose sermons seem ever tottering on the 
verge of laughter or Billingsgate, for his 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 193 
courage in charging King Charles to the 
face with his sins. The sycophancy of pre- 
vious reigns had left its trail behind it. 
Burnet, we know, was guilty of gross ser- 
vility ; his sermons at court seem to have 
been simply one stream of oily accommodat- 
ing doctrine flowing gently in the direction 
of the select pews. Pepys tells " how the 
Bishop of Chichester preached before the 
king, and made a great, flattering sermon." 
Smaller men than these fawned with their 
superiors. In the country, when the Secre- 
tary to the Admiralty and his friends made 
their appearance in church, the parson began 
the service with : " Right Worshipful and 
dearly beloved." 

But there was no want of courage in 
many in high places. Bishop Ken, "the 
little black man" of King Charles, was so 
notoriously given to plain speech that the 
king was wont to say : "I must go and 
hear Ken tell me of my faults." In the 
year of the Great Fire, Stillingfleet made a 
very noble protest before the mocking court 
at Whitehall on the words, " Fools make a 
mock of sin," whilst Pepys was impressed 

N 



194 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 
with the daring of a Canon of Christ Church 
who preached " a very honest sermon " in 
which "among other things he did much 
insist upon the sin of aduhery, which me- 
thought might touch the king." Bishop 
Morley, on a Christmas Day, denounced 
the excesses of those about his Majesty in 
"playes and gaming," "upon which it was 
worth observing how far they are from tak- 
ing the reprehensions of a bishop seriously, 
that they all laughed in the chapel when he 
reflected on their ill actions and courses." 
Pepys condemns this ill-conditioned merri- 
ment, but he shows himself ready to resent 
any preaching which treads upon his own 
toes. Parsimonious, he is willing to be 
taxed with any number of sins in the gross, 
but not with this one in particular. Hence 
the entry, when liberality is the topic : " An 
Oxford man gave us a most impertinent ser- 
mon upon ' Cast your bread on the waters.' " 
As the heads of a great War Depart- 
ment, " Sir William Batten and I very much 
angry with the parson," an Irish doctor who 
preached "a most tedious, unreasonable, and 
impertinent sermon. His text was : ' Scatter 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 19S 

them, O Lord, that delight in war.'" Some 
sermons, however, touching his own favourite 
infirmity, leave him unmoved. " Mr, Mills 
made an excellent sermon in the morning 
against drunkenness as ever I heard in my 
life." Was ever comment more true to the 
disposition of human nature ? A few days 
previously he had bewailed himself in the 
"Diary" as "so foxed with drink," that he 
dared not "face his domestics at the cus- 
tomary prayer," whilst aching heads and 
nauseating excesses are common in his 
record. 

The rector of St. Olave's, of whom fre- 
quent mention is made, affords us a very 
excellent illustration of the gradual way in 
which many of the new clergy emancipated 
themselves from high Calvinistic doctrines. 
Put in his place not improbably by Crom- 
well's Triers, he retained, for some years at 
least, the distinctive attitude of the Puritan 
in his teaching. "To church where Mr. 
Mills made an unnecessary sermon upon 
original sin, neither understood by himself 
nor the people." This topic was quite in 
keeping with the severity of the Puritan 



196 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 

times, and with that preaching which was 
almost invariably concerned with the burden 
of the Lord. It lifted up its voice only to 
make the judgments of the Apocalypse start 
in almost visible procession before the eyes 
of its hearers : it raised its hand only 
to draw aside the curtain which shrouded 
the unknown future and reveal the dark 
grandeur of future retribution. It proclaimed 
the dogmas dedicated to despair, the repro- 
bation and damnation which the pitiless 
thinking of the great Genevan held to be 
the necessary complement of the doctrine 
of salvation. From this masterful logic of 
Calvin, which enslaved not alone the mind 
of his own century, but broke the hearts or 
destroyed the reason of thousands of men 
and women through succeeding generations, 
came the theology of Isaac Watts, and those 
hymns which have done more to turn the 
home of childhood into a house of tears, and 
bring terror to little innocent souls, than any 
other writing in the English language. In 
the recoil from Roman extravagance and 
superstition, Puritanism, with all those fine 
qualities which have entered like particles of 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 197 
iron into the life-blood of England, had fallen 
into a singularly arrogant attitude of its own. 
It had bound the truth of God, and even 
Omnipotence itself, in the fetters of syllo- 
gism, and revealed them not so much by 
the lamp of love as by torches kindled at 
the nether pit. At first Mr. Mills remains 
the Presbyterian and Puritan — he preaches 
predestination, and other tenets of the Cal- 
vinistic faith. Pepys describes " a lazy simple 
sermon" of his "upon the devil's having 
no right to anything in the world." Truly 
if the devil could have been terrified by 
phrases, the Puritan ministry alone would have 
put him to flight. The tone of menace and 
foreboding is apparent in many of the writ- 
ings of Howe and Baxter and other of the 
finest spirits of the age : we turn over page 
after page, looking in vain for the tender 
strain which is the most moving and effective 
element in the Gospel. The number of the 
beast was then, as now, a matter of the 
deepest interest to many, and we hear of 
Pepys' study of a " Discourse of the number 
666." But he arrives at no conclusion 
whether or not the end of all things was at 



1 98 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 

hand. He says of the argument "whether 
it be right or wrong, (it) is mighty in- 
genious." This is pretty much the criticism 
passed by the world on later predictions — 
those of Bengel to take effect in 1836 — and 
the catastrophes — still delayed — announced by 
Dr. Gumming. 

Pepys was often out of town on a Sun- 
day. Wherever he went, he appears to 
have followed his custom of putting in an 
appearance at church. 

But, however far afield he may be, he 
cannot escape the discourses which deal with 
the Divine decree, human inability to aid in 
its own salvation, and other of the painful 
problems against which the thoughtful people 
of the seventeenth century were bruising 
their hearts. 

As we have recoiled from such theology 
(already beginning to relax its hold upon 
deeper thinkers even on the Puritan side), 
so we have receded from the idea of the 
sermon's paramount importance. The days 
are happily passing away when it can be 
considered the principal service, and the 
prayers and praises of the congregation a 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 199 

mere preface. It is said — have we not 
heard it with these ears? — that the public 
still demands some sort of a preachment ; 
that being dismissed without this usual sacri- 
fice to the proprieties, it leaves behind it 
traces of resentment in a neglected alms-bag, 
or an angry remonstrance. This indignation 
would be gratifying indeed were we not 
aware that the sermon chiefly in request is 
a luxury rather than a necessary. Its very 
popularity shows its tendency to fall into 
disrepute. What people want is not such 
instruction as will build up their most holy 
faith, but sermonettes touching in a brisk 
and airy fashion on passing topics and mak- 
ing little demands either on thought or on 
devotion. 

Forgetful of the fact that it takes a week 
to think out what takes only a few minutes 
to say, they insist upon two sermons on a 
Sunday. Their demand is unreasonable. 
They may have twenty minutes of painful 
platitudes ; verbiage which slays its slain 
three times and drags them nine times round 
the city walls ; poverty of teaching eked out 
with the gramophone and dissolving views ; 



200 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 
curious cases of parallel inspiration in which 
the preacher and some standard author are 
mentally and verbally in accord ; they may 
have all these, and many other varieties of 
how not to do it, but not two good sermons. 

Some day it will be understood that the 
preacher, like the musician and artist, be- 
longs to a distinct order. He, too, is born, 
not made. If the divine afflatus has been 
denied him, nothing can supply it. That the 
average parson should be thrillingly eloquent 
twice a week is not to be expected, but can 
he always be thoughtful and interesting and 
sensible in his talk ? 

" Dull " is the epithet with which the 
annalist damned many of the pulpit exercises 
of his time ; if he were alive, he would still 
be using it. To ask from the man with no 
natural gift for preaching, driven from point 
to point in a constant round of engage- 
ments, harassed by domestic cares and the 
anxieties financial and moral of his work, 
with little time for meditation and study at 
his disposal, to ask from such a man two 
sermons on a Sunday, as well as addresses 
of one kind or another during the week, is 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 201 

to repeat the Egyptian tyranny of the tale 
of bricks. The want of preaching capacity 
has been recognised by the laity in im- 
memorial gibes — from the conceit of Ben 
Jonson, " two lips wagging, and never a 
wise word," to the lamentation of the late 
Augustus Hare, that it was a terrible penalty 
to pay for one's religion to hear it worried 
and tangled by the person to whom " one 
would never dream of listening in ordinary 
conversation for a quarter of an hour," Yet, 
in spite of all that is implied in such criti- 
cisms, and the increasing tendency to go out 
of church before the clergyman enters the 
pulpit, people still insist on two sermons, and 
look upon themselves as defrauded if they 
be omitted. 

We venture to predict that in the future 
there will be fewer sermons. First of all, 
the deacon newly ordained to his office will 
be more severely restricted in what is com- 
mercially known as his " output." Unneces- 
sary burdens will no longer be laid on his 
own strength — and his hearers will be spared 
deliverances that are often callow and un- 
weighed. Pepys complains of the perform- 



202 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 

ances of " a confident young coxcomb," and 
" of a young man who had never preached 
before." Nothing perhaps is more irritating 
to churchgoers than the sight of young men 
fresh from the universities, placed in a pulpit 
to lecture their elders about emotions they 
have themselves never felt, and upon spiritual 
experiences of which they are as ignorant as 
that well-known metaphorical personage, the 
babe unborn. 

Nor will necessity be placed on the ordinary 
clergy to preach as often as they do now. 
" Brilliant flashes of silence " will be as much 
appreciated in them as in Lord Macaulay. 
Services, especially in the afternoon, will be 
held to be complete, without one word of 
exhortation. After all, the crown of their 
ministry does not lie in the attractiveness of 
their speech, but in "the holiness and use- 
fulness of their lives." They may not be 
shepherds like Tityrus, warbling on his pipe 
beneath the spreading beech tree, but they 
can be the true " pastor in parochia," caring 
for the bodies of their flocks as well as their 
souls, visiting the sick and sorrowful, gather- 
ing the little ones of the Church around 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 203 
them, dispensing the Holy Sacraments, mak- 
ing themselves the friends and helpers of 
unhappy men and women, and entering into 
every phase of the life of which they are the 
centre. It is enough if they live on week- 
days the Gospel of which they may be no 
eloquent expounders on the Sunday. Already 
the Church is regaining some of her lost 
ground, not because she is renewing the tradi- 
tions of splendid preachers, but because she 
is restoring the ideal of the parish priest. 

It happens, not infrequently, that a vicar 
or curate has no time for original sermons. 
Why should he be debarred from using 
publicly the writings of the Church's greatest 
divines ? These exist at present only to 
nourish the student or to while away the 
solitary hours of the recluse. It is true 
that, generally speaking, people would rather 
hear a poor, imperfect word from a living 
tongue, than the noblest eloquence of a book ; 
but it is possible that the use from time to 
time of those monuments of piety and learn- 
ing which belong to the past would not only 
be a source of relief to the clergy, but of 
the highest advantage to those who have 



204 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 
to listen to them. Against a loose or indis- 
criminate selection the bishops could guard 
by a collection of theological writings set 
forth under their own authority. 

Finally, we hold that a Preaching Order 
should be restored to the Church. The 
race of the great preachers is dead : the 
sermons of the ordinary cleric still miss their 
mark as in the day when Pepys set down 
his impressions of them. But history may 
repeat itself. When devotion was at its 
lowest in England, the coming of the Friars 
was a signal for a rekindling of religion. 
The spiritual inertia and deadness of the 
times gave birth to them : the hurry and 
abounding vitality of our own century are 
like to do the same by us. Our parishes 
need to be visited by the men with whom 
preaching is not a profession deliberately 
chosen so much as a summons which may 
not be resisted — men with the Divine fervour 
and gifts of utterance. We need the prophets 
and the sons of the prophets, those who with- 
out fear or favour shall speak because the in- 
spiration rings within their hearts and stirs 
their tongues to willing utterances. Fitted for 



SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 205 

their task by natural endowments, by retire- 
ment, by prayer and meditation, they will 
fan the cold embers of spiritual life in 
many a parish into a glowing flame, inspiring 
the lay members of the Church with their 
"winged words" — and lifting the ministers 
and stewards of God's mysteries out of 
ever-deepening ruts of formal routine and 
stated duties into the purer, fresher atmos- 
phere of their sacred calling. 

It is sometimes contended that preaching 
has fallen so greatly into decay that never 
again will it recover its hold upon the heart 
and conscience of those who meet together 
for worship. We are not of this mind. 
The signs of the times are not really dis- 
couraging. The man with a message and 
the power to utter it still finds no lack of 
hearers. Amid the diversity of topics at the 
recent Church Congress, it was the subject 
of sermons which secured the most crowded 
meeting. Moreover, the measure of criticism 
is not necessarily the touchstone of truth. 
Pepys girded at the men of God around 
him, and sprinkled his uncomplimentary 
epithets with unsparing hand, yet he lived 



2o6 SERMONS AND SAMUEL PEPYS 

in what is admitted by general consent to 
be the golden age of Anglican theology. 
That he derived more good from what he 
heard in church than he was willing to 
allow may be seen from one of the few 
eulogies his book contains : " To my joy find 
Mr. Frampton in the pulpit : and I think 
the best sermon, for goodness and oratory, 
without affectation or study, that ever I 
heard in my life. The truth is, he preaches 
the most like an Apostle than ever I heard 
man : and it was much the best time that 
ever I spent in my life at church," The 
age of Bishop Frampton has gone for ever ; 
the eloquence of that incomparable brother- 
hood to which he belonged is mute. But 
with the renewal of zeal and devotion, with 
a better use of the means at her disposal, 
there is room for hope that the Church may 
be raised to a position of power and autho- 
rity far higher than she held when Samuel 
Pepys confided to his journal his frank im- 
pressions of the parsons and preachings of 
his day. 



CHATEAUBRIAND AND HIS 
ENGLISH NEIGHBOURS 

For nearly three-quarters of a century the 
memoirs of a great literary Frenchman have 
been dead to the average English reader. 
It is true that the task of translation was 
one not lightly to be undertaken, for in 
Chateaubriand the artist predominates : his 
surpassing merit lies in his diction. But 
within the last eighteen months his thoughts 
have been dressed in an English garb, and 
whatever of that subtle originality which we 
call style it has been possible to distil from 
a foreign language and reproduce in our own 
has been done — and notably well done — by 
Mr, Teixeira de Mattos. 

The general tone of the memoirs is pessi- 
mistic and depressing. " Life does not suit 
me " (it is thus our author prefaces his 
volume); "death will perhaps become me 
better." The place in which he first saw 

207 



2o8 CHATEAUBRIAND 

the light is "the room in which my mother 
inflicted life on me," and his godfather is 
"the unfortunate brother who gave me a 
name which I have nearly always dragged 
through misfortune." His favourite quota- 
tions are the most sombre utterances of 
the patriarch Job. Looking upon his life 
as one long misery, he wishes it would 
come to an end. His memoirs are dated 
" from beyond the grave." 

In such sentiments as these it is not easy 
to recognise the man who sprang into fame 
at a bound with one of the most notable 
literary successes of the nineteenth century 
— who, whatever the nature of the conflict 
raging in his own mind, attained distinction 
and outward prosperity, and (in spite of his 
repinings for death) reached a green old 
age. Living, his name — to quote his own 
description — " flew from pole to pole " : dead, 
a cross alone was necessary to mark the 
tomb of a famous son of France. To have 
known Burke a broken-hearted father, and 
Pitt in the heyday of his great career ; to 
have listened to Sheridan, Fox, and fenced 
with Canning, Londonderry, and Wellington; 



CHATEAUBRIAND 209 

to have been the intimate of Mesdames de 
Stael, Rdcamier, and George Sand ; the 
honoured guest of Washington in the New 
and of George IV. in the Old World ; the 
friend and foe of Napoleon ; confident of a 
Pope; trusted counsellor of Louis XVIII. 
and Charles X. ; ambassador to Berlin, Lon- 
don, Rome ; Minister of Foreign Affairs and 
Peer of France ; surely these are recollections 
which must have lightened up the darkened 
chambers of his memory with a sunset glow 
of splendour. 

It cannot be denied that vanitas vanitatum 
is often the judgment which attends upon 
the pomps and gauds of the world, nor must 
it be forgotten that the writer of the memoirs 
had lived in tragic times, had tasted the 
bitterness of poverty and bodily suffering, 
had known the fickleness as well as the 
favour of princes. Nevertheless the explana- 
tion of the vein of melancholy which runs 
through his writings seems to lie more 
especially in his temperament and the as- 
sociations of his youth. He is essentially 
the sentimentalist and man of feeling who 
reckons his sensibilities amongst the number 



210 CHATEAUBRIAND 

of his luxuries and indulges freely in them. 
Nor is he without suspicion of the poseur. 

His passport as a refugee in England 
prosaically describes him as a French ofificer 
in the emigrant army ; five feet four inches 
high, thin shape, brown hair and whiskers; 
but the portrait which faces the first volume, 
no less than the spirit of his writings, leads 
us to look for the real Chateaubriand in one 
of the most delightful of his own descriptions. 
Speaking of the English man of fashion at 
the end of the eighteenth century he says : 

"The duty of a man of fashion was at the first glance to 
present an unhappy and ailing figure ; he was expected to 
have something neglected about his person ; long nails ; 
beard worn neither full nor shaved, but seeming to have 
sprouted at a given moment by surprise, through forgetful- 
ness and the preoccupations of despair ; a waving lock of 
hair ; a profound, sublime, wandering, and fatal glance ; lips 
contracted in scorn of the human race ; a heart bored, Byronic, 
drowned in the disgust and mystery of existence.'' 

Shorn of some humorous exaggerations, it 
is here the author of "Rend" stands con- 
fessed. No compliment so touches his heart 
as that which discerns beneath his outward 
well-being the vulture preying upon his vitals. 
In Rome at one of his receptions as ambas- 
sador, an unknown Englishwoman draws near 



CHATEAUBRIAND 211 

to tell him he is unhappy, then mysteriously 
retires. A sprightly girl in Dublin rallies 
him on his gloomy mien — " You carry your 
heart in a sling." Each of these episodes 
is recorded with something more than satis- 
faction, and forms the text for a jeremiad. 

He belonged to a peculiar people. Eccen- 
tricity ran in his family, from his uncle "the 
high-born Rabelais, persistently refusing pre- 
ferment" — an a.hh6, stout and red-faced, with 
ill-curled wig and torn cassock with the ends 
tucked into his pocket — to his aunt, Madame 
Bed^e, who always had a kind of snarling 
hound lying in her lap, and was followed 
by a tame boar which filled the house with 
its grunts. 

Born on the rock of St. Malo, he was a 
true Breton, and the roaring of the equinoctial 
winds and waves around him on the day of 
his birth had more than an imported meaning 
for his life. Combourg was the home of his 
boyhood, a place by no means provocative of 
gaiety of spirit. The huge chateau " where 
a hundred knights, their squires and varlets, 
and King Dagobert's chargers and packs 
might almost have gone unnoticed," sheltered 



212 CHATEAUBRIAND 

only his father, mother, sister, and himself, 
with a few retainers. No visitors passed 
through its gates ; an intolerable dulness 
brooded over it. Young, the English tra- 
veller, makes the following uncomplimentary 
reference to it : 

"To Combourg the country has a savage aspect . . . the 
people almost as wild as their country, and their town of 
Combourg one of the most brutal, filthy places that can 
be seen . . . yet here is a chiteau and inhabited : who is 
this M. de Chateaubriand, the owner, that has nerves strung 
for a residence among such filth and poverty?" 

The owner in question was a soured and 
disappointed man, of whom this picture was 
drawn by his son : 

" His general condition was one of deep sadness, which 
increased with age, and of a silence from which he issued 
only in fits of anger. Harsh with his dependents at 
Combourg, taciturn, despotic, and threatening at home, 
the feeling which the sight of him inspired was one of 
fear." 

In this atmosphere of gloom and parental 
severity, the natural melancholy of the boy 
deepened upon him, finding at last a terrible 
expression in an act of attempted suicide. 

In those days the cadets of aristocratic 
Breton families looked as a matter of course 
to a career on shipboard, and Chateaubriand 



CHATEAUBRIAND 213 

was recalled from his solitary wanderings 
and morbid imaginings to enter a naval 
school at Brest. Enthusiastic at first, his 
mind gradually faded away from thoughts of 
the sea ; suddenly, without warning, he pre- 
sented himself at home to inflict the prob- 
lem of another suitable profession upon the 
perplexed household. His mother ardently 
desired to see him a priest, but a sense of 
personal unworthiness led him to accept 
rather a commission in the regiment of 
Navarre. As a soldier it was his lot, under 
circumstances highly characteristic of France 
before the Revolution, to become in some 
sense an ecclesiastic as well. Dressed in 
full uniform and wearing his sword, he tells 
us how he went down on his knees before 
the Bishop of St. Malo ; how that prelate 
cut two or three hairs from the crown of his 
head, calling this the tonsure, and bestowed 
upon him a formal certificate qualifying him 
— not for any spiritual ministrations, but for 
an income of two hundred thousand livres 
as a member of the Order of Malta. He 
admits that this was by way of being an 
abuse, but enquires — with a natveU unexpected 



214 CHATEAUBRIAND 

in an eminent defender of the Faith and 
Roman apologist — if it were not better that 
a kind of military benefice should be attached 
to the sword of a warrior than to the cloak 
of an abb6 who would have dissipated this 
income on the pavements of Paris. 

An elder brother who had opened the way 
for him into the army now endeavoured to 
push his fortunes at court. But here he was 
to distinguish himself only by shyness and 
maladroit adventures. Summoned to attend 
the king (Louis XVI.) on a hunting expedi- 
tion, his mare — ironically named La Heureuse 
— carried him with great determination into 
the places he was most anxious to avoid. 
Scattering everything in his course, he found 
himself, to his dismay, first in at the death — 
an unpardonable offence against the monarch 
whose diary at the time when his crown and 
life were trembling in the balance bore the 
record "blank day," because there had been 
no hunting. After this exploit the young 
officer retired as incontinently from court as 
he had done from the Naval College at Brest. 

Then came the dark days of the Revolu- 
tion, his emigration to Canada, and his cam- 



CHATEAUBRIAND 215 

paign with the army of the princes, after the 
flight and death of its unhappy king. In 
1793 he determined to "bid a long farewell 
to his native land," and crossed to England, 
where our interest in him more especially 
commences. 

He had left behind him a country running 
with blood ; monarchy in ruins ; his nearest 
relatives martyred, or standing under the 
shadow of the guillotine ; the family fortunes 
broken ; he had put his foot on the shores 
of liberty, peace, and a stable government, 
yet London, his first refuge, was to be to him 
only the City of Dreadful Night. Here he was 
to eat the bread of sorrow in a strange land, 
and in such a state of destitution that his 
life in these early days of exile reads like 
the history of a Grub Street hack. He 
dwelt in an attic which overlooked a ceme- 
tery, where, night after night, he heard the 
watchman's rattle proclaiming the proximity 
of body-snatchers. His bed consisted of a 
mattress and blanket ; he had no sheets ; 
when it was cold he placed his coat and a 
chair above him. So weak was he that he 
could not make his own bed. Hunger was a 



2i6 CHATEAUBRIAND 

familiar experience : for days he went without 
food, sucking pieces of linen soaked in water, 
chewing grass or paper. Long after, when 
as the Minister of France he returns from 
a rout to his embassy, " passing by the light 
of candles between two rows of lacqueys, 
ending in half-a-dozen respectful secretaries," 
he recalls with a shudder the homecomings 
of his emigrant days when he climbed high 
up the dark, rickety staircase only to be 
received by a friend as poor and miserable 
as himself 111- health — a legacy from the wars 
— added its bitterness to his cup. Fashion- 
able doctors, besieged by patients, assured 
him that he would die of his malady, and 
charged him a guinea for the prediction. 
Even the kindly physician known to the 
readers of Thackeray as Dr. Goodenough 
gave him advice without fee but without 
encouragement. He was bidden to prepare 
for the worst. 

At last kindlier days dawned for him. The 
money he was able to make by translations 
and hack work was supplemented by a gene- 
rous contribution from his family ; his health 
improved ; he was invited to Beccles by a 



CHATEAUBRIAND 217 

Society of Antiquaries to undertake the task 
of deciphering some French twelfth-century 
MSS. from the Camden Collection. 

In Suffolk occurred the romance of his life. 
One Englishwoman (albeit of low degree) 
already occupied a place in his esteem. As 
he lay on the quay at Guernsey, apparently 
dying, the wife of an English pilot had com- 
passion on him, and nursed him in a fisher- 
man's cottage to which she had him carried, 
till he gained strength enough to resume his 
journey to his friends in Jersey. Of her he 
says, " I owe her my life : my fair-haired and 
comely guardian who resembled a figure in 
the Old English prints." Fortune was now 
to bring him under the influence of another 
of her nation and sex. Falling from his 
horse near Bungay in Suffolk, he was taken 
to the house of a clergyman named Ives. 
Pressed to extend his stay, and passing 
much of his time in the society of Charlotte, 
the only daughter, the young Frenchman 
discovered when too late that Love had 
taken possession of his soul. He deter- 
mined to leave at once. But his secret was 
no longer confined to his own breast. On 



2i8 CHATEAUBRIAND 

the evening of the day announced for his 

departure, Mrs. Ives called him aside to 

tell him he had won the affections of her 

child. 

" ' Sir,' she said, ' Mr. Ives and I have consulted together ; 
you suit us in every respect : we believe you will make our 
daughter happy. You no longer possess a country ; you 
have lost your relations ; your property is sold ; what is 
there to take you back to France ? Until you inherit what 
we have, you will live with us.' Of all the sorrows I had 
undergone, this was the sorest and greatest. I threw my- 
self at Mrs. Ives' feet. I covered her hand with my kisses 
and tears. She thought I was weeping with happiness ; she 
stretched out her hand to pull the bell-rope ; she called 
her husband and daughter. ' Stop,' I cried. ' I am a 
married man ! ' " 

So he was. In 1792 he had bestowed 
his name upon a woman he hardly knew 
by sight. Her merit lay in her dot of 
six hundred thousand francs. Meditating in 
his memoirs on this mariage de convenance, 
avowedly contracted to provide him with an 
income, he concludes that, on the whole, it 
was well for him to be yoked to a worthy 
woman who should keep him straight, and 
prove a sobering influence in his career. 
" If I had not married, would not my weak- 
ness have made me the prey of some design- 



CHATEAUBRIAND 219 

ing creature ? Should I not have squandered 
and polluted my days like Lord Byron ? " 

But when his thoughts turn to the young 
girl of nineteen he met among the meadows 
of vernal England, there is a flame in his 
words that shows he lived and moved for 
once in the free air of love. When, more 
than a quarter of a century later, Vicomte 
de Chateaubriand, Ambassador of France, 
gave audience in his study to a lady dressed 
in mourning, and accompanied by two hand- 
some boys, he was speechless when he re- 
cognised in Lady Sutton, widow of the 
admiral of that name, the Charlotte Ives 
of his early manhood. " I felt how deeply I 
loved her by what I was now experiencing." 

The England in which the young refugee 
found himself was the England whose social 
life is disclosed to us in the pages of Wash- 
ington Irving. In those days there was no 
compromise between the upper and the lower 
classes, between the gentry and those who 
worked for a wage. The detested bour- 
geoisie of France had no counterpart in 
Albion. Prominent in the picture of society 
which Chateaubriand has drawn is the squire. 



2 20 CHATEAUBRIAND 

who spends his days on his estate among his 
own people, and disdains the fashionable life 
of town. He is sturdy and independent and 
coarse. He hunts for five months in the 
year ; keeps wassail at Christmas ; looks 
askance at Whiggery ; distrusts Pitt ; has a 
strong aversion from any war which sends 
up the price of port ; goes to bed in his 
boots every night. If he represents a rotten 
borough, he takes to parliament with him a 
fresh, breezy atmosphere, very refreshing in 
that venal place ; he opposes, if needs be, 
the strongest ministry, and holds on like a 
bulldog to the old-fashioned ideas of free- 
dom, law, and property. " He is firmly con- 
vinced that the glory of Britannia will never 
fade so long as they sing ' God save the 
King,' maintain the pocket boroughs, keep 
the game laws in vigour." 

Of the life of the upper classes Chateau- 
briand saw but little, and that of the outside. 
As he paced the London streets, he was 
aware of grand ladies on their way to court, 
attired in the fashions familiar to us in the 
cartoons of Gilray and Rowlandson. They 
lay back in sedan chairs, their immense 



CHATEAUBRIAND 221 

petticoats projecting through the door of the 
chair like altar-hangings. They looked like 
Madonnas or Pagodas. In Hyde Park he 
had often beheld " the greatest sailor since 
the world began," of whom he has left only 
a caustic description, as folding his victories 
in Lady Hamilton's shawl at Naples, while 
the Lazzaroni tossed human heads from hand 
to hand. At Slough he saw Herschel with 
his prodigiously learned sister, and the won- 
der of those days, the forty-foot telescope, 
which had discovered new planets swim- 
ming into its ken. In his later acquaintance 
with England he has occasion to bewail the 
disappearance of the picturesque, but at the 
end of the eighteenth century Damon and 
Cynthia are still to be found in the London 
parks and gardens, while, "along the same 
pavements where one sees now dirty faces 
and men in surtouts, passed little girls in 
white cloaks, with straw hats fastened under 
the chin with a ribbon, a basket on their 
arm containing fruit or a book : all kept 
their eyes lowered, all blushed when one 
looked at them." Even the seamen belong 
to heroic times, for he assures us that it is 



222 CHATEAUBRIAND 

by no means unusual to find sailors, born 
on shipboard, who, from infancy to old age, 
have never set foot on dry land. 

The venerable and pathetic figure of 
George III. was not unknown to him. 
Once he witnessed the arrival, "in a dowdy 
carriage," of that monarch from Windsor, 
where he had been hobnobbing with his 
brother farmers, discussing turnips, and drink- 
ing out of the same pewter. Later, he saw 
in Windsor Castle "the king, white-haired 
and blind, wandering like Lear through his 
palace, groping with his hands along the 
walls of his apartment. He sat down to a 
piano, of which he knew the position, and 
played some portions of a sonata of Handel : 
a fine ending for old England!" 

George's great minister, Pitt, with his 
nose in the air, his sad and mocking look, 
his supercilious carriage, has a profound 
interest for the man who was one day to 
move his own Senate against that political 
predominance which Pitt had largely secured. 
He reckons him " lord of the kings of 
Europe, as five or six city merchants are 
the masters of India," bearing witness at the 



CHATEAUBRIAND 223 

same time to the nobility of his patriotism 
and the purity of his public life. 

" In his own afiairs," he says, " the great financier main- 
tained no order ; had no regular hours for his meals or sleep. 
Over head and ears in debt, he paid nobody. Badly dressed, 
with no pleasures, no passions, greedy only for power, he 
scorned honours, and refused to be more than plain Mr. Pitt." 

Parliament was a favourite resort of the 
coming diplomatist and senator. There he 
listened to the cold utterance and mono- 
tonous intonation of Pitt, yielding, like 
others, to the fascination of his lucidity and 
logic — to the wonderful flashes of eloquence 
which from time to time lighted up his 
sombre speech. There were giants in those 
days — Fox and Sheridan, and Wilberforce 
and Erskine ; and Chateaubriand had heard 
them all. He had witnessed and formed 
his own opinion of the famous parting be- 
tween Burke and Fox on the subject of the 
French Revolution. " By declaring himself 
opposed to the French Revolution he [Burke] 
dragged his country into the long road of 
hostilities which ended in the plains of 
Waterloo." He had been an amused spec- 
tator of the vagaries of Lord Holland, spin- 



2 24 CHATEAUBRIAND 

ning round, as upon a pivot, until he was 
facing the walls to which his remarks were 
apparently addressed. On the whole, the 
Frenchman was favourably impressed with the 
English House of Commons, and contrasted 
the natural tone and unaffected manner of 
its members with the fiery assembly of his 
own land. "We, always placed upon a 
stage, hold forth and gesticulate like a 
solemn puppet show." 

A good English scholar from his youth — 
a youth nourished on the wild epics of 
Ossian — he now became fully conversant 
with the literature of his adopted country. 
Shakespeare he holds in high regard, rank- 
ing him amongst the number of those who 
have supplied the seed thoughts of mankind. 
He is one of the parent geniuses who seem 
to have brought forth and suckled all the 
others ; his influence is seen in the romantic 
poetry of Byron and the prose romances of 
Walter Scott. He indulges in a quaint 
speculation concerning a physical disability 
of the dramatist, and seems to be of opinion 
that the elder English poet was as lame as 
the younger one. 



CHATEAUBRIAND 225 

Dumas, it will be remembered, follows in 
the train of the author of the memoirs, and 
writes with enthusiasm : 

" I came to recognise that in the world of the theatre every- 
thing emanates from Shakespeare as in the physical world all 
emanates from the sun. . . . The work of this one man con- 
tains as many types as the rest put together : he is the one 
who has created most ; next after God." 

The rank and file of English writers 
Chateaubriand dismisses with few words, 
but for the author of the " Decline and 
Fall" he has a scathing sentence: "A philo- 
sopher during his lifetime, he became a 
Christian on his death-bed ; and in that 
capacity was convicted of being a paltry 
individual." 

In the year 1800 the exile bade adieu to 
the land which had sheltered him for eight 
long years, and returned to his own people 
and country. His mind, accustomed to the 
freedom and absence of officialism in Eng- 
land, was quick to perceive at Calais the 
change of regime. No sooner does his boat 
come to an anchor than gendarmes and 
custom-house officers leap aboard and take 
possession. " In France a man is always 



2 26 CHATEAUBRIAND 

suspected, and the first thing we see in our 
business as well as in our amusements is a 
cocked hat or a bayonet." 

Under Napoleon he became minister to 
the Valais Republic, but the execution of 
the Due d'Enghien so revolted him that he 
retired from his office, and ranked himself 
thereafter amongst the opponents of the First 
Consul. The fall of Buonaparte opened once 
again a political career, of which Chateau- 
briand had always been ardently desirous, 
and by Louis XVIII., whose cause he had 
consistently maintained, he was despatched 
to England in 1822 as French Ambassador. 

The contrast between his first and second 
visit we have already noticed. The people 
still live as grossly as ever : at Dover, 
where he is fdted, the bill of fare, consisting 
of huge fishes and enormous pieces of beef, 
destroys rather than assists his appetite. 
Duelling is not yet out of fashion ; soon 
after his arrival the Dukes of Buckingham 
and Bedford held pistols to each other's 
heads, at the bottom of a pit in Hyde Park. 
During the intervening years the middle 
class has evolved itself: "Everything has 



CHATEAUBRIAND 227 

become machinery in the manufacturing 

professions, folly in the privileged classes." 

The man of fashion, no longer Byronic and 
misanthropic, 

must have a conquering, thoughtless, insolent air ; he must 
attend to his dress and wear moustaches, or a beard cut round 
like Queen Elizabeth's ruff or the radiant disc of the sun ; 
reveals the lofty independence of his character by keeping his 
hat on his head, by lolling on the sofa, stretching out his boots 
before the noses of the ladies seated in admiration in chairs 
before him ; he rides with a cane which he carries like a wax 
taper. A few Radical dandies, those most advanced towards 
the future, possess a pipe. 

He sums up his impression of society in the 
well-known aphorism, "All the English are 
mad by nature or by fashion." 

As ambassador he meets every one worth 
knowing. At Lord Lansdowne's he is intro- 
duced by George IV. to a severe-looking 
lady of patriarchal age, attired in crape, and 
resembling a queen who had abdicated her 
throne. "She greeted me in a solemn 
voice, with three mingled sentences from 
the 'Genius of Christianity,' and then said 
to me with no less solemnity, ' I am Mrs. 
Siddons.' If she had said to me, ' I am 
Lady Macbeth,' I should have believed her." 
At a rout he encounters the Duchess of 



228 CHATEAUBRIAND 

Devonshire whose charms have been per- 
petuated on the canvas of Gainsborough- 
He admits the mature beauty of the lady 
of forty-seven, but adds the curious informa- 
tion that she had lost one eye, a defect which 
she concealed behind a lock of her hair. 

From time to time he meets the Duke 
of Wellington, whom he regards with the 
strong disfavour of a patriotic Frenchman. 
His references to him are to the man of 
gallantry, or to the fortuitous soldier whose 
victories are due less to merit than to a 
lucky chance. " General," he says, " you 
did not defeat Napoleon at Waterloo ; you 
only forced the last link of a destiny already 
shattered." In saying this he probably ex- 
pressed the feeling of all France. 

Dumas, philosophising in late years upon 
the event of Waterloo, also attributes the 
French overthrow to Destiny, or Providence 
embodied in the forms of Wellington and 
Blucher. With this convenient explanation 
of all things, if it afford a salve to wounded 
patriotism, we need not quarrel. 

In Chateaubriand's opinion it is not only 
necessary to rob Wellington of the crown 



CHATEAUBRIAND 229 

of his victory, but to attribute to him incom- 
petence as a leader. The credit of Napoleon's 
defeat belongs to Bliicher : Wellington had 
been surprised by his great antagonist and 
compelled to accept a detestable strategic 
position where he remained trembling until 
relieved by the advancing Prussians. The 
truth is Wellington was so inseparably con- 
nected with the humiliation of France that 
Chateaubriand could not judge him dispas- 
sionately. He complains that " an Irish 
Protestant, an English general unacquainted 
with our manners and history, was charged 
to shape our destinies " ; this in view of the 
part which Wellington played in the adjust- 
ment of France's affairs after Buonaparte's 
retirement to Elba. To the legitimist soul of 
Chateaubriand the man who could say " that's 
a trifle " of Fouch6's regicide was incapable of 
understanding or directing the high destiny 
of Fouchd's country. 

It is not usual for Englishmen to think of 
the "good, grey head" as associated with 
affairs of gallantry : the memoirs, not un- 
willingly, give us a glimpse into those lighter 
moments of Wellington. They represent him 



230 CHATEAUBRIAND 

as striving to attract a glance from Juliet — 

the beautiful Madame Rdcamier — into whose 

drawing-room he strode after Waterloo with 

the triumphant words, " I have beaten him 

soundly." 

" Madame," begins his letter, " I confess I do not much , 
regret that business will prevent me from calling upon you 
after dinner, because every time I see you I leave you more 
impressed with your charms, and less disposed to give my 
attention to politics. I will call upon you to-morrow in 
case you should be in, and in spite of the effect which 
these dangerous visits will produce on your most faithful 
servant, W" 

That the duke had his own views of the 
attractions of French blue-stockings is evident 
from a letter to Lady Burghersh, dated Paris, 
1817: 

" I am on proper terms with the Stael — that is, she is con- 
foundedly afraid of me. She told a person, who repeated 
it to me, that she had done everything in her power pour 
niintiresser d elle (what does she suppose we are made of?) but 
she found I had no cceurpour V amour!" 

The memoirs' last reference to Wellington 
finds him still pursuing his career as a man 
of affairs. At a ball at Almack's, "the 
meeting - place of dandies old and young, 
amongst the old shone the victor of Water- 



CHATEAUBRIAND 231 

loo, who aired his glory like a snare for 
women stretched across the quadrilles." 

Parliament revisited gives occasion to 
melancholy reflections upon its lost glories. 
Canning is an eloquent speaker rather than 
an able politician ; a man of letters rather 
than a statesman. He is to be remembered 
by the " Needy Knife-grinder," not by dip- 
lomacy. Peel receives but a passing men- 
tion ; Lord Bathurst is noticeable only for 
good manners based on the French tradi- 
tion. Liverpool is a worthy personage with 
a reputation of piety ; the description of him 
is notable : 

" At the time when I knew him, he had almost reached the 
Puritan illumination. He lived alone with an old sister some 
miles out of London. He spoke little : his countenance was 
melancholy ; he often bent an ear and seemed to be listening to 
something sad : one would have said that he was hearing his 
years fall, like the drops of a winter's rain upon the pavement. 
For the rest he had no passions, and he lived according to 
God." 

Londonderry, the Foreign Minister of his 
day, is "a man of doubtful frankness, who 
never says what he means." In spite of his 
Celtic birth (displaying itself on occasions in 
Irish eloquence and Irish bulls) he is of a 
demeanour so impassive that "he would 



232 CHATEAUBRIAND 

not have budged if some one had caught 
him on the ear with a sausage." His tragic 
end is described in full, and derision is 
poured upon the popular notion that he de- 
stroyed himself through political despair. 
His suicide was preceded by mental aber- 
ration. George IV. told Chateaubriand that 
whilst reading a MS. he noticed that his 
minister was not listening to him, and that 
his eyes were rolling wildly about the room. 
Questioned on the cause of his discomposure, 
the marquis replied, " It is that insufferable 
John, sir, who is at the door; he will not 
go away though I am always telling him." 
The king folded up his paper and said, 
"You are ill, my lord; go home and get 
yourself bled." 

Chateaubriand had returned to England to 
find that the writings of Scott and Byron 
were in vogue ; his diary is full of references 
to them. The Scottish novelist he regards 
as the unquestioned founder of the recent 
school of historical romance, even as the 
poetry of the nineteenth century was to 
receive its first and greatest expression from 
the lips of Byron. 



CHATEAUBRIAND 233 

But he has little to say of the Wizard of 
the North in comparison with Byron, whose 
fortunes and fate appeal so strongly to him. 
Indeed, is not the English poet a descendant 
and follower of his own? Proclaiming him 
an immortal singer, the greatest poet that 
England has produced since Milton, he does 
not hesitate to affirm that Byron had 
"Rend" in view when he wrote " Childe 
Harold," "The Giaour," and "Conrad," and 
that it was that character which inspired his 
genius. In the fame of Byron, he sees a 
menace to his own: "One wishes to keep 
the sceptre, fears to share it." In the lives 
of the two poets he detects coincidences. 
Both were unhappy in their childhood, both 
were peers (and, he might have added, 
failures in the House of Peers), both loved 
the Orient and travelled widely in it, both 
nourished their youth on the Bible and on 
Ossian. Whilst the one was at Harrow, the 
other was an exile in the great city ten 
miles away ; under the elm in Harrow 
churchyard each had dreamed of his hero ; 
Byron sang of the heaths of Scotland and 
its seaside, Chateaubriand of the marshes of 



2 34 CHATEAUBRIAND 

Brittany and the sea. Of fame the English 

poet is assured : 

"Lord Byron will live, whether a child of his century he 
gave utterance, like myself and like Goethe, to its passions and 
misfortunes, or whether my circumnavigation and the lantern 
of my Gallic bark showed the vessel of Albion the track across 
unexplored waters." 

But Byron's fame even in his own day is 
passing away, and Chateaubriand reproaches 
England with her inability to understand the 
poet whose cry is so deep and so sad. He 
predicts that France will raise up altars to 
the genius of his age " when his own 
country shall have disowned him or suffered 
his memory to lapse." 

Of Byron as a man he holds a con- 
temptuous opinion as vain, misanthropic, and 
profligate. In Geneva an old boatman told 
him how Byron set sail in the teeth of a 
tempest, and leaped from the deck of his 
felucca into the waves and swam through 
the gale to the Castle of Chillon. " I am not 
so eccentric," adds Chateaubriand, lest coin- 
cidences be carried unduly far. Although he 
had never seen the writer of " Don Juan " 
in the flesh, he saw in after years the two 



CHATEAUBRIAND 235 

women who had been inseparably connected 
with his career. He draws an admirable 
distinction between them. " Madame Guic- 
cioH I met in Rome ; Lady Byron in Paris. 
Frailty and virtue thus appealed to me : the 
former had probably too many realities: the 
latter too few dreams." 

Recalled to the continent after a short 
tenure of office in London, he became 
Minister of Foreign Affairs in Paris, and 
finally under Charles X. ambassador to 
Rome. 

His references to the English population 
of that place are of the most uncomplimentary 
nature. Britannia waving her trident North, 
South, East, West, asserting her supremacy 
in all quarters of the globe, had proved a 
sufficiently exasperating spectacle to the tra- 
veller Frenchman ; in the Eternal City she 
is intolerable. When a pope dies, and 
Christendom lies in hushed suspense, it is 
an English party of festive and over-dined 
people who elect His Holiness's successor 
by a travesty of their own. It is a colony 
of Anglo - Saxons, living on the Piazza 
d'Espagna, who make great hubbubs, scorn- 



236 CHATEAUBRIAND 

fully eyeing poor mortals from top to toe, 
and who go back to their brick-red kennel 
in London with hardly a glance at the 
Coliseum. It is these foreigners who jar 
insufferably upon the convenances of the 
ambassador's reception : 

" What really clashes with the nature of the place is that 
multitude of vapid Englishmen and frivolous dandies who, 
holding each other linked by the arm, as the bats do by the 
wing, parade their eccentricity, their boredom, and their 
insolence at your receptions, and make themselves at home 
in your house as at an inn. This vagrant and swaggering 
Great Britain makes for your seats at public solemnities, and 
boxes with you to turn you out of them ; all day long it hastily 
swallows pictures and ruins, and in the evening it comes to 
swallow cakes and ices at your parties, feeling that it confers 
a great honour upon you for doing so. I do not know how an 
ambassador can endure these unmannerly guests, and why he 
does not show them the door.'' 

Even the memories of Milton — " the 
greatest Protestant poet of the seventeenth 
century and its most serious genius" — do 
not soften the asperities of the ambassador's 
offended spirit. Fit precursor of the hordes 
of tourists who should inherit his Protes- 
tantism but not his gravity, Milton casts 
upon the Campagna "a look as dry, as 
barren as his faith." Rome, in a passage 
of fine imaginative force, regards him with 



CHATEAUBRIAND 237 

displeasure : " Leaning against the Cross, 
holding the Old and New Testaments in her 
hands, with the guilty generations driven 
from Eden behind her, and the redeemed 
generations descended from the Mount of 
Olives before her, she said to the heretic 
born of yesterday : ' What do you want of 
your old mother?'" 

Lord Byron alone of all Englishmen has 
truly responded to the genius of the imperial 
city and her associations. " When Napo- 
leon's Eagle allowed Rome to escape from its 
claws, then Byron appeared at the crumbling 
walls of the Caesars : he flung his distressed 
imagination over so many ruins like a mourn- 
ing cloak. Rome, thou hadst a name, he 
gave thee another : that name will cling to 
thee ; he called thee — 

' The Niobe of nations — there she stands, 
Childless and crownless, in her voiceless woe.' " 

It was the fate of Chateaubriand, appa- 
rently, to experience the ingratitude of kings. 
Neglected by Louis XVI IL, he was abruptly 
dismissed by Charles X. from his embassy, 
and henceforth retired from public affairs. 



238 CHATEAUBRIAND 

As a politician he had risen to no dis- 
tinction, save as the author of the "War of 
the Spanish Succession," an enterprise for 
which he claims the approval of Sir Robert 
Peel. The attempt on the part of some of 
his contemporaries to injure England by- 
fomenting Irish discontent received no sup- 
port from him, for he holds that Ireland 
has everything to lose by her separation 
from Great Britain, " Ireland is only Eng- 
land's long boat; cut the painter, and the 
long boat, separated from the big ship, will 
go to wreck amid the waves." But he is 
notable as opposing the tendency which ran 
in favour of a French alliance with Eng- 
land, a tendency which found expression in 
the Crimean War. In such a confederacy 
he foresaw nothing but loss to his own 
country ; Russia is the real friend of France. 
Turkey, to him, is the incurably sick man 
whom it would be a good thing to cast into 
the Bosphorus. To discipline armies for the 
follower of the false prophet — to supply him 
with the resources of ships of war, steam- 
boats, and railways — would be not to carry 
civilisation to the East but to bring bar- 



CHATEAUBRIAND 239 

barism to the West. Russia, on the other 
hand, represents enlightenment and Chris- 
tianity; thus her presence in Constantinople 
need not of necessity be a menace to the 
peace of Europe. By geographical position, 
by sympathy, by absence of commercial 
rivalry, by the prevalence of French manners 
and the French language amongst her upper 
classes, she is the natural ally of France. 
England must be held at arm's length: her 
history is against her: she has not respected 
the liberty of nations and things : she had 
veered round to despotism or democracy ac- 
cording to the wind which blew the ships of 
the city merchants to her ports. What has 
England to offer in return for French sup- 
port? — not territory, not large subsidies, not 
armies. If she is the Mistress of the Seas, 
France comes second as a great naval Power. 
In any concerted action taken against Russia 
by the two Powers, England would alone be 
the gainer, acquiring commercial privileges 
in which France with her smaller merchant 
fleet and trade would have little share. 

In extreme old age, Chateaubriand died 
and was gathered to his fathers amidst the 



240 CHATEAUBRIAND 

homage of his countrymen. But he was des- 
tined, two years before passing, to set foot 
again upon the shores which he had visited 
as exile and ambassador. In response to 
the desire of the Comte de Chambord, the 
worn and broken old man journeyed to Eng- 
land to attest his loyalty to the legitimist 
succession he had so passionately advocated 
through a long life, and to kiss the hand of 
his uncrowned king. After a few weeks' 
affectionate intercourse with his prince and 
the informal court that surrounded him, 
Chateaubriand crossed the Straits of Dover 
for the last time. As he watched with dim 
eyes the lessening cliffs of Albion, we may 
well believe that above the rancours of the 
statesman and patriot must have risen a 
feeling, kindly and grateful, to the land 
which had been to himself and so many 
of his distressed countrymen a haven of 
rest and security. 



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DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL 
BIOGRAPHY INDEX and EPITOME 

Edited by SIDNEY LEE. 



This volume Is Intended to form a summary guUe 
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betical order. An Epitome is given of the leading 
facts and dates that have been already recorded at 
length in the pages of the original work, and there Is 
added a precise reference to the volume and page 
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