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letters are worth piles of epics, and are sure to last among us, as long as kind hearts like to sympathize with goodness and purity, and love and upright life. “If your feelings are like mine," he writes to his wife, “I will not go to Lisbon without you, or I will stay at home, and not part from you. For though not unhappy when away, still without
I am not happy. For your sake, as well as my own and little Edith's, I will not consent to any separation; the growth of a year's love between her and me, if it please God she should live, is a thing too delightful in itself, and too valuable in its consequences, to be given up for any light inconvenience on your part or mine. On these things we will talk at leisure ; only, dear, dear Edith, we must not part !”
This was a poor literary gentleman. The First Gentleman in Europe had a wife and daughter too. Did he love them so? Was he faithful to them? Did he sacrifice ease for them, or show them the sacred examples of religion and honour? Heaven gave the Great English Prodigal no such good fortune. Peel proposed to make a baronet of Southey; and to this advancement the King agreed. The poet nobly rejected the offered promotion.
“I have,” he wrote, "a pension of 2001. a year, conferred upon me by the good offices of my old friend C. Wynn, and I have the laureateship. The salary of the latter was immediately appropriated, as far as it went, to a life-insurance for 3,000l., which, with an earlier insurance, is the sole provision I have made for my family. All beyond must be derived from my own industry. Writing for a livelihood, a livelihood is all that I have gained; for, having also something better in view, and never, therefore, having courted popularity, nor written for the mere sake of gain, it has not been possible for me to lay by anything. Last year, for the first time in my life, I was provided with a year's expenditure beforehand. This exposition may show how unbecoming and unwise it would be to accept the rank which, so greatly to my honour, you have solicited for me."
How noble his poverty is, compared to the wealth of his master !
His acceptance even of a pension was made the object of his opponents' satire : but think of the merit and modesty of this State pensioner ; and that other enormous drawer of public money, who receives 100,000l. a year, and comes to Parliament with a request for 650,000l. more!
Another true knight of those days was Cuthbert Collingwood; and I think, since heaven made gentlemen, there is no record of a better one than that. Of brighter deeds, I grant you, we may read performed by others; but where of a nobler, kinder, more beautiful life of duty, of a gentler, truer heart? Beyond dazzle of success and blaze of genius, I fancy shining a hundred and a hundred times higher, the sublime purity of Collingwood's gentle glory. His heroism stirs British hearts when we recall it. His love, and goodness, and piety make one thrill with happy emotion. As one reads of him and his great comrade going into the victory with which their names are immortally connected, how the old English word comes up, and that old English feeling of what I should like to call Christian honour ! What gentlemen they were, what great hearts they had ! “We can, my dear Coll,” writes Nelson to him, “have no little jealousies; we have only one great object in view,—that of meeting the enemy, and getting a glorious peace for our country.” At Trafalgar, when the "Royal Sovereign" was pressing alone into the midst of the combined fleets, Lord Nelson said to Captain Blackwood : “See how that noble fellow, Collingwood, takes his ship into action ! How I envy him!” The very same throb and impulse of heroic generosity was beating in Collingwood's honest bosom. As he led into the fight, he said : “What would Nelson give to be here !”
After the action of the ist of June, he writes :-“We cruised for a few days, like disappointed people looking for what they could not find, until the morning of little Sarah's birthday, between eight and nine o'clock, when the French fleet, of twenty-five sail of the line, was discovered to windward. We chased them, and they bore down within about five miles of us. The night was spent in watching and preparation for the succeeding day; and many a blessing did I send forth to my Sarah, lest I should never bless her more. At dawn, we made our approach on the enemy, then drew up, dressed our ranks, and it was about eight when the admiral made the signal for each ship to engage her opponent, and bring her to close action; and then down we went under a crowd of sail, and in a manner that would have animated the coldest heart, and struck terror into the most intrepid enemy. The ship we were to engage was two ahead of the French admiral, so we had to go through his fire and that of two ships next to him, and received all their broadsides two or three times, before we fired a gun. It was then near ten o'clock. I observed to the admiral, that about that time our wives were going to church, but that I thought the peal we should ring about the Frenchman's ear would outdo their parish bells."
There are no words to tell what the heart feels in reading the simple phrases of such a hero. Here is victory and courage, but love sublimer and superior. Here is a Christian soldier spending the night before battle in watching and preparing for the succeeding day, thinking of his dearest home, and sending many blessings forth to his Sarah, “lest he should never bless her more.” Who would not say Amen to his supplication? It was a benediction to his country—the prayer of that intrepid loving heart.
We have spoken of a good soldier and good men of letters as specimens of English gentlemen of the age just past: may we not also-many of my elder hearers, I am sure, have read, and fondly remember his delightful story-speak of a good divine, and mention Reginald Heber as one of the best of English gentlemen? The charming poet, the happy possessor of all sorts of gifts and accomplishments, birth, wit, fame, high character, competence—he was the beloved parish priest in his own home of Hoderel, “counselling his people in their troubles, advising them in their difficulties, comforting them in distress, kneeling often at their sick beds at the hazard of his own life ; exhorting, encouraging where there was need; where there .was strife the peace-maker; where there was want the free giver."
When the Indian bishopric was offered to him he refused at first; but after communing with himself (and committing his case to the quarter whither such pious men are wont to carry their doubts), he withdrew his refusal, and prepared himself for his mission and to leave his beloved parish. “Little children, love one another, and forgive one another," were the last sacred words he said to his weeping people. He parted with them, knowing, perhaps, he should • see them no more. Like those other good men of whom we have just spoken, love and duty were his life's aim. Happy he, happy they who were so gloriously faithful to both! He writes to his wife those charming lines on his journey :
" If thou, my love, wert by my side, my babies at my knee,
How gladly would our pinnace glide o'er Gunga's mimic sea !
Is it not Collingwood and Sarah, and Southey and Edith ? His affection is part of his life. What were life without it? Without love, I can fancy no gentleman.
How touching is a remark Heber makes in his “ Travels through India," that on inquiring of the natives at a town, which of the governors of India stood highest in the opinion of the people, he found that, though Lord Wellesley and Warren Hastings were honoured as the two greatest men who had ever ruled this part of the world, the people spoke with chief affection of Judge Cleaveland, who had died, aged twenty-nine, in 1784. The people have built a monument over him, and still hold a religious feast in his memory. So does his own country still tend with a heart's regard the memory of the gentle Heber.
And Cleaveland died in 1784, and is still loved by the heathen, is he? Why, that year 1784 was remarkable in the life of our friend the First Gentleman of Europe. Do you not know that he was twenty-one in that year, and opened Carlton House with a grand ball to the nobility and gentry, and doubtless wore that lovely pink coat which we have described. I was eager to read about the ball, and looked to the old magazines for information. The entertainment took place on the roth February. In the European Magazine of March, 1784, I came straightway upon it:
“The alterations at Carlton House being finished, we lay before our readers a description of the state apartments as they appeared on the ioth instant, when H.R.H. gave a grand ball to the principal nobility and gentry.
The entrance to the state room fills the mind with an inexpressible idea of greatness and splendour.
“ The state chair is of a gold frame, covered with crimson damask; on each corner of the feet is a lion's head, expressive of fortitude and strength; the feet of the chair have serpents twining round them, to denote wisdom. Facing the throne, appears the helmet of Minerva ; and over the windows, glory is represented by Saint George with a superb gloria.
“ But the saloon may be styled the chef d'æuvre, and in every ornament discovers great invention. It is hung with a figured lemon satin. The window-curtains, sofas, and chairs are of the same colour. The ceiling is ornamented with emblematical paintings, representing the Graces and Muses, together with Jupiter, Mercury, Apollo, and Paris. Two ormolu chandeliers are placed here. It is impossible by expression to do justice to the extraordinary workmanship, as well as design, of the ornaments. They