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Was called to the Bar, both of England and Scotland,
His death was deeply felt,
Of merits universally acknowledged,
A. D. 1823.
This inscription resembles a few others which the reader has already been invited to admire in the course of the work :—it is a pattern in its own style—it relates with elegant brevity, and great good feeling, the main facts which distinguished the life, and whatever traits elevated the character, of the individual it commemorates; of one whose time was either consumed in study, or confined to mere professional avocations, it is proverbial that but little can be told; but that little dwindles away, and becomes reduced almost to nothing, when the subject falls prematurely into his grave. Such was the case with Mr. Horuer, a gentleman, who, to uncommon powers of mind, added uncommon application and acquirements; but of whom the only particulars that are preserved, save those recited on his monument, are these few. The place of his birth was the old town of Edinburg : the day of it, August the 12th. He was educated at the university of his native city, and called to the Scotch bar in 1798, and the English in 1805. He first became known to the public as a contributor to the Edinburg Review, a periodical, which was the best beyond comparison of any that preceded it, and which has not as yet been surpassed. He was one of the first of those who projected that publication, and long continued one of the ablest of the very able writers who co-operated to establish its reputation. As a barrister, his pracsice lay chiefly in appeals to the House of Lords, and as a statesman he was more particularly an authority in matters of finance. Of his profundity in this most abstruse of all the subjects in poliscal economy, the speech which he pronounced upon the bullion question, in 1810, supplies extraordinary evidence. The delivery of ii occupied four hours, and perhaps no address was ever istened to with more attention, or admired for deeper merits. Connected with his senatorial capacity, it only remains to be added, that he entered the House of Commons in 1806, as member for the borough of St. Mawes, and consequently sat in three parliaments. He once filled, but did not long retain, a situation under Government-it was a commissionership for the liquidation of the Carnatic claims. The disease under which he perish. ed, was a constitutional consumption, which began to distress him early in life, and by enervating him the more, the farther his years advanced, seriously impeded his pursuits. Thus he was first obliged to abandon the practice of his profession, and then to suspend his attendance in Parliament. He went to Italy, flattered with hopes that a milder climate might invigorate his debility, and restore his constitution ; but the expectation was utterly vain.
From this so barren a biography it would appear, that it was the character of the man which caused him to be highly esteemed and so deeply regretted: and such in reality was the case, for in this respect the panegyric of his epitaph does not at all exceed the truth. To that character the best and most authoritative testimony was borne, when, according to the forms of the House of Commons, a new writ was moved for a member to supply the seat vacated by his death. Upon that occasion personal friends and political opponents united in his praises, and thus is the historian assured, that he was a staunch Whig less conspicuous for eloquence than principles, and pre-eminently admirable for the invariable rectitude of his conduct, both as a public or a private man. His style of speaking was clear, grave, and decent; never tinged with the lightest air of vanity or presumption, and never tainted by the smallest particle of rancour or personality. If at times he did happen to rise above the tone of sincere moderation, it was only when animated with pity for unwarrantable distress, with indignation at the horrors of a slave trade, or zeal for the impartiality of justice, and the inviolability of the constitution. In friendship he was constant and affectionate; high-minded, and disinterested in his motives, uncompromising and imperturbable in his actions, and so very modest and reserved in his habits, as to appear cold and unsensitive to those who did not enjoy an intimacy with him. This tribute of praise nothing can exceed : it has neither been disputed nor contradicted, and consequently by no other can such a panegyric be supposed to have been better deserved.
The first monument erected in St. Paul's Cathedral was raised to the memory of John Howard, in 1795, and opened to public inspection during the following year. It stands near the great iron gate, leading into the south aisle, and was executed by John Bacon, R.A. It is a plain but significant statue, representing the philanthropist, in the Roman costume, trampling on fetters, and bearing in his right hand a key, and in his left a roll, on which are inscribed the words, ‘PLAN FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF PRISONS AND HOSPITALS. The front of the pedestal is filled with a piece of basso-relievo, in which a prison scene is introduced, with a figure distributing food and raiment. The epitaph was written by Howard's relation, the late Samuel Whitbread, M. P. and is engraved on the south side of the pedestal :
This extraordinary man had the fortune to be honoured while living in the manner which his virtues deserved:
He received the Thanks
and to Mankind.
and to the estimation in which he was held.
In every part of the civilized world,
His modesty alone
to erect this statue, which the public has now consecrated to his memory. He was born at Hackney, in the County of Middlesex, Sept. 2d,
at Cardington, in Bedfordshire;
in the year 1773. He expired at Cherson, in Russian Tartary, on the 20th Jan.
for the plague.
May this tribute to his fame
As the time and place of Howard's birth are specified in this epitaph, it only remains to speak of his parentage. His father was a reputable citizen of London, who kept a warehouse for carpeting and upholstery in Long Lane, Smithfield. He died while his son was yet a boy, but left him, and an only sister, provided with easy fortunes. Notwithstanding the sufficiency of his means, however, young Howard received no better instructions than are ordinarily given to the child of a tradesman: his guardians were men of business, and seem not to have entertained a higher destination for him, than that of being as good a man as his father had been, and after the same way. With these views they apprenticed him to a wholesale grocer, but various circumstances fortunately prevented him from completing the service. His health, naturally delicate, was much affected by the confinement imposed upon him; the dull routine of his occupations, lightened by no variety, and endeared by no information, disgusted the activity of his mind, and after some remonstrances, he bought up his indentures, and set out for the Continent, where he made a tour of France and Italy.
Returning to England, with health improved, but by no means confirmed, he fixed his abode at Stoke Newington, in the house of Mrs. Lardeau. This lady had been an invalid for some years; and either from the force of habit, or the impulse of sympathy, was induced to make Mr. Howard's residence with her agreeable by all that assiduity of delicate attentions which a woman can always make so charming, and which those only who have felt its gratefulness can fully appreciate. That this conduct was disinterested, is stated in all the accounts, and it appears but natural that it should have been so: the widow was broken with infirmities, and double his age. With all these drawbacks, however, she captivated the heart of the young friend to the cause of humanity; he tendered his hand for her acceptance, and, after some little remonstrance, and partial hesitation, they were married during the year 1752. She had a small fortune, which he good-naturedly bestowed upon her sister—without a doubt, to the additional satisfaction of both parties.
Of those early habits by which, in some instances, the character of future greatness has been prematurely indicated, there is nothing known in the case of John Howard. However strongly the propensities of his mind may have been indicated, or the bias of his actions declared, there was no one to take an interest in tracing the developement, and thus the story of his growing philanthropy is lost to the world. Nor is there much. preserved that is distinctive of his habits in the first stage of manhood. We are only told that he read with deep attention, and used to mount his pony with a book in his hand, and diverge into a common, where the animal was suffered to graze about at its leisure, until he finished the volume. Moral and scientific subjects chiefly occupied his attention, and his attainments, if not profound, were various and respectable. He cultivated an ac