Page images
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

stant a spur to her husband, in the career of his ambition, as she had been to her servants in their culinary employments: an Italian author assures us, that Cromwell would never have assumed the government if it had not been at the instigations of his wife. She survived Cromwell fourteen years, and at the time of the restoration she very prudently stole out of town, and hved for the remainder of her days in obscurity; it is asserted by a respectable author that she ended her days in Switzerland.

MRs. bridget den dish.

As Cromwell raised himself to so high a pinnacle of greatness, his family may truly be classed amongst the illustrious ; and in speaking of the members of that family, it would be unfair not to mention that extraordinary woman his grandaughter, Bridget Ireton, who became the wife of Thomas Bendish, Esq. This female descendant resembled him more than any one of his family, both in countenance and character. On some occasions she appeared with all the gorgeous show and dignity of a Princess; at others as the lowest drudge, being as laborious as she was intelligent in the management of her salt-works. When

known to break her promise; but in common conversation she never paid any regard to truth, and no one dared to repeat any news as intelligence which she told them. Her charity was ample, and was the effect of her heart's feelings as well as her hand; to exercise it she left her debts unpaid. Her piety was tinctured with enthusiasm; on particular occasions she would retire to her closet, fast, meditate, and pray, till she worked up her spirit to a degree of rapture; and then she would regulate the rule of her conduct by the first text of scripture that occurred to her, and which she looked upon as a divine revelation. She would frequently fawn, dissemble, and prevaricate, for the most low, and often sinister purposes: and she was, in short, both the jest and admiration of all her friends, and even of her servants, who, nevertheless, declared her to be one of the best

of mistresses. She looked on, and revered her grandfather as a most consummate hero and dignified saint.

[ocr errors][merged small]

vourite daughter of Oliver Cromwell: the most remarkable incident in her life is, that

she had completely harassed herself with | when on her death-bed, she sent for her work, she cared not where she slept, nor father, upbraided him with the blood he what she ate or drank. Never, in one in. had spilt, and spoke for some time with

stance, was her presence of mind known to forsake her; and she was an utter stranger to fear.

Her residence was at South-Town,

uncommon emphasis on his cruelty to Dr. John Hewit, whom he had caused to be beheaded for collecting money for the un

near Yarmouth; and sometimes, after a day, fortunate and fugitive King Charles il. to of hard drudgery, she would go to the Yar-i support him in his exile. Her remonmouth Assembly, where the loftiness of her strances sunk deep on the mind of the manner, and superiority of her understand- | usurper: his conscience took the alarm, ing, never failed to procure her honour and and it is said, he never enjoyed peace from

respect. On no one occasion was she ever

that moment.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

endangering the safety of the state, the repose of the best of husbands, and all the rights of his children by a former marriage, to satisfy her ambitious views in favour of her son Charles; and to this effect she fomented the misunderstanding between Louis and his eldest son, in order to make him declare in favour of Charles, who was crowned by his father, the monarch placing the sword by his side with his own hands, by the advice and with the approbation of all the nobles. Judith spared nothing in testifying her joy; the most splendid fetes were given, and yet the happiness of this ambitious woman was clouded over by Louis Germanicus having seized on the states of Charles as far as the Rhine, and Louis was languishing on a bed of sickness.

After the death of Louis, her children and

those by the first marriage of the King, were ready to tear each other in pieces; her exorbitant demands for her son rendered her odious in the eyes of the nation, though during the life of Louis she never lost that hold she had of his affections.

ANToi NETTE DE PONs, MARchion ess of GU Ertchew ILLE. To this beautiful female who subdued the heart of the fickle Henry IV. of France, another once equally lovely in person, was obliged to yield, and give up for ever her once infatuated lover. Brought up at the polite and effeminate court of Henry Ill. Antoinette was possessed of that elegance and courtly ease which marks the wellborn woman in every station, and which low-born wealth, with all the aids of finery and show, attempts to ape in vain. Antoinette had contracted the etiquette of court politeness, without imbibing any of its defects; it was no wonder then that she triumphed over the Countess de Guiche, who had scarce appeared twice at court.

Young, lovely, and accustomed to admiration, the virtue of Antoinette had yet triumphed over every seduction of a luxu

rious court; it is not, however, likely that she could view the conquest she had made over the heart of Henry with indifference. However, her triumph did not so far bewilder her understanding as to cause her defeat. The King continued to vanquish his enemies, but made no decided conquest over the mind and principles of the Marchioness. This caused him to descend to proposals of marriage, but Madame de Guercheville had rectitude and judgment sufficient to point out to him the absurdity of such a step, nor was she more moved by these proposals than by any others which he had employed to overthrow her scruples. The passion of Henry fancied there could be no impropriety in elevating the widow of a real gentleman to the throne; but this did not accord with the ideas of a woman of such a character as the Marchioness ; and her refusals were accompanied with so much firmness that the King, at length, was compelled to acknowledge the inutility of his pursuits. Henry, touched with so much merit, now sought only to procure for Antoinette a husband worthy of such a treasure, and accordingly married her to Charles Duplessis, Seigneur de Liancourt, afterwards Governor of Paris; and told his bride, that since he had found her indeed a lady of honour, she should be appointed to be that of the Queen on the day of his marriage. He did not forget his promise, and Madame de Guercheville was named first lady of honour to Mary de Medicis. She went in that quality to receive the Queen at Marseilles, and followed that Princess to Lyons. She served for many years as a model and example to the whole court, where she was cited as a rare proof of what personal virtue is able to withstand against the most insidious and attractive temptations. She

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]




affairs of the utmost importance, stopped at Lyons to deliver a packet from his Ma

jesty to the Archbishop, who taking the Being very plainly clad, the Grand || bearer for only an ordinary person, asked Marshal, dispatched from the King on || him whether there was any thing new at

historical, AND select ANecdotes,

[blocks in formation]

the fair. He often said, that after men had been throwing up heaps of rubbish, involving a subject in more dense obscurity, a lady with one sweep of her vivacious unprejudiced mind, clears off the obstruction, and brings the moles of erudition into cloudless day. The Doctor, who detested all incroachments on civil or religious liberty, once nearly lost all temper with a zealot of his national church, extolling Calvin and John Knox, as though the uncharitable violence with which they propagated their tenets had been highly meritorious. The well-meaning, but mistaken minister, maintained that as the armies of earthly potentates are in duty bound to employ all means to vanquish their enemies, so must they that fight the good fight of faith call forth every engine of power to

[ocr errors]

discomfit the unbelieving. A lady who saw the disputants growing too warm, closed the debate by observing :-" It is very true, reverend Sir, that the military servants of temporal monarchs ought to hazard their own lives, and slay their opponents in defence of royalty; but permit me to ask, do they not in thousands unsheath the sword because no mere mortal o single-handed encounter a host? The Lord of hosts, with a single fiat, can annihilate his presumptuous foes; and to me it seems arrogance, not piety, to suppose the Omnipotent requires our feeble aid." Dr. Smollet valued these few words as deciding the controversy regarding liberty or constraint of conscience with more luminous conviction than volumes of polemic divinity.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Though the heinous crime of childstealing has been most horribly prevalent during the latter end of the last century and the commencement of the present, yet the | following anecdote is sufficient to prove that it was not unknown (although it was not pronounced as it ought to be, felony deserving of death) even in the year 1739. When Madame de Cambis, the wife of the French Ambassador at that period, was, on the death of her husband, preparing to return to her native country, she had the good fortune to reclaim a child that had been stolen from a President de Parliament. About two months before, the parents had sent over a description of their lost child; and one day as Madame de Cambis’s woman was crossing the hall of their house she saw a beggar woman at the door with so lovely a child that the waiting-maid

would carry it up to the Ambassadress. The moment that lady beheld it she saw it answered exactly to the description of the President's child; and though it was all in rags, she remarked it had on its head a black velvet cap curiously embroidered, and which she knew to be French work. On examining the child more closely, she also discovered a mark on its person which had been designated in the description. The interesting little creature was between four and five years of age, and Madame de Cambis, deeply affected, asked her if the beggar woman was her mother?—“Yes,” said the child; “ but I had another mamma once."—On this she retained the child, and its parests dispatched one of their family to England, who

duced a clock. Encouraged by his success he proceeded in various attempts, and in time produced an automaton which played on a flute.

A NECIdote or ha Nidre L.

| HAN DEL had received a present of a dozen of excellent champaigne; the quantity was too small to present before his friends, he therefore reserved the delicious nectar for a private sip. Some time after, a party of friends were dining with him; he longed for a glass of his champaign, but could not think of a device for leaving | the company. Of a sudden he assumed a | musing attitude, and, striking his forehead with his finger, he cried out, “I have got one tought / I have got one tought" (mean

|ing thought). The company, imagining that he had gone to commit to paper some divine harmonious idea, saw him depart origin or the uscow.wos cesius of with silent admiration. He returned to his WAUCAN So N FOR MECHANICS. friends, and very soon he had a second, When very young this extraordinary third, and fourth tought. A wag suspectgenius used frequently to attend his mother ling the frequency of St. Cecilia's calls, folto confession, and while she was weeping lowed Handel to an adjoining room, saw with penitence, the poor child was weeping him enter a closet, embrace his loved chamwith weariness. In this state he was struck |paign, and swallow, repeatedly, doses of with the motion of the pendulum of a clock || the divine liquor. The discovery commuin the hall. His curiosity was roused; he nicated infinite mirth to the company, and approached the clockcase and examined Handel's tought became very soon prothe mechanism. He projected a similar || Verbial. machine, and by degrees his genius pro

knew it was the same child that had been lost. *


GEon GE Roxt N EY (cox TINUEn).

It was at Christmas, 1775, that Romney took possession of his house in Cavendish-square; he was in the prime of life, his health much improved, and his art perfected by his foreign studies. A nervous irritability, however, so common in men of extraordinary genius, continually depressed him, and damped his happy prospects: he trembled at the idea of not finding sufficient business to support him; but his friends were all anxious in their endeavours to procure him full employment. The late Duke of Richmond was one of the first sitters to him after his return from Italy, and his Grace ever after shewed the kindest solicitude to promote the artist in

the line of his profession. Romney loved honour more than gold; his fancy was creative, but he was ignorant of anatomy, and therefore, perhaps, could not draw the human form with truth in all its various attitudes: he had painted faces so incessantly that to paint a new one was his chief delight. Hence the portraits he produced were innumerable; and it was his favourite object to paint a series of them from the countenance of the philanthropic Howard. He was also singularly happy in the likenesses he took of the great historian Gibbon; and his portrait of him is infinitely better than that taken by Sir Joshua Reynolds, because the spirit and intelligence of Gibbon's mind shines through the coun


tenance which nature had given him, and is reflected on his own disposition, the more which, taken in the mass, exhibited no- he found it better for him to set bounds to thing of that brilliant genius of one of the his passion to popularity; but he often first historians in the world. | lamented the fetters of his profession, and Lord Thurlow used sportively to say, ! without reflecting on long continued habit, “Reynolds and Romney divide the town; and how firmly she holds her sway over I am of the Romney faction." His Lord-, human pursuits, he pleased himself with ship was painted by both these eminent | the idea of one day shaking off his shackles. artists, when Chancellor, at full length, ! His mind was never enslaved by the gold and both painters did him equal justice. he gained, he threw money away as rapidly But Lord Thurlow had a great personal as he acquired it. His pleasure was real regard for Romney; he was always de- | and infinite in painting a new face, exsirous of encouraging painting, and ex- | clusive of pecuniary consideration, and his pressed a strong desire that Romney would heart was so sympathetic that if he had execute a picture for him of the story of made a resolution not to take another fresh Orpheus and Eurydice, from Virgil; but | portrait, yet a lover requesting that of his Romney, despairing of pleasing his patron, | beloved, a mother that of her darling child, never began the picture. This did not | would melt, in a moment, his resolves. lessen his Lordship's esteem for the artist In 1786 the late Alderman Boyden of whom he purchased those four sweet |opened an high occupation to the painters pictures of Serena, from Mr. Hayley's o of this country, by the iinportant project of charming poem, The Triumphs of Temper. the Shakespeare Gallery. The professional In the autumn of 1784, Romney paid this # and patriotic enthusiasm of Romney kindled

elegant author, and the painter's best bio-
grapher, a visit at Eartham; where he
charmed every one by displaying the ver-
satility of his talents, and shewing his skill
in sculpture as well as in painting. Mr.
Hayley had formed a rustic grotto as an
entrance to a sequestered walk; and it
was his wish to render it a sort of modest
mausoleum to the memory of his friend
Thornton. Romney was charmed with the
idea, and modelled a little figure of Afflicted
Friendship, in the form of a reclining fe-
male, to rest on a sepulchral vase. The
figure was elegant, and its expression
powerfully pathetic; but to use the words
of Mr. Hayley, “it perished in that de-
structive neglect by which my overbusied
friend was too apt to injure, and demolish,
a multitude of his various projected works."
The business of painting portraits so in-
creased, that he could scarce find a few
minutes of leisure, except when the decline
of day prevented his distinguishing his
Romney united in his character much
timid reserve with an enterprising ardor;
he had much ambition, but wanted that
mild wisdom and conciliating manner
which raised Reynolds to his high and well

merited dignity: the hasty disposition of

Romney would have rendered him distracted in such a situation; the more he

| at the idea, and in the most liberal manner
| he immediately offered to devote his powers
to a project which must interest ever lover
of the arts in England.
| In one of Romney's autumnal visits to
Eartham, Mr. Hayley exhorted him to
| study and paint some very striking scene
from the life of the Czar Peter the Great,
and to send it as a present to the Empress
| Catharine. The idea pleased the painter,
| but that of painting from Shakespeare was
| much more alluring to his imagination;
for no one had a more keen perception of
|| the powers of that wonderful poet than
Mr. Pitt sat to him in July, 1783; and
such was the speed and popularity of
Romney's pencil, that he painted at the
rate of a portrait a day. In executing some
of his fancy pictures he had the advantage
of studying the features and mental cha-
racter of a lady on whom nature had lavish-
ed singular beauty and talents, and she
became the favourite model of Romney,
for whom the lady, in return, felt the most
filial affection and esteem. This was the
once highly celebrated Lady Hamilton :
her features could exhibit every feeling of
nature, and the progression of every senti-
ment with the most bewitching expression.
Romney took delight in the command she
exhibited over her flexible features, and

« PreviousContinue »