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The Life of William Roscoe
Chapter XVII. 1820-1823

Vol I. Contents
Chapter I. 1753-1781
Chapter II. 1781-1787
Chapter III. 1787-1792
Chapter IV. 1788-1796
Chapter V. 1795
Chapter VI. 1796-1799
Chapter VII. 1799-1805
Chapter IX. 1806-1807
Chapter X. 1808
Chapter XI. 1809-1810
Vol II. Contents
Chapter XII. 1811-1812
Chapter XIII. 1812-1815
Chapter XIV. 1816
Chapter XV. 1817-1818
Chapter XVI. 1819
‣ Chapter XVII. 1820-1823
Chapter XVIII. 1824
Chapter XIX. 1825-1827
Chapter XX. 1827-1831
Chapter XXI.
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Termination of the affairs of Mr. Roscoe in bankruptcy.—Letters to Mr. M’Creery and Sir J. E. Smith.—His certificate disputed.—He retires to Chat Moss.—Recurs to the perusal of the Italian poets.—Translation from Dante.—His attention again drawn to penal jurisprudence.—Letter expressing his motives for the promulgation of his opinions.—His hesitation between continuing in active life or retiring.—Letter considering and determining this doubt.—Allowance of his certificate.—He returns to Liverpool—retires finally from business.—Sum of money raised for him by his friends.—He again visits Holkham.—Letters from that place.—Literary Projects—visits London—letters from thence—prepares a Catalogue of the MSS. at Holkham—letters to Mr. M’Creery describing his labours—to his daughter.—Lines to Lady Anson on her Birthday.—Letter to Mrs. Rathbone—returns to Liverpool—receives proposals to publish a series of the Italian Authors.—Letters to Mr. Valpy—to Sir J. E. Smith.—Publication of the “Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici.”—Writers whom he refutes—M. Sismondi and others.—It is translated into Italian by S. Pecchioli—letter to him.—Letter from M. Sismondi.—Mr. Roscoe’s reply—becomes acquainted with M. Sismondi.—Publication of the “Memoir of Richard Roberts Jones,” and account of him.—Letter to Dr. Parr.—Anecdotes of R. R. Jones—his portrait, etched by Mrs. Dawson Turner.—Letter to Mr. D. Turner.—Sonnet written while publishing the Memoirs of R. R. Jones,—Mr.
Roscoe removes to Lodge Lane—letter to his daughter.—Dr. Aikin—letters to him on the publication of the “Life of Huet,” &c.—Mr. Roscoe’s contributions to the Athenæum.—Death of Dr. Aikin.—Letter to Miss Aikin.—He proceeds with the “Life of Pope”—Again visits Holkham.—Letters from that place.—Liverpool Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery.—Mr. Roscoe chosen president.—Draws up a Declaration of the Objects of the Society.—His views as to the best mode of effecting emancipation.

The difficulties of carrying into effect the proposed scheme of settling the affairs of the bank continuing to increase, a very small body of the creditors determined to resort to legal proceedings. Two or three actions were commenced; and as it was impossible for Mr. Roscoe to satisfy these persons by the payment of their demands, which would have been an act of injustice to the other creditors, he was compelled to confine himself to his house in order to preserve his personal liberty. It now became obvious, that the further prosecution of the plan which had so deeply engaged his thoughts, and so completely occupied his time since the suspension of the payments of the bank, had become impossible; and a commission of bankruptcy having issued, all the partners in the concern were declared bankrupts. Thus the blow which Mr. Roscoe had so long endeavoured to avert at length descended upon him; but his fortitude and submission enabled him to bear with composure the destruction of the hopes he had so long cherished.
The feelings of his mind under this calamity are well represented in the following short extract from a letter to
Mrs. Rathbone:—

“Yesterday, my ever dear friend, my long struggle terminated, and I resigned myself to my inevitable lot, neither sullen nor desponding, but with a calm consciousness that every effort on my part had been made to avert it; and with a firm reliance, that however painful the dispensation may prove, it will be productive of substantial and final good.”

In another letter to Sir James Smith he says, “As to my unfortunate partnership concerns, you will have heard that, after all my labour, I have been obliged to relinquish the management into other hands; but, notwithstanding this, I by no means regret the effort. If I have not been able (chiefly from the wretched state of the times, and the fall in all kinds of property,) to accomplish what I expected, I have done more than could otherwise be effected, and this will be a consolation to me under any circumstances in which I can be placed.”

The final surrender of his property, and of the management of it into other hands, did not prevent those creditors who had resorted to legal proceedings from still pursuing them; and it was only by the allowance of his certificate of conformity that his person could be protected. The
sense entertained of his conduct by the great body of his creditors was manifested by the almost unexampled celerity with which the requisite number of signatures were affixed to the certificate; but in consequence of a petition against its allowance being presented to the Chancellor by two of the individuals who wished to render their proceedings at law available against his person, the protection which the certificate would have afforded was delayed for several months. During this interval of painful suspense
Mr. Roscoe retired to his farm at Chat Moss, where he was compelled to confine himself wholly to the house, debarred even from the exercise necessary to his health. Harassing as this situation was, his mind still remained undepressed; and his letters to his family were full of the unaffected cheerfulness with which he bore the annoyances and inconveniences of his confinement.

Disengaged at length from the deep anxieties with which for the last four years his life had been attended, he recurred with natural ardour to those pleasant pursuits which had been so often the employment of his happier days. He endeavoured, and not without success, to dismiss from his mind the unavailing regrets which the recollection of the past occasioned, and to apply himself anew to the literary studies for which he still
felt so high a relish. Two subjects in particular pressed upon his attention,—the defence of his historical works against the criticisms of
M. de Sismondi and others, and some additional observations on the question of penal jurisprudence. In prosecuting the former subject, the Italian poets again came under his notice; and the gratification which their pages afforded him is expressed in the following letter:—

“During my visit here, I have passed many delightful hours in reading Italian poetry, and have had great pleasure in tracing the similarity of sentiment which exists between minds of a similar character, that derive their chief happiness from the exercise of warm and exalted affections; till at length I have convinced myself that there is a community of feeling amongst them wholly independent of chance or circumstance, presence or absence, time or place. Of this I could adduce many beautiful illustrations; but at present I shall only refer to a little detached piece of the celebrated Dante, in which he seems to have sketched the first idea of his Beatrice, whom he has also introduced in his ‘Paradiso’ as his guide through the celestial regions, and whom he appears to have regarded with a warmth and delicacy of passion far beyond what is found in the writings of any other poet, even of Petrarca himself.

“‘Of loveliest feature and of lightest form,
A stranger here, to glad your sight I come,
With interview of heaven—pleas’d to perform
The task assign’d—then seek my native home—
Scattering delight where’er my course I bend,
That whoso sees me, and refrains from love,
Of love is all insensible,—for when
Nature, from Him whose gracious will did send
Me here, entreated I might be, oh! then
To perfect me with beauty all things strove:
The stars rain’d lustre in my eyes, that beam’d
With mild attemper’d light, and heavenly charms
In earthly mould were first to mortals shown:
Yet not alike on all this radiance flam’d;
His heart alone the glow celestial warms,
Who from another’s bliss derives his own.’—
This sentence once ’t was mine to trace,
Bright beaming from an angel’s face,
But by too ardent passion fir’d
I nearly at the sight expir’d;
Nor for the deep and hopeless wound,
Sent from those eyes of heavenly blue—
By one whose power too well I knew,
Have I as yet a balsam found.”

Since the publication of his tract on penal jurisprudence, in the year 1819, the attention of Mr. Roscoe had continued to be directed to the same important and interesting enquiries. The additional information which he had derived from America, so valuable in every respect, and the animadversions which had been made in some quarters upon his opinions, had induced him to
contemplate a second publication on the same subject; though, at the same time, the small share of public notice bestowed upon his former work almost discouraged him from making any further attempt. In this state of mind he addressed the following letter from Chat Moss to a friend who had always taken the greatest interest in these efforts to disseminate better principles of criminal jurisprudence:—

“I fear I shall be able to give you but an indifferent account of the progress of the work to which you have given rise, and in which you take so deep an interest; but the beauty of the season, the salubrity of the air, the pleasure of observing the operations of agriculture, and, above all, the delight of exercising one’s limbs, after having been kept for some time within narrow bounds, have hitherto prevented me from accomplishing as much as I expected from the leisure of which this very retired situation admits. But this is not all. To say the truth, I have been in some degree disheartened by the unfavourable aspect of the times, and the idea of the improbability, not to say absurdity, of supposing that the statement of a few simple truisms, already expressed in a manner far beyond my power to equal, can produce any effect on the violence of party spirit, and the cold, uncharitable, and quarrelsome state of the public mind.

“Under these impressions, I yesterday took a
longer walk over the Moss than some of my friends would perhaps have approved; and had the satisfaction to observe some small plantations, of only a few years’ growth, flourishing in great vigour in the native soil; a circumstance which led me to reflect, with some self-reproof, on my own negligence or mistake, in not having long ago planted this extensive waste in a similar manner, by which it would, at this time, have been highly valuable. On examining into the cause of this error, I found it had arisen from the conviction that the Moss soil would not grow plants of any value, being of too cold and intractable a nature; and, consequently, that the labour and expense of planting upon it would be thrown away. The evidence to the contrary now before my eyes served, however, to correct this mistake; and, as the proverb says, ‘It is never too late to mend,’ I should, probably, if now in my power, avail myself of my past omission.

“Leaving this, however, to events over which I have no control, I could not help applying the same reasoning to another subject, in which I am equally interested; and asking myself whether, in abandoning our projected publication, I was not falling into the same error of which I had before been guilty, and that too on a subject of infinitely greater importance. ‘How do I know,’ I said to myself, ‘that sentiments and
feelings sincerely given to the public may be without their effect? Or why am I to take it for granted that good seed, if sown, will not vegetate; or just principles, if planted, will not flourish amongst mankind?’ If at the present moment I feel the bitterness of regret in not having raised plantations in this wilderness, what sensations shall I feel if I should ever become conscious that I might have done some essential service to my fellow-creatures, and had neglected it under the idea that it was improbable, from their intractable dispositions, that it could produce any beneficial effect?

“Reflections of this kind once more recalled the determination with which I left you, and I now intend to proceed with my undertaking as expeditiously as my circumstances will permit.”

“There are,” says Mr. Roscoe, in his “Life of Pope,” “certain periods in a person’s life, as there are certain stations in the course of a traveller, when he thinks it proper to look back on the track he has passed, for the purpose of reviewing what he has accomplished, and of estimating whether the strength he has left be sufficient to finish what yet remains to be done.” One of these periods had now arrived in the life of Mr. Roscoe, when, after a painful retrospect of the past, it became his duty to determine his course of life for the future.


While the affairs of the bank remained under his management, the only object he had in view was their final and satisfactory adjustment. He was, it is true, a partner in the new banking house, but the active direction of that concern was necessarily left to the other partners. He was now once more the master of his own time, and it became a matter of great consideration, in what manner his future life should be disposed of. Harassed and grieved as he had been at the failure of his plan for the payment of all the creditors in full, and worn down by the incessant labour and anxiety of superintending his affairs, he was strongly tempted to take this opportunity of retiring at once from all active pursuits, and of passing the remainder of his life in the seclusion of Chat Moss. But the reflection that, even at his advanced period of life, his personal exertions might still be rendered available in the service of his family, and of the public, induced him to abandon the idea of retirement, and to return once more to the active duties of life. In the following letter he has disclosed very fully the motives which influenced him to adopt this resolution:—“The question, which ever since the unfortunate result of our bank concerns has occupied my thoughts by night and by day, has been whether it is incumbent on me, in duty to my family, my friends, my character, and my peace of mind, to continue (if practicable) in
public life, or to withdraw myself into a retired situation.

“This question I have placed in every point of view of which it is capable; but the fact is, the decision was prematurely sought for, and could not be made until many previous results, of which the great event before alluded to is a principal one, were first ascertained.

“Without troubling you with the reasons on each side, I can now say, that unless I meet with some unfavourable circumstances, of which I am not at present aware, I mean to devote myself to the former, and if I receive encouragement, to resume an active course of life; and in saying this I have the satisfaction of thinking I shall meet the wishes of all those who are nearest and dearest to me. I dare not, however, venture to acknowledge how much this sacrifice costs me. It seems to me the final relinquishment and extinction of all the hopes and prospects of my youth—the abandonment of that state of leisure and retirement, for the enjoyment of which, at its proper period, I had endeavoured to make the best preparation which a busy life had afforded me.

“I will not, however, deny that these feelings, severe as they may be, are counterbalanced by others of an opposite tendency, and that the flattering hope that I may yet be able to render my humble efforts at utility serviceable to those
to whom I am so greatly indebted,—that I may experience the benefits of those public institutions to the establishment of which I have in some degree contributed, and above all, that I may enjoy the friendship and society of those to whom I am bound, more by the ties of affection than even by those of gratitude,—has reconciled me to a result which I should once have thought it would have been impossible for me to sustain.

“The struggle is now over; and I shall willingly persuade myself, that even in the most selfish point of view it is for my own happiness—that a state of retirement would not have satisfied the cravings of a restless mind, and that in the active performance of that, which I cannot but feel to be my duty, I shall find my best reward.

“This determination being once made, brings with it many consequences of considerable importance in the arrangement of my concerns, and clears the way as to my future conduct. Involved as I have been, rather by unsought-for inducements, than by premeditated intention, in several extensive undertakings, I have at least derived from them a conviction of the impolicy of being led into engagements of this nature, in which I have been accountable for the errors of others as well as my own. Since I came to this place, it is true, I have found reason to form
a still more favourable opinion of my agricultural improvements than I before entertained, and have little doubt but that, by proper measures, this great undertaking may be rendered productive of considerable benefit. But this no longer rests with me. If I am again destined to my station in the centre of a busy town, I cannot but see that these objects are become incompatible. The public judge, and can only judge, by the result; and I can only expect the public confidence, by cutting off every engagement and employment which can be supposed to interfere with my more important pursuits. I have, therefore, abandoned all thoughts of taking up my habitation here; and, if I see this place in future, it will only be as a visiter to my son
James, in case he and his family should be established here under some arrangement for that purpose; which may perhaps be the case; as I think it scarcely to be expected that any other person will, in these times, be found to undertake so laborious a task. Other concerns I have none; and in the circle of my own family, the society of my friends, and such resources as I may be able to find in the contracted limits of my literary pursuits, I shall look forward, with humble confidence, to the enjoyment of as much happiness as it is usual for human life to obtain.”

During the long and tedious inquiry which
took place in the court of Chancery respecting the allowance of his certificate,
Mr. Roscoe received the able and gratuitous services of his friends Mr. Basil Montagu and Mr. William Lowndes, formerly his ward; and at length, after a delay of some months, the proceedings terminated in a decision favourable to the wishes of Mr. Roscoe, and his certificate being allowed, he was enabled to return to the society of his family and friends at Liverpool. Though he had resolved, as appears from the letter already given, once more to engage actively in business, yet the state of his health, and more especially the numerous literary undertakings in which he soon engaged, induced him to change this resolution, and to prefer the moderate but secure remuneration which his pen afforded him, to the more ample but uncertain emoluments of a banking concern. He, therefore, in the autumn of the present year, withdrew his name from the firm, and never afterwards took any part in business.

It was at this period that, unknown to himself, several of his friends united together for the purpose of raising a sum of money for his use. This object was accomplished with ease, and the sum of 2500l. was contributed, and vested in trustees for the benefit of himself and his family. The office of communicating to him this kind and liberal act, on the part of his friends, was confided to Dr. Traill, who by his judicious repre-
sentations, and affectionate remonstrances, succeeded in removing from the mind of
Mr. Roscoe the objections which he felt to incur obligations of so serious a nature.

After the great anxieties which he had lately suffered, a change of scene seemed particularly desirable for him; and he was induced, at the solicitation of his friends, to pay another visit to Holkham, where not only were his spirits relieved by enjoying the society of Mr. Coke, but his thoughts were agreeably occupied in the task which he had undertaken of making a catalogue of the manuscript library. It required, however, no inconsiderable effort to tear himself away so soon from the tranquil comforts of his home, and from the society of those attached friends to whom he had been so lately restored. To one of these he thus wrote, soon after his arrival at Holkham:—

“I cannot suffer our honest bookbinder, Jones, to return from this place to Liverpool without a line to assure you, my ever dear friend, that I have done, and am doing, all in my power to carry into effect the advice so kindly given me on all hands on my departure from home, to banish from my mind all that I left behind me, and to attend only to my own pursuits and amusements. In this attempt I have great assistance not only from the place itself, but from the society around me, some of the
best the kingdom affords, so that I begin to hope I may in time be able to wean myself from what I have left, and to enjoy the present without its being imbittered by the past. I cannot, however, say that I have as yet perfectly succeeded in my attempt, or that the thoughts of friends and home do not sometimes intrude themselves upon me; but these I repel with tolerable success by reflecting that it was high time for me to relieve them from the painful task of hearing complaints of past misfortunes, and to retire to a situation where I must necessarily bear the weight of my own anxieties. That I have made this effort, and still more that I have in some degree succeeded in it, is a matter of some satisfaction to me; and whilst I assume a cheerful countenance, and endeavour to add as much as is in my power to the general amusement, I feel a kind of pride in thinking that no one is rendered unhappy by any thing that passes within my own breast. This self-complaisance, however, is not of any long duration, and I soon begin to perceive that in thus disciplining myself to carry my own burden, I do no more than perform a duty to society, which is, perhaps, performed by every individual around me, and by some in a much greater degree than by myself.”

Some account of his occupations at Holkham is given in the following extract from a letter to the same friend:—


“Since my arrival here I have applied myself with the greatest assiduity, as far as my health would admit, to the task I have undertaken, than which few more laborious of the kind have ever been attempted; and I have now the pleasure to inform you that I expect, in the course of a few weeks, to be able so to arrange my materials as to enable me, on my return, to draw up such a catalogue as will not discredit the collection. Lady Anson, who draws most beautifully, has undertaken to copy some of the very curious specimens of designs in gold and colours in the ancient MSS. I do not believe an artist could be found in the kingdom, who could execute them with greater accuracy.

“The Duke of Gloucester is to be here on the 9th of next month, and as he has been so good as to express a wish to meet me here, I shall not be able to leave Holkham till about the middle of the month, after which I must pass a few days at Norwich, Cambridge, and Althorp, before my return, and probably I may go to London, respecting which I cannot yet determine.”

During his residence at Chat Moss, in the spring and summer of the present year, Mr. Roscoe had made some progress in preparing for the press his “Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici,” a volume intended as a reply to the criticisms of M. de Sismondi and other writers upon his work, and which had, at
intervals, occupied much of his attention for some years. He had also engaged to write a short account of a very extraordinary person, who, in a low rank of life, and in circumstances of the utmost indigence, had acquired an almost perfect knowledge of a variety of languages. For the benefit of this singular man, who had been long known to Mr. Roscoe, and for some time supported by his bounty, this narrative of his history had been planned.

In addition to these labours, Mr. Roscoe had been requested by the booksellers of London to superintend an edition of Pope’s works, and to add to it fresh notes and a new Life of the poet.

With the view of forwarding these various literary undertakings, Mr. Roscoe paid a visit to London in the autumn of the present year (1820). In a letter to Mrs. Roscoe, informing her of his arrival, he says,—“It was with real pain and vexation I passed Linley Wood without calling. After leaving Will there, I had a very stupid journey, with a great lumbering Flamand from Brussels, whom he will remember putting into the coach, who could not speak a word of English, and with whom I was obliged to converse in bad French, and to translate for him, in case of necessity, as our friend the parson did for the Irishman, who had missed his way, and got into France. At best, a drive of 200
miles, in one of these coaches, is a horrible job, which I hope I shall not often have to repeat. I have as yet seen no one but
Charles Aikin and John M’Creery, the former of whom gives me a good account of all the family, except the poor Doctor, who, I fear, is too unwell for me to get a sight of. The latter dined with us, and we had much conversation about our numerous undertakings, which I hope will go on well. I have quite recovered from the effects of my journey, and am about to set to work under the impression of having a good deal of time to myself, which is indispensable to my completing my task.”

The progress of his various labours he describes in the following extract from a letter to Mrs. Rathbone:—

“May I hope, my ever dear friend, that I shall not be thought intrusive in giving you a few lines to inform you that I am settled here as comfortably as the general state of my health, and the absence from those enjoyments which lately constituted so great a part of the happiness of my life, will allow. Almost my whole time is closely devoted to study, and I am already engaged in printing the ‘Memoir of Richard Roberts,’ and my ‘Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo,’ both of which I hope to complete before I leave town for Norfolk. I am going this evening to dine with my bookseller, Mr. Cadell,
where I shall meet some of the other proprietors of
Pope’s works, and shall hear what is expected from me as to time, of which I must endeavour to obtain, if possible, a little extension. * * * For my own part, notwithstanding the kind accommodation I here meet with, I cannot help considering it as a kind of exile, and already begin to look forwards to the time when I may again find myself enjoying the delicious air of Greenbank, with a mind, if not wholly free from anxiety (for that never has been, nor ever will be my lot), yet with less laborious undertakings than I have on my hands at present.”

As his chief object in this visit was to superintend the printing of the two works which he was about to publish, he made few engagements, though he occasionally enjoyed the society of some of his friends. “I dined with Dr. Parr,” he says, in a letter to Mrs. Roscoe, “at William Lowndes’s on Thursday, and again at Mr. Newnham Collingwood’s (who married the eldest daughter of Lord Collingwood) on Friday. To morrow I am engaged to dine with Fuseli; and on Thursday next with Mr. Cadell, which are all my engagements at present, having cautiously kept out of the way of them. Hitherto I have not made any great progress in my undertakings, although I have devoted to them all the time in my power, reserving a little for exercise. Yesterday Robert and I paid a visit to old Palace Yard,
and saw the great alterations made in the neighbourhood; visited the House of Lords and Commons, &c., and afterwards the Prince Regent’s new street, opposite Carlton House, a collection of plaistered buildings, better calculated for show than duration.” In another letter he says, “The days pass with such rapidity, in consequence of my being so fully employed, that I can scarcely believe I have already made so long a stay here. But I shall have thrown a great weight off my mind in printing
Lorenzo and Dick Roberts, and shall be enabled to begin with Pope soon, and continue without interruption. The plan I have adopted, however painful it was to me in many respects, is the only one that could have got me clear of the laborious tasks I have undertaken.”

At the end of November, Mr. Roscoe had proceeded so far with the printing of his new works as to be enabled to leave town for Holkham, where he was anxious to complete the task he had undertaken of preparing a catalogue of the magnificent library of manuscripts belonging to Mr. Coke.

Of his progress in this laborious but interesting work he gives some account in the following letter to Mr. M’Creery:—

“I have long intended to address a few lines to you from this place, but was desirous of being able to give you some information as to my views, and the nature of the task I have undertaken.
I have now been here nearly three months, closely employed in making a descriptive catalogue of the manuscript library; but, notwithstanding my utmost exertions, I have not yet been able to bring it to a termination, and it will take some weeks still to complete it. When it is done it will be the greatest exertion that I, or perhaps any other person, ever made in the time; the difficulties being much beyond what I had calculated on, and the assistance of books from the printed library being much less than I had expected. I have, however, been repaid in a great degree for my trouble by the pleasure I have had in the investigation and explanation of these ancient records, which are much more curious and valuable than I had supposed; and I shall surprise the learned world by some very interesting information. I have already accumulated as much as will make a good quarto volume, which it is
Mr. Coke’s intention to have printed; and I hope to be able so to arrange the correcting it, as to have it pass through your press. The work will be accompanied by numerous engravings and ornaments, for which Lady Anson is making drawings, and I am promised such other assistance as will render it a splendid production. I will not, however, enlarge upon it at present, as I am in hopes in a short time to see you in London, when we can talk over this subject much
better than we can discuss it by letter, and when we will lay a plan for carrying this object into effect.

“I am sure I need not tell you, that I find Mr. Coke the same firm and upright friend of liberty and reform as when I was here last. Uninfluenced by any party, his only wish is to do justice to all, and to give to every one those rights which he enjoys himself. The pleasure I have had in his society, and in that of his family, has alleviated my daily labours, and enabled me to accomplish what I certainly should not have undertaken had I been aware of its extent and difficulty; but before I see you, I hope to have finished my first sketch of a catalogue, though it will take some time to reduce it into order.”

In a letter to one of his daughters, dated 11th January, 1821, he says, “Accept my best thanks, my dear Jenny, for your last letter; and be assured that nothing can afford me greater pleasure than to hear of the health and happiness of you all, particularly of your mother, whose state of health naturally renders me anxious to hear either from her or of her as frequently as possible. As to myself, I go on precisely in the same way as I have done for some months past, devoting every moment of my time to the task I have undertaken, and only taking as much time to myself as is absolutely requisite for exercise,
food, and sleep. By this perseverance I have now made a great progress in my undertaking, and have some hopes that, in the course of next week, I shall be able to bring the catalogue as near a conclusion as I can with the materials I have here; but much will still remain to be done after my return.”

During this visit, the birth-day of Lady Anson, who had honoured Mr. Roscoe with her confidence and friendship, was celebrated by him in the following lines:—

Celebrating her Birthday at Holkham, Jan. 23. 1821.
“When Anson’s natal day returns,
And Holkham’s halls resound with joy,
And every youthful bosom burns
To share the general ecstasy,
Say, shall the voice of friendship dare
Awhile thy favouring ear detain,
And mingle with the festive cheer
A fainter note, a temper’d strain?
“Yes; for whilst mirth and music swell,
The heart will ask a pause of bliss,
Nor on the rapturous moment dwell
With unrestrain’d confidingness:
Then—in that interval of peace
A deeper feeling it will own,
Nor may, perchance, the chord displease,
That vibrates to a softer tone.
“Yet think not that the song severe
Would check the tabor’s sprightly sound,
Or bid the cheerful train forbear
The lively dance, the sportive round;
Hard were the heart and dull the soul,
That would the festive scene forego,
And drop in pleasure’s mantling bowl
The tear of retrospective woe.
“Then turn, and with a parent’s joy
Survey the gaily circling band,
And meet the glance that from the eye
Bids all the filial soul expand;
And think that thro’ a wider sphere
Thy being’s energies extend,
And every tender feeling share
Of daughter, sister, mother, friend.
“But while thou glad’st the social feast,
By all around admir’d, approv’d,
By every charm of nature grac’d,
In blessing blest, in loving lov’d;
And while thy vows in secret prayer,
By all around unseen, unknown,
The breathings of thy spirit bear,
In incense to th’ eternal throne:
“O not for this—that favouring Heaven
Thro’ flowery paths thy youth has led,
Thy home in splendid bowers has given,
And pour’d its blessings on thine head;
For many a breast as free from pain
As thine has felt the duteous glow,
Nor could thy grateful heart restrain
Its warm spontaneous overflow.
“But deeper benefits than these
Thy deeper gratitude demand,
For He who all thy goodness sees,
Has touch’d thee with his weighty hand;
And thou, with heart resign’d and pure,
Hast bow’d submissive to the stroke,
And taught thy spirit to endure
His strong control, his powerful yoke.
“O painful trials! only sent
To those his searching eye approves,
O soul-afflicting chastisement!
Unknown to all but those he loves;
Who from the lowest depths of woe
To higher excellence aspire,
As gold that takes a brighter glow,
When tried amidst the purging fire.
“Hence, not in grandeur, pomp, and state,
Those idols of the vulgar mind,
That charm the little and the great,
Canst thou thy genuine pleasures find;
’Tis when that chasten’d cheerfulness
Thy presence gives to all around,
Returns again thyself to bless,
Thy heart enjoys the sweet rebound.
“And dearer far to thee the joy
Beside the bed of pain to stand,
And see thy friend, with grateful eye,
Drink health and gladness from thine hand,
Than if, ordain’d in courts to shine,
Thy steps the midnight revel led,
And every gem from India’s mine
Blaz’d radiant on thine high plum’d head!
“For know, amidst this world of strife,
By Heaven’s immutable decree,
The only draught that sweetens life
Is mixt with human sympathy;
And they who to a selfish sphere
The general bounty would confine,
Those high delights must never share
That only visit hearts like thine.”

Yet, even amidst the pleasures of Holkham, Mr. Roscoe looked forward with anxiety to the time when he should be restored to that tranquil domestic society, to which, as the infirmities of age increased upon him, he felt doubly attached. “As I find,” he says, in a letter to Mrs. Rathbone, “that you have been so good as to call sometimes at the Mount, you will perhaps have heard how closely I have been employed in getting through the tasks which compelled me to the painful measure I have taken, and which, I assure you, have proved quite as formidable as I had supposed. I find, however, a still greater difficulty in keeping down my own restless and impatient temper, which I endeavour to do, at some times by reasoning with myself on the folly of rebelling against my fate, and at others by promising myself, that when these heavy undertakings are accomplished, I may enjoy some degree of leisure and tranquillity, and may, perhaps, once more wander through the delightful gardens of Greenbank, without the cares and
anxiety which have hitherto intruded themselves on my steps.

“I have now been here upwards of a week, and am sorry to say that my progress is so small that I can form no conjecture as to the time my undertaking will occupy, and begin to fear that another journey will be necessary before it can be accomplished.”

Early in the year 1821 Mr. Roscoe returned to his residence at Liverpool, and resumed with much ardour his literary occupations. Soon after his arrival at home he received a communication from Mr. A. J. Valpy, informing him of his intention to publish a series of Italian authors, in about thirty or thirty-five volumes, and requesting to know whether it would be convenient to him to assume the conduct of the work, so far as related to the selections of the authors, or parts of authors, to be printed. In reply to this communication, Mr. Roscoe, after adverting to the conditions of his engaging in the undertaking, thus proceeds:—

“With the selections that have already been made of the Italian writers I am pretty well acquainted, but know of none that answers the idea of what I conceive such a collection should be. The sketch you have sent me is not less remote from the plan I should be inclined to propose. It is time the world should be made better acquainted with the Italian writers, and par-
ticularly with their poets, many of whom yet remain almost unknown to us. A similar observation may perhaps be made on their prose writers, whose works may be said to contain a rich mine of instruction and amusement which has scarcely yet been opened.”

In the following letter to Sir James Smith he adverts to this undertaking:—“You will probably have seen, by the public papers, that I have undertaken to give my assistance to Mr. Valpy, in publishing a collection of the Italian poets, in forty-eight volumes, in which it is intended that the works of each author should be introduced by biographical and critical dissertations, extracted from the best literary historians and critics of Italy; a mode which I proposed. You will, perhaps, be more surprised to hear that I have also acceded to a proposal made to me to write a new life of Pope, and publish a new edition of his works; an undertaking of much more labour than the other, and at the present time, in which a sharp contest is carrying on, both as to his moral and poetical character, attended with some peculiar difficulties. From a pretty close examination of the larger editions of his works, I am not, however, greatly discouraged; nor can I help thinking that, however deficient I may be found in some respects, I shall be able to give an edition more just to the character of the author, and more accommodated to the use
of the general reader than any of those that have been published since the time of

Unfortunately, for want of proper encouragement, Mr. Valpy’s scheme languished and died.

Soon after Mr. Roscoe’s return to Liverpool, the “Illustrations, historical and critical, of the Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici, called the Magnificent,” issued from the press. The object of this work is thus stated by its author, in his prefatory observations:—

“Upwards of twenty-five years have elapsed since the publication of the ‘Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici.’ During that time considerable additions have been made to the political and literary history of Italy; many original and valuable documents have been produced, and the labours of several distinguished writers, as well here as abroad, have given a greater interest to the subject.

“Under these circumstances the history of the life of Lorenzo has occasionally been the object of reference and of criticism; and whilst the merits and talents of that distinguished individual have on the one hand been more fully illustrated, attempts have been made on the other to depreciate his character, and doubts have been thrown out as to his being entitled to the high rank which he has so long held in the general estimation. To collect and to place under one point of view the information which
has thus been acquired; to give some account of the various writers by whom it has been furnished; to demonstrate that
Lorenzo de’ Medici has a just claim to the elevated station which he has so long maintained, and to vindicate the fidelity and accuracy of his English biographer, against the censures of some foreign writers, the effects of which have extended to this country, are the chief motives which have induced him to submit this additional volume to the indulgence of the public.”

Amongst the foreign writers to whom Mr. Roscoe here refers, the principal was the learned and celebrated M. de Sismondi, who, in his “Histoire des Républiques Italiennes du moyen Age,” has attempted to show that the character of Lorenzo de’ Medici, drawn by his English biographer, is partial and incorrect; that, in his political conduct, he was guilty of oppression towards his countrymen, and that, so far from meriting the high eulogiums that had been pronounced upon him, he was not even to be considered as possessing superior merits in poetry, in philosophy, or in art. The other writers, whose criticisms, chiefly relating to the literary merits of Lorenzo de’ Medici, are noticed and replied to in the Illustrations, are Lorenzo Pignotti, in his “Storia della Toscana;” Professor Pozzetti, in his “Due dissertazioni sopra alcuni passi della vita di Lorenzo de’ Medici, scritta
dal Dottore Guglielmo Roscoe;” and the celebrated
Abate Andres, in a manuscript critique, forwarded to Mr. Roscoe from Italy.* The opinions and remarks of these writers are canvassed at considerable length in the Illustrations, and controverted, not only by the author’s own observations, but by the judgment and authority of many of the great scholars of Italy, whose sentiments coincide with his own. With what success this defence of his work is executed, those who are conversant with the early literary history of Italy will judge.

“In laying before the public,” he says, at the conclusion of his prefatory observations, “such additional proofs and documents as the kindness of my friends, or my own researches, have placed within my power, for vindicating the representations which I have already given to the public of the life and character of Lorenzo de’ Medici, I trust it will not be understood, that I conceive that the work to which they relate stands in need of any other evidence, to satisfy any impartial and candid mind, than such as it bears within itself, and is confirmed by the very numerous authorities to which I have there diligently referred. From these it will sufficiently appear, that the man, whose character I have attempted to illustrate, was not only distinguished above

* Vide ante, vol. i.

the rest of his countrymen, but, when considered with respect to the variety and extent of his talents, was one of the most extraordinary persons that any age or country has produced—that to whatever subject he applied himself, he displayed that superiority and originality which genius alone can give—that in his intimate acquaintance with the philosophy of the times, in the variety of his poetical compositions, in the acknowledged refinement of his taste, and his encouragement of the fine arts, he has few equals in any of these departments, and in the union of them all was certainly never excelled. But a much higher praise awaits him. Whatever efforts may have been made to deprive him of honours so justly his due, it was he who was the first person in modern times to oppose to the lawless violence and outrage of war the voice of reason, and the dictates of justice and common sense; to perceive the political relations of the different states of Christendom, and to balance and reconcile their various interests so as to produce the general tranquillity; and to set an example, which, if it had been successfully followed, might have prevented ages of contention and bloodshed, and enabled us to date from the commencement of the sixteenth century the great career of human improvement. But although I feel confident that these will be the convictions of every impartial reader of his short
but active life, I have not thought it advisable to suffer his memory to rest without a further vindication. Having, through a sincere and disinterested admiration, endeavoured to raise a monument worthy of his fame, I cannot remain in silent indifference, and suffer it to be defaced by the hands of prejudice and malice, or insulted by the attacks of ignorance and spleen: I have, therefore, endeavoured to secure it by an additional defence, which may keep at a distance the rude feet that would trample on his ashes, and may secure my own labours against similar attacks.”

The nature of this publication, consisting of a series of detached criticisms, not connected by any continued narrative, was not such as to render it generally popular. It must, however, always be regarded as an indispensable appendage to the “Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici,” and as conferring no inconsiderable additional value upon that work.

Mr. Roscoe having transmitted a copy of the “Illustrations” to his learned correspondent, the Canonico Moreni of Florence, it was by that accomplished scholar placed in the hands of one of his friends, Signor V. Pecchioli, by whom a version of it into Italian was published at Florence in the year 1823, with the omission of the Appendix. On receiving a copy of this translation, Mr. Roscoe addressed the following letter to Signor Pecchioli:—


“I am extremely sorry that my numerous concerns and journeys from home, and particularly my having undertaken to furnish the London booksellers with a new edition of the works of Pope, to be accompanied by an original life of him on an extended scale, has so long prevented me from perusing and examining, with the attention which was necessary, your translation of my ‘Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici,’ with a copy of which you some time since honoured me, and of which I have within these few days received a duplicate, accompanying your obliging letter of the 27th April. Having now just completed my very laborious engagement, and relieved myself from the importunity of the booksellers, I have devoted some days to the perusal and examination of your work; and am, upon the whole, much pleased with the easy, natural, and unassuming style in which it is executed, and with the impartiality and reserve so properly adhered to in the expression of your own opinion on the various subjects of controversy to which it relates. At the same time, I regret to say, that I have met with some passages which appear to me to be either not fully understood or not correctly expressed, and which it will therefore be necessary to alter, in case of another edition. Of these I have made out a list, as far as the prefatory observations extend, and, if you desire it, will
continue the same through the volume. You will, I doubt not, receive these remarks in that candid spirit which you have already so fully manifested, and will perceive that I should not have been at the trouble of making them had I not thought the work deserving of it. With the short article in the 11th number of the ‘Nuovo Giornale de’ Letterati’ I think we have neither of us any great reason to be dissatisfied.

“For the information in your last, on the state of literature and literary publications in Italy, which I am sorry to find is not so favourable as might be wished, accept my best thanks. With respect to the intended publication of a new edition of the Cav. Mecherini’s translation of the ‘Life of Lorenzo,’ it does not at present occur to me that I have any alterations or remarks to suggest, further than such as are contained in the Illustrations already published. I have, however, undertaken to examine this work in the original English, and also the ‘Life of Leo X.,’ preparatory to new editions of them, which are immediately going to the press, having been long out of print; and if I should discover any thing of sufficient importance to deserve your notice, will lose no time in communicating it to you.

“I wish it were in my power to answer your inquiries respecting the prospect which a master in the Italian language would have of a favour-
able establishment in Liverpool, in a manner more accordant with the views of your friend. The truth is, that the present state of Italy has induced a great number of individuals, some of them of high rank and undoubted talents, to resort to this country, where their principal occupation is to teach their native tongue, for which they are many of them highly qualified. One of this number, a
celebrated advocate, has established himself in Liverpool, and has upon the whole been well received; but the consequence has been, that another person, who taught before with great success, has quitted the town, nor is it probable that any other would succeed, as long as the gentleman now in possession of the field remains here.”

A copy of the “Illustrations” was forwarded to M. de Sismondi, who acknowledged the receipt of it in the following letter:—


“Je rectus, il y a quelque tems, de votre part, les ‘Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici.’ J’en éprouvai quelque étonnement, mais j’en fus flatté en même temps, et je vous en remercie. Vous paroissiez me dire ainsi que vous sentiez que j’aimois assez la vérité pour qu’elle me plût même dans une refutation.

“Mais est-ce bien la vérité? Vous verrez, Monsieur, par la petite feuille ci-jointe, que je
persiste dans mon opinion. Je n’ai point voulu répondre ni dans un journal ni par un opuscule séparé aux reproches que vous me faites; le public dans de telles querelles ne s’intéresse que contre les deux antagonistes à la fois. Toutefois, donnant aujourd’hui une nouvelle édition de mon onzième volume, il m’a paru que je vous devois à vous-même d’expliquer pourquoi je m’étois affermi dans mes sentimens; je l’ai fait brièvement, et j’ai fait imprimer à part ces notes pour ceux seulement qui ont ma première édition. J’ai répondu sur presque tous les points. Il en est un grave cependant que je ne pourrois aujourd’hui traiter sans danger. Il s’agit des conspirations, et bien autant de celle contre Visconti que de celle contre Medici. Je ne discuterai point avec vous, Monsieur, les opinions que j’ai énoncées à leur égard. Je fais des vœux bien sincères pour que vous ne voyiez jamais votre patrie dans une condition telle qu’elle vous fît changer d’avis; et je crois en effet la liberté de l’Angleterre assez assurée pour qu’elle n’ait plus jamais à recourir à cette dernière raison du peuple.

“Agréez, Monsieur, l’expression de la haute considération avec laquelle j’ai l’honneur d’être,

“Votre tr. h. ob. Sr.
De Sismondi.
“Genève, 2 Juillet, 1824.’

To this letter Mr. Roscoe immediately sent the following reply:—

“I had the honour of receiving, a few days since, your letter of the 2d July last, and am happy to find that the differences of opinion which subsist between us on some particular points, have not prevented those favourable sentiments of general respect which ought to subsist between those whose only object is the investigation of truth. At the same time, I cannot but regret that the efforts I have made in my ‘Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici,’ to remove the opinions you entertain of his character, have failed of their effect; and this regret is increased by the reflection that this work was purposely intended to conciliate your favourable opinion, and to attract your powerful support to what I consider as the cause of truth. If, on any occasion, I have exceeded the limits of literary courtesy and respect, you will, I trust, do me the justice to attribute it to my earnestness to accomplish this purpose, and not to any feelings of an adverse nature towards one whose productions I so highly admire, and in whose sentiments, on almost all the great questions of human interest, I so fully concur. You will also, I hope, believe that, in making this effort, I was not influenced by any degree of literary competition, to which I know myself too well to pretend, or even by the defence of
my personal credit as a biographer, although that might, perhaps, have some weight with me; but, by an idea of the importance of vindicating an exalted character, in order to show that there is in fact something really good and estimable in human nature, and by a strong conviction of the injurious effects of reducing all men to one common level, and of imputing such blots and errors to the highest characters as wholly destroy their example, and lead us to doubt the very existence of virtue.

“With respect to your notes, intended for the new edition of your history, and of which you have done me the honour to transmit me a copy, I have only to observe, that they appear to me to have carried our debate to a sufficient length, and that I shall willingly leave it to the public to decide between us without a further reply. If I should deviate from this course, it will, I think, extend only to your last note, in which you have again endeavoured to show that Lorenzo de’ Medici maintained an usurped authority by bloody executions. * * * * * I might also, perhaps, complain of the conclusion of this note, where you declare you know not whether I have had blood enough to satisfy me; but I consider this as intended merely to give effect to the preceding representations; it being impossible you could either think that I thirsted for
blood, or expect that any of your readers could think so.

“In turning to more agreeable subjects, it is with great pleasure I can assure you that your excellent work on the Literature of the South of Europe, which has been translated into English by one of my sons, and lately published, has been very favourably received, and that a new edition is shortly expected.”

Some time after this correspondence, Mr. Roscoe had the pleasure of becoming personally acquainted with M. de Sismondi, who, during a visit to England, passed a few days at the house of Mr. W. S. Roscoe, near Liverpool. The intelligent conversation and the courteous and friendly manners of this distinguished foreigner attracted the warm regard of Mr. Roscoe; and no one who witnessed the mutual pleasure they found in one another’s society, would have recognised the meeting of two literary controversialists.

Nearly at the same time with the Illustrations of the Life of Lorenzo de’ Medici, the little memoir of the extraordinary person already referred to appeared, under the title of a “Memoir of Richard Roberts Jones, of Aberdaron, in the county of Carnarvon, in North Wales, exhibiting a remarkable instance of a partial power and cultivation of intellect.” This most singular person, who is still living, and who con-
tinues to display a love of learning and an extent of erudition seldom exhibited within the walls of schools or universities, united with a want of common sense amounting almost to idiocy, and a squalor and wretchedness of appearance of which a common mendicant would be ashamed, was first introduced to the notice of
Mr. Roscoe in the early part of the year 1806. The impression which his extraordinary appearance and acquirements made upon Mr. Roscoe at this time is described in the following letter to Dr. Parr, who had unfortunately left Allerton just before the appearance there of the Welsh scholar:—

“Your letter found me in conversation with one of the most extraordinary beings that ever occurred to my notice—a poor Welsh fisher-lad, as ragged as a colt, and as uncouth as any being that has a semblance of humanity. But beneath such an exterior is a mind cultivated not only beyond all reasonable expectation, but beyond all probable conception. In his fishing boat on the coast of Wales, at an age little more than twenty, he has acquired the Greek, the Hebrew, and the Latin languages, has read the Iliad, Hesiod, Theocritus, &c. studied the refinements of Greek pronunciation, and examined the connection of that language with the Hebrew. He reads Latin with the utmost facility, and translates it either into Welsh or English. I
asked him whether he knew Italian? Yes, he could read it. I spoke to him in French,—he answered me, and we carried on our conversation in that language.

“He is well disposed, modest, truly pious, and intelligent, but in his exterior motions is certainly like no other creature on earth. He has just entered the room with a wallet of books in all languages, and on my speaking to him, he saluted me with a sort of curtsey, instead of a bow. Yet, the expression of his features speaks his mind; and if shaved and docked, he might not perhaps appear so frightful as at present. He has now left his country, where he says he is persecuted, and thrown himself upon our benevolence, of which he thinks he had some proof, on one of his visits here with fish. What I shall do with him, I know not; but I have promised him help and protection, which he shall have; and if I find I can assist in rendering the very extraordinary talents with which God has been pleased to endow this humble child of indigence useful to himself or others, I shall have no small pleasure in doing it. If, on further experience, I find him as deserving as he seems to be at present, I shall most probably take advantage of your friendship, and intrude upon you for your advice respecting him. At present, I assure you, I think it one of the most extraordinary circumstances that ever fell in my way; but as first
impressions are often incorrect, and I have yet seen but little of him, I will trouble you no longer respecting him at present, than to request your kind permission to mention him to you again should I find him entitled to your advice and favour.”

This extraordinary being was immediately taken by Mr. Roscoe under his protection. His rags were replaced by decent clothing, and a comfortable bed was prepared for him at night. So little, however, was he accustomed to the usages of civilised life, that, instead of getting into the bed, he crept under it. Such, also, was his attachment to the squalid habits in which he had lived, that it was with the utmost difficulty he could be persuaded to submit to those ablutions which were absolutely necessary to render a near conversation with him agreeable or, indeed, safe. One of Mr. Roscoe’s first objects was to provide him with some employment to which he had been accustomed, and upon enquiry, it appeared that he had been brought up to the occupation of a sawyer. The sequel is thus told in the memoir.

“A recommendation was given him to a person who employed many hands in sawing, and Richard was put down in the sawpit. He accordingly commenced his labours, and proceeded for some time with a fair prospect of success. It was not long, however, before his efforts re-
laxed, and grew fainter and fainter, till at length he fell on his face, and lay extended at the bottom of the pit, calling out loudly for help. On raising him up, and inquiring into the cause of his disaster, it appeared that he had laboured to the full extent of his arms’ length, when, not being aware that it was necessary he should also move forwards his feet, and being quite breathless and exhausted, he was found in the situation described. As soon as he had recovered himself, he returned to the person who sent him, and complained loudly of the treatment he had received, and of his being put under ground. On being asked, why he had represented himself as a sawyer, he replied that he had never been employed in any other branch of sawing than cross-cutting the branches of timber trees when fallen in the woods in Wales.”

Other attempts were made to discover a suitable employment for Richard, but in vain. He was placed in the office of a printer in Liverpool, where it was supposed his complete knowledge of the dead languages might render his services useful; but his inaptitude for business, and his inattention to the common decencies of personal cleanliness, soon terminated the engagement. At Allerton, many persons of distinguished learning had an opportunity of witnessing the extraordinary attainments of Richard Roberts, who never failed to leave a deep impression of the
singular powers of his intellect upon their minds. It was during the visit of
Mr. Coke and Dr. Parr at Allerton, in the year 1815, that the following incident, related in the memoir, occurred:—

“One of his friends happened to have a party to dinner, several of whom were persons of considerable literary distinction; when, by the misunderstanding of a message* after dinner, the door opened; and, to the equal surprise of both the host and his guests, Richard entered the room, his whole dress and appearance being grotesque in the highest degree. The curiosity of the company was excited; and, after the mistake to which his introduction was owing had been explained, he was asked several questions in French, to which he gave ready and correct answers. The conversation was then changed to Italian, in which he acquitted himself with equal readiness. To this succeeded an inquiry into his knowledge of Latin and Greek, in which languages he read and translated some passages to the satisfaction of the persons present. One of the party then proceeded to examine him

* The mistake which Mr. Roscoe alludes to was this. Having been conversing with the friends around him on the subject of the instinct of animals, he mentioned to them the singular habits of a Brazilian weasel (the Coati Mondi), which had been presented to him. One of his sons, sitting at the other end of the table, was desired “to bring in the beast;” but, unluckily, not having heard the previous conversation, he conducted Richard Roberts into the dining-room.

more particularly, when the following dialogue occurred:—

“Q. As you seem to have made no little proficiency in languages, pray tell me what means you take in acquiring a language?

“A. It is according to what the nature of the language is.

“Q. How would you set about acquiring a modern language?

“A. If it was Spanish, for instance, I would take a vocabulary of the language, and examine what words corresponded with, or resembled the words in any other language with which I was acquainted; as, for instance, the Latin, French, or Italian; and those words I would strike out of the vocabulary, learning only such as were the original or peculiar words of the Spanish tongue; and then, by the assistance of a grammar, I should soon be able to attain a knowledge of that language.

“All the party admitted, that this was a most judicious and excellent method; and Richard withdrew, with expressions of approbation from all present.”

It was on a previous day, during the same visit, that Richard had an interview with Dr. Parr, who immediately plunged into the darkest recesses of ancient learning. The refinements of the Greek language, and the works of the critics who had illustrated it were entered into,
and gradually the conversation changed to the Hebrew, its peculiar construction and its analogous tongues. Here Richard had evidently the advantage; and after an attempted inroad into the Chaldee, the Doctor rather precipitately retreated, leaving a token of his liberality in the hands of the poor scholar. Richard being afterwards asked what he thought of the learned person with whom he had been conversing, replied, “He is less ignorant than most men.”

Many are the singular and amusing anecdotes recorded of Richard in this Memoir, which concludes with a short comparison between the subject of it and the famous Moses Mendelsohn and the learned Magliabechi. The portrait of Richard, prefixed to it, is from a drawing by Williamson, formerly a portrait painter at Liverpool, of considerable ability. The plate is etched by Mrs. Dawson Turner, of Yarmouth, whose efforts in this branch of art have excited so much admiration amongst her friends. The following letter to Mr. Dawson Turner, relating to this plate, contains an anecdote highly illustrative of Richard’s habits and peculiar turn of mind:—

“I had the pleasure of receiving your kind favour of the 18th July enclosing an impression of the etching of my Welsh friend by Mrs. Turner, for which I cannot sufficiently express my thanks. The likeness is admirable; so that it is impossible that any person who has seen him
should not immediately recognise it; and the execution of it is beautiful beyond what I could have thought it was in the power of the needle to produce; so that it may be ranked amongst the happiest of Mrs. Turner’s works. This etching has confirmed me in the idea, in which I hope Mrs. Turner will agree with me, that there is a character of apostolic simplicity in the countenance which is highly interesting, and which, I am certain, will attract the attention of the public, and be the chief cause of any advantage which this poor child of adversity may derive from the

“With respect to the inscription to be placed under it, I must give you a singular anecdote. A day or two after I received the etching, Richard called, as he is in the frequent habit of doing, and I showed it him, and asked him if he knew it, when, after some strange turns of his head from side to side, he said, ‘It is my portrait.’ I then told him I wished him to give me an inscription of his name, &c. to put under it; when, suddenly opening his waistcoat, he began to unwind from around his body a piece of white calico, at least five or six feet long by three broad, at the top of which there appeared, in large letters inscribed by himself, ‘Verbum Dei Libertas,’ and towards the bottom the following inscription:—

“‘R. Johannis, Caernarvonensis, Linguæ
Hebraæ professor, Rabbi Nathan unus e Discipulis, et veritatis libertatisque indignissimus Martyr.’

“This seemed to me the more extraordinary as he had not the least idea of his head being engraved or any such inscription wanted, nor am I satisfied that it would be proper to adopt the above; but on this you shall hear again from me.”

The profits of the Memoir were employed in supporting the subject of it*; and this little fund was increased by the contributions of some benevolent persons to whom the publication was the means of making him known. The money thus raised, however, has since been exhausted; and Richard, who is still residing in Liverpool, pursuing his learned occupations with unceasing zeal, is sup-

* The following advertisement was prefixed to the Memoir:—

“Any profits that may arise from this publication will be applied to make a provision for the person who is the subject of it, and whose destitute situation requires the benevolent aid of those who may be disposed to afford him their assistance.

“Subscriptions will be received, and the application of them directed, by the under mentioned.

 William Wallace Currie,”

 Ambrose Lace,

 Samuel Parkes,

 William Rathbone,

 William Stanley Roscoe,

 J. Ashton Yates,

 of Liverpool.’

ported, in scanty comfort, by some of his charitable friends.

The following sonnet was written by Mr. Roscoe while engaged in preparing for the press the “Memoir of Richard Roberts:”—
Child of affliction! hapless was the hour
That gave thee birth! Thine infancy, distress;
Thy young companions, scorn and wretchedness;
And pain and penury thine only dower.
Yet amidst this, thine utter helplessness,
There is an eye beholds thee; that can see
Thy patient sufferings, deep humility,
And thy life-pang of conscious uselessness—
Nor yet will He, the mighty One, who gave
Thy shrouded talents, unaccomplished leave
The work his forming hand so well begun;
But in his own good time will pour the light
Thro’ the thick film that veils thy mental sight,
And manifest Himself—an uneclipsed sun.

In the summer of 1822 Mr. Roscoe left his residence in Liverpool, and took a house in Lodge Lane, Toxteth Park, about a mile from the town. In the following letters to one of his daughters he gives some description of his new abode:—

“I have to thank you for your very acceptable letter, and for the account you give of your proceedings; from which I am happy to find you avail yourself of the opportunities of enjoyment which the kindness of your friends affords you. I hope I shall not interrupt so pleasant a dream by informing you what you are
to expect when you awake. You will find us in our new habitation, with which we are much pleased. Your mother feels a most sensible change for the better in the air and situation. The front door has ceased to ring, and the wheels of the Ropery to jar. Our rooms are all appropriated. Mine is spacious and commodious; and I am no longer under the dilemma of either sitting with my doors and windows open, or being choked. Our garden, though small, is agreeable and useful, and is much enjoyed by us all, particularly
Mary Anne and Tom. The latter is before my eyes robbing the birds of their cherries. A plot is laid out for Mary Anne and you, not as joint-tenants, but in severalty; so that you will each have your own. You must not suppose that by all this I wish to tempt you to shorten your visit. I only wish to show you that we are as content and as happy as circumstances will admit, to which I may add that your mother’s health is certainly improved, upon the whole, since our removal.

“Since you left us, I have been very closely employed in a new work which I have just finished, and am sending to M’Creery to be printed, under the title of Additional Observations on Penal Jurisprudence, being a sharp criticism on an article in the Edinburgh Review on Prison Discipline, and on the proposed plan of punishing criminals in America, by solitary
confinement. I have mixed it up together in great haste, and have put as much caustic into it as I possibly could.

“I shall leave a little space for Mary Anne to tell you any further news, and with kind remembrances to Mr. and Mrs. Hutton, and all our friends, I remain,” &c.

In the course of the present year, Mr. Roscoe lost one of his earliest, and, indeed, one of his latest literary friends, in Dr. Aikin, who died at his house in Stoke Newington, after a long and painful illness. The intimacy had arisen at a very early period of life, during the residence of Dr. Aikin with his father, at the Warrington academy, to which place Mr. Roscoe paid several visits for the purpose of enjoying the society of Dr. Aikin and Dr. Enfield. On the removal of the former from Warrington, he occasionally corresponded with Mr. Roscoe on subjects of literary interest, and the letters of both the parties evince, in a very pleasing manner, their mutual attachment and respect. On the publication of his ‘Memoirs of Huet,’ Dr. Aikin took the opportunity of testifying more publicly his esteem for his friend, in a dedication prefixed to that work, a mark of friendship which Mr. Roscoe acknowledged in the following letter:—

* * * “Allow me to assure you that, however my vanity may be gratified in being thus
noticed, that sentiment is wholly absorbed in the pleasure I feel in this additional proof of your friendship, and in finding that, in this somewhat advanced period of life, the esteem and attachment which I so early imbibed, and have for so many years invariably felt for you, are so cordially and affectionately returned. Though we have neither of us arrived at the age of
Huet, yet it is highly pleasing to reflect that you and I have hitherto retained the same invariable attachment to literary studies which animated us in our youthful days, and, I believe, I may justly add, the same sensibility to all the pleasures of friendship and the delights of social intercourse. That we shall rival in longevity the French scholar is not perhaps to be either expected or wished; but I trust the same occupations and the same enjoyments will continue to throw over the evening of our lives a beam as pleasing, if not as bright, as that of our morning; and if when the scene is closed my name should ever be recalled to memory, be assured it cannot be found in a situation more gratifying to my wishes than as associated in any manner with your own.”

Of the literary correspondence between Dr. Aikin and Mr. Roscoe, the following letter, written by the latter immediately after the perusal of the ‘Life of Huet,’ is a pleasing specimen:—

“I have now gone through the ‘Memoirs of
Huet,’ and have to return you my most sincere thanks for the entertainment they have afforded me. That the reign of
Louis XIV. was distinguished by an extraordinary attention to literature, and by a great number of eminent men, is well known; but it is really surprising to see them pass in review before us; and one cannot but admit the inference which the southern nations of Europe derive from this circumstance, viz. that the sciences and arts may flourish under a monarchical government; but which, after all, will not prove that they flourish as well as under a more popular form, and of this, the ‘Memoirs of Huet’ afford sufficient proofs. With respect to Huet, he seems to have acquitted himself of the difficult task of an autobiographer as well as could be expected; but, like many others who have attempted it, he will have added but little to his permanent fame by this portion of his labours. In fact, this mode of writing is full of insuperable difficulties. In order to avoid the imputation of vanity, the author is obliged to omit whatever is favourable to his character, whilst all that is to his disadvantage is taken for granted, on the best possible evidence. Is it possible to suppose that two of the greatest men of the last century could have passed through life with so total a disregard to the welfare of others, and such a selfish attachment to their own little narrow gratification, as Rousseau and Gibbon ap-
pear to have done? and may we not reasonably suppose that our good bishop in the course of his life performed many acts of beneficence, besides obtaining for the Jesuits the right of enclosing a walk, of which he deprived the public? I know not, however, that this detracts from the interest of the work. It is the bishop’s own loss; but such is the nature of the human mind that we can very well pardon the omission, and perhaps derive more gratification from the discovery of his failings than we should from the display of his virtues.

“Of your part in this publication, I can only say that it has all the characteristic excellencies of your other writings. The translation reads with all the ease and freedom of an original, and your very numerous and satisfactory anecdotes give double interest to the work. It is with pleasure I trace in this department the same candid spirit and sound judgment as in your other works, but mellowed and improved by the observation and reflection of riper years. I cannot, however, help observing, that if time has mellowed the fruits of your genius, it has not destroyed their original flavour; as a proof of which, I may refer to vol. ii. p. 143., in which I find you still the advocate of ‘those kindly affections by which mankind are held together;’ a cause which I hope we shall neither of us give up but with life.


“You do me the honour of asking me whether I can point out any other subject of a similar nature to your last, and what I think of a ‘Life of Muratori?’ at the same time suggesting that I may probably have some idea of prosecuting my inquiries into the literature of Italy. If that were the case, there is no one whom I should sooner choose for a fellow-labourer than yourself; but, in fact, I have laid aside all such intentions, and if I can accomplish a little memoir of our ever-lamented friend Currie, shall never more present myself before the public. I am, however, inclined to think that Muratori would not afford you a sufficient foundation on which to build your intended superstructure. Although a man of diversified talent and sound learning, yet I do not know that his connections with persons of great eminence were very extensive; and his epistolary correspondence, of which I have two volumes, is chiefly confined to researches for the materials of his great work on the ‘Antiquities of Italy.’ Even the period, though distinguished by some celebrated characters, and particularly by several excellent lyric poets, would, as I apprehend, be found inferior in point of interest, not only to former times in Italy, but to the contemporary state of literature both in France and England. On this, however, I speak with great hesitation; and should be sorry to deter you from a work which, in your hands,
could not but be highly instructive. If, however, a choice were to be made between the two subjects you have mentioned, I should prefer the history of English literature, a work which is greatly wanted, and which I am convinced that no one can execute better than yourself. That it will, as you observe, be a work of great extent and labour, cannot be denied, but at the same time the plan might be so formed as to keep it within a reasonable compass, with a chance of rendering it even more popular and more useful than a work upon a very extended plan. All that has hitherto been done by
Warton, Percy, Ellis, &c. has had a reference only to the poetry of the country, and their works are, in fact, rather a series of specimens than a history. In this respect, the model you propose would suggest a different mode of execution, more condensed in its matter, but more particular in information; mostly referring the reader to the original works if he wishes to know more on the subject, but relating the progress of each branch of literature in one continued narrative. For a work of this nature, the materials are not difficult to be found; and I should suppose that two volumes in quarto, or four in octavo, might comprise this very interesting work, which I think would be more likely to succeed than any other of a similar nature that I can at present suggest.”

During the publication of the ‘Athenæum,’ a
periodical work conducted by
Dr. Aikin, Mr. Roscoe contributed a few poetical pieces to the pages of that work, together with the memoir of Mr. Rathbone, already noticed, and a very few other articles.

The feelings of Mr. Roscoe on the death of Dr. Aikin are expressed in the following letter to Miss Aikin:—

“Although much later than my feelings dictated, you will, I am sure, excuse a few lines to express to you how truly I have sympathised with you, on the loss of your excellent father and my old and highly valued friend. Not because I conceive that I can say any thing to relieve what I well know you must feel on the occasion, but because it is a satisfaction to my own mind to express to one so dear to him the sincere and affectionate attachment I entertained for him, and the gratitude I owe to him for the advantages derived from his friendship and society at an early period of my life. My long acquaintance with him is indeed connected with the most pleasing recollections. From having accompanied him to his little botanical garden in the vicinity of Warrington, I first imbibed a relish for these pursuits; and I well remember that on his recommendation I first was led to the perusal of the modern writers of Latin poetry—occupations which have since afforded me an inexhaustible source of pleasure. To this I might
truly add, the information and delight which I have derived from his writings, which have always appeared to me to be the perfect image of his own elegant, correct, and highly cultivated mind, and which, I have no doubt, from the variety and utility of their subjects and the purity and precision of their style, will continue to be admired as long as any relish remains of what is truly excellent.

“In the sincere sorrow that must attend the loss of such a man, it is, however, delightful to recollect how much of his spirit yet remains. Whether we regard him in a scientific or a literary light, we still find him in his best disciples, his own children, to whom the world will now look for a continuation of those labours which have hitherto been so eminently successful. That you, my dear friend, will not disappoint us, you have already given us sufficient earnest; and I think I know you too well, to doubt of your perseverance. It is true the reign of Charles, compared with that of James, is like a serious history compared with a course of fantastic adventures; but you have shown that you are capable of just reflection on the gravest subjects, and that the most important concerns of states are not less within the scope of your powers than the lighter touches of lively and interesting anecdote.”

During the whole of the spring and summer of the year 1823 Mr. Roscoe was closely engaged in preparing for the press the new edition of Pope,
but in the autumn of that year he made another excursion to London and Holkham. On his journey to the latter place, he was attacked with an illness, arising, probably, from the same causes which a few years afterwards produced more alarming effects. Of this attack, he gave as cheerful a representation as he could in his letters to his family.

“As I presume Mary Anne may have thrown out some hints of my having been so far indisposed on my way to Holkham, as to have got myself into the hands of a doctor, and narrowly escaped ‘losing a little blood,’ I think it may be some satisfaction to you to have a certificate under my own hand that I am yet in the land of the living; and I hope I may also add, recovering from the effects of a feverish attack, which came upon me some days before I left London, but which I hoped would have been removed by the journey. This, however, was not the case; so that I was obliged to stop a night at Fakenham, and to be put under a regular course of discipline, attended by physician, apothecary, &c.; and on the following day, the doctor paid me a visit in state, at Holkham, with which you will judge how greatly I was delighted. This, however, was his last visit; and to cut short the subject, I hope I may consider myself beyond the necessity of further assistance, although, I must acknowledge, I think the prescriptions were of considerable service to me.”


The following letters to Mrs. Roscoe will give an idea of the engagements and occupations of Mr. Roscoe during this visit to London:—

“As J. C. sets out in the morning on his return to Liverpool, I could not let him depart without a line to inform you that I continue in tolerable health and spirits, and as fully employed as it is possible for me to be. We are now making great progress towards finishing the works of Pope, which will be quite ready by the time desired by the booksellers, and to this almost all my efforts have hitherto been directed. I have also finally settled my agreement with Mr. Graves, for lithographing, printing, and colouring my plants, at a price which I consider very reasonable. On Sunday, Henry and I went to Essex Street Chapel, and heard a Mr. Cannon preach a very good sermon, after which we called on Mr. Belsham, and found him, as he hopes, recovering from his long indisposition. On Tuesday I dined with a scientific party at Dr. Bostock’s; and yesterday I met a literary one at Mr. Cadell’s, and was highly entertained by the conviviality, wit, and excellent singing of Mr. James Smith, Mrs. Cadell’s brother, and one of the authors of the ‘Rejected Addresses.’ On Sunday we are to dine with Miss Duckworth, so that you have the whole of our proceedings. * * * As to what is going on here, I am a perfect stranger, except as far as appears from
The Morning Chronicle,’ which I see every morning at breakfast, and shall send to Liverpool every evening as long as I stay, that you may all be as wise as myself.

* * * * *

“Notwithstanding the kindness I have experienced through all my peregrinations, I am not sorry to reflect that more than one half of the time proposed for my absence is now over, and that within the course of another month I may have the pleasure of seeing you again, when, if I should find you in a state of health equal to my daily wishes and prayers, it will be the greatest blessing that can happen to me.”

In another letter, written a few weeks after the preceding, he says, “Our frolic is now nearly over, and we have taken places in the Liverpool mail for to-morrow evening. We shall not, however, proceed direct to Liverpool, having received an invitation from Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell to stop at Linley Wood, which we have promised to do; so that we shall not reach home before Saturday. I will not attempt to express to you the extreme hurry in which I have lived since my arrival in London, where I have scarcely had a moment to myself, and am obliged to write in great haste this line, to acquaint you with our plans. This morning I breakfasted with Sir Thomas Lawrence, am going to dine at Mr. Duckworth’s, and pass the evening at
Dr. Southwood Smith’s, which you may take as a sample of my proceedings. I have, however, accomplished in a great degree the various objects which brought me to town, and some others which I did not expect, particularly the publication of a new edition of Lorenzo and Leo, to which Cadell has consented.”

A number of the gentlemen of Liverpool, friends to the abolition of slavery, having shortly before this time formed themselves into a society to promote this great object, Mr. Roscoe was requested by them to fill the office of president of the society, a request to which he cheerfully yielded. It having been thought proper, in the spring of the present year, that a Declaration of the objects which the society had in view should be published, Mr. Roscoe consented to prepare this document, which was printed in the shape of a small tract, under the title of “A Declaration of the Objects of the Liverpool Society for promoting the Abolition of Slavery.”*

The tone of this Declaration, though firm, is moderate, and the measures which it recommends seem to offer the most practicable means of accomplishing the final extinction of slavery in our colonies:—

* Liverpool: printed by James Smith; published by Hatchard & Son, and J. & A. Arch, London.


“The system of slavery has been too long continued, and its devoted objects have been degraded too low in the scale of humanity, to allow it to be supposed that the act of a moment can repair the injuries and abuses of ages, or that deep-founded habits and inveterate prejudices can be removed, without the adoption of such measures as are indispensably requisite for that purpose. With every disposition on the part of the colonial proprietors to adopt a different system, how would it be possible to accomplish it without some necessary precautions, some deliberate and gradual process, which should progressively give to the slave the feeling of independence without the danger of licentiousness, and enable him to perceive that the necessity of providing for his own subsistence, though less degrading, is not less imperative, than that under which he had before been compelled to return to his daily task.”

In the following passage a reference is made to a former publication of Mr. Roscoe, the “General View of the African Slave Trade.”

“Although little has hitherto been said of the particular mode in which this great object might be most safely and beneficially accomplished, yet it has not wholly escaped the notice of the advocates for the abolition of slavery. So long ago as the year 1788, a plan was published by a member of this society for the gradual im-
provement of the condition of the slaves in the British colonies, and the consequent termination of the trade for slaves to Africa. By this plan, it was proposed to improve the personal rights of the slaves; to establish courts of judicature independent of merchants or planters; to introduce the laws of England, particularly trial by jury; to punish the wilful murder of a slave by death, which was not then generally the case; to render the testimony of a slave evidence to go to the consideration of a jury; to protect them from wanton and illegal punishment; to enable them to retain property by law; to encourage them to marry; and to grant them exemptions and privileges in proportion to the number of children brought up; to allow them to work, or hire themselves out, on the days of exemption; to provide for their religious instruction and attendance on divine worship; and to allow them to purchase their freedom on certain terms; with such other regulations as seemed necessary to raise them in the scale of society, preparatory to their final emancipation. In addition to these internal regulations, the due attention of the proprietors to the increase and improvement of their slave population was proposed to be promoted by a duty upon every slave imported, which would be increased at different periods till the year 1800, when it was proposed entirely to prohibit the trade.


“Had this or any plan of a similar nature been carried into effect, the consequence would have been, that an immediate alteration would have taken place in the condition of the slave, which, by a gradual process, would have rendered him capable of still higher improvement; that seven years before the declared abolition of the slave trade by the British legislature, that trade would have been effectually abolished, and the colonies at this day would have been able to resist the competition of any other part of the world; whilst, with the continuance of slavery, they are now in a much more unfavourable state than when such publication took place.

“Whether it may be thought proper to resort to these or similar measures, for gradually relaxing the bonds of slavery, and giving to its unfortunate victims the rank and feelings of human beings, it must rest with the legislature of Great Britain, and the prudence and good sense of the colonial proprietors, to determine. That since the publication of the tract last mentioned, many instances have occurred of the manumission of slaves, some of them on an extensive scale, and with acknowledged advantage to their former owners, is certain; nor is it improbable that measures might be adopted which might render such result general, within a much shorter time than that before mentioned. To contribute, as far as its efforts can be rendered available, to-
wards the immediate mitigation of the evils attendant on slavery, and to obtain its entire abolition as soon as it can be accomplished by all reasonable, proper, and effectual means, is the express object of this society, and its resolution is formed, not to desist till such object be accomplished.”