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Memoirs of a Trait in the Character of George III. of these United Kingdoms/Chapter 14

CHAPTER XIV.


It now becomes expedient to annihilate a portion of time and space, not for the ludicrous purpose quoted in the Bathos, but to bring William Harrison before the next Board of Longitude, November 28th, 1772, with a memorial from his Father; in which, of course, the attention of the Commissioners was especially requested to a statement of his having made another Timekeeper (with an improvement, which is described) the error of which in a trial of ten weeks at Richmond, with his Majesty's permission, was very considerably within the nearest limits prescribed by the Act of the 12th of Queen Anne.[1] He might have added, but refrains from it (what was sufficiently known) that the King had authorized him to use his name and sanction in the fullest manner in confirmation of the previous opinion he had entertained of his labours. He had precedingly adverted to a trial of Mr. Kendall's Watch, which was also favourable; he therefore humbly hopes these results will be satisfactory—prays them to grant him a certificate, &c.

With those who contemplate the passing scene in an abstract view, the general persuasion would be, that the most distinguished authority referred to by the memorialist would level the way to the object sought; that the deference—the respect which would be paid to the daily personal attendance, which it was known the King had given to this business would be a rallying point round which jarring opinions might concentrate as to a focus, to do justice to the exemplary and patient investigation which their Sovereign had devoted to this scientific concern; yet not even a trace of the least concession, that would be expected, is discoverable in the proceedings of these men of education, as they were all to be presumed, and many of them of learned designations.—It was not the Longitude (for that seemed sent to the place the polite preacher scrupled to name) it was a personal affair, viz: John Montagu, Earl of Sandwich, and Nevil Maskelyne, Astronomer Royal, versus John Harrison and his illustrious supporter. The first of these Commissioners, for reasons that elude research, had found himself affronted, by being reminded of his impressive tautological assurance; and the other had been stung to the quick by being challenged to produce his Lunar observations made during the voyage to Barbadoes, which, notwithstanding his confident behaviour at that Island, did not bear him out. The rest of the majority at the Board, principally formed of the Professors of abstract sciences, as our Mechanician termed them, might be regarded as so many mutes, metaphorically furnished with the bowstring, to strangle and distort any opinions unfavourable to their principals. The power of the Commissioners, as such, being superior to that of the crown, their proceedings being cognizable only by Parliament, the individuals, alluded to, could indulge their private animosity under a public pretext, as Lord Morton had done before them; yet it can scarcely be supposed they would take their zest of revenge with so little regard to decency, that in aiming a knock-down blow at the aged Claimant, they were indifferent if it drew blood into the cheeks of his extraordinary friend and adviser. So it is, however, their own minutes testify this reckless audacity; and a copy of them should have been furnished to the British Museum, and other public repositories for the benefit of those writers, or readers, who study the mixed constitution of these kingdoms; for the affair is so insulated it could have happened in no other country on earth: certainly not at the period in question.

At a meeting, &c., November 28th, 1772,—

A memorial from Mr. John Harrison, of this day's date, was read, setting forth that he has made another Watch, with some improvements, which had by the King's permission undergone a trial of ten weeks at His Majesty's Observatory at Richmond; at the same time enclosing a copy of the result of the said trial; during the whole of which, as he alleges, it went very considerably within the nearest limits prescribed by the 12th of Queen Anne, and therefore praying (as he hopes the trial will be satisfactory) to have a certificate for the remainder of the reward.—And the said Mr. Harrison's Son, who was attending, was called in, and acquainted that the Board do not think fit to make any alteration in the mode which they have already fixed upon for the trial of his Father's timekeeper; and that no regard will be shewn to the result of any trial made of them in any other way.

From a copy of the memorial, before the Author, it appears they were not correct in making him lay all the stress upon the result of this trial; for he also refers them to another, and of Mr. Kendall's Watch, which came likewise, within the nearest limits of the Act, but which in their haste to demolish the Memorializer's expectations, notwithstanding the high quarter he was supported from, they pass by. Had they confined themselves to declaring, 'that they did not think fit to make any alteration in the mode of trial they had fixed on,' it might have been alleged they were asserting their privilege to decide, as Commissioners, but the clencher that follows is redundant, unnecessary, and unpardonably hostile towards the applicant's gracious Patron; who, whatever difference of opinion might prevail, was manifestly entitled to the most decorous consideration, and respectful deportment, from these public functionaries. The words 'no regard will be shewn to the result of any trial made of them in any other way:' though nominally addressed to William Harrison, they knew it would be his duty to report as early as he could at Buckingham House; where they might be correctly rendered—that a trial under His Majesty's immediate and assiduous inspection was not worth a kickshaw—that if he had any reliance on the service he might do the Claimant by such a proceeding, he might as well have given him a rope to hang himself;—that they troubled not themselves about any proceedings he might think proper to adopt, with regard to the Timekeeper; and that—he was welcome to have his labour for his reward, if he chose!

Such a demonstration in the seventeenth century would have been worthy the pens of

———Withers, Prynn and Vickers,
Inspir'd with ale, or viler liqours:

and nearer our time might be thought to savour more of Jacobin insolence than of that loyalty, which yet, the parties concerned, no doubt, like erst the good subjects of Richard Cromwell, would have professed in all due form.[2]How Montesqieu who calls England 'a republic disguised under the form of a monarchy,' and who finds the ruling principle in despotic governments is fear, in monarchies honour, and in republics virtue, would have reconciled this strange aberration from self-control with his definition, the Author knows not; but be thinks it his duty to give the names of those who revelled in 'loud misrule' at so novel a Saturnalia; and should it happen that their descendants or representatives possess any papers connected with a scene in which the younger Harrison, unlike Cranmer of yore, found no benefit from producing the King's token, they may be induced to favour the enquirer with a communication of their contents. They cannot but be desirous of rescuing their progenitor, or kinsman, from the imputation of participating in so gross a failure of that deference, that homage which all ranks, professions and descriptions in society, are accustomed to show the occupant of the throne; and which especially no dispassionate man would have withheld when the inheritor of that paramount office is seen, as here, actuated by motives which Timon the misanthrope could not have impeached: a difference of opinion was not a likely cause of umbrage, with George 3rd: but it should not have been signified in such authoritative and offensive terms.

List of the Commissioners who sat at a Board of Longitude, November 28th, 1772.

Right Honourable the Earl of Sandwich—1st Lord of the Admiralty.


Sir Charles Hardy—Admiral of the Blue.
Rev. Nevil Maskelyne—Astronomer Royal.
——Mr. Hornsby—Savilian Professor Astr: Oxon.
——Dr. Smith—Sav: Prof: Geom: Oxon.
——Mr. Shepherd—Plumian Prof: Astr: Cam.
——Dr. Waring—Lucasian Prof: Math: Cam.
——Dr. Smith—Lowndes's Prof: Astr: Cam.
Hugh Palkisser, Esq.—Compt: Navy.
Philip Stephens, Esq.—Secretary Admiralty.

From the above, it appears that the clergymen (who formed the Lunar party) mustered as six to four in proportion to the lay Commissioners; and it is much to be regretted that they should have borne out Lord Chesterfield^s undesirable defence of their order, who thinks 'they are neither the better, nor the worse, for wearing a black coat.' It cannot be expected of those persons educated for the Christian ministry that they should divest themselves of 'what composes man' (in the language of Pope) but from their presumed habit of turning over the pages of the sacred volume, it is not requiring too much from them, that they should illustrate by their practice, with more promptitude than the laity, the theory of good works—that indispensable rectitude of deportment, in all the relations of society, which so often becomes the theme of their seventh day discourses. Yet the Commissioners from Oxford and Cambridge, having all of them the cure of souls (or being supposed to have so) were men of this world, in whom the selfish attribute seemed unchecked by the inward monitor: they forgot that in the same verse from which they exhorted their audience to fear God, they enjoined them to honour the King. Had all the laymen present swerved from this important obligation (which we do not know) it became the province of these Divines to have remonstrated with—to have admonished them of such a failure in their bounden duty; unless they were insensible to the reproach, that they were more influenced by hatred and all uncharitableness, than by their spiritual calling.[3] It is certain that Hugh Peters, Praise God Barebones, or any other notorious Covenanter, could have done no better than these orthodox Churchmen. How could they have made their resentment plausible, if they had quarrelled with any gentleman, who, remarking on their total inattention to such isolated merit in a crowned head, and that crown too worn by their liege Lord, had designated them as blockheads, and held cheap the learned lumber they imported from Alma Mater; since such ill digested crudities had clarified their wits no better? The irritated tone this document evinces, seems not a little aggravated by a consideration which they were too stultified by their animosity towards the Claimant and all abettors to attend to.—In what volume of the Bodlean or the Shelves of Ashmole, &c., where, if their love of books had been equal to that of the peripatetic Apellicon[4] could they have found a parallel to the trait before them? In the whole range of the biography of princes, antient and modern, where was the shadow of a precedent to be pointed out?[5]—Yet instead of this isolated merit, and the moral valve of his deportment in this appropriation of his time, being vindicated by these ministers, who might have found it, if they were willing, a proper and edifying theme for pulpit eloquence, it appeared that George 3rd—by having neglected to enquire of the Commissioners of Longitude, if a trial at Richmond, supposing the result favourable, would be allowed to be regular; and not thinking he had to deal with people whose wits were in the Moon, in an enlarged sense; had done more mischief than good service to the cause he had at heart.—Inadvertency and precipitation are out of the question; for they had taken no less than four months to make up their minds to this posture of defiance to 'the influence of the crown;' that being the interval between the trial and its rejection: a length of delay, which, as the interest His Majesty took in the subject was no secret, will not be much approved, and augured unfavourably to the sequel. Instead of inculcating by example that moderation which they are professionally expected to enjoin their flocks, they might by their rashness have lied to a most serious breach of the peace; unless indeed, and the circumstance cannot be viewed without suspicion, for its meanness, they relied on the characteristic forbearance of this Prince, to avert such baneful consequences.—What he said, when the report of proceedings, and a copy of the minutes reached him, is not known:—in the absence of evidence we may conclude he improved on the sentiment of Francis I., who thought it became not the King of France to resent affronts that had been offered to the Count of Angoulesme.[6] In like manner, if the King of England chose to merge the regal character in that of the astronomer, or mathematician, for the time being, he would, consonant to this idea, acquiesce in placing himself on a level, as such, with these his good (or his bad) subjects.[7]Here, however, it is evident that to the casualty of the throne being graced by so placable an ornament to it, was owing that we hear no mere of this premeditated indignity (for it has the appearance of being such) shown to "the King's most excellent Majesty." In fact, though clumsily masked with "an escutcheon of pretence," for which Cromwell would have kicked them down stairs. History teaches that these beneficial constraints of temper, are of rare occurrence among distinguished men. Socrates and Washington,[8] were remarkable for practising self-command, even against the discoveries of the physiognomist; and Themistocles, when struck with a cane by his colleague, in the heat of argument, had the presence of mind to recollect that the common cause of Greece was of more importance than a personal quarrel; he therefore persisted in his purpose, by saying, "strike, again, if you will but hear me." And—let us not omit the Great Captain of the age, who is eminently distinguished by this virtue in the field:[9] but if the appeal is to those that wore the diadem, and more especially to our own annals, it becomes difficult to name any monarch in the list, from Egbert the Great, excepting Alfred, and (perhaps) Edward VI., worthy of being placed with George 3rd at the same elevation in the temple of honour.[10] Charles II. being ungovernably incensed, on an occasion totally different, and by no means reputable, has never been acquitted of participating in the murder of Sir Edmondbury Godfrey; and the memorable demand made by his indignant father, at the bar of the House of Commons, for the five Members who had withdrawn, terminated in the Buonaparte of that day being enabled to exclaim, if he would, in the cant of his courtiers, "Moab [England] is my washpot; over Edom [Scotland] will I cast out my shoe: upon Philistia [Ireland] will I triumph."

If we may add to these opposed illustrations (stepping three or four centuries back) Henry VI. whom nature designed for a monk in his own times, and for a Moravian in ours, seems out of the question: but the seventh Harry would have gone near to mulct them of all their property without calling in Empson or Dudley: and Henry VIII. would shortly have annihilated any of his subjects who had had the temerity to menace him in this fashion.If we bring in the Brandenburgher, Frederic III. who, though absolute by prescription, did not rule with a leaden mace instead of a sceptre, like our Tudor, that Monarch would have suffered no Commissioner, or any other functionary in his dominions to forget the respect due to the throne, though the mantle of Atlas might be thrown over it for a season.—Had George 3rd been as irascible as his Grandfather, who never forgot his German predilections and was once found at the head of some companies of his guards, in the court yard of St. James's, trying the sword he had used at the battle of Oudernarde, and determined not to be so vilely thwarted any longer by this pesthouse of a constitution, which bore no resemblance to that he had left at Hanover, where no man could contradict him, but at his peril.—Had George 3rd we say, who excelled in that suavity which becomes a diamond of the first water in a Monarch*s crown, been of the same composition as his predecessor, he would immediately have sent for one or more of the Judges, or the Attorney and Solicitor General; certainly for some responsible functionaries; and submitted to them (as well as his agitation and vehemence would allow) that the Commissioners of Longitude had told him
no regard would be paid to the result of any trial of a Timekeeper, or Watch-machine, under his immediate inspection; and that if he had a mind to try what experiments he would it did not matter any thing to them: they had nothing to do with it—The Board have said what they would have done, and they will not alter their orders.
In having so said, and by this authoritative language of defiance, were they not guilty of a high misdemeanour and a contempt of the regal Office, which it was his duty to uphold, to support the dignity of, and to claim the respect due from every subject to the Crown, or he could not say he was transmitting the lustre of it unimpaired to his Successors. And—in conclusion, requiring to know if there was no way to deal with those fellows who had shown him this outrage—We need not doubt, it would be alleged in behalf of their Client, by one or other of the authorities consulted (had it been but to gain time, either to let his Majesty grow cooler over the difficulties of the case, or to look for precedents, if there were any.)—That the Bench being King's, who antiently sat there in person, but now deputed his Judges to represent him, and that court being: accustomed, in common with others, and with both Houses of Parliament to commit for contempt, it would be strange if the head of it could not be protected from such contumelious language, which it would be quite inconsistent with his paramount rank in the state to tolerate; and which although nominally addressed to the person whom he had directed to state to the Board the result of the trial at Richmond, was virtually and to all intents, the same as if it had been repeated to him, at his Palace of St. James. That it would be very surprising if the Judges in his own Court—the Court of the King's Bench, or the King's Seat, could not extend to their principal the benefit of a privilege available in their own case. Would they not be fully justified in issuing their warrants, placing the offending parties in duress in the usual form, for contempt of court (including a gross licentiousness of demeanour and insulting demonstrations towards our sovereign Lord the King, &c.?) Even were such committals not borne out, if the case came to be argued before a committee of privileges; yet both houses would readily concur in relieving the Judges by a bill of indemnity, for their laudable endeavours to support the respect due to the Throne, so essential to the well-being of the state:—and which his Majesty, so far from having forfeited by any act derogatory to his station, had, on the contrary, been netting a most distinguished example to princes, by the scientific and rational appropriation of his time.

The above sketch, which is noways opposed to probability, shows the danger these unlearned Collegians ran, by forgetting, we cannot say, by the not choosing to remember those considerations, never to be lost sight of, in transactions in which the Sovereign is a party. They were indebted only to the extreme urbanity and goodness of heart of this Prince for not being brought into collision with hime, like the earthen pot and the brazen one in the fable, after having stretched out their fists to beard their liege Lord in this manner. The Earl of Sandwich, we believe, had never seen the small pamphlet (given as No. 1 in the Appendix) which was the real source of this refractory and disgraceful spirit in th eLunar party. Dr. Maskelyne being unable to disprove the six pennyworths of truth sent him in this wrapper, which might have been labeled "take physic science" was "exposed to feel what wretches feel" or—passionate and presumptuous men—writhing under their inability either to reply to, or to swallow such an operative bolus.

It is not discoverable that the Nobleman in allusion took any interest in the Lunar method of finding the Longitude. And while, he resented the being reminded of his tautological assurance, there seem to have been separate views at the Board. Had the King loudly expressed his dissatisfaction at what had passed, his Lordship was sufficiently a courtier to have taken his cue from it; as he would not have liked to have been involved in a serious affair for the sake of the Lunar junta, whom he might have discovered, for the first time, were making an excellent use of him: on which discovery he would have alleged that, being in the chair, it devolved on him to state the answer of the majority to Mr. William Harrison—that he regretted the turn the business took, and—making his acknowledgments according to etiquette, he would have left the Mathematicians to crawl out of the suffocating quicksand, into which they had plunged, head or heels foremost, by invoking every saint in the reformed calendar.



Notes

  1. The error of the Timekeeper in the ten weeks was four and a half seconds.
  2. Richard Cromwell in his retirement at Cheshunt, or at Hursley, under an assumed name, was difficult of access to the neighbouring gentlemen. The desire to know a person who had experienced such an extraordinary reverse of fortune was common among them, but this motive he was aware of, and although of a sociable turn, felt disposed to repulse their advances. He had however a chosen set, with whom he was wont to pass the cheerful bottle round, and if, by much persuasion, he was induced to add another good fellow to his conclave, the new comer was always welcomed by having to pass through a special initiatory process. He came on an appointed day, and the glass having circulated till the party grew mellow, the ex Protector suddenly took the candles and followed by the company, ascended to a garret where no furniture appeared but an old trunk; the lid of which each in his turn pressed with the most ignoble part about him, and while so seated drank prosperity to the good people of Old England. After which, the trunk being opened, was found filled with addresses from a great number of towns, corporations, and sundry folks, all tendering their lives, fortunes, and, what not? with the most decorous and befitting promptitude to Richard, by the grace of——Successor to our Lord Protector Oliver, of blessed memory. A few choice specimens of these addresses[subnote 1] were then read, amidst peals of laughter, which closed the ceremony.
  3. The Author thinks proper to guard against the misconception (for it would be one) that his remarks on those Commissioners from Oxford and Cambridge, who were all of them in priest's orders, were intended to apply to gentlemen of the clerical profession generally—some of whom, it behoves him to say, he has long known, and with increased esteem. But the obligation of a correct memoir writer is to take persons and things as he finds them, and 'neither to extenuate, nor set down ought in malice.' There is undesirable evidence that the pseudo Philosopher who cuts such an anomalous and dashing figure in these transactions, though nobody thinks of him in our time, was supported by Bachelors and Doctors of Divinity in brutally refusing a man seventy-four years of age those facilities which he told them would save him the labour of one year in three. It would be unjust towards the Author to suppose him warped by the desire of censure, when engaged with the documents before him: besides he has enough of the Englishman about him to feel the irksomeness of giving any foreigner an unfavourable idea of our Universities at the period in reference. He takes pleasure in unqualified praise, where it is deserved; conformably to which, he has endeavoured to bring forward George Graham;[subnote 2] not as the first clock and watchmaker of his day ("which Tompion had been before) that being well known, but as a philanthropist of the most exalted virtue: superior to 'the Man of Ross' immortalized by Pope: for he could control himself under circumstances of all others the most incompatible with mental infirmity and the baser passions of our nature.—Surely, it cannot but be observed, that the strictures which apply to the conduct of the mathematical Commissioners on the 28th of November, 1772, when it is distinctly seen they were a majority at the Board, are founded on their own minutes of that date. But though conscious of the rectitude of his motives in animadverting thus, while such evidence bore him out, the Author felt disquieted at the idea that he was making himself enemies, which few men like, if they can avoid it: when—just as his abridgement was going to the press, happening to look into the Rambler, a coincidence in the paper No. 180 drew his attention at once; he was satisfied that the freedom he had used amounted not to a tenth part of the caustic bitterness involved in a quotation from Le Clerc, whose sentiments, Dr. Johnson apparently assimilates with his own, on the moral delinquencies of learned collegians. He hopes, therefore, the Gentlemen of Oxford and Cambridge, if they feel aggrieved, will 'place the saddle on the right horse.'

    A wealthy trader of good understanding, having the common ambition to breed his son a scholar, carried him to an university, resolving to use his own judgment in the choice of a tutor. He had been taught, by whatever intelligence, the nearest way to the heart of an academic; and on his arrival entertained all who came about him with such profusion, that the professors were lured by the smell of his table from their books, and flocked round him with all the cringes of awkward complaisance. This eagerness answered the merchant's purpose; he glutted them with delicacies, and softened them with caresses, till he prevailed upon one after another to open his bosom, and make a discovery of his competitions, jealousies, and resentments. Having thus learned each man's character, partly from himself, and partly from his acquaintances, he resolved to find some other education for his son, and went away convinced, that a scholastic life has no other tendency than to vitiate the morals, and contract the understanding.

  4. A wealthy citizen of Athens who expended vast sums in the purchase of books, particularly the works of philosophers and, among others, he procured the original manuscripts of Aristotle. He is said, however, to have been more anxious to possess volumes of systems than to understand them: and, which is much worse, he is accused of not having had recourse to the most reputable means to stock his shelves, if money would not serve his turn.—The literary appetite of this antient casually brings to recollection a modern whose name escapes us, whose singular custom it was, at his studies, to lie on the floor, and have the books he wanted around him, within reach: so that, with reference to an animal less particular in its habits, he might be said to wallow in learning. Experience shows however, (we advance it with diffidence) that books though they nay powerfully stimulate literary ambition, will neither remedy a deficient capacity, nor square with the inclination of those who have engaged apartments in the Castle of Indolence.[subnote 3] Hence it need not surprise us, when we learn from the biographers of the poet, Gray, that when at Cambridge, he would sometimes divert himself with the ignorance too often found at home in dwellings set apart for the extension of knowledge, and by courtesy associated with Apollo and the Muses, as well as the genii of sundry sciences: a proficiency in which, either real or nominal, qualifies for the imposing distinction of Artis Magister.—That the University Commissioners of Longitude, notwithstanding their official gowns, would have drawn some sarcastic glances from him who awakened 'Pindar's rapture on his Iyre,' is a point we waive; but if these Professors, howsoever designated in their several degrees, were not men of mediocrity—common-place characters, whom each season turned out by dozens, scores and hundreds[subnote 4] from those national seminaries,[subnote 5] could party animosity have shown them so devoid of candour? could it have rendered their visuals so opaque as not to discern the distinction which George 3rd so highly merited among his compeers of every age and country?[subnote 6]He was no ordinary proficient in what he gave his full attention to: and we have reason to believe that, like John Harrison, he was well qualified to discuss the eclipses of Jupiter's satellites. It is notorious that his affections were noways 'dark as Erebus;' for he loved music, and was much gratified with the compositions of Handel, but when a tract on astronomy by Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Herschel, who was professionally a musician, and excelled in it,[subnote 7] fell in his way he regretted that one so capable of conferring lasting obligations on the world should be occupied with the modulation of sounds, found a remedy which we all know. As learning did not expand the mind in these savans enough, when 'all the world's a stage,' to induce them to look round on the European boards for a performer with the diadem who joined scientific utility to the most humane considerations. like the one England could show—the Author (however unequal to remedy this hallucination) has his attention drawn to the neighbouring kingdom, where Lewis 15th nearly coeval in chronology, was so surprising a contrast to George 3rd in the particular view contemplated—That morbid satiety which converts whatever is most desirable in life into its scourge and bane, became in him its own punishment, and singularly illustrative of the poet's axiom, that—
    Some are, and must be greater than the rest;

    ——but who infers from hence

    That such are happier, shocks all common sense:

    —never was it more strikingly set on than by this Monarch; whose favourite Mistress (if she might be called so, whom a particular distemper disqualified for his bed) derived her influence from having discovered that the most certain way to rule her paramour was to vary the amusements of the passing day and hour inexhaustibly if possible.[subnote 8] Of these (the summum bonum of the Bourbon) Zimmerman has presented a specimen so surprisingly dissimilar to the rational and humane occupation, the history of which is given herewith, it seems fitter to class with the vagaries of children than to be stored

    ——within the hollow crown
    That rounds the temples of a mortal king.—

    Being one day in the pleasure grounds of the royal demesne at Versailles, he saw a tall person in a rich court dress, with a pair of stags horns affixed to his head, running full speed, pursued by a number of others, all in court dresses. The former on reaching a canal in the park immediately plunged in and scrambled through, followed by the whole pack. Our solitary prompter, on asking the meaning of this scene, was gravely informed, that it was for the entertainment of the Court.—The stag, if he was some unfortunate namesake of Lucan's preceptor, might have been alleged to be in character though a cornuto is not often run down in France; but such a chase would not have much exhilarated any who could read and write, on this side the channel; and Squire Western would have objected with a fearful oath, that the dogs could never recover the scent if they had lost the sight.—Should the enquiry take another turn, we find Lewis figuring like Abel Drugger: having in his impatience siezed the bellows, when present at an experiment by which a charlatan Alchymist undertook to verify the discovery of the philosophers' stone; not indeed in the production of gold, but of virgin silver; a specimen of which, from the crucible, on being assayed, proved of the same alloy as the French crowns.

    We cannot drop this Monarch without a tribute of respect to his Successor, the most virtuous and the most unfortunate that ever sat on the throne of France. He wanted the firmness of George 3rd, and like Charles I. was too fatally influenced by uxorious counsels;[subnote 9] but in cultivating science and in humanity, the parallel is remarkable between these individuals of such exalted rank. In the Parisian intelligence circulated in our papers in 1814, we find—His Majesty, the Emperor of Austria this day visited the Mazarine Library. He considered with particular attention the fine globe of varnished bronze which Lewis XVI. had made for his own use. The copy of the projet for the voyage of La Peyrouse, which belonged to the above Monarch, having been presented to the Emperor, he cast his eyes upon some marginal notes. He was informed that they were in the hand-writing of Lewis XVI. himself, and that they proved the extent of his industry and talents, although he had been represented by the factious as ignorant and stupid. 'It is with Kings as it is with other men,' observed his Majesty, 'those who make the most noise do not always merit the most renown, and justice is never done them in their life-time.'—This observation, of the descendant of Rudolph of Hapsburgh, applies correctly, we would say, to the particulars of George 3rd preserved in these pages; equally disregarded, as they were in that day, by the ignorant, who could not be expected to notice, and by the learned, whose path they crossed, and whose duty it was to have brought the world acquainted with facts peculiarly interesting in an inheritor of the regal office. But we are justified in the persuasion (conformably to the sentiment of the imperial Austrian) that posterity will do that justice to this Monarch which was denied him in his life-time.

  5. This will not be understood as if the Author had ransacked those volumes, which would be wholly inconsistent, while he does not write as a classic; but he presumes that had the set off, adverted to, been to be found, the circumstance would long ago have transpired, through the information of literati less conspicuous for their thoughtless apathy than those brought forward.
  6. This sentiment is occasionally met with both in history and works of fiction. Lewis 11th though his memory is odious, affected it. The Emperor Adrian meeting one by whom he had been injured before his accession to the purple, said to him, with a significant look, you are safe now: and the Author of Klimius, or the World under Ground; (the Danish Gulliver) makes his hero, who had risen from a very low station, say, it did not become the Emperor of Quama to revenge the Wrongs he had suffered when a chairman.
  7. If the Telescope being, at seasons of leisure, in that hand destined to hold the sceptre, exposed him to the contumely of brother astronomers, who were too much engrossed by their own accomplishments to be attracted by any merit, in a superior quarter indeed, but not set off by those capitals A.M. or LL. D., how can their successors make out a case which the famed scientific Monarch, who to this day supports the spheres on his shoulders, could have heard without shaking his curls, like Jupiter, and giving a nod tremendously significant of his dissent from self-sufficient hallucinations, which would thereafter expose them to a petrifying cross examination from Minos, Eacus, or Rhadamanthus? The unworthy treatment which the beneficent head of the state subsequently experienced from these his graceless subjects, who had authorized the publication of a trial categorically analyzed herewith: and to which the Astronomer Royal, with all the mathematical talents of Oxford and Cambridge to assist him in confuting the experience of Dr, Halley, Dr. Bevis, and the learned Abbe De la Caille, had no reply forthcoming, is aggravated by the consideration that they never enquired for, nor once contemplated publishing the register of the going of the last made Timekeeper, under his Majesty's inspection, as an appendage to Dr. Maskelyne's report of the successful Watch. Had they done as much, it might have tended to extenuate the nefarious party motives, in the spirit of which that trial was concerted and thrust forward. But having neglected this cheap expedient of doing some justice to the gems of John Harrison, and the merit of his illustrious Patron inclusively, we are constrained to apply to their conduct a phrase heretofore confined to some bad play, which is held to be 'damned beyond redemption.'
  8. It is not generally known, that Mr. Stuart, the painter, after attending to the lines of the President's face, was of opinion, that had he been born among the aboriginal tribes, he would have been one of the fiercest of the savage race.
  9. And certainly, at Waterloo, the absurd conduct of the Colonel commandant of a regiment of Volunteer Cavalry, from Brussels, which reminds us of Sir John Suckling's campaign, was well calculated to try a gallant soldier's patience.
  10. But though George 3rd possessed that most useful, and often invaluable quality of self-command, in an eminent degree, on important occasions, he did not constrain himself to a stoic's demeanour in ordinary and trifling occurrences.—A friend of the Author chanced to be present at the following incident.—His Majesty (always an early riser) was one morning, about seven o'clock, engaged in driving a number of deer from one paddock to another, in Windsor great Park. Among the idlers that gathered along, and followed his motions, was Dick Such-a-one, a barber at Windsor, who was mightily officious in insisting to drive the deer, but, as is often the case in an overacted part, doing a deal more harm than good; till at length, the King growing impatient at the ill-timed efforts of tonsor, made a stroke at him with his whip, to deter him: upon which the neighbours, who took up the affair as if by common consent, assured him he was knighted: and he was ever after called, Sir Richard: a distinction with which, however, he could not quarrel much, as it probably increased his custom.



Subnotes

  1. It has been observed that the custom of presenting addresses to our Sovereigns on their accession took its origin from those spoken of.
  2. See No. 6 in the Appendix
  3. Fielding in the sequel of the bird batting adventure, in Joseph Andrews, has a severe stroke at the deficiency of those clergymen who, after leaving college, by associating daily with fox-hunters, or the best (illiterate) shots, and disputing on the pedigree of Miss Slouch, while the horses of Peleus' Son are totally forgotten, have let their former intellectual armour grow so rusty, for want of use, that he introduces one who did not know there had been such an author as Æschylus. Consonant with this almost incredible imputation, it may be observed that a constitutional predilection for books is not always visible in the physiognomies of graduates who duly conform to the rules of Alma Mater.
  4. We have somewhere met with the name of Professor Hornaby joined to those of certain learned men in discussing the precession of the equinoxes, or some other astronomical data, and far be it from us to withhold his due merit from that gentleman, if he excelled in those elaborate disquinitions, but it was at the expense of an ignorance of common things; for he did not know that, in reckoning by the chronometer, ships always took their departure from the last land they saw, 'which never could be Greenwich.'
  5. When Mr. Croker, in 1818, introduced his bill for consolidating the several acts relative to the Longitude and for remodelling the Board; having judged it expedient to preclude the necessity of sending to the Universities for scientific assistance, while it could be obtained much nearer, he thought proper to observe, that he designed no disrespect to the Gentlemen who had heretofore attended.—
    Certainly it was very far from his intention to reflect on such well known and respectable names as that of a Vince and his coadjutors; they were too well known in the scientific world to be affected by any observation of his, were he inclined to detract from their merits.
    —Abstractedly considered, this would bespeak the assent of the public, but there was neither a Professor Vince, a sideral Airy, nor a Dr. Izaac Milner in the time of John Harrison. By the way, Mr. Croker appears to have had no conception of that jealousy of the Mechanics, which the dishonourable refusal of a check on the computations, after the first voyage, might have been sufficient to apprise him of.
  6. This insensibility, or this stultified indifference to the merit which might have been expected to rivet their attention by its newness, but which was left to be recorded half a century after by a penman who has not seen a college, except in travelling, and who could say, with Coriolanus,—'I have misfortunes to shew you, which shall be yours in private,' becomes a reproach which the Gentlemen of Oxford and Cambridge, feeling for the honour of their institutions, may desire to shake off, bat they should be reminded of Charles II. saying to the Duke of York, when he had married Anne Hyde, that—'he must drink according to his brewing.'
  7. In Dr. Miller's 'History of Doncaster' who was his personal friend, are some interesting particulars of Young Herschel's early progress in England. His first engagement was by the month in the band of the Durham Militia.
  8. When La Pompadour was told that the King had become much enamoured with a young lady (whose picture had been preconcertedly shown him) it gave her no apparent concern; well knowing that the influence of her rival could be but temporary.
  9. The Memoirs of M. Bertrand de Moleville, an emigrant of distinction, are explanatory of this allusion.