Spedding. It is impossible to reconcile this with the fact that the ‘Cromwell’ was published in 1845; but it is believed that Spedding had in some way an influence in the matter. Carlyle wrote of the ‘Life and Letters’ to Fitzgerald in 1874 as ‘the hugest and faithfullest bit of literary navvy work I have ever met with in this generation … Bacon is washed clean down to the natural skin. … There is a grim strength in Spedding, quietly, very quietly, invincible, which I did not quite know of before this book’ (Ed. Fiztgerald, Letters, 1894, ii. 175–7). An edition called ‘Life and Times of Francis Bacon,’ in two volumes, omitting most of the original documents by which the narrative is interrupted, appeared in 1878. Spedding limited his studies, both historical and philosophical, to the Baconian period, and humorously exaggerated his ignorance of all other matters. He took up some special hobbies: he was profoundly versed in Miss Austen; he was an early admirer of Tennyson, and contributed a critical essay to Charles Tennyson Turner's sonnets; he knew Shakespeare thoroughly, and wrote some admirable criticisms. In August 1850 he contributed to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ a discussion of the parts to be assigned respectively to Shakespeare and Fletcher in ‘Henry VIII’ (reprinted by the New Shakespere Society, 1874). His conclusions have been generally accepted. Spedding was a sturdy liberal in politics, but was rarely roused to enthusiasm after the Hungarian struggle of 1848–9.
Spedding, who was unmarried, occupied chambers in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and afterwards lived, with some of his family, in Westbourne Terrace. He was a good swimmer and walker, and fond of shooting. He afterwards found relaxation from his work in archery and billiards, though a brilliant performer at neither. He was the most valued friend of several households. His calm and thoughtful temperament fitted him to be an excellent adviser, and nobody could be more absolutely free from self-assertion. Tennyson reckoned him among his most trusted friends and counsellors. He read many of Tennyson's poems in manuscript, and reviewed the volume of ‘Poems’ of 1842 in the ‘Edinburgh.’ A drawing of Tennyson by Spedding appears in the former's ‘Life’ by his son. Spedding was the ‘earliest and dearest friend’ of Edward Fitzgerald, who mentions him with great affection in his letters (Fitzgerald, Letters, 1889, i. 207, 462). Taylor recognised the ‘depths of tenderness’ which underlay Spedding's ‘somewhat melancholy composure.’ His quiet but strong sense of humour made him a delightful companion. He always seemed to regard himself from the outside as a good-natured man might regard a friend whose foibles amuse him, but who is at bottom not a bad fellow. He declined appointments, including an offer of the professorship of modern history at Cambridge on Kingsley's resignation in 1869, and of an honorary degree from the university in 1874, with humorous and lucid explanations of his own unfitness for the honour. He accepted, however, an honorary fellowship at Trinity College.
Spedding was knocked down by a cab on 1 March 1881 and taken to St. George's Hospital, where he died on the 9th. While still conscious he was characteristically anxious to make it clear that he considered the accident to have been due not to the driver, but to his own carelessness. His portrait, painted by G. F. Watts, belongs to the family.
Besides his ‘Bacon,’ Spedding's only works were:
- ‘Publishers and Authors,’ 1867 (a pamphlet).
- ‘Reviews and Discussions, Literary, Political, and Historical, not relating to Bacon,’ 1879 (reprints chiefly from the ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Fraser,’ including some articles on colonial policy and some Shakespearean criticism).
- ‘Evenings with a Reviewer,’ 1881, 2 vols. (privately printed, 1845).
Two articles by him are in ‘Studies in English History,’ by J. Gairdner and J. Spedding, 1881. Mr. Gairdner's preface gives an interesting estimate of Spedding's writings.
[Life by G. S. Venables, prefixed to Evenings with a Reviewer (1881); Sir Henry Taylor's Autobiography (1885), i. 234–9, ii. 208–14; Lord Tennyson's Life of his father, 1897, passim; information from his niece, Miss Spedding.]
SPEECHLY, WILLIAM (fl. 1776–1821), agriculturist, was gardener to William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, third duke of Portland [q. v.], on his estate of Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire. In 1776, by order of the duke, he wrote for Alexander Hunter's edition of Evelyn's ‘Silva’ a description of the method of planting trees on the Nottinghamshire estates, which afterwards appeared as an article in Hunter's ‘Georgical Essays’ (ed. 1803, iii. 50–71). Speechly also contributed a note on the possibility of raising the pineapple without the use of tanner's bark. In 1779 he issued a ‘Treatise on the Culture of the Pine Apple’ (York, 8vo), followed in 1790 by a ‘Treatise on the Culture of the Vine’ (York, 4to), which were republished in one volume in 1820 (London, 8vo). In 1797 Sir John Sinclair (1754–1835) [q. v.], when president of the board of agriculture, contemplated issuing a comprehensive work