LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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The Life of William Roscoe
Chapter VII. 1799-1805

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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Mr. Roscoe purchases Allerton Hall, and retires thither—his projected mode of life—his studies.—Inscription—letter to Fuseli—Change in his prospects—becomes a partner in the bank of Messrs. Clarke—letters to Dr. Parr and Lord Lansdowne—his studies suspended—his opinions on political affairs—letter to Lord Holland,—Establishment of the Botanic Garden at Liverpool—prospectus of that institution—address delivered previously to the opening of the garden.—Letter from Dr. Rush of Philadelphia.—Correspondence with Dr. Smith—visit of the latter to Allerton—dedication by him of “Exotic Botany” to Mr. Roscoe.—Mr. Roscoe becomes a Fellow of the Linnean Society.—Fuseli visits Allerton—letter from him.—Mr.Mathias—his Canzone, addressed to Mr. Roscoe—correspondence with him.—Dr. Currie—his friendship for Mr. Roscoe—his character and death.—Letter to Mr. Macneil.—Death of Mr. William Clarke—his character, and correspondence with Mr. Roscoe—lines addressed to him at Lisbon—letter on his death.—Death of Mr. Fox.—Letter to Lord Holland.—Visit to London.—Political affairs.—Letters to Lord Holland and Dr. Parr—visit of the latter to Allerton.

It seldom happens that those who have been long engaged in the active duties of life retain that taste for retirement which is often felt in youth. But it was otherwise with Mr. Roscoe, who never ceased to look forward with anxiety to the period when he should be enabled to retreat, from the harassing cares of business, to the tranquillity of the country, and the peaceful pleasures of his literary occupations. After upwards of twenty years spent in a laborious and distasteful profession, the object he had so long had at heart appeared to be accomplished. In the spring of the year 1799, he became the purchaser of a moiety of the Allerton estate, a valuable property lying about six miles from Liverpool. Allerton Hall, which was attached to that portion of the estate bought by Mr. Roscoe, was originally erected in the reign of James I., but a part of that structure had been taken down about the middle of the last century, and a handsome stone edifice erected in its place. The house was surrounded by gardens disposed in the old English taste, and environed on every
side by ample woods. To this pleasant residence Mr. Roscoe retired, to prosecute at leisure his literary labours, and to enjoy the more healthy employments which agriculture and botany afford. Here he hoped, as he expressed himself in a letter to
Dr. Parr, to realise the admirable picture which Jortin has drawn of the happiness which such a life affords:—“An honest and sensible man is placed in a middle station, in circumstances rather scanty than abounding. He hath all the necessaries, but none of the superfluities, of life; and these necessaries he acquires by his prudence, his studies, and his industry. If he seeks to better his income, it is by such methods as hurt neither his conscience nor his constitution. He hath friends and acquaintances of his own rank. He receives good offices from them, and he returns the same. As he hath his occupations, he hath his diversions also; and partakes of the simple, frugal, obvious, innocent, and cheerful amusements of life.” His chief literary employment at this period was the Life of Leo X., in which his leisure permitted him to make considerable progress. He also resumed the study of the Greek language; and, from a note prefixed by him to the Glasgow edition of Homer, it appears that the Odyssey had been this year the subject of his study. The charms of the country likewise revived his taste for poetry, and the following
Inscription, which bears the date of 1800, was probably intended for one of the pleasant alcoves, with which the old gardens of Allerton were embellished.

“Whoe’er thou art whom chance or choice may lead
To share this rustic seat, this friendly shade,
The healthful gales from wild-flowers fresh that blow,
And all the extended prospect spread below;
If Nature’s simple charms attract thy mind,
If glows thy breast with love of humankind,
All these be thine. For whether on thine eyes
Green woods, bright streams, or peopled hamlets rise,
Thy soften’d bosom then not only proves
A sympathy with all that lives and moves,
But (while the varied scene around thee glows)
With all that blooms, that murmurs, or that flows?

The benefit to his health which he found in his change of residence and his country occupations is referred to in the following extract of a letter written in the summer of 1799, to Mr. Fuseli:—

“I avail myself of this opportunity of informing you, without being questioned on that subject, that I am yet in existence, and, what I know you will be glad to hear, in better spirits than when I last wrote to you. From the experience I have hitherto had of my new residence, it promises to be productive of every advantage which I expected to find from it:—good air, oppor-
tunity, or rather necessity, of exercise, and a degree of retirement which is indispensably necessary to my peace of mind. The latter you will, perhaps, believe, when I tell you that I am a mile and a half from any neighbour, but, at that distance I have on every side of me some of my most intimate and valuable friends. Such being the advantages I enjoy here, you will not wonder that I am exerting myself to secure the means of remaining here, without the necessity of further interference in the tumult of the town, which I hope in a short time I shall be able to do. I consider it as one great secret in the art of living, especially at a time when all the necessaries of life are so high, to obtain subsistence immediately from the earth; and accordingly I am surrounded with cows, hogs, turkeys, geese, cocks, hens, and pigeons; which, according to the good old maxim, (“Take, Peter, kill and eat”,) I plunder and slaughter without mercy; and shall be very angry with you if you tell me (as is not unlikely) that I am keeping up my paltry existence at the expense of the lives of a number of beings, each of which is ten times happier than myself.”

The tranquil enjoyments of the country, however, were not destined to be long his portion. In less than twelve months after removing his residence to Allerton he became deeply involved in the laborious anxieties of commercial life. The
family of
Mr. William Clarke, whose friendship and literary assistance, in procuring materials for the “Life of Lorenzo,” have already been mentioned, had been long engaged in an extensive banking-house in Liverpool, the affairs of which, owing to various circumstances, were, at the conclusion of the year 1799, found to be in a position of considerable difficulty. The aid of Mr. Roscoe, as a confidential adviser, was requested by the partners, and he did not hesitate to lend his best assistance. Chiefly through his instrumentality, the difficulties which existed between the Liverpool bank and their London correspondents were removed, and it was the anxious wish of the latter, as well as the former, that Mr. Roscoe should render his labours complete, by becoming an active partner in the banking-house at Liverpool. The sacrifice which this change required was undoubtedly great. It compelled him to resign a mode of life which had long been the cherished object of his wishes; to forego, at all events for a time, those literary pursuits upon which his mind was so ardently bent; and to plunge into an untried and hazardous occupation. The motives which led him to take the part he did, are explained in the following extract from a letter addressed by him, in the spring of 1800, to Dr. Parr. After stating how happy he had felt in his country retirement, he says, “The step I took was not
a matter of choice and inclination, but of imperious necessity. No sooner did it offer itself to me, than my determination was fixed. It was not my gratification, my pursuits, or even my interest, upon which the question arose. It was the irresistible claim of friendship, the right which society at large has upon the exertions of every individual, when he conceives he can be useful, that determined my purpose. I felt that my non-compliance would have embittered my future life. But though I have thus heartily devoted myself to my new undertaking, it need not surely follow that I have lost my individuality, and am become a new being. From the wreck of my former life and pursuits can nothing be saved? Must I for ever hereafter open no books but journals and ledgers, and breathe no air but that of the town? Happily for me, this is by no means the case; and though, from the peculiar state of the business when I engaged in it, it has hitherto required my unremitting attention, yet I already perceive the probability that, at no great distance of time, I may again enjoy some portion of those pleasures to which I supposed I had bade a last farewell. The daily routine of my engagements does not appear so irksome as I had reason to expect. I have the advantage of kind colleagues and able assistants. My province, to say the truth, has already become rather that of superintendence and direction than of
labour and detail. I still can retain with ease and satisfaction my country residence; my daily exercise is conducive to my health; my evenings, and occasionally a larger portion of time, will soon be spent with my family: and, upon the whole, what I have sacrificed appears to me to be much less than what I at first expected.”

In a letter to Lord Lansdowne, written about the same time, Mr. Roscoe thus mentions the alteration in his prospects:—

“My own occupations and pursuits have, in the course of the last winter, undergone a total change; and from the situation of a recluse in a lonely residence six miles from Liverpool, I have again entered into the world, and taken an active part in the banking-house of my friends Clarkes, the conduct of which has devolved chiefly on myself. This measure was so sudden and unexpected, that I had scarcely time to analyse the motives of my conduct, before I was called on to decide; but it was rather the impossibility of refusing, than the desire of accepting, that determined what part I should take. The situation of the concern, at the time I entered into it, was such as to require the whole of my attention, which has been exclusively devoted to it for the last six months; but I have every reason to flatter myself that, in a very short time, so close an attendance may be unnecessary, and that I may
be enabled to devote some portion of my time to other pursuits.”

For a short period, the pressing engagements of his new situation put almost a complete stop to his literary labours. “The new occupations in which I am engaged,” he says, in a letter to Mr. J. C. Walker, “have hitherto prevented me from bestowing the least attention on my studies. ‘Leo’ is perfectly at rest, and I begin to doubt whether I shall ever rouse him from his slumbers.” It was not until the close of the year 1800, that he resumed his pen, when, as the winter approached, he devoted the long evenings, after his return from Liverpool, which he visited daily, to the prosecution of his biographical task. His interest in these labours was about this time revived, by the acquisition of some valuable manuscript materials from Florence, for which he was indebted to the kindness of Lord Holland, and the care of Mr. Penrose, chaplain to the British Embassy at the Court of Tuscany.

The sentiments of Mr. Roscoe on the state of political affairs at this time are developed in the following letter to Lord Holland, dated October 26, 1800. After adverting to the question of peace, he says—

“As I have been led to mention this subject, I will further venture to add, that, of all the opportunities which have hitherto occurred, of opening the eyes of the people to their true situ-
ation, the present seems to me the most favourable; and that, if any thing could induce the great and enlightened statesman, to whom you stand so nearly related, once more to exert his talents in the service of his country, this must be the time. The avowed object of the deliberations of parliament is to examine into the cause of the present distress. The nation at large are anxious for the result. An opportunity for negotiation is held out by our enemies. We are threatened with a hostile combination from the North; which, whatever may be its other consequences, will inevitably further abridge our resources. In this situation, every exertion will be made by the promoters of the war, to elude the knowledge of the real origin of the evil. The blame will be laid upon earth and upon heaven; upon any thing but that which they well know to be the effective cause.

“In the Upper House, your Lordship will, I hope, confute their destructive notions, with that clearness of argument and dignified freedom of speech, which have always characterised your exertions in the public service. The sentiments of the Marquis of Lansdowne, at such a time and on such an occasion, would produce an inconceivable effect; but, in the other House, who is there that can place this great truth in so luminous a point of view—who can enforce it
with so much energy, with so much sincerity, with so much eloquence, as
Mr. Fox?

“From the time that the minister attempted to starve the people of France, England may date the commencement of its present distress. The immense purchases of grain made by government, at exorbitant prices, overturned the mercantile system of that traffic, and, by disgusting the regular men of capital, threw the trade into other channels. Since that period, the constant interference of government and its agents in the purchase of every article of food, for an immense military and naval establishment, has been a constant and enormous drain upon both the living and dead stock of the country; and as government, in fact, never pay for what they consume, or in other words, are paid back by the people, it matters not to them at what price it is purchased. Nay, the agents of government enrich themselves; whilst the middle and lower classes of the community are pining under deprivations, or perishing in want.

“Faintly as I have been able to state my reasons, I flatter myself your Lordship will agree with me, that the opportunity is not only favourable, but the only one likely to be afforded for producing an important and beneficial effect; and that even the abilities of Mr. Fox could not have a greater subject for their exertion. His comprehensive mind will see how the war con-
nects itself with our distresses at every point, and in every quarter; and should his endeavours happily be united with those of the friends of peace in both Houses, we may not yet despair of seeing a powerful and decided impression made upon the public mind.

“I know not what apology I can make for the freedom I have taken in thus expressing my sentiments on so momentous a subject, unless I may be allowed to plead the interest which I feel, in common with your Lordship, in the honour and prosperity of the country; and the desire of seeing it rescued from the grasp of those, who are not less hostile to the real happiness of this nation than they are to that of the human race.”

As the calls of business became fewer and less importunate, Mr. Roscoe was able to devote a larger portion of his time to other pursuits; amongst which the science of botany occupied some share of his attention. This study, and more particularly that branch of it which relates to English botany, had, from a very early period, been one of the favourite employments of his leisure hours. It was, therefore, with much satisfaction, that he perceived an inclination amongst several of his townsmen to encourage the establishment of a Botanic Garden near Liverpool; and, in conjunction with his friends, Dr. Rutter and Dr. Bostock, he prepared the following
prospectus, in which the advantages of such an institution are pointed out:—

“The prevailing taste for botanical studies, and the liberality displayed by the inhabitants of Liverpool in the encouragement of scientific pursuits, afford sufficient reason to conclude, that the establishment of a botanical garden in the neighbourhood of the town is at present a desirable and attainable object. To enlarge upon the advantages to be derived from botanical knowledge is not the object of this address. It is presumed, that its application to agriculture, gardening, medicine, and other arts, essential to the comfort and even support of life, is generally acknowledged. The claims which it has to our attention, when considered merely as an elegant amusement, ought not to be neglected—an amusement calculated to interest the understanding, whilst it promotes the health and vigour of the bodily frame. Even the cultivation of the fine arts, however alluring in its progress, and dignified in its object, must yield the superiority to the study of nature; for who will venture to compare the most finished productions of the painter and the sculptor, with the originals, whence they derived their ideas of beauty and proportion?

“It is, however, necessary to the progress of this science, that the student should be supplied with actual and living specimens. The imper-
fection of language to give an adequate idea of any vegetable production, must be generally admitted; and the most beautiful and accurate drawings fall infinitely short of that delicacy and minuteness of parts, on which its scientific distinctions essentially depend. Even the plants themselves, when collected and attempted to be preserved, are deprived of so many peculiarities incident to their habit and growth, that it is only from living plants that we can flatter ourselves with the hope of obtaining those substantial distinctions which are necessary to discriminate those numerous productions, or of extending the limits of the science itself.

“Without public institutions for the purpose of preserving such plants as are imported into the country, and in the acquisition of which so many men of great learning and talents have devoted themselves to long and dangerous voyages and expeditions, there is every reason to believe that considerable numbers will soon be lost to us. The great repositories are at present those of the nurserymen in the vicinity of London; but, when profit is the chief object, it is to be feared those plants alone will be propagated which will best repay the attention of the cultivator. Many scientific and opulent individuals, in different parts of the kingdom, have contributed not only to establish this study by their wealth, but to extend it by their talents; yet the taste of an
individual may be supposed to attach to some favourite class of productions; and, at all events, a private collection cannot be expected, either in copiousness or permanency, to contend with a public institution, which is calculated to comprehend every known vegetable production, and to preserve them for a continued series of years, which, in many instances, is indispensably necessary to their perfection.

“Of the expense and attention bestowed by many respectable individuals in supporting a pleasure-garden, the environs of the town afford numerous instances: what, then, must be the advantages of a garden properly laid out, and supplied with every beautiful production of vegetable nature which this kingdom affords, yet enjoyed at the small expense of an annual subscription? Even this subscription will, it is probable, be more than repaid, by the privileges to which it is intended the subscribers shall be entitled, in having such plants or seeds divided among them as may be the increase of the garden, and can be occasionally spared without impoverishing the collection. To those who are already engaged in making a selection of plants, this institution will afford constant assistance, and may frequently preclude the necessity of obtaining them from a distance, at great expense and risk.”

The call thus made upon the liberality and
public spirit of the inhabitants of Liverpool was speedily and satisfactorily answered; and a sufficient sum of money being subscribed, a piece of ground was presented, by the Corporation of Liverpool, for the purposes of the institution, and the garden was opened in the summer of 1802. A meeting of the proprietors being called previously to the opening, it was suggested to
Mr. Roscoe, who then filled the office of vice-president, and whose duty it was, in consequence of the death of the president, Richard Walker, Esq., to preside at the meeting, that it would be desirable that an address should be delivered on the occasion. Although two or three days only intervened before the meeting, he assented to this request; and upon the day of the meeting he read before the proprietors an address, displaying the pleasures and advantages of botanical science. After vindicating the study of botany from the charge of being a trifling employment, and a mere nomenclature tending to burden the memory with a list of names, he thus states what may be termed the moral advantages of the science:—

“Nor are the advantages incidentally derived from these employments of slight account. Whoever has opened his mind to comprehend the extensive system of the vegetable kingdom, as arranged by that great father of the science, the immortal Linnæus, and has traced it through
its various connections and relations, either descending from generals to particulars, or ascending by a gradual progress from individuals to classes, till it embraces the whole vegetable world, will, by the mere exercise of the faculties employed for this purpose, acquire a habit of arrangement, a perception of order, of distinction, and subordination, which it is not, perhaps, in the nature of any other study so effectually to bestow. In this view the examination of the vegetable kingdom seems peculiarly proper for youth, to whose unperverted minds the study of natural objects is always an interesting occupation, and who will not only find in this employment an innocent and a healthful amusement, but will familiarise themselves to that regulated train of ideas, that perception of relation between parts and the whole, which is of use not only in every other department of natural knowledge, but in all the concerns of life. Independently, too, of the habits of order and arrangement which will thus be established, it may be justly observed, that the bodily senses are highly improved by that accuracy and observation which are necessary to discriminate the various objects that pass in review before them. This improvement may be carried to a degree of which those who are inattentive to it have no idea. The sight of Linnæus was so penetrating, that he is said never to have used a glass, even in his
minutest enquiries. But our own neighbourhood affords a striking instance of an individual*, who, although wholly deprived of sight, has improved his other senses, his touch, his smell, and his taste, to such a degree, as to distinguish all the native plants of this country with an accuracy not attained by many of those who have the advantages of sight, and which justly entitles him to rank with the first botanists in the kingdom.”

The museum of Dr. Forster of Halle, mentioned in the following passage, had been purchased by Mr. Roscoe for his own private collection, but was transferred by him to the Botanic Garden.

“In addition to these objects, it is also thought expedient that a library of works in natural history, and a collection of specimens of dried plants, should be formed with all possible expedition, as appendages to the institution. The foundation of the latter is laid by the purchase of the museum of the late Dr. Forster, which has been brought from Halle, in Germany, and is now under the care of our manager.

“This collection comprises many thousand specimens collected by the Doctor and his son, in the South Sea islands and other parts, and large contributions of plants from those illustrious bo-

* Mr. Gough of Kendal.

Linnæus, Thunberg, and Jacquin, with whom Dr. Forster was in correspondence.

“To these we have no doubt of making considerable additions, from the liberality of several eminent men, who have already kindly expressed their intentions in this respect; among whom I may venture to mention Dr. Wright, President of the College of Physicians at Edinburgh, who is now obligingly preparing to send us specimens of the plants which he has himself collected in foreign countries, or which have been transmitted to him by his learned correspondents from different parts of the world.”

A copy of the address having been presented by the author to Dr. Rush of Philadelphia*,

* In the year 1812 Dr. Rush transmitted to Mr. Roscoe a piece of the tree under which William Penn signed his treaty with the Indians. This was converted into an inkstand, and forms the subject of a small poem by Mr. Roscoe, which has been several times printed. The friendliness of the sentiments entertained by Dr. Rush for Mr. Roscoe may be learned by the following extract from a letter from a gentleman to whom Mr. Roscoe, in the year 1810, had given an introduction to Dr. Rush:—“With the conversation and society of Dr. Rush I have been gratified and delighted far beyond my powers of expression, and shall ever consider my acquaintance with him as the greatest obligation your kindness has conferred. Blended with an appearance that universally inspires both veneration and esteem, he possesses the most fascinating suavity of manners, and powers of conversation, which (in a greater degree than I ever before witnessed or even could conceive) unite intelligence and wisdom with the most pleasing and unassuming address. ‘If you go

he received from that eminent and excellent man the following communication in reply:—

Dr. Rush requests Mr. Roscoe to accept of his thanks for his elegant oration delivered before the proprietors of the Botanic Garden in Liverpool. It could not have been sent to any person who more highly appreciates Mr. Roscoe’s character and writings. His history of ‘Lorenzo’ has been read with great delight by several members of Dr. Rush’s family, as well as by himself; and Mr. Roscoe’s charming little poem, styled ‘The Nurse,’ formed, a few months ago, a present to one of the Doctor’s female patients, to whom he wished to show a durable mark of his friendship and respect.”

The establishment of the Botanic Garden led to a correspondence with the celebrated Dr. J. E. Smith, which afterwards ripened into a warm and lasting friendship. In the year 1803 Dr. Smith paid a visit to Allerton, and the botanical pursuits of his friend received an impulse from his society. The gratification which this visit afforded Mr. Roscoe is strongly expressed in the following extract from a letter addressed to Dr. Smith, immediately after his return to Norwich; and it is pleasing to reflect that the

to England,’ said the good old man, ‘tell Mr. Roscoe that I love him like a brother, and that a perfect accordance of sentiment and feeling supplies what our distant situations are so calculated to destroy.’”

feelings of warm attachment, which breathe through this letter, remained unimpaired to the conclusion of his friend’s life:—

“Amidst our frequent recollections of you at Allerton, we had begun to feel some anxiety on your account, which would by no means have been diminished, had we known that you and your companion were careering over the hills of Derbyshire on the top of a coach. Your letter has arrived just in time to alleviate our apprehensions, and to add to the cheerfulness of our Sunday’s dinner, where you have as many friends as we number individuals. In rejoicing with you, as I most truly do, on your restoration to domestic happiness, I feel, however, a selfish hope that you may be encouraged at no distant period to pay another visit to Liverpool, and that you will prevail on Mrs. Smith to accompany you. I had almost begun to suspect that the cares of the world or the lapse of years had blunted in me those feelings, and diminished that capacity of attachment, which, in youth, are so ardently experienced; but the fortunate incident which introduced me to your acquaintance has restored me to a better opinion of myself, and, however I may regret that we did not meet sooner, I gratify myself in regarding you as a friend of my early days, but lately found, if indeed I can be said lately to have found one whom I have known so long in his
writings, and to whom I have been indebted for much pleasure, and, I hope, some improvement.”

The pleasure which Dr. Smith derived from this visit is expressed in a very lively manner in the following letter to his friend Mr. Dawson Turner, dated from Allerton*:—

“At length I sit down to write you a letter—literally, but not, I fear, metaphorically, with the pen of a Roscoe—that very pen which has just been correcting his manuscript ‘Life of Leo X.

“I am here at his charming villa, six miles from Liverpool, looking over Cheshire and the Mersey to the Welsh hills.

* * * * *

“My lectures are numerously and brilliantly attended, and seem to stir up a great ardour and taste for botany. The Botanic Garden promises well, though in its infancy, except the Stove, which is well filled and in the first order. The curator, Mr. Shepherd, is the properest man I ever saw for the purpose. I hope to procure him some useful correspondents, one of which shall be our friend Watts of Ashill.

“You are acquainted with Mr. Roscoe’s taste and genius,—his manners, temper, and character are equal to them. I am surprised to find him so good a practical botanist. His library is rich in botany, and especially in Italian history

* Life of Sir J. E. Smith, vol. ii. p. 302.

and poetry. I fancy myself at
Lorenzo’s own villa.”

The beautiful work of “Exotic Botany,” published by Dr. Smith in the year 1804, was inscribed to Mr. Roscoe, in the following elegant and affectionate address:—

“Dear Sir,

“When, in your delightful retirement at Allerton, I felt transported to the villa of your own ‘Lorenzo,’ I was agreeably surprised to find how large a portion of your attention scientific botany had shared, amid your ardent devotion to the historic Muse. Let this remind you of that time, so grateful to my recollection, and which, if I may judge by subsequent transactions, you do not wish to forget. Long had I been anxious to know the historian of the ‘Medici;’ but I now wish far more to cultivate and preserve the regard of a Roscoe. Allow me to subscribe myself,

“Dear Sir,
“Your obliged and affectionate friend,
J. E. Smith.”

The gratifying honour thus conferred upon him Mr. Roscoe acknowledged in the following letter:—

“It was not till late last night that I had the pleasure of receiving, through the hands of my booksellers, the first number of ‘Exotic Botany,’
and of perusing the affectionate, and to me highly gratifying address which you have done me the great honour to prefix to it. To such parts of it as are commendatory, I can only say, that although it he an arduous task, I will do the best I can to justify you to the world for the favourable opinion which you have ventured to express; and in this respect I feel as if I had been paid beforehand for a work which I have to perform: but in your kind and friendly expressions of attachment and esteem I experience the most unalloyed and perfect satisfaction, because I know that affection can only be repaid in kind, and that I am rich enough to make you a return. May this public seal of our friendship not only confirm it whilst we live, but long continue to unite our names in future times, as associates in our studies and pursuits, in our dispositions and our hearts.”

During the summer of 1805, Dr. Smith, accompanied by Mrs. Smith, again paid a visit to Allerton, where he remained several weeks, and confirmed the favourable impressions which his first acquaintance had created.

In the month of January, 1804, Mr. Roscoe, probably on the suggestion of his friend Dr. Smith, became a Fellow of the Linnean Society. Some years afterwards he contributed a few papers to its “Transactions,” which will be hereafter noticed.


The literary labours of Mr. Roscoe at this time were agreeably diversified by the society of his friends. During a visit which Fuseli paid to Liverpool, in the year 1804, he passed much of his time at Allerton, amusing those around him by his wit, and informing them by his learning. His biographer relates, that as Mr. Roscoe was pointing out to him the improvements which had taken place in Liverpool, Fuseli observed, “I do not wonder that you look upon these with some degree of self-complacency, for they may be considered as the work of your hands, and as such I view them with interest; but methinks I every where smell the blood of slaves.”* The gratification which Fuseli derived from this visit is expressed by him, in his usual strong language, in the following letter:—

Ecco mi giunto al strepitoso nido! It is only since yesterday that I can consider myself as settled here, having been a visiter, ever since my arrival, at Johnson’s suburbano, which is neither Allerton, nor Shepherd’s botanic paradise, but a sweet and peaceful little neat hut embosomed in a wilderness of shrubs; and, what I like better, entomologic weeds; a close and humble neighbour to the magnificent domain of some nauwab, but undisturbed by his four demons, ycleped gardeners.

“Where shall I begin, where end my thanks

* Life of Fuseli, p. 376.

for what I enjoyed, my regrets for what I left, when I parted from you, your wife, your sons, and daughters? My heart tells me it is nonsense to attempt, and so I drop it. A few such weeks as I have passed amongst you atone for months of care and misery, and add to the real sum of life.

“In this humour you would not expect that, if I had business to impart, I should now speak of it; we always wake, and too soon, alas! from a delicious dream. Expect soon more.”

Amongst the many distinguished scholars and men of taste with whom the literary reputation of Mr. Roscoe led to an acquaintance was Mr. Mathias, whose intimate and critical knowledge of the language and literature of Italy has, perhaps, never been equalled by a native of this country. Mr. Roscoe was naturally desirous of acquiring the favourable opinion and the personal acquaintance of so eminent a scholar; but it was not until some years after the publication of his first historical work that an opportunity of becoming known to him was afforded. In the year 1801 Mr. Mathias transmitted to Mr. Roscoe, through the hands of their mutual friend Mrs. Riddel, a copy of a selection which he had lately made from the poems of Petrarch; and from this period they continued to correspond occasionally upon subjects of literary interest, and to make a mutual interchange of their writings.
The admiration which Mr. Mathias felt for the high literary character of his correspondent he manifested in a beautiful Italian canzone addressed to him, and prefixed to his edition of “
Selections from Tiraboschi,” a distinguished honour, of which Mr. Roscoe was justly proud. The reputation of Mr. Mathias as an Italian scholar must always render his judgment upon subjects connected with the literature of that country of the highest value; and it cannot, therefore, be improper, to present, in this place, a portion of the correspondence between him and Mr. Roscoe.

In the year 1803, Mr. Mathias transmitted to Mr. Roscoe the beautiful volumes which he had just published, of “Selections from the Commentaries of Crescimbeni,” which were accompanied by the following letter:—

“It gives me pleasure to offer you a copy of the ‘Commentaries on the Poetry of Italy by Crescimbeni,’ which I have republished, detached from the historical part of the work, as I think it is a treatise of singular merit, and perfect in its kind. I conceive it may tend in an eminent degree to diffuse the knowledge, and promote the cultivation, of Italian literature in this country, in which I am sure you will feel yourself naturally interested; for, in whatever part of the civilised world that subject is brought forwards, the name of Roscoe cannot be far off.


“It is also my intention shortly to present the public with ‘La Storia della poesia Italiana,” as written by Tiraboschi, taken from his most valuable and voluminous history of Italian literature in general. It will accompany Crescimbeni with great effect, in my opinion; and will complete this part of the plan which I have formed, in the hope of giving honour and permanency, amongst my countrymen, to the greatest language of modern Europe. I wish they may have the sense and spirit to second the attempt. I propose to address this personally to you, as Italy acknowledges in you the patron and protector of her learned offspring; and will for ever confess, that you have given the most illustrious example to all those who, though with unequal powers, may hereafter be desirous of advancing the glory of that parent of arts and learning. ‘Propter amorem’ is at once my excuse and my satisfaction on this occasion.

“I shall be happy to hear that you, and all your family, have enjoyed your health since I had the pleasure of seeing you (for too short a time) in London last year.”

“It gives me great pleasure to observe,” says Mr. Roscoe, in answer to the foregoing letter, “that the literature of Italy has begun to attract the more particular notice of our countrymen; and I am highly gratified to find that its cause has fallen into such able hands as yours, who are
in every respect qualified to set it off to advantage. One would have thought that the example of our great poets, and particularly of
Spenser and Milton, would have recommended the Italians to the study of all those who are emulous of their honours; yet certain it is, that they have hitherto been unaccountably neglected in this country, and, excepting a very few eminent authors, may be said to be wholly strangers amongst us. Nor is it from the poets alone we should derive improvement. The literary history of Italy would open an immense fund of information far beyond what that of any other country (I do not except even our own) could afford. I am therefore glad to find that you have followed up your ‘Componimenti Lirici’ with the ‘Commentary of Crescimbeni;’ and that to these you still design to add the excellent work of Tiraboschi, as far as it relates to the history of poetry. Works selected with so much judgment, and published in so elegant and convenient a form, seem to me eminently calculated to diffuse a more general relish for these studies, particularly at this time, when, as far as I can judge from my distant situation, the Italian language seems to be more attended to than it has ever before been within my memory. For your highly esteemed present of the volumes of Crescimbeni, and for your kind intentions towards me, I beg you to accept my best ac-
knowledgments. To be associated in any manner in the attempt which you are so laudably making to recall the public taste to standards of real excellence will always be considered by me as a great honour. I should be glad to think that I have in any degree contributed to the success of this cause; but, at all events, I can never regret those efforts which have obtained for me the obliging assurances of your esteem and friendship,—assurances in which I confide with pleasure, and which I repeat with sincerity, in the hope that I may ere long find an opportunity of confirming them in person.”

The edition of the “Selections from Tiraboschi” was forwarded to Mr. Roscoe a few months afterwards, with the following flattering letter:—

“I have a particular satisfaction in offering to you the ‘History of Italian Poetry,’ as written by the great historian of the general literature of Italy, Tiraboschi, which will be published in a few days. I am sure every scholar in this country will agree in the propriety of addressing this work personally to you, as you have every claim arising from its peculiar subject, which you have illustrated in one of the principal periods, by your talents and your erudition, and which is known and admired in every part of the civilised world.

“If the canzone, which is honoured by the
prefixing of your name to it, should be considered by you as answerable to the dignity of its theme, in any manner, I can assure you I have endeavoured by much thought, time, and attention, to render it not wholly unworthy of your perusal—
‘Non ita certandi cupidus, quam propter amorem.’

“I am inclined to hope that the language and literature of Italy may finally, under your auspices, be honoured, cultivated, and promoted in Great Britain; and I trust that these disinterested contributions to revive them may be favourably regarded. In the different addresses to our countrymen in the various Italian works I have presented to their notice, in the originals, I have fully explained my sentiments.”

“I have just had the pleasure,” says Mr. Roscoe, in reply, “of receiving the four volumes of the ‘History of Italian Poetry,’ extracted from the great work of the learned Tiraboschi; a publication which, like the others with which you have lately favoured us, will, I doubt not, contribute to diffuse a more general knowledge of the poetry and literature of Italy, which will be found the surest preservative against that degradation with which this country is threatened. It is not, however, as the republisher of these valuable works alone that your countrymen are indebted to you. The example which
you have set before them of the proficiency which a native of England may acquire in the beautiful and expressive language of Italy, and of the success with which it may be adapted to every style of composition, from the most elegant and simple prose to the most elevated poetry, must operate as a still more powerful recommendation of the study of the Italian language. It mast not, however, be supposed that the most thorough acquaintance with the language will communicate that poetic fervour and vivacity so conspicuous in the Canzone which you have done me the honour to address to me, and in the perusal of which I know not whether I am more surprised at the powerful and well-supported strain of lyric poetry which it displays, or on finding some part of it lavished on such a subject as myself. In fact, my dear Sir, although I certainly am not insensible to the glow of honourable praise; and although the elevated and manly style in which it has been conferred, is still more gratifying to me; yet the satisfaction which I feel is not unaccompanied by sensations of a more painful nature; and I am too well acquainted with the insufficiency of my own pretensions, to consider this production in any other light than as a composition which I admire, and a mark of friendship of which I am proud. The public will not, however, I fear, allow me to appeal from so
decisive an authority; and I experience the feelings of one who stands approved for merits of which he is not conscious, and pledged to the performance of labours far beyond his powers. But however low I may stand in my own estimation, I must not now allow myself to shrink from the more elevated prospect which you have pointed out to me; and it will, at least, be my endeavour to justify, by my future efforts, that favourable opinion which has been so partially expressed.”

Having reprinted his Canzoni Toscane in the year 1806, Mr. Mathias addressed to Mr. Roscoe the following letter, accompanying several copies of the poem inscribed to him:—

“It gives me particular pleasure, whenever I have an opportunity of addressing you, or enquiring after you, and your important as well as truly classical employments, for which the world of letters is so much indebted to you.

“Though you are in possession of all the Italian works which I have offered to the public, yet, as I have just been induced to reprint the two ‘Canzoni Toscane,’ which I took the liberty of inscribing to you and Dr. Marcet, separately from the volumes to which I originally prefixed them, I indulge a hope that you will receive them in their new shape. I must also confess that one very principal motive for my reprinting them was this;—that if any person should be
inclined to honour my Canzone so highly as to bind it up with either of your most valuable histories, he may now be enabled to do so; as I have printed it on exactly the same sized paper. I have also had a few copies taken off on a large paper, the same as that on which your magnificent edition of
Leo X. is printed. The constant indulgence with which you have favoured my attempt to express the very high sense which I entertain of your meritorious and eminent services to the literary part of England and of Italy, leads me to hope that this feeble but sincere desire of paying still further respect to you will also be excused or approved.
‘All’ opre vostre e pellegrine e nove
Tue sacrerei la mia straniera lira,
Straniera sì, ma fida.*

“I hope that you will excuse my having put up a few copies of the Canzone for such of your friends as you think might wish it should accompany either of your works. It seems as if Italy must at last retire into Great Britain from the insults and injuries of the Corsican tyrant, and she will repose with gratitude at your feet. I should be happy to hear that all your family are well, and that you have enjoyed health and leisure for the most pleasing of all your labours,—those which you devote to literature.”

To this letter the following answer was returned by Mr. Roscoe:—


“I have had the pleasure of receiving your obliging letter, accompanying the copies of your two beautiful ‘Canzoni Toscane,’ and cannot sufficiently express how greatly I feel myself indebted to you for this additional instance of your kind partiality. The Canzone which you have been so good as to address to me, I shall be proud to prefix to my ‘Life of Leo,’ and to enable a few of my friends, devoted to Italian literature, to do the same. I shall thus, in some degree, gratify a desire which I always had, to see this elegant production precede my work; and which, indeed, nothing could have prevented (had you consented to it), but an apprehension that I might be considered as publishing my own praise, in having my name thus permanently united with yours in this favourite object of our common pursuit.
‘Che andrian le Muse lagrimose e sole
Senza onor di ghirlande e d’auree cetre,
E muti si starian gli inni canori
Senza Te che Parnaso ami ed onori.’

“I continue to flatter myself, that at some period not far distant, I may have an opportunity of renewing our very interesting conversations on the literature and writers of Italy. If this should happen under my own roof, it would be doubly pleasant to me; and as it is probable that you may make an excursion during the summer, allow me to prevail upon you to direct your
course to the north, and to pass a few days with me in my quiet retirement at Allerton.”

Amongst the most intimate friends of Mr. Roscoe, there was no one who had won more of his affection, or commanded more of his respect, than Dr. Currie. Their acquaintance had commenced soon after the arrival of the latter in Liverpool: and to the period of his death, which occurred in the autumn of the present year (1805), their friendship had continued without interruption. The literary tastes and critical powers of Dr. Currie were highly valued by Mr. Roscoe, who submitted to his judgment the manuscript of a great part of his historical works, his translation of “The Nurse,” and his occasional fugitive pieces. In a note enclosing one of the latter, he appropriately addresses him as “Sincerest critic of my prose or rhyme.” His Muse, also, was not idle in the service of his friend; and some lines on the death of his children, and a sonnet, which have been lately published*, attest the warmth of his feelings. How secure the basis was upon which their friendship rested,—a companionship in virtuous exertions,—is seen in the concluding lines of the poem:—
“—Nor o’er our heads may many suns return,
When we, my friend, may share the lot we mourn—
Still in the dust this busy hand shall lie,
Dim in its socket rest thy tracing eye:

* Life of Dr. Currie, vol. i. p. 147.

Meantime, whate’er of life its Author spares,
Give we to generous aims and social cares;
That when we rest in chill oblivion cold,
And o’er our ashes numerous years have roll’d,
Some happier effort may survive the tomb,
Pregnant with bliss to beings yet to come.”

In conjunction with Dr. Currie, Mr. Roscoe commenced, in the year 1790, a series of Essays, under the title of “The Recluse,” which were published in the “Liverpool Herald,” and of which the greater part were from his own pen. But it was not by a participation in these light and elegant pursuits alone that the friendship of Dr. Currie and Mr. Roscoe was cemented. It was strengthened by their joint endeavours to promote liberal principles, and to further benevolent objects, by their mutual anxiety to assist one another in designs of public utility, and by the promptitude with which they jointly came forwards at the public call. It is not surprising that the dissolution of a friendship like this should have been felt most deeply by Mr. Roscoe, whose sympathy for the fate of his friend was heightened by the singular instance of his attachment, recorded in the following letter, written immediately after Dr. Currie’s death, to Mr. Macneil, the poet:—

“Be assured, my dear Sir, that in our common attachment to our late much loved and lamented friend, I feel an additional bond of union between
us. His influence yet survives, and forms fresh motives of confidence and friendship. * * * You will already, perhaps, have heard that the sufferings of our late excellent friend, towards the close of his life, were uncommonly severe; but it may be some satisfaction to you to know, that the firmness of his mind was equal to the trial, and that, amidst the most painful conflicts of his disorder, he was employed in an abstract attention to the nature of his symptoms, as if he had been making observations on the case of another person. Such a decided superiority of mind to body has seldom been exhibited, and reminds me of a most striking passage in a letter of
Dr. Reid, given in Mr. Stewart’s Life of that eminent man. ‘To think that the soul perishes in that fatal moment, when it is purified by this fiery trial, and fitted for the noblest exertions in another state, is an opinion which I cannot help looking down upon with contempt and disdain.’ On this subject, I cannot refrain from communicating to you some other circumstances attending his last moments, which afford an additional proof of the warmth of his affections, and the unbroken vigour of his mind. Whilst confined to his bed, he was accustomed to dictate to his son Wallace, who constantly attended on him, such sentiments as occurred to him respecting those matters in which he was most deeply interested—his family, his friends, his writings,
and his opinions. This practice was continued to the very extreme of his rational powers, and was even renewed in the intervals of delirium immediately preceding his death. Some of these written memorials have since been communicated to me; and you will readily conceive what my feelings must have been, on finding one of them addressed to myself, tremulously signed with his own hand, intended to convey to me and mine his last blessing, and to give me some account of the state of his feelings on the most important of all topics, so far as he had then proceeded in what he himself denominates ‘the valley of the shadow of death.’ Such a pledge of affection more nearly resembles a communication from the world of spirits, than a message from a fellow mortal; and I shall, accordingly, preserve it as an inestimable memorial of the friendship of a man of high intellectual endowments, inflexible energy, and unbounded goodness of heart.”

In one of his latest papers, Dr. Currie had expressed a wish, that, on any thing that respected his memoirs, his “loved and excellent friend Mr. Roscoe” might be consulted; and for many years it was the earnest desire of the latter to present to the public the biography of his friend. The weight of business, however, and various engagements in which he became necessarily involved, prevented him from carrying this project into effect,—a circumstance which he never ceased
to lament, till he enjoyed the gratification of reading the admirable
Memoir which the son of Dr. Currie has lately given to the world.

The death of Dr. Currie was followed by that of Mr. William Clarke, the early literary associate of Mr. Roscoe. In mentioning this double loss, in a letter to a friend, he says,—“It is true, the recollection of the sufferings which they had to sustain, and which they bore with uncommon fortitude, served in some degree to blunt the first emotions of sorrow, and to reconcile the mind to the loss of those, whose longer continuance in life would only have been a prolongation of anguish. But if the weapon was blunted, it has still inflicted an incurable wound; and to the last moment of my life I must regret the loss of these my long-loved friends, who, however they might differ in disposition, manners, talents, and character, united in regarding me with partial and unalterable affection.”

There was probably no one, among the many persons attached to Mr. Roscoe, in whose society he found greater delight than in that of Mr. Clarke. The liveliness, the simplicity, and the facetiousness of his manner, coupled with the great intelligence of his mind, and his love of literary pursuits, rendered him a peculiarly agreeable companion. Even during a long and afflicting state of ill health, spirits which never failed, and a good-nature not to be overcome, made his
society delightful. So early as the year 1783, he was compelled, for the sake of the climate, to take up his residence abroad, where he remained for about seven years, during the whole of which time he corresponded regularly with his friend. These letters, written sometimes in Italian, sometimes in French, and occasionally in Latin, contain lively pictures of the countries which he visited, valuable intelligence with regard to literary curiosities, and ever recurring allusions to the happy days which he had passed in the society of his correspondent. A taste for tranquillity and literary leisure was strongly felt by Mr. Clarke; and he frequently refers to the expected time, when, in company with his friend, he may hope to follow the bent of his inclinations.

“So, you are immersed in public business!
‘The world, the world will have its slaves.’
A little mortification will make retreat more enviable, more full of relish. Let us make all the haste we can, however, to get along a river side to peace and tranquillity. There
Dante shall attend, to conduct us to Hell, but not to leave us there; for we will not rest, till through the medium of Purgatory, we join Beatrice in the supernal regions.”

“I congratulate you,” he says, in a letter dated in 1783, “on the increase of your family;
though I somewhat repine (while I applaud your resolution) at the imposition it lays upon you to join in the general contention for wealth. I expect to find you, on my return, as intently occupied in the pursuit as any of your neighbours. ’Tis in vain to resist the torrent; but your natural inclination will, I think, lead you to secure your retreat as early as prudence will allow; and I trust that period will not be a distant one, provided the moderation of your wishes continues. It is a true maxim, ‘To temperate bounds,’ &c. On this plan I hold myself ready to join you in any scheme of life you approve. I shall presently be qualified for the veriest hermit;—ease, quiet, temperance, reflection,—to these are my vows directed; not but that I sometimes shall leave my retreat, to feel a greater relish for it at my return.”

During Mr. Clarke’s visit to Lisbon, the following verses were addressed to him by Mr. Roscoe:—

“Ye hills with towering forests crown’d,
Ye plains by sultry suns embrown’d,
Ye vales along whose vine-crown’d sides
The Douro rolls his rapid tides;
“Ye rocks grotesque, whose rugged brow
Glooms o’er the beating surge below,
Whence Lusitania’s Genius eyes
The ocean mingling with the skies;
“From northern climes and colder shores,
My Clarke your mild retreats explores,
Hopeful to find their shades supply
That health his native fields deny.
“Oh! guide his steps, ye guardian powers,
Oh! lead him to your greenest bowers;
And whilst he treads the flowing vale,
Let health breathe strong in every gale.
“Nor be your gifts to health confined;
But soothe to peace his gentle mind,
Infuse contentment’s healing balm,
And bid each anxious thought be calm.
“Released from Winter’s icy arms,
When Spring unfolds her op’ning charms,
Then rich in vigorous health restore
The wanderer to his native shore;
“With learning that disdains pretence,
With native wit, and manly sense,
Again to smooth my brow of care,
Again my social hour to share;
“To soothe by reason’s kind control
Each wilder tumult of my soul;
Within due bounds my hopes confine,
And make his temperate spirit mine.
“So may nor whirlwind, blight, nor storm,
Your verdant orange-groves deform;
So may your vines in cluster’d pride
Pour in full streams their purple tide;
“Nor e’er within your favour’d bound
The earthquake walk his wasteful round;
Which on Calabria’s alter’d shores
The trembling native now deplores.”

In the autumn of the year 1790, Mr. Clarke returned from the Continent; and the pleasure with which he anticipated his re-union with one for whom he felt so entire a friendship, is beautifully expressed in a letter written immediately upon his arrival at Brighton.—“A little while more will bring us, I hope, together. In your society, my friend, I look for the principal pleasure of my life. The commerce of the world gives me no real satisfaction, and I am not fit for it; but as often as the calls of business will allow, your dwelling, whether in town or park, shall be my principal haunt. I know no enjoyments like those of friendship and retirement. My system (as far as is compatible with duty) being to stand aloof from the cares of the world, which are the source of much disquietude. The tranquil philosophy of our old friend Horace is much to my taste. His favourite maxim, of moderating our desires, is of all others the most important; but, I know not how, we seem often to be carried along by a blind impulse, as if a fatality presided over our actions.”

In the summer of 1805, Mr. Clarke visited London for medical advice. His sufferings now almost overcame the delightful spirits with which nature had gifted him, and his letters to his early friend are full of the most affecting passages:—“I must grasp the pen,” he says, in a letter dated the 15th of August, 1805, “to say that I
was sorry to hear you have been poorly. Mais j’espère que cela est passé. Here I linger on, in a most lamentable state, with little prospect of amendment. My spirits seem likely soon to be completely worn out. I must console myself with the hope that, after so long an illness, I may expect an alleviation of the sufferings of my final exit. Believe me, usque ad umbras silentes, ubi vagatur umbra
Ricardi nostri*, vester additissimus Le Clerc.”

His sensibility to the sympathy of his friend he expresses in the following letter, written shortly before his death:—

“This post brought me your kind and affectionate letter, which has nearly overwhelmed me. I may literally say, I have bathed my couch with my tears. I prize, as I ought, your kind philosophical consolations; and they will, I trust, assist me in bearing patiently the ills incident to our nature. I would write more, but I am exhausted. Be persuaded that the impression of your kindness, and that of my other friends, is never to be effaced from my heart.”

The loss of these long-tried and excellent friends made a deep impression on the feelings of Mr. Roscoe, and his more confidential letters

* Mr. Richard Lowndes, the early friend of Mr. Clarke and Mr. Roscoe.

contain many reflections produced by these affecting events.

“Surely, the misery that usually attends the close of life affords one of the strongest proofs of a future state of existence. For how is it possible to suppose that the same Supreme Being, who has distributed such various and extensive happiness to his creatures, would finally conclude the whole with pain and distress? This view of the subject is the only one that can afford us any real consolation, either for the sufferings of our friends, or for those which we must experience ourselves. After a life evidently intended to exercise our virtues, and improve our moral powers, death may be considered as the last great trial of our fortitude; the display of which, as it exhibits a complete triumph over the weakness of human nature, seems the best calculated to terminate our labours in this world, and accompany us on our entrance into the next. In the mean time, we who survive are like soldiers in an army, who, as their ranks are thinned by the enemy, draw nearer to each other.”

Not long after these events, Mr. Roscoe had to regret, upon different grounds, the loss of a man for whom he had ever entertained the warmest admiration and respect. In the magnanimous nature, the philanthropic heart, and the expanded political views of Mr. Fox, he
recognised the qualities which compose the character of a genuine statesman, and for a long course of years he had been accustomed to regard him as the great hope of the nation. How sincerely and how deeply he lamented his loss may be learned from the following letter to
Lord Holland:—

“I well know the poignancy of domestic grief is, on this occasion, enhanced by the consideration of the public loss of such a man, at such a juncture of time—a man in whom the nation seemed at length to have reposed its hopes and its confidence, and who was pre-eminently qualified, both by his talents and his disposition, to relieve her from the complicated evils in which she has, by a long course of misconduct, been involved. In this point of view, there have been few, if any, instances, where the sudden loss of great talents may be considered as so strikingly untimely and unfortunate. But although this must be the first and natural impression on such an event, yet a due reflection will induce us to moderate our anxiety, and convince us that the expressions, ‘untimely and unfortunate,’ apply only to our own narrow conceptions and bounded views, and that, under the direction of Providence, the most alarming evils may not only be averted, but may become the instruments of good. Without this consoling hope, our present prospects would be dark indeed.


“Among the many great and striking endowments of Mr. Fox, there is one in particular to which I cannot help adverting, and which I trust will still continue to animate all those who have admired him in public, or loved him in private life. I mean that deep and intimate feeling for human nature, which has generally been estranged from the bosom of statesmen, but which was with him a part of his existence, ever actuating him to alleviate the evils, to vindicate the rights, to soften the calamities, and to increase, by every means in his power, the happiness of mankind. In this respect he is not lost to us. As long as our language remains, the powerful effusions of his mind will continue to improve and enlighten his countrymen, and to diffuse a milder and more benevolent spirit, not only in the recesses of private life, but in the direction of nations and the intercourse of states.

“This, my dear Lord, is his great and lasting praise; and if we are not wanting to ourselves in pursuing the track which his genius and his virtues have pointed out to us, we may yet, in some degree, recompense ourselves for the great but inevitable loss which, in the common course of nature, we must, at one time or other, have had to sustain.

“The preservation of his speeches, in their best and most authentic form, is a sacred duty, which, I doubt not, will be most religiously observed.
It is here that he still lives and breathes; nor is there a single question essential to the great interests of mankind, but we can still resort to these invaluable records, as to his living self, for those liberal ideas, those extensive views, those impartial estimates of public conduct, those bold vindications of natural and political rights, those humane suggestions on behalf of all who suffer from injustice or oppression, which seem to have been the spontaneous result of his generous spirit and exalted mind, and which will secure to him the love and admiration of all future times.”

In the course of the year 1804, the interests of a young family who had been intrusted to his guardianship made it necessary for Mr. Roscoe to pass a few days in London. This visit gave him an opportunity of once more seeing the Marquis of Lansdowne, who was now rapidly approaching the close of his long and distinguished career. In a letter to Mrs. Roscoe, he says, “I am just returned from the Marquis. I have been deeply affected. He is very ill, but saw me; and though he speaks with hesitation, his kindness both to me and W. is expressed in the most affectionate terms. More when I return.” In a letter to Lord Holland, written after the Marquis’s death, he says, “I am sorry to have occasion, so near the close of my letter, to recall a subject of such infinite regret as the death
of the Marquis of Lansdowne. I saw him about twelve months since, and was apprehensive that his life could not be greatly prolonged. He spoke to me in the most affectionate terms, particularly requesting that I would continue the attachment I had always shown him, to his son
Lord Henry,—a recommendation which certainly did me great honour, but which was not necessary to induce me to comply with his wishes.” The correspondence between the Marquis of Lansdowne and Mr. Roscoe extends from the year 1790, down to the period of his Lordship’s last illness. Confidence, attachment, and respect for the opinions of each other, are freely manifested throughout the whole course of it. There were few subjects of political interest upon which the Marquis did not address his correspondent; and in his open expression of sentiment, his capacious and liberal views, his attachment to freedom, and the accurate foresight of his judgment, reflect the highest honour on his statesman-like character. On the part of Mr. Roscoe, the correspondence is conducted with freedom, with sincerity, and with the respect due to the station and talents of his correspondent, and to the conspicuous part he had long acted in public affairs. During this excursion Mr. Roscoe had the pleasure of occasionally enjoying the society of Dr. J. E. Smith, who happened at that time to be in town. In the following letter to Mrs.
Roscoe he has given a slight sketch of his engagements during this visit:—

“I wrote you a few lines on my arrival on Saturday. I had scarcely finished, when Dr. Smith and Drake called on me, and I accompanied them to the Doctor’s lodgings, and was introduced to Mrs. S. and Miss F. S. I shall not attempt to describe them to you, lest you should think you have totally lost your wandering swain. I shall only say, that he who could see and hear Mrs. S. without being enchanted, has a heart not worth a farthing. Mr. Martin also called on me at the Temple Coffee-house. He was going on Sunday to dine with Dr. Aikin; and Dr. Smith promised to be of the party. I found a note from Mr. E., inviting me to dinner and bed, but I excused myself; and Dr. Smith, Drake, the two ladies, and myself, intruded ourselves unexpectedly at Dr. Aikin’s table, and passed one of the brightest days in the summer of human life. Dr. A. was in high spirits, and seemed truly to enjoy our visit. His situation is perfectly suited to his wishes; and he declared that the present is the happiest period of his life. Miss A. is improved in her health, and preserves all her vivacity. After dinner Mr. Barbauld called, and conducted us to his incomparable wife. With her we found Mrs. John Taylor, and a long et cætera of the families which I cannot enumerate; and after half an hour’s conversation, we returned
to Dr. Aikin’s to tea. On our return we sent Drake home in the coach with the ladies, and Dr. Smith, Mr. Martin, and myself, went to
Sir Joseph Bankes’s. I was introduced to him, and received very kindly: invited to dine with the Royal Society on Thursday, and attend the meeting of that and the Antiquarian, which I intend to do. To-day I have devoted to business, examined all the poor old gentleman’s papers and effects, in company with Mr. E., one of the finest old gentlemen of seventy-five that I ever met with. I had called on him at Clapton on Sunday, and apologised for my apparent incivility, but promised to dine with him to-day. After four hours’ hard work in Mr. Dawson’s lodgings, I accompanied him to Clapton Terrace, six or eight miles from town, and am just returned between nine and ten o’clock, with sundry valuables, safe from highway depredators. To-morrow I am engaged to dine at Mr. Barbauld’s: Mr. Martin and Miss S. are to be there. In the evening I propose to go to the Linnean Society. Wednesday, a great part, with Dr. S. to Kew. Sunday at Mr. Creevey’s, to meet Mr. Fox.

“I have paid several other visits, but have not yet been able to see the Marquis. Engagements crowd in, but I hope to arrange them so as to be free at the end of next week. On Sunday we called at Mr. Belsham’s, and saw our young friends, who are in perfect health: I shall call
on them again before I leave town. I hope to see Mrs. Wakefield to-morrow. I write this with Harry Browne lecturing on beef à-la-mode in the next room, from which I hear every word as plain as if he sat beside me. I have now tired myself and you, but you will see that I lose no time; for which my constant stimulating principle is, that I may be once more at Allerton.”

The sentiments of Mr. Roscoe at this time, on the course of political events, may be gathered from his letters. In the following, addressed to Lord Holland, he has stated his views with regard to the condition of the Roman Catholics, and notices one of the great causes which was silently leading to their emancipation:—

“March, 1805.

“I have somewhere, in that work*, alluded to the necessity there is, that statesmen and rulers should be aware of the changes in public opinion, and should accommodate their conduct accordingly; and I might have added, that enlightened rulers will foresee and anticipate such changes, and turn those circumstances, which would otherwise be ruinous, to their own or the public advantage. This, however, has not been the case of late with the administration of this country, who have given another striking proof of that want of knowledge of human nature which has always characterised them, in their present conduct to

* The “Life of Leo X.

wards the Catholics of Ireland. Can any thing be more apparent, than that the late commotions on the Continent have broken down all the old distinctions between Catholics and Protestants, and given rise to a new order of things, in which theological distinctions are absolutely lost and extinguished? Have we not been defending the Pope in his own capital? And is not the present existence of the Roman See owing to the interference of this country? Has not our great enemy united against us, not only his own motley empire, but the superstitious and Catholic government of Spain, and the Protestant and enlightened state of Holland? And shall we be the last people on earth to perceive these important alterations, and, through motives which have no longer any real foundation, place an insuperable bar between classes of people forming one nation, and that too at a time when the exertions of the whole country are required to preserve its very existence? The agitation of this question will, however, have done great good; not only from the knowledge, liberality, and temperate firmness displayed by the friends of toleration, but by the disgraceful ignorance and stupid superstition of its adversaries. The difference is such as cannot fail to be felt in every part of the country, and will have a tendency, more than any event that has yet occurred, to promote sentiments of moderation and good-will among people of different
religious persuasions, and particularly towards the Roman Catholics, and thus hasten the way to that general toleration of speculative opinions, which it is yet to be hoped will finally take place.”

In another letter, to the same nobleman, written at the close of the year 1805, he thus expresses himself on the subject of the war:—“The intelligence from the Continent seems to become every day more important, and the war acquires a character of treachery, cruelty, and ferocity, which would disgrace an age of barbarians. I feel all this the more sensibly, from an apprehension that this country has been the cause of these calamities. I look back to the origin of the present contest, when peace and war hung equal in the balance, and the slightest portion of moderation and true good-will to mankind would have turned the scale on the favourable side. But Mr. Addington was suspected of being too tame a minister, and thought himself called upon to give a proof of his decision and firmness:—fatal and inconsiderate step! in which he abandoned his natural character, lost himself in the opinion of the true friends of their country, threw the reins of government into the same bloody hands that had so long and so disgracefully held them, and led the way to commotions, of which no human prudence can possibly foresee the event.”


A public fast having been directed to be observed in the year 1803, Dr. Parr took this occasion of expressing his sentiments upon political affairs, in a sermon which he preached in the parish church of Hatton. In this discourse, a copy of which he presented to Mr. Roscoe, he sketches, with his usual power, the character of a patriot; and denounces those who profane that hallowed name to the purposes of ambition, avarice, and national or individual pride. This publication drew from Mr. Roscoe a long and interesting critique, in the form of a letter, addressed to Dr. Parr; to whom, however, as appears from a memorandum made upon it, it was never sent. The following extract from this letter might almost be supposed to have been addressed, not by the politician to the divine, but by the divine to the politician:—

“From these sentiments you will perceive, that although I agree with you in your definition of patriotism, and in the inferences you draw from it, as to the indispensable duty and necessity of a vigorous and national defence, yet I conceive this is not the only form in which the efforts of a true patriot may at present be displayed. You have well observed, that our patriotism must not be confined to the endurance of pain, or the surrender of life itself; and if ever there was an occasion on which efforts of an extraordinary nature were called for, it is at
the moment when two nations are whetting the sword against each other, and commencing a career of horror and of bloodshed, of which no human power can foresee the consequences. Every pretended patriot, every proud and ignorant individual, can cry out for war, and urge on his neighbour to the work of destruction; but where is the man who will oppose himself to the national madness? Who will point out to both countries the absurdity of a contest, which has no adequate or even rational object in view? Who will propose, in the very moment of exasperation, measures of conciliation and of peace; and sacrifice himself in the public opinion, in the hope, however remote, of rendering to his country, and to almost all mankind, a real and effectual service? He who would dare to attempt this is indeed a patriot. He who should succeed in it would entitle himself to the gratitude and applause of all future times.

“You will not, I am sure, conceive, that in stating these sentiments I consider myself as advancing any thing in which I believe you would not readily concur. They are, I flatter myself, too much in the spirit of the excellent discourse, which has given rise to them, to meet with any great opposition from you. But I should have been truly happy to have seen them more fully recommended and enforced in the same energetic language, and with the same
convincing arguments, that distinguish the whole of your sermon.

“Surely, whilst we are vigilant in our defence, we may keep our hearts free from that rancour and malevolence which shut out all prospect and all hope of reconciliation; and if we cannot attain to the Christian virtue of loving our enemies, we may at least guard against that diabolical spirit of animosity, which renders mankind more ferocious than wild beasts. Notwithstanding the present exasperation, which has been so artfully and wickedly excited between the two countries, opportunities will occur when the breathings of a more temperate spirit will prevail; and to prepare the way for it is certainly the duty of every true friend to his country. After all the outcry that our liberties are in danger, from the measures adopted by the French tyrant on the Continent, I fear we are in more danger from ourselves, than from all other nations upon earth.”

It was not until the spring of 1806 that Mr. Roscoe had the satisfaction of becoming personally acquainted with Dr. Parr, and of enjoying his society for some days at Allerton. This visit, which confirmed the friendship created by their literary intercourse, is mentioned by Dr. Parr in the following short letter, with his usual strong expression of feeling:—

“Dear Mr. Roscoe,

“I am now in my sixtieth year. I have conversed with the wisest and most learned of my contemporaries, and I say to you with great sincerity, that the days I spent with you, and your family, were amongst the happiest days of my life. I shall remember you; I shall esteem you; I shall praise you; I shall bless you, one and all, again and again. Yes, dear Sir, I am thankful to Heaven for granting me such an intellectual and such a moral repast. I shall again be thankful, if I am permitted again to see you, and your wife and your children.”