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The Life of William Roscoe
Chapter XV. 1817-1818

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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1817, 1818.
Meeting for the establishment of the Liverpool Royal Institution.—Report drawn up by Mr. Roscoe.—Introductory lecture delivered by him—printed by request of the Committee.—Letters from Mr. Shepherd and, from Dr. Aikin, on this occasion.—Resigns the office of President of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool.—His contributions to that society.—Essay on the Application of the Principles of Morality to the Intercourse of States.—Is elected a member of the Philadelphia Linnæan Society.—Correspondence with Sir Joseph Banks on Miss M’Avoy’s pretensions to the faculty of discriminating colours by the touch.—Tract on Penal jurisprudence meditated.—Hymns contributed by Mr. Roscoe to the Collection for the use of Protestant Dissenters.—Anthem—set to music by Mr. Webbe.—Proposal to him to write a History of the State of Europe—declined.—He communicates with M. La Fayette through Mr. M’Creery.—Interview of the latter with M. La Fayette.—Letter from M. La Fayette to Mr. Roscoe—his reply—his regret that he had been unable to carry into effect his more extended views.—Lines expressive of his deep feeling on this subject.

Amongst the public institutions of Liverpool, there existed, for a long period, none devoted to the purposes of liberal education. The advantages and conveniences of an establishment, where academical instruction of a higher character than is usually bestowed at a private school might be obtained, and where young persons, who had finished the ordinary routine of education, might have an opportunity of cultivating their minds, induced Dr. Traill, of Liverpool, in the year 1813, to draw up a plan for an institution of this nature; and in the following year, a number of gentlemen, favourable to the design, called a public meeting, “to take into consideration the expediency of establishing an Institution for the promotion of literature, science, and the arts.” The meeting was numerously attended; and a resolution was carried, that the sum of 30,000l. should be raised in shares of 100l. each, for the purpose of carrying the project into effect. A committee of twenty gentlemen, amongst whom was Mr. Roscoe, was appointed, who immediately published a detailed plan of
the Institution; the objects of which they proposed to accomplish by academical schools,—by public lectures,—by the encouragement of societies, who might unite for similar objects,—by collections of books, specimens of art, natural history, &c.; by providing a laboratory and philosophical apparatus, and by the association of the proprietors for the communication of literary and philosophical intelligence. At the end of three years from this time, the committee made their first report, which was drawn up by Mr. Roscoe, as chairman of that body. A spacious and convenient building had been obtained; arrangements for the establishment of the schools and lectures had been made; apartments had been provided for the Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool, and for the Liverpool Academy of Artists; and a reading-room, furnished with the Foreign and English literary periodical works, had been provided for the use of the proprietors. The objects of the Institution are thus concisely stated at the conclusion of the report:—“If your committee were required to explain, as briefly as possible, the advantages, public and private, which this Institution is calculated to afford, they would beg leave to state, that it is intended to unite the benefits of a strictly academical education with domestic and social habits, and a knowledge of the manners and affairs of public life; to perpetuate the
acquirements of youth beyond the limits of the school, and to diffuse a more general taste for scientific and literary subjects, so as to enable the town of Liverpool to keep pace with, if not to excel, other populous communities, as well abroad as at home, in those discoveries and improvements which have, of late years, been as astonishing as they are useful, and seem still to be proceeding in an increased ratio; and to promote, in the most efficacious manner, those studies and occupations which confer honour on the human character, and add no less to the dignity than to the rational pleasures of life.”

It was announced in this report, that the operations of the Institution would commence by public lectures, of which an introductory one would be given by Mr. Roscoe, to be succeeded by courses on different branches of natural history, by Dr. Traill and Dr. Vose. Sir James Edward Smith also undertook to deliver a course of lectures on botany, and Mr. Campbell on poetry.

The delivery of the introductory lecture, announced in the report, took place on the 25th of November. The task of preparing, and still more of pronouncing this lecture, was one of no little weight to Mr. Roscoe. It was with difficulty that, amid the distraction of business, he found time for its composition; and the idea of coming forward to deliver it in public, at a season when
seclusion was so much more grateful to his feelings, disturbed and oppressed him. He yielded, however, to the conviction that he could not be wrong in thus performing a public duty, and that he should be supported on the occasion by the kindness of many friends. Nor was he mistaken. By a very numerous assembly, which filled every part of the large lecture-room of the Institution, he was received with the most flattering applause, which was repeated at the conclusion of the lecture. On the following day, he received from the committee a letter, requesting him to publish the Discourse, with which he thought proper to comply, and it was subsequently printed under the following title, “
On the Origin and Vicissitudes of Literature, Science, and Art, and their Influence on the present State of Society; a Discourse, delivered on the opening of the Liverpool Royal Institution, 25th November, 1817.”*

The nature of this discourse sufficiently appears from its title. Its great object was to inculcate the too frequently forgotten truth, that it is to their own exertions that individuals must look for their improvement in taste, in literature, and in science; and that here, as in other cases, he who wishes to excel, must be the architect of his

* Liverpool: Printed by Harris and Co.; and sold by Cadell and Davies, London.

own fortunes. “To suppose that the human race is subjected to a certain and invariable law, by which they continue either to degenerate or improve; to presume, that the progress of civilisation, science, and taste, is limited to certain climates and tracts of country; or to adopt the idea, that when they have risen to a certain degree of excellence, they must, in the common course of affairs, necessarily decline, is to deaden all exertion, and to subject the powers of the mind to the operation of inert matter, or to the fluctuations of accident and chance.”

In the following animated passage he has philosophically traced the natural union between utility and pleasure.

“In thus attempting to vindicate the studies of literature and the cultivation of the fine arts chiefly on the principle of utility, I am not insensible that I may be supposed to be indifferent or adverse to the opinions of those who have defended them on other grounds. There are many persons who contend that their object is to please, and who attribute the enjoyment we derive from them to the bounty of the Creator, who, throughout the whole of his works, has shown, that an attention to order, to elegance, and to beauty, corresponding to certain fixed principles in our constitution, forms a part of his great and beneficent plan. But whilst I admit the full force of this argument, I conceive
that, in this instance, there exists no necessity for our separating the ideas of utility and of pleasure, and of relying for our justification on one of them only. The gifts of the Creator are full handed; nor has he always placed it in our power to accept of that which is indispensably necessary, without, at the same time, compelling us to accept of the pleasure that accompanies it. We may morosely suppose, that fine prospects, beautiful flowers, or sweet sounds, are below the dignity, or unworthy the attention of an improved and rational mind; but we cannot close our ears to the morning song of the lark, nor avoid the sight of the landscape, unless we refuse to breathe the breath of heaven, and relinquish the cheerful beam of day; and if we resolve that our palate shall not be gratified, we must deprive ourselves of that nutriment which is necessary to our very existence. Apply this to all the conveniences, and even the elegancies of life, and then let us ask, what is the result of this system of intellectual and physical enjoyment to which the cynical and short-sighted observer has applied the equivocal and injurious term of luxury? That great classes of the industrious part of the community are employed, ingenuity exerted, talents rewarded, wealth circulated through an infinite variety of channels, and a general bond of union arising from an interchange of services and rewards is formed
amongst the vast family of the human race. “A man of benevolence,” says
Mr. Dugald Stewart, “whose mind is tinctured with philosophy, will view all the different improvements in arts, in commerce, and in the sciences, as co-operating to promote the union, the happiness, and the virtue of mankind.” Utility and pleasure are thus bound together in an indissoluble chain; and what the Author of nature “has joined, let no man put asunder.”

Upon the objects of the Institution Mr. Roscoe remarks, “It is to the union of the pursuits of literature with the affairs of the world, that we are to look forwards towards the improvement of both; towards the stability and foundation of the one, and the grace and ornament of the other; and this union is most likely to be effected by establishments in the nature of the present Institution, founded in the midst of a great commercial community, and holding out opportunities of instruction, not only for those intended for the higher and more independent ranks of life, but for those who, amidst the duties of an active profession, or the engagements of mercantile concerns, wish to cultivate their intellectual powers and acquirements.

“Nor is it to the period of youth alone that the purposes of this Institution are intended to be confined. Education is the proper employment, not only of our early years, but of our
whole lives; and they who, satisfied with their attainments, neglect to avail themselves of the improvements which are daily taking place in every department of human knowledge, will, in a few years, have the mortification to find themselves surpassed by much younger rivals. In order to afford the best possible opportunity of preventing such a result, it is the avowed object of this Institution, not only to establish a system of academical education, but to draw from every part of the United Kingdom the best instructors that can be obtained, on those subjects which are of the first importance and the highest interest to mankind. By these means an establishment will be formed, original in its plan, and efficient in its operation; affording to the inhabitants of this great town an opportunity of domestic instruction for their children, equal, it is hoped, to any that can elsewhere be obtained; and preventing the necessity of resorting to those distant seminaries, where, amidst the promiscuous society of youthful associates the character is left to be formed as chance and circumstances may direct. Nor will the course of instruction cease with the period of manhood; but will be continued for the use of those who may choose to avail themselves of it in future life; thereby carrying the acquirements of youth into real use; applying them to the practical concerns of the world, and pre-
venting, as far as possible, that absurd and entire relinquishment of the benefits and attainments of education, which generally takes place at the precise time when they should be converted to their most useful and important purposes.”

Soon after its publication in England, a translation of the Discourse into Italian appeared.

The applause with which this Discourse was received was not confined to its delivery. From many quarters the most gratifying criticisms upon it were transmitted to its author, none of which afforded him higher pleasure than the following, from his attached friend, the Rev. W. Shepherd:—

“When I received the copy of your inaugural oration on the opening of the Liverpool Royal Institution, which you were so kind as to send me, I was on the wing for my usual holiday excursion, and since my return home I have been so much occupied by the commencement of my school labours, that I had not time to read it till a day or two ago. On its perusal, I am by no means surprised at the universal satisfaction with which it was received at its delivery. The views which it exhibits of the causes of the rise and decline of literature and art, in various countries, are at once profound and clear. Its assertion of the dignity and utility of the pursuits of science and learning
is convincing and persuasive. In style, it is luminous, and, upon just occasion, eloquent and pathetic. By the publication of this work you have laid the world of letters under fresh obligations, and have added a new ornament to the pillar of your literary fame. That you should ‘tot curis molestiisque distractus’ have been able to produce such a composition, is a subject of surprise to the many, and of congratulation to your friends; in which number to be reckoned has long been the pride and pleasure of yours, most sincerely, W. S.”

Dr. Aikin also congratulated him on this occasion, in a letter which was the last that Mr. Roscoe ever received from his friend:—

“Many thanks, my dear friend, for your very kind and welcome letter, and your congratulations on the state of my health. The latter is, indeed, more improved than I could once have imagined, and I have scarcely any thing to complain of except a defect of memory, which I find generally accompanying advanced life, and which does not yet deprive me of those mental occupations which are most suitable to my age.

“It is with great pleasure that I learn from Edmund, that there are no symptoms of any decline in that part of your constitution, and that the admirable powers with which you have so long amused and instructed the world, still exhibit all their pristine vigour.


“The Institution, which I must regard as principally indebted to you for its success, and which may one day convert Liverpool into an Athens or a Florence, has been most auspiciously brought forward under your tutelage, and I have the satisfaction of hearing from all who were your auditors, that nothing could have surpassed your exertions on that occasion. In my retirement from the world I conceive that you can scarcely be in earnest, by assigning me high-learned and orthodox acquaintance; but bad I any such; you might be assured of my best endeavours to enlist them in your service. At present my knowledge of such distinguished persons is in the records of my past life, and is likely never to be renewed.”

Of the Literary and Philosophical Society, whose meetings were transferred, as above related, to the rooms of the Royal Institution, Mr. Roscoe had been for some years the president. His incessant avocations unfortunately prevented him from attending the meetings of the society with regularity, and from contributing so frequently, as it was his desire to do, to its transactions. The feeling that he was unable properly to fulfil the duties of his office induced him, in the year 1825, to tender his resignation, which he did, in the following letter to his friend, Dr. Traill, the vice president.

“I much regret that it will not be in my
power to attend the meeting of the Literary and Philosophical Society this evening, particularly as it was my wish to have expressed in person to the society, my grateful acknowledgments for the honour they have so long done me in continuing me in the office of their president, notwithstanding the very imperfect manner in which I cannot but feel I have been able to perform the duties of that station. I am sorry to add, that my increasing years, and uncertain state of health, which almost disqualify me from long continued exertion, have at length induced me most respectfully to tender my resignation, which I do with the sincerest sentiments of kindness and regard for every individual of a society from which I have uniformly experienced the utmost liberality and the greatest indulgence, and of which I shall still be happy in taking my place as a member as often as circumstances will admit.

“May I beg, my dear Sir, you will have the goodness to communicate this to the society this evening in such manner as you may think most proper.”

At the earnest solicitation, however, of the society, Mr. Roscoe was induced to retain the office of their president, with the understanding that his personal attendance would not be expected.

The contributions of Mr. Roscoe to the
“Transactions of the Literary and Philosophical Society” were few in number, not exceeding three or four. One of the most interesting of these, and, perhaps, one of the very best of his productions was an essay “On the Application of the Principles of Morality to the Intercourse of States.” This paper originated in some remarks made by
Mr. Bigland in his “Historical Display,” upon a passage in the “Life of Leo X.,” in which the author applies the same principles of morality which obtain in private life to the intercourse of states.

The following preliminary remarks are highly characteristic of Mr. Roscoe’s sentiments on this and other subjects of the greatest interest to mankind.

“Truths hidden to former ages are not only openly asserted, but are diffusing themselves amongst the community with a rapidity which nothing can oppose. Among these may be enumerated the establishment of the great principle of natural and personal rights, with the existence of which a state of slavery is incompatible The practical refutation of the absurd and dangerous maxim, that the safety and wellbeing of a nation depends upon the depression and weakness of surrounding states.—The open assertion of the doctrine that war is not a necessary evil, but may be averted by means, which it is perfectly in the power of rational beings to
adopt.—The necessity of amore enlightened jurisprudence, by which the exercise of the benevolent feelings shall be substituted for those of anger, cruelty, and revenge; and, lastly, the establishment of the opinion that the rules of morality, which are binding upon every individual in private life, are equally applicable to the conduct of governments, and the intercourse of nations with each other:—these propositions, so various in their objects, so important in their results, are all deducible from one source, and united together in a common origin, being all comprised in the great precept of Christianity, ‘to do to others as we would they should do to us.

“In the publications which I have at different times ventured to lay before the world, I have occasionally adverted to some of the topics above-mentioned, and have endeavoured, as far as my humble efforts can prevail, to establish their truth and demonstrate their practicability. In particular, I had in one of those works expressed an opinion that an individual, when his sphere of action becomes more extended, ought to pursue, on a large scale, the same line of conduct that he does on a smaller; to which I have added, ‘what has the Politician to do, but to apply to the affairs of nations and the intercourse between states, those principles of morality, which he finds in the relations of private life.


With regard to the argument founded upon what is considered political expediency, that circumstances may arise, which may compel a statesman, for the promotion of the national safety or happiness, to guide himself by other rules than those which the morality applicable to the transactions of private life prescribes, Mr. Roscoe observes:—

“This theory is, however, false; virtue and true wisdom are inseparable. The real difference between a good and a wicked man consists in their extent of vision, or grasp of mind. The one sees only what is immediately before him, and acts rightly, according to his own perceptions; the other takes in a wider range, and compares the advantages to be obtained by temporary success with the evils that must ultimately result from it. If, for instance, it should appear that by a violation of moral obligation, or national rights, some peculiar advantages might be obtained by one state over another, there have been, and, perhaps, there are, politicians who would not hesitate to avail themselves of so favourable an opportunity, and would, with Mr. Bigland, ‘think it a virtue, as being directed to the promotion of national safety, tranquillity, and happiness;’ but the enlightened moralist would look further, and act upon a higher principle. He would know that this temporary
advantage could not be obtained, without opening the way to consequences which he might neither be able to control nor foresee. He would perceive, that one of the first results of his conduct would be the destruction of that mutual confidence which is indispensable to the very existence of human society; he would know that such advantages are temporary, but that principles are eternal, and would not sacrifice the greater to the lesser.”

In the spring of the present year, Mr. Roscoe had the gratification of finding his name added to the list of the members of the Philadelphia Linnæan Society. His election was communicated to him in the following letter:—


“I am directed by the Philadelphia Linnæan Society to inform you that they have elected you a member of their association.

“In adding your distinguished name to their list of foreign members, the society have designed to testify the high sense they entertain of your eminence in the science of botany, the promotion of which is one of the objects of their institution.

“I have taken advantage of this opportunity of transmitting you a copy of a Prodromus of a Flora Philadelphica, which I published about
a year since, and of which I beg the favour of your acceptance.

“I am, Sir,
“With very great respect and consideration, “Your most obedient Servant,
William P. C. Barton.”
“Philadelphia, Jan. 11. 1817.”

In consequence of a communication from Sir Joseph Banks, with whom he maintained an occasional correspondence, Mr. Roscoe was induced to make some inquiry into the circumstances of a most singular imposture, attempted at this time to be practised by a female in Liverpool. The nature of the faculty which she pretended to possess is described in Mr. Roscoe’s letter, and it will surprise those who have never remarked the extent to which human credulity may be carried, to learn that numbers of sensible and scientific men were persuaded that her pretensions were well founded.

“I have heard,” says Sir Joseph Banks, “so much of a woman at Liverpool, who can see with the ends of her fingers when it is light, but cannot, in like manner, see with the ends of her fingers when it is dark, and have been told that two medical men of reputation are convinced that there is no fallacy in this most extraordinary sixth sense, that I am inclined to
hope that you will forgive me, if I request you to take the trouble of inquiring into the evidence and favouring me with your opinion on the subject.”

In compliance with the wish thus expressed, Mr. Roscoe, who had already visited the person in question, gave the result of his observations in the following letter:—

“I happen to be in some degree enabled to reply to the inquiries you have done me the honour to make, respecting the person who asserts that she can distinguish colours by the touch; having seen her myself about three months since, and examined her pretensions as accurately as it was in my power. She is a young woman about eighteen years of age, and much indisposed by a complaint, supposed to be water on the brain, and which is said to have deprived her of sight. Her friends and connections are decent and respectable Roman Catholics; neither she, nor they, intrude themselves on the notice of the public. When her health will permit, they allow visitors to see her, but they do not accept of any compensation whatever.

“When I saw her, she was seated by the fireside; seemed in tolerable spirits, and expressed her willingness to make the experiments required. The only persons present, besides my friend Mr. George Walker, and myself, were a
respectable looking woman, who is, I believe, her step-mother, and
Mr. Glover, a Catholic priest, who appeared a very well-informed and candid man. A pair of hood-winks, or goggles, were produced, and fixed over her eyes, and, as it appeared to us, so tight, as to render it impossible for her to see any object, however perfect her eyes might be. We then placed in her hand successively, various pieces of coloured silk and paper, which we had brought with us for that purpose, having the precaution to take them privately to her, so as not to let any one see them, and put them under her cloak or shawl, where she received them, and, after feeling and considering them for a few minutes, gave her decisions upon them.

“These, however, though frequently correct, were not uniformly so; and we were at considerable pains to find out the reason of this variation. After some time, we discovered, that when any opake object was interposed between the direct line of her eyes and her hands,—for instance, when I held my hat silently before her,—she seemed reduced to guess at the colour, and was frequently wrong. And when she found this repeated, she insinuated that there must be no interruption between her breath and her hands; supposing, as we understood her, that her breath was necessary to add to the delicacy of her touch.


“Upon the whole, I was by no means convinced of the existence of so extraordinary a faculty, and am still much more inclined to believe that she by some means obtained a glance below the hood-winks than to give her credit for her pretensions. What occurred afterwards rather confirmed than removed my doubts. She undertook to read by the touch a printed paper, in which she made out some words; and her friends assured us she could frequently read as much as half a page in a small type. Her mother then went out of the room and brought in a small bottle with a blue powder within, and giving it into her hand asked her what was the colour of it; to which she replied, ‘blue smalt.’ This answer proved too much for my credulity, and I have not since repeated my visit.

“I am greatly confirmed in my unbelief by the very decided opinions of my friend, Dr. Traill and Dr. Vose, who have examined her with great accuracy, and found, that when the possibility of vision was interrupted by stopping the space between the hood-winks and the nose with cotton, her faculty was gone. There are, however, I am told, many scientific and well-informed persons here who fully believe in her pretensions, and I, therefore, beg you will have the goodness to understand me, as only speaking of my own impressions, and not presuming to judge of others,
who may not only be better qualified, but have taken much more pains on the subject.”

Mr. Roscoe also transmitted to Sir Joseph Bankes, a volume, containing the case of Miss M’Avoy, and asserting the reality of her pretensions.

“I beg of you,” says Sir Joseph, in reply, “to accept my thanks for the book you were so good as to send me. I cannot say, however, that I am at all convinced that your lady possesses the powers she pretends to enjoy. As long as she contented herself with judging by the sense of touch, I might wonder, but I dared not to disbelieve; but now that touch is intercepted by a plate of glass, which nothing but the sense of vision can penetrate, her fingers must have eyes in them, or she must be a deceiver. But when she finds a print too small for her, and receives aid in reading it from a lens laid upon it, her finger-eyes must be of a strange configuration, as she has no occasion to adjust them to the focus of the lens.”

The imposture did not long remain undetected. By the application of a number of ingenious experiments, it was ascertained, that however closely the covering of the eyes was fixed, a few rays of light penetrated, and enabled Miss M’Avoy to use the eyes in her head without any assistance from those in her fingers.


The whole of the year 1818 was devoted by Mr. Roscoe to the settlement of the affairs of the bank. The few vacant hours which the evening afforded him were passed in necessary relaxation; for he was fortunately at this time exempt from any literary engagements. It was not until the close of the year, that he began to meditate his tract on penal jurisprudence, of which some account will be found in a subsequent chapter.

Amongst the minor literary employments in which he interested himself at this period, was the superintending, in conjunction with some of his friends, the publication of a new edition of a collection of hymns, for the use of the congregation of Protestant dissenters, at Renshaw Street, Liverpool, of which he was a member. To this volume he contributed several pieces*, and amongst the rest the following anthem:—

* The following is a correct list of his contributions, made out by Mr. Roscoe himself, by the desire of a gentleman at Gloucester, who was preparing a Collection of Hymns:—

25. “Almighty God, before whose throne.”
65. “Almighty Father, thou whose power.”
166. “Go, suffering habitant of earth.”
255. “Who gave the sun his noonday light?”
268. “Great God, before whose piercing eye.”
343. “Oh when shall this aspiring soul.”
357. “What is the first and great command?”
405. “Let one loud song of praise arise.”
413. Anthem.

“Holy, holy, holy
Lord God Almighty!
Thou to whom alone are
All praise and glory due!
Holy, holy, holy
Lord God Almighty,
Father everlasting!
Righteous, just, and true!
“Bending down before thee,
Lo! thy sons adore thee,
Hand and voice declaring
Jehovah is thy name:
Winds in tempests blowing,
Waves o’er ocean flowing,
To remotest regions
Thy might and power proclaim.
“In the heaven’s expansion
Thou hast fix’d thy mansion,
Clouds of endless glory
Encompassing thy throne!
Heard but in thy thunders!
Seen but in thy wonders!
Through eternal ages,
Thou art God alone!
“’Tis thy breath informs us,
’Tis thy spirit warms us;
If thy face be turned
We should cease to be.
Height nor depth oppose thee,
Trembling nature knows thee;
Through the vast creation
There is none but thee.
“Holy, holy, holy
Lord God Almighty!
Thou to whom alone are
All praise and glory due!
Holy, holy, holy
Lord God Almighty!
Father everlasting!
Righteous, just, and true!”*

The circumstances in which Mr. Roscoe was placed having induced a very general idea that he would again devote his pen to literature, several applications were made to him by respectable booksellers, with the view of engaging his services. To a communication from Edinburgh, respecting a history of the state of Europe (a subject which appears afterwards to have been intrusted to Sir Walter Scott, and to have been the origin of his Life of Napoleon), Mr. Roscoe made the following reply:—

“At an earlier period of life, and under circumstances of greater leisure, there are few works which I should have undertaken with more willingness than a history of the state of Europe, and of the causes and effects of the revolution in France. Of these astonishing events, I have been an anxious though remote observer; and am of opinion, that if they were properly narrated, combined, and commented upon, they

* This anthem was, with much taste and feeling, set to music by Mr. Webbe.

would afford lessons of greater interest and importance to the world, than any subject that has ever employed the pen of the historian. I cannot, however, but be sensible, that the utility and success of such a work must depend entirely on the ability brought to the undertaking; and although in the warmth of youth I might have overlooked this consideration, it appears at present with too formidable an aspect to allow me to contemplate a work of such magnitude and difficulty without shrinking from the task. I confess it is not without reluctance that I decline the proposition adverted to in your letter, and resign the work into other hands. At the same time, if, upon further deliberation, I should think there was a possibility of confining it within a moderate compass, so as to bring it within the limits of my powers, and allow myself a reasonable expectation of accomplishing it, I may, perhaps, reconsider my present determination; but unless you hear from me again within a very few weeks, you will be pleased to consider that determination as decisive.”

The variety and weight of his other occupations confirmed this decision, and Mr. Roscoe abandoned all idea of the undertaking.

There were few persons, either at home or abroad, for whose character Mr. Roscoe entertained a greater respect, or, indeed, a deeper veneration, than for that of M. la Fayette. The
simplicity of heart, and the undeviating rectitude of conduct, which the life of that great man displays, had won his entire esteem. It was, therefore, with much pleasure, that he availed himself of an opportunity afforded him in the spring of this year, to convey to M. la Fayette, through his friend
Mr. M’Creery, the assurance of these sentiments.

“I cannot suffer you to take your departure without accompanying you with my best wishes that your journey may be safe, pleasant, and prosperous, and that you may bring back those who are so dear to you as much improved in their health as I am sure they will be in their acquirements.

“Should you happen to meet with M. la Fayette, will you have the goodness to tell him that there is an individual here who has never ceased to interest himself in his welfare, and who has been happy to hear the favourable accounts given of his health and present situation, as well by some of our English travellers, as by some of his friends here, among whom I may mention M. Masclet, with whom I have often the pleasure of conversing respecting him. Yes, my friend, if you should have the good fortune to see M. la Fayette, you will see one of the very few men who know how to withstand the allurements of rank and power on the one hand, and the destructive rage of popular fury on the
other, and who, notwithstanding all he has suffered, and the destruction of all his hopes for the liberty and happiness of the human race, may look back on his public life, not only with his own approbation, but with the assurance that he has obtained that of every other friend of freedom in every part of the civilised world.”

The following is the account which Mr. M’Creery gave of his interview with M. la Fayette:—

“I remained three weeks and two days at Paris, and was highly gratified, not only with the specimens of art with which that city abounds, but with the friendly reception which I met with from some of the first characters there. I had the pleasure of an introduction to General la Fayette, to whom I presented your letter, which he read with great interest; and at parting, pressing one of my hands most kindly between his, bade me tell you how much he felt the value of your good opinion, and begged, if you ever visited Paris, that you would do him the pleasure of calling upon him. I promised faithfully to deliver his regards to you, and it occurred to me afterwards that it might be agreeable to him to possess your letter. In a conversation with the friend who introduced me, I mentioned this idea, and he assured me that nothing could be a greater pleasure to M. la Fayette, and that if I would intrust it
to him, as he was going to visit him the subsequent week at his country house, he would be the bearer of it. I accordingly committed it to his care (having kept a copy), together with a copy of your ‘
Tracts on the War’ both of which will be very acceptable presents.”

A few months afterwards, M. la Fayette himself expressed to Mr. Roscoe his feelings of mutual esteem, in the following letter:—

La Grange, 20 Août, 1818.

“L’admiration ancienne et bien sincère que m’inspiraient votre caractère et vos écrits, a donné un grand prix aux témoignages de bienveillance et d’estime dont vous m’avez honoré; c’est avec autant de plaisir que de reconnoissance que je les ai réçus, tant ceux dont MM. M’Creery, Say, et Masclet, ont bien voulu être les interprêtes, que les envois directs dont j’aime à vous avoir l’obligation; j’y ai retrouvé les principes et les sentiments qui m’avaient attaché à vos travaux précédents, et c’est cette communauté d’opinion sur les rapports politiques de nos deux pais qui m’attachent bien particulièrement à votre personne. Il faut espérer que les nations, averties par cette dernière et cruelle épreuve, éclairées par le rapide progrès des lumières sur l’horison Européen, ne seront plus à l’avenir les dupes du Machiavélisme et des passions de leurs gouvernements; elles apprendront enfin
qu’entre les peuples divers, comme entre les membres d’une même société, il n’arrive pas une avantage particulière qui ne devienne bientôt l’avantage de tous; on réconnait déjà que, si les Etâts Unis eussent été subjugués, l’Angleterre aurait aujourd’hui beaucoup moins de liberté et de commerce; il est facile de voir par l’acharnement de nos adversaires de tous les païs, que la liberté Française est devenue nécessaire à celle d’Europe, et nommément à la votre.

“Continuez, Monsieur, à proclamer les vérités philanthropiques: votre réputation et vos talens sont bien propres à les rendre populaires parmi vos compatriotes. Elles trouveront en France toute la sympathie que vous pouvez désirer. Je serais très-heureux que vous puissiez en être témoin, et j’espère qu’alors nous aurions la satisfaction, ma famille et moi, de vous posséder à La Grange. Agréez, en attendant, l’expression de la vive gratitude, de la haute considération, et du sincère attachement que je vous ai voué.

La Fayette.”

To this communication Mr. Roscoe made the following reply:—

“The letter with which you have honoured me has afforded me the sincerest pleasure; not merely as it gratifies me with a direct communication from one whom I have ever regarded with the sincerest admiration and respect, but as it
proves, that after a series of events, such as few persons have ever experienced, you still preserve your health and spirits uninjured, and enjoy the happiness of looking back on those events with the consciousness of one who has steered a direct and steady course, under circumstances almost too much for human fortitude to sustain. Grieving as I do for the defeated efforts and blighted prospects of liberty,—of that rational and temperate liberty, which equally rejects the anarchy of the many, or the despotism of the few,—it is with tenfold pleasure that I can yet turn towards one of her firmest adherents, and console myself in the idea, that such an example will not be lost to the world. No, my dear Sir, the salt hath not lost its savour, nor is the cause of the human race hopeless. A few works, surviving the wreck of ages, have preserved to mankind the memorials of science and of art; and a few names, illuminating the page of history, will afford a strong and steady light to ages yet to come.

“Instead of continually lamenting what we have lost, it is, perhaps, wiser to avail ourselves as well as we can of the little that has been saved. The former can only open those wounds which it is desirable should be for ever closed; the latter affords us a consolatory hope, that the favourable appearance at present observable in France may be realised; that a limited monarchy, recognising the rights of the people, may be es-
tablished; and that sacrifices, such as no other nation ever made, may not have been made in vain.

“In expressing these wishes for the prosperity of your country, I am sensible how nearly I sympathise with your own;—to express them to you in person would be a still greater happiness; but, although the distance which separates us is not great, I fear I must not flatter myself with the hope of seeing you in your retirement. It will, however, afford me a consolation, that I have been favoured with the kind assurances contained in your letter, which I enjoyed the more, as I feel, that as far as a concordance of sentiment and the most sincere and habitual attachment can lay claim to them, I may hope to merit a continuance of them.”

The efforts which Mr. Roscoe, at this period of his life, made, in the midst of the harassing and anxious labours which the settlement of his affairs imposed upon him, to render himself in some degree useful to the public, by contributing to the establishment of institutions for the diffusion of knowledge, and by endeavouring to spread abroad just principles with regard to the various subjects in which the welfare of mankind is involved, proceeded from a firm and deep-seated sentiment of duty. In those hours of depression which the painful situation in which he had been placed sometimes caused, he never
regretted the loss, to himself or to his family, of those advantages which fortune is commonly supposed to bestow. To him the source of sorrow was, that he had not been enabled more effectually to promote the welfare of his fellow-creatures, and to carry into effect the extended views which he entertained for their happiness and improvement. As he saw himself approaching the termination of life, and knew how few years remained for the accomplishment of that which his heart desired, a sentiment like that of disappointment overclouded his mind; and it was while under the influence of these feelings, that the following lines, perhaps the most touching that ever proceeded from his pen, were written:—

“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”—Job, xiii. 15.
God of my life, my hope, my fear,
In whom alone is all my trust,
I feel the closing hour draw near
That gives this fainting frame to dust.
Like the tired hart, at bay I stand,
Thy toils have compass’d me around;
I wait the death-stroke from thine hand,
And stoop resign’d to meet the wound.
Yet one fond wish still warms my soul,
To thee in humblest hope exprest,
That, ere the darkening shadows roll
To close me in their final rest,
Thou wouldst some worthier aim inspire,
Some living energy impart,
Some holier spark of purer fire
Rekindling in my dying heart;
That when, removed from grief and pain,
This fragile form on earth shall lie,
Some happier effort may remain
To touch one human heart with joy;
One nobler precept to bestow,
One kind and generous wish reveal,
To bid the breast with virtue glow
To love, to pity, and to feel;
To soothe the ills it cannot cure,
The sufferer’s injuries redress;
And through life’s varied channels pour
The living stream of happiness.
Then, though in cold oblivion laid,
Some secret beam of heavenly glow
May pierce the dark incumbent shade,
And warm the dust that rests below.
This mouldering form, from God that came,
An instrument at his command,
Waits silent yet, through all its frame
The impulse of its Master’s hand.
Smite, Lord! this frame shall own thy power,
And every trembling chord reply;
Smite, Lord! and, in my latest hour,
This falling frame shall ring with joy!

8th Feb. 1818.