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The Life of William Roscoe
Chapter XXI.

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’s life a useful example.—His moral qualities—his consistency in politics—in his religious opinions—in his tastes and pursuits—in his attachment to works of art and poetry—in his friendships.—The reward of consistency.—His humility—his ambition, and love of literary fame—his own feelings with regard to the success of his writings—his humanity—his charity.—Devotional feelings of Mr. Roscoe—his early study of the Scriptures.—Letter on the presentation of a Bible to him.—His religious poems—hymn—sentiments on religious liberty.—Mr. Roscoe’s political opinions—his enlarged and liberal views—objects of his political exertions—political poems—lines.—Mr. Roscoe’s acquirements as a scholar—his acquaintance with the classical languages—with the modern languages—his taste in English poetry—his knowledge of botany—his love of the fine arts—his promotion of literary and scientific institutions—his power of generalisation—his energy in literary pursuits.—Mr. Roscoe’s friends in early life—in middle age—his associates in political and local improvements—his political friends—the friends acquired by his philanthropic exertions—by his literary character.—Mr. Coke of Norfolk.—Distinguished foreigners—Americans, Italians—his botanical friends.—The grounds upon which his friendships rested—his demeanour in society.—Mr. Roscoe’s domestic character.—Poems addressed to him by his children.

The history of Mr. Roscoe’s life affords an encouraging picture to all, but especially to those who, like himself, have to contend with the disadvantages arising from the want of education and of fortune. All that he became was the result of his own exertions. Without the assistance of rank, or wealth, or powerful friends, or accomplished instructors, he raised himself to a station in society, and to an eminence in literature, which few persons, with every adventitious aid, have attained. Nor must it be forgotten, that this was accomplished, not so much by means of extraordinary talents, as by energetic and diligent application, and by an ardent desire of rendering himself useful to mankind. In the highest and the best parts of his character he is open to the imitation of all:—in his integrity and sincerity; in his attachment to freedom and truth; in his earnest endeavours to do good; in the purity of his public principles; in the beauty of his private life; and in his serene submission to the will of God.

Much of the respect with which Mr. Roscoe
was regarded arose from that consistency, both in principles and in conduct, which, extending over his whole life, gave a harmony and crowning beauty to his character. From the early period of his youth, down to the last days of his declining age, he had been the uniform and earnest advocate of the same principles; applying them in turn to all the most important subjects of human interest. In his writings on politics, on morals, on jurisprudence, and on every other subject where the application of those principles was involved, one and the same spirit was uniformly manifested; a spirit of benevolence, of liberal thought, and of generous confidence in human nature. Throughout every action of his life, the same enlarged views were visible; and never, perhaps, was any man’s course more free from the taint of low or mean motives. This consistency of character resulted from an integrity of heart, which suffered neither his feelings nor his judgment to be biassed by those views of interest or expediency, which often mislead the wise, and sometimes even the good.

It is proper to point out this consistency in right principles and right conduct, as the true source of the high personal reputation which Mr. Roscoe enjoyed; to show, that it was not to the possession of great talents, nor of brilliant qualities, nor to the merit of public services, though to these he had some claim, that he was
indebted for the respect and the admiration so generally exhibited towards him, but to qualities which every one possesses, and which, if duly cultivated, will lead to the same results. Genius, learning, and accomplishments, may excite wonder or extort praise; but it is only the higher qualities of consistent integrity and generous benevolence that can secure respect or confer real influence.

In taking even a cursory review of Mr. Roscoe’s life, the striking coherency of his opinions and conduct at every period of it will be visible. In politics his course was truly uniform and undeviating. Never, for a moment, in periods of disaster and of danger, when even brave men hesitated, did he abandon the open assertion of those liberal principles which then marked out their professors, not only to the jealousy of the government, but to public odium. Throughout the whole course of the French war he never ceased to oppose it, in public and in private, in his speeches and in his writings, as unjust, impolitic, and destructive. While he deeply lamented over the excesses of the French revolution, he did not, as many did, abandon the principles and the feelings which had led him to rejoice at its commencement. He knew that the crimes and the wickedness of man could not affect the immutable principles of justice and of freedom. In his attachment to parliamentary
reform, which he regarded as necessary to the security of our own free institutions, he was inflexibly constant; and when many of the political friends with whom he had acted, and whose opinions he was accustomed to regard with respect, displayed a coldness on this question, which seemed to portend a total abandonment of it, Mr. Roscoe became but the more warmly interested in its progress. From the age of seventeen, when he wrote his poem of “
Mount Pleasant,” to the period of his death, the subject of the Slave Trade had been one of the most unceasing interest to him; and after giving his vote for the abolition, he continued his efforts to procure the abandonment of it by other nations, and the total abolition of slavery in our own colonies. In his adherence to the principles of Protestant dissent, in which he had been educated, and which his judgment approved, he was equally consistent; nor would he ostensibly conform to the Establishment for the acquisition of any personal distinction.

Even in his tastes and favourite occupations, the same spirit of constancy was evinced. That love of literature which was the joy of his youth was also the solace of his age. His attachment to works of art continued at every period of life to afford him pleasure:—the few prints he possessed at the close of his life, and the small collection which he had made in his youth,
perhaps, gave him equal gratification. But, in nothing was the enduring nature of his tastes more visible, than in the delight which poetry afforded him in youth, in manhood, and in age; and in the undying sensibility which, to the last, he continued to manifest to its powers.

In friendship, also, the unchangeableness of Mr. Roscoe’s affections was most pleasingly manifested. The friends of his youth were only lost to him in death, and he seemed to inspire in others the same abiding attachment. Nor was it the name only, but the warmth of friendship, which remained; and which was continued to the descendants of the early friends of whom the grave had deprived him.

The reward of consistency is great. Mr. Roscoe lived to see the justice of almost all the leading principles which he had advocated fully acknowledged. He lived to witness the adoption of nearly every measure of importance for which he had laboured, through good report and through evil report. He was permitted to partake of the triumph which the friends of liberty obtained in the abolition of the Slave Trade. He saw the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, and of the laws which disabled the Roman Catholics. He beheld peace restored, and he saw the rise of a better system of things in France. He flattered himself that more correct views on the great subject of Penal Jurisprudence were ex-
tending themselves; and, lastly, he survived to witness all but the completion of the grand work of Parliamentary Reform.

Another of the most amiable and striking traits of Mr. Roscoe’s character was, “that spirit of humility and modesty which ought to be inseparable from the consciousness of human imperfection, and which softens the asperities and corrects the pride even of virtue herself.”* During a long life he had occupied, in various ways, a distinguished situation. From being the first person in his family, he had become one of the first amongst his townsmen; his fame was then extended not only in his own country, but to foreign nations, by his literary works. He was, without any solicitation on his part, returned as the representative of his native town to parliament. He had acquired the personal friendship of men celebrated for their station, then character, and their talents. The letters of his correspondents were filled with the most flattering expressions of respect and admiration; and upon all hands he met with a consideration and observance which would have induced many men to exaggerate their own importance. It is an expression of Burke’s, which he makes use of in his will, that, “in his lifetime, he had had too much of noise and compliment.” He felt that the purity

* Life of Pope.

of his character had been sullied by the incense. But such was not the effect of his celebrity upon the pure mind and simple feelings of Mr. Roscoe. A native modesty, which never departed from him, taught him to set a just value on the homage of the world. He knew of how small account all talents are, in themselves, and how little justified we are in priding ourselves upon the possession of that which is only an additional obligation upon us to virtuous exertion. He looked with comparative indifference upon the reputation which he had acquired as an author, but frequently expressed the satisfaction he felt, that, by the principles and spirit of his writings, he might have contributed, in some degree, to the happiness of mankind. He was not, indeed, insensible to that honourable praise, which, after the consciousness of doing good, is the best reward of human labours, but he never, for a moment, permitted the idea of public commendation or blame to influence his actions. He was not devoid of ambition, but it was an ambition purified from dross. He was not ambitious of wealth, or of place, or of power, unless it was the power of doing good. Though he frequently came forwards in public, yet it was from no desire of personal distinction; and so little was he governed by motives of this kind, that, when he was called upon to become a candidate for the representation of Liverpool, there probably was not a person in the town
who felt so much surprise as himself at a request so honourable to his character. He did not possess any great desire to become distinguished in public life, feeling that his love of retirement would be ever at war with such a career. His sole ambition was to be the instrument of disseminating amongst mankind the great principles which must eventually lead to their improvement and happiness; and in this cause, so dear to his heart, he has hot, it may be hoped, laboured in vain.

On the love of fame, as influencing the literary character, he has himself made some remarks, in an unpublished work, from which the following passages are extracted:—

“Another passion is excited, and the love of fame becomes the stimulating principle. ‘As life is short,’ says Sallust, in assigning the reasons for undertaking his history, ‘we ought to use our endeavours to prolong our memory as much as is in our power;’ hereby avowing that the motives of his work were concentrated in himself, and that the desire of posthumous reputation prompted him to his undertaking. Gibbon, without denying the influence of this sentiment, has modified it with that of the desire of utility. ‘I would despise an author,’ says he, ‘regardless of the benefit of his readers. I would admire him who, wholly attentive to their utility, should be totally indifferent to his own
fame. I stand in neither of these predicaments.’ Again; ‘I ought soon to choose some portion of history which may do me credit, if well treated.’ Nor is the love of fame, considered as a concurrent cause, an unworthy motive of exertion. If the disinterested wish to be eminently useful to others be the mark of a virtuous character, the desire of reputation is that of a great and soaring mind; and it is, perhaps, to the union of these that the world is indebted for the numerous works, in ancient and modern times, which may be regarded as the lights and landmarks of the human race. When, however, the desire of benefiting mankind is absorbed and lost in the passion for celebrity, the most injurious consequences cannot fail to ensue. That predilection for a particular country, which is often veiled under the specious name of patriotism, and that bigotted adherence to a sect which assumes the character of religious zeal, are often the immediate sources of partiality or misrepresentation; but the writer who is actuated by a disinterested desire of rendering service to a party or a cause is yet more respectable than he who feels no interest whatever for the public, but selects a subject which may display his talents to the best advantage, and executes his undertaking in such a manner as seems most conducive, not to the instruction and benefit of others, but to his own fame. Whatever the
subject of such a writer may be, he is, in fact, his own hero. At every opportunity he introduces himself, in his own person, to his reader, demands his attention, challenges his approbation, and reminds him of his obligations; striking novelties are substituted for important truths, the ornaments of language for the fidelity of narration; in short, whatever can amuse or allure, whatever may excite surprise or attract approbation, is uniformly preferred to that which may enlighten, inform, and improve.”

In conformity with these principles, it was Mr. Roscoe’s constant endeavour to make his literary powers subservient to the improvement and happiness of his fellow-creatures, regarding the exertion of his talents with satisfaction, only when they contributed to the public good. It was the influence of these feelings which led him to take so much pleasure in the reflection that his writings on the subject of Prison Discipline had not been without effect. “When he learnt,” says Dr. Traill, “from various quarters, that the change which was taking place in the prison discipline of America was, in no small degree, attributed to his expostulations, I heard him repeatedly declare that no literary distinction had afforded him half the gratification he received from the reflection on the part he had taken on this great question; and he expressed his satisfaction that he now might be permitted
to think that he had not lived altogether in vain.”*

It was the same spirit which led him (deeply persuaded as he was of the truth and justice of the views which he had taken) to engage in the distasteful labour of political discussion,—to interest himself in the public occurrences of the day, and to devote to controversy the hours which he would gladly have dedicated to the pleasanter pursuits of literature. He has himself, in some lines already given, beautifully expressed these feelings in the prayer,—
“That when removed from grief and pain,
This fragile form in 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.”

Another modification of that feeling of benevolence which existed so strong within his breast was his humanity to animals. He practised and he taught to those around him the lesson,—
“Never to blend our pleasure or our pride
With sorrow of the meanest thing that feels.”

* Dr. Traill’s Memoir.


He has himself related the pain he suffered on witnessing the dying agonies of a bird which he had shot on his first and last fowling excursion; and his “Elegy to Pity,” written in his early youth, displays the same tenderness of feeling:—
“Devoid of fear, the fawns around thee play;
Emblem of peace, the dove before thee flies;
No blood-stain’d traces mark thy blameless way,
Beneath thy feet no harmless insect dies.”

Not to have possessed these feelings would, indeed, have been totally at variance with the rest of his character, which was strongly marked with an aversion to cruelty and oppression of every kind. He has noticed, with much commendation, the existence of similar feelings in the breast of Pope*,—“feelings which are, indeed, inseparable from a humane and generous character, and which are founded on a sense of compassion and kindness towards the lower orders of animated being.”—“Of this,” Mr. Roscoe adds, “he gave a decisive proof in an excellent paper in the Guardian of the 21st May, 1713, in which he has endeavoured to inculcate just notions of the relations that subsist between man and the inferior animals, and to rescue them from those persecutions and cruelties to which they are so frequently and so inconsiderately exposed. I cannot think it extravagant,” says he, “to ima-

* Life of Pope, p. 569.

gine that mankind are no less, in proportion, accountable for the ill-use of their dominion over creatures of the lower rank of beings, than for the exercise of tyranny over their own species. The more entirely the inferior creature is submitted to our power, the more answerable we should seem for our mismanagement of it; and the rather, as the very condition of nature renders these creatures incapable of receiving any recompense in another life for their ill-treatment in this.”

The disposition of Mr. Roscoe to assist those who might stand in need of his aid, and the readiness with which, in the midst of his numerous engagements, he was accustomed to listen to such applications, afforded him frequently an opportunity of rendering important services at a small expense of time and attention. His name, also, being very generally known, he was applied to, not only by persons in Liverpool, but in remote parts of the country, soliciting his advice and assistance; sometimes upon matters of literature, and sometimes with regard to their own private affairs.* Many of these requests manifest the great confidence generally felt in his judgment and in his benevolence;—a confidence which his conduct on these occasions proved to be not undeserved.

* See Appendix, No. II.


Of his devotional feelings some idea may be formed from various passages in the preceding narrative. “He had,” says Dr. Traill*, “deep and solemn feelings of devotion, which it was not his practice to obtrude on his acquaintances, but which he occasionally expressed to his intimate friends, in the language of heartfelt piety. The beautiful invocation to the Deity, which he substituted for the intended dedication of his great botanical work, breathes the deep fervour of his adoration to the Supreme Creator.” In nothing did the depth and sincerity of his religious impressions more strikingly manifest themselves than in the patient, uncomplaining submission with which he yielded to calamity. A perfect confidence in the goodness of God supported him through many trials, and enabled him to regard with feelings of cheerful hope the approach of death itself.

The spirit of submission and trust which governed his conduct is expressed in the following letter, written to a lady for whom he entertained a high degree of respect and regard, immediately after the loss of one of her daughters:—

“I was not disappointed in the idea I had formed of the firmness with which you would sustain the heavy loss with which you have been afflicted, because, I knew, that such firmness

* See Dr. Traill’s Memoir.

was not a mere effort of human strength, but was founded on that humility and submission to the will of God, which is the result of a thorough confidence in all His dispensations. Under this impression we cannot but perceive, that His goodness is as great, although not so apparent, in what He takes away as in what He gives; in what He denies to our wishes, as in what He grants; and although it certainly requires an effort to act upon these convictions at the moment when calamity falls upon us, yet we may be assured, that every event that occurs, if rightly used and improved by us, is only a part of that great moral process which is intended to exalt our character, and improve our capacity for happiness in a better state.”

At an early age he had diligently and seriously studied the Sacred Writings, and had collected from them, as the rule of life, the moral precepts of Jesus Christ. Towards the close of his life he began to revise this youthful effort, and had his health permitted him, it is probable that he would have prepared it for the press. The result of these enquiries may be stated in his own words:—“The belief in Christ and in Christianity, so strongly and uniformly inculcated in the Holy Scriptures, is not the embracing or holding a particular doctrine, but a belief which results in action, which evinces itself in all the relations and concerns of life,
which induces us to follow the precepts and imitate the example of Christ, which is not a mere vain and empty pretension to superior wisdom, knowledge, or power, but which humbly seeks to discover what are the duties we have to perform.”

In the year 1820, a lady of Liverpool, with whom he had little personal acquaintance, presented to him a copy of the Bible, accompanied by a letter expressing her respect for his character, and her concern for his spiritual welfare. His reply will give some idea of his opinions on religious subjects.

“On my return home, after an absence of four months, I found the copy of the Holy Bible, which you have been so good as to present to me, and which is rendered still more acceptable by the expression of friendly regard by which it is accompanied. In thus availing myself of your kindness, you will not, I am sure, suppose that I have remained till this late period of my life unacquainted with its contents. The recommendations in your letter were impressed on my mind in my earliest days, and I sincerely join in the opinion of Sir W. Jones, and yourself, in the character he has given of the sacred writings.

“Allow me to add, that I have, on more occasions than one, borne my humble testimony to their excellence, and have endeavoured, as far
as it lay in my power, to prevent their remaining a dead letter, by calling the precepts of the New Testament into practical use, and introducing their sublime principles and humane spirit into the institutions of civil society. If you will do me the favour to peruse the concluding pages of a tract which I published in 1819, entitled ‘
Observations on Penal Jurisprudence and the Reformation of Criminals,’ you will find a specimen of those efforts to which I have ventured to allude.

“The same sentiments which I have myself imbibed have descended to my children, and will, I trust, produce richer fruits. May I hope you will perceive some earnest of this in the little volume by which this is accompanied, the production of my younger daughter, expressing those religious sentiments and feelings, which, I hope, you will yourself approve.”

His devotional feelings were, at every period of his life, occasionally poured forth in the language of poetry; and the depth and purity of those feelings are sensibly manifested in the following hymn, written in his early youth, and displaying perhaps a too sensitive consciousness of his own imperfections. Many of his other devotional pieces are already before the public.

Heavenly Father! in whose sight
Darkness flashes into light,
Gracious, from thy throne on high
Cast on me a pitying eye:
See my soul in anguish tost,
Lost to peace, to virtue lost,
Struggling with its weighty chain,
Struggling ever, but in vain;
As some wretch, the tempest o’er,
Labours to regain the shore,
So, my God, my spirit tries
From the sea of vice to rise.
Still my powers are weak to save,
Still pursues some stronger wave,
And, with a resistless sweep,
’Whelms me in the foaming deep.
Long, the dupe of human pride,
Have I on myself relied;
Long sustain’d th’ unequal strife
That defended more than life;
By such weak allies betray’d,
Now no more I trust their aid,
But to safer refuge flee,
Resting all my hopes on Thee.
God of love! my faults forgive,
Bid me hope, and bid me live;
Let some dawn of light control
This long darkness of the soul;
From the temple of my heart
Bid each grovelling thought depart,
And to guard its peace supply
Steadfast faith and holy joy:
Meek repentance, in whose eyes
Tears of true contrition rise;
Gratitude, whose hands are prest
Duteous on her feeling breast;
These shall in Thy sacred way
Guide my feet, long prone to stray,
Till, each meaner passion o’er,
I may tempt thy frown no more;
Nor, of youth and vigour vain,
Sow in sin to reap in pain.
Swiftly fly the rolling year!
Till that happier morn appear
That my noblest hopes shall see
Centred, O my God! in Thee!—
That shall teach my thoughts to rise
O’er the world and all its joys;
Bend obedient to thy laws;
Feel the worth of self-applause;
Nobly scorn each meaner care,
And in conscious virtue dare
All that comes in misery’s train,
Sickness, poverty, and pain,
Heedless of the hour of fate,
And prepared for either state.

On the subject of freedom in matters of religious opinion he has expressed his sentiments in a letter to the Rev. Dr. Butler, thanking him for a copy of his installation sermon. “The assertion and defence of truth,” he says, “is incumbent upon every one, and particularly upon every teacher of religion; but there is one truth, paramount to all the rest, which is the very basis of religious enquiry, without which all discussion is absurd, viz. that every person, in his spiritual concerns, has a right
to adopt such opinions as appear to him to be right. This being previously understood, a free and useful discussion may take place; but, until this foundation be once established, nothing but confusion and dissension can ensue. You, my dear sir, would concede this liberty as freely as you would claim it, and your liberal sermon does much towards recommending and enforcing it; but, after all, it is much to be feared that these sentiments are rather those of the individual than of the body; and that neither Luther, nor any of the churches founded under his sanction, tolerate, in the full and fair meaning of the word, any opinions but their own.”

It was in his political opinions, more especially, that the character of Mr. Roscoe developed itself. Those opinions were founded upon the principles of truth, justice, and generosity. Rejecting altogether the narrow and mistaken doctrines by which statesmen have suffered themselves to be governed, he applied to the intercourse of states, and to the government of nations, those rules of morality and those maxims of honour, integrity, and good faith, upon which the safety and happiness of individuals depend. He deprecated the policy which seeks to exalt one nation at the expense of another, and he resolutely resisted that system of government which aims at benefiting a portion of the community, to the exclusion of the rest. He ab-
horred the adoption of bad means under the pretext of obtaining a good end, well knowing that an abandonment of the great rules of virtue and morality is poorly compensated by any temporary advantage. He has truly said, “No end can justify the sacrifice of a principle, nor was a crime ever necessary in the course of human affairs. The sudden burst of vindictive passion may sometimes occasion important changes in the fate of nations; but the event is seldom within the limits of human calculation. It is only the calm energy of reason, constantly bearing up against the encroachments of power, that can with certainty perpetuate the freedom or promote the happiness of the human race.”*

He had a lofty and generous confidence in human nature, which led him to believe that mankind might be best governed through their judgment and their affections, and that the dominion founded upon force, or fear, or fraud, was at once unstable and noxious. Integrity of purpose, and a sincere desire to do good, were, he well knew, the true bonds which unite a government to the people. He felt the same trust in the character of nations. “What,” he asks, “would be the condition of private society, if envy, jealousy, fear, distrust, and hatred, were the only feelings by which mankind were actu-

* Life of Lorenzo, vol. ii. p. 305., last edition.

ated? But still more unfortunate is it when these dreadful and unsocial passions are intermingled in the character of nations, and influence the conduct of states towards each other.”

His great desire was to witness the removal of those restraints upon the freedom of thought and action which subject one set of men to the caprice, the ignorance, and the malice of another. He therefore opposed, to the utmost of his power, the continuance of negro slavery, the disabilities imposed on the ground of religious opinions, and the injurious restrictions by which the commerce of this country has so long been crippled. To the complete removal of these evils, and to the establishment of a truly patriotic government, he clearly saw that a reform in the representation of the people was essential; and to this, as to the instrument of great and beneficial changes, he was ever anxious to lend his assistance. But, while the country was struggling with a sanguinary and expensive war, he well knew that it was in vain to look for political improvement, and he therefore devoted all the energies of his mind to the cause of peace. Of the effect produced by his political writings, it is difficult to form an opinion; but from the popularity of some of his pamphlets, it is not unreasonable to conclude that his arguments were not without their influence on the state of public opinion.


The strong political feelings with which the mind of Mr. Roscoe was often excited were not unfrequently expressed in verse. Of these poems several specimens have been given in the preceding pages, and the following lines are now added, written at an early period of his life:—

Hired slave of greatness! servile tool of state!
Thy bosom labouring with thy country’s hate!
Whose tongue would lick the dust where tyrants trod!
And, whilst thou felt the power, would’st kiss the rod!
The abject friend of Stuart’s perjured line,
And the mean advocate of right divine!
Go, fawning wretch! from Albion’s freeborn land;
Go, seek, with trembling steps, some southern strand,
Where kneeling slaves around their sovereign wait,
His smile their transport, and his fury fate;
Where freedom from the nerveless clime is flown,
And the dear name of property unknown;
Where love connubial dreads a tyrant’s lust,
And man, a reptile, grovels in the dust.
There, in thy native clime, thy toils pursue,
And bind with weightier chains the patient crew;
Teach them that Heaven, in wrath to man, design’d
That one should reign, the lord of all his kind;
That God for him the feast of nature spread,
And screen’d from justice his anointed head.
Soon shall thy various merits stand confest,
Thou the first minion of the tyrant’s breast;
Till one, more mean, if any such can be,
Shall snatch the golden meed design’d for thee;
And thou, dependent on thy master’s breath,
Shalt from the bowstring meet a silent death.
O glorious day! O heaven-directed hour!
When injured justice crush’d the pride of power,
Spurn’d the thin covering of exterior things,
And dared to punish perjury in kings;
Taught sceptred pride in nearer view to scan
The rights of nature, and the claims of man;
Bade earth’s proud Tyrants dread their Country’s hate,
And fix’d the base of England’s future state.

The acquaintance of Mr. Roscoe with the classical languages was made entirely without instruction from others. Early in life he acquired a knowledge of the Latin language, and had rendered himself familiar with its best writers. Of these Horace and Cicero were his peculiar favourites. Nearly at the same period his attention was directed, by Dr. Aikin, to the study of the Italian poets, who, on the revival of learning, almost rivalled their great models in the beauty of their Latin verse. Although Mr. Roscoe cannot be said to have acquired that refined and critical knowledge of the language, to which in this country so large a portion of time is devoted, or rather sacrificed, he was yet fully capable of tasting and appreciating the higher excellencies of style, as his selections from, and observations upon, the writings of the modern Latin poets sufficiently demonstrate.

With the Greek language Mr. Roscoe did not become acquainted until the middle period of life, when for some time he studied it with much diligence. In this task also he received no as-
sistance, relying entirely on his own method of study. More important avocations prevented him from pursuing these agreeable labours to the extent he desired, and it was only during the interval which elapsed between his relinquishment of business in 1796, and his return to it in 1799, that he was enabled to devote any considerable portion of his leisure time to this object. The language itself had excited his high admiration, and he often adverted with pleasure to the time he had spent in acquiring it. Of his proficiency in it he thus speaks in the following passage, intended to form part of a letter to
Dr. Parr:—

“To the abstruser parts of learning, and particularly to the nicer distinctions of the Greek language, I have no pretensions. I have not, indeed, lamented, like Petrarca, over the books of Homer, which remained silent to his ardent entreaties, but my acquaintance with them has been a sort of illicit intercourse, uncontrolled by system, and unsanctioned by authority. Αυτο-διδακτος, and consequently ill taught, it has been my lot to pursue the same system to the present day, and I may say with the philosopher—γεραςχω δάει πολλα διδαςκομενος.”

His acquaintance with the modern languages was confined to the French and the Italian. In the former he conversed with considerable fluency, and of the latter he had acquired an ex-
tensive and critical knowledge. The letters which he occasionally addressed, in that language, to his correspondents in Italy, from which a few specimens have been selected, will give an idea of the spirit and elegance with which he was able to express himself. It would, indeed, have been surprising if, after his long and laborious study of the best writers of Italy, he had not imbibed, in some degree, their genius and their taste. Of his intimate acquaintance with the literature of that country, and more especially of that splendid portion of it which he illustrated by his writings, it is unnecessary to speak. The general estimation in which those works are held, both at home and abroad, bears ample testimony to their merits.

It was chiefly in the earlier part of his life that English literature engaged his attention. With the works of the poets he was particularly conversant; and his memory was stored with many of the most beautiful passages from their writings. Among the elder poets, Chaucer, Shakspeare, and Milton held, in his estimation, their deserved and pre-eminent place. But the writer to whose works he recurred with most pleasure was Pope; whose genius he has vindicated in the dissertation prefixed to the second volume of his Works. Shenstone was the favourite of his youth, and in later life Cowper won his warm admiration. Amongst the poets of his own day, he
was most forcibly struck with the genius of
Byron. The poetry of Scott did not interest him greatly; and he did not concur with those who extol so highly the poetical productions of Wordsworth and of Southey. But with one of the writers of the same school he was much delighted; and the “Isle of Palms” was one of his most favourite poems. No writer of modern times affected his feelings more powerfully than Mrs. Hemans. He possessed the rare talent of giving full effect, in reading, to the works of the poets whom he admired.

His general knowledge of botany was more extensive than, considering the great attention which he bestowed upon one particular order of plants, he might be supposed to have possessed. His study of the science had commenced at a very early age, and it never ceased to be the recreation of his leisure hours. He had diligently studied the best botanical works, many of which his library contained; and he frequently figured plants with great freedom and truth, though not with the finished pencil of an artist. Sir James Smith, on his first introduction to him, expressed his surprise at finding him “so good a practical botanist;” and afterwards approved of and adopted his views in the arrangement of the Scitamineæ.*

* “Mr. Roscoe, in a most excellent paper to the Linnæan Society, first led the way to a true knowledge of the genera

Like his friend, the illustrious President of the Linnæan Society, he, too, was an ardent disciple of the great Swede, “and defended the Linnæan fortress as stoutly as he could.”*

He was also attached to other branches of natural history, but had never devoted much study to them, with the exception of conchology, to which, as appears from some of his papers, he had at one time paid considerable attention.

The attachment of Mr. Roscoe to works of art contributed greatly to his happiness. When fatigued with business, and with the literary employments which generally succeeded to the engagements of the day, he was accustomed to amuse his mind with turning over the leaves of his portfolios,—an occupation which always seemed to beguile his fatigue, and to revive his spirits. His knowledge of art was considerable. In his collections he endeavoured, not merely to bring together beautiful specimens of the pencil or the graver, but to form materials for illustrating the rise and progress of the various branches of art, and thus to form, as it were, a school of art, in which its history might be studied with pleasure and advantage. He freely

of these difficult plants.”—Sir J. E. Smith to the Rev. Dr. Goodenough. “Life of Sir J. Smith,” vol. i. p. 555.

* Ibid. vol. ii. p. 261.

and gladly threw open his collections, not only for the amusement of his friends, but also for the improvement of the young artists who were desirous of studying the works of the great masters, and who constantly found in him a zealous and steady friend.

The love which he felt himself for intellectual pursuits he delighted to communicate to others; and nothing afforded him higher pleasure than to assist in the establishment of the various literary and scientific institutions, which have, in the course of the last forty years, been founded at Liverpool and in other places. The part which he was known to have taken on these occasions produced many applications to him from quarters where similar institutions were projected, and he thus enjoyed opportunities of extending his usefulness, of which he gladly took advantage. His correspondence on these subjects was not confined to England. The founders of the Botanic Garden at Philadelphia were indebted to him for the plan upon which they proceeded to form their establishment. “With the information which you have had the goodness to give me,” says Mr. Short, an American gentleman, “and which I communicated to one or two friends, and particularly to Dr. Barton, our most able botanist, we determined to make an attempt at Philadelphia, towards what you had so happily effected at Liverpool. I made use of your name
and your example to inspire the greater confidence of success in the undertaking, and should it ultimately meet with the necessary support, and be carried into execution, I am persuaded it will owe so much to this circumstance, that you will have a right, Sir, to consider yourself as one of the founders of the establishment.”

Similar services were rendered by him in the founding of the Hull Botanic Garden. On this subject he entered into a correspondence with Mr. Spence, of Drypool, who, in a letter dated 13th August, 1811, thus notices the assistance derived from Mr. Roscoe’s suggestions:—

“I feel very much indeed indebted to you for your polite attention to my request. I had the pleasure of reading the letter with which you honoured me to a general meeting of the subscribers to our proposed Botanic Garden (Dr. Alderson in the chair), which took place on Friday last, when a vote of thanks to you for your valuable information and friendly offers of assistance was unanimously passed, which I was commissioned to communicate on behalf of the meeting. Your encouragement to proceed, though on a smaller scale than at Liverpool, was of no small service to our cause. Coming from such authority, it at once silenced the few who were disposed to throw cold water on the project, with the plausible objection of the impossibility of our raising any thing like your
funds, and, in consequence, the business of the meeting proceeded with great spirit and unanimity.”

The most valuable quality of Mr. Roscoe’s mind was the rare and inestimable faculty of generalisation—the power of applying great principles, on a large scale, to all the most important transactions of life. Following out all the leading truths of religion, of morals, and of politics, to their ultimate results, he was able to detect the errors of those who have shaped their schemes of human conduct upon more narrow and confined views. Yet, in upholding only that which was strictly correct in principle, he never abandoned the expedient, being well convinced that Providence has not disjoined the useful from the good, and that the true interests of man can never be served by a deviation from rectitude. These views guided him in safety through every difficulty, giving strength and confidence to all his opinions; and it is from the exhibition of the same principles that his life and his writings must derive their real value.

In reviewing Mr. Roscoe’s literary character, it is impossible not to be struck with the sum of exertion which it displays. With the exception of the last few years of it, and of the interval between his abandoning the profession of an attorney, and becoming a partner in the bank, he was incessantly engaged in the management of
an extensive and laborious business, which occupied the whole of his mornings, and frequently of his evenings also. The only time, therefore, which it was in his power to devote to literature, were the evenings not required by his business, and those vacant spaces of time which occur in the course of the busiest day, and which are so often wasted, even by the diligent. By the careful and unremitting use of the leisure thus obtained, he accomplished those extensive literary tasks, which, by common observers, might be supposed to have required the labour of a life. To this industry was added a singular energy of character, which increased in proportion to the calls upon him for exertion, and which seemed unaccountable even to himself. “I know not how it is,” he says in a letter to
Sir James Smith, “I can never accomplish any thing unless I have a great many other things that call for my attention at the same time, when I am as diligent in what I am about as obstinacy and perseverance can make me. Whether this arises from an attachment one acquires for a particular subject, or from a perversity of disposition, which delights to be employed in any thing but what it ought to be, I shall not venture to determine.” Other persons would have concluded that it arose from that energy which is only roused and inspirited by circumstances which would depress
other minds, and is not fully put into action unless under the pressure of difficulties.

The same spirit must be regarded as the instrument of all that he accomplished in other ways; of his continued and resolute exertions in attempting to inculcate his own political opinions, of his constant endeavours to promote education and liberal institutions in his native town, of his ardent labours in penal jurisprudence, of his eager pursuit of botanical science. Each of these objects he prosecuted with a zeal which seemed to engross his whole mind, and by its very ardour to promise success. This active employment of his energies had become so habitual to him, that, instead of being inimical, it appeared to him to be necessary to his health and life. “I rejoice,” he says in a letter written in 1826, “in the disposition you feel for the continuation of your labours, it being a strong impression upon my mind, that nothing is more conducive to life and health, than some employment which calls for our continued attention, and prevents a moment from being irksome on our hands. For my own part, I feel as if my existence were twined round my employments, and that, when those have finished, I shall have finished too.” The latter years of his life verified this sentiment; when released from his literary engagements, he still found employments
which occupied and delighted his mind to the last.

It is the advice of the Abbé Maury, that in relating the history of an eminent man, the writer should add to the interest of his narrative “by surrounding the subject of it with his contemporaries.” Few persons have been more highly favoured than Mr. Roscoe in the possession of a numerous body of intelligent and attached friends, many of whose names have been mentioned in the course of the present narrative. Yet it may not, perhaps, be uninteresting to present in this place a more connected view of those amicable associations, which, while they added so greatly to the happiness of his life, enabled him, at the same time, to perform much, that, unassisted and alone, he could never have accomplished. How sincerely he valued the pleasures of friendship the whole tenor of his correspondence shows; and he has himself expressed this feeling in the following passage of a letter, written, in the decline of life, to Sir James Smith:—“Above all, I delight to preserve and cultivate those feelings of friendship and affection which have been the charm and happiness of my life, and few of which have returned me so ample a harvest as those in which I am at present employed.”

In his early youth he was particularly fortunate in the selection of companions whose tastes
and acquirements led him to the cultivation of those intellectual pursuits by which, in his after life, he became so much distinguished. In the society of
Francis Holden, of William Clarke, of Robert Rigby, and of the other youthful friends with whom the leisure hours of his early days were passed, he acquired that relish for literary pursuits, which neither the discipline of schools, nor the exhortations of the learned can confer. In their society also he sought and found the pleasures which natural scenery inspires; and their morning studies and evening walks present a pleasing picture of the manner in which their vacant time was employed.

As he grew into manhood, additional friendships were formed, distinguished, no less than those of his youth, by the strength of their ties and the worth of their objects. That mutual interchange of opinion, and that association of mental powers, which had before been directed to individual improvement, had now a higher aim, and Mr. Roscoe and his friends, in maturer life, united their efforts to promote the public good. Amongst those whom he more particularly regarded as his associates in these labours, were Mr. Rathbone, Dr. Currie, and the Rev. William Shepherd; to these names may be added that of the late Edward Rushton, a man of high moral qualities, of great intellectual endowments, and of the most inflexible strength of
principle. In conjunction with these excellent persons he concerted and carried into execution his plans for disseminating, in the community amongst whom he lived, right sentiments upon all questions of public interest; and for opposing the frequent attempts made to mislead the people, by those whose interests or whose prejudices were hostile to the general good. No meeting upon any subject of public importance was held in Liverpool, at which these faithful supporters of the people’s cause did not appear, to advocate the interests of the many against those of the few. Nor was it only when the principles of freedom and of a liberal and enlarged policy were popular with the crowd, that they stood forward in their support: upon more than one occasion they maintained the cause of the people’s happiness against the voice of the people themselves.

In the promotion of institutions of public utility in his native town, Mr. Roscoe acted not only in conjunction with his own personal friends, but gladly co-operated with all who were willing to lend their assistance. On these occasions he never suffered party feelings to prevent him from combining his efforts with those of others; and all the most useful institutions of the town have been erected by the zeal and resources of individuals of the most varied political sentiments.

As his character became more generally known,
the number of his political friends was much extended; and he had the happiness to secure the regard of some of the most estimable and distinguished persons of his day. With the late
Marquis of Lansdowne he enjoyed a long and very confidential correspondence on political subjects. With the Duke of Gloucester he corresponded, not only on the subject of the slave trade and the abolition of slavery, but upon various questions of public interest. He was in the habit also of communicating upon political subjects with Lord Holland, Lord Erskine, Sir Samuel Romilly, Mr. Brougham, Mr. Whitbread, Sir James Mackintosh, Mr. William Smith, Sir Philip Francis, and many others of the active supporters of liberal principles in both houses of parliament. If amongst these excellent persons there was any one for whom he entertained a superior respect and a higher esteem, it was Mr. Whitbread, whose principles seemed to accord more nearly with his own than those of any other of his friends. Though he had been personally introduced to Mr. Fox, he had unfortunately no opportunity of cultivating the friendship of that consummate statesman. Had such an opportunity been afforded, there can be little doubt that the character of Mr. Roscoe would have won the warm and lasting esteem of Mr. Fox.

The exertions of Mr. Roscoe in the abolition of the slave trade, in the reformation of crimi-
nals, and in other philanthropic objects, procured him a new band of friends.
Mr. Wilberforce, Mr. Clarkson, Mr. William Allen, Mr. Macaulay, and Mr. Basil Montagu were connected with him by this bond. In the decline of life he acquired the friendship of many excellent persons in the United States, by his writings on prison discipline, and by the deep interest he displayed in the progress of the penitentiary system in America.

But it was to his literary character that Mr. Roscoe owed the greatest number of his friends. Having first admired him as an author, they afterwards learned to love him as a man.* To enumerate all the friends whom his literary reputation created would be to name nearly all the most distinguished men of his day.

Of his extensive correspondence on literary subjects, it is impossible in the present narrative to give any thing like an adequate idea. It includes the names of Lord Orford, Lord Carlisle, Lord Holland, Rogers, Campbell, Sotheby,

* “An innate love of sincerity and truth; simplicity combined with a playful vivacity, yet suavity of manners; a generous belief in the integrity of others, the consequence of his own rectitude of purpose; an anxiety to do justice to the merits of others; a liberal and judicious patronage of modest talent struggling to escape from obscurity, joined to a natural cheerfulness of disposition; all united to convert into devoted and enthusiastic admirers those who first sought his friendship from his literary reputation.”—Dr. Traill’s Memoir.

Montgomery, Professor Wilson, Hogg, Charles Lloyd, Hector Macneill, the Rev. James Graham, Mr. Bernard Barton, Dr. Symmons, Dr. Parr, Dr. Aikin, Charles Butler, Dr. Dibdin, the Rev. W. P. Greswell; Miss Aikin, Miss Edgeworth, Mrs. Barbauld, Mrs. Wolstoncraft, and many others.*

One person there was, who, in the latter part of Mr. Roscoe’s life, may almost be said to have stood alone in his regard, and his attachment for whom partook of all the enthusiasm which distinguishes youthful affection. The character of Mr. Coke was no sooner known to him than it won his warmest admiration. His sincerity and manly frankness, his ardent love of liberty, the consistent tenor of his long public life, his attachment to agricultural pursuits, his open hospitality, and his truly friendly heart, were qualities which could not fail to attract Mr. Roscoe’s regard. He seldom spoke of him

* To Sir Walter Scott Mr. Roscoe was, unfortunately, only known by a short but very interesting interview, in the year 1823, at the house of Mr. Thomas Campbell. He was much struck with the appearance and animated conversation of that celebrated man, and often recurred with pleasure to the circumstance of their meeting. With Mr. Southey, Mr. Wordsworth, and Mr. Coleridge, his acquaintance was imperfect, nor was it kept up by letter. Jeremy Bentham was one of the few very distinguished men with whom Mr. Roscoe was not so fortunate as to have had any intercourse.

without some epithet demonstrative of his respect and affection; and the long labour which he underwent in arranging and cataloguing the Holkham manuscripts, became a source of the highest pleasure to him, from the consciousness that he was serving and gratifying the friend whom he loved. These feelings of affection and respect were warmly returned on the part of Mr. Coke, who neglected no opportunity of manifesting his regard for Mr. Roscoe, and who conferred upon him obligations of no ordinary nature.

The constant resort of intelligent foreigners to the house of Mr. Roscoe was a striking testimony to the estimation in which his character was held abroad, and afforded him many opportunities, by the friendships which these casual visits often created, of extending, in other lands, the influence of his principles and opinions. Men of science and of letters, from Italy, from Germany*, and from France, seldom visited the

* “An Englishman would not readily forgive me, if, when speaking of Liverpool, I were to pass over altogether in silence the banker William Roscoe. His histories of ‘Lorenzo de’ Medici’ and of ‘Pope Leo X.’ have procured him general consideration in the British empire. In Liverpool he is distinguished as the patriot and the man of taste. A stranger who has an introduction to him may certainly esteem himself very fortunate; but the polite hospitalities of the merchants of Liverpool gave me but too few opportunities of

northern parts of England without bearing with them an introduction to him; nor did he hesitate, on these occasions, to devote a portion of his valuable time to their service, promoting, to the utmost of his power, the objects of their visit. Still more numerous were the introductions which were brought to him by travellers from the United States, with a great number of whom he afterwards maintained a friendly correspondence. Amongst those to whom he thus became personally known, were
President Monroe, Dr. Channing, Mr. Jared Sparks, Mr. Verplanck, Judge Jackson, the Rev. W. P. Greenwood, Professor Norton, Dr. Kirkland, Professor Silliman, Mr. Everett, Mr. Christopher Hughes, Mr. Audubon, the late Bishop Hobart, and others.

In addition to these there were many distinguished foreigners, with whom Mr. Roscoe’s intercourse was only by letter. With the principal scholars of Italy he thus maintained an occasional communication; and amongst his correspondents in that country are to be found the learned names of Fabroni, Bandini, Morelli, Moreni, Bossi, Mecherini, and others. But the person whose correspondence he most highly esteemed,

availing myself of the kind invitations of this excellent man.”—P. A. Nemnich’s Neueste Reise dutch England, Schottland, und Ireland. Tubingen. 1807.

and with whom he regarded it as an honour to communicate, was
M. La Fayette. His other correspondents in France were not numerous.

His attachment to botany and to agricultural pursuits procured him the friendship of Sir James Edward Smith, Sir Joseph Banks, Sir John Sinclair, Dr. Wallich, Dr. Carey of Calcutta, Dr. Maton, Dr. Hooker, the Hon. W. Herbert, Lord Mountnorris, Mr. Colebrooke, Mr. Lambert, and other scientific persons. It would be unjust to omit in this place the name of Mr. John Shepherd, the excellent and intelligent curator of the Botanical Garden at Liverpool, in whose agreeable society Mr. Roscoe took great pleasure, and who was indefatigable in assisting him in his botanical pursuits. To Mr. Henry Shepherd, also, the sub-curator of the same establishment, he was under great obligations, for the friendly services rendered by him in the publication of the Monandrian plants.

As the friendship of the distinguished and exalted persons whose regard he had won, was acquired by no unworthy arts or mean compliances, so it was never made use of by Mr. Roscoe for any sordid or selfish ends. From the rank, the wealth, or the influence of his friends, he never looked for benefits either to himself or his family; but, on the contrary, he scrupulously refrained from taking advantage of those oppor-
tunities of personal advancement, which his situation and connections not unfrequently afforded him. He found the reward of this disinterested spirit in the confidence which marked the intercourse of his friends, in the absence of all feeling of constraint from obligations received or desired, and in the generous consciousness that his views and aims rendered him not unworthy of the friendship which he cultivated.

In society Mr. Roscoe displayed a cheerfulness and vivacity, which, coupled with the courtesy of his manners, rendered his conversation very generally acceptable. He expressed himself with much force and fluency, and entered with eagerness into the passing topics of the day, as well as into those graver discussions in which he felt so sincere an interest. Though he frequently took a prominent and decided part in conversation, it was not the result of an exaggerated idea of his self-consequence, but the effect of that natural ardour which distinguished him on all occasions. The benevolence of his heart led him to treat with kindness and observance the feelings of all; and the humblest person in company received, in proportion to his claims, the same courtesy and deference as the most distinguished. It was this spirit of social impartiality and justice, which rendered him so popular in society; and which
left so pleasing an impression upon the minds of those with whom he associated. The simplicity which characterised his mind distinguished his manners also; and there have probably been few persons of any celebrity, in whose demeanour less consciousness of their station appeared.

The picture of Mr. Roscoe’s life would be very imperfect, unless it represented him as he appeared in the society of his family, and in the numerous endearing relations of private life; and yet, when that picture is traced by one whose chief happiness was derived from these sources, it will be difficult to persuade others that it has not been overcoloured. Of his character as a husband something has already been said;—of his never-failing affection and goodness to his children, none but those children can judge; and to such feelings it is difficult to give expression. The attachment, gratitude, and respect, with which every member of his family regarded him, were occasionally manifested in the language which he loved; and some of these memorials of filial attachment are now introduced, to record, however faintly, the feelings which gave birth to them.

The following sonnet was addressed to him by one of his sons, soon after the publication of “Lorenzo de’ Medici:”—

Stay thy o’ershadowing wings, relentless Time!
Nor shade those auburn locks with falling grey,
That o’er my father’s frownless forehead stray,
Graceful and fair, as in youth’s golden prime.
Stay thy rude hand; and he through many a clime
Shall teach thee to retrace thy distant way,
To the bright regions of historic day;
Or he shall charm thee with prophetic rhyme,
Swept from the strings of Freedom’s holy lyre;
Or call the Muses from the Ausonian land,
And with the strains their breathing lips inspire,
Win thy cold ear, and check thy ebbing sand!
Vain is my prayer!—already o’er my sire
Thou, ruthless Power! hast stretch’d thine iron hand.

Mr. Roscoe had adopted, on his seal, the motto of Lorenzo de’ Medici, “Stassi il lauro lieto” with the emblem of the laurel. In allusion to this legend, the following sonnet was addressed to him by another of his sons in the year 1816:—

Favour’d beyond each tree of field or grove,
Glad and for ever green the laurel stands;
Not to be pluck’d but by heroic hands,
And sacred to the majesty of Jove.
No lightning flash may smite it from above,
No whirlwinds rend it from its rooted bands;
Obedient to their Master’s high commands,
They spare the chosen plant he deigns to love.
So, ’midst the tumults of this mortal state,
Whilst thunders burst around and storms assail,
The good man stands with mind and brow serene;
In cloud or sunshine still inviolate;
Confiding in a trust that cannot fail,
A sacred laurel, glad and ever green.


But it was from the pen of one of his daughters that these effusions most freely flowed, and were most warmly welcomed. No anniversary of his birthday passed without its due and accustomed offering from her hand,—that hand which ministered with devoted tenderness to the infirmities of his age.

Full seventy years, my father, on thy head
Have shower’d their aged honours; yet thy sun
Is bright and fresh as when it first begun,
And on th’ admiring world its influence shed.
O! long, and glad, and genial be its light,
And calm and blessed be its setting ray;
For thou hast in the labour of the day
Obey’d thy Master’s call; and in the right
Thy voice was ever heard, from youth’s green prime;
And foremost was thy bosom in the strife,
For all the good that can ennoble life,
Against oppression, tyranny, and crime:
Yes! freedom, virtue, and the good man’s fame
Shall to the world descend with Roscoe’s name.

In his habits Mr. Roscoe was temperate, and was attentive to the regular observance of domestic arrangements. He did not rise unusually early, and the periods he devoted to study were those which remained after concluding the more serious labours of the day. He had no stated times set apart for his studies, which were often carried on in the midst of his family. He was seldom in the habit of intrenching upon the
hours devoted to sleep. Even to the latest period of life, he usually enjoyed undisturbed repose. Though never in the possession of robust health, he very seldom suffered from severe illness; and few persons, during a long life, have been more exempt from pain. He was accustomed to take exercise frequently both on foot and on horseback, and felt a particular enjoyment in country occupations. He had few amusements beyond those which his usual employments afforded, or which he derived from the cultivation of his garden, and the contemplation of his prints and drawings. He took no pleasure in field sports, and other similar pursuits. In his youth he had a taste for theatrical performances, but in after-life he seldom entered into public amusements. From music he derived but little pleasure, although he was a great admirer of the works of
Handel. To the latest period of his life Mr. Roscoe never disregarded the proprieties of dress and of manners. His personal appearance is thus described by his friend Dr. Traill:—

“In person Mr. Roscoe was tall, and rather slender. In early life he possessed much bodily activity. His hair was light auburn, almost inclining to red; his full grey eye was clear and mild; his face expressive and cheerful. As he advanced in life the benevolent expression of his countenance remained; but the vivacity of the
features was tempered into a noble dignity, which it was impossible to see without respect and admiration; while the mouth bespoke taste and feeling, and the clustering hoary hair round his temples gave a venerable air to his manly features.”*

Various representations of him have been given to the public, and others exist in the possession of his family and friends. The portrait prefixed to the first of the present volumes, painted about the year 1791, by Williamson, an artist of considerable ability at Liverpool, presents a very pleasing idea of him at this period of his life, and has been selected to illustrate this work from its not having been before engraved. The profile at the commencement of the second volume is from the medallion executed by John Gibson in the year 1813, and is generally esteemed the best representation of him in later life. Three busts of him, by the same artist, exist: the marble bust already mentioned, executed for Mr. Watson Taylor, and now in the possession of Mr. Joseph Strutt of Derby; the marble bust presented by Gibson to the Liverpool Royal Institution; and a small bust modelled by him previously to his leaving England, from which many casts have been taken. Other busts have also been modelled,

* Dr. Traill’s Memoir.

amongst which those by
Spence, an artist of Liverpool, have been considered by many as exhibiting a strong likeness.

About the year 1822 Mr. Roscoe, at the request of his friend Mr. Coke, sat for his portrait to Sir Martin Archer Shee; and the picture, a whole length, now ornaments the Manuscript Library at Holkham. At the solicitation, also, of several of his friends at Liverpool, he was painted by Lonsdale, in the year 1825; and the picture was presented to the Liverpool Royal Institution. From this painting an engraving has been published. Two miniatures of him, by Haughton and Hargreaves,—the former in the possession of Mrs. M’Creery, and the latter of Mr. Coke,—have also been engraved. They represent him a little beyond the middle period of life.

Several notices* of Mr. Roscoe appeared, soon after his death, in the public prints and in various periodical works, of which by far the most interesting and authentic is that published by Dr. Traill, in the Twenty-sixth Number of “The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal,” from which many valuable passages have been extracted in the course of the present work.

* See Appendix, No. III.