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say, then, but that Divine spirits may descend from heaven into the meanest cottages, whilst royal palaces shall produce such as seem rather adapted to have the care of hogs than the government of men ?
96.—THE DEATH OF LORD FALKLAND.
CLARENDON. In this unhappy battle of Newbury was slain the Lord Viscount Falkland; a person of such prodigious parts of learning and knowledge, of that inimitable sweetness and delight in conversation, of so flowing and obliging a humanity and goodness to mankind, and of that primitive simplicity and integrity of life, that if there were no other brand upon
this odious and accursed Civil War, than that single loss, it must be most infamous and execrable to all posterity.
Before this Parliament, his condition of life was so happy, that it was hardly capable of improvement. Before he came to be twenty years of age, he was master of a noble fortune; which descended to him by the gift of a grandfather, without passing through his father or mother, who were then both alive. His education for some years had been in Ireland, where his father was Lord Deputy; so that when he returned into England, to the possession of his fortune, he was unentangled with any acquaintance or friends, which usually grow up by the custom of conversation, and therefore was to make a pure election of his company; which he chose by other rules than were prescribed to the young nobility of that time. And it cannot be denied, though he admitted some few to his friendship for the agreeableness of their natures, and their undoubted affection to him, that his familiarity, and friendship for the most part, was with men of the most eminent and sublime parts, and of untouched reputation in point of integrity; and such men had a title to his bosom.
He was superior to all those passions and affections which attend vulgar minds, and was guilty of no other ambition than of knowledge, and to be reputed a lover of all good men; and that made him too much a contemner of those arts which must be indulged in the transaction of human affairs. In the last short Parliament, he was a burgess in the House of Commons; and, from the debates which were there managed with all imaginable gravity and sobriety, he contracted such a reverence to Parliament, that he thought it really impossible they could ever produce mischief or inconvenience to the kingdom; or that the kingdom could be tolerable happy in the intermission of them.
The great opinion he had of the uprightness and integrity of those persons who appeared most active, especially of Mr. Hampden, kept him longer from suspecting any design against the peace of the kingdom; and though he differed from them commonly in conclusions, he believed long their purposes were honest. When he grew better informed what was law, and discerned in them a desire to control that law by a vote of one or both Houses, no man more opposed those attempts, and gave the adverse party more trouble, by reason and argumentation ; insomuch as he was, by degrees, looked upon as an advocate for the Court; to which he contributed so little, that he declined those addresses, and even those invitations which he was obliged almost by civility to entertain. And he was so jealous of the least imagination that he should incline to preferment, that he affected even a moroseness to the Court and to the courtiers; and left nothing undone which might prevent and divert the king's or queen's favour towards him, but the deserving it.
For this reason, when he heard it first whispered, 'that the king had a purpose to make him a Privy Councillor,' for which there was, in the beginning, no other ground but because he was known sufficient, he resolved to decline it; and at last suffered himself only to be overruled, by the advice and persuasions of his friends, to submit to it. Afterwards when he found that the king intended to make him Secretary of State, he was positive to refuse it.
Two reasons prevailed with him to receive the seals, and but for those he had resolutely avoided them. The first, the consideration that his refusal might bring some blemish upon the king's affairs, and that men would have believed that he had refused so great an honour and trust, because he must have been with it obliged to do somewhat else not justifiable. And, this he made matter of conscience, since he knew the king made choice of him before other men, especially because he thought him more honest than other men.
The other was, lest he might be thought to avoid it out of fear to do an ungracious thing to the House of Commons, who were sore troubled at the displacing Sir Harry Vane, whom they looked upon as removed for having done them those offices they stood in need of; and the disdain of
so popular an incumbrance wrought upon him next to the other, For as he had a full appetite of fame by just and generous actions, so be had an equal contempt of it by any servile expedients: and he so much the more consented to and approved the justice upon Sir Harry Vane, in his own private judgment, by how much he surpassed most men in the religious observation of a trust, the violation whereof he would not admit any excuse for.
For these reasons, he submitted to the king's command, and became his secretary, with as humble and devoted an acknowledgment of the greatness of the obligation as could be expressed, and as true a sense of it in his heart. Yet two things he could never bring himself to whilst he continued in that office, that was to his death; for which he was contented to be reproached as for omissions in a most necessary part of his place. The one, employing of spies, or giving any countenance or entertainment to them. I do not mean such emissaries as with danger would venture to view the enemy's camp, and bring intelligence of their number, or quartering, or any particulars that such an observation can comprehend; but those who, by communication of guilt, or dissimulation of manners, wind themselves into such trusts and secrets as enable them to make discoveries. The other, the liberty of opening letters, upon a suspicion that they might contain matter of dangerous consequence.
He had a courage of the most clear and keen temper, and so far from fear that he seemed not without some appetite of danger; and therefore, upon any occasion of action, he always engaged his person in those troops which he thought, by the forwardness of the commanders, to be most like to be farthest engaged; and in all such encounters, he had about him an extraordinary cheerfulness, without at all affecting the execution that usually attended them; in which he took no delight, but took pains to prevent it, where it was not, by resistance, made necessary: insomuch that at Edge-hill, when the enemy was routed, he was like to have incurred great peril by interposing to save those who had thrown away their arms, and against whom, it may be, others were more fierce for their having thrown them away: so that a man might think he came into the field chiefly out of curiosity to see the face of danger, and charity to prevent the shedding of blood.
From the entrance into this unnatural war, his natural cheerfulness and vivacity grew clouded, and a kind of sadness and dejection of spirits stole upon him which he had never been used to: yet, being one of those who believed that one battle would end all differences, and that there would be so great a victory on one side, that the other would be compelled to submit to any conditions from the victor (which supposition and conclusion generally sunk into the minds of most men, and prevented the looking after many advantages that might then have been laid hold of), he resisted those indispositions. But after the furious resolution of the two Houses not to admit any treaty for peace, those indispositions, which had before touched him, grew into a perfect habit of uncheerfulness; and he, who had been so exactly easy and affable to all men that his face and countenance was always present and vacant to his company, and held any cloudiness, and less pleasantness of the visage, a kind of rudeness or incivility, became, on a sudden, less communicable; and thence, very sad, pale, and exceedingly affected with the spleen. In his clothes and habit, which he had minded before always with more neatness, and industry, and expense, than is usual to so great a soul, he was not now only incurious but too negligent: and in his reception of suitors, and the necessary, or casual addresses to his place, so quick, and sharp, and severe, that there wanted not some men (strangers to his nature and disposition) who believed him proud and imperious; from which no mortal man was ever more free.
When there was any overture or hope of peace, he would be more erect and vigorous, and exceedingly solicitous to press anything which he thought might promote it; and sitting among his friends, often, after a deep silence and frequent sighs, would, with a shrill and sad accent, ingeminate the word peace, peace; and would passionately profess, 'that the very agony of the war, and the view of the calamities and desolation the kingdom did and must endure, took his sleep from him, and would shortly break his heart.' This made some think, or pretend to think, that he was so much enamoured on peace, that he would have been glad the king should have bought it at any price;' which was a most unreasonable calumny. As if a man that was himself the most punctual and precise in every circumstance that might reflect on conscience or honour, could have wished the king to have committed a trespass against either. And yet this senseless scandal
made some impression upon him, or at least he used it for an excuse of the daringness of his spirit: for at the leaguer before Gloucester, when his friend passionately reprehended him for exposing his person unnecessarily to danger, (for he delighted to visit the trenches, and nearest approaches, and to discover what the enemy did,) as being so much beside the duty of his place, that it might be understood rather to be against it, he would say merrily, “that his office could not take away the privilege of his age; and that a secretary in war might be present at the greatest secret in danger;' but withal, alleged seriously, that it concerned him to be more active in enterprizes of hazard than other men; that all might see that his impatiency for peace proceeded not from pusillanimity, or fear to adventure his own person.'
In the morning before the battle, as always upon action, he was very cheerful, and put himself in the first rank of the Lord Byron's regiment, then advancing upon the enemy, who had lined the hedges on both sides with musketeers; from whence he was shot with a musket in the lower part of the belly: and in the instant falling from his horse, his body was not found till the next morning; till when there was some hope that he might have been a prisoner; though his nearest friends, who knew his disposition, received small comfort from that imagination. Thus fell that incomparable young man, in the four and thirtieth year of his age; having so much despatched the true business of life, that the eldest rarely attain to that immense knowledge, and the youngest enter not to the world with more innocency: whosoever leads such a life needs be the less anxious upon how short warning it is taken from him.
97.—THE SLIDE OF ALPNACH. [THE following interesting account of a remarkable work of art was originally published in Gilbert's · Annalen' in 1819; and a translation appeared in • Brewster's Journal.' Mr. Babbage, who has extracted the description in his valuable work, “The Economy of Machinery and Manufactures,' introduces it with the following observations:
Amongst the forests which flank many of the lofty mountains of Switzerland, some of the finest timber is found in positions almost