Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

Book II,
Chap. III.
BOOK "
LOVERS AND
PUBLIC
BENEFAC-
TORS.

Neglecting to learn many lessons which the Church teaches, to her clergy as well as to laymen, he had at least learnt one lesson of practical and permanent value.

Hence it is that, in addition to the matchless roll of English worthies which, in her best days, the Church has furnished in that long line of men, from her ranks, who have done honour to her, and to England, under every point of view—she can show a subsidiary list, comprising men whose benefactions are more influential than were, or could have been, the labours of their lives ; men of the sort who, being dead, can yet speak, and to much better purpose than ever they could speak when alive. Among such is the Churchman whose testamentary gifts have now very briefly to be mentioned.

[blocks in formation]

Francis Henry EGERTON was a younger son of John EGERTON, Bishop of Durham, by the Lady Anna Sophia Grey, daughter and coheir of Henry GREY, Duke of Kent. He was born on the eleventh of November, 1756. The Bishop of Durham was fifth in descent from the famous Chancellor of England, Thomas EGERTON, Viscount Brachley, to whom, as he lay upon his death-bed, Bacon came with the news of King James's promise to make him an Earl. Before the patent could be sealed, the exchancellor, it will be remembered, was dead, and JAMES, to show his gratitude to the departed statesman, sold for a large sum the Earldom of Bridgewater to the Chancellor's son. Eventually, of that earldom Francis Henry EGERTON was, in his old age, the eighth and last inheritor.

Mr. EGERTON was educated at Eton and at All Souls. He took his M.A. in 1780, and in the following year was presented, by his relative, Francis, Duke of BRIDGEWATER -the father of inland navigation in Britain—to the Rec

BOOKLOVERS AND PUBLIC BENEFAC

TORS.

tory of Middle, in Shropshire, a living which he held for Book II,

Chap. III. eight and forty years.

He was a toward and good scholar. From his youth he was a great reader and a lover of antiquities, as well as B a respectable philologist. His foible was an overweening although a pardonable pride in his ancestry. That ancestry embraced what was noblest in the merely antiquarian point of view, along with the grand historical distinctions of state service rendered to Queen ELIZABETH, and of a new ele. ment introduced into the mercantile greatness of England under GEORGE THE THIRD. A man may be forgiven for being proud of a family which included the servant of ELIZABETH and friend of Bacon, as well as the friend of BRINDLEY. But the pride, as years increased, became somewhat wearisome to acquaintances; though it proved to be a source of no small profit to printers and engravers, both at home and abroad. Mr. EGERTON's writings in biography and genealogy are very numerous. They date from 1793 to 1826. Some of them are in French. All of them relate, more or less directly, to the family of EGERTON.

ime

In the year 1796, he appeared as an author in another department, and with much credit. His edition of the Hippolytus of EURIPIDES is also noticeable for its modest and candid acknowledgment of the assistance he had derived from other scholars. He afterwards collected and edited some fragments of the odes of SAPPHO. The later years of his life were chiefly passed in Paris. His mind had been soured by some unhappy family troubles and discords, and as years increased a lamentable spirit of eccentricity increased with them. It had grown with his growth, but did not weaken with his loss of bodily and mental vigour.

[ocr errors]

One of the most noted manifestations of this eccentricity was but the distortion of a good quality. He had a fondness for dumb animals. He could not bear to see them suffer by any infliction,—other than that necessitated by a love of field sports, which, to an Englishman, is as natural and as necessary as mother's milk. At length, the Parisians were scandalised by the frequent sight of a carriage, full of dogs, attended with as much state and solemnity as if it contained milord' in person. To his servants he was a most liberal master. He provided largely for the parochial service and parochial charities of his two parishes of Middle and Whitchurch (both in Shropshire). He was, occasionally, a liberal benefactor to men of recondite learning, such as meet commonly with small reward in this world.* But much of his life was stamped with the ineffaceable discredit of sacred functions voluntarily assumed, yet habitually discharged by proxy.

On the death, in 1823, of his elder brother—who had become seventh Earl of BRIDGEWATER, under the creation of 1617, on the decease of Francis third Duke and sixth (Egerton) Earl-Francis Henry EGERTON became eighth Earl of BridGEWATER. But he continued to live chiefly in Paris, where he died, in April, 1829, at the age of seventy-two years. With the peerage he had inherited a

* To give but one example: Samuel Burder--the author of the excel. lent work, so illustrative of Biblical literature, entitled Oriental Customs -states, in his MS. correspondence now before me, that the only effective reward given to him, in the course of his long labours, was given by Lord Bridgewater. The book above mentioned was “successful ;' 'but,' he says, 'the booksellers, as usual, reaped the harvest, not the author. It is--shall I say -an amusing comment on this latter clause, to find that in one of his letters to Lord Bridgewater, Burder states that the person who took the most kindly notice of his literary labours, next after Lord Bridgewater himself, was — the Emperor of Russia (Alexander I).

LOVERS AND
PUBLIC

TORS,

II.

very large estate, although the vast ducal property in canals Book II,

Chap. III. had passed, as is well known, in 1803, to the LEVESON- Book GOWERS.

Part of Lord BRIDGEWATER's leisure at Paris was given BENEFACto the composition of a largely-planned treatise on Natural Theology. But the task was far above the powers of the undertaker. He had made considerable progress, after his fashion, and part of what he had written was put superbly into type, from the press of DIDOT. Very wisely, he resolved to enable abler men to do the work more efficiently. And this was a main object of his remarkable Will.

That portion of the document which eventually gave to the world the well-known Bridgewater Treatises' of CHALMERS, BUCKLAND, WHEWELL, PROUT, Roger, and their fellows in the task, reads thus:- .

'I give and bequeath to the President of the Royal LORD Society the sum of eight thousand pounds, to be applied water's according to the order and direction of the said President Bore of the Royal Society, in full and without any diminution PREPARAor abatement whatsoever, in such proportions and at such Treatises times, according to his discretion and judgment, and without THEOLOGY. being subject to any control or responsibility whatsoever, to such person or persons as the said President for the time being of the aforesaid Royal Society shall or may nominate or appoint and employ. And it is my will and particular request that some person or persons be nominated and appointed by him to write, print, publish, and expose to public sale, one thousand copies of a work On the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation," illustrating such work by all reasonable arguments ; as, for instance, the variety and formation of God's creatures, in the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms;

BRIDGE

BEQUESTS

TION OF

ON NATURAL
THEOLOGY.

Rook II,

Chap. III.
BOOK
LOVERS AND
PUBLIC
BENEFAC

TORS.

the effect of digestion, and thereby of conversion ; the construction of the hand of man, and an infinite variety of arrangements; as also by discoveries, ancient and modern, in arts, sciences, and in the whole extent of literature. And I desire that the profits arising from and out of the circulation and sale of the aforesaid work shall be paid by the said President of the said Royal Society, as of right, as a further remuneration and reward to such persons as the said President shall or may so nominate, appoint, and employ as aforesaid. And I hereby fully authorise and empower the said President, in his own discretion, to direct and cause to be paid and advanced to such person or persons during the printing and preparing of the said work the sum of three hundred pounds, and also the sum of five hundred pounds sterling to the same person or persons during the printing and preparing of the said work for the press, out of, and in part of, the same eight thousand pounds sterling. And I will and direct that the remainder of the said sum of eight thousand pounds sterling, or of the stocks or funds wherein the same shall have been invested, together with all interest, dividend, or dividends accrued thereon, be transferred, assigned, and paid over to such person or per sons, their or his executors, administrators, or assigns, as shall have been so nominated, appointed, and employed by the said President of the said Royal Society, at the instance and request of the same President, as and when he shall deem the object of this bequest to have been fully complied with by such person or persons so nominated, appointed, and employed by him as aforesaid.'

What was done by the Trustees under this part of Lord BRIDGEWATER's Will, and with what result, is known to all readers. That other portion of the Will which relates to his bequest to the British Museum reads thus :- I give

[blocks in formation]

un

« ElőzőTovább »