Page images

warlike demonstrations; a grant of thirty-eight thousand pounds!*—a vast sum for those days—was distributed to the plundered and persecuted people of the valleys; and this princely benevolence was ministered to the sufferers by the hand of “Samuel Morland," then a young man and accomplished scholar, who, called from a Cambridge fellowship into the office of Secretary Thurloe, was selected to dispense Englanås brotherly, aid to persecuted fellow-Christians, and this, doubtless, not without a regard as well to his high personal character, as to his ability to record the events of his mission in that narrative, which is ever since referred to as a text-book by all writers on the affairs of the Waldenses.

This is the first mention we meet of Samuel Morland; the next, while it lays open a painful spectacle of the private treachery which may pass current for public virtue in days of civil warfare or commotion, must lower our hero in esteem, just as the favour of his prince was elevating him in the scale of worldly honour.

The memorable “twenty-ninth of May," 1660, came, and with it came the Second Charles to “enjoy his own again," riding from Dover to Whitehall through such an avenue of welcoming subjects as gave him occasion to say-in his own happy manner

" that it must have been bis own fault not to have come home long ago !” This public entry to his capital took place, as we have said, in the end of the month; but even at the beginning of it Charles had begun to dispense his royal favours to those who had contributed to his “ Restoration," and among those whom “the king delighted to honour,” we find from Pepys' gossip, that he “knighted Mr. Morland, and did give the reason for it openlythat it was for giving him intelligence all the time he was clerk to Secretarie Thurloe.

This debasing avowal seems to me to humiliate the bestower and receiver of honour alike, and leaves a revolting impression of the effect of civil convulsions in sapping the very foundations of truth and trust among men. Here we have The King ! " the very fount of honour," rewarding a course of service to him, which was in effect treachery to Morland's own trusting employer, and proclaiming his new knight to his assembled court as one who had bought his favour by such systematic breach of faith and honesty, as in ordinary relations between man and man would expel the traitor from decent society. No doubt Charles was neither of character nor in circumstances to look too nicely into the moral features of any means which helped him to his throne; yet he must have been devoid of the commonest moral perception if, in his secret soul, he could look upon his new-made knight without loathing.

The acknowledgment of Morland's services did not rest in a paltry knighthood. He shortly after received a life-pension of five hundred pounds per annum, charged upon the Post Office revenue ; and when, a little later in the year, the king was scattering honours over the land with lavish hand, we find among them “Sir Samuel Morland, of Southhamstede Bannister, Berks, Baronet !Nay, further still, we find him obtaining from his reckless master not only this honour for himself, but

* Morland's Waldensian narrative contains a minute account of the distribution of this sum among the “poor Vaudois" to the amount of 21,9081., and closes with a “ballance in handof 16,333l. 10s. 3d. Query: What became of this balance ! Did the “merrie monarch” find it still “in hand” when he came to Whitehall ?

a “blank baronetcy or two!to dispose of for his own private advantage. It would be a curious piece of secret history if we could trace out among “The Order of Baronets” the individual who bought his honour “bon marchéfrom this Baronet-broker of Baronetcies !

We learn this fact, as before, from the gossip of Pepys. Pepys had, it seems, been Morland's pupil at Cambridge, and had formed so low an estimate of his former tutor's judgment and common sense, that he avows his surprise at finding him so well able to make his way at court in the new world just then beginning. On the 14th of August, 1660, Pepys makes an entry, in his own style, as follows:

“To the Privy-seale Office, and thence to Mr. Pym, the tailor's, and I agreed upon making me a velvet coate; thence to the Privy-seale againe, where Sir Samuel Morland came with a baronet's grant to posse, which the king had given him to make money of. Here we staid with him a great while, and he told me the whole manner of his serving the king in the time of the Protector, and how Thurloe's bad usage made him doe it; how he discovered Sir Richard Willis,* and how he had sunk his fortune for the king; and that now the king had given him a pension of 500l. per annum in the Post Office for life, and the benefit of two baronets !-alle which doe make me begin to think that he is not so much of a foole as I took him to be.

Poor Morland, while opening his heart to his former pupil, little thought that he was confiding his secrets to a “chiel takin' notes' to be “prented” for the edification of generations yet unborn-as little did good Doctor Gilly (the modern historian of the Waldenses) suspect what à “by-way exposé of character he had passed over in Pepys' pages, when he sketched the following glowing portrait of Cromwell's almoner and accredited agent to the proud Duke of Savoy." “ Cromwell (writes Doctor Gilly) could not have chosen a man better qualified to discharge

[ocr errors]

* The case of Sir Richard Willis, here alluded to, is detailed at large by Clarendon in book xvi. of his History; and Clarendon fully gives Morland the credit which he thus claims, of having been the discoverer of the double-dealing of Willis, who appears to have gone here and there, from one party to another, in the civil wars, but who ultimately, for a large pension, became the “ spied spyof Cromwell, inasmuch as all his discoveries were reconveyed, as soon as made, by Morland to Charles. This business is no further connected with our present subject than as it exhibits another phase of that queer, loose morality which characterised the intrigues of that period. Willis was a traitor, but he wore his mask “with a difference.” If he betrayed the king's agents and partisans, he did so with as little damage to the king's cause as he well could. He spared the “good men and true” as much as possible, but gave up the doubtful and moderate without hesitation. “It was soon noted,” observes Clarendon, “that he (Sir R. Willis) seldom communicated anything in which there was necessity to name any man who was of the king's party and had always been so reputed; but what was undertaken by any of the Presbyterian party, or by any who had been against the king, was poured out to the life. If at any time he named any who had been of the king's party, it was chiefly those who were satisfied with what they had done, how little so ever, and resolved to adventure no more.”—Clarendon, b. xvi.

The whole “ secret service” of that period was a perfect network of intrigue. Cromwell and Thurloe had in turn their spies in the very king's chambers, who were in like manner detected; for an instance of which, see “ Maning's treachery," as narrated by Clarendon in same book. On the whole, I think it probable that while Cromwell was served with more ability, Charles found more fidelity in his agents, and that the Protector felt that he was walking over mines and pitfalls at every step of his reign.

the duties of such an embassy than Morland. Young, ardent, full of courage, and conscious of the dignity of the character which he had to sustain as the representative of the Commonwealth of Engand, he procured an audience at Rivoli, where he addressed the Duke in a Latin oration, which, after a few customary expressions of courtesy, contained truths which none but a stern republican (!!) could think of sounding in royal ears."

After the extracts we have given, Morland disappears from Pepysgraphic memoranda for a number of years, with the exception of an occasional dash of the pen, sufficient to show us that he very soon became one of those hangers-on of the court who, no longer needed, was no longer noticed. We can see, as if with our living eyes, that Sir Samuel had, to use an expressive phrase, “ worn out his court welcome at Whitehall," and was become a kind of “Sir Mungo Malagrowler” among the reckless courtiers of Charles the Second. The royal gratitude which in its first fervour had flung him baronetcies to dispense, and assigned him an ample pension on the public revenue, in time began to cool, and cooling, to collapse! So that, after an interval, we find, first, “the lord treasurer," with a Joe Hume austerity, “curtailing his pension," and presently the curtailed pension falls into arrear to a formidable amount; so that, at the end of a quarter of a century (1684-6), we trace the King's knight and baronet to a small house at Vauxhall, where he employed himself in scientific and mechanical experiments,* which classed him with the persons known in that age as “projectors"-men out of place in the pleasure-seeking court of Charles, but who would have been more duly estimated in our day, when speculation periodically combines itself into “ Lunar Railway Companies,” « Timbuctoo Mining Associations,” and other provisions for evaporating the extra energy and capital of our countrymen. Assuredly, Sir Samuel Morland, had he now lived, would have written himself down X. Y. Z. and A. S. S., &c., &c., &c., and have held high place in the “directorships” and “

management” of the “joint-stock bubbles" of our day. 66 Old

age ne'er cools the Douglas blood.” Sir Samuel Morland was in the sixty-first year of his age, when, notwithstanding his experience, his erudition, his converse with courts, and the craft which his own practice in the ways of deception should have taught him, he fell into as shallow a pitfall as ever snared a schoolboy. It is impossible to consider his mishap without seeing in it something at once of the pitiable and ludicrous, and, above all, some judicial infusion of that treachery which he had long before prided himself upon practising upon others. If the comparison may be used without profaneness, the case seems to resemble that of Jacob, who, having in his youth beguiled his aged father, was himself in his own old age made by his own children the subject of continued frauds, which well-nigh brought his "grey hairs with sorrow to

• Upon looking into Evelyn's graver“ Diary," running parallel with the gossip of Pepys, we find frequent mention of Morland, and his ingenious contrivances and inventions. Some annotator has “made a note” confounding Sir Samuel Morland, our hero, with his son, who died unmarried and childless in 1716 ; but there can be no doubt that Sir Samuel the elder, who survived to the year 1695, was the person mentioned in these Diaries, and the “Master of Mechanics” to Charles and James the Second.

the grave." But Sir Samuel Morland must tell his own sorrows, which he introduces, strangely enough, in an official communication to his quondam pupil, now the prosperous and powerful Secretary to the Navy, upon the subject of some projected improvements in the construction of “gun-carriages."



Sat., 19 Feb., 1686-7. “SIR, -I went about three or four daies since to see what the Commissioners of the Navy had done upon the order you sent them relating to the new gun-carriages, &c., but met none but Sir John Nareborough, who told me your order respecting a trial of shooting to be made like that at Portsmouth, which was impracticable at Deptford, because shooting with powder only was no trial, and shooting with bullets too dangerous; and therefore his opinion, which he did believe would be the opinion of the whole board, was, that to each new carriage should be the addition of a windlass, and also the false truck at the end of the carriages ; and that all the other things, as eye-bolts, tackles, &c., should be left as they are on the old carriages till such time as a full trial be made of the way,

both at sea and in a fight, and then what shall prove to be useless in the old way may be wholly left off and laid aside.

“I could have waited on you with this account myself, but I presume you have by this time heard what an unfortunate and fatal accident bath lately befallen me, of which I shall give you an abbreviate.

« About three weeks or a month since, being in very great perplexities, and almost distracted for want of moneys, my private creditors tormenting me from morning till night, and some of them threatening me with a prison, and having no positive answer from his majesty about the 13001. which the late Lord Treasurer cut off from my pension so severely, which left debt upon me which I was wholly unable to pay, there came a certain person to me whom I had relieved in a starving condition, and for whom I had done a thousand kindnesses, who pretended in gratitude to help me to a wife, who was a very virtuous person and sweet dispositioned ladye, and an heiresse who had 500l. in land heritance per annum, and 40001. in readie money, with the interest since nine years, besides a mortgage upon 300l. per annum more, with plate, jewels, &c. The devil himself could not contrive more probable circumstances than were lay'd before me; and when I had often a mind to inquire into the truth I had no power, believing for certain reasons that there were some charms or witchcraft used upon me, and withall, believing it utterly impossible that a person so obliged should ever be guilty of so black a deed as to betray me in so barbarous a manner. Besides that, I really believed it a blessing from Heaven for my charity to that person; and I was about a fortnight since led as a fool to the stocks, and marryed a coachman's daughter not worth a shilling, and .

And thus I am both absolutely ruined in my fortune and reputation, and must become a derision to the world.

“My case is at present in the Spiritual Court, and I presume that one word from his majesty to his proctor, and advocate, and judge, would

procure me speedy justice. If either our old acquaintance or Christian pity move you, I beg you to put in a kind word for me, and to deliver the enclosed into the king's own hands, and with all convenient speed, for a criminal bound and going to execution is not in greater agonies than has been my poor active soul since this befel me; and I earnestly entreat

you to leave in three lines for me, with your own porter, what answer the king gives you, and my man shall call for it." A food of tears blinds my eyes, and I can write no more, but that I am “ Your most humble and poore distrest servant,


On the stage, this would be the point in the duped old bachelor's case on which the “Deus ex machina” would descend, and either deliver him from the noose into which he had run his silly head, or leave it an indissoluble knot, the pressure or torment of which would be left to the imagination of the audience; but in our true tale, the pitiful sorrows of the silly old man are but beginning. He had heavier and more protracted punishment to undergo for the senile self-love in which he allowed himself to be persuaded that a “virtuous and sweet-dispositioned ladye," with an heirship which would have made her a “cynosure” for the gallants of the court, had become engouée of a starving sexagenarian. We can find no parallel for such a case of infatuation nearer than that of Malvolio.


THERE are, undoubtedly, many fine buildings in this country, and some amongst them are not without those internal embellishments which add so much to the splendour 'of the palaces of France and Italy ; but, as a general rule, the Decorative branch of Art has, in England, been greatly neglected.

The ornamentation of domestic interiors, by calling in the aid of painting, never made any remarkable progress amongst us, and, where it did exist, it was chiefly to be found in royal residences and in mansions almost royal, like Blenheim, Chatsworth, and a few others. But the “painted ceilings," on which were expended the labours of Thornhill, Verrio, and Daguerre, were the last efforts of a style that never fairly became engrafted here. This would not have excited much regret if the mythological tastes of those artists had alone been perpetuated, but with the era to which they belonged the principle of internal decoration seems to have been abandoned altogether. Architecture, plain even to ugliness, took possession of our streets, whitewash within-doors held undisputed sway, and as far as Art was concerned, the rudimental arrangements of the wigwam were infinitely more picturesque than the papered

« PreviousContinue »