« PreviousContinue »
him the male line ended. Not so either the blood, the whim, or the talent. Sir Thomas's daughter Anne had a daughter Frances, whose eldest son Henry, 10th Earl of Buchan, was the father of the late Earl, David, of picturesque memory; also of Henry Erskine, the elegant and witty Lord Advocate of Scotland under all the talents, and of the inimitable Thomas, Lord Chancellor of England. Other branches of this goodly tree are still flourishing, and may yet put forth both flowers and fruit. The Brownean blood cannot be all turned to water.
The latest particulars which the biographer of Sir Thomas is enabled to give, are very remarkable. On the occasion of making a vault in the chancel of St. Peter's to receive the remains of a clergy man's wife, the workmen broke open with a pick-axe the coffin of one whose residence within its walls conferred honour on Norwich in olden times. The bones of the skeleton were found to be in good preservation, particularly those of the skull; the forehead was remarkably low and depressed, the head unusually long, the back part exhibiting an uncommon appearance of depth and capaciousness; the brain was considerable in quantity, quite brown and unctuous; the hair profuse and perfect, of a fine auburn, similar to that in the portrait presented to the parish by Dr. Howman, and which is carefully preserved in the vestry of St. Peter's Mancroft.' Another account adds
* The hair of the beard remained profuse and perfect, though the flesh of the face, as well as every other part, was totally gone.'
The parishioners may carefully preserve the picture, but they were careless to preserve the original; for the head was removed. It passed into the possession of the late Dr. Edward Lubbock, and was by him eventually presented (!) to the Museum of the Norwich Hospital, where it remains for the inspection of the curious, and subject to the reverent remarks of medical students who dabble in phrenology. A few casts of the skull were taken, one of which we have seen. As in the case of Byron, so this example by no means tends to further Mr. George Combe's mission. In it, the bumps of Causality, Ideality, Comparison, the Perceptive faculties, and even Benevolence and Veneration, are sadly deficient. Browne ought not to have been,—he had no business to be,-an acute observer, a fanciful speculator, a brilliant essayist, an amiable physician, a considerate thoughtful paterfamilias. He ought to have been a glutton, a sensualist, irascible and selfish, and, if not quite an idiot, a very every day sort of body. He most clearly had no right to enter in his commonplace book any such sentences as these, being by his organization incapable of feeling them :
'To pray and magnify God in the night, and my dark bed, when I could not sleep : to know no street or passage in this city which may not witness that I have not forgot God and my Saviour in it. Since the necessities of the sick, and unavoidable diversions of my profession, keep me often from church, yet to take all possible care that I might never miss sacraments upon their accustomed days. Upon sight of beautiful persons, to bless God in his creatures, to pray for the beauty of their souls, and to enrich them with inward graces to be answerable unto the outward. Upon sight of deformed persons, to send them in ward graces, and enrich their souls, and give them the beauty of the resurrection.'-iv. 420-1.
After this, what shall we think of phrenological tests? Who, now, will fix upon a wife, a friend, or a confidential servant, by the application of callipers to their crania ? But there may have been a mistake ; the
have been opened.—No: for • The coffin-plate, which was also broken, was of brass, in the form of a shield, and it bore the following quaint inscription :
All this happened in August, 1840.–We ask not who was the churchwarden—but what were the reverend superiors about?Did they authorize Dr. Lubbock to present the skull to the hospital ? Were the noble Buchans left in ignorance as to the rude discovery and still worse after-treatment of their famous ancestor's relics?
To conclude with a more pleasant topic :-we beg once more to thank Mr. Wilkin for this excellent edition—the labour of many zealous years. It is probable that Sir T. Browne's works will be even more interesting to future generations of Englishmen, than to the present; and if so, they will be duly grateful to this gentleman for his diligent and able illustration of the old light of Norwich.'
ART. VI. - The Lexington Papers; or some Account of the
Courts of London and Vienna at the conclusion of the Seventeenth Century ; extracted from the Official and Private Correspondence of Robert Sutton, Lord Lexington, British Minister at Vienna, 1694 1698. Selected from the Originals at Kelham, and edited, with Notes, by the Hon. H. Manners Sutton.
8vo. 1851. THIS title-page hardly does justice to the contents
of the volume, which relate not merely to the Courts of London and Vienna, but, quite as much, to those of Paris and Madrid, and indeed of most of the minor powers of Europe. Nor is it what can be exactly called an account of any of those Courts—it is something better. It used to be, and we suppose still is, one of the prescribed duties of diplomatic agents at Foreign Courts to communicate to each other privately, or rather semi-officially, such information as to passing events as might even collaterally have any relation to their respective missions ; and they also, besides their public and strictly official dispatches, have private and in general more really important communications with the Secretary of State at home. In the year 1694 Robert Sutton, second Lord Lexington, was appointed Envoy Extraordinary to the Court of Vienna, and then and there commenced that semi-official correspondence with his principals in London and his colleagues at most of the European Courts, of extracts from which this interesting volume is composed, and in which though military movements and diplomatic affairs have of course the larger share, there is no inconsiderable intermixture of lighter matters---personal anecdotes -sketches of character—the news, the gossip, and even the scandal of the day.
Before we go farther, our readers will be glad to know something about Lord Lexington himself, of whom we dare say the majority of them have never heard—and we can tell them no more than we find in the editor's prefatory memoir.
Robert Sutton, Esq., of Averham, in Nottinghamshire, a distinguished cavalier—though we do not recollect his name in Clarendon—was created Baron of Lexington* by Charles I. in 1645, during the great Rebellion, but the Parliament refused to acknowledge the title; and there is in the State Paper Office a petition to the House of Commons originally signed Lexington—but this signature is erased and that of Robert Sutton substituted. He died in 1668, and was succeeded by his only son, then, it appears, about six or seven years old, who served while young in the army,
but * He was descended in the female line from a Baron of Lexington of the time of Henry III. Sir Harris Nicolas's Synopsis spells both these titles Lexinton.
made his first public appearance in the Convention Parliament in 1689, when he voted for the joint sovereignty of the Prince and Princess of Orange, and was very soon employed by King William in diplomatic missions and sworn of the Privy Council. He was appointed a Gentleman of the Horse (Equerry) to Princess Anne, but on her difference with the King, in 1692, Lord Lexington took part with William, resigned his place in the Princess's family, and was soon after appointed a Lord of the King's Bedchamber. Early in 1694 he was sent Envoy Extraordinary to Vienna, where he remained during the two or three critical years that preceded the unsatisfactory and short-lived treaty of Ryswick, upon the conclusion of which, in the winter of 1697, he, at his own desire, returned to England, leaving his kinsman and Secretary Mr. Sutton (afterwards Sir Robert--so disagreeably celebrated by Pope), resident minister. It was thought at the time that he was destined to replace the Duke of Shrewsbury or Sir William Trumbull, both of whom were desirous of being relieved from the office of Secretary of State—the Duke especially being dissatisfied with the terms of the treaty, but still more with the mode in which it had been conducted by the King himself and his Dutch Councillors, with very little communication with the English ministry. But this arrangement did not take place. Shrewsbury was persuaded to postpone his resignation, and Mr. Vernon, who had been the Duke's Private Secretary--to the surprise of everybody--but probably as a propitiation to his Grace, whose co-operation was at that moment very important-succeeded Trumbull. Lord Lexington was, however, soon after made one of the Lords of Frade, but continued his service as a Lord of the Bedchamber, and was in attendance when King William expired. On this Mr. Sutton observes :
Smollett states that “ Lords Lexington and Scarborough, who were in waiting, no sooner perceived that the King was dead than they ordered Ronjat to untie from his arm a black ribbon, to which was affixed a ring, containing some hair of the late Queen Mary!" It is difficult to conceive an adequate motive for this act, which, in the absence of any explanation, would appear to be one of ill-timed and heartless curiosity.'—p. 5. The Editor accordingly seems inclined to disbelieve the story, as 'totally at variance with Lord Lexington's general character. Smollett only reproduces it as already told by Tindal-we know neither on what authority Tindal had relied, nor how it was ascertained that the ring, if any ring there was, contained the hair of Queen Mary: but surely it would be nothing more than a strict act of respect and duty to take into safe custody for the moment any jewel or valuable object that the King might have about him, even if he had desired (which is not stated) to have it ultimately buried with him.
The earlier part of Queen Anne's reign Lord Lexington seems to have passed in retirement, probably from some unpleasant remembrance of the former difference, of which, no doubt, the Duchess of Marlborough, who was the principal cause of it, retained, as was her wont, a lively recollection and resentment. But after the disgrace of the Duchess, and when the new ministry had determined to bring about the peace ultimately concluded at Utrecht, Lord Lexington was employed in the collateral negotiations at Madrid, where he obtained from Philip V. that celebrated renunciation for himself and his successors of all claims to the Crown of France, the effect and validity of which have become, by the recent alliance of the houses of Spain and Orleans, of revived importance, or we should perhaps rather say of debate-for we do not see how that contract can affect circumstances wholly extraneous to it.
During this mission Lord Lexington's health and spirits were broken down by the loss of his only son, who had accompanied him to Madrid, and who died there in October, 1713, at the age of seventeen. The following extraordinary anecdotes of the inhuman bigotry then exercised in Spain have a peculiar and more than historical interest at the present moment, when the principles of “toleration and of civil and religious liberty' are so impudently pleaded to justify and promote the extension of popery amongst
' At that time the burial of a Protestant in Spain was attended with great difficulty; and even the high station of the British ambassador afforded no security that the remains of his son would be suffered to rest in peace, if committed to the earth at Madrid. On a previous occasion, when one of his domestics had died, Lord Lexington had found it necessary to conceal, rather than to bury, the body in his garden, and even this precaution had failed to preserve the corpse from disturbance and insult.
* Mr. Stanhope, also, when British minister, had experienced similar or even greater difficulties in the burial of his chaplain, who died there in 1691. On this occasion, although the previous consent of the authorities had been obtained, and the body was quietly buried in a field by night, the grave was violated, the coffin broken open, and the corpse insulted and mutilated ; it was in this state returned to Mr. Stanhope, who was forced to bury it in his cellar.*
• Warned therefore by his own experience, and by that of his pre
* Lord Mahou’s ‘Court of Spain,' p. 24. His Lordship gives no explanatory note of this strange transaction; but we surmise from the mention in subsequent letters of a certain alcalde, who had been dismissed for some (unstated) disrespect to Mr. Stanhope, that the violation of the grave may have been the offence of this alcalde, thus disavowed and puvished by his Government. Mr. Stanhope, it appears, interceded for his restoration.