Page images


[ocr errors]

mounted by a tyrant like Louis XIV. If this be true, what is there in it but a mad bravado, and an act of cruelty to a noble animal? But we believe it to be a fable. Sidney was too poor at the time to have a costly horse. But if he had had one, and had behaved in the manner described, Louis, assuredly, would have clapped him up in the Bastile, or have turned him out of France. Sidney's Discourses concerning Government' were first published in 1698, with a short preface by John Toland; again in 1704, and a third time in 1751, at the expense of Mr. Thomas Hollis, who prefixed a Life of the Author, and also printed for the first time his Apology,' already mentioned. This edition of the works of Algernon Sidney was reproduced in 1772 by Mr. Brand Hollis, to whom Mr. Thomas Hollis left his property, with notes and corrections by Mr. J. Robertson, and the addition of some letters and other short pieces of Sidney's, all previously published, together with a tract entitled 'A General View of Government in Europe,' first printed in James Ralph's anonymous publication entitled 'Of the Use and Abuse of Parliaments,' 2 vols. 8vo., Lond., 1744, and there attributed to Sidney, but which Robertson says he is convinced "is the production of a different hand." In fact, there is no doubt that it is spurious. The two editions of 1751 and 1772 both contain Letters of the Honourable Algernon Sidney to the Honourable Henry Savile, ambassador in France in the year 1679,' &c., which originally appeared in an octavo volume in 1742. Particulars relating to Algernon will also be found in Arthur Collins's Memoirs of the Lives and Actions of the Sidneys,' prefixed to his Letters and Memorials of State, 2 vols. fol., Lond., 1746; and in Blencowe's Sidney Papers,' 8vo., Lond., 1825. Collins states that several treatises by Sidney, in Latin and Italian, and also an Essay on Virtuous Love,' in English, remain in his own hand-writing at Penshurst. A Life of Algernon Sidney, by George William Meadley, was published

in 1813.


Sidney's Trial was printed in 1684, but it is said to

have passed through the hands of Jeffreys, who struck out whatever he pleased. It is given, along with the other trials connected with the Rye House Plot, in Howell's 'State Trials.' The reader may also be referred to True Account and Declaration of the horrid Conspiracy against the late King,' &c., written by the time-serving Bishop Sprat, and published by order of James II. in 1685; and The Secret History of the Rye House Plot,' by the infamous Ford, Lord Grey, first printed in 1754.

The attainder of Algernon Sidney was reversed after the revolution of 1688. It is observable that neither in this act of parliament nor in the act passed in the same session reversing the attainder of Lord Russell is there any assertion of the innocence of the convicted party. And Mr. Hallam observes that the common accusation against the court in Sidney's trial, "of having admitted insufficient proof by the mere comparison of hand-writing, though alleged not only in most of our historians, but in the act of parliament reversing Sidney's attainder, does not appear to be well founded: the testimony to that fact, unless the printed trial is extraordinarily falsified, being such as would be received at present.'

[ocr errors]

IT often happens that extraordinary philosophical talent or inventive ingenuity is accompanied with such simplicity of character, such ignorance of mankind or of the world, such facility or carelessness of disposition and temper, or such general incapacity for playing the game, or, if you will, fighting the battle, of life, that the possessor leaves a name which is rather a memento to point out the perils than a monument to emblazon the triumphs of genius. Absorbed in his higher speculations and pursuits, he is indifferent to the objects and ends which engage the ambition of ordinary men. If he is forced to take part in the universal struggle that is going on around him, his heart and spirit are not there. In all that is strongest, highest, greatest, most real in him, he lives apart, in a world of his own. He has no chance in the common scramble in which his fellows are straining every thew and sinew-he with his whole soul, and mind, and strength elsewhere, and with, as it were, only his left

[graphic][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »