Page images
PDF
EPUB

received by the court, he would not suffer it to appear so-long as he lived.*

Being now grown old and infirm, he resolved to devote part of his fortune to the encouragement of that branch of literature, by which he himself had attained distinction and opulence. With this view, in 1622 he founded a professorship of history t in the University of Oxford with a salary of 1401. per ann., arising out of his manor of Bexley in Kent; and having nominated Mr. Degory Wheare, who had distinguished himself by his historical knowledge, to be his first Professor, it seemed as if the business of his life had been completed: for on the eighteenth of August 1623, as he was sitting in his study, he suddenly lost the use of his hands and feet, and fell upon

the floor. From this accident, however, he received no apparent hurt; he even recovered the use of his limbs : but the disorder terminated in a fever, of which he died, November 9, at his house at Chislehurst.

* The first edition of the supplementary matter was published at Leyden, in 8vo., in 1625 : and the first edition of the Annals complete, in folio, at London in 1627. It has been republished by Hearne, with many useful additions, and is one of the best historical productions of the moderns.

+ The lecturer, as we learn from a MS. of his in the , Bodleian Library, was to “read a civil history, and therein make such observations as might be most useful and profitable for the younger students in the University; to direct and instruct them in the knowledge and use of history, antiquity, and times past - not intermeddling with the history of the church, or controversies, farther than shall give light into those times which he shall then unfold, or that author which he then shall read, and that very briefly, &c.?

His books of heraldry he bequeathed to the Herald's Office; and all the rest, printed and manuscript, to the library of his friend Sir Robert Cotton. By the contrivance however of the Lord Keeper Williams, then Bishop of Lincoln and Dean of Westminster, who took advantage of an equivocal expression in the will, the printed part was subsequently removed to the library newly established in the latter church.

His remains were deposited in Westminster Abbey, in the south-aisle, near the learned Isaac Casaubon of Geneva. His funeral was conducted with great pomp: the College of Heralds attended in their proper habits; several of the nobility and other persons of distinction walked in the procession, and a funeral sermon in Latin was preached by Dr. Sutton the Sub-Dean. A handsome monument, likewise, was erected to his memory.*

The character of Camden, both as a writer and as a man, acquired him the highest degree of reputation; and every one eminent for any branch of learning, either at home or abroad, cultivated his correspondence and intimacy. To have travelled into England, and not to have visited him, would have been deemed a discreditable omission in foreigners; and as to his own countrymen, his most illustrious contemporaries record their veneration for him, and account it an honour to have ranked themselves in the number of his friends. He was visited by six

* This was defaced, it is said, by a young gentleman, who in resentment of some reflexion thrown out by Camden against the reputation of his mother, broke off the nose from his effigies; but it has been lately repaired, at the expense of the University of Oxford.

German noblemen at one time, in each of whose books he inscribed a Lemma, as a testimony of the interview. As an antiquarian, he is justly reckoned the father of that branch of study in England; and, though he did not bring to it all the knowledge and judgement that might have been desired, yet by his industry he collected a mass of materials, which has served as the basis for all subsequent accumulations. As an historian, he deserves considerable praise. “ His • History of Elizabeth' (we are told by Hume, who is not forward to lavish panegyric upon English authors) may be esteemed good composition both for stile and manner. It is written with simplicity of expression, very rare in that age, and with a regard to truth. It would not perhaps be too much to affirm, that it is among the best historical productions, which have yet been composed by any Englishman.*" It may be suspected, however, that it received no advantage from being submitted to the inspection of Elizabeth's successor.

His account of Scottish affairs under Queen Mary, we are assured by Robertson, is less accurate than any other. He had a taste for the elegance of literature, and wrote Latin verse with purity and harmony.

Beside the works already mentioned, a large collection of his Latin Letters, with some small tracts, has been published by Hearne, from the collections of Dr. Smith.

Of his great performance, the ‘Britannia,' an English translation was published in folio by the indefatigable Philemon Holland, in 1611, with the assistance (as it is supposed) of Camden himself; which was reprinted, with many alterations, in 1636. A much better translation, however, was given to the public in 1695, in folio, by Edmund Gibson of Queen's College, Oxford, afterward Bishop of London; with additions worthy of Camden himself. This was reprinted, with additions, in two volumes folio in 1722 and 1773. Finally, in 1789 a new version from the edition of 1607, in three volumes folio, made it's appearance under the following title: • Britannia ; or a Chorographical Description of the flourishing Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the Islands adjacent, from the earliest Antiquity. By William Camden Translated from the Edition published by the Author in 1607. En- , larged by the latest Discoveries, and illustrated with a new Set of Maps and other Copper-Plates, by Richard Gough, F. A. and R. SS.'

* Close of James I.

Of his minor Tracts, one upon the Antiquity, Office, and Privilege of Heralds in England, is inserted as a specimen of his stile and studies.

Among all civil nations, since civility first entered the world, there have been officers of arms as medi. tators to negotiate peace and war between princes and countries. The ancient Greeks called them Kimpu xes, by whose meditation solemn covenants with their enemies were made. They were men of especial reputation, and carried for their ensign a Caduceus (whereupon they were also called “Caduceatores') which was a white staff, whereunto were fixed two serpents, male and female, whereunto was added afterwards Copia-cornu. The staff was white, in token of simple truth : the serpents betokened wisdom: both sexes, as also the Copia-cornu, betokened fruitful increase and plenty, the companions of peace. They were sent to redeem captives, to treat of peace, to procure safe conducts for embassadors, to require the dead bodies to be buried. 'Inviolable they were in the greatest rage of war, and reputed men of a divine original; as first descended from Knpuxos, the son of Mercury, of whom they were named Knpuxes, and hereupon Homer calleth Eumedes Θειον Κηρυκα. . It were needless, here, to mention their rites in making peace; how they brought two lambs, fruits in a bottle of goat-skin, golden chargers, and other vessels, &c., as it is noted by Homer.

• The Romans likewise had their Faciales, so called à fide et fædere faciendo, first instituted in Italy by Hessus, and brought to Rome first by Ancus Martius: their college consisted of twenty. The principal was called 'Pater Patratus, because it was requisite that he should be Patrimus, that is, have his father alive, and he himself have children. The second was called · Verbenaceus,' because when the Faciales were sent clarigatum, that is “to challenge goods taken away clara voce,' he carried the herb werbena with flint-stones et vivaş è cespite gramen, as Ovid calleth it, which he received of the Prætor.

Dionysius Halicarnass. recordeth, that six especial points were incident to their office. First, That they should have a care, lest the people of Rome should wage war against any of their confederates. Secondly, That they should challenge, and require again, goods injuriously taken away by enemies. Thirdly, That they should proclaim war against such as refused to

6

« PreviousContinue »