Page images

now living, and one of the best of wives, was married to a nobleman, who had made pretensions to her for several months before this discovery, within the time limited, which, at once, absolved the Doctor of his promise, and showed his inviolable attachment to the reputation and interest of his friend and benefactor."

The inexorable doctor was made to suffer in his turn. In a visit which he paid to a young female patient, of great beauty, wealth, and rank, he was so smitten with her charms, as to make him stand in need of a physician himself. He altered his liveries, ordered a new coach, and disclosed his love. The ungrateful woman ridiculed his attachment, and made a good story of it to Sir Richard Steel. The consequence was, that our Æsculapius cuts a laughable figure in the forty-fourth number of the Tatler. Dr. Radcliffe consoled himself with his old friends and his old wine. No man was ever more attached to either; and if we may judge from this work, he appears to have lived in very jovial society, and been a very jolly companion. Judging from the high rank of his intimates, he must have had some social qualities to recommend him to their companionship. We have very good proof, that in his old age a retrospect of his past life was not particularly consoling. The following letter; written a short time before he died, is a proof of bitter repentance. It is addressed to the Earl of Denbigh.

Cashalton, October 15, 1714. “ My very good Lord, “ This being the last time that in all probability I shall ever put pen to paper, I thought it my duty to employ it in writing to you, since I am now going to a place from whence I can administer no advice to you, and whither you, and all the rest who survive me, are obliged to come, sooner or later.

Your lordship is too well acquainted with my temper, to imagine that I could bear the reproaches of my friends, and threats of my enemies, without laying them deeply at heart, especially since there are no grounds for the one, nor foundation for the other; and you will give me credit, when I say, these considerations alone have shortened my days.

“ I dare persuade myself, that the reports which have been raised of mé relating to my non-attendance on the queen in her last moments, are received by you as by others of my constant and assured friends, with an air of contempt and disbelief, and could wish they made as little impression on me; but I find them to be insupportable, and have experienced, that though there are repellant medicines for diseases of the body, those of the mind are too strong and impetuous for the feeble resistance of the most powerful artist.

In a word, the decays of nature tell me, that I cannot live fourteen days; and the menacing letter inclosed, will tell you from what quarter my death comes. Give mé leave, therefore, to be in


earnest once for all with my very good lord, and to use my endeavours to prolong your life, that cannot add a span's length to my

“ Your lordship knows how far an air of jollity has obtained amongst you and your acquaintance, and how many of them in a few years have died martyrs to excess : let me conjure you, therefore, for the good of your own soul, the preservation of your health, and the benefit of the public, to deny yourself the destructive liberties you have hitherto taken, and which, I must confess, with a heart full of sorrow, I have been too great a partaker of in your company.

You are to consider, (Oh! that I had done so,) that men, especially those of your exalted rank, are born to nobler exercises than those of eating and drinking; and that by how much the more eminent your station is, by so much the more accountable will you be for the discharge of it. Nor will your duty to God, your country, or your self, permit you to anger the first, in robbing the second of a patriot and defender, by not taking a due care of the third ; which will be accounted downright murder in the eyes of that incensed Deity, that will most assuredly avenge it.

“ The pain that affects my nerves, interrupts me from making any other request to you, than that your lordship would give credit to the words of a dying man, who is fearful that he has been, in a great measure, an abettor and encourager of your intemperance, and would, therefore, in these his last moments, when he is most to be credited, dehort you from the pursuit of it; and that in these the days of your youth, (for you have yet many years to live if you do not hasten your own death,) you would give ear to the voice of the preacher, whom you and I, with the rest of our company, have, in the midst of our debauches, made light of for saying, Rejoice, oh, young man in thy youth, and let thy heart chear thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou that for all these things, God will bring thee to judgement ! On which day, when the hearts of all men shall be layed open, may you and I, and all that sincerely repent of acting contrary to the revealed will in this life, reap the fruits of our sorrows for our mis-deeds, in a blessed resurrection, which is the hearty prayer of

My very good lord,
Your lordship's most obedient,
And most obliged servant,


His death was hastened by the strong prejudices excited against him by false rumours, respecting his conduct on occasion of the last illness of the queen. It was well known, that he was not in the favour of her majesty; and when she died, it was commonly reported, and even taken notice of in parliament, that when sent for he refused to attend. He never was sent for in an open manner by the council and her majesty's attendants, but Lady Masham despatched a message for him two hours before her death. Dr. Radcliffe had received constant reports of the state of her majesty from his friend, Dr. Mead, and knew that she was irrecoverable. But had it not been so, the Doctor could not have attended through such an intimation. However, after the queen's decease, a great clamour arose against Dr. Radcliffe, threatening letters were sent to him, and he durst not stir out of his house. This situation, at any

time sufficiently disagreeable, preyed upon his declining spirits, and hastened his death. “ To conclude, this great and excellent man, who had made all manner of diseases fly before him, could not withstand the assaults of the grand destroyer of mankind in his own person, but in the sixty-fifth year of his age fell a victim to the ingratitude of a thankless world and the fury of the gout, on the first of November, 1714, the Feast of All Saints; on that day being divested of the tabernacle of flesh, that he might be numbered with the blessed spirits, among whom sits enthroned our late sovereign lady, whose decease has been so injuriously and falsely laid to his charge.”

Art. VI.—Regionum Indiarum per Hispanos olim devastatarum

accuratissima Descriptio. Auctore, Barth. de Las Casas. 4to. Heidelberg, 1664.

The present age justly boasts its pre-eminence in the noblest labours of the heart, as well as of the head. The benefactors of the human race never were so unwearied in their exertions, never so encouraged by the voice of popular esteem, and never so successful in the attainment of their benevolent ends. We trust, however, that we may be permitted to draw the attention of our readers for a few moments from the dazzling glories that surround contemporary worth, for the purpose of paying the debt of grateful remembrance to those who devoted themselves to the cause of humanity, in days when there was perhaps more urgent necessity for relief, and certainly more difficulty in the attempt to administer it.

While the savage and mercenary race that followed in the train of the first discoverers of America, carried desolation, plunder, and slavery, among the native tribes, whom it would have been an easy task to lead on to civilization, religion, and virtue, a few individuals raised their voices and used their exertions in favour of the oppressed. At their head was Bartholomew Las Casas; and callous, indeed, must that heart be to the noblest feelings of virtue and humanity, which can refuse the tribute of respect and admiration to so unwearied a benefactor of his species. What more elevating spectacle can be contemplated, than that of a hunible individual, embracing, with Christian affection, the cause of the injured, perishing tribes of Indians who roved over a vast and trackless continent, starting from a private station to thunder out denunciations of moral and scriptural reprehension against thousands of unprincipled adventurers, who were backed by the influence of a corrupt court,-awing the most powerful into shame and reformation at his rebuke, -traversing fourteen times the wide Atlantic in a cause which he would delegate to no one,-rousing the feelings of the friends of humanity in every country by his energetic appeals,-compelling kings, courts, and ministers, to listen to his tale, and redress the wrongs he exposed, -returns ing to the field of his exertions, with the proud title of “ Protector of the Indians," the mediator between the royal authority and its injured subjects,--summoning the learned and the great to hear the voice of humanity, before tribunals where the oppressors were obliged to appear and justify their actions at the bar of reason and mercy,—and at length, in his 92d year, descending full of honours, and in the enjoyment of the highest mental activity, into the tomb, which alone could end the ardour of a mind ever firm in its purpose, and ever directed to virtuous and benevolent ends? Calumny itself, one would have thought, could find no charge against the principles and motives of such a man : it has ventured, however, to arraign his wisdom, to load him with the reproach of inconsistency, to point him out as one of those who have been the advocates of a blind and profligate policy, which could sanction vicious means for the accomplishment of benevolent ends.

Some of the detractors of his reputation have charged him with originating the African Slave Trade, but all with sanctioning, and, in fact, advising and contriving the importation of negroes into America, in order to relieve from slavery the native Indians, whose cause he had peculiarly espoused. This charge has been universally believed, historians too often preferring the repetition to the verification of assertions; and of late, the dreadful consequences which have resulted from the African slave trade, have been painted in deep colours as the reverse of the picture of Las Casas's excellencies. His example has been held up in all the fervour of poetry, particularly in some recent German productions, as at least an awful instance of the shortsightedness of human policy, and the blindness with which our most praiseworthy exertions are directed, so as often to produce greater evils than those sought to be avoided.

The moral may be good enough, though the facts may be utterly groundless; but, before we give Las Casas the unpleasant honour of pointing it with his name, we are inclined to lend our assistance to the inquiry, whether he deserves to be thus stultified and degraded. In so doing, we principally avail ourselves of the materials collected by the venerable and excellent M. Gregoire, in a memoir read by him to the Institute, and of the recently published volumes of M. Llorente, containing the life and works of Las Casas.

There does not appear to be any authority whatever for the charge of originating the African slave trade. Without adverting to the

Roman and Carthaginian dealings in human merchandize, it will be sufficient to observe, that there is no doubt that the Portuguese, as early at least as 1443, under the conduct of Alonzo Gonzales, brought slaves from the coast of Guinea, whom they sold to the Spaniards. Establishments for the purpose were formed at Senegal and Cape de Verd; in fact, the trade was established thirty years before the birth of Las Casas in 147.4.

Ortiz de Zuniga, the historian of Seville, observes, that the Spaniards had some years before that time (1470-80) begun to carry on the trade for themselves; and the number of African slaves in Seville is mentioned as being so great, that a police was established expressly for their regulation and management. The importation of slaves, in reality, every where followed the cultivation of sugar, as successively introduced in Spain, Madeira, the Azores, the Canaries, and America.

Into Hispaniola, it is clear, from the testimony of all historians, * even of Herrera himself, (on whose authority the accusation against Las Casas is made to rest,) that negroes had been imported to supply the deficiency of labourers from the massacre of the native population, eighteen or nineteen years before Las Casas is supposed to have been the founder of the scheme.

Let us see what light Herrera himself throws upon the real history of the trade, which this great philanthropist is stated to have contrived in 1517, and we shall then be able to judge what sort of fidelity Robertson has manifested in penning the paragraph which we shall hereafter extract.

He states, in the first instance, that as early as 1501, the King had, by express ordinance, given permission for the importation of slaves belonging to Christian masters, and that a revenue was derived from duties laid on such importations. In 1503, he states, that Ovando, the governor of St. Domingo,

* See Anderton--Charlevoix-Hargreave's Argument, &c.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »