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spirits;” he desired, therefore, "to undertake something which should tend to his own honor and the king's service."
A great favorite at Whitehall, and naturally gay, he yet cheerfully embarked in a maritime expedition, and gained a naval victory at Scanderoon over the Algerines and Venetians. It was during his sojourn at an island, awaiting his fleet dispersed by a storm, that he became the object of interest to the ladies of his host's acquaintance, and to avoid even the appearance of forgetfulness of Venitia, he retired under pretence of writing despatches, and then composed the piece of autobiography to which we have alluded. In the quaint elegance of its style, and the lofty ardor of its sentiments, this curiosity of literature is a gem of its kind. Under fictitious names he describes himself, his mistress and friends, the course of his love, its origin, consummation, and philosophy. A few extracts will give an idea of the whole :
"At such times then as my soul, being delivered of other outward distractions, hath summoned all her faculties to attend to this main business, the first consideration that hath occurred to me hath been tliat the peace and tranquillity of the mind ought to be aimed at; the obtaining of which is an infallible token that one is in the right way of attaining to perfect happiness; or rather these two have so straight and near a relation, as that one cannot be without the other.”
“ And, besides, because that in exact friendship the wills of the two friends ought to be so drowned in one another, like two flames which are joined, that they become but one, which cannot be unless the faculties of the understanding be equal, they guiding the actions of a regulated will, it cometh to pass for the most part that this halteth on the woman's side, whose notions are not usually so high and elevated as men's; and so it seldom happeneth that there is that society between them in the highest and deepest speculations of the mind, which are consequently the most pleasing, as is requisite in a perfect friendship.”
“But at length I perceived that that infinite light which illuminateth all things, is never wanting to illustrate such a mind as
with due humility and diligence maketh itself fit to receive it; for it was not long before such an example occurred to me, as satisfierl me that in this life a man may enjoy so much happiness as without anxiety or desire of having anything besides what he possesseth, he may, with a quiet and peaceable soul, rest with full measure
, of content and bliss, that I know not whether it be short of it in anything but the security of continuance. It was the perfect friendship and noble love of two generous persons, that seemed to be born in this age by ordinance of Heaven to teach the world anew what it hath long forgotten, the mystery of loving with honor and constancy between a man and a woman : therefore this is the true happiness that a wise man ought to aim at, since that himself is master of it, and he can give it to himself when he list. I hope, therefore, then, that you will no longer call that the weakest of all the passions which produceth so noble effects.”
To a mind strongly alive to the beautiful there is a peculiar charm in traditional loveliness; and the effect of this is increased when such attractions are made known to us by the influence they exerted upon contemporaries, rather than by details of feature. The constancy which the graces of Venitia Stanley enforced upon Sir Kenelm, under circumstances of great temptation of fickleness; the faith she inspired in his soul notwithstanding the sneers of his comrades, the whispered innuendo, and some indiscretion on her part, and the entire satisfaction he found in her love, as well as his devotion to her memory, give us a deeper impression of her charms than the mere fact that she was universally admired. And then, too, there is an appeal to our best feelings in the very idea of beauty unjustly, associated with shame; the readiness of the world to derogate from charms that excite envy, the liability, in one beloved and flattered, to forget circumspection, and a thousand other arguments at once suggest themselves in defence of the assailed. In the case of Lady Digby, her chief accuser was provel to be both false and malicious, and the consistent happiness of their married life soon justified the loving choice of Sir Kenelm.
On the first of May, 1633, he sustained the loss of this endeared and beautiful woman; and instantly retired to Gresham College, and there wore a "long mourning cloak, a high-cornered hat, and his beard unshorn.” Ben Jonson eulogized her under the name of Eupheme; her husband raised the monument already mentioned, and her face is perpetuated in numerous busts and portraits.
The remainder of Sir Kenelm's life was given to travel and study. He endured persecution for his Catholic sentiments to which he had been converted in France, where, upon his return, he was regarded as a great acquisition to the court; visited Descartes, and wrote his treatises. At Rome he is said to have quarrelled with the pope. On the breaking out of the civil war with England, the queen mother of France, always friendly to him, successfully interceded in his behalf; and when, soon after the dissolution of the Long Parliament, he returned home, to the surprise of all, the Protector befriended him; an anomaly twice explained by the supposition that he endeavored to bring about a combination between the enemies of the monarchy and the Catholics.
The public spirit of Sir Kenelm Dighy was never inactive. He fitted out the squadron he commanded at his own expense, and went on several embassies with little or no remuneration; he bequeathed the valuable collection of works inherited from his old tutor to the Bodleian library; and was constantly engaged.either in the acquisition or the diffusion of knowledge. He expended over a thousand pounds for historical manuscripts relating to his
a family. While at Montpelier and other seats of learning, on the continent, he was intimate with the eminent men of science and letters. After the Restoration he was nominated to the Council. His last years were passed at his house at Covent Garden, in the study of philosophy and mathematics, and in the best social intercourse. He was a great sufferer from the same disease that afflicted Montaigne; and died, by a remarkable coincidence, on his birthday, which was also the anniversary of his naval triumph, in 1665, at the age of sixty-two.
Sir Kenelm was a thorough gentleman, and, although the genial dignity of that character was somewhat tinctured by a harmless vanity, his gifts of mind and grace of person and manner prevented any compromise of his self-respect. Lord Clarendon says that his conduct, which would have been considered affectation in the majority of mankind,“ seemed natural to his size, the mould of his person, the gravity of his motion, and the tone of his voice and delivery.” It is curious to imagine him in the various phases his character offers — the elegant courtier, moving with dignified pleasantry amid the nobles of England, France, and Spain; the credulous philosopher, consulting an Italian friar about the sympathetic powder, and a Brahmin as to the destinies revealed by the stars; the brave soldier, placing his ship alongside of the enemy's admiral, and cheering on his men to victory; the exile for religious opinion, the ambassador of his country, the scholar closeted with the most learned of his day; and all these, we must remember, are but the episodes in the love-poem of his life. Eccentric, wanting in steadiness of aim, both practical and speculative, yet learned, brave, and, though often accused, never found unworthy— faithful in love and war, and noble in spiritthe knowledge, weaknesses, aspirations, the manly beauty and chivalric passion of his times, found in Kenelm Digby an illustrious embodiment.
In the majority of cases large fortunes are gained and preserved through careful attention to details - a habit which is supposed to militate with comprehensive views and liberal sympathies. It is, therefore, common to regard the acquisition of money and elevation of taste and character as essentially incompatible; and this consideration gives peculiar interest and value to the few noble exceptions to a general rule which reveal the sagacious financier as a patriot and philosopher. Prejudice, and the narrow ideas usually cherished by the devotees of trade, have caused the whole subject of money — its acquisition, preservation, and use — to be consigned to the domain of necessary evils, or the study of the political economist. It is, however, an interest too vital, and too inextricably woven into all the relations of modern society, not to have claims upon the most reflective minds, independent of all personal considerations.
The actual theory of an individual in regard to money is no ordinary test of character; the degrees of his estimation of it as a means or an end, and as a source of obligation and responsibility, are graduated by the very elements of his nature, and become a significant indication of his tone of mind and range of feeling. In its larger relations — those of a national kind-history proves
- a that finance is a vast political engine, intimately connected with the freedom, growth, and civil welfare, as well as external progperity, of a country. The traveller far removed from his native